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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.

Author: staffblog

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

WoW 3.3's Dungeon Finder and the Community

Posted by MikeB Thursday December 10 2009 at 4:02PM
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It is undoubtedly World of Warcraft week this week, with the launch of the last major update to World of Warcraft before the game’s next expansion, Cataclysm, which is due out some time next year. As with every new update, a number of new controversies are generated due to something Blizzard did or didn’t implement in their game. For this week’s Community Spotlight, we are focusing on a thread started by forum user alecbr entitled, “patch 3.3: What SOE did to SWG Blizzard just did to WOW”.

In the thread alecbr asserts a somewhat sensationalized, though salient point. He draws a comparison between the scope and impact of what he believes was SOE’s conversion of Star Wars Galaxies from a sandbox game to a “themepark” game with the introduction of the NGE, to what he believes Blizzard has done with the newly introduced Cross-Realm Dungeon Finder feature of patch 3.3, namely turn World of Warcraft from a massively multiplayer game, to simply a multiplayer game.

Alecbr explains his point:
“SOE changed SWG from an sandbox MMO to a theme park MMO. Blizzard with patch 3.3 just changed WOW from a theme park MMO to a multiplayer game. But where SOE failed Blizzard might just succeed.

I'm talking about the cross realm looking for group option. I didn't thought this option was important when I heard about it. I thought it was just some small change to make the game a little bit more user friendly.

But I was checking the whole evening how my girlfriend played WOW after this patch 3.3. She is an ordinary WOW player. She has several characters. She is leveling them as quickly as possible. She has joined some guilds and made a lot of friends. She doing instances and raids with her friends almost every day - playing about 5-6 hours every day.

That was before patch 3.3. After the patch she just loves the cross realm looking for group option. The whole evening she is doing instances with this option. She isn't playing with her guild or other friends, she isn't chatting with them. She almost completely forgot them.

…When I asked her why isn't she doing the instances with her friends she answered that it is more efficient this way and you level and gear up more quickly. You are doing exactly the instance that you want and you are doing it immediately. This is the fastest way to level up and to gear up. During the evening she checked with some of her friends. They were doing the same.”

The post is indeed a bit alarmist in tone, claiming that this change will single handedly destroy guilds and such, but there is a point to be made here: Is Blizzard’s philosophy of breaking down barriers to entry a boon or a bane to their game, and to MMORPG’s?

Undoubtedly, the new feature is and will continue to be popular. Dungeons no one ran previously, especially lower level ones, will, and likely already have seen, a huge uptick in activity, as they are much more accessible now. However, does that accessibility come with a cost?

The new system is so easy to use, you could consider it almost like console match-making. You simply plug in what you are interested in doing, queue up, and in most cases, within five minutes you are whisked away to your desired instance. This sounds great, but it also makes me think of early Warhammer Online when scenarios were the best way to get experience.

Warhammer Online introduced the cool new idea of public quests, which required people be around to complete. So it was not without a sense of irony when the general game world was empty (before the mass exodus of players), due to the effect of the much more accessible, and rewarding, anywhere, anytime scenario queuing.

Will World of Warcraft suffer the same fate? Will people start disappearing from the actual game world, endlessly churning through dungeons, many times with people they don’t know or will ever see again? I’

To that end, user TJKazmark brings up an important point about the effect the introduction of this new system will have on the approach Blizzard took with Cataclysm:

“This brings up a concern I have for WoW's world and quests. How is it going to affect normal questing? Will players abandon the areas and storyline all together for the advantage of almost constant instancing and gear? I realize that the coming Cataclysm expansion is meant to give the world a face-lift and breath life into old content, but it still concerns me as to how this will impact the overall immersion and enjoyment of the game.”

Blizzard is, for the first time, emphasizing horizontal over vertical expansion with their newest expansion, by revamping the World of Warcraft's “old world”, the 1-60 experience of vanilla WoW. If this new dungeon finder feature is as popular as WAR scenarios were, however, will anyone actually care? If players can level up and get awesome gear, all by pressing a button and teleporting to their desired dungeon, why would players want to run around in the newly revamped old areas? It is certainly something to consider, and to watch for.

User Metza doesn’t see things as potentially negative; instead, he sees this as a great opportunity for more people to get into raiding:

“I see this making the pure "RAID" guilds even stronger as there will be more people that have top gear from the 5 mans to make more teams within one raiding guild or multiple raiding guilds that are able to tackle the raids because of gearing up being so much faster with this option. Blizzard may even start to increase the difficulty of the raids due to the fact you can get 5 man geared up so much more quickly than before. “

What about those of us with little time to play? The dungeon finder is surely a great and convenient feature, as our own Garrett Fuller (who is an avid WoW player) explains:

“I actually think what WoW did was a good idea. I had 30 minutes this afternoon to play and was in a group in like 3 seconds and in the instance in no time.

Makes getting to the game play easier.

They will wait until Cataclysm to change the open world game play.

Right now for long time players this definitely makes things faster.”

It seems in the end it comes down to a culture clash. We have many members in the community who are attracted to MMOG’s mostly or at least in part for the potential to create and maintain social bonds with other players, and this clashes with the advent of instant gratification, which is a trend that seems to be growing.

Whether this latest new feature will be a positive or negative for you all depends on your perspective on the game, and why you play it. If you’re simply there for the addicting acquisition of gear, the dungeon finder feature will be a godsend. If you are playing WoW for the reasons mentioned above, there is some potential that it may affect your experience. I suppose we’ll find out in the coming months!

Are you noticing  less people in the game world proper? Or do you have any experiences like Alecbr’s to share? Let us know in the comments below!

Phry writes:

there are so many dungeons that its hard to find groups for normally, that it can only help. ... how many dungeons are bypassed because people can't find groups for them after all.. i know i bypassed a few on my way to the top.

Thu Dec 10 2009 4:26PM Report
Lexiscat writes:

I rolled a new toon on Fizzcrank, which was a New Player recommended Server, just before 3.3 went live.

Few things i've realized. One being that doing low level dungeons over and over don't make bags, or a lot of money. Having 6 slot bags in Deadmines is tedious and you end up leaving a lot to decay. So I find myself doing more quests then dungeons for money and more herbs to build my professions skill.

Something else i've finding is low level dungeons like Wailing Caverns are fun now and then, but if you use the random dungeon finder and get Wailing Caverns a couple times in a row it again is tedious. Makes me less likely to queue up again for a random dungeon till i'm in the mood for a potentially long run.

Another aspect of this system i've experienced is intentional group trolls. I've seen a Mage that played naked and refused to put gear on, a Warrior that rolled need on all caster gear, and a Paladin that tanked in leather while using a 2 handed hammer. Each of these people were aware of what they were doing right and wrong and said as much.

The ability to vote kick a person out of the group is great, and i've seen it used a lot already, but it seems to be limited. I was in a group that it would not let us kick more then one person out of for some reason. It seems to be a limitation they have set, so you better hope there isn't more then one person in the group that you want to replace.

Last observation. Seems like i'm almost instant friends with people who come from my server when we are put together with the cross-realm system. It seems to create server pride. All of a sudden our servers people are better then the rest of the group cause they aren't on our server. Its an instant clique. Us vs Them. Instead of fighting among ourselves and creating bad blood on our own server, we get to team up against those who aren't on our server. There is a strange satisfaction that comes with that...

To sum up the system makes life much easier when looking for a dungeon group, but with its comes its on laundry list of pros and cons that govern how much of an effect it will have on the game world. I noticed just as many people questing on Bloodmyst Island as I ever have, and don't see that changing much in the future.

Thu Dec 10 2009 5:28PM Report
Shabla writes:

I haven't played in a while, but I seriously think that's one of the best feature implemented yet. Being 80, sitting and shouting for like 30 minutes in Dalaran to find people to group with for a single heroic is pretty damn boring, annoying. Now it looks like it will be much much much easier, faster. No waste of time, optimizing game time.

I'll clearly give WoW another try sometime soon.

Thu Dec 10 2009 7:22PM Report
Palebane writes:

   I have to say that I was up in the air about the change. It could have gone either way, and probably has for all the different players. For me, the experience has been mostly good. The convenience is an obvious plus. But also, it actually facilitates grouping, even by players who normally prefer to solo. So in that respect it's awesome, I think.

   I don't believe that guilds will have anything to worry about, because if you are truly a social player, you already have a guild and friends that you can form the group with to start. And if you don't, then the new group feature is helpful because you can find players from your own realm and interact with them, whereas previously, that most likely wouldn't have happened. The experience with these players can be good or bad, but if you happen to have a pleasant experience, it's possible to send that person a tell after the instance and run a few more instances with them, perhaps forming a friendship.

   One of the negatives though, has to be the inability for players of different level ranges to group up for the same dungeon. I have players in my guild that I'd like to run with, like for Ramparts or something that I'm too high level to do. We can't use the new queue feature at all. I also am unable to queue for lower level dungeons at all, even thoug I do like to run them from time to time. It would be cool if there was some way to temporarily altar our level lower so that we could run the same instances. I'm all ready 80 and have never seen Kharazan. I don't know how many level 70s are queueing for that instance, or if it's even possible. I guess it's still possible to just do a self-server run like this, so it's not that big of a deal, but that was one of my only complaints.

Thu Dec 10 2009 9:04PM Report
Blazz writes:

I quit WoW during TBC for, like, a year, before WotLK came out. I quit because getting into instances, heroic and otherwise, took far too long. This was in the time where tanks were very rare to come by... and one night, while on my fourth hour waiting for a tank, I decided I'd had enough of WoW for a while.

This feature is good for me, an average FPS-oriented gamer.

Fri Dec 11 2009 1:03AM Report
faefrost writes:

We saw a similar shift for a very brief period, right before the release of TBC, where they had released a ton of Battlegrounds and a new Battlegrounds queue and series of rewards that made BG's for a brief time more palatable for rapid advancement. Once the fresh mew sparkle wore off it fell back to normal useage paterns.

I think people are far ore likely ti simply group up with 5 friends or guildies and hit the random button, then they are to rely exclusively on a full random cross server pug. All it takes is one really bad random group to make most simply swear off that approach.

Fri Dec 11 2009 1:25AM Report
Myrathi writes:

Faefrost hit one nail solidly on the head: "simply group up with 5 friends or guildies and hit the random button".

Abso. Lutely. Brilliant.

Had a solid 5+ hours of fun, last night, with that exact feature. A couple of members shifted and changed but the tank, a healer and myself kept at it for no other reason than it was great fun just to "hit an instance, any instance" without having to slog all the way there and then all the way back or to the next one.

Easy runs. Easy coins. Easy shards. Fun gear-ups for the newly-80 friends/guildies amongst us and, best of all, on the couple of occasions we found ourselves at only 4, the random feature filled the extra slot.

Though some "join 4 other random people" PUGs can be as horrendous as a random holler in the previous LFG, I think the "random with your friends" thing is well worth the new feature.

Now I just want to be able to kick more than one person from the group: deliberately naked or mis-geared idiots, indeed. -_-

Fri Dec 11 2009 1:55AM Report
daltanious writes:

As Blazz noted, problem before was that in whole saturday for example, I have been online like 12 hours, but in all this time I was able to get maybe in 4 instances. 10 hours wait time for aprox 2 hours of gameplay. All the rest was LF1M or LF2M which always meant tank or/and healer is missing. Imagine shock when in middle of dungeon tank or healer left. Or when you discovered that group is simply no match for that instance and after 3 wipes all left.

Ok, while waiting, when in some area, I usually announced if some of lowbies need help with some elite quest ... so this filled the gap and was overall useful.

But now I already see another big problem you are talking about. Discovered first day. No problem to find group and I can actually play. This is great. But now groups are many times overpowered ... dungeon does not have any suspense, and fear we will ... tank and healer are just rushing trough instance, dps-ers following, no speaking with teammates, no discussion on tactics, joke here, joke there, ... and instance is over. Next. Next. As I see it a lot of previous fun - despite odious waiting times - is gone.

Maybe to prevent empty questing world should be more limited who can participate and at which level, etc.

For now I'm very happy I can actually play and not just wander around ... on the other side of coin ... hmmm... we will see in time. New system is here to stay ... but i guess some micromanagement will be needed.

Fri Dec 11 2009 2:38AM Report
alecbr writes:

I was reading all of these comments and I have to say this:

you don't get the point

 

The point is not if WOW is good or bad. The point is not if WOW is better or worse with these cross-server lfg option. The point is this: is WOW a MMORPG or a multiplayer game.


Why should this be important? Isn't the only thing that is important if the players have fun or not?

I will try to explain it to you with this a little bit crazy thought exeperiment:

You all know Modern Warfare 1 and 2. It's a great and very successful FPS. Now let's imagine that the producers of the game would want to make the 3rd part even better and so they put some third person sword fighting and magic spell casting into the game. Because of that the 3 part becomes even more successful. Because of the success they make Modern Warfare 4 entirely a third person game with sword fighting and magic spell casting. But they still market it as FPS. And because Modern Warfare is so heavily dominating the market other FPS are following this trend. Then a group off original FPS players starts to protest that these games aren't FPS anymore. And they get attacked by the new FPS players:
- you are oldschool FPS players, you live in the past, get over it
- this is how FPS are meant to be played
- if you don't like FPS games, go play some other games
- in the past FPS were for the geeks and nerds, now they are really games for the gamers

This is what's happened to MMORPG. Saying that doing instances and raiding is MMORPG is like saying that third person sword fighting and magic spell casting is FPS.

Fri Dec 11 2009 6:52AM Report
OnyxBMW writes:

And that's why I group up with 4 guildies and hit the dungeon finder for some guild runs of instances.  Clearly this is killing social bonding in the game.  It's not like instanced runs weren't popular before or anything.  Now it just takes out the travel time and gives you ease of access if people on your server don't want to do a specific dungeon.  What's the problem?  The normal world zones are populated, but no more or less than they were before.  People were already compartmentalized to begin with, sticking mostly to dal or a dungeon, unless doing dailies.  Nothing has changed except efficiency and ease of access.

 

Honestly, WoW's furthermore taking a step in the right direction by, in fact, opening up WoW's various raids to more and more people.

Fri Dec 11 2009 7:09AM Report
Zorndorf writes:

First to the OP: why is it that publishers on mmorpg hide behind their girlfriends when talking about Wow? So two possibilities OR you are NOT a player and still want to gain credibiltiy to comment OR you are also a player so don't stand behind a girlfriend.

Secondly I don't believe GF dumped all her friends and guildies in 2 days to hit the random button. Period.

The way I SEE it as a player of the game (in both leveling and end game), is that the new LFG actually ENHANCES realm based group play. Let me explain.

First: 10.00 AM morning: 7 guildies on line, 2 want to do a new heroic. 4 are not interested because doing other things like gathering profs or fishing or solo quests.

Old situation . Hmm, I would like to do it, I have the time (1hour) but hey, no guild tankie on line. What's the use of even trying to ask ...

New situation: hey guys anyone of our guildies want the new heroic ? YEP the 2 above answer and we look around and group with 3 to fill up the other 2 with the system and we are playing within 5 minutes.

But ... the REAL situation is that those other 5 (who never were interested because they didn't want to wait for 30 minutes to find that tank/healer) ... are suddenly .... talking too and before you know it you have too many candidates at 10.00 AM ....

But next next moment, you see already 7 guildies wanting and hey ... there is that new 10 man Raid quest with just one boss to down and  the latest badges. Hmm .... see ? So we did form a realm based RAid content group at ... 10.15 AM ....

See that's the difference between someone who is PLAYING the game instead of theorizing behind the questionnable attitude of a girl friend.

Or .... how to shit on a terrific new mechanic that lets you play with 100.000 people on line - as a backup - and make it twisted.

YOU play the mmorpg 24/7. In a video game - even an mmorpg - that's all that counts. YOU choose the way you like to play it.

And War has nothing to do with it: they didn't even have cross realm content and even CUT up their own low server pops with 4 Tiers even further with ( God forbid) ... chicken gates.

It shows as an editor you have NO clue about mmorpg game design. Mike Morhaime and Jeff Kaplan have that in their fingertops what the editors of "mmorpg.com" lack.

That's why you overlooked this tool 4 weeks ago and I saw it 4 months ago as a one liner on a slide on BlizzCon. I knew to would be a tremendous tool at that very moment... because ... I am a player of the thing.

They simply know what people want : that's the "secret" of WOW's massive succes

Options ....

Fri Dec 11 2009 7:38AM Report
Litestep writes:

3.3 with its new LFG sure brings some change to WOW  ... but what I will miss with it, is the old style (now) socializing (with chats, gathering up, fooling around while the last guy gets here, etc ....

I KNOW we still CAN do that, but lets be real - noone will.   We'll be just questing, grinding reputations, and jump into some instance for a good or bad party, and get right back into questing action again :/

Kinda like Diablo II games  ...  completely unattached and generally anonymous multiplayer.

...  strangely enough exceptions happen  ...  yesterday met a hilariously funny duo of players from my own server (different guild), that I would probably never meet, should the old system (and mostlly in-guild instancing) continue.

Fri Dec 11 2009 7:40AM Report
alecbr writes:

Zorndorf, read my previously thread: You can play MMOs in different ways (general discussion) and you will have my answer. I'm playing WOW but even before patch 3.3 I was not doing instances and I was not raiding. Read the thread and you will know that I'm not a standard player. I was talking about my girlfriend because she is a standard player and I was talking about the effect of the patch on standard players not on freaks like me. 

Fri Dec 11 2009 8:08AM Report
Arachneus1 writes:

This patch gives me new light to start playing WoW.  Typically I stayed away from this game because im afraid there will never be enough players in the lower lvl areas to group with in dungeons.  I do not have a lot of time, usually under 2hours at a time to play.

This expansion gives me hope that I will give it a try and see how quick I can find groups for dungeons now.

Fri Dec 11 2009 8:49AM Report
EricDanie writes:

I believe in that Cataclysm will be revamping open world gameplay, making Azeroth with phasing and all WOTK quest resources will certainly make it interesting.

Anyway the majority will be bored after repeating a same instance a few times, especially as we're talking about PvE encounters, not PvP ones, so there isn't much "new" about an instance after you run it a few times and get the majority of the equipment you wanted from it.

I see BGs as a more dangerous threat to the first "M" than the Dungeon Finder.

Fri Dec 11 2009 8:58AM Report
Benedikt writes:

I do agree with mostly everything what was written in the article and in comments here, because imho more or less everyone is at least partially right. well, if there is a danger that a lot of people will only run instances again and again and change wow from mmorpg to multiplayer rpg, why just simply dont put a cap on how many times you can enter instance (all instances together) using dungeon finder? it will still solve the issue of not being able to find group for particular instance you want to run (because you will do that before you hit the cap), and in the same time it will force you to use also usual way of grouping for instances if you wants to run a lot of instances in single day.

Fri Dec 11 2009 1:02PM Report
Chr1sc writes:

 alecbr is soo way off wow did not do what swg did this post is fail on so many levels and yes i play/played swg when they drop nge and ruined the game but its coming back

Fri Dec 11 2009 2:35PM Report
DrowNoble writes:

Alecbr is partially correct, Blizzard is radically changing the core gameply of WoW and will continue to do so with Cataclysm.  I understood cross-realm battlegrounds, pvp is an optional component of WoW, so this helped people who wanted to pvp to be able to group quicker with like-minded individuals.

With Cataclysm, they are removing all the stats they added with BC.  No more ratings of any kind, just  your base stats for everything.  This will oversimplify WoW even further.  Now making it so I could practically run an instance at any time i want, why would I want to join a guild?   The whole point of the guild was to find people who wanted to accomplish goals that they couldn't do by themselves.  By adding this, being in a guild becomes irrelavant.

Fri Dec 11 2009 2:54PM Report
Eindrachen writes:

The comparison of what went wrong with SWG compared to what the armchair theorists think has gone wrong with WOW is patently wrong.

It only requires a cursory investigation of the NGE fiasco to understand this.  What happened there wasn't just changing up some code.  One of the largest contributors to the whole issue was the fact that SOE refused to be transparent about what was being done to the game, and then also rebuffed any outcry by the playerbase over the matter.  While the code itself might be questionable in quality or value to the game itself, SOE clearly abandoned loyalty to their customers by forcing them to accept change willy-nilly, with no forewarning or input.

If someone can point out how patch 3.3 produced unexpected changes that nobody knew were coming, I gratefully retract my statement.

Until then, to be very blunt, comparing the LFG system addition to the NGE or other changes is lacking both in reason and in common sense.

Sat Dec 12 2009 12:10AM Report
cukimunga writes:

I say more power to Blizz to make a game more user friendly for their players. But I have to agree with the article that the game seems more just like multiplayer game now  rather than a MMORPG. In all reality you could use this and or do PvP to level to max and never see the rest of the world  or do a single quest and still have good gear because we all know you get the best gear from dungeon runs.

This game was good for me when it first started but the features that millions love I hate, but to each their own.

Sat Dec 12 2009 3:12AM Report
n-methyl-3 writes:

Yeah ok this may be good for old players who want to grind fast and lvlup but as mentioned in a previous mmorpg article (communication in eve vs wow and other mmo) it really destroys any sense or type of communication and exploration.

No prior chatting or meeting, hell not even gearscore, no quests, no running through unknown territories to find the instance, no adventure just matchmaking and instance loot.

And saying that the amount of "need" rolls are vastly increased in both low levels and lvl80. Everyone needing everything since you will hardly meet them again and now at lvl80 they have the good excuse of the dual spec.

The communication now is restricted to buff or wth did you loot that.

Some posters above said it was difficult before to find groups and they waited like 30minutes.
Well I can tell you that, I don't know in which server they are playing but I never waited 30minutes to find a group (since wrath) because guess what, tanks and healers are valuable.

You may not find a group as fast as now specially if you want a specific instance or you lfg at past midnight hours but you will.

Mon Dec 14 2009 9:10AM Report
OldManMayhem writes:

I've been playing a lot of wow over the past few weeks as I've just reactivated my account after almost a year. I left WoW for RL reasons but I did have some frustrations before I left. My main was a hunter that I leveled by questing/grinding and getting assistance from my guild most of whoom were already lvl 70 (tbc) when I hit 70 and started running 5 mans to gear up for Kara I sucked at my roll in the group (read huntard). I got better pretty fast and by the time I started running Kara I rocked. Problem was I hated it. I had invested s much time in this toon though that I was hesitant to reroll another class. Fast forward a little more than a year and here I am in a random 5 man leveling a druid very quickly loving the playstyle and my role and getting better and better at that role AS I'M LEVELING! I also find myself running alongside hunters all the time and giving them feedback about their class and helping them improve as they level as well.

Will this new tool screw with the dynamic? YUP, it sure will. Is that a bad thing? I tend to think not. Social guilds will still be social, just in a different way. Casual guilds will still be casual, just in a more efficient way.Raiding guilds will still be raiding guilds, just with a deeper pool of experienced players to pull from.  I think the biggest change will be a higher sense of satisfaction with the players chosen class...or classes.

Thu Dec 31 2009 6:13PM Report

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