Yesterday I got a good dose of humility thanks to my MMO of the hour, FF14. I’ve been pondering lately about questions like community-building, how to be inclusive toward new players, how to behave so that they want to stay in the game and enjoy themselves. At the same time, balancing those issues versus endgame play like raids and dungeons. I still haven’t found the magic solution but I was set on being nice and helpful toward new players.
Then yesterday as I was entering hour three of a light-farming marathon I stumbled on a newbie group in Garuda HM and all my nice intentions went out of the window. They were a group of newbie players just entering Garuda HM for the first time and they were missing a healer, I happened to be that missing healer.
To put things into perspective Garuda HM at this point is pretty much a farm item for most of the community. It takes about 3 minutes to complete with a good group and the strategy involves burning the boss while the healers tank the adds and heal through the damage. It’s blinding fast and the most efficient way to farm light when it gives the bonus, which it did yesterday. On the off chance you get a new player in the group, you can just keep on going even if he dies and he gets his clear so everyone is happy.
But yesterday it was an all newbie group and what was supposed to take 3 minutes took 30. I realized something was wrong when we were 8 minutes in the first attempt and garuda was still at half health. Then after the first wipe, I figured they were new players so I offered the “burn” strategy and off we went. Except they didn’t listen… at all… They were attempting the classic strat for beating her except they were executing it all wrong so there was no way that was going to work. By the third pull I got more insistent that they try the burn strategy… it didn’t take either.
At the beginning of the fourth pull I was getting impatient and tried an abandon vote which duly failed. The group leader told me to leave if I wasn’t happy and I answered back that I wasn’t taking a 30 mins deserter debuff for them. I then realized I was stuck in an elitist asshole vs new player argument and that this time I was the asshole. So I replied that I agreed with him, that the original strategy was sound but that since then players had developed a new one and I asked nicely that they give the burn strat a go. Silence, then a reluctant agreement that they’d try my strat… once… 5 mins later and with the help of the Echo buff Garuda was dead.
Still the whole thing left me feeling awful. I’ve been trying real hard lately to do positives actions for the community and I felt like I came off as an arrogant bastard to a group of new players who just wanted to have fun between friends. I said so to my guild and kept on farming for a little while trying to not think too much about it.
However, just before I logged off I went back through my chat log and read what I had written, the exact words. I realized that I was a lot less of an ass than I thought I was. I was polite, I didn’t call anyone noob or bad or anything and if anything I sounded more desperate than anything else. Back at home I was raging but luckily that didn’t spill over in the game.
What to do ?
Like I said at the beginning of the post, these issues have no clear solutions. New players have the right to enjoy the game at their own pace. At the same time veterans should also be able to enjoy a farming session. I should be able to enjoy pushing my dps as high as I can and I should be able to enjoy a lazy dungeon run to take my mind off things. We’re all playing MMOs because we enjoy some aspect of it even if it’s in a different way. So how do you reconcile all these ways of playing, how do you please the veteran and the newbie player that are in the same dungeon run?
We’ve been debating this topic collectively for over ten years now. Veterans would like new players to get better, new players want vets to let them be, some intermediate players want ways to progress and others just want to enjoy the game without a care in the world. What’s worst, we’ll often alternate between these positions depending on our mood any given day. It’s not easy…
I’ve seen arguments made that if you’re always helpful to new players then they’ll “graduate” to better players and everyone is happy. Except that not everyone wants to raid endgame and not everyone wants to put more effort into a game than just logging in and playing. Other have advocated segregating the players into different groups depending on interest, which is mostly what we’ve done by building guilds. There’s social guilds, raiding guilds and so on. But just like real life, we come into contact with one another regardless thanks to the magic of tools like dungeon finders and it’s not good business for anyone when the hardcore chews out the casual or when the casual paints hardcore as elitist assholes. Something I’ve sadly been guilty of before.
This post is running extra long so I’m going to keep the other parts for later but I’m curious to see what you guys think. How should we mesh players with varying interests and skills in our MMOs?