This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Is dungeon finder really the problem?" by Creslin321. In the thread, Creslin321 discusses the possibility that the introduction of dungeon fingers in MMOs are to blame for the destruction of MMO communities:
A lot of people believe that dungeon finder has been the death of community in a lot of MMORPGs. They argue that dungeon finder has changed the dungeoning experience from being a social, tactical, and enjoyable experience to one that is just a speed-grinding treadmill where the only time anyone talks is to insult their group mates. And I do not deny at all that this is the state of many MMORPGs that have dungeon finder (WoW). I also agree that dungeon finder contributes to this issue by providing jerks anonymity.
But I ask this, is dungeon finder the problem, or is the problem that dungeons have become just too easy? Currently, most dungeons can be easily rolled through if each player knows the basics of how to play their class. Very little to no coordination is required, and this really gets rid of the need for players to talk at all. As such, most players take the path of least resistence and just plough through dungeons like silent zombies. I feel that this, not dungeon finder, is the main issue with dungeons and the deterioratin of the community.
In the old EQ days, running through a dungeon without communicating would have never worked. The fights were just too difficult, each player not only had to perform their role, but they had to perform it in a way that benefited the team. I think if they had dungeon finder in EQ, the community wouldn't be nearly as bad. Even jerks will be nice when they need to do so in order to succeed.
arieste makes a simple, but solid point:
Dungeon Finder is not the problem that kills communities.
Dungeon Finder is a solution implemented in games where communities are dead or don't exist, because if they did exist, dungeon finder wouldn't have been needed.
Palebane feels the death of MMO communities goes much further back than the introduction of the dungeon finder:
In my opinion, the communities of most online RPGs became stale and unresponsive long long before the streamlined LFG tool that is the Dungeon Finder. I'm not sure if the developers were just giving players what they asked for or if they were able to brainwash the players into the type of self-gratifying gameplay that is so prevalent today. Hopefully a game can come out and figure out a way to get players to give a shit about people other than themselves again.
Neverdyne pretty much takes the words right out of my mouth:
The biggest flaw of the dungeon finder is not that it kills community, but rather it makes the game diminish into a lobby in which you stand there doing nothing, chatting away the time, while you wait for the queue to pop. The world outside the main city walls becomes an empty place reserved solely for those first few weeks when you're leveling up. Couple that with flying mounts, and the world outside city walls suddenly becomes a barren place.
I think Neverdyne hits the nail on the head. I don't feel the dungeon finder alone is responsible for the death of MMO communities, but it certainly compounds the problem. Obviously the idea of a dungeon finder is great for convenience sake, but when I first heard of the feature as it was being introduced to World of Warcraft I started thinking of Warhammer Online's scenarios and their popularity. In WAR, Mythic championed RvR, but at one point made scenarios simply better in every way, and this resulted in a phenomenon where you pretty much never saw anyone in the game world (pre-mass exodus from the game itself) as they were all in scenarios or waiting to jump into scenarios.
Any time you let players whisk themselves away into instanced content from anywhere in the world and also make it incredibly rewarding you're obviously going to have tons of people participating in said feature. Add cross-server queuing into the mix and it's pretty hard to form the sorts of bonds you would running into players in the game world and it makes the idea of having a strong tight-knit server community much harder to achieve.
I'm all for the dungeon finder as an included feature, but it's probably better to introduce it once server communities have been established for some time and/or if server populations are nosediving.