Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The potential of the new PUG wormholes

Will the upcoming cross-server PUGs turn into the paradise of ninjas and morons in general? It's quite likely if you ask Ixobelle, who thinks this is a "horrible idea". Besides he suggests that it doesn't solve any problems. If there's a surplus today of dps and a lack of tanks and healers, this won't change. The disproportions of the roles in LFG will still be the same, even though it's spread on several realms.

And of course it's easy to agree with those points. If you're playing on the same realm, you still can act as a jackass, but you have a reputation to care about. The word will no doubt spread if you have behaved like a jerk. You'll end up on ignore lists and someone may contact your guild master. There are ways to make life unpleasant to people who deserve it. But with a cross-server PUG this will definitely change. The chances that you're ever meet again are infinitely small and protected by the anonymity, this may bring out the worst sides in some players.

Ixobelle is worried about the change and could only think of one good thing about it: that there's a bigger pool of players to draw from when you're looking for a group.

The wormhole revolution
Now, I wouldn't say that I disagree with Ixobelle. After all he's one of my absolute favorite bloggers. But I think there are some potential benefits from this change that deserve to be mentioned.

As I'm writing this, there isn't any detailed information available about how the multi-realm LFG will work in practice. So all my suggestions are very hypothetical. The outcome depends on how they chose to implement it. There's a huge difference if the LFG pool only is drawn from a few realms in your battlegroup, as they do it in the battlegrounds, or if you can pick people freely from any realm within EU or US, as long as they have the same language.

But let's say that they actually WILL give us the opportunity to not only get players from any realm on our side of the ocean, but also to pick actively from the people listed in the LFG channel, instead of getting them automatically added to the group. If that is the case, this means that Blizzard finally has decided to break up the server barriers by building those worm holes. And this, my friends, would be a revolution.

There are many players out there who have friends on different servers - game friends as well as real life friends. So far the only way they've been able to play with them without making server transfers, has been to create alts. A solution like this would mean that friends could team up with their mains., forming the group through LFG.

The possibilities are infinite. Who knows, one day I might join a PUG of EU-bloggers from different realms, checking out one of the new 5-man instances together. How awesome wouldn't that be?

But not only friends would benefit from this. It would also make cross-server guild recruitment infinitely much easier. Just run a couple of instances with the applicant and you'll soon enough see if there is any mutual liking. The risk of wasting money on failed transfers will decrease. You can always check out several games and do some research before you decide, finding a realm that fits with your play style.

Who wants loot anyway?
What about the risk of losing loot to ninjas then? Would Larísa even dare to join such a PUG?
Well, I'll ask a return question: how many of you are running instances for gear anymore? Who wants the loot anyway? I don't. If I pug an instance on my main character, it will mostly be the daily heroic, and the only thing I want from them, apart from entertainment, are the emblems of triumph, which no ninja in the world can steal from me. And this is not just the case with my mage, who is well geared and deep into endgame. It's exactly the same thing if I'm running a PUG with my lvl 62 druid alt. The major reason to do it is to get XP, maybe to get a quest done, or just to get experience of group healing, seeing the instances I've run before from a completely new perspectives. I certainly don't run them for drops. I know that the gear will be replaced many times anyway before it's time for endgame at some point in the future. And then, I can always gear up by emblems and heirloom items.

With the amount of gear currently available in the game, there isn't as much potential loot drama around 5-man instances gear as there used to be. Most of the gear I see drop in pugs goes to shards, if there's a disenchanter around, or if not: to a vendor. I don't think this will be any different just because the players come from different realms.

What possibly could be a source of conflict is the issue of leadership though. Without giving us any details, they've hinted that the PUG leaders somehow will get a reward for their job. And as soon as there are rewards I think there will be many more people who are more than willing to lead. The question is if the other players are willing to be led, missing the reward. It's hard to say until we know more about what they have in mind for this.

Social drawback
But don't I see any drawbacks in this, like Ixobelle do, apart from the lack of social pressure that can bring out the worst in people?

Well, If there's any disadvantage, I would say that it's the social one. Running a lot of pugs is a great way to get to know more people on the realm, building up a list of friends and acquaintances. It's quite unlikely that you'll develop friendship bonds with people from other realms. This will be more like "one night stands" with strangers who you meet once and never will see again. How are you supposed to get to know your own server if you're playing with random people at others?

It will also be harder to predict the outcome of a PUG just by looking at the guild tags. To be honest I always pull a sigh of relief if I see that most of the players in the group are from one of the 15 most progressed raiding guilds on the realm. I know it isn't any guarantee. Just because you have a tip top main it doesn't necessarily mean your alt is as viable, gear- or skillwise. But still - the guild tag normally works like a sort of certificate. This player has been approved by a guild which is probably somewhat picky. There's a big chance that he's got a clue about what he (or she) is doing. With a crossrealm PUG you can't benefit from any general knowledge about the guilds on your realm. But it isn't any worse than that you can look up the player in armory and take a peak to make sure he's good enough for the task.

Finally: I find it hard to believe that Blizzard completely would replace the ordinary LFG channel with this new feature. It's more likely that it will be a complement, somewhere you can look if you're really desperate for a last player to your group.

And now we can only eagerly wait for more information, probably sooner than later, since they plan to implement it in the same patch as Icecrown. Maybe it will turn out to be a disappointment, as clumsy and random as the BG raid formation process. But it certainly has huge potential. I'm looking forward to see if they'll give us those wormholes after all.


candy said...

I did think of a couple of pluses to the new LFG system...1) my bored baby alts might actually find some other crazy person to run instances with as they move up through the levels and 2) could be a nice way to meet new folks in your battle group if you are pondering a server change. Since I am thinking seriously about finding a new home for my alliance toons, the latter possibility just might cause me to venture into LFG.

Shwitz44 said...

It's not quite so simple, Larisa. There will likely be a restriction that you can only join up with people in your Battlegroup (the server cluster within which your server resides, used for Battleground group formation). You won't be able to group with just anyone from the EU.

Anonymous said...

It sounds great. But my poor RP server (which generally has good PUGs) is in a battlegroup with a load of PvP servers -Bloodlust has all PvP servers plus Argent Dawn.

I don't really trust them to provide decent PvE players. Knowing the kind of crowd PvP servers attract, it could be a real pain.

Wish they could put us in a group with the other RP servers for this, or at least some PvE servers.

Anonymous said...

Hey Larisa... look its me!

I still have 19 posts of yours (PPI's) to get through...

I agree with Candy...

As you well know, it can be a pain picking up that last member lowbie run... some of us don't like being boosted... we want to experience the game as we once did... but with a new character.

If there are 18 times more lowbies in LFG, it will be pure win.

At the other end of the spectrum, I think things have picked up for 80s... for the time being anyway with the emblem changes...

anyone will run anything if there is a whiff of emblems at the moment.

Matt said...

Assuming it’s limited to a battlegroup, and that each server still has independent allocation of Heroic dailies it should mean that there is a ready supply of people for a few different heroics rather than everyone just trying to get in on their heroic for your realm. If you are looking to farm emblems it should help you at any time of day/night to at least find a few heroics that have people interested in them. Perhaps transferring to an Aussie based server might not be necessary for me to find groups when I'm on. Even as a healer I often can't find a group as a result of not being on at primetime. In fact I'd say this will give healers and tanks more options, might even promote more people taking up healing and tanking as an offspec due to the extra flexibility.

The other nice thing is that old world instances might have some takers as well. Farming Honor Hold/Thrallmar rep to reduce flying mount costs or cleaning out a few of those 8 BRD quests sitting there on lowbie alts. A gift that keeps giving once we are in Cataclysm and beyond.

But yer at level 80 on a bad day it could definitely become a questionable “feature”. Time will tell...

Anonymous said...

Cross realm pugs....what a terrible idea!!

Dont we have enough idiots on our individual realms as it is ?

I dont know about the rest of the ppl who read this blogg, but i avoid PuGs as much as i can, its far to easy to end up with some brainless kiddie/mental patient who doesnt have a clue.

Im quite lucky in that i know alot of ppl who i can call on or who calls on me to do some instances/raids. why should i/we be the ones who have to teach/beat these morons into doing the right thing at the right time? No one helped us when we first got to an instance.

Yes i know that sounds mean spirited and grumpy, so ??

Cacknoob (Aion player and Wow player (again))

Carra said...

Looks like a great feature. The LFG system simply doesn't work. It takes ages to get a group going. And it's impossible for low level instances. More playes means that you can actually get a group together. Ideally this would be all players but it'll probably just be your battlegroup.

Anonymous said...

Players have a tendency to overestimate the risk when their cheese is moved. Fear of change is a very common trait.

I PuG a lot. I have certainly pugged well over 2,500 instances and heroics on four realms these past 4 1/2 years and at least 95% were successful (number would be higher if it were not for heroic Shadow Labirynth and heroic Magister Terrace before the nerf).

I have met maybe two dozen ninjas and the same number of truly awful persons in all these runs. In other words, in less than 1% of my pugged runs.

My expectation is the percentage of failed runs, truly awful players, ninjas and such will not be significantly different after the change.

Furthermore, I believe it will much easier to run appropriate level instances while levelling, a huge benefit for instance junkies!

Larísa said...

@Candy: yeah, it's a great way to find new connections at other servers. Even if it's only within the battleground, it will definitely make your territory bigger when you're looking for friends.

@Josh: Well, We don't know yet, do we? At least I haven't seen anything posted about it.

@Spinksville: I only thought about the language aspect of it, that you want an English PUG if you're on an English realm and not a French one. But of course the server type also matters. Actually I would really, really love to get the opportunity to get into a PUG with people on an RP realm. I'm curious to meet you guys, just too shy to roll at one and trying it myself. But maybe you don't play IC in PUGs?
I know so little about you guys, even after reading your awesome RP posts that make me even more interested.

@Matt: I'm glad someone else sees the possibilites of this, not only the potential problems with jerks... After all there are quite a few players who aren't, at least from my experience.

@Cacknoob: well, if you ask me why I'm pugging it's because 1. I don't have a ton of friends to ask 2. I quite often play at odd hours and when I get online the people who are online in my guild are already engaged into something, farming heroics or whatever. So if I want to do instances I have to PUG. My experiences from it are shifting. Yeah, I recently was into one of those PUGs from Hell (notice to myself: NEVER pug Occulus, even for Badges for Triumph!). But I've also run PUGs that were absolutely awesome, smooth as butter, PUGs that you never wanted to end. Ever. Because you just worked so incredibly well together. There are all sorts of it. And that's a part of the charm I think.
This said, I hope you don't mind if I'll ask you next time I'm trying to find a group for the daily Heroic? Maybe I can parasite on your realm network? :)

@Carra: yeah, I think the benefits sounds great and hopefully they'll outweight the downsides of it. At this stage I'm at least optimistic about it.

Larísa said...

@Anonymous: that's good to hear! I think our memories fool us a bit. Those truly aweful runs will remain so clear in our heads while we forget the 99 percent of runs that were OK or even awesome. And therefore pugging gets a worse reputation than it really deserves if you look closer.

If nothing else pugging is an awesome way in training your skills in group cooperation, leadership (if you dare to take the challenge) and improvisation, adaptation to different sort of situations and different sorts of players. I think that people staying out of pugs partly are doing it out of lazyness, because it will ask a bit more from them (as well as learn them a bit more.)

Shwitz44 said...

I'm fairly certain that, unless they co-locate all server clusters for the EU into the same building, you will not be able to LFG PUG with folks outside of your battlegroup. The client-side lag that would result from having to sync up servers that are located across the continent from each other and then send the information to you would be noticeable.

Darraxus said...

It sounded to me that they will be starting out as Battlegroup only, then possibly expand it. I dont think there will be a EU to US jump though.

Krytus said...

Sorry Larísa, out of topic, but I always giggle each time I see Cacknoob leaving the trade channel and Ironforge bridge just to post on your blog =)

Larísa said...

@Krytus: another Stormrage player? /waving enthusiastically!

But wait... your armory profile shows something else... You've cast a misdirection just to confuse me?

Well, as a matter of fact, I think Cacknoob has quite a few alts he's playing on. He's assignment at the bridge is only a part-time job.

So I don't think he's spending all of his off-duty time here at the inn, even though he's got a special armchair reserved for him, ofc!

Staffan said...

I think this will be great for alts in particular. It's generally not a big problem getting a group together for a heroic or two - there's plenty of 80s around all the time in Dalaran. But for lowbies it can be a little more challenging to find people in your level range and who are at the same stage of various quest chains in order to do the low-level instances. For example, Horde has a pretty nice quest chain in the Barrens leading up to Wailing Caverns, but once you're ready to go there it can be hard to find someone to group with. There are also other instances that are the focus of many quests, like Zul'Farrak and the Sunken Temple. Cross-server LFG will probably help with these.

Krytus said...

Sadly not a player from the Stormrage server, I’m just a vagrant looking for a cozy fire at the Inn. I met Cacknoob through you:

“Once again I come think about our realm clown Cacknoob. He is quite a familiar sight to most Alliance EU Stormrage players, always standing on the bridge of IF in his X-52 Rocket helm. I don’t claim he’s a star (even though his guild is running a campaign for him to become president). But at least he has managed to build himself a trademark.”

Although every realm has a Cacknoob of their own…

Larísa said...

@Staffan: indeed great for alts. I'm sitting with my lvl 62 druid, realizing I could probably as well drop my stratholm quests by now... That instance won't happen. Which is a pity, since it's gorgeous. It would have been different if the crossserver LFG had been in place.

@Krytus: oh, you really keep track on the other regular guests of the inn and the life I live on Stormrage! Cool! Yeah, I've written about Cack a few times. First time when he quit his position at the bridge. I had never spoken to him a single word then. But I wrote about his retirement. Someone pointed him to my blog. and when he returned I dared to say hi to my favourite clown. Since then he's left once again for Aion. But now he's back at the bridge, loyal to his task to keep up the banter in the /2 channel. A lot of people aren't to crazy about him at our realm. It's a bit like how the blogpshere looks at the goblin.

But I'm glad he's back, he's a bit like one of the essential npc:s. The game just isn't the same without him, and I bet that goes with his collegues on other realms.

Anonymous said...

I played nearly since the beginning and always used PUG runs, I have never the need to run with a guild.

A guild for me was the way to get access to raid, since the random factor of gear improvement can significantly reduced by guild runs, since they ususally use DKP or at least jugde fair about giving around loot.

For PUG I totally agree with Larisa, who needs the loot anyway. The badges are the thinks that matter.

I love PUG, because each raid is a different set up, you meet differnt play styles and new player. Some of them are worth putting into a friend list, to fill missing slots easier.

The change itself, will hopefully improve the number of players and therefore make it more easier to start the instance.

If this will be equally good for all player or only for tanks /healers we will see.

@Larisa: If you would like to start on a RP server do it. But I fear that your expectations are to great, since the RP servers I know have ther RP nieches but the trade channels, group speaks, and raid says will usually all Out of Char.

The main differnt is, that the name tags of the players at least sound kind of fantasy. Not the supid names, like EGOBLASTER or stuff like that.

There are rules how to behave, but they are not strictly followed. As usuall no judge no culprit.

SolidState said...

I agree the leader reward thing is a problem, will be interesting to see what exactly Blizz meant by that. On the face of it, I would find it very unfair if the PuG leader got a reward the rest of the PuG didn't. Of course that can happen today with loot rolls but in the long run the RNG doesn't play any favorites.

As for the main issue of whether x-realm groups will be a good thing. I think this will be a very good thing for leveling characters - and since we'll all be leveling 80-85 that means all of us :)

It will be slightly less good for level-capped characters. As others mentioned I prefer to take a look at the guild tag and not having that assurance usually means a harder instance run. OTOH 5-man runs are so easy these days I wonder if this will really be an issue.

What I find really interesting is people setting up x-realms groups which constantly play together, doing maybe 5-mans as Larisa said, but who knows, maybe even raids.

In the long run, I think the pros of such a system far out-weight the cons, but we'll have to wait and see - much depends on exactly how Blizzard will implement the system. Plus there is always the risk of us pesky Humans messing up an otherwise good system ;p

Hatch said...

The change is a positive. But in Ixo's defense, I am going to have to refer back to Jonathan Gabriel's Greater Internet Dickwad Theory.