Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Is Questing Anti-Social?

Tobold has an interesting post, Making Quests Less Anti-Social, where he argues that people do not group up for quests because quests "*must* be done alone if the players want to maximize rewards".

I agree that most people don't group up with strangers when doing solo quests. However, I've always found grouping to be more efficient, especially for reducing downtime. Additionally, grouping with people is usually more fun than going it alone.

Second, if players were going solo to maximize reward, I would think that if you asked someone to group, they would turn you down. Yet my experience is that if you encounter someone doing the same quest as you, and you ask if you can join their group, 90% of the time they will send you an invite. To me, that behaviour implies that maximizing reward is not the reason that people don't group.

I think people don't group because they are ambivalent about approaching strangers. Maybe it's fear of rejection, a desire not to impose on someone else, or feeling bad about asking for help. But my experience is that a lot of people are perfectly willing to group up, they just don't want to be the one to ask. And because you can solo most quests, they don't ask unless they have to.

In some ways, I think this behaviour is at the heart of the whole 'clique' issue in a lot of guilds. You join a guild, and your guildmates become something more than strangers, but less than friends (at least at the start). It's still hard to approach them and ask if you can join them, because they are sort-of strangers. Yet it still stings when they leave you out, because they are sort-of friends, and you expect your friends to ask you to do stuff.

So I don't know how to solve this. Maybe Public Quests in Warhammer Online will solve this problem, by implicitly grouping people in the same area on the same quest, without making one party formally ask and risk rejection. In WoW, though, if you are willing to take the first step, and ask for help on the General channel, or whisper someone you see working on the same quest, you may be surprised at how easy it is to group up with a perfect stranger.

Funny/weird grouping story: A couple of nights ago, I grouped with a mage to do another Arathi Highlands quest. This mage didn't like buffs. He didn't run Arcane Intellect, didn't cast a mage Armor. He even asked me to turn off my Aura (I was on a paladin alt--yeah, I'm not really sure why, either). I wasn't able to figure out why he had an aversion to buffs, but he was a nice guy in all other respects and we finished that quest easily.


  1. It's because of the mindset behind the different types of quests. They either take longer to do (Collection quests) or the player feels the loss of experience and items is too great for the time saved by grouping.

    If they want to fix it, they need to make all aspects of grouping more beneficial, so that people actually want to group. Increased experience, increased drop rates, increased reputation gain, etc, etc.

    The bonuses to the player should make them feel they are actually gaining something worthwhile to group for. Giving them small bonuses to everything concerned with quests is the right way to go.

    Probably the easiest, most simple solution would be to increase the gold rewarded by quests based on the number of members in your party that completed the quest. Some type of counter mechanic that stored how many people where grouped when the quest was completed would then improve the amount of gold awarded by a quest.

    Gold makes people do anything.

  2. I disagree with you, Stop. If people really felt that way, why don't they say no when I ask people to group?

    I go, "group?". They send me an invite. That behaviour is not consistent with people avoiding groups.

    Also I disagree that collection quests take longer. Think about it. I could group with someone, and we could both kill different mobs. That's exactly the same as not being in a group, and so the expected time to complete is the exact same.

    However, killing the same mob is faster, there's less downtime, and we share buffs. If one party can heal, that makes things even faster.

  3. I agree with Rohan. I think there's a lot of people that are willing to help out, especially if they're on the same quest. But I can remember a number of times when I've been out farming, and somebody asks for help with a quest. I may help out because I need a break from farming and I can feel his pain when remembering that quest.

    The other "issue" that comes to my mind is that I'm fine doing this one quest with this person, but I don't want to be wrangled in to doing a bunch of other ones with him that I've already done or in an order that I don't want to do them. I usually just take charge and say, "Okay, we're done. I'm going to go do this other quest now if you'd like to do it with me." That way we can benefit if he wants to, or we can both be on our merry ways.

  4. Grouping is almost always better imho. Yes the drops may take longer, but you kill quicker with less downtime. The primary reason I refuse group invites is often because the toon is much lower level, or a class that will just get in the way.

    eg. I have a dps druid in the 55s, and got asked to group with a tank spec 48 warrior. He's not going to tank the mobs well, I will pull aggro for speed, and tat means my leveling time is slowed.

  5. I like to level with speed and efficiency, so there are times that I prefer not to group with people. If you find that collection quests go faster with a partner, you're probably playing an inefficient class.

    If I'm grinding on some green/yellow mobs with a Hunter or a Rogue, there will be virtually no down time and I'm pretty sure I'll be able to get the drops more efficiently (i.e. in less than half the time) than if some sub-par DPS/tank/heal class followed me.

    I also don't like to get "stuck" with people, like leiandra said. However, I have no problem sayin, "I'm done, later." If you're not a friend, I'm not gonna do your quests for a half hour when I could be doing my own.

    Yet I'm more than willing to group for other quests - like kill 10 'x', go assassinate 'y', etc. Sure, I'll lose a little xp from the kills, but I see it as a golden rule type of thing. I'd like someone to offer to share, rather than hog all the kills, so I'll do the same.

    I think one way to improve it would simply be to alter the way collection quests work. Either make it so that each person can loot the quest item, or convert them all to "Kill 10 'x'" quests. With that you're definitely getting a positive (increased quest completion speed) to offset your negative (lower xp/loot per kill).

  6. Maybe it's just me then, but I say no all the time. Grouping for me is just extra baggage.

    I don't think its the same though. Generally people won't put it on FFA in a group, so if you're killing different mobs at different times then you're spending time running around loot other corpses, and that's inefficient.

    Killing speed is relative to your class though. If I'm burning through a collection quest killing a mob every 10 seconds, and grouping with you cuts it to 8, but I need to kill twice as many, that isn't faster. Even if it's a simple kill quest, grouping really needs to speed it up to make it worth it for me. It's just less management, less to worry about.


  7. Quoth Rohan: "Second, if players were going solo to maximize reward, I would think that if you asked someone to group, they would turn you down."

    That depends on how strongly they feel about doing it alone.

    I generally prefer to go solo, and will attempt to do so even if there's someone nearby working on the same quests (and even if I'm playing my slower-killing Pally, who could arguably use the help). As far as I'm concerned, the content is designed to be soloed, and figuring out how to do so efficiently with the abilities on the class I'm playing is like a puzzle that I want to figure out on my own. Taking down "group" quests solo is one of the few things a solo player can aspire to in the game at the moment.

    That said, my desire for self-sufficiency is less than:
    A) My willingness to help my fellow player if they can be bothered to ask politely and
    B) My concern that my life will become more difficult if I spurn the guy I'm competing with for spawns. (The latter factor is more significant in TBC content, where a greater number of quests have a "kill the named" followup that will go much faster if I don't need to wait for it to respawn after the other guy beats me to it).

    As a result, I will generally accept an invite if someone sends it (unless I'm one kill away from finishing a kill quest and don't want to feel obligated to stick around and help them finish theirs). That doesn't mean that I secretly prefer to group, it just means that I'm prepared to compromise on what I would otherwise have wanted if that's what makes the most sense in a given situation.

  8. Maybe the mage had an antimagic flu.

  9. > Also I disagree that collection quests take longer. Think about it. I could group with someone, and we could both kill different mobs. That's exactly the same as not being in a group, and so the expected time to complete is the exact same.

    @Rohan, you are forgetting that after you finish looting your 10x{pieces of junk}, if the other person still has only 6 pieces, you spend more time just waiting for him to get the loot.

    As for your mage story, I find it more disturbing than funny. About the only excuse I would accept for behavior such as you describe would be a Role-Player following some specific Role he's developed, but you've never mentioned playing on a RP server.

  10. Levelling up was quite a lonely business, but for some levels I happened to walk the same path as a paladin. We soon became the "unvicable duo" - pala and mage works terrific together. I clearly had the feeling we did things with more speed and efficiency - but above all - we had so much more of fun than we else would have had.

    How I met him? Well... sending an SOS in Hinterlands when I was facing a quest that was a little too difficult to me to handle on my own. It's actually quite good when they force us who are a bit shy to group up, by designing the quests that way.
    (Even though it may be annoying to carry groupqs for ages in your log, since you fail to find a group for them... the other side of the coin I guess)

  11. You really aren't rewarded for grouping, outside of the extra social interaction. I have leveled a lot of toons, and it is just a fact for me that I level faster alone. I'm sure your thesis about the lack of grouping is a factor, but I think the reward aspect Tobold mentions is more responsible.

    I get the answer "no" all the time when I request a group (or more often, they just don't say anything, which to me is more annoying). And when I'm on collection quests, my tendency is to say no myself, unless it's a class that has difficulty soloing and I feel sorry for them.

  12. That mage was probably doing one of those gimmick leveling things, like "no clothes" or "no quests that involve killing wildlife" or something.
    Except his challenge was "no buffs whatsoever".

  13. What bothers me is that I don't consider this to be a broken aspect of the game. At all.

    I LIKE that I can log in and spend some time soloing and that it doesn't really impact efficiency. Changing the game to increase rewards when in a group would make me feel forced into a social contract that I might not be interested in. Because as much as I might not want to group up on a given day, I want to level quickly a lot more.

    I think you're right about the problem being a social one. How many people find it hard to stop and ask for directions, or to randomly say 'hi' to people they meet in a large city. The anonymousness of being online seems to help let people come out of their shells in WoW, but it doesn't mean they'll come all the way out.

  14. I often offer to group with people on all but collect quests. Honestly the only time I group with people for collect quests is if the drop rate is fairly high or the mobs that drop the items needs are abundant. Example, I will group when grinding Furblogs in Felwood as the drop rate on the rep items is fairly good and there are a lot of mobs. Grouping for the SSO daily for More Ore is painful, as I have bad luck on key drops.

    Other reason I will group with people on quests is if the horde is enforce and ganking. Does not always make a difference, but can help sometimes.

  15. Having an Anti-Social personality I spend more time solo than grouped, plus being 8 hours ahead of the US servers makes groups rare. My toon hit 57 just now and I have done three instances.

    Stangely I do like grouping to help players that are multiple levels below and feel that I am doing my bit.

  16. Personally, I just get tired of waiting for a group to form up. I usually have enough trouble getting a group on the quests that suggest 2-5 players, much less for regular quests. Besides, when playing Horde, one tends to avoid Barrens chat unless they want a headache. ;) Most of our other areas are not too much better.

  17. Hmm. it all depends on the person questing. If he is going to be selfish about the xp he wants, then yeah, grouping for quests is anti-social - but I guess that is the mentality of the person.

    grouping also does not mean you need a 5 man group (unless you are instancing). My mage alt (lvl 15) grouped with a hunter alt (lvl 15), and I got more xp in that hour than i would have got solo, as we killed a lot faster than either could solo.

    group questing rocks !