Friday, 20 January 2012

SWTOR: why I'd like LFD

OK here's what I want to do:

- indicate I'd like to play a particular Flashpoint.
- play the game and forget about flashpoint-related admin until I get a message saying my group is ready.

Here's what I don't want to do:

- stand around Imp Fleet for an hour spamming
- do /who for my level and send off fifty whispers
- maintain a Friends list of tanks and healers. My friends list is for, duh, friends.

Here are the arguments that don't persuade me:

- chat spam improves community. It hasn't at all for me, apart from people in my guild I can't even name another player on my server off the top of my head. I've done a lot of flashpoints but it's mostly low level and it's mostly people's alts. Even if I friended them I wouldn't get to play with them tomorrow as they'd probably be on a different character. In a game where everyone is supposed to alt, Friends lists don't work.

- LFD systems encourage worse behaviour. Now historically this might have been true but it isn't true now. Modern players pressurise you to speed up, whine about your gear, occasionally ninja and sometimes bail halfway. This happens all the time with the current system. WoW inherited players trained by EQ's forced grouping system to not be jerks. SWTOR is inheriting people trained by WoW and IT WONT CHANGE THEIR BEHAVIOUR in a month. It's just designers trying to play social engineer with the player base. It's egotistical and it won't work. Few of us care enough about this game to fundamentally change the way we interact with others online. We'll just go.

- "I get on fine without a LFD system". Great. I'm happy for you. I hope you continue to have fun without a LFD system when the rest of us are gone.

- "You can flag yourself as LFG". I do this and I have never got a whisper asking me to join a group in a month of playing.


  1. I completely agree with you. They need to implement an LFD system, otherwise all that great endgame content is simply going to waste. They've even got a couple of options on how they implement it:

    1) Server only. Limits your range of players, but means you can /ignore asshats if you want to.

    2) Recommend/Karma/'Like' engine. Better but takes longer to develop, design and test

    3) WoW LFD copypasta.

    When your choice is bail on your friends and join a mega-guild, bail on your friends and reroll or wait for your lazy-ass friends to level up, you have a pretty poor choice.

  2. Are yo in a guild? Not trying to be a smart ass, seriously asking.

  3. I agree. Those who are against an LFG tool, don't use. No one is forcing you to. Use your guild/chat/solo-it-cause-you-are-super-awesome. But for the rest of us, we want it, we need it, it should have already been in the game at launch.

    There are a lot of things BioWare has done wrong. It's as though they've ignored all MMO development in the past six years. No LFG tool, no addon's, no customizing the UI, no guild bank, no achievements, no tiered Warzones, no Open PvP limits, no dual-spec, no combat log.

    BioWare obviously made a single player game and then added on the multi-player parts. The MMO part of this game is far from finished.

  4. The whole LFD debate is a result of how modern games are constructed. I'll try not to sound too old school as I comment. These games are built to be solo games, one does not need to develop a community of friends to level, one plays the "modern" game solo. Thus, when it comes time to do content that requires 4 people, we need to find random strangers with whom to level. Even the addition of companions isn't enough, we need LFD tools. I'm sure we'll see LFD at some point. I'd suggest participation in strong Guild in the meantime.

  5. I would like to see a LFD tool implemented, but without the "insta-warp" to dungeon that WoW has established. I think traveling to and from an instance entrance provides an amount (though perhaps small) of realism and immersion.

    I do think that the cross-server LFD has led to a loss of the personal side of MMO's that was definitely a part of EQ and even Vanilla-WoW. Now, more often than not, my character is referred to as "Tank" or "Warrior" in a dungeon group instead of "Tykoon" or even the shorten, yet still personal "Tyk". I wish there was some middle method that would allow us to find groups easily but still maintained the personal part of actually "being" my character.

  6. if a LFD system is implemented, they need to have a a way for players to indicate whether they intend to sit through the dialogues or not. A lot of players get ticked if you don't spacebar through everything. On the other hand, I'd prefer not to group with a party that will get ticked if I don't spacebar through everything. I like to take my time.

  7. LFD is a must-hafe for any player who has a real life, a family, a job and not the whole day to spend "begging" for a group. One thing I HATED in WoW was hanging in a major city trying to find someone. Having few hours a week to spare, that makes playing impossible.

    WoW lfd is quite good, in my opinion. If you are a tank or a healer. But if you are a DPS, queues kill any utility anyway.

  8. @ Gazimoff The option I like best is a Karma engine. I know some of those veteran MUD guys like Randy Farmer have done a lot of work on online reputation systems.

    @Unknown I'm in a guild of very nice people but because I decided late to play SWTOR then didn't bother to register the code until just before launch I started a few days after everyone else. So I never had guildies my level.

    @ Dick Made a single player game then added the multiplayer parts - well said!

    @ Unknown It looks like a lot of us are seeing the same theme, your comments echo Dick's pithy summation.

    @ Craftygod Now, I think it's the maturing of the genre which has changed the behaviour. WoW grouping behaviour had its roots in EQ's grouping where a) you had to group all the time for any play and b) you'd be in the group for as long as you played, probably hours upon hours.

    @Yeebo Good idea.

    @ Loque WoW's queue times for dps are really short now. And in any event I don't mind a long wait so long as I'm not standing around doing nothing while waiting.

  9. I've been pondering this question over the past hour. My first reaction was to think that Bioware felt it unimportant to implement features to enhance group play, since they clearly prefer you play alone (no, it seems certainly like that prefer you do that in SWTOR, with grouping being more of a "multiplayer gameplay option").

    But now I'm thinking, that's exactly the reason there should be a grouping tool. If there's a multi-player aspect, there must be some kind of feature or something in place to encourage players to get together. It's ultimately a major flaw in the design of the game, that sufficient consideration wasn't given to the MMO aspect of SWTOR. But it's not too late to fix, far from it I think.

    @Dick: I understand why you said "Those who are against the LFG tool, don't use," but this statement isn't viable advice. It assumes that those players who are against a particular LFD system are against *all* LFD systems. But since we're calling it LFD, it's proper to acknowledge we're speaking specifically to the system as WoW has implemented it. Which is the worst iteration of a group finding tool to grace the MMO gamescape. It "gets the job done" but it does so without efficiency or effectiveness. It merely finds the fastest way to romp a group of random strangers together. Everyone should protest such a system. We *all* need a group tool which allows us to find players after the same goals. See various examples from EQ2, Dungeons and Dragons Online, LOTRO, and many, many other titles (most less than triple A) who have managed to create a tool which isn't anti-social. Players protesting LFD are protesting this aspect of it specifically: it's anti-social.

    @Loque: It's hard to take serious statements like "there needs to be an LFD for people who have a life". I'm not really sure who *doesn't* have a life or what kind of player *doesn't* benefit from good group tools. It's a must have for any game looking to keep a satisfied, well socialized player base.

  10. Thanks for your insight, Doone.

    I don't think they ever thought this issue was unimportant. I think game devs hover nervously over a new game at launch F5ing the forums arguing with each other over player perspectives and drinking too much caffeine. And generally if an issue is hotly debated by players it's hotly debated by devs with some on both sides of the argument.

    There are some design elements that seem quite odd to players. For example both SWG and EQ featured lengthy waits for zone to zone transport. The idea was that this would cause socialisation, that players would start chatting while waiting, bored, for the boat/shuttle to arrive.

    I can see where they were coming from but I think there are better systems for getting people to share. And just like waiting for a bus isn't a good game mechanic spamming a channel isn't a good game mechanic even though it does promote adding people to Friends lists and chatter in the channels.

    As you say, not too late to fix it.

    As for whether WoW's tool is good or not I'll say this for it - it's efficient. I had a lot of times in DDO when I logged in, couldn't find a group and logged off bored. With the latest iteration of WoW LFD even dps get groups pretty quickly.

    As for the "I have a life" argument, yes of course it's silly and annoying. If people have lives stop playing silly computer games and go off and make babies or cure cancer or whatever it is you do that's so much better than us nerds. :)

  11. I think it could be argued and even proven that the WoW tool is, in fact, in efficient. Efficiency can only be measured in how many times a player must queue to achieve a singular goal OUTSIDE of random loot. In other words, how many times does a group disband before it actually gets through a dungeon? How many times must I requeue because I got vote kicked or left due to a bad group, or because the group couldn't finish in 2 hours? All of these variables are what determines the efficiency of the system.

    And on that, I don't know a single player who isn't a tank that thinks the system efficient. Its highly inefficient due to group turnover rates. It's harder for players to achieve their goals in the system, because the system isn't designed to help players achieve their goals. It's just designed to group them as quickly as possible without regard to group goals.

  12. But wasn't that fairly normal even back in the day? I don't think I ever got a group that cleared BRD before they nerfed it.

  13. @ Doone

    Yes, vanilla WoW was full of bugs and problems. LFD came YEARS later. But right now WoW is "the" mmo everyone is looking at. New MMO's should try to get the good stuff from its model, and add more candies.

  14. @Loque: Everyone is looking at WoW because almost everyone has a friend who plays it. These days, in my opinion, it has less to do with the quality of the gameplay experience than it does with the bonds it's helped build over the years which are impossible to break by the release of a new MMO.

    @Stabs: Totally agree. Grouping tools has always been one of WoW's fail points and it still fails, concur completely. The only reason it got away with it so long is because there were so many players. It's huge population mitigated this weakness, even obscured it in it's early years. But that was a very short lived oversight.

    There *are* some great things to take away from WoW. Unfortunately none of those things lie strictly in the features. Blizzard built the best *world* back in 2004. It was whole, complete, interconnected in very interesting ways, and entirely immersive. Today's WoW is incomplete, disjointed, and employs notoriously anti-social features to its detriment.

    I think SWTOR, if they will implement a grouping tool, really needs to look at DDO, LoTRO and other titles with really well thought out social tools. It would benefit greatly from it *because* of how story is so integral to the experience. It should be pretty important for them to have grouping tools that allow players to group by their common goals.

  15. "As for whether WoW's tool is good or not I'll say this for it - it's efficient. "

    Surely it only seems efficient because it's reached a critical mass of players using it so that a new random player joining the queue has a reasonable wait time,