16 Mar 2010

Escaping the Vortex of Suck

Lets be honest, the Dungeon Finder tool can be an invitation to torture. What started out as a way to find groups and gain some excellent rewards quickly deteriorated into an all out slugfest. Nowadays you’re as likely to find a group where the players are openly hostile to each other, or where some use it as a tool to deliberately cause grief to others. The worst thing is there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.

It probably started easily enough. The tank complains to the healer that he’s having trouble keeping up. The healer has a go at the DPS for being mindless zombies that should goddamn move out of the void zones. The DPS moan at the tank for failing to keep aggro on fifteen mobs while they’re going full-tilt on three different targets. The complaints, taunts and snide remarks go round in a circle, with everyone blaming everyone else. It’s a circle of despair – a loop of misery that feels endless.

It doesn’t end there. The proliferation of addons to measure, calculate and assess an individual’s performance means that players can be subjected to intense scrutiny – more than they’d have with their own raid group. People are now using Recount and GearScore to check a character out, even though the dungeon might have incredibly low requirements. Fail to come up to scratch and you’ll soon know about it, either by being booted from the group as soon as it’s possible or being subjected to humiliation for the entire run.

Why should people care though? I mean, it’s not as if you’ll regularly come into contact with the people you find in your random group. Most of the time they won’t even be on your server, so what have you got to worry about? Besides, if people behaved like an asshole to you then you have every right to be an asshole to anyone else that doesn’t measure up.

It leads to a Vortex of Suck. The conditions in the random groups continue to get worse. You try to suck it down, grow a thick skin and ignore anything said in party chat. After all, if it’s only used for hurling insults why should I even have it in my chat window? You end up at the Eye of Bitterness – the quiet at the centre of the Vortex. It’s where no-one says a word because everyone has just one mission on their mind – get in, get the badges and get out with as little pain as possible.

Of course, you may decide you’ve had enough of pugging. Your experience has left you hating the Dungeon Finder tool with a passion, and you find yourself wandering the Plains of Pug Exile. A good guild or group of friends may help fill the gap, but you won’t always be able to rely on them being around or wanting to run instances. If you’re determined to cut loose from the Dungeon Finder, you may find yourself with a fair bit of free time.

Does this represent a failure of the Dungeon Finder? Does it demonstrate that social design collapses when confronted with Gabriel’s Theorem? Or is there something wider here, that without some kind of release or control valve you end up with a chaotic system that starts to collapse in on itself?

I’m not sure if the Dungeon Finder can be classed as broken, or if it can truly be fixed. There seems to be a general feel that something needs to be changed. But what that something is or how it should change remains difficult to answer. It seems that for a while at least we’ll have to weather the storm.

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24 Responses to Escaping the Vortex of Suck

  1. Sven says:

    It seems to me that the problems with DF as it stands is that there is no consequence for a player’s reputation, whether they behave well or badly, as the others in the group are from different servers. If a few random people from other servers put you on /ignore, so what? To break that, you need to take away one part of Gabriel’s equation, i.e. anonymity.

    I’d like to propose a simple solution: allow players the option (via a simple check box) to only group from others from their server. That way, persistent poor behaviour has consequences, you pretty soon get cut out of any group on your server and people learn that you’re an asshole.

    Because it’s optional, you can alway choose to take the risk of joining a cross-server group if you prefer that.

  2. Poneria says:

    I thought I heard they’d be tracking how many times you kick or get kicked. I used to wish that you could rate them (a la Elitist Group maybe) and all the dick-rated players would get grouped together.

    Then I realized that the dicks would be able to vote decent people down, as well. Unless you could give out extra badges for getting 3 votes of awesome. I say 3 because then you’d need more than one individual douchebag to veto your awesomeness. But I have a feeling this wouldn’t work either.

    So yeah, I want to go back to server-only LFD, even if it takes longer to form groups.

  3. Askevar says:

    I have 4 tanks and 2 healers… I get abusive behavior toward whatever role I queue as probably twice per day though most often it’s one of my tanks…

    I have people dropping because I’m not going fast enough… despite the fact that I’m chain pulling like a maniac and going to beat the timer. I have people moaning because I skip bosses or because I don’t… I have healers tell me they’re not going to heal me because I’m pulling too slow… I have dps pulling 7 [Yes, 7] groups for me on their hunter without a misdirect and SCREAMING at me because I’m fail for not holding aggro… and the healer is fail for not healing through it…

    The solution? For Blizz – nothing imho. I think the player base will work this out on it’s own. More and more dps are ending up on ignore lists… and more and more tanks are queuing as dps or not queuing at all. 15 minute queue times are going to turn into 30 minute… and into 1 hour queue times before it’s over. Maybe then some of the abusive people will be willing to work with others rather than against them.

  4. Gazimoff says:

    @Sven

    I’ve seen the “own realm only” and “ignore realm x” options bandied around, and I agree that they might solve the problem to a certain extent. It has this feel of just being a band-aid though – it doesn’t get to the root of the issue. ALl it does is allow you a way of circumventing it.

    @Poneria

    I noticed that they’re going to start collecting these stats, but I’m not sure what they’re going to actually do with them. truth be told, I’m not sure that there’s a simple solution that we could use based on these stats. The risk is that anything implemented would be open to abuse by the very people you’re trying to push out of the system.

    @Askevar

    I’m inclined to agree. I can’t see anything at the moment that can be done – not without spending a lot of effort coming up with some kind of karma or dishonour system. Getting something that’s impervious to manipulation is going to be very difficult.

  5. Felade says:

    I’ve not run into many more problems in dungeons than before the Dungeon Finder was introduced. Once in awhile, there’s someone with low gear, or tank who is a little too excited to get done quickly. But 9 times out of 10, things go fine. Of course, I’m never going to get kicked out of a pug in my ICC 25 gear, and I can make up for a lot of stupid in said gear.

    I’ve actually run into more trouble on my alts, especially leveling up. People who don’t know where to go, how to play, are jerks, and all that. There seems to be a bit less of that at 80.

  6. Saandstorm says:

    The problem I see isn’t the LFD it’s other things:

    Pre ICC5 and TOC, heroics were designed to gear you to Naxx. Mob difficulty should scale with gear. Out gearing an instance masks sloppy game play.

    E-Peen addons like recount and gear score while useful tools – have no place in pug heroics. I wish there was a way for them to be disabled in 5mans.

    Too many “optional” bosses only reinforce “gogogogo” mentality. Yeah I’ve been in groups that cleared H UK in about 10 min, but as dps, I have to wait another 20+ to get in another group. Not a good return on investment for me.

  7. Dyre42 says:

    The funny thing is I rarely see anything but the dead silent runs. But then again I don’t do randoms till 11pm server time so that may have something to do with it.

  8. Obvioustroll says:

    Part of this problem is the real issue behind dungeon finder.

    The meeting point of Grinding and Necessity sucks.

    Because they had to account for people getting 5 from 2 weeklies, 2 a day, and 10 and 25 man runs, the amount of badges needed is close to ridiculous.

    Raiders need to do this stuff to keep up and try and get the best gear as fast as possible. To them, the DF is grinding, pure and simple. They could care less what is in front of them, it is an obstacle.

    The people on alts, or people just hitting 80 are there from necessity. They won’t get to the ICC instances until they can get some gear, and their DPS/HPS/TPS is nothing compared to the tank.

    So you have people that don’t want to be there and want to speed through it having to wait for someone unable to keep up. This pretty much causes half the issues seen up top.

    How to fix it? no idea.

  9. It seems to me at least that with the DF anonymity is heightened. Before the DF when you had to ask friends, guildies, or trade chat for party members, possible party members based their decision to join on your reputation. Since the DF simply slaps 5 people together you’re given a sense of “I can do whatever I want, because I will probably never see them again.” With so many people playing and cross-server matching, it only enforces this idea. I agree though that a reputation/karma system could only be manipulated to worst results.

    At first I wanted to blame Blizzards reliance on the tri-role system they use. But with a more ambiguous system you still end up with people having impressions of what is THE best and have that as the expectation. A la, raid PUG’s.

    I wish I knew the answer as well. It seems that only viable option right now is be patient and nice to party members or don’t say anything at all. I try not to enter the vortex unless the party is so far gone into recount and calling out players for “not knowing their class”. Even then though I try to have fun with it or at least try to finish what we started.

  10. Ken Lydell says:

    The overwhelming majority of LFG pugs have been positive experiences for me and I have done hundreds of them from L16 to L80 with multiple toons. Play is usually slipshod in L80 Heroic five mans but over-geared groups stumble through. I have encountered the occasional nasty tank while healing but most are cheerfully incompetent.

    Tanks that can lead a group through BRD are so rare that it isn’t worth trying to find one.

  11. randomcow says:

    The cross realm matching system will have to remain and remain enforced for the LFD to be practical. The current queue speed (as slow as it may be for some) would just not be feasible unless the system was drawing on the population of an entire battlegroup.

    One idea I have had for a while as a possible tweak to the system is to favor matching similar gear level players. I think the single biggest source of hostility within a random group is the disparity of its members’ gear levels and the tweak will help to mitigate it.

  12. Cetarari says:

    I agree with randomcow, that matching gear levels would take some of the hostility out of the group, but I think it’s a shame that I wouldn’t be able to heal for lesser geared groups. I like nothing more than a newb tank (it gives me something to do). Maybe an option to be able to help lesser geared groups would be a good way to go.

    I’ll never forget getting a Gnome DK dps in Forge of Souls Heroic who asked us if we were going to kick him because of his gearscore less than 5 seconds into the dungeon. His gear wasn’t great, but every person in the group told him ‘no way, you’ll be fine’ and he turned out to be a pretty good dps. Not massively high on numbers, but he dpsed what he was supposed to, used Death Grip responsibly and more than earned the loot he managed to get throughout the run. As the healer I’ll take less dps and more common sense over nuke everything like a hyperactive 5 year old any day.

  13. PixelSmack says:

    I can honestly say that i have rarely seen any bad behaviour in a LFD group i have seen tanks run through to get their two emblems but generally i have had nothing but good times. Maybe i am a little biased because i have only been 80 for a little while. In my experience as long as you apologise for a mistake then there is no problem.

  14. Gazimoff says:

    Firstly, I’d like to say welcome to everyone from WoW.com! If you’re interested, you can subscribe to get regular updates – just look for the ‘Feed’ button at the very top-right of the page.

    Now for the replies!

    @Felade – yep, there does seem to be an issue with the middling alts, especially around the 30-60 mark. I’ve also noticed it on my 80 alts that need gearing up – people are really intolerant of low-geared characters even if they know how to play.

    @Sandstorm – True. Back in Vanilla you geared up in 5-mans, then went through MC, BWL, AQ40 then Naxx. There was instance progression then raid progression. Now it’s 5-mans and ICC, with very little to spread the playerbase.

    @Dyre24 – You might be right there 🙂 A lot of this comes when the raiders are doing their pre-raid warmup, or when I’m gearing an alt and it’s during primetime.

    @Obvioustroll – Agree, not sure of the solution either. Maybe something like the Sidekick system in City of Heroes would be a goer, giving people similar stats to the highest geared player in the group as a temporary buff?

    @Andrew – Yeah, the power of anonymity is a strong thing. It’s a bigger buff than anything Blizzard could give.

    @Ken – BRD runs are usually a “grab every single quest and we’ll zerg you through on our mains” kinda thing. That way, it takes hours but you get oodles of XP from it.

    @randomcow – Aye, this is similar to what I suggested to Sandstorm. I think even TotalBiscuit agrees that being able to spread the playerbase accross a range of endgame content is a good thing. I think that LFD has the beginning’s of this with differing gear requirements for 80 normals versus 80 heroics versus ICC 80 heroic 5-mans. I’m wondering if we’ll see a greater spread of this in Cataclysm.

    @Cetarari – Yeah, healing when you’re overgeared is mind numbing – I was in VoA on my priest and ended up going shadow just for something to do. Also, agree with you on the DPS – intelligent DPS are better than slow but high geared DPS any day of the week.

  15. Baikal jubeithos says:

    The one thing that pisses me off the most is when dps start to agro mobs while the tank is fighting another mob. Being a tank, I usually try to punish that player by not tanking mob untill the player is dead. I also notice that players often need instead of greed items at the end even though they dont need them, than leave the group. i think blizard should include some sort of mechanism that compares the gear with the one the player has equiped to allow him to need it or greed it.

  16. WoWLover says:

    Are you kidding? People online are as bitter, assholey, & mean as they are in RL. WOW just provides those people with another tool to abuse in response to their own life sucking-ass. The only thing broken are the assholey/mean people who use it. Otherwise there would be peace & harmoney & all that fluffy stuff. But as it is with RL, there will never be true peace between people…only a mocking silence (& not so silent because Trolls know not how to be silent) as we “tolerate” one another’s presence in our own.

  17. D says:

    some good ideas here – I think matching players up according to gear is a good idea as well as giving players the option to group with players a bit lower geared than them. As well, it might be nice to have an achievement check automatically in LFD and let players decide themselves if they wan to group with players with toons w/o much experience of what-have-you. I also think a player rating system would be a good idea similar to the way ebay works – Blizz would also need to find incentives to make sure players actually fill out assessments.

  18. Thoorin says:

    Ahh. LFD. My main has no issues, as a 5900 gearscore tank can nearly solo them if the healer is half-decent. But my alt…

    Generally, I think Blizz should make ignore work with Server-Name_Toon-Name by default, thus allowing GLOBAL ignore list, and then make list length infinite. Inability to find groups would clamp down on assfaggotry in groups FAST and BETTER than anything else!

    The problem is, I don’t think Blizzard has any interest in clamping down on abusive players, and this is why even the existing ignore list is limited. To Blizz, assholes are also “valued customers”, and so they get to play whatever we think about it. With 11 million subscribers, a single disgruntled player leaving is nothing, so Blizz can afford to simply ignore community calls.

  19. jon marc says:

    i have 9 L80s (GS between 5.2k and 3.6k) and about the same no. of L70+s so i do a lot of LFGs, H and non-H.

    i only /ignore bad attitude players. ppl who are new to dungeon or role can be trained. bad attitude can only be ignored.

  20. Sanjassi says:

    The DF is fine. But humanity is broken.

  21. Gazimoff says:

    @baikal – Yep, As a fully paid up member of Team Mage I know what you mean about going full tilt DPS on untanked mobs. On the whole item thing, I know Blizz have started restricting who can need/greed on items. I’m not sure how to expand it though without introducing further problems.

    @Wowlover – Heh, this is Gabriel’s theory in practice. In RL, people keep their assholery in check a bit, usually because it causes problems. In WoW, there’s no balance to assholery, so it can run rampant.

    @D – The idea of player assements has been around for a while – take a look at the Elitist Groups addon. The trouble is, how do you make it so that the asshats can’t abuse the system? It’s a tricky one to address.

    @Thoorin – Yep, the server ignore thing would help a ton. Some have also suggested a server-wide ignore feature, if there’s a server in your battlegroup that is particularly bad.

    @Jon – Agree, you can always learn hwo to be a better player. You can’t always learn how to have a better attitude.

    @Sanjassi – a great philisphical comment! I might have to muse on this a while 🙂

  22. kitsunealyc says:

    I stopped playing my tankadin alt shortly after the dungeon finder came online. I’m a rather methodical player, and keeping a pull under control was an interesting challenge to me, but with the dungeon-finder came a gogogo! mentality that turned instancing into a distinctly not-fun activity. I’ll go when I’m damn-well ready.

    I haven’t had many problems using the tool as dps (mostly because my ‘lock main is ICC geared and can balance the dps output from an under-geared party all by her lonesome), and so far tree-healing has been a cakewalk, but tanking? Never again until the player attitude changes. I’ll happily take the 15 minute wait, thanks.

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  24. Dustwing says:

    Most of the time I can get through even the worst pugs without wanting to murder everyone, but it’s worse on a leveling alt than my 80s. I’m leveling a tank and of course when leveling you’ll be paired with a player who has never played before, which means they’re pulling, dying, and generally leaving me with a sour taste in my mouth.

    On my DPS I’m very polite unless I’m getting hell from the people in ground, which only seems to happen when I end up in runs where it’s a guild and I’m the only pugger in it.

    I honestly think Blizz needs a rating system, lower rating means longer wait time or if you get below a certain point you get a lock out the same way you’ll get a lock out of the game for being stupid in Trade.