Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Seeking The MM-Slo Lane

Official forums aren't always a good indicator of what to expect from a game community at large, but they can at least help with learning the local lingo. Case in point, this rant-turned-discussion of looking for more requirements in DDO.
  • "Know quest" and "not learning friendly" are relatively obvious.
  • "TR XP Zerg" means that the characters in question have undergone a True Resurrection, which grants certain bonuses if the player is willing to reset back to level one and level again with a harsher exp curve. Because DDO quests are worth diminishing exp each time they are repeated, these players can least afford losing the "no one died" exp bonus for a flawless dungeon run.
  • "Be self sufficient" and/or "BYOH/Bring your own heals" is another common qualifier - many classes can self heal and fix their own debuffs, while others can use cheap many-use wands for these tasks, and an unlucky few must actually resort to chugging potions. Apparently, the worst case in that department involves an entire inventory tab full of potions for things like resisting specific types of damage, curing half a dozen different classes of debuffs, etc.

(It is worth noting that some players pay real money for experience boosting potions from the DDO store, and therefore have extra motivation for demanding speed and efficiency above and beyond the time pressures seen in the other games I've played.)

The Challenge of Finding Your Pace
Personally, I'm just as happy NOT to jump into a group that's going to trivialize the content - almost as happy as they would be not to have me. This problem is in no way exclusive to DDO, as I've seen overly efficiency-obsessed groups in both WoW and EQ2. So why is it so hard for players to find other players who are on the same page?

My impression is that we see this type of screening - WoW's version is the gearscore check - more readily as the number of times that players are expected to repeat the same content increases. This only makes sense - if you run each dungeon a single time, you're going to be as unprepared as everyone else and only in so much of a position to complain, while your patience may understandably begin to wear on your tenth trip through.

The unfortunate conflict is that group systems depend on enough players being available to fill out the groups. The most active players, who are best able to fill the need for groupmates, are the most likely to have already exhausted their patience. As a result, we see incentives structured to make it worth their while, whether it's a positive incentive (overpowered loot tokens) or a negative one (go re-run these old dungeons even more times than it took the first time you leveled through them). The problem is that this creates an environment that's even more hostile to the actual newbies who need the training and experience.

In the end, I won't be sad if I can't complete all the dungeons/quests/etc out there, as long as I'm having a good time playing with players willing to move at a rate I'd actually find enjoyable. It's just frustrating when the primary roadblock to that playstyle is figuring out where to look for those players.


Magson said...

On Argonessen server there's a guild called "We do NOT run through dungeons!"

Their recruiters told me they dn't allow any kind of dungeon zerging at all. If I wasn't already in a good non-zerg guild (Ardwulf's 'Disciples of Tharizdun') then I'd be mighty tempted to join them myself.

Tanek said...

This is one of the reasons I've stopped playing Wow for a while. The game (and the players) seemed to be drifting toward faster and faster dungeon runs.

How many mobs can you pull at once, how quickly can you AoE them down, etc. And this after the change to allow Entangling Roots indoors...I wanted to use my newly-valid CC, I wanted to plan pulls, I wanted to learn the content, not just overpower it.

In DDO this is even more important to me. I like having a balanced group, I like having traps disarmed and using crowd control to manage fights. Loot is great, but I play the game to have fun going through the dungeons. If I just wanted random virtual loot, I'd be looking for them to put in slot machines.

As Magson noted, the best way I've found to have the kind of dungeon group I enjoy is to be in a guild that has the same goals. A regular group makes for a much different game experience than constant pugs. :)

Green Armadillo said...

Indeed, it does seem that the solution to this problem has been to make "non-zerg" into a niche guild type. Kind of sad and ironic that it has to become something that players solve though semi-out-of-game means though.

The other quirk, which I'm saving for another post after I've got more firsthand experience, is that dungeons may increasingly get tuned around the stats of the zerg crowd. Another forum post I saw was complaining about DPS with low HP, saying that everyone needs to be able to eat over 200 points in unavoidable spell damage by the level cap. I never got a pen and paper character that high, but I don't think I recall ever seeing that much damage doled out for anything other than intentional stupidity.

Yeebo said...

That's why I have played DDO 100% solo so far. Even before it went FtP, it had a reputation for being a hard game to find slow paced groups in. I don't want to miss out on any details, and I don't want to be holding anyone back.

Anderoth said...

I hate to plug my own blog, but I address the ridiculous expectations of raiding guilds in a recent post. My solution is to have people pursue Role Proficiency Ratings for their different group roles, primarily by taking standardized gameplay tests with NPC "group" members in a controlled military academy/danger room environment.

This way players could easily group by skill level, recognizing that people with similar Role Proficiency Ratings would be more likely to have the same level of experience with a dungeon, and would move through it at the same pace, whether for enjoyment or hard loot grind.

Tanek said...

"The other quirk, which I'm saving for another post after I've got more firsthand experience, is that dungeons may increasingly get tuned around the stats of the zerg crowd."

I certainly feel this is the case for the regular dungeons in some of the games I have played. Whether it is moving away from the need for crowd control or making the dungeons much shorter, it feels like something more for the 'run in, DPS, get loot' style.

When DDO introduced the Dungeon Alert system I saw it as a sign that they would not be making zerg-friendly changes. I'm not sure how well that has worked out, but I'm having fun for now and hope to continue with the Nights of Eberron group if enough others are running dungeons to learn as well as level.