Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Spinks drove me to Broken Toys, where Stranglethorn Vale was bashed. No, not because of PvP, but because of the "cursed" Nesingwary questline. He says: "very few people actually think “Hmm – we’re all hunting for 10 panthers, we should group up and kill them together!”. Instead, they think “Hmm, we’re all hunting for 10 panthers, I BETTER TAG THEM FIRST!”". This race makes the zone no fun.

He is right, and that's more than today's point, it's as the label says, essential.

I loved the kill X quests, and truly hated the collect X quests. The reason is simple, for collection quests, every people around you is a competitor. Kill quests can be paralellized. You have to kill 10 wolves alone, but with 1 other person, you have to kill only 5. When I was in STV, I did the whole Hemet questline with 2 other people very fast. During leveling, if I was playing alone, I always tried to contact local people to quest together. In Northrend I've quested with my girlfriend using "pull the whole map and AoE them down together" tactics.

Why other people cannot cooperate?

The answer is surprising: because they are social.

What? Social means someone who likes other people, how could it be an obstackle?

Well, actually social means someone who likes to be with "friends". He likes to joke, chat, meet with these friends. However in STV and such places there is not even an illusion of friendship, like in a guild. How do you chat with that guy?

Actually you don't. You just group, kill the 10 wolves and disband. That's all. He could be an NPC.

There are countless number of examples where people stick to "friends" cutting them from effective cooperation. The guy who annoys guildies to craft him something while the trade chat is full of crafters is a perfect example.

Social people find socializing essential, and when they have to cooperate with strangers, they feel weird as they cannot socialize. So they rather don't cooperate.

Other perfect example is the "PuGs are terrible". Well, PuGs are terrible, but not because of being PuGs, but because of the M&S inside. They all have guild tag. The people who gave the PuGs a bad name also claim that "PuGs are terrible", while their guild runs are equally terrible. What makes the difference? The terrible guildies are "friends", while the terrible PuG members are just terrible. Of course this behavior stops them from leaving their guild of "friends" as they would be doomed to "terrible PuGs" unless a topguild takes them (what is unlikely with their gear/achievements). They could form a raiding guild with the better people of other terrible guilds, but they don't even try as those guilds are "terrible".

So social people see strangers as "dangerous", "untrustworthy" or "terrible", while see people they have social connections as "friends", despite they are equal to a third person. Surprisingly, they are not making the same mistake with NPC-s. They happily take the quest of a complete stranger NPC.

I don't have to explain what it does to business what is about trading with strangers. Most social people don't really like trading (not equal to shopping where prices are pre-set). In the game, the NPC-auctioneer guys help. In real life everything is run by real people, so they don't have this option.

If you want to be successful in making money, you must see the people equally to NPCs. You give them what they request if you find their reward acceptable, then walk away.

It is not (should not) be different if you trade with someone you know, a stranger, an organization, an NPC or an alien who seeks spare parts for his wrecked spaceship. The only difference could be the reliability of their payment, but this could only mean "no loan" and not "no trade". For social people who differentiate people to "friends" and "others" it's pretty hard to do.


Jacob said...

One of the reason so few is willing to group while levelling can also be that for a long time the slowest possibly way to level would be questing in a group. This concept is hard to erase from peoples minds.

On the note to see people as NPCs.

It's more true even in real life than anyone would guess. For me that works as a salesman it's very common I get a yes from a company I gave a too high price to since the purchase manager just likes me. If you win or loose a deal and you ask why, there is not many people that will give you a straight up answer "you gave the best price". We choose to do our business with people we connect with on a social level.

This rewards people who are social from the start and not those who are logical, even if the logical guys would make the best deals in the long run.


spinksville said...

I think you're right. Social players tend to feel that making friends (or sometimes even dealing in any way) with another player is a commitment. So if they're not in the mood, they'd probably rather solo even when it's not sensible. Because for them, even talking to another player might imply a commitment.

Goblins don't worry about commitments (which is sensible if you're not looking for long term relationships) so have no qualms.

So social players are often only social within their cliques and can be very unfriendly outside them. Makes sense.

Infernix said...

Grouping up just saves so much time.
I recently got the Hemmingways (?)Achievement , but being a 54 it was quicker and easier for me than if I had did it at the right level.

Horde and other alliance which were not in my group were camping the last bosses on the big game hunter quests and sooo much time was wasted.

I then proceeded to assist some level 34-40 toons in hitting the mobs first and taking them down quick which at the end of the day saved me time as the mobs are spaced far apart and max pull i could do was 3-4 whilst they took on two. 5-6 kills in less than a minute on a quest which requires 10 kills. Sounds like a deal to me. Got achievement in less than 10 min excluding traveling time.

Pairing up just makes everything easier, even if it is "go kill and collect 10 of..." quests.

Anonymous said...

I must agree on Jacob's comment about the fact players think they get more XP doing quests solo.
Thing is, this can be true tho as if you are unlucky and group with a noob.
Let me give my personal definition of a "noob".
It s not because you are "new" to the game that you are a noob. You can be a long time WoW player noob.
Usually noobs are not noobs in WoW, they noob in all games.
So for me a noob is someone who doesnt want to learn things such as ingame tactics, cooperation, and above all they think they "know" for sure the things to do without even sometimes listening to what other people have to say.
Best thing that can happen while levelling an alt is meeting someone with the same level of understanding of the game.

Cingy said...

I have leveled a lot of characters over the last 4 years, and I found that doing it solo is fastests most of the time. This may seem conflicting with the blog post, but actually it is for the very same reasons brought up in the post for people not grouping.

When doing a kill x quest, you get about the same amount of xp for the killing involved as for the quest (may vary depending on rested xp, relative level of mobs, etc.) By grouping, I loose some of that xp, which theoretically is compensated by the faster killing.

The problem with this is getting a group in the first place. I found that the time waisted waiting for the other guy to get there, the wining about buffs that are not needed anyway, the "sorry afk, mothers says I have to walk the dog" (if they tell you going afk at all), hopeless "what should I use is this item better" questions, is more time than the time gained by doing the quest grouped.

At the moment I am leveling a rogue. I accepted an invite to a leveling guild soime where in outland, and I am still in there. What I notived about M&S leveling is:

- they go to new zones to early and get stuck on content over their level. Their solution is to ask for a boost.

- they have no clue how to play their character. They got boosted to where they are, their DPS output is pathetic. They are always DPS, never tank or healer. Their solution is to ask for help of higher level friends.

- I constantly get spammed with questions that read: "is item x better than item y". My constant answer is: "for what". Turns out most of the time they never considered that an item may be good for a role instead of just better than another item.

- they will spend their gold on buying blues in the AH, even when the next tier of quest greens is 2 levels away and they don't need blues until 80 anyway. Their solution is to ask for gold loans.

Concluding: while I agree with the blog post in theory, in practice the social behavious of M&S also makes leveling grouped unbearable and ineffective.

Anonymous said...

Great post Gev. I think you were really on the money with this one.

spindarella said...

Actually, there are elements of truth in this post. Social people do tend to group towards friends and friendly people, I would however offer that simply putting yourself out there by way of local chat is signalling that you may indeed be a nice person, only people who are sensible will take you up on your offer.

None the less on the subject of the STV mod hunts, the preference for people to compete rather than cooperate is due to two factors. a) The value of larger amounts of XP gained per mob, without the intelligence to pre-calculate that more frequent smaller XP ticks + a group bonus may actually provide a high rate of return and b) the potentially awkward reality that you may have to actually talk to this person in party chat, and then when you are done and he is not leave the group, which in your mind is always taken as a "what a retard just bailing on me".

Gevlon said...

@cingy: I meant grouping with people who are already there, and doing the quest. We can even quantify the necessary speed increase to be effective

new quest XP = old quest XP * speedincrease
new mob XP = old mob XP * speedincrease / 2

Assuming that quest XP is equal to the XP given by the mobs killed, the XP increase is: old XP*(speedincrease*1.5-2)

So if you just 33% faster together, it's better to group.

Some experiments: I leveled 80 with my GF (druid and hunter), we killed monsters about 180% faster than alone, so even the mob XP was faster than alone.

We level now our SL-lock/full resto shaman alt-combo, our killing speed is only limited by mob density. We practically could pull 15-20 mobs equal to our level, and I hellfire-AoE them down. She regenerates mana while looting.

Previously we leveled a prot-warri/arcane mage combo to 80, also with pulling 15-20 mobs.

Granted, these numbers came from a team geared and talented directly for such tactics.

Tilman said...

Well, there are implicit rules governing our social interaction:
When I agree to do something together with another person I also agree to honor certain social rules.
When I invite someone over to do some work together, I will offer him some coffee first. When I travel by carsharing I will chat with the driver whether I like him or not.
When you make the decision whether you "group" to do something, the investment in this "social baggage" can outweight the gains. My girlfriend for example happily pays the more expensive train ticket to avoid socializing with strangers while carsharing.

This behaviour carries over to a game like WoW. Since almost everything can be soloed easily many people don't want to invest anything into grouping.
While you are claiming to completely ignore the social baggage that comes with a "grouping contract" you probably also say "hello" and "goodbye" when grouping with someone.
More importantly you also honor the implicit agreement that you actually will do the quest at hand. You won't group with someone to kill 10 tigers, go afk and drop group after he killed 10 for you, although that would maximize your gains while minimizing your costs.

While many experienced players often drop the baggage and just ninja-invite for dailies and drop group after (at least on my server) a newer player simply applies the things he learned about social interaction to the game.

So I agree with you that this phenomenon is the result of "social people". But almost everyone brought up in a society IS a social person, whether he likes it or not.

Hirvox said...

Warhammer's Public Quest mechanic is designed to counter this phenomenon by making grouping implicit: You don't need to lift a finger to make a group. I haven't played it myself, but the idea sounds plausible. Of course, there's the issue of leeching..
You won't group with someone to kill 10 tigers, go afk and drop group after he killed 10 for you, although that would maximize your gains while minimizing your costs.
Unfortunately, as long as there are no negative consequences (like PvP) for leeching, people will do it.

Anonymous said...

Since WotLK blizzard silently implemented a quest system where the chance of getting a quest item increases for every time you don't get the drop, so the STV pain is a thing of the past.

Argon said...

One clever thing LotRO does is that for collection quests each person has an independent chance of the item dropping for them. In essence, they have eliminated competition from collection quests when you are grouped up.

Jacob said...

Anonymous said: blizzard silently implemented a quest system where the chance of getting a quest item increases for every time you don't get the dropPlease provide a link. Your claim doesn't match information that we've heard from the blizzard CMs. The game is built in a way that causes monsters to have fixed loot lists. A mob's loot is determined once when the mob spawns, and the loot does not and cannot change after that point.

Juju said...

Here is a source for the progressive drop rate percentages:

*vlad* said...

Grouping with another person will always get quests done quicker than soloing, unless the person you group with decides they also want to mine/herb/'brb'/do other quests at the same time that you have already completed, and start killing mobs on the other side of the field to you.

If I see someone doing the same quests as me, I will party with them if they invite me or they accept my invite; I don't have to be their best friend, but it may turn out that we get along anyway, in which case they will go on my friends list.

At the same time, 'social' people like to be alone as well, Gevlon.
Sometimes it's fun just to do your own thing and not worry about what the rest of the guild is doing.
In this case refusing to join someone else's party may not be because you don't 'trust' strangers, you simply want some 'me' time.

A lot of M&S do have guild tags; they typically belong to guilds that will invite anyone and everyone into their ranks. You see them advertised all the time in Trade or General:

"DarkHordKilers are looking for members, we have 'tabberd' and we like to boost low levels. We have 150 members and still growing. All classes and races welcome. We are looking to raid Naxx and Ulduar soon. /w pwnstar or legggollas"

If your impression is that all guilds except hardcore raiding guilds are like this, then think again.

Barrista said...

I think social people tend to form cliques. They only want to do things with *this* set of people. It happens in guilds too though and can cause them to disintegrate.

And while we may all be social to some degree as Tilman points out, we don't all feel the need to make social connections. That being said, I'd rather group than wait my turn on a single spawn mob. Because not everyone will wait their turn.

I don't see grouping as a committment so much as I'm afraid the person I'm grouping with will. Then they'll want to latch on to me. Make sense?

That was more at the beginning of MMO's for me. Now when I play either WoW or LOTRO I have no issues with random groups. I do find most players in LOTRO to be more receptive to grouping rather than fighting over mobs as in WoW.


What Gev doesn't point out in his reply is when 5 people are camping the spawn point of an easily killed end-chain mob rather than just grouping with the others, they are actually doing it slower (possibly). In this case it's faster and easier for all if you just group. You don't have to worry that someone else is going to tag the mob first and all that other crap. You get it over with and go on with your own questing.

Pangoria Fallstar said...

It's strange, but for end quest mob, I see less grouping than for holiday kill mobs (like in Winterveil in alterac).

Also, I see more random grouping in Alliance side than horde side. (I've seen this through experience ... lol)

Sydera said...

I don't think it's "social" people who refuse to group. I think it's people with less game experience or skill. I have to admit though, when I'm leveling my alts, I do everything on my own--I'm on my alt in the first place because I want some mental space. If people can group without talking to me, fine! But really, I'm on my alt to just peace out and enjoy some quiet. Either that, or I'm there to sell bunnies on the neutral AH, in which case, questing or grouping is out of the question.

I also like to see if I can do things myself--like soloing group quests--with creative use of mechanics and gadgets. Remember, I'm not really there on my alts to achieve something--just to relax. I've got no need to group for Nesingwary, as such.

I really, really hate it if I group with someone any end up babysitting them. There's an unwritten code that once you partner up, you finish the quest, so if someone asks me to group and their note shows any hint of childishness or poor knowledge of what we're doing, I won't accept.

However, at the Argent Tournament, I group for the dailies every day. You have to for Threat from Above, and I end up doing so for the other two kill quests. Much easier really than doing them alone. However, being level 80 presorts people at least somewhat. By that point they at least know how to do a quest.

Anonymous said...

When I play my rogue which is also a skinner, I very much like to solo many quests, especially quests involving humanoids and beast.

In the case of humanoids, I like to go slow and pick pocket them along the way, something that is almost impossible to do when grouped and going on a killing spree.

In the case of beasts, I loot them and skin them. Even in Violet Hold it is a pain to have all your party members loot the dragonkins before going to the next portal.

Townes said...

Nah. I'm one of your "social" people, a redundant phrase if there ever was one, and I group with strangers on those kill quests, too. I just get frustrated when the morons (a word I rarely use, but it applies) compete for the mobs in kill quests. I've had the same experience you have in STV, but I've also had the competition experience with other characters.

It really doesn't make sense. People turn down PUGs because the players may lack common-sense knowledge any guildie has. Like the hunter doesn't pull without being asked, the tank can hold aggro and has gear, etc. There are no skills needed in a partner to kill 10 monsters. Worst case they are going to add some dps and make it go faster.

Yaggle said...

I could not agree more. "Social" people prefer to form groups, or networks, but consider strangers the enemy. Loners tend to be more cooperative with strangers and feel a connection with the entire world. When "socials" meet groups that are different, such as American Indians, their instinct is to destroy or exploit.

Dan said...

Thanks Gev, another great post.

WeFlySpitfires said...

The ironic thing is that as you soon as someone joins a pre-defined social category (i.e. a guild) then they immediately accept grouping with the people in it and are lot more patient and accepting.

I'm a champion for PUGs and I think they are essential for finding friends and decent players. Isn't it odd how most guilds just recruit anyone without even grouping with them first?

Viscount said...

I have always been perfectly happy to group with someone for kills just for the fact that waiting for the respawns takes time. I do agree with some of the other people though that you have to be careful, I have asked for a group or been invited sometimes just to end up babysitting. I do reasearch, I read the quest, use addons, and run alts so except for the first time, i know what to do and I get it dont fast. Sometimes grouping will slow you down even if it is just a kill quest cause of M&S interference.
Perfect example is when I had to kill the frostwyrm and some other elites in Dragonsblight on my healer, I partnered with a DK who would tank and dps as I healed and dpsed. I rushed him through all the easier group quests till we finally got to the frostwyrm who has a much larger health pool. It went awful, we didnt die, but I had to pop cooldowns, use pots, and other stuff to keep him up and in mana, the elites health droped slowly and thankfully a good citizen pali came along, helped dps and heal or I would have failed. Turns out that the idiot who I was leading by the hand, decided he could use me and just left his DK in blood spec and auto attack while I healed him and went AFK the entire time as I was fighting hard.
Do I blame him? No... it was my fault for putting up with a M&S that long. But as the saying goes, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. He later whispered me asking to group to quest, hoping for another free run. I told him no. He then later tried to join my guild and cited me as a reference. I told him personally yes you could come to me for a reference, you are the dumbest laziest idiot around and that is my experience of your play style.
Sometimes I think I should be more goblinish and kick M&S away sooner. I am sure Gevlon would critisizing me saying even supporting the for a short time encourages it.

Zamboni said...

The main problem I have when grouping up for "kill x" quests is that not everyone is starting at the same place. If I've killed 10 of 20 and then party up with someone, I don't have to kil1 half of my remaining 10, I have to kill half of his remaining 20.

The only way out is to be a antisocial and leave the group when I reach my quota. If I take one for the team and stick it out, I end up killing as many or more mobs as would have soloing, for half the experience and half the drops.

Willowbear said...

Odd. I posted a comment on this thread yesterday. It showed as being posted. But now it is not here.

Gibbiex said...

Agreed with Zamboni. I'll almost never group unless its my good friends (and those rare times are the best times i've had in WoW). But when we did group, it was truely awesome; we would AOE everything, nuke it down. Soon we were three-maning dungeons where the mobs were yellow or orange to us (turns out the beginning dungeons are really dang easy if you know how to play).

My general philosphy is, if its a kill X quest, and we're at the same point (or near enough), then sure. Doubly so if i have rested XP. If it's a gather X quest, there is really no benefit to grouping (nor is there a drawback for the quest itself). But typically I expect the other person to be as competent as me, which usually is not the case, at least in early zones (and did you ever notice that people at high level zones are much more mature than those at low level zones?).

Its almost axiomic, if you start a level 1 character you will be surrounded by children. In fact all of my wife' toons eventually had a random follower person, not even in group, just tagging along, with such patheticness as 'can i join your guild', 'can you be my friend'.

God, no kid, go away. Go play free realms.

On the people as NPCs, well that works in real life too. Don't do business with your friends. My friend would often make me pay for some random crap he is trying to get rid of. He means while but he's just plain greedy. Like they wanted $50 for a 10 year old dilapidated grill. I said no, payed $200 and got a brand new one. Similarly i will never charge a guildie and bend over backwards to help them gear up (as GL it is kinda my job), but with other players, i couldn't care less. Your customers you should treat as NPCs, but my friend, i treat as friends.