Wolfshead made a great post about chat in MMOs. I often find myself agreeing with Wolfshead. We seem to come from the same place in that EverQuest got a lot of things right about building communities and having players be social while they play. Anyway, that’s not what I want to talk about because, honestly, if you read his post, that’s how I feel. But along side the chat discussion is a discussion on the Dungeon Finder in WoW.
In the comments, however, Tesh used the word/phrase “self-professed” and it got me thinking, and I commented as well. In most games, we have to trust other people when they tell you what they’ve done or where they’ve been. Well, not so much anymore… with gear score and achievements and bind on pickup items, people don’t have to trust you, they can inspect you or check your Armory profile and verify it. People used to have to be social, now they don’t.
Anway… back to the Dungeon Finder. The truth is, Blizzard named it properly. You select the dungeon or dungeons you want to do, you select your role in the group, and then you queue. You are finding a dungeon. EverQuest had an LFG tool. Looking for Group. It was poorly named. It should have been the Look for Experience Points tool, because that’s how many people used it. They didn’t want to make an effort to find a good group, they just wanted to join one already formed and then soak up exp. However, because of the nature of EQ, while Exp might be what you were after, what you got was a group since getting Exp often meant sitting in the same place with the same five other people for hours. If you didn’t talk and socialize, you had better at least be excellent at playing and making the exp, otherwise you might get kicked from the group. But in WoW, you use the Dungeon Finder to find a dungeon, you then do the dungeon and then you are done. Then you use the Dungeon Finder, ad nauseum…
What I really want is a Looking for People tool. I don’t want an objective and a role, I want a funny guy who plays with style and makes playing the game more fun than grinding the floating bags of exp and loot. The tool should be half a personality test, and matching should be made on more than just people going to the same place. A chatty guy should be placed with a group that wants a chatty guy. And so on… I know it would be a pain to build, and some people probably wouldn’t want all those options, which would be why you’d hide them. The main screen could be as simple as the Dungeon Finder: where I want to go, what I want to do. Then, under an Advanced Options or Social Options or Fine Tuning you put another screen with a whole mess of check boxes and/or drop downs that allow people to self select a narrower group of people. The defaults would, of course, be Any/All and then those who wish could go from there.
The first option I’d add? The ability to say, “Only pick people/groups from my server.” You know, the people on the other servers in the Battlegroup might be great people, but I’d rather play with people who, if they turn out to be great people, I can play with on a regular basis.