Monday, April 20, 2020

The "Multiple" Part of MMOs

One thing I've noticed over my time in WoW Classic is that I've been able to connect with a wider group of people than I ever did in LOTRO, SWTOR, or ESO.* Yes, there's Retail WoW, but outside of the guild(s) in my Retail years there's a diminishing return on reaching out to people outside of your guild.

Part of this is, I suspect, the lack of an automated LFG/LFR in Classic. This, along with no server merges/crossovers means that you have to look for players on the server when you want to run an instance or PUG a raid. This is a pretty well documented feature of Classic, and when you're on the short end of the stick --such as not being a tank when putting a group together these days-- the automated LFG feature can look like a godsend. However, as someone I ran an Uldaman instance a couple of weeks ago put it, that automated feature simply aggravated the situation by making people care less about the people you ran with, rather than more.

"If I had a dollar the number of times I ported into The Old Kingdom only to have at least one or two people immediately drop, I'd have thought I won the lottery," I quipped.

After some thinking about the matter, I do believe that there's another reason why I've been more social in Classic than just the memories and shared experiences.

I've run into tons of people who said to me "I'm a bit rusty here, as I've not run this instance since 2007," and I've not cared a whit. Other times, people have said "Shouldn't we do [tactics] instead of [other tactics]? We did this the other day and it seemed to work," and I've been fine with either.

But there's more to it than just being tolerant of fellow players.

I've been in runs in the other games with assholes, and I've been in runs with fantastic people. But except for Classic, I've never seen people sacrifice one toon's run to help the group.


The other day in Blackrock Depths, I was in with Cardwyn helping people complete the Jailbreak escort quest --we were on the "kill both Angerforge and the Golem Lord" portion-- when we hit a stone wall. We couldn't unlock the door to get to either boss without the Shadowforge Key, and nobody had it. "Hey," I said, "I'll drop from the group, log into my main, and you can add her."

"Does she have the key?" one of the group asked.

"No, but she's an L60 Rogue," I replied. "She can pick the lock. Just like how she can pick the lock to the back door of Stratholme."

"You'd really do that?"

"Sure, it's not an issue at all. Az is stuck in Silithus, however, so it'll be a few before I get to BRD."

If you think about it, in other MMOs people would have dropped group once we hit a roadblock. After all, there's the quick and easy solution of using the automated tool. But if you're in a group and you invested time and energy putting the group together, you're not going to let a roadblock be an issue.

And the thing is, I was merely paying it forward for a BRD run that Card was in a couple of days before that. Due to our tank dropping (time factor), our Ret Pally was promoted to "honorary tank" and he tanked most everything except for the Golem Lord. For that, he dropped group, switched to his Warrior Tank toon, and tanked the Golem Lord. He then switched back to his Ret Pally so he could complete the run.


Because of these shared experiences with grouping, whether in a zone for a quest or in an instance, I've found that I've made more connections in Classic than I have in quite a while. Some of these players are guildless (like me), and others already belong to guilds. But when your guild is so large that you turn to another member of an instance run and say "Oh, I had no idea we were in the same guild," it becomes hard to think of a guild as an extended family.**

I've had extended conversations with some other MMO players that I've not had --outside of some blogger friends, you know who you are-- in years. And I discovered that I missed that aspect of the game.

Does this mean I'm going to suddenly join a guild? Um, no. I'm perfectly happy being independent, chatting with a slowly expanding group of friends. Celebrating with them when they finally land in a guild that is welcoming and allowing them to run instances and raid without feeling marginalized. Commiserating with them when they get out of a bad run, or they're not getting any luck on their drops. Making them laugh with my "Dad joke" level quips. Or just listening as they tell a story about their life.

You know, things that breathe life into an MMO.

So here's to MMOs and the connections they bring. Here's hoping you find your connections.


*There's also Age of Conan, but what happened there was that the few people that I did connect with over there either turned their accounts into bots, vanished, or were hacked and turned into bots. AoC is also one of those MMOs where if you're not in a huge --and I do mean huge-- guild there's almost no interaction with other people outside said guild. It's kind of an ArcheAge vibe over there with heavy PvP orientation of the guilds and their fortresses. Because of that, I was only interested in the storyline behind AoC as well as the atmosphere there.

And yes, Guild Wars 2 is a bit of an odd duck. The game encourages grouping for the dynamic in-zone group events, but you're not required to form an official group to participate. Most of the rest of the time, you're off by yourself doing single-player things, and then a dynamic group event pops up and people come from out of the woodwork to help out.

**I asked the guildies in that run just how big their guild was, and it turns out they had 240 active members. I think the largest guild I was ever a member of was back in Wrath, and I think we had about 40 active members for a brief period of time. And a rigorous application process, because they didn't want people getting in and causing chaos.


  1. I can relate what you said about the anonymity in retail wow and people happily dropping groups the moment they zone in (especially bad if it's the tank).

    But I have defend the players a little here, because I leveled a few toons mostly via dungeons in the last weeks and I've had a lot of fun and also quite some contrary examples, mostly in the higher end classic dungeons, like DM, Maraudon and especially LBRS.
    I think I was a 52ish Prot Warrior and we ended up in LBRS and I immediately adsked if anyone knew the directions because I hadn't been here in years. A Mage led the way and a few things went wrong and we wiped (in a normal run in retail, shocking) but everyone was cheerful and we even talked a little about the past und stuff we remember from here. It was... just like classic, but in retail. Same for DM or BRD, people being helpful and actually talking a little. But yeah, never had this in a Wailing Caverns or SFK run...

    1. Oh, I can't say that all LFG experiences are bad by a long shot. I've been in quite a few memorable runs, particularly in the lower level instances (Vanilla/Classic/BC range), when people are there because they want to be. There was one time that I was in a Magister's Terrace run as my Horde Mage, Nevelanthana, with three Death Knights. I think we wiped about a half dozen times --at least-- it was so memorably bad because the DKs could not hold aggro from each other, but all of us were laughing our asses off in chat because it was so ridiculous. Then, there was the "quick" Blackrock Depths run that turned into a full clear, and I do mean even the Heart of the Mountain + Bael'Gar + full Mining area clear. It took a long time, but it was an amazing experience where everybody in the group wanted to see if we could do it.

      But I believe the presence of LFG opens the door for abuse, particularly on current expac level instances. Back when I played Retail (Wrath through Mists) people wanted their badges or whatnot, and a sizable subset wanted them as quick as possible without any real amount of effort. So, Utgarde Keep and Azjol-Nerub where highly in demand, whereas Ahn'kahet, Halls of Lightning, and Trial of the Champion were not.

      Now, things might have changed a bit in Retail, especially with the rise of MOBAs and the bleeding of PvPers away toward playing those sort of games. Still, there will always those who look at grouping as a means to getting their progression done, and the less effort the better. LFG plays into some players' worst instincts, which is the crux of the problem.

    2. Yep. I was also a little surprised how positive my experience was overall. It can be really nice.

      But every few runs there's a downer of course. Not saying I'm good at Disc Healing but if the tank joins and runs into 2 mob groups while the healer still accepts the Dungeon quests, dies, resses, runs in *a second time* and then blames the healer.. Well.. This was not a unique experience tho :P

    3. As an ex-healer from a long long time ago, I feel your pain. You still get those types in Classic, so it's not a panacea by any means, but the number of runs between such shenanigans are fewer and far between.

      In classic, it's the sheer lack of tanks that run 5-man content in some of these border level instances (Sunken Temple, Razorfen Downs, Uldaman, Stockades) where the pain point presently is in Classic.

      I've started leveling a Paladin, and I've been debating whether to stick with Retribution (what I know) versus tanking (which will force me to learn the fights a lot more than I currently do).