Perfect Ten: MMO grouping advice you shouldn’t bother giving

It’s time for a new expansion in Final Fantasy XIV, and that means for me that a lot of people are going to not know how to get through content. Heck, I don’t know how to get through all of the content; it’s new to me too. I’m still figuring it out, and while there are a few people who are progressing even faster than I am and know how to clear everything, they are in the decided minority. I mean, the expansion, counting early access, has only been out for five freaking days.

So that means I get to enjoy the old standby of offering advice when clearing group content. And some people are… let’s be polite and say that they’re better at it than others. An entire guide about how to give advice which will actually have a positive impact is a bit beyond the scope of this article, of course, but we can at least look at the advice that never, ever works. Or if it does, it is entirely by coincidence, not design.

Sometimes just telling someone not to bother is sort of relevant.

1. Telling someone else how to play

This one is just fraught with all sorts of problems, but we’re going to start with the very simple and basic one: You probably are not sure what your fellow players are actually doing. Oh, you can see if they’re doing a lot of damage or a little, but you can’t actually see if they’re using optimal rotations outside of checking their cast bars and watching them act obsessively. Unless you’re spending all of your time observing their actions, you can’t actually tell them what they should be doing because for all you know you missed something they were all doing while you were watching their actions and ignoring your own.

But even if we assume that you know how to play that character and can actually give useful advice, that advice is useless without the muscle memory and understanding that goes with it. I like to think that I’m pretty good at playing Enhancement Shaman in World of Warcraft, for example, but I routinely think of my abilities as the components making up my hotbars and forget their proper names. And the patterns of play I have are based on my keyboard, my mouse, my setup, and my understanding. Even if I have an idea about what someone else is doing wrong, trying to play the game through lines of text isn’t going to work out well for either of us.

2. Advice with insults

So your party died for whatever reason. Unpleasant, but it happens. You offer your advice, and it is, in fact, totally right. But then you feel the need to append it with “you idiots” or “you morons,” and you can’t understand why the rest of your group then ignores it. What morons, right?

Of course, if someone gave you advice filled with mockery, you’d be right there alongside everyone else ignoring the heck out of it, buckaroo. And so would anyone because no one wants to be insulted. Basically ever. However accurate your advice might be, if you can’t deliver it without wrapping it in a solid coating of derision, it’ll get filed along with other insults and tossed in the trash.

This one seems unpleasantly frequent in PvP, I’ll note. Right along with…

I get the temptation, but you are not actually a captain.

3. Orders

Party leader is not an elected position. You are not the commander of an elite force; you are the person in charge of what is probably a group of random people and most likely is not made up of people who respect your authority. So if you’re trying to bark orders in Star Wars: The Old Republic battlegrounds, you’re as likely as not to get people doing the exact opposite of what you suggest just to spite you.

I vaguely recall a management seminar years ago that stated something similar even for people who actually had power; the more you phrase orders as requests or even questions, the more people are inclined to actually go along with it. And that’s in positions where you can actually fire someone rather than just being designated a group leader.

4. “Why can’t you…”

This one is a particular favorite, and I have to admit, sometimes I get to a point where it nearly passes my lips. All you have to do is dodge the thing. Dodge the thing. Why can’t you just dodge the thing? What are you trying to do?

Of course, then I smack myself until I shut up, because I’m right; that is all you have to do. So if the people in question aren’t doing it, that means either they still don’t get it (unlikely after better advice has been given) or are trying to do just that and failing. Asking why these things aren’t being done, under the circumstances, is substantially missing the point.

DO THE THINGS

5. Discouragement

This one is my personal favorite, especially as it’s often accompanied by a threat. “If you guys aren’t going to defend the fort properly, I’m not going to try to help you anymore,” says the would-be advice giver, sounding for all the world like a petulant five-year-old throwing a tantrum. I like to imagine these players as the same people who get very offended when their supposedly expert-level play in Overwatch doesn’t move them out of low rankings.

Of course, it doesn’t move them out of those rankings because these players are the ones who also insist that while they aren’t taking part in the objective, that’s because they know how to do something better. Telling your group that they shouldn’t bother trying is unlikely to encourage them to try, and it mistakenly attributes all success or failure to one or two factors instead of a number of reasons all happening at once.

Also, petulant stomping.

6. Idle speculation

“Hey, maybe we should try taking back the farm.” The player giving this sort of advice is, at least, trying to avoid the obvious pitfalls. There’s no demanding tone, no condescension, no cruelty. It’s an effort at just phrasing advice as if someone is musing aloud. And it still doesn’t work because one of two things will happen.

The first possibility is that it’s phrased so ambiguously that it doesn’t even seem like advice. Maybe we should try taking back the farm. Maybe we should all drink Red Bull. Maybe ketchup and ice cream is better than you think. Maybe lots of things are true!

The other possibility is that you’re obviously being a sniping passive-aggressive sort. “Maybe Kyle should get his act together and heal the rest of us.” Dude, you’re not fooling anyone.

New content rarely has videos.

7. “Watch the video.”

This one always strikes me as odd because it doesn’t come up in any other situation. I mean, if you call AAA because your car is having a problem, the person at the other end doesn’t sigh and tell you to go open Wikipedia and start a research trawl. But sometimes you’ll ask “hey, what should I do with this boss” or “is there anything I should know” and the response will be a sighing “you should watch the video.”

First of all, unless it’s found under YouTube filed as The Video, that’s not actually helpful. Second of all, a majority of video guides spend a lot of time covering unnecessary subjects and taking more time than is useful; I can unpack a lot of information quickly from text, less so from video. And perhaps most relevantly, I am right here right now, so just answer the question instead of making me spend another five minutes looking up a video and then watching it!

Just outright refusing to give advice is better than this.

8. Advice with constant references

On this first boss, he fights like the second boss of DuckTales but in three dimensions, and he’s also got the ability footprint of the third boss in Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Dodge most of the AoEs, but get in the ones that look like the pizzas from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 on the NES. Got that?

If you do… well, congratulations, that was just idle nonsense. The point here is that it’s not assured your fellow players have played or even heard of these games before; the best you can hope for is that someone may have. I usually will ask if people are familiar with game X or boss Y before using that as a point of reference in very rare cases. Yes, the Cordana Felsong fight is basically the same as the Charibert fight, but you can explain one without referencing the other.

Sometimes the internal fighting is more entertaining than the actual fight.

9. Acronym soup

I’m not usually a huge fan of acronyms in MMOs simply because an acronym that isn’t universal or immediately intuitive makes communication more difficult. Giving advice laden with acronyms or technical terminology makes it harder for people to understand what you’re trying to actually get across.

And this isn’t even counting the people I’ve encountered who make up acronyms just for their immediate circles, then start using them with everyone like anyone else will know what they mean. “QCF the other team, guys!” You want me to quarter-circle-forward them? What?

10. “I heard a rumor that…

This one isn’t hard to listen to; it’s just that every single statement prefaced thusly is about to kill your group. Always.

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at justin@massivelyop.com or eliot@massivelyop.com with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”
SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Code of Conduct | Edit Your Profile | Commenting FAQ | Badge Reclamation | Badge Key

LEAVE A COMMENT

54 Comments on "Perfect Ten: MMO grouping advice you shouldn’t bother giving"

Subscribe to:
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most liked
Reader
Nick

“DPS more” is one I always think is funny. Especially coming from a person who isn’t playing a DPS role and doing poorly themselves. Everyone else’s fault but their own, of course.

How to give advice: Give specifics, right then and there. No resources, no references, no referrals and no editorializing or appraisals.

Reader
Bryan Correll

Maybe ketchup and ice cream is better than you think.

It would almost have to be.

Reader
thirtymil

“FFS tank wtf”

…was the sage advice that empowered me to free myself from tanking in FFXIV.

styopa
Reader
styopa

To be fair, that wasn’t advice, it was commentary. And having been a tank in most games I’ve played, and occasionally observed/been a hideously bad tank in many as well, I can’t say it’s always an unjust commentary either.

Sometimes “ffs tank, wtf?” is about all there is to say.

Reader
thirtymil

I’ve had my off days tanking certainly, but even on those days ‘ffs tank, wtf?’ doesn’t really do anything to improve them or the group’s chance of success. It’s about as helpful as venting your frustration in a traffic jam by beeping your car horn.

Reader
MesaSage

l2p, lol

Reader
Robert Mann

The only one of these that sometime isn’t true is #1. Because sometimes, whether from seeing abilities going constantly that make no logical sense, or from using a meter with ability breakdown and seeing a major issue, you can tell that something is wrong.

That said, there is a good way and a bad way to handle that. I will offer, nicely, to help with specs and rotations to people. I won’t insult, threaten to leave, etc. If they take me up on it, great, there’s time after we finish OR if that person wants to let the group know they need a few. Interestingly enough, with some basic respect when talking to people, it seems like it is rarely rejected.

miol
Reader
miol

;P

0391_0ab5.gif
Reader
Witches

11. Just because a person is talking in a language you don’t understand it doesn’t mean the person doesn’t understand english, everyone playing a game in english MUST know english, if they ignore what you say it’s because they’re trolls.

12. Just because you’re playing a korean game it doesn’t mean you speak korean, not everyone playing a korean game MUST speak korean, if they see you speaking english and still try to talk to you in korean they must be trolls.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Tobasco da Gama

git gud, noob

Minimalistway
Reader
Minimalistway

I have to admit, recently i started going to raids and dungeons without reading a word, or watching a video, i learn faster when i see and experience the fights, i die many times and that’s ok, i learn and i don’t do it again, sometimes someone tells me to do stuff, i follow, so far this is working great, it is amazing no one so far was rude.

Isn’t sad that i expect rudeness from others?! but so far i’m lucky with good people.

For group advice, usually the best i see when people slow down a little, ask if others if they need to explain the fight, the worst experience is usually with the “Go go go” crowds.

Reader
Sorenthaz

I still don’t understand how or why people feel the need to race to 70 in Stormblood and burn through everything in the first week or two.

Reader
Castagere Shaikura

Then they wouldn’t be able to complain about not having something to do.

Reader
enamel

#11 – Telling group mates “Don’t stand in fire”.

Reader
Rheem Octuris

And yet I always have to remind my wife to get out of the giant red circle.

Reader
Robert Mann

I bet that she knows it is bad to stand in fire, she just isn’t where she is paying attention for it. Big difference in presentation, likely, as well.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Patreon Donor
Ashfyn Ninegold

Excellent article.

It appears that MMO group-play isn’t play at all but very serious business. And like business, it can breed impatience and entitlement when self-serving ends become paramount.

Regarding “Orders”, I think this is a particular issue with cross-server PvP of any kind. Back in Vanilla WoW, when we did battlegrounds, we all knew who the good PvP players on the server were because we fought for our rankings every week. When someone with the rank “Commander” or better showed up in your group, you did what they said because they knew what they were doing, which ended up making all of us more successful. At the same time, if you had no one in your group whose name you recognized, you might have a tough time making any progress because everyone was basically trying to solo the BG and didn’t know whose strategy to support.

Reader
Jonny Sage

Heres some advice you SHOULD give. Dont join PUGs.

Reader
Utakata

I am not sure that advice helps folks whose playing friends have all gone to bed and they need to get this instance done for the quest credit, for example. Certainly soloing it is unlikely a productive option in many dungeons. Therefor, the only way around this is to PuG it…beyond abandoning the quest.

Here’s advise for dealing with PuG’s though: Don’t be the thing you despise about PuG’s. If said PuG goes south, you are least you’re not to blame for it. Furthermore, you’ll be surprised how being nice and co-operative keeps a group mostly together.

Reader
Nick

Or go into PUG’s realizing its a PUG. Wow the random assortment of players who never met each other couldn’t 1 pull the last boss? What a shock.

Someone who joins a PUG and gets upset over mistakes IS the problem.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Sashaa

I love PUGs. Actually, it’s one of the reasons why I love Elder Scrolls Online dungeons so much.

Meeting random people from all over the world (I play late night on the european server which hosts australians, americans…) and spending from 30mn to 1 hour (or more) with them, working mechanics they don’t know, exchanging tips, talking about builds and so on… Considering that there is a very decent variety of dungeons (better than most mmo I know of), it’s hard to get bored if you actually do care about the social part of the encounter.

Now, there are people who just don’t care and see other players as bots with a merely better IA.

Reader
Robert Mann

Every now and then I build a PUG. I always build it with one and only one goal… helping people learn.

There’s two rules. The first is that people who insult or attack others are gone. The second is that people have to be willing to listen and learn.

camren_rooke
Reader
camren_rooke

PUGS in City of Heroes were pretty fun.

Reader
Crowe

My wife used to *love* playing a healer-type and going to the Hollows with a PUG… Of course, this was before anyone had a travel power so everyone was low level and scattered around and it was really easy to get in over your head there just by falling into a canyon and waking up the hidden magma guys. I’d hear her chortling away at the antics of some group or another as she’d go and heal them all up and Recall Friend or whatever to get them out of the mess.

camren_rooke
Reader
camren_rooke

Taxibots were awesome in Hollows.

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

Oh, you can see if they’re doing a lot of damage or a little, but you can’t actually see if they’re using optimal rotations outside of checking their cast bars and watching them act obsessively.

Actually, that is what combat parsers (the bigger brothers of DPS meters) are all about. If a game has support for those I can use them to record exactly which skill was used, when, and how effective it was for everyone in the party or raid, information that I can then go over at my leisure after the combat is over so I can help others improve (or even improve myself, I’ve taken clues from how other players play often enough).

I will reserve this kind of advice to people that have asked for it, though. It’s rude to hound someone with an unsolicited analysis of how they play.

I mean, if you call AAA because your car is having a problem, the person at the other end doesn’t sigh and tell you to go open Wikipedia and start a research trawl.

That is because said person is being paid to offer help; the random player you turn to when asking for MMO advice isn’t. I, particularly, tend to point people to other sources of information all the time, if for no other reason than to push the player into learning how to research things him or herself. Players that ask for information they could have gotten from a Google search in less time than it takes to answer them are just plain annoying.

On the other hand I will always make sure to point to specific sources of information and I will rarely, if ever, direct people to videos (because I only direct people to information sources I have already perused and found satisfactory, and I tend to avoid watching information videos myself).

Reader
Witches

When was the last time you did research on a fight you knew nothing about? It must have been a long time ago, usually research gives you a lot of info that was extremely useful two or three expansions ago, but is now completely outdated.

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

Depends on if you know how to use search engines properly. It’s easy to filter out old information in Google, for example.

Though, to be fair, Google — and, in particular, its filtering features — are very much tools of the trade for me; I need to be able to find current information on topics that have been discussed for decades (or more) in order to properly do my job.

BTW: I don’t simply tell people to go look for the info. I point at a specific place where the info will be found, usually after confirming myself that useful info can indeed be found there (using two monitors help with quickly checking it).

Reader
Witches

Well you’re not a bad person, but you’re not a very practical one either, unless the person is both a fast reader and a fast learner he will have to just leave to go read the info you chose not to share with him, it’s not as rude as the examples and it’s useful in the long run, but helping him out and telling him about a place where he can find info afterwards would be better.

Reader
Robert Mann

You know, if it was expansions ago the fight is usually a joke anyway, and the mechanics can be largely ignored. So many are “This has to be stopped, everything else is on ignore… tank self heal, everyone else burn!”

Reader
Witches

Actually that kind of info is what the newbie is usually looking for.

Reader
Nick

Exactly. I see all these guides and videos and OMG are they unnecessarily long winded. The best strats I ever read are the ones fired out in chat. “Kill this, don’t touch this, when this happens do this, if you get this mark run here.” Meanwhile the guide for this online will be a 2 page write up or a 20 minute video.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Patreon Donor
Ashfyn Ninegold

Well, you’re leaving out the social aspect of advice. That’s frequently the way people will attempt to start a conversation when they’re in a group of people they don’t know. “So what’s better to use here?” could be just a chatty overture for conviviality. By giving non-advice advice, that basically shuts down that possibility.

From my experience, especially in global chat, people asking for advice have to be brave, because the amount of crap delivered is monumental, the equivalent of having sand thrown in your face the moment you enter the sandbox.

Reader
Robert Mann

This. So much this. A person asks a question in chat, and the entire server spends the next half hour trying to come up with the best insult. It was asked, of course, in party chat in a dungeon, but somebody couldn’t resist saying “Hey, this noob X just asked this! Can you believe that noob?”

Reader
enamel

I admit it took me far too long to realize people aren’t asking questions in chat instead of searching the internet because they are lazy, it is because they are trying to be conversational and social.

camren_rooke
Reader
camren_rooke

I USED to let folks know when first in a pug that I was new or had never been there before. I don’t need to be handheld but a few pieces of advice like ‘Stay out of the red.’ or ‘Stay IN the blue.’ are usually all I need.

Nowadays though, by the time I spawn into a dungeon the tank and/or dps have already started room clearing three rooms up and well….srs bznzz. No time to talk

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Modrain

Twist of point 1: people trying to tell you how to play, *but* by using their localized skill names, usually in english, and expecting you to know how it’s translated. Translation that is of course rarely literal. Turns out it tends to quickly devolves into a condescending point 2, 5 or 7. Thank you, I guess.

deekay_plus
Reader
deekay_plus

good ol ffxiv, the raid or die game people who claim to hate raid or die can’t help but bang their heads on raiding in.

Reader
Jay Power

First time trying to tank in a mmo like FFXIV. Very stressful and I got most on the list. “OMG, you don’t have x ability yet!?” Let’s abandon guys, this won’t work.” My Carby can tank better than you.”
Sucked.

Reader
Sorrior Draconus

Most are not like that and I do hope you still play the game..but honestly they sound like right assholes

Reader
Jay Power

I found a good fc eventually but still thought tanking I’m the game was too much pressure and not fun. I’ve since left FFXIV but not due to buttheads. Just bored.

Reader
Sorrior Draconus

Yeah I understand I take breaks myself tbh. And I am glad you found a good fc can make all the difference

Reader
Dean Dean

That’s entirely your fault for not having researched your class properly. It’s also not acceptable to expect random strangers to put up with your lack of experience. Join a guild and learn how to play properly, or you’ll just be dumped at the curb.

Reader
Jay Power

Thanks Dean Dean! You are them! The people in the list!

Reader
Crowe

I believe Jay has it correctly.

Reader
Dean Dean

Actually, no, because I just gave you very useful advice and you chose to ignore it. There are plenty of people willing to help you learn the game, or that will want to learn it with you. This is why you join a guild and ask for help.

Only entitled brats like yourself join a queue and expect random people to deal with your stupidity. Nobody wants to have their time wasted, not even you. So stop expecting the world to hand you crap on a silver platter and put some effort into something for once in your life.

Reader
Nick

No you didn’t. Your reply was completely devoid of useful information. It was the long form of ‘learn 2 play’

camren_rooke
Reader
camren_rooke

Wow.

Dear Massively, can we get an ignore function?

Reader
Sray

Was that an actual serious comment? In an article that literally states “go watch the video” is useless advice, you tell someone something that amounts to “you should have watched the video”?

Players shouldn’t be having to run out to a dozen third party websites to read textbooks and watch overly long videos on how to play the game, the game should be teaching players how to play it as they play it; which is something that no genre other than MOBAs does a worse job at than the MMORPG. The notion that players should essesntially have to study for hours to play a the game like it’s college homework is a terrible idea that some players have come up with to compensate for the fact that MMORPGs are badly designed in many ways.

camren_rooke
Reader
camren_rooke

Video Games.

SRS BZNSS.

Reader
Jeremy Hunt

Aren’t you pleasant.

camren_rooke
Reader
camren_rooke

Dean Dean doesn’t sound like the type I want to team with anyways AND arguably they wouldnt want me on their team either.

This might be alleviated by one or the other taking the game MORE or LESS seriously but that impinges on fun.

Or the mmo could provide a mechanism to allow new or casual players to group or for folks who are experienced to willingly group with new or unexperienced players.

In either way, casual noobs can learn the game at their pace and Dean Dean’s can not be subjected to them.

Its win win.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Patreon Donor
Ashfyn Ninegold

This has been my pet peeve about dungeons and raids in MMOs since, oh, I dunno, 2005. Only when a game is brand new and everyone’s a beginner (mostly, there’s beta of course) can you learn by actually doing.

The idiocy of “only if you know what you’re doing should you actually be playing” cannot be overstated.

And then people who subscribe to this philosophy can’t understand why no one wants to tank for them, heal for them, do dungeons or by and large prefer solo-only content. Or why their guilds constantly churn and long-time players stop playing.

See Eliot’s article for more on this.

Reader
Robert Mann

I make it a habit to find ways to get people who break the standards of the elitists together, and then put them to shame. This can be tough in some games, but easy in others. After all, if they can’t see that the people they rejected for being “built wrong” beat their raid time by a good 15% in game… well, they never see it.

Still, fun for the players who care not to be mindless FOTM drones.

wpDiscuz