Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dungeon Finder Thoughts

Sometimes I wonder if I use a different Dungeon Finder than all the other bloggers and commenters. The vast majority of my groups are quick, clean, polite, competent and successful. Now, maybe it's because I'm a super-duper awesome healer and am busy carrying my groups to victory, but I don't really think that's the case.

Another alternative is that it's the healers who are the divas and cause the majority of issues in PuGs. Since I'm a healer, I never see them when I use the Dungeon Finder, and thus have better groups. But somehow I don't think that's the case either.

I've played several games without a Dungeon Finder, and I've never found random groups in those games to be better behaved or more competent. If anything, I've found them to be worse, because everyone seems to feel free to go AFK randomly, confident that the group won't kick them because it's so hard to find a replacement.

I mean, take yesterday for example. I ran a Heroic Vortex Pinnacle and then switched to my lowbie 28 rogue and ran a Gnomergan. Both runs were successful. There were no wipes and no drama. And that took less time and effort than setting up any of instance runs I tried in Rift.

To me, that experience is not unusual. It is what I expect from Dungeon Finder groups.1 And I really do not see how anyone can prefer the alternative to this.

To be fair though, I was never very good at creating or maintaining the network of friends that might have made running dungeons pre-LFD easier. I didn't have an extensive rolodex of tanks and healers. For the few I did have, I was never really comfortable whispering someone out of the blue and asking them to tank or heal. I always felt bad about turning people who asked me to heal down. So I stuck with scanning or spamming the various chat channels, with relatively low degrees of success.2

But maybe if you were a more social person than I was, or played more often, and built that extensive rolodex of tanks and healers, I can see how losing your network would hurt. And since you would repeatedly group with people in your network, I can see how it would forge stronger bonds than the impersonal runs of the Dungeon Finder.

However, for me, the Dungeon Finder is light-years ahead of my prior experience.

So that's my take on the Dungeon Finder. I think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. And I'm at a bit of a loss to understand why it seems that so many other people have such a negative impression of it.

Why are my random groups consistently better than everyone else's? Both are purely random, as I don't often run randoms with guildies. Both use the exact same system, and pretty much the same player pool. I'm a decent player, but I'm not that good.

There is one thing I do that might make a difference. I make a point of saying "hiya" in party chat when I join the group. Often other people say "hi" back. Maybe that's enough to get everyone into a positive frame of mind, and remind everyone that we're all friendly people rather than NPCs, and that's enough to carry the group through most things. It seems like such a small thing, but it's the only thing I can think of that might be different from any other random Dungeon Finder group.

1. Well, I was a little bit surprised by Gnomergan. But that's mostly because it's Gnomergan.
2. Especially for low-level dungeons. If there's one thing I absolutely adore about the Dungeon Finder, it's the fact that doing low-level dungeons in a level-appropriate group went from impossible to relatively common.


  1. My personal experience is the same as yours. But my guildies point out that I am usually playing the leveling game (dungeons) and their complaint about LFGed-PUGs is for endgame Heroics. They had the same complaint at level 80 and "now it's even worse" for level 85 (due to Cata difficulty).

    I don't do 85 Heroics much in LFGed-PUGs atm, so I have no idea.

  2. Really, frankly, back in the Wrath era the vast majority of Dungeon Finder PuGs were efficient, successful, and jerk-free.

    I think it's just that we remember the bad runs way more than we remember the decent ones; see Rhii's latest blog posts on Oh My, Kurenai for example (http://www.ohmykurenai.com/).

    As my brother once told me, when you watch a group of dancers, the one you remember is the one that tripped. Or, perhaps, when you look back on academic exams, the questions you remember are the ones you failed.

  3. Language problems might add some extra challenge to it on EU realms - if someone barely knows any English, it doesn't only make communication with their group more challenging, but might also limit their learning of playing the game, since most of the out-of-game resources and the game itself are in most cases in English.

    I've queued up without any guildies 5-ish times in this expansion, and I remember only one of those runs being succesful (and taking 3x the time it would've taken with guildies, duh).

    A small sample size, but I don't think I'm gonna do it again any time soon, especially considering my next alt to hit 85 is my first pure DPS (queues so long I'll rather just queue when I get some guildies to join me).

  4. I mean, take yesterday for example. I ran a Heroic Vortex Pinnacle and then switched to my lowbie 28 rogue and ran a Gnomergan. Both runs were successful.

    Do you remember the names of the people ?

    I think that is what most people complain about. And the occasional erratic group. Also, as dps I hear you need to fight for you right to be there from the first mob group on.

    But the real problem is the teleports and the anonymity. They make a good game, but a bad MMORP for many people.

  5. For me it's not the rolodex, it's the ignore list.

    If someone is a jerk they go onto ignore. When I build a group they don't get to come.

    With a single server to draw from this is pretty effective at removing many of the problem players.

    Regarding Rift it's moving to a single server dungeon finder. Whether that will suffice to get groups remains to be seen but it will allow us to choose not to play with people we didn't like.

    Rammurg: "Language problems might add some extra challenge to it on EU realms"

    I played WoW for many years on the EU realms and I didn't find this to be the case. Most of the demographic that plays video games speaks English reasonably well. And there are excellent resources in Mother Tongue for most European languages, notably Polish, Swedish and Italian.

    Also the French and German speakers have their own servers. (Possibly the Spanish speakers too).

  6. Well, I'm also a healer, and I can count on a single finger the times I've left a PUG because it wasn't possible to complete. And I remember another time when we had a clueless DPS that made the last boss in Throne of the Tides impossible, but he finally left and we could get someone in. Makes me think healers are the most important part of a PUG when I hear all the horror stories.

  7. Same here really. I've met one or two jerks who kick the dps when they're a bit low even when we're doing fine, and even got kicked from a heroic myself once (got blamed for them not understanding mechanics) Mostly groups have been efficient or if not then at least friendly enough to learn from mistakes and improve.

    Overall a positive experience. Completely agree about leveling dungeons. All my old toons did max 3-4 dungeons while leveling but now I can do them all if I want and get a group within minutes! Great system.

  8. The majority of my runs are successful too, but that doesn't equal "fun". The other day I ran heroic Halls of Origination with my hunter, and the tank decided to skip four of the seven bosses and the rest of the group kicked our healer for "not healing enough" even though he had kept everyone up with no problems and we even got the Faster Than the Speed of Light achievement. This is fairly representative for my average run - yes, we'll get it done, but not without someone being a jerk to someone else (not necessarily me) for no reason. I "grew up" in WoW enjoying dungeons for the social experience they provided, even when pugging with strangers from the same server, but since cross-server LFD this experience has become a sour one more often than not.

  9. I think you being a super duper healer has _everything_ to do with it. I am a raid tank, 10/12, and all of my runs are great. I get people achieves without thinking about it, and often the group will congratulating itself on being awesome at the end. I usually run with my brother, who is an 18k dos enh shammy, with an average rest offspec. When he heals or dpses without me though, his runs are so rarely smooth that it's disheartening. He doesn't raid, so his gear is 346 with 6 or so purples, and that's not enough to cure a chain pulling warrior, stam-stacked dk with no mitigation, or "oops, my bad on thy multishot pull instead of trap" hunter.

    Having at least one of tank and healer be awesome makes all the difference; having neither be awesome is what makes heroics hard enough to make them a drag and get people raging, blaming, and being jerks. Karsh Steelbender and Orzuk, for example, are both impossible with an uncoordinated tank, but an epic healer can _still_ save the day (thanks to shatter being reduced by armor and not 1hitting tanks now).

  10. Like any pick up group, some will be good, some bad. Has anyone gone to the park to play some basketball with total strangers and expected them to be perfect and curtious? No way. But in the ned (espcially DPS) no one wants to waste another 20 min que, so ppl just roll with it. Im a pally healer as well, and have had some terrible groups, ppl pulling, tanks seeing im in full epics so they think they can mass pull etc. But in the long run 85% of the groups ive been with, either as a healer OR a dps have been easy going and focused on getting done with no drama.

    And i agree, one thing i hated in BC was sitting in shatt, running in countless circles praying for a group to form that i could heal for, I spent 2+ hours at times waiting for a group to form, or waiting for ppl for a group i created, All hail LFD i say haha

  11. I've just leveled another toon through just mostly healing instances. Most of those groups have been [contrary to my previous experience] mostly drama free. I also have no qualms about leaving a group of jerks. I used to try and stick it out no matter what abuse I got - now if I get cussed out for no reason, I just leave. I don't need the drama.

    Through Northrend instancing, I have had one bad group, which I left.

    Now on my high level alts - I've had several bad regulars. And I don't pug heroics [good bad or indifferent - as a tank, there are always people who want to come with].

    Stuff still does happen though. Just yesterday, a friend of mine who was a geared raid tank was tanking a regular BRC run and when he paused to ask if people knew the second boss fight mechanics, two jerks started cussing him out for going too slow and daring to stop.

    So, eh, there's less now than I expected to see [I had a weekly column on my blog in LK detailing my trials with the system], so it's a pleasant surprise.

    Time will tell if my luck holds out :)

  12. Darn, I was working on a similar post.

    I've run a lot of dungeons with random people and the vast majority of the time everything is great. And, as you said, it makes doing the lower level dungeons possible. That is where I spent most of my time, doing those dungeons with alts.

    Only with Wrath heroics did I regularly run into anything like the jerk-factor that so many people whine about so loudly.

  13. May be complete and utter perception but I recently moved my toon from a server in the phoenix datacenter to a server in the chicago datacenter and the pugging experience has been much smoother. I still have a few turd pugs here and there but for the most part the players seem much more experienced. Not sure why that is. Could be the moon guard effect. (moon guard is in phoenix)

  14. Most of my LFG runs have been...OK. But the bad ones will always stick with you. Like last night's Throne of Tides run where we had 3 tanks drop before we even reached the first boss (1st tank bailed before pulling, 2nd tank bailed after the first trash pack and the 3rd tank was a complete ass-dripping as he answered my guildie's "Hi. Who do you want me to sheep?" with "Fuck you.", aggroed the mob and THEN bailed).

    When we actually got a tank who stuck around (#4), we had a very smooth run with no problems. But it's moments like that that make me only want to run dungeons with friends &/or guildies (ESPECIALLY if I'm asked to switch to my crappier Ret spec and gear). :(

  15. as most of you have said, it's all about the tank/healer, although occasionally i ended up with 3 dps who would stand in fire/slime/voidzones 24/7 and rage about dieing. other times, you have a perfect group and everything goes well.

    also, i have seen alot of people who actually inspect others in Recount and the like, and then rage at players for bad dps and bad rotations, often resulting in a votekick, when you think about it, it's very disturbing.

    I, myself don't heal heroic PUG's when i had a bad day, just to be safe :D

  16. In my experience with the Dungeon Finder, I've probably seen more good groups than bad, but as with many things in life (and WoW,) one bad banana can ruin the bunch. I think since Cata's release people have become mean and bitter, expecting more and willing to give less, which usually cause more friction than a Tauren Druid in Aboriginal Leggings. People with the ironic title of "the Patient" are maxing out their vote-kick opportunities so fast groups can barely keep up.

    I can hardly rememer what it was like finding dungeon groups without LFD, that's how jaded I've become, and while I often avoid it on my main, unless I've got at least 1-2 guildies to queue with me, I *really* love it on my low level alts. I ran two randoms the other day on my 35 Mage, got Maraudon both times, and both times were relatively easy runs, and they were FUN.

    I think most ot the hate for LFD stems from the queue times, particularly for DPS. I've come to ignore them really, having plenty to do while I wait, but as you all know there's been *plenty* written about queue times, from every perspective, and usually in a very colorful manner ;)

  17. The quality of the PUGs has been steadily improving as people get better gear and become more familiar with the dungeons. I rarely, if ever, run into a completely fail PUG these days; and even when I do it's easier to just grit my teeth together and just heal through it than to ragequit and requeue.

    I think that the reason that we hear about the bad ones so much is that they make such wonderful blog fodder.

  18. I think it's a case of the glass half/half empty scenario. Those who whine about LFG are typically the people who whine about everything.

    I never really understood those who miss the pre-Dungeon Finder days. Did they actually PLAY WOW before pre-LFG? It was horrid! 30 min to over an hour of spamming chat, to get a group. By the time you have your full group, the first person to accept your invite has to go. I can't remember a single non-guild run where I actually finished an instance with the same 4 people I started with.

    As for attitudes in LFG, I guess it's easier to remember the jerks and get caught up in the self pity. But I pug a lot (in the first few weeks of Cata I was pugging AT LEAST one heroic a day) and I'd say 9 out of 10 groups are lovely. Sure, we don't have long drawn out conversation, but I don't run heroics to talk about the weather! And I'd take silent runs any day over the boring "what class do we need now" conversations we'd have for hours in pre-LFG pugs.

  19. That was very well said and I found myself nodding as I was reading your post. The only thing that is wrong is the part about sliced bread which is overrated to be honest. I have very little experience with leveling dungeons though, maybe the heroics are OK but leveling dungeons are bad?

    Honestly, I think if anyone remembered the grouping before LFD, they would see how awesome it is. I don't have to endure the annoying people as I had to because finding a replacement was more annoying than anything they did. And even if they're suffering from sudden exhaustion syndrome, my pet peeve, (you know it, someone suddenly gets so tired they are not able to stay online for more than 5 seconds it takes them to quit the game), before LFD it usually meant that I would do my dungeon next day (or next month if it was a levelling one). Now it's just 5 minutes on top of the dungeon.

    To be honest, most of the perceived disadvantages of dungeon finder sound like a perfect question for Radio Yerevan. :o)

    Silent.Alias: No, I don't think so. You could say that I'm overgeared for heroics too, having full 346 gear with 2 epics on my disco priest alt but I started at ilvl 329 and didn't find any problems even then.

  20. It was mentioned a few times but I'd like to add my vote on selective perception. In the years pre-LFD I was never abused. Now it happens. Rarely, but it does. And nobody likes being abused, that's why even 50 perfect smooth runs don't compensate for the one run you've been abused.

    In addition to that, when I'm on my tank I get an instant group. Within the first 5 minutes I know if I'm going to enjoy the run or not. If I think I'm not going to enjoy the run, I'll drop group. There is no relevant penalty to dropping group. I might miss my 70 VP that day (who cares?) or just queue again 10 minutes later. Nobody can abuse me as I'll just leave and walk away as soon as I don't enjoy it anymore.

    Compare that to a non-role changing DD class. You'll wait 45 minutes in the queue to finally get a group. You can't leave as you would loose your invested 45 minutes. And if you get kicked, you loose your 45 minute. You're at the mercy of the luck of the draw. And everyone can easily abuse one way or the other. You have no chance to avoid that as you won't get your 45 minutes back. That can also put some pressure on you. Therefor I think the fact that you play a healer also has something to do with that.

  21. I've had the same experience as you but then again that might be because I run a Healadin. But the most problems I've really had with a group is that some people pick tank just to get a dungeon faster and they suck at tanking and i end up having to bubble all the time just to keep from dying.

  22. Your supposition that healers are different is correct. A single fail dps isn't going to wreck your group except on very specific encounters. Even tanks don't have all that much of a 'skill tax' associated with them.

    But if you get a bad healer, all of a sudden encounters that you breezed through are much, much more difficult.

  23. Kring, you might have a point.

    Pre-LFD, the queues took quite long even for tanks. As a result, all players were forced to take any abuse from their group mates or be punished by having to wait a lot or (if they didn't have hours of time) losing their chance to finish a dungeon on the day.

    Now, the tanks can simply requeue for an instant instance, healers have to wait for ~10 minutes and DPS for 45 or so (I'm not sure as I don't play a DPS). That might be quite a lot for some players who may feel they are forced to take the abuse to do their dungeon (which they had before as well) but some players aren't (while they were forced to before).

    Last anon: I don't really agree. While a bad DPS can be covered for, a bad tank can be quite a problem. (Of course, if your healer and DPSers are great, they will be able to handle it, but it's not an easy feat.)

  24. I would love to see a blogger OBJECTIVELY document a series of randoms. Record how long each took, how many wipes, screenshot any drama, who left, who got kicked, etc.

    The blogger would remain completely neutral, always vote no on kicks, and certainly not start anything.

    A combination of DPS and healers and tanks would be interesting to see if any classes or roles tend to start more drama than others. And different times of the day. I've always thought that early morning randoms might be more mature and mellow.

    I wonder if Blizzard would FUND that study?