Sex, talk and videogames

11 January 2010 § Leave a comment


It’s now more than a month since 3.3 is released, so I guess it’s time for me to talk a bit about the Dungeon Finder. To start, kudos to Blizzard for turning what was always an awkward system that they tinkered with several times (LFG channel, meeting stones/innkeepers, global LFG channel, LFG tool) into a fantastic addition to the game. Even more interestingly, they took two pieces of infrastructure that they put in place for other reasons (the cross-realm queueing for BGs and the cross-realm instances to solve the “additional instances cannot be launched” issue) and combined them in a new way (with a new algorythm to match roles and gear etc) – nice example of emergent strategy and tinkering.

So then, the LFG tool. I want to make two comments that partly echo what others have said – and then add my own perspective to a third issue. First is that I’m surprised at how well things are working out. Sure, you have the occasional douchebags: from the people who are asleep at the wheel and pulling 1k dps (sorry, was doing that at 70, you MUST do better at 80 – no gear excuse), to the assholes that like to blame the others (especially prevalent in Halls of Reflection – but the Douche award goes to this guy), to the idiots who leave group if it’s Oculus, to the tanks who leave group if it’s not the exact instance they want (clearly they prefer waiting 15 mins for the debuff to clear – and I agree tanks are the new prima donnas). But I also met some great people, from the rogue who tanked Skadi from 60% to 0% when the tank and the other 2 dps failed to move out of whirlwind (sorry, only so many miracles I can do) to the guys that are thankful if I try to explain the bosses in the new instances if they say they are seeing them for the first time.

Second, many people have compared this to casual sex. Now, I don’t know what kind of casual sex you guys have had, and maybe I’ve been lucky but… no, just no comparison. Casual sex still beats LFG tool, sorry. I guess I’m not enough of a WoW junkie (or maybe I’m too much of a dirty slut IRL? One of the two…). For once, you actually talk MORE during casual sex than the average Dungeon Finder PUG. There’s this “code of silence” that really drives me nuts: not as if people cannot spare 2 mins to say “hello” and a couple of other one-liners. In fact, this silence is, as I hope to show, one of the biggest problems of the Dungeon Finder tool.

The biggest snag in the Dungeon Finder system (and so we get to the REAL topic of today’s post) is that there’s five people in that instance. They don’t know each other. Chances are, they haven’t played with each other before. In a best case scenario, they all want the same thing (2 Emblems of Frost in the shortest time), and have the gear that makes this goal attainable. The worst thing to do, however, is to assume precisely that- because no matter what we think, people are different and there’s different options for each instance. Some people may want to kill all possible bosses to get as many Emblems of Triumph as possible: Gundrak, Old Kingdom and Halls of Stone allow you to skip bosses, so it’s important to know where people stand on this issue if you have one of these three instances (I think theoretically you can skip the Commander boss in Nexus, but he’s in the way if you take the shortest route through the bosses anyway). Some people don’t have the gear to keep up with a whirlwind-pace run: not a big problem if it’s a dps (it will just take a smidge of times longer), a bit more of a problem if it’s a healer or (worse) the tank. Some people may actually have other priorities in the instance, too: witness this conversation I had with my druid:

DF Tank: druid, u lagging? y u not w/ us?
Me: I’m skinning
DF Tank: wtf? i’m chain pulling

Me: and I’m skinning….

Aside from the surrealist character of the conversation, the point I was making is, I think, a valid one: my druid still values the leathers, and dungeons are a good source (my only source, since I don’t much quest with him anymore, and I’m not gonna grind mobs to get leather). If the tank wants to pull without a healer, that’s his problem (as long as I’m not taking 15-mins tea breaks between pulls, obviously).

Differences in pace preferences can lead to cans of worms all over the place. The tank may pull ahead of the healer and die – or viceversa, the dps (or the healer!) may get impatient and “help” tanks pull. This doesn’t go down well with our plate queens. Before Linedan and the other tanks start cursing my name and blacklisting me, let me qualify that. I think tanks are control freaks: they want every little thing under control, so that mobs die in a certain order, they are all attacking them, and nothing bad happens. DPS, for the most part, are chaos kids: they jump into groups of mobs and start AoEing everything, and you can almost hear them over the game shouting: “Wheeeeeee!” as they spam their AoE moves. (I’ll refrain from saying what healers are: as far as I’m concerned they are Saints purging the sins of the world with nary a recognition – and this is the version I’ll be sticking with, even if it’s irrelevant for today’s post). The problem is: to chain pull an instance (or, worse, a raid) and keep perfect control, you need an inordinate amount of skill. The other problem: total control is boring if you’re outgearing an instance, as a dps or a healer.

I’ve been in both situations (yay alts!): the reason for this post in fact was reading the post by Linedan and then, the following day, tanking an HoL run with a stellar team of dps from my guild, and a PUG resto druid in ToTC25 gear. Everyone was really trying their best to make my job easier: the druid was innervating me, the tank, every two minutes; all the dps was handling the easier mobs (the casters, basically) without me; we completed it in just above 15 mins; and it was still a run I thoroughly hated. Tanking doesn’t come natural to me, and having to do it at twice the speed I’d be choosing on my own was too much stress for a game. I like being pushed outside my comfort zone: that’s the main reason I play an enhancement shaman and a paladin tank, neither of which role is a natural for me. But that’s exactly the problem: baseline, normal speed tanking is pushing me already. Doing it at breakneck speed is turning “pushing outside comfort zone and improving my game” into “pure stress”.

The solution is pretty simple: communicate. If you, as a tank, want to try to go fast, say so at the beginning. If, as a healer, you outgear Heroics so much you hardly need to drink, make it clear to the tank. If, on the other hand, you want to go a bit more slowly, let everyone know. If you want to skip bosses and just get to the end one, ask if everyone is ok with it.  I really think these 2 mins of communication would make everyone’s life a lot easier, at the very least by aligning everyone’s expectation. Who knows? Maybe we’ll manage to make people realise that they 1 min they lose by stating out their preferences for that run would really help everyone (themselves included) avoid any undue stress. Or at least once they do have some casual sex, they’ll know that they’ll still need to talk to their partner, or just turn it into bad sex.

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