Patterns of play can come full circle I’m finding – my early years in MMOs was dominated by running dungeons. Yes, I spent time questing in a pair or trio to level characters, but at every opportunity we’d drop questing to run a dungeon or two with guild mates. The focus of that original guild was on playing together whenever possible.
Somewhere in between as I’ve wandered between MMOs I’ve spent a lot more time on solo questing and crafting it seems. There have been various leveling groups in other games sporadically, but the bulk of my MMO gaming time isn’t really focused on dungeon running anymore. What’s different is that I’m not in any guilds that offer me the same small group, very relaxed pace dungeon running experience. I have experienced pugging in a few games since; notably in FFXIV, WoW and Neverwinter. I’ve always found the rushed pacing to be stressful and that the lack of social interaction detracts from my expectations for the grouping experience.
My experience of MMO gaming might be unusual in the pretty limited amount of PUGging that I’ve done – plenty of people I have met online will queue up for dungeons regularly without even thinking about the likely grouping experience. For me I’ve always been keenly aware of those silent runs and the zergy sprints through content I barely know. I’ve tried finding guilds that offer a good dungeon-centric experience in several games but haven’t had that much luck. It’s not that hard to find a group that do dungeons together regularly. But with most MMORPGs such grouping is overwhelmingly focused on the current end-game content; so if you’re new and leveling characters or a vet leveling a new alt, you’re often out of luck if you want to get some dungeon experience under the belt as you level.
This gap in my MMO experience beyond a very few games (I’ve done most dungeons in WoW, Neverwinter and SWTOR) came back to me as I read the recent discussion over at Syp’s blog. I’d love to play my Runekeeper in LOTRO or my Warden in EQ2 playing actual on-level dungeons as I level those characters, but from recent experience that’s not so easy. In LOTRO I’ve had friendly guild members offer to help out when attempts at building a group from LFF (LOTRO’s Looking For Group equivalent) channel, but having a high level character in a partial group of on-level characters turns it quickly into a zergy experience mostly devoid of any active contribution. Similarly in EQ2, guildmates have offered to “run me through” a dungeon I needed for a quest chain, but even when mentored down to my level their capped characters demolished the dungeon in quick order with little need for my heals.
This gap is something I’d like to address this summer, I really want to get some proper LOTRO and/or EQ2 healing gameplay experience. Dinging either character to the level cap to join in groups isn’t really what I’m looking to do as I’ll be woefully unprepared to heal that level of content. Perhaps if I look beyond my current guilds I may find other opportunities…