Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Importance of LFG Distractions

Though working on Lyriana's epic weapon was one of my New Year's Resolutions, I haven't really made much progress on it. The item I needed to start the questline dropped in a popular enough area that was relatively easy to PUG, and I was able to do the next couple steps solo, but the next group stage requires a mob in Karnor's Castle, a leveling dungeon that no one has any reason to return to.

I'm not that objected to group content as a matter of principle, within the confines of my schedule. I'm happy to participate in WoW random 5-mans, and would probably be doing so if five man content were not merely a waypoint en route to raids that I lack the time to complete. I was happy to spend the majority of my time in the Warhammer retrial doing groups, facilitated by that game's open grouping system. The logistics are the thing that really stops me in my tracks when I would otherwise look for a group.

There's nothing that I find more frustrating than setting "find a group for X content" as my goal for the evening, spending all of the time I had to actually have fun that night plaintively posting "lone DPS LF entire group for dungeon that no one wants" into general chat every few minutes, and never actually getting off the ground. If the group never happens, I leave feeling like my entire evening was wasted, and I don't have entire evenings to spend on gaming all that often anymore.

Say what you will about the immersion-breaking effects of instant, world-wide teleport queues like Warhammer and WoW offer, but at least players have the opportunity to do something with their time while they wait. (EQ2 bases access to global chat channels by character level, so I can't even work on alts while passively watching the high level LFG channels.) If someone's actually attempting to make the jump from solo to group content, developers really need to do a better job of removing the feeling of helplessness and boredom from the LFG process.

(Fortunately for Lyriana, I have guildies who might be able to help me with this over the long weekend here in the US. That doesn't change the critique - players shouldn't have to drag their friends into backfarming trivial content just to complete a questline that significant portions of the EQ2 community consider to be a mandatory prerequisite for endgame content.)


Brian 'Psychochild' Green said...

I can't agree more. This issue made me cranky in LotRO, where a lot of quests hopped between solo and group required. The worst is the quest chain leading up to the Tomb of Elendil; starts out solo, then requires a large group in a pretty tough instance, then there's a few "story" quests where you can't be in a group. Very annoying, especially since the quest leads up to a major story point so most LotR fanatics will want to do it.

Designers should either let a quest chain be soloable, or make it require a group. And, the solo-only quests really have to go. I like playing with my GF, and it's annoying to have to do the same quest in parallel, often having to wait for the other at the end.

You got me riled up again! :P

mbp said...

@Brian I agree with a lot of what you say about the problem of mixing group and solo quests in a chain. I never did get around to finishing that tomb of Ellendil sequence for that very reason.

I do think an acceptable compromise is to have a quest chain that starts out solo-able and then leads up to a finale that requires a group. That way people people can work their way up the chain at their own pace and because everybody gets to the end eventually it is usually easy enough to find a group for the final stage.

Please don't outlaw solo only quests though . The solo instances are one of my favourite parts of Lotro. If it was clearly flagged as solo only and not lumped into a chain of group quests would that satisfy you?

Green Armadillo said...

I don't know that I've ever entirely forgiven Turbine for the Tomb of Elendil line, which I also was unable to complete back in 2007. It's kind of a perfect storm of how not to mix group and solo quests, in that it's a very long line (with lots of swimming when it launched) that takes players right up to the end of the level range for the zone. By the time you need a group for it, you don't have anything left in the zone to do (other than grind kill deeds) while you look for a group, and everyone else who needs the quests has also been faced with a similar choice (probably giving up themselves).

On the downside, there is storytelling that does not make sense in groups simply because you're making multiple players wait while NPC's talk (or because it doesn't make sense to have a dozen players behind you to go talk to one guy in town). For this type of conversation, it does sometimes make sense to put a solo-ish step in the middle of a line.

Blizzard appears to have made a deliberate decision to cut some of Wrath's 5-man "kill the bosses" quests free from the solo lines (if any) that explain what's going on in the dungeon, but the result is that it's sometimes possible to miss the story and leave feeling like the dungeon felt shallower for it. If you are going to have lengthy group storylines, I think the best you can do is make a point of only sending players to locations that you're absolutely committed to keeping relevant to endgame players (e.g. WoW and EQ2's daily dungeon quests).

Sord said...

Post looking for more for Karnor's Castle in chat 1-9, 70-79 ... you'll get a group fairly quickly. Enough people will run an alt or even their main if they hadn't done it yet. I have two 80's and I still need to run one of them there for the AA, as well as my 3 alts that are in the 70's.

Usually the leveling zones are pretty easy to get groups going in, even on a mid population server like Unrest, where I play. FG, SH, RE, etc can fill up pretty fast.