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The staff of MMORPG.com gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

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Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Community Spotlight: Is Dungeon Finder the Problem?

Posted by MikeB Thursday June 9 2011 at 4:49PM
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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.

Thoughts?

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.

Dengar writes:

Gotta agree with MikeB and Never. Dungeon Finders are not the only weapon in the crime, but they do promote city-camping. I miss the days of meeting people when saving/killing them in open world pvp where we can chat about things later. I think some of the new games coming out are looking to bring some of this back, even if they're still using an instance system. It's a hard thing to balance.

Thu Jun 09 2011 5:15PM Report
Misaligned writes:

Throughout it's life WoW has seeked to be increasingly more accessible. The dungeon finder is a great tool for casual gamers (which is a group I include myself in). However, it definitely dissolves the community. The WoW community has been dissolving since the introduction of Battlegroups. There is so much anonymity that people can get away with whatever they want. The reality of our species is that we'll do all sorts of heinous things if we believe their is no consequence for it. 

The LFD tool was great step forwards for WoW and a great stap backwards for MMORPGs. Community and a sense of immersion are almost entirely lost in WoW. In my experience playing off and on since beta WoW has by far the worst community of any game I have played. It's downright awful for the most part. I doubt it would take most people more than a couple experiences in any given PUG to reach a similar conclusion.

WoW has basically become a lobby game. They may as well just add instant travel and do away with leveling altogether.

The LFD tool is just one of many trends that are ultimately taking current MMORPGs in a bad direction. I think a lot of gamers are getting tired of this model of racing to level cap and then slogging through repetitive content in a perpetual carrot chase on an endless loot treadmill. How about some innovations in gameplay or interesting content instead of level cap increases and more purple pixels?

Thu Jun 09 2011 7:51PM Report
zellmer writes:

We'll never have dungeons like the planes in the original everquest (before they changed it into some kind of "soloable, just another zone" garbage as reported now a days.

Planes of hatred/air and all the extreme cordination needed to even kill an enemy.  So many players needed to work together, and needed to be tactical about it to great lengths.

Now mmorpg's dungeons are just grindfests for exp or better loot.  There's no thought or strategy to it because mmorpg's have to be easy and not intimidating now a days.

Everything has to be so freaking cookie cutter in mmmorpg's now a days they all feel the same.  There's no danger in the dungeons, it's just running through them as fast as possible in hopes of getting that rare item/equipment.

As far as matchmaking, I don't mind it really.  FFXI was the most hellish game because every single player almost would spend 80% of their playing time sitting around looking for a group to actually play.  So much so that even though I liked the game I just couldn't stand it anymore eventually.

I'm all for matchmaking type stuff being an option, but screw the cookie cutter no danger type stuff..

Thu Jun 09 2011 10:06PM Report
daltanious writes:

Well computers promote sitting in front of screen instead running, doing fitness, being on fresh air (where still present :-)), ... same problem with cars and many other nowaday "toys".  So what? Dungeon finder is only thing that keeps me in game and paying sub to company. Period. Im playing now 10 times more. Because before was usually 10 hours of lgf on chat channels and 1 hour of gameplay ... not is 1 hour of waiting and 10 of playing. Marvelous. But for sure there is "dark side", communicaton and socialising is for sure suffered. But for this one have facebook, twitter, various forums ... or even better ... go physicaly to your friends instead of virtually being in contact with them. All thumbs up for dungeon finder.

Fri Jun 10 2011 2:18AM Report
trancejeremy writes:

The thing is, apparently old time MMORPG players liked the social aspect of it.

But you know, many people do not play MMORPGs to be social, chat, or make friends. They play a game to play a game, do game stuff.

For that latter type, the old days were not so  much fun, as they never got to do any of this stuff.

Anyway, I think the other thing is server size. Most F2P games I've played, because there weren't that many active players, I knew everyone on the server.

But in something like LOTRO, I've never seen the same person twice, probably. (Then again, this is perhaps aggravated by the number of people trying for ME names and the bland character and armor models the game has, that make everyone look alike)

Fri Jun 10 2011 5:54AM Report
Treekodar writes:

How does the Dungeon Finder tool turn the game into a lobby any more than it was before? Enlighten me on why using a tool in the game turns it into more of a lobby while standing idle in Stormwind all day spamming LFG is not like a lobby?

Fri Jun 10 2011 7:30AM Report
wzombie777 writes:

Let me get this right trancejeremy... you play an MMO with thousands of other people yet you dont want to talk, play, or enjoy anyones company while in this game?

Fri Jun 10 2011 6:11PM Report
LydarSynn writes:

Personally, I believe these tools are not the problem but rather a symptom of the problem in MMOs. The communities are dead because the worlds are dead. A dungeon in a real RPG IMO is meant to be found and explored not popped into with random people. The dungeon finder, the dungeons and the world simply emphasize that the 'world' being played in is a static contrivance. While all fictional entertainment (including books and movies) require the suspension of disbelief, modern MMOs take far too many liberties in this area. It is no longer even remotely possible to immerse yourself even for a second in most games. The mechanics make it impossible and the content is becoming plain silly.

Sat Jun 11 2011 10:39PM Report
Dvalon writes:

Imagine in wow, if each zone could change hands, imagine if say for example the forest outside stormwind could be captured and take for the horde, where camps would become horde camps, and the alliance would either have to fight to take it back or lose something of value.

Now link key things to each zone, like the Dungeon Finder, Random Arenas, Specific Battle Grounds, access to banks or Auction houses.

Think for a second world PVP would errupt all over the place, factions horde and alliance would have to fight over and control key zones to gain access to the things they want, like the dungeon finder, or the auction house, or the banks, or hell flying mounts.

Now state that any zone benefit only takes effect if that zone can link to a faction capital, so for example if horde capture EPL but done own WPL then its not connected to Undercity and they dont get the benefit of having EPL.

WAR. it would cause open warfare, and it would also highlight and show blizzard where those servers are with huge imbalance in population allowing them to balance out their servers.

The fact of where their cities are located means that it would be hard for a faction to dominate the whole game, as they push in on one side they leave themselves exposed on another.

any sevearly under populated servers could be balanced out and merged.

and those who dont like PVP can just remain the way they are now.

Mon Jun 13 2011 7:02AM Report
kjempff writes:

Dungeon finder is just a symptom og the "problem" - But hold it right there, this problem is only a problem for certain players.

 

Alot of players since wow's success don't want a world, they want a game and they want it to be easy and quick to jump in and out of. Thing is games for these gamers still call themselves mmorpgs, and these players actually think that is what they play.

Other players, and often those who grew up with real mmorpgs, want a world and to be social inside this world, to explore and be amazed by this world and its players.. to escape the real world for awhile.

 

And so stands the fronts of the war. One side thinks the other side changed their loved games, while the other side don't understand what the problem is all about.

Mon Jun 13 2011 7:48AM Report
kilun writes:

I think Dungeon finders are more lazyness to already lazy gamers.  If you stand in town all day LFG if one isn't implemented, you obviously A: aren't socialable, B: since A is there, have few friends/guildmates, C: aren't taking initative and forming a group.

Its funny seeing people spam LFG for an hour or more and multiple people doing it and you'll see in global/lfg channel have of them say, no making looking for one formed.  Shows a total lack of desire to actually take charge.  As Kjempff put it the older generation wants to get lost in a game, new-age players want instant gratification and a game to play regardless of what the "world is."  Obviously one crowd is quite bigger than the other.

Tue Jul 12 2011 7:27AM Report

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