Dungeon Finder – Gateway to an sRPG world

Keeping a sense of community while still meeting the needs of the community as a whole is a huge challenge for us. We fundamentally believe that having a sense of community is an important thing for the long-term health of the game. However, we don’t think the way to foster that community is to force players to spam global channels trying to find groups. Dungeon Finder and Raid Finder have enabled a lot more players to run dungeons and raids regularly and we’d be very reluctant to ever go back to a world without them. – Nethaera

 

In fairness, that is true. Spamming chat channels does nothing to build community, and the dungeon finder is a better tool for organizing groups and getting them into dungeons if that is all the players are interested in. Doing it through a chat channel is just less efficient, it doesn’t make you care any more about the other people in your group, and if you don’t care about them or want to build connections with them, they might as well be random. That isn’t Blizzard’s fault, it’s the players. – Kobea Thris

For the sake of this post, let’s assume Nethaera speaks for Blizzard, and wrote what she wrote because that’s what she has been told/heard in the Blizzard office; that Blizzard did not see value in looking to form groups in a chat channel, and so ‘solved’ that problem with the DF. Kobea’s comment drives this thinking home.

Sadly it misses the point IMO.

Is the DF easier and faster when it comes to putting a group together and getting them into a dungeon? Yes. 100%. And if speed or ‘accessibility’ (by reducing the delay and hence the total amount of time needed to complete a dungeon) of the content is your only concern, the DF is brilliant. If you play WoW or SW:TOR as a single-player adventure that happens to be hosted on a server, the DF is exactly what you wanted because you view other players as slightly more (or less…) advanced bots.

But in a discussion about community, I don’t think we are talking about viewing other players as bots, are we?

Spamming a group channel was slower, at times annoyingly so. But the value of that channel has nothing to do with speed. Its real value is that you see who you are inviting/joining, and this creates familiarity (that guy is a great tank, invite him. That guy is a loot ninja, pass). Familiarity builds community. Maybe the group looking to fill in its last DPS spot is a guild group looking for new members, and when you join up and do well, they might extend an invite. When you are in the same channel every day looking for a group, you might not be as likely to ninja loot or go off on someone, knowing your reputation will follow you back into that channel.

(Quick note about gearscore here: Gearscore also kills community by reducing players to a number. Due to encounters being tuned around gearscore (or even the perception that they are) rather than player skill, you ‘validate’ the “player is a number” groupthink)

What is important to identify here is what kind of game environment you are aiming for. If the goal is to create an elongated single player adventure that still charges a monthly fee (SW:TOR, current-day WoW), then community is less important, and accessibility is king. While this model might work in terms of initial sales and retaining someone for a month or so, you don’t benefit from the “players are content” aspect that MMOs have traditionally relied upon. You can’t expect 6 months+ retention, because you just don’t have that kind of content.

Long-term it’s simply impossible to sustain a player because they consume dev-created content faster than it can be produced, but if you adjust expectations, and accept that players will leave after a month, things can still work. Not sustain subscriptions or a stable community, but these are not necessarily important factors for an online sRPG. If BioWare’s business plan is to have their players leave after a month, and perhaps come back half a year later for another month, community is a non-factor.

But if community is a non-factor, are we still talking about an MMO?

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in MMO design, SW:TOR, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

56 Responses to Dungeon Finder – Gateway to an sRPG world

  1. Feliz says:

    Downtime creates community. The time where you sit back and relax, perhaps while shopping in game, running some trade skills or look for your trainer. That’s when you have time to chat, that’s when you read the chat or have the energy to reply to things said in chat. There’s the rare occasion to chat when something really interesting is said while you are in the middle of a fight and you just have to answer with a wise crack, critique or something more constructive. But you still stop what you are doing and make sure you are in a safe spot.
    Everquest had a lot of downtime built in. Time when the casters had to meditate, others where healing up or bound their wounds and even during the pull, which took a minute or two to bring the next victims to the slaughter. People were chatting in group all the time. Playing there had the quality of watching a baseball game on a Sunday afternoon. Every now and then there was a throw and a hit, but most of it was slow and relaxing.
    Today’s hyperactive game has done away with that. You’ll press buttons every second or two, take down 3 mobs and within 20 seconds of recovery time you are on to the next group. There’s no time to talk, and nobody pays attention to chat, not even the group channel with the healer yelling OOM.

    LFG was downtime.

    • saucelah says:

      I was going to comment about how I don’t think spamming chat creates community any more than DF, but I have to +1 this bit about downtime, reminds me of all the people I got to know while waiting for shuttles in SWG.

      Ultimately I think it’s a case of giving players what they want instead of what they need. What they think they want is a quick way to jump into instances with strangers. What they need is a game that gives them reasons to get to know other players before they start forming groups. Dungeon Finders don’t even make sense in games that encourage community. I’ve never heard of anyone crying about needing easier to form PUGs in Eve, Darkfall, or even City of Heroes which at least encourages grouping in order to level. I never had trouble putting together a Task Force — I just IMd the same people I tended to level with.

      • And yet they created a Fleet Finder in EVE, so clearly somebody was talking about it.

        Dakrfall? That is just some sort of Skinner Box experiment, isn’t it?

        • SynCaine says:

          EVE has a fleet finder?

          edit: that random matches you with other servers and instantly teleports you into the dungeon?

          second edit: but seriously, EVE has a fleet finder?

        • Kobeathris says:

          I have seen it in the UI, but I have never clicked on it. Every time I look at it, I think it says “Please grief me” instead of “Fleet Finder”

        • EVE has a fleet finder. No, there is no insta-teleport. This is EVE.

          But you can open up the fleet finder, find a fleet in your area doing things, and join right up if you meet the fleet criteria.

          This is how I get into all my op fleets. I see a Jabber message saying that Drake Fleet is up in VFK, I log in, open fleet finder, search on fleets, pick “Drake Fleet is the Best!” and join up.

          Nobody has to invite me. The fleet has obviously been set to only allow people with the right standings to join, but you could use it for wide-open invites if you dared.

        • Morg says:

          EvE fleet finder is more of a corp/alliance tool.
          You can set it so players blue to you or in your alliance can joint he fleet….so no more mass xing up.

          Does not pull people from diffrent servers so you can play together once and never see each other again.

        • saucelah says:

          I do remember using that to fleet up with my corpmates, but I never even imagined that it could be used to hook up with randoms.

          Does anyone use it that way?

  2. Kobeathris says:

    I agree completely, but like I said in the other thread, I think it stems from the rest of the game. If you design a game from the ground up that encourages grouping, then when you have content that requires a group, you don’t need a dungeon finder to make it work.

    As far as players consuming content faster then devs create it goes, yeah, totally the devs’ fault there. They create all this leveling content, then tune it so people can get to the end game quickly. Just a total misallocation of resources.

    • saucelah says:

      And +1 to this one too, which popped up while I was writing.

    • coppertopper says:

      pretty much love this comment of Kobeathris. Rift has something going with the auto group joining button with Rifts/invasions and even just getting quest completion mob kills, but can’t beat the old school chat-channel spamming gathering of players for an overland raid boss kill. I am swimming in the koolaid of Anet here, but just seems everything GW2 is doing is working towards a stronger server community in game without the need of bringing a 1000 strong guild to a server to foster the same feeling.

  3. Feliz says:

    Regarding the race to the endgame, I see one cause: PVP. They’ll profit the most from being top level. For a PVE player it means the end of the story line. Of course this is oversimplifying things, but you get the idea of the basic problem.

    • lostforever says:

      Raids is another reason since most of it take place at max level.

      • Kobeathris says:

        But raids exist so people at max level have something to do. If a game is all about raiding, the the leveling process should take a day or two so you can become familiar with the controls, and then, here you go, start raiding. It doesn’t make any sense to use raiding to justify breaking a leveling game.

    • wormsby says:

      There’s also upwards pressure in guilds. The competitive pacesetters forge ahead relentlessly. Others then feel they are falling behind, missing out on grouping with friends, raid slots, etc. It can become a desperate exercise in not being left out.

  4. To my eye, the main problem of the dungeon finder is not that it is a horrible, community killing tool, as some would posit. The main problem is that it magnifies the other flaws in WoW.

    For example, I have been in many great DF groups below level cap. Groups that chatted, told people when they did a good job, gave play suggestions in positive ways, and worked so well together that we rolled through multiple instances as a single group. In fact, bad groups are the exception, though you do run into the occasional individual bad apple.

    Then comes the end of the group and I notice that nobody in the group is on my server. When we split up, we are forever sundered, unlikely to run into each other again. (Though I do now and again.)

    The problem here is not DF, which got me a good group, something I was unlikely to find for an Outland instance on just my server, but that the game is setup in such a way that the player base is chopped up into a couple hundred separate worlds.

    Likewise, most level cap heroic DF groups I have been in have sucked. I gave up heroics because of it. But they have sucked because the motivation to do heroic instances is different than the motivation for lower level instances. People want to grind for gear, for tokens, and for their perky pug companion pet, and to do this they want to do as many heroics as fast as possible. That motivation, and people who are so motivated, would be the same with or without DF. Those people would merely be the ones spamming the LFG channel. And you can say that well, you can remember and avoid them, but since they seem to make up a significant portion of the heroic running population and on your server you have a lot fewer people with whom to potentially group, the downside looks to be about the same. DF just lets you get into more groups quicker. The downside is that you can’t filter who you get, but the upside is you can find that next group more quickly.

  5. Wyrmrider says:

    For me, the important thing is that players should always be able to choose who they play with.

    The dungeon finder offers convenience and shiny tokens, at the cost of giving up control over who you play with. The cost is too high. Once you start playing for the content rather than the company, it’s only a matter of time until you run out of reasons to log in.

    • Matt says:

      It isn’t really clear to me that you won’t run out of reasons to log in anyway. If Blizzard stopped making new content for WoW after AQ40, would they have 10 million players, or even 1 million, today? WoW is, at bottom, a game, and while there are definitely a few people who want a virtual facebook where nothing much happens, those people are a small minority. I’m all for them having their space to go to, but WoW ain’t it.

      • Doone says:

        Nothing you have typed here is demonstrably true, Matt. Consider the lull in content in 2006. We’re talking 2 years without an expansion. What were all those millions of players doing if what you propose, the “virtual facebook”, was a niche portion of the player base? What are you basing these statements on?

        Fresh content is a necessity. Even Everquest understood this, and this isn’t a function of whether players prefer more social activity in their games. If you want to know what players were doing during the lull, go to Youtube and find all the WoW videos during that era. Dig up the various sites and archives around the web that built communities around WoW. Players were being extremely social. That’s what they do, and that’s what was enjoyable.

        I think it’s dishonest when some insinuate that the cause of WoW’s 10 million subs is a function of fewer social activities when the exact opposite is true. It is factual and observable by anyone that the social aspects of the community are what brought the game it’s mega success. The “virtual facebook”. That was precisely it.

        The game is less that now because it has designed away from that. The game is also aging more rapidly than it other wise would due to those design decisions. Players also have *no* reasons to group unless it’s for raiding and PvP. None. The game changed and, in so doing, changed the players.

  6. Brindle says:

    To me the real problem is the cross server mixing, so you are likely to never see the person again. it’s not so much a ‘spam chat’ vs DF mechanism, but that DF is cross server, and therefore, the people you play with are transients – which ruins community.

    • Kobeathris says:

      The simple solution to that is to allow cross server guilds to form. I mean, how much of the social part of WoW actually takes place on your server these days any way? If you can group and queue for an instance or raid which as no bearing on server, just let guilds/guild chat be cross server, and the problem is solved. The only thing you couldn’t do is send goods to off server guild members or go questing together.

    • Morg says:

      This is my issue as well. Community? who cares because the people i play with are not part of my community.

  7. Morg says:

    I can see both sides. As a casual player finding a group quickly has a lot of apeal. I only get 2-3h a night and spending 1/2 of it finding a group sucks.

    But with cross server groups there is no community because they are not from your community. Your reputation means nothing because you are one of a million possible group mates and they will probably never see you again. Also why take the effort to get to know them when you have no way of intentionally grouping with them again?

    Even worse was the cross server battle grounds…it was not my server vs your server but just a mash of of random people who i don’t care about. No more rivalry between guild a and guild b. No more deneying world bosses ebcause you knew the other guild would be fighting against you in the BG. No more us vs them to unify your side.
    Just a little side game with no comunal effect.

    EvE is 100% the polar oposite…one server so everyone is in YOUR community! The people you fly with are worth getting to know because you will(or not) fly with them again. Friends and social interactions matter.

    Swotor and wow are not MMO’s..they are group based RPG’s.

    • bhagpuss says:

      “Swotor and wow are not MMO’s..they are group based RPG’s.”

      And here we have it. As always, it comes down to semantics. If we could agree on definitions the entire debate would vanish into thin air.

      Stick the same label on all these entertainments, which have very little in common, and everyone takes sides and starts yelling at each other. Call them by different names and advocates of one would pay no attention whatsoever to any of the others.

      (And I had to use my Wordpres account to post for some reason. Never had a problem posting just by filling in the three fields before. Has something changed?)

      • Sullas says:

        S’true. I could actually live easily with people calling TOR a ‘group-based RPG’ and reserving ‘MMOG’ (since we’re reviewing terms, I’d quibble about adding RP) for something like EVE, which has certainly earned the ‘massive’ part through its single-shard technical achievement.

        I’ve lately been spending most of my TOR time doing warzones, so the constant ‘single player MMO’ jab is no longer so much trolling me successfully as utterly divorced from my experience.

  8. adam says:

    I resubscribed to WoW recently to play with my brother and his friend (who are, obviously, lost souls). I don’t get to hang out with my bro much anymore, which is why I did this awful, awful thing. Anyway, one of the first things I did was run through a dungeon around level 65 with my brother and 3 strangers we’d pulled out of the DF. When I first arrived I was making comments and cracking jokes like “this is a very difficult and stressful dungeon,” you know, as we basically sprinted our way through mob groups, mindlessly crapping AOE death on them, and after about 10 minutes of talking to myself, no one else had said a single thing. Not a single response to a single thing. It certainly didn’t used to be that way. Back in 04-05 with LFG chat still in full force, running a dungeon was a careful affair usually filled with good-natured banter and discussion about how to tackle the next group or boss. Now? Yeah. I’m just a bot. And so are they. Why is WoW even considered an MMORPG anymore?

  9. Morg says:

    As a side note,instant transportation also hurts an MMO.
    Instantly transporting to a dungon or a pvp spot means no more traveling the world. People sit in cities “qued” up and the world is empty.

    • Beerhead says:

      I agree that’s a problem. When you had to travel to dungeons, on a pvp server, those entrances were hot spots for pvp. Which was another game in itself just trying to make it into the dungeon alive.

    • Azuriel says:

      Yeah, I miss waiting for an hour to form a group, then debating for 15 minutes who was going to the summoning stone. Then someone dropped, and having to trek back to a city and spam Trade for a replacement. Then getting that slot filled… but having the two guys we sent to the stone corpse-camped by the opposite faction. Then the group breaking up.

      Those were the days. I got so much accomplished while Alt-Tabbed from the game I was playing.

      • Doone says:

        Yeah because, excepting the summoning stone, that’s all changed. /sarcasm

        None of what you said is any different with the DF except you can now be vote kicked, given a “you can’t group for an hour” debuff, and have no control over who you group with.

        Nothings changed in that regard if what you’ve listed were your chief complaints.

        • Azuriel says:

          Hmm? You usually have to wait a while in the queue as DPS, although when I left it was actually down below 20 minutes; or you could get nearly instant queues as tank/healer.

          Getting kicked doesn’t give you a debuff, and luckily most the dungeons have been nerfed to the point where the random party member aspect ceases to be relevant anyway. If I want a challenge, I’ll group with friends and seek one out.

          My chief complaint is how the entire “community” aspect of grouping was predicated on desperation. You let Bob wipe the group 5-6 times on that dungeon run because if you dropped him, the run was effectively over. Did that encourage going out of your way to fill your Friends Tab? Yes. But only because you want to avoid negative experiences, and NOT because you actually like grouping with any of them. They were tools you had to use to unlock the content you actually wanted to participate in.

          Any “community” that resulted by sheer proximity was incidental.

        • Doone says:

          My example still stands. Nothting you’ve responded with isn’t something that’s true now that wasn’t true in “the good ole days”. Tanks and healers still get near instant groups and dps wait 30 min to an hour. Nothing’s changed.

          I wasn’t implying getting vote kicked debuffs you, but that you can’t leave a bad group without being penalized. You get a debuff for leaving.

          The community, far from what you claim, wasn’t predicated on desperation. Again, where is your proof while I can go and cite thousands — 1000s — of WoW communities to prove otherwise. Players got together because it was part of the experience and was by and large enjoyed, desirable. There’s nothing the game suffered yesterday that it doesn’t continue to suffer today — that especially includes DF which has done little more than alienate players further (oh but you get to play with nice ppl from servers you’ll never see again; brilliant).

          To further back up this point is the exponential subscriber base Blizzard acquired in the “good ole days” — something it’s *not* done since the decline of Lich King. What do you base your claims on?

        • Azuriel says:

          Your assertion that “nothing has changed” doesn’t counter my first-hand experience having played the game in the the TBC era. The time to form a group, the devastation of even a DPS leaving, none of that mitigated the time to form a group even when I was a tank (as I was 95% of the time). If you had a different experience, perhaps on a different server population size, that is fine… and immaterial. And arguably the entire point about LFD: equalizing server populations when it came to grouping. Low-pop servers being able to form groups with the same ease as high-pop ones.

          Re: communities, I said the “community aspect of grouping.” Do you see the nuance? I am not trying to be anti-community at all. I am anti-requirement. I made friends, people whom I enjoyed based on their non-WoW existence rather than because of it. But when they were not online, I suddenly had 80% of the game shut off unless I wanted to spam Trade for a random group. And if I bailed, I had to potentially wait hours to slap a hodgepodge team together.

          I did meet some of the friends I made via spamming Trade and Friends Lists. But just because that “worked,” does not mean it justifies the mechanism; I could have met them in other ways, as I do now. Accepting the 2008 status quo would be like concluding the best way to develop a community would be to add a 10+ minute timesink to every activity.

  10. steelhunt says:

    Syncaine: slightly off topic, but speaking of MMOs, sandboxes, single shard and whatnot – check this out: http://www.evenews24.com/2012/03/14/the-great-contract-scam/ . I also posted it on Gevlon’s blog ;)

  11. Ponder says:

    I was leveling up a new WoW character when DF was introduced.

    Ignore all the crap talk. The reason for DF was:
    . WoW server populations were falling
    . there was not enough people in a dungeon level bracket
    to have regular PUG dungeon runs
    . hence you couldn’t get into a dungeon as you were leveling up
    . as dungeons are the core of the game, people were complaining
    and leaving

  12. Azuriel says:

    It is a delicate balance, and one I don’t think works anymore.*

    What LFG spam did was encourage people to make friends because the spamming and the waiting bits were so awful. You wanted to run a dungeon now, not an hour or more from now, so you go out of your way to find like-minded people. But for every bit of community-building that fostered, you also got X number of groups that never got off the ground, groups that had someone DC unexpectedly and never get back online, and multiple failed runs. That was frustrating beyond measure. And, eventually, my tolerance for it would evaporate completely.

    There are better ways of building communities than timesinks, IMO. LFD is not it, of course, but neither is going back to the “good ole days” of wasting two-thirds of my game time not playing the game. That might have worked in 2008, but it does not work for me now.

    And besides, how important is a game’s community anymore when communities themselves are a lot more mobile? I made friends in WoW, but now we exist outside of it via Steam, blogs, Facebook, Vent, etc.

    *For themeparks specifically.

    • Beerhead says:

      I remember waking up in early 05 around 6 or 7am in order to put together 15 people for UBRS. That was typically a 1-2 hour process standing in Org to put together on one of the busier servers at the time (Skullcrusher).

      I recently re-subbed to WoW and I started fresh on a new server (RP) and I have to say at level 25 I’ve had the opportunity to run every dungeon in the game that is available. Something that would have NEVER happened prior to DF. And considering I have 1-2 hours a night to play it works out very well that it’s such a streamlined process.

      Oh, and I still have a friends list I am building. I guess old habits die hard.

    • SynCaine says:

      So you never made those friends to get out of PUG’ing? Isn’t that… your fault? You bashing your solo-hero head into a wall rather than becoming part of the social structure?

      I don’t get the complaint honestly. If you hate waiting for an hour to form a likely poor group, YOU can fix that. Don’t cry and insist the game fix it for you.

      • Azuriel says:

        I made those friends because I liked them as human beings – whether or not they made dungeon groups form faster or not was immaterial. Hence why we still communicate outside of the game.

        Maybe I just have a bizarre notion of what sociality consists of, I dunno. What I do not understand is the fetishism with the notion that sticking strangers in a room and just hoping something happens (or giving them “team-building exercises”) is the best way to form communities. It worked in the past, obviously, but I look at empty rooms now and say “why bother?” To make the friends I did, I had to endure so much drama from people I didn’t care about (but needed) that it felt like a second job.

        I already have an established community now… why would I want to start another, from scratch? Oh, right, because it’s arbitrarily required.

    • Matt says:

      Not only was the waiting awful, but it left zero impression on your mind. Because, honestly, sitting in Shattrath for 5 hours or 1 hour is pretty much the same in recollection. So all you remember is those great friends you made, you don’t remember all the times you logged off without managing to even make a group at all.

  13. Bernard says:

    @Azuriel

    Agreed.

    There are a range of different titles available and many of them have options to jump straight in PvP and PvE group content.
    If you take down barriers, you will increase participation, if only in the short term.

    -But you lose a sense of community
    Like Azuriel, my communities exist outside the game world, on social networks. They don’t disappear when the content “runs out”

    -But you lose longevity
    Not really a problem if you’re playing a range of titles with a meta-community. And new content is always going to bring up upswing of subscribers/RMT-buyers

    -What you are describing is not an MMO
    It’s not a single game where I log on for 1-2 hours every night to chat and participate in community activities. Such games still exist for people that have the time and inclination to play them. I cannot see a roll-back to 2004 however.

  14. Solf says:

    I admit I didn’t read all comments, but I searched through them.

    Every frikking time somebody discusses DF and fails to mention DDO I want to scream. Hell, SynCaine, you played DDO, didn’t you? Shows how much you were into the community back there I guess :)

    Anyway, it seems blindingly obvious to me that grouping *needs* a tool. Yes, you can do without one. But having one improves things manyfold.

    It also seems blindingly obvious (to me) — and especially after WoW experiment — that random anonymous cross-server grouping is not the answer.

    And this is where DDO comes in. It has had an awesome grouping tool for ages. It really works and works well (imo) — by not grouping people automatically, but by creating and excellent and easy-to-use ‘forum’ for people to find each other. For traditional MMORPG it’ll need some adaptation/improvement — such as possibly showing people who have particular group quest in their log and maybe even going as far as having an auto-magical additional channel for people with the said quest (so you could LFM only to the relevant people or something) — but even without any enhancements it would be a VAST improvement over anything else I’ve seen (imo; I didn’t see EVE’s Fleet Finder for example).

    • SynCaine says:

      DDO is a bit different because all of the content (was?) is group-based, and little of it is chained or requires hard pre-reqs.

      DDO also completely lacks and sort of ‘world’ feature, so it’s solutions to MMO problems don’t realyl apply considering its not really an MMO (in the traditional sense) itself.

      • Solf says:

        While what you say is certainly true (to an extent), it does not diminish the fact that the *tool* they have for grouping is far and away the best I’ve seen. And works. And is not anonymous at all.

        I am absolutely certain that adding it “as is” to e.g. SWTOR, LOTRO, would make grouping much much easier and less painful.

        Well, no, not just adding, but making it a bit “in your face” — as in making sure that people notice that the tool is there. I’ve seen some tools ignored simply because majority never realized it’s there.

        • SynCaine says:

          Unless the tool has changed since I last played (over a year ago I think…) you flag yourself as LFG, and can view other people/groups looking at your level range, right? And the tool will let you join said groups/people?

        • Solf says:

          More or less yes (I played it more than a year ago).

          The tool is rather simple — and I truly don’t think it’s a bad thing. The power of it lies, imo, in visibility (as in you can see all groups being formed, so you can apply on e.g. alt or something), in customizability (you can set visible comments both for self and groups, e.g. I’ve seen groups being formed as “first time, no spoilers” [applicable since there are puzzles in some places]; you can set level range; you can set target quest[dungeon]; etc.), and ease of use (e.g. it’ll highlight groups that appears to match your character).

          But in the end it is always a person (party leader or person being asked) who decides whether to join / accept person in the group.

  15. Sparklight says:

    Long-term it’s simply impossible to sustain a player because they consume dev-created content faster than it can be produced.

    One possible solution is to increase the speed of content production by relying heavily on procedural generation.

    Create a dungeon with monsters and loot, and you’ll keep people entertained for a couple of weeks. Create a good script that generates endless dungeons filled with random monsters and loot, and you’ll keep them hooked for many years. (See: Diablo II)

  16. Doone says:

    DF as a gateway to sRPG: This has been happening more and more resulting from the failure of some key MMOs in the past which lead the genre into pure WoWification of everything.

    I’ve never implied or argued that grouping tools are bad, just that the DF is the worst iteration on a genre tool that Blizzard needlessly failed to create.I’ve written on this on numerous occassions and I’m not about to rehash this in depth in the comments; many of you have already read my stance on this so hopefully my comments here can be put within that context.

    I agree with the main post that the top goal of the DF seems to be to get groups gathered at all costs. And indeed, it sacrifices *everything* to simply put together a group. Nevermind it doesn’t have to; there’s examples out there of fine group finder tools that the devs simply decided to pretend didn’t exist when they created the DF. It’s god awful and any of you who have played other games with DF tools know it.

    Losing a sense of community is a consequence of more than just implementation of the DF, though it compounds the situation. The truth is, communities have been shambling apart since server transfers. Anonymity has increased with frequency at which a player can transfer. I’m not against character transfers at all. But in a community that relies on group play, allowing players to leave every 3 hours is a death sentence to server communities. They could turn this around some with improved cross realm player interaction tools. However, the anonymity is pretty much there to stay. And with that, there can be no community; community is the exact opposite of anonymous masses. This was the feature that broke community. Everything after compounded the situation.

  17. Bristal says:

    The most obvious evidence that the wonderful community of old, pre-LFD, never really existed for the majority of players, is that the simple matching mechanic was able to kill it so easily for all you that pine for it.

    Perhaps, just perhaps; those of you who were movers and shakers, leaders of guilds and orchestrators of raids, masters of your communities, were effectively using the majority of the rest of us as serfs to sift through to create your communities.

    I certainly don’t think it was deliberate or conscious, but as a casual player, I felt locked out group content, or even learning about it prior to LFD. LFD allowed me to control my destiny in a way, and learn by doing, instead of feeling like the group game was an ongoing job interview that was akin to playground politics.

    The Dungeon Finder killed community in the same way that the industrial revolution and mass urbanization did. It streamlined and centralized poor infrastructure that mostly held people back, and made them less dependent on the powerful and well-connected.

    If you were one of those powerful or popular leaders, I understand how the game must have changed for the worse. Your power and value was diminished, much of the time you spent organizing and chatting people up no longer necessary. But, if I’m totally off base, tell me again how your community was so easily lured away by boring, anonymous dungeon runs?

    • SynCaine says:

      “But, if I’m totally off base, tell me again how your community was so easily lured away by boring, anonymous dungeon runs?”

      I’d start at the effect the DF had on difficulty and design to get your answer.

      Also, the first half sounds to me like someone who never got into a raiding guild because of personal issues (which must have been major, because all but the absolute best guilds accepted almost anyone that was not a total idiot. And total idiots were accepted if they played a priest), and the DF allowed said person-with-issue to force themselves into groups with others.

      I’m not seeing that as an improvement to community.

      • Azuriel says:

        I’d start at the effect the DF had on difficulty and design to get your answer.

        Historical revisionism much? LFD was released in the last major content patch in Wrath. Unless you are positing that Wrath dungeons were tuned down for 1+ years ahead of a feature Blizzard said was supposed to be launched in Cata (but was moved ahead), the actual difficulty/design was predicated on the lessons learned from TBC.

        Which are: only a “dedicate minority” of players were running heroics at all. Nowadays heroics are the default endgame activity. Prior to that, it was… I dunno. Leveling? Dailies? No one knows.

        Honestly, Bristal nailed it.

  18. Doone says:

    @ Bristal: Youre making assumptions out of context. Evidence of players using a grouping tool is not evidence that forums used for grouping previously were undesirable. In other words, players using the DF tool is not proof of options: it’s proof of a lack of options. There are no other tools and as even you diehards keep arguing, chat channels are not an adequate tool.

    Can we all just agree that having a grouping tool is a very good thing, but that the dungeon finder doesn’t deserve a defense? Please turn on any other popular MMO: DDO, LoTRO, EQ2 ….superior grouping tools all around. There are many free to play titles with better tools than the dungeon finder. The jury has been in for years people.

    Can’t we all agree the Dungeon Finder isn’t a god send? That its a very poorly implemented tool? That even though the game needed (and has for years) more and better grouping tools, the DF has *not* delivered? This is the point.

    Everyone here defending the tool makes the same basic argument which is the same thing I’ve said in every reply: the tool is all about expedient group matching and it sacrifices *everything* to get that done. All the old problems with finding a group still exist and all thats changed is a match making system queues for you instead of having you spam chat. Nothings changed.

    Why does the DF deserve your defense when there are superior tools WoW could have copied from games that (as far as players are concerned) got it right? Why does blizzard get a pass for this very poor tool when poorer game companies are creating superior tools?

  19. Azuriel says:

    By the way:

    If you hate waiting for an hour to form a likely poor group, YOU can fix that. Don’t cry and insist the game fix it for you.

    I never understand this bizzarely apologist argument; there is an implicit claim that the design itself is beyond reproach. Would you stop crying about themeparks if I told you it was your fault you didn’t enjoy them?

    Let me try: “If there isn’t player-generated content in WoW/SWTOR/Rift, YOU can fix that. Don’t cry and insist devs fix themeparks for you.”

    “If LFD appears to have destroyed the community, YOU can fix that. Don’t cry and insist the game fix it for you.”

    …whoa, hey, I could get used to this.

    • SynCaine says:

      The problem here is that during the time you had a problem, the game was growing. During the time I had a problem, it was dying.

      But I’m sure you will tell me that’s totally unrelated.

    • wormsby says:

      Well done.

      And +1 on hating that whole argument. It really is the last refuge of the reactionary.

  20. wormsby says:

    FWIW I happen to agree that dungeon finders are the devil, at least the cross-server ones. They absolutely do carry a price. Community dries up, reputations mean very little. And you’re right that gearscores would seem to further compound this.

    Clearly developers have decided the price was worth paying though. The bottom-line impact of people not being able to get dungeon groups on their servers is obviously a steeper price from their perspective.

    The obvious answer is to stop sharding worlds. Is server tech that bad still? Can’t you dynamically shard zones and the like? I confess I don’t have a good grasp on the technical reasons that MMOs still opt for multiple servers (aside from the PVE/PVP distinction).

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