The Daily Grind: Is the movement against LFG just privileging a different type of MMO player?

    
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In the comments of a BlizzCon article a few weeks ago, there was an interesting discussion about content. One commenter argued that it didn’t matter whether Blizzard made Mythic+ dungeoning more accessible because anybody who couldn’t already do it “wouldn’t step into dungeons anyway.” To which a whole bunch of people pointed out they looooove dungeoning but felt cut out of the content because it’s not LFG-friendly.

I thought the discussion was illuminating because it reminded me that what people consider “difficult” or “accessible” varies so wildly. The raider types scoff that the content is barely more difficult than a heroic dungeon, but that wasn’t actually the barrier for the dungeoner types in the first place – it was the social and time requirement of assembling a group, of herding cats. As Eliot adroitly remarked, there’s nothing inherently good about a sign in front of a dungeon that essentially says “you must be at least this gregarious and outgoing to play the game”; it’s just a holdover from more ancient constructions. “Whether or not I feel like painstakingly coordinating a group should not be the determinant of whether or not I’m capable of playing the game,” he argued.

What do you think? Are we privileging the “gregarious” when we nuke LFG tools to cater to old-school movements? Is the movement against LFG just privileging a different type of MMO player?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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Aldristavan
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Aldristavan

I definitely feel shut out from Mythic dungeons and content. My mains are an Alliance hunter and a Horde warlock — both DPS classes. Trying to get into one of those groups, even using the custom Group Finder tool (which isn’t automatic and requires approval by the person who posted the group) is a nightmare. Group Finder groups will only accept DPS that essentially are way overgeared compared to the content, but will happily accept averagely geared healers or undergeared tanks. This isn’t a problem at all in the auto-organized LFG groups, where you are queued so long as you meet a minimum threshold.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

While this discussion focuses on WoW, let’s look at a game that has a Looking For tool that no one uses. LOTRO’s LFF tool (Looking For Fellowship) is used by next to no one to form a group. It doesn’t match across servers. But groups still have to use it to auto-port and enter the instance or skirmish they want to do.

Consequently, chat is still filled with LFM requests for all levels of content.

Here’s the thing about that. Players are well aware of what content is being done and what type of classes are most requested, where players are concentrated. Moreover, players new to the game get a feel for the community, how people interact, what the game-specific acronyms are.

And there’s one other thing. When you use LFG tools, you have no idea how many groups are forming or what they are doing or what they are looking for. You’re just automatically matched. You’re never going to join a low-level group using a LFG tool.

In LOTRO, when I see someone struggling to get a group, especially a low-level instance, I’ll often switch to a lower-level alt and join in. It’s refreshing to play lower-level content with people I don’t know.

LOTRO is often cited as one of the friendliest and most accessible and welcoming communities. Part of that is because we play with each other, we know each other. People come into world chat and call out Good Morning! to the server. When players leave, they tell world chat, “I’ll be back later” or “kids are home, gotta go.” The whole server sees this.

When it’s time to do difficult content, I’m often playing with people I don’t know, but since I either had to answer a LFG request or put one out there, there’s the beginning of a conversation. You never get that in WoW. Hellos in LFG are often unanswered, which I just consider rude. When you join a group, people don’t greet you. Which I also consider rude.

Anyone who regularly reads MOP knows I’m an introvert and generally prefer solo play, especially in WoW. Blizzard is constantly throwing out there that they want their games to be more social. The new Diablo will be “more social”. One wonders what their definition of social is. Grade school recess? My experience of WoW’s world community is that it is full of chat PvPers, people quick with a put down, looking for ways to ridicule other players, and attack with language calculated to be offensive or demeaning, seemingly intended to drive people out of chat, if not the game, so they can claim victory. This is the community Blizzard has built.

I may enjoy parts of their game, but for the most part, I want no part of Blizzard’s stunted idea of social. The more Blizzard requires group content for progression, the less interested I become. Not because I’m less gregarious, I’m actually not, but because Blizzard’s social machinations have created a so-called community I want no part of.

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Sestramor

Well of course there is the group finder tool, and people are organising their myth+ runs there. So you do not need a guild or pre-existing social group if you so choose.

The raider types scoff that the content is barely more difficult than a heroic dungeon

Well Mythic 0 dungeons are really nothing more than Heroic 1.5. It’s really that easy.
Myth+2 and 3 often remind me of Vanilla WoW: You have to think about Crowd Control and avoid the fire;) But they are definitely managable.

Things begin to get interesting with Mythic+4 and higher.

While I understand the frustration of being forced to form a group to experience content I also don’t see WoW LFR Raiders finish Myth+ Dungeons via LFG tool. It’s either frustrating for the whole group or the developers have to tone the dungeons down like the LFR Raids meaning you just stand around and do your damage and don’t think about boss mechanics too much or at all.
But then the myth+ dungeons would be … normal mode dungeons?

I just don’t see the WoW LFG tool working with Myth+ dungeons.

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Jacquotte Fox Kline

I don’t like games turning into real-life social platforms. I want to be immersed in the game world. I don’t want to always be on Discord for real-life chatting, which is what seems to be more and more demanded, just to participate in the MMO citizenry.

It benefits the game makers to support the social platform direction, because that drives engagement, which drives traffic to their virtual mall, basically.

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Alli

I think LFG is one of the ways that allows people who don’t already have friends playing a game, but want to play group content, get involved. So many games lately assume you already have a group of friends together going right into the game and that might not be true for everyone.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

This is true. I play a lot of games and have friends. But no one I know games, not even my spouse. All the people I know who game I met in-game.

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dixa

The LFG group tool is fantastic, when it remains local to your server. You still build a community, and you meet people you otherwise might not.

What destroyed the LFG tool was not the raid finder, it was making it cross realm so the DPS folks would have slightly shorter queue’s. Of course that didn’t end up being the case, and now it’s nothing but anon people you might never group with again.

Standing around trying to form a group yourself is annoying, especially if you are introverted irl. The LFG tool not only helps this, but helps introverts break out of their shells by putting them together with others from their server.

It also doesn’t work if people can pay for name changes cheaply.

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Skoryy

Now that I’m home from work and – hooboy – had a chance to play catch up, I’ll just run through a few arguments as to why we do have LFG now.

“But it weeded out players with bad rep!” If the guy with the bad rep could bring the deepz, guess who’s getting a slot. Hell, guess who’s flaunting their schmuck personality knowing full well they’ll get a slot. Power dynamics is really a thing.

“But nobody talks to each other!” I’m remiss as to when LFG came with an enforced mute button. I’ve talked to people in LFG before. If we’re not off and running at the get go, I can get in a ‘hello’ and flail away at my keyboard for a ‘thanks’ before everyone hits the exit button. If someone wants to strike up a chat? I’m down with that.

“But it makes content faster!” Well, yeah. You might like the slow path. I find enforced downtime and gating nothing but pure horse hockey. That’s okay. Nobody plays the game wrong, except for the gold sellers. Different strokes for different folks.

“But Insert-Elite-Content-Here is easy!” Baker Mayfield makes tossing footballs look easy, but I sure as heck ain’t hitting Hollywood Higgins in stride like he can. Sure, its easy for you, but not all of us have the talent, time, or inclination to make it that easy for the rest of us. Sometimes I don’t mind a challenge. Most of the time I just want to take my magic axe and go wreck stuff. Again, different strokes for different folks.

And now both cats are crowding my keyboard, which I’ll take as my sign to go. Just remember the golden rule about multiplayer games: Be excellent to each other and party on, dudes!

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Rottenrotny

I rue the day that MMOs started adding automatic looking for dungeon group finders. This opened the door to the devs basically being forced to cater to the ultra casual player since they quickly became the majority once content like dungeons was made so easily accessible with just the push of a button.

This caused many aspects of MMOs to become very quick, easy and anonymous. No more needing to socialize and make sure your player/guild reputation was good. Group finders and cross server grouping ruined server communities and invited more toxic troll type behavior. When you join a random dungeon group with the LFD tool you’re likely never to see them again so feel free to troll the shit out of them!

That being said, I’m fine with casuals having things like that. I too sometimes get home from work and just want to jump in and run a couple dungeons real quick.

However, a better route would be to make different types of servers. One type that includes all the auto group finder stuff and another that has none of that. In WoW terms: No phasing, no CRZ, no LFD/LFR, no automatically porting in and out of the dungeons. I believe they mentioned the possibility of this with the term Pristine Servers.

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Bruno Brito

Make a LFG tool that teleports you to the entrance of the zone. You have to walk there to the dungeon.

dixa
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dixa

casual? define casual?

the quest for casual as many people like you seem to think is the current state of WoW has created a game where you have SO many “casual” activities you have to do EVERY DAY to be able to raid or do mythic+ that it’s actually the complete opposite of a “casual” game.

What the LFG tool does do is help introverted people break out of their shells. It only fails when it becomes cross faction and/or cross server, meaning your reputations mean nothing. Reputation has to mean something to build a community.

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LITF

I think both side ate onto something, but neither are right.

First of all it’s hard to Deni there is a lot of elitism going on. LFG made it way too easy to cherry pick, because it made any player at any time disposable. Old school LFG was limited to a realm and you were better off building meaningful social links with people on your realm to do stuff. This is gone now. In past it was more important to have smart, reliable, well tempered and willing people in your group. Now it is irrelevant – you won’t see that person again with a pretty high probability.

Next, people are way less willing to give someone with lower gear a chance. I had struggled on my ungeared alts, while getting instantly accepted on my geared main. People only seem to care about gear, not the person.

That summs up what is terribly wrong with current LFG system.

Now, should group content be accessible to players not committed to it? No. It’s not the entire game, but just a part of it. Owning game doesn’t make them entitled for it. If anything, group content should be more social and require people to commit a bit of their time and communicate with others, build connections.

We should foster a better community, where casual but well tempered people are given a chance more often. Where people recruit not the gear score value, but rather a person.

TheFoxGoesMoo
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TheFoxGoesMoo

I think the sentiment of “why should I have to interact with other people to form a party together” is a little weird when you’re playing an MMO. They’re built on social interaction. Paring down forced social interaction kind of defeats the point of an MMO I think. May as well just go play a singleplayer rpg instead.

I think things like dungeon finders that match you with people are bad, but tools that facilitate finding people to group with are fine.

dixa
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dixa

this is a bogus argument given the existence of discord.