Monday, March 9, 2009

Player not found

It was just an ordinary night, nothing fancy going on. I think I was standing by the stove in Underbelly, waiting for my daily meatloaf to get ready, when a yellow text message suddenly appeared in the chat window. It wasn’t long, just two short sentences, but still they made me feel strangely sad.

“Friend removed because the character no longer exists. Player not found.”

Desperately I started to scroll down the list. Who was missing? Not he, not she… I had no idea who it could be, and that made me feel worse. I hadn’t only lost a friend – I’d lost my memory of him or her as well.

What had happened to this no-longer-existing unknown person? Was it someone who had left the game altogether? Or was it just an unloved alt that had been deleted to leave place for an upcoming deathknight? Maybe this character still existed, but had gone through a gender and name change? Perhaps he or she had transferred to another server.

There are a ton of possibilities, but only this short removal message, which doesn’t say anything about what has happened. It only gives this vague feeling of loss and guilt for not knowing who the loss is about.

A suggestion
Couldn’t “the ones in charge” offer a little bit of help to gnomes with bad memory The information surely must be in their systems somewhere. If they know exactly how many manna biscuits I’ve ever eaten, how many times I’ve been resurrected by a priest and how many hugs I’ve given away since the statistics were launched, they surely must know the fate of my friends.

So please change this message to: “[playername] removed because [the character has changed name/moved to the XX-server/been deleted/whatever].

An alternative is that we could be allowed to keep people on our friends list, even though they’re not currently active. In that case we would be given the information about what has happened to our friend, followed by an option: “Do you want to remove the name from your friends list”. Thus sentimental players like me could get a help to keep the memories of our lost friendships alive.

Leaving a message
“The character no longer exists.” "Player not found." It’s a message completely void of emotions, and perhaps that’s why I go so emotional about it.

One day the yellow words will be about Larísa. I don’t know when, but we’re all mortal, even our WoW characters. I too will be automatically deleted from someone’s friends list. I wonder if they’ll figure out who’s missing?

Probably they will. The day I’m leaving Azeroth I’ll see to that I inform everyone I know might notice – online or by in game mail. When I switched server a year ago, that’s exactly what I did. I sent letters to my entire friends list, thanking them for our time together and suggesting them to come by the Stormrage server and say “hi”. Not many of them did. But at least they didn’t have to be clueless about the yellow sentences.


DeftyJames said...

Computer programmers who have feelings? Ha ha ha. Next you'll be telling me about all the love the Horde has for King Magni Bronzebeard.

Actually, the very idea might just be the perfect topic for a Weird Al tune.

Dear User:

We are sorry that your screen is now blue. Really, we don't know how that happened. Something just went wrong. Our bad. If you copy the many mysterious characters on this screen and run a Google search (we can use the word Google, right?) on a working computer you might just find some information that will help you. Or not. We really can't say because we really don't know what happened. But trust us, we feel your pain. We are sure that while it feels bad right now, it will get better. In fact, that's why this screen is blue. It's such a soothing color. In fact, we think it's an inspired choice in this situation. When things are at their worst, you can count on us to care about you.

Have a nice day!

Your bubbly and vivacious Microsoft Computer Programmer.

Syrana said...

I find it frustrating and saddening when I can't figure out who is "no longer found" on my friends list either. It's happened a couple times. Even if they don't tell us the reason, if they could at least say "Molly has been removed because that player is not found."

I also find it odd that there can't be a similar system for GMs to know -who- left a guild... instead of the gbank log saying "unknown."

But, whoever disappeared from your list... they probably deleted, transferred, or had a paid name change... it's a shame whoever it was didn't feel the change warranted letting you know. :(

Kiryn said...

I completely agree. I don't think it would be too difficult for the message to say *who* has been removed from your friends list. It has to know the person's name in order to look for them in the first place, right? I always find that frustrating whenever it happens to me.

Oh, and FYI, if a character has a name change, they're not removed from your list. The name on your list is changed for their new name. I knew a hunter named Nilafgniy once, we all called him Nilaf. Then one day, who was on my friends list? A hunter named Nilaf. So you can rest assured that if someone is automatically removed from your friends list, it's because they no longer exist on that server.

candy said...

That drives me bats as well. Happened again 3 weeks ago and for the life of me could not determine who it could have been...just one tiny line of code is all we ask...

Gevlon said...

The namechange/gender change does not remove him from your friend list, but show the new name.

I also get this message all the time, but it says:

Player is removed from ignore list since no longer exists.

Larísa said...

@Defty James: actually I DO think that the programmers who write error messages really could do with a little more of imagination and interest in how the users will see it. Even though your suggestion may be to pull it a bit too far... :)

@Syrana: Actually people probably don't realize how many traces they make in the game, how many friends list they appear on. Wouldn't it be convenient of you somehow could let everyone know automatically...?

@Kiryn: ah, I didn't know about the name change thing. One less possibility then. But still you don't know if they've quit the game or the server or just an alt...

@candy: yep. One tiny piece of code... Can't be too hard, can it?

@Gevlon: ahh... Being ignored by Gevlon took them so hard that they finally quit the game... What a success for your mission! Just kidding... Actually I don't have any people at all on my ignore list. Strange, isn't it?

Dw-redux said...

I have a friend who stopped playing... mmh about 2 years ago I think. his toons are still on my friend list because a) I never clean that up, and b) he never deleted his toon.
So my guess is its a friends alt that got deleted for a DK, just like you said.
And like Gevlon said, namechange wouldnt change a thing.
That is why you should always add notes to people on your friendslist. that way you wont run into someone a year later and wonder "who the hell is that, and why the fekk did i find him worthy to be on my friend list?"

thelyse said...

t frustrates me to see that message too.

When i was playing at my previous which is dead at my play time, I see that message every now and then. Some friends xfer to another server. Some said goodbye and some didn't.

Telling us the name of player not found. It's not hard. Unless the code is so bad it takes too many man hours to fix it.

*vlad* said...

I sometimes get that message, but it's usually for someone on my ignore list, and it makes me happy.

Goshon said...

If I'm not mistaken the names are returned to the naming pool almost immediately for the same account, so they probably are unavailable for the system message. Within the current implementation of the game.

Its probably not a bad idea to have a notification that you need to remove a friend from your list, and at the very least, make you click, and display any notes that you attached to the friend, if not queue the name until you have a chance to review.

I don't use my friend's list, as I'm pretty much friends with the people in my guild, and typically remember friends that are not in the guild, so the only time I've been hampered by this was when one of my guild officers was hacked, looted the bank and had his character moved to some other server. Fortunately he got fixed, and we got our guild bank back.

Anonymous said...

I am really puzzled by this post.

First, it is not like the person died. What is there to be sad over? So what, that character no longer exists on that server. What is the big deal?

Second, this is a person you are clearly not missing, because you have no idea who he or she is, so more reason to not worry about it.

Fish said...

I had a similar thing happen but on Myspace (back when I still used it). One of my friends deleted their account and I couldn't for the life of me figure out who it was, took me almost 2 weeks to figure out who it was. I felt like a really bad friend.

Darraxus said...

I have had the same thing happen a few time. The more annoying one is when someone changes their name and there is no note. I sit there thinking....who the hell is this. Eventually I figure it out.

Rhii said...

An account change will do that to you as well. The other day I logged in with my pally alt and found the dreaded message. Since she's an alt, I only have maybe five friends on that character, and lo and behold it was one of my best friends -- not only that, her beloved new rogue she's been levelling fanatically. I was really concerned.

She'd been sharing an account with her husband for years, and finally gotten her own pc so they could play together. Transferring a character from one account to another even on the same server will give you the yellow message of doom.

Gave me a small scale heart attack though.

Larísa said...

@Dw-redux: there definitely are many good reason to make notes on your friends list. Only laziness that prevents me from it.

@The Lyse: yay! Welcome to the club of the frustrated.

@Vlad: well, as I said to Gevlon: my ignore list is empty... Different approaches perhaps.

@Goshon: well there may be some logical reason for it. That they need to make the names available. However I wish they at least could tell me who's gone before removing it from the list.

@Anonymous: well... emotions aren't always logical... I'm not a vulcan. How shall I explain it? Hm... It makes me a bit sad that I don't even remember them. Because at some point they obviously meant something to me and now... vanished. It becomes so evident that some "friendships" in the game are very superficial and just in the moment, nothing that will last. But on the other hand some people that I haven't been in contact with for more than a year STILL remain very very alive in my memorie. They were friends. If they logged in and said hi, I'd fall in their arms.

@Fish: oh I know what you mean. I too feel like a bad friend.

@Darraxus: To be honest I haven't really got the idea about those name changes. What's the point? Unless it's something really really horrible. Just causes confusion.

Larísa said...

@Rhii: oh I had no idea. I really think Blizzard should explain the mechanics of this somewhere. But the best thing would of course be to make the messages a bit more informative.

Kromus said...

I understand why blizzard did it this way-- alot of itnernet bullying goes on in WoW- but i personally think the leaver/changer should have the choice to show that information or not: but yes.

I understand what you mean, i do the same thing. Alt? Server change? NON-BELIVER!

Typhoonandrew said...

ld also be handy for folks who we decide to track, because they are bad. Like gear thieves. Allowing them to name change and not track the new toon means you have the opportunity to do it all over again. The only positive is that most folsk won't spend the $ for the change.