The Dungeon Finder at Lower Levels
I’m sure everyone has had both good and bad experiences with the new dungeon finder tool. Myself, I was gleeful when it came out. Sure I had to queue a bit longer on my dps alts, but I could reliably get a group at any time of day. I didn’t have to be reliant on my guild or friends or *shiver* trade chat to get my heroic daily done. And farming emblems? Tons easier. Sure, there were still some bad players, and mean players, and everything in between….but I really appreciated the option.
It means something different entirely when leveling. There are some uber-nifty aspects. First, you can level entirely as a healer without it seeming like a hindrance. You can actually get groups for instances that were all but impossible to PUG before it came out. Faction only instances like Ragefire Chasm and Deadmines are easy to do for anyone. Really long instances like Blackrock Spire and Maraudon were broken up into more manageable pieces, and it suddenly became possible to find people interested in completing them. And because groups are just easier to get, 55-60 dungeons like Dire Maul are finally fairly easy for anyone to see at level if you are so inclined. Not to mention how annoying it was to slog your way across the entire world only to find out the last party member was one level to high to summon.
There are a few problems though. Because a lot more players brand new to the game can find their way into a group without any hastle, there’s a whole heck of a lot more fail going on. Now, I’m one of those crazy people who actually enjoy helping out people who are new and confused…but the recipient has to be the least bit interested in trying to play well with a team. It can be very difficult to explain to a level fifteen Hunter, for instance, that it’s really better if he waited for the nice tank over there to do his thing rather than pull mobs himself – mainly because he can and he won’t die. It makes the instance messy and slow and disorganized, but that isn’t going to be teeth-grindingly annoying for a guy who’s never grouped up before.
There is no mechanic in the game that teaches you how to play well with others. Blizzard has left it up to the social influence of other players and the group kick tool to moderate dungeon behavior…and that doesn’t seem to be working to well. Playing well with others often means using different rotations (single target versus AoE), patience, noticing other people’s mana bars, handing out class appropriate buffs, relying on other people, and good communication. That puts a lot of pressure on to more experienced players to help out and teach people the basics of their class, role in a group, and basic etiquette. It’s a process that often feels to me like it is less like herding cats as it is like herding toddlers. Just tell me those GOGOGOGO facerollsplat dps don’t sound exactly like whiny 3 year olds. Unfortunately the the kick member option requires a majority – and often a majority is making up the problem.
Before automatic grouping came out, I had much better quality dungeon experiences. Sure, there were plenty of bad players. But they were all on my own server, so they earned a reputation (if only with me) and networking was key. I’d often friend people who were good companions, and the more people I knew, the better the groups were. People also often appreciated the effort it took to put a group together, and would rarely bail five seconds after zoning in, or because one person made a mistake. Players didn’t generally group up unless they really wanted a quest completed or a piece of loot, and had a lot more incentive to stay and keep going. I really miss finding that excellent tank, or superb Hunter who saved the day and grouping with them again. Now when I find a good tank, I sigh and realize I’m likely not going to see them again.
I’m sorely tempted on my new Shaman to just level Elemental. I mean…I already know the basics of how to heal. Of course I’d keep a resto spec at forty, and do the occasional instance…to get used to a new class. But I’m finding myself really excited about leveling, and then annoyed and frustrated after one attempt at a group that I’m just logging back off. I’m also a bit tempted to do something I’ve never needed to do before – start a guild (or find one) that is focused on leveling the way it used to be. Am I crazy?