Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Not Everybody Wants to Herd Cats for a Living

One thing I've noticed over the past couple of months or so in Classic is a general reluctance to actually start up and get groups together for runs. I've mentioned this before, but the reason why it came into sharp focus the other day was the following scenario:

  • First person posts a "LFG Mara".
  • Second person posts a "LFG Mara".
  • First person posts a "LFG Mara".
  • Second person posts a "LFG Mara".
  • Third person jumps in and says "You both should talk".
I whispered the third person to agree with him, and we both expressed frustration about people not wanting to take the initiative. He felt it was laziness that led people to just posting and not initiating, but I thought that there might be an aspect of shyness to it as well.

In their own way, MMOs are an ideal game for a shy or introverted person to interact with the world. You can go about playing a game online under your own rules, without having to play with other people at all. At the same time, you reap the benefits of a living, breathing online world. Of course, there's that initial leap that you have to make in actually starting to play.

And sticking to PvE servers too.

I can't be mad at people avoiding the responsibility of putting a group together, because when I started WoW that would have been me. I still remember the emotions and almost terrifying hustle and bustle of a busy Orgrimmar the first time Soul escorted me in the gates, but what was even worse --for me, anyway-- was the first time I did it alone. It's like trying to find your way in a new city with a pretty rudimentary map, and the occasional "need a guild?" whisper buffeted me. It was like I was back in my first day of high school, trying to find my way around and realizing that those who I thought were my friends in elementary school were anything but.

If '10 year player' me were to just tell newbie me "just put yourself out there and LFG", newbie me would never have believed him. Even the LFG queue, which was designed to match people quickly with what they wanted to run, was a terrifying step. "What if I fucked up?" I thought. I'd quickly read over the online walkthroughs once more for the instance I'd selected, just to make sure I didn't screw up and get crapped on by the others in the group.

Kind of like this, but with MMOs.

Naturally, my first LFG 5-man would be Azol-Nerub, which is a (relatively) simple instance in theory, but the webs in the background kept confusing me as to where to go as they all seemed to blend together. But I somehow persevered, and I made it through that first time.

In the years since, I'd done enough instances that I know how these work --whether or not you have a walkthrough handy-- but those feelings of "please don't screw up" never really leave me.* And getting a group together means you're partially responsible for the group composition in the first place, so I have a tendency to blame myself since I was the one who "approved" everyone's entry in the first place.

In addition to the fear of reaching out an assembling a group, there's also the "tune out" part of playing an MMO: people who already herd cats in jobs aren't necessarily going to be interested in doing the same thing in an online game. Just like how some people don't want to be part of guild leadership because "they do the same damn thing all day long", people won't want to pull together a PUG just to go run Maraudon, for example. And if you've a hard time finding a tank, which is the current hard to find role on Myzrael, you can spend your entire evening just being frustrated.**

I suppose what I'm saying is to all the people who don't want to be Type A personalities and actively put together PUGs for the instances you want, I grok you.*** You've got your reasons, and while I don't know the specific ones, I understand. I'm fine with organizing our PUGs (now, anyway); just don't be a stranger.

*Particularly for wipes.

**Not that LFG is any better, mind you. I remember days when I wanted to get into a specific instance and waiting a couple of hours for it to pop, only to have the tank or healer drop as soon as we got to the instance. Given that I've seen this in both WoW and SWTOR, I believe this to be an MMO-wide practice where LFG queues are concerned. At least with a PUG via LFG or LookingForGroup, you're going to find people who actually want to be there, even though that may take a while.

***'Grok'. Wow, that's an entry for the Wayback Machine.


  1. Yeah, I can completely understand people being hesitant to build groups. Not just because of shyness, but also uncertainty of what's needed I guess. I remember during my brief stint in LOTRO I didn't want to be the one to build a dungeon group for example, simply because with 6 characters to a party I wasn't sure what a good group setup would look like, not to mention that as a complete newbie I had no clue which classes could fill which role. It's much easier to tag along with someone with more experience first.

    Also, on my hunter in Classic I rarely do group building simply because it's a bother to start with the dps - being the group that spams "LF2M, need tank and healer" for an hour is not a position I want to be in. If we already got a tank on the other hand, I'm happy to take charge.

    That said, people talking right past each other in the LFG channel repeatedly is definitely amusing. If I see other dps LFG for the same place I want to go I simply take it as a cue that there is clearly more dps supply than demand at the moment.

    1. I finally got into a Sunken Temple run last night, and having done it I believe some of these later instances have requirements above and beyond the basic configuration of Tank/Heals/3 DPS that make PUGs a bit more difficult to come by. The Eranikus fight pretty much requires either a Hunter/Lock Pet or an off Tank to handle the sleep effect, and there are likely other ones out there in other later instances.

      Still, there seems to be perpetually more DPS supply than demand out there.