Azuriel at In An Age has a post on Social Dungeoneering, stating how Blizzard’s experimentations with different loot systems have addressed one problem for random groups but caused another in its place. It’s an interesting read although I’m sort of on the outside of the example experiences that are given. I do not pug dungeons unless it is really unavoidable and MMORPGs that have forced me to pug a lot I haven’t stuck to.
I have played enough pug dungeons over the years to recognise the issues and to understand how Blizzard’s solution may have solved the one issue (people who rolled need for all loot regardless) and yet caused another (the option of trading items creates potential strife over who it should go to). Since pug dungeon runs are not likely to go away as a requirement of modern MMO design – players want to do group content for whatever reason and do not want to spend many minutes or even hours waiting for a group to form – continuing to evolve how they function in their more social aspects is a worthy development goal.
My most numerous recent experiences of pugging of a sort was my Raid Finder experiences in Warlords of Draenor in order to satisfy steps of the Legendary Ring quests (which I eventually tired of and never completed…). I generally find such pug raids to be tolerable for the most part – the loot is strictly bind on pickup so there’s no arguments over trades at least. Blizzard continues to lock away good story content in its raids so ignoring raids altogether isn’t an option. At least for 5-player dungeons, I can rely on friends and guildmates – that layer of content is accessible without the potential pain of dungeon run loot-squabbles as described by Azuriel. I’m lucky to be able to count on a circle of dependable players who won’t flip out over some virtual armour. But I can already see how the zone and overarching story in Legion is leading towards the first raid so I know I’ll be needing to venture back into pugs via the Raid Finder just to see how we (the heroes) tackle the crises thus far encountered.
I do wonder if it is high time Blizzard took a more directive approach to encouraging good behaviour from its playerbase – they show no signs of dialing back on the amount of random group content required both seeing the full story and access to gear upgrades. It’s a shame that Blizzard hasn’t, as yet, tried any systems akin to the commendation system in Final Fantasy 14, a system that encourages players to award social currency to one of the other players at the end of a dungeon run. Should the company be tackling the ever-present possibility for anti-social behaviour in groups through systems of positive re-enforcement?