Dungeon Finder Taking A Cue From DDO?

December 2009 is expansion/patch month for several MMOs, and one of the things that I love about content patches and substantial expansions is that you often see developers trying out new ideas in their established worlds.  LOTRO is getting a lot of praise for its skirmish system, which definitely sounds right up my alley if I was still playing it.

In what’s most likely the last big content patch before Cataclysm, WoW has rolled out patch 3.3, which includes (among other goodies, like a ripoff of QuestHelper’s map aid) a nifty feature called the Dungeon Finder.  This might be the first move on Blizzard’s behalf that’s really impressed me in quite some time (and others as well).

The Dungeon Finder is replacing past failed experiments in grouping aids for WoW, such as the meeting stones and the LFG utility.  It supposedly takes the annoyance out of forming a group to run a dungeon by either letting you queue up for a specific dungeon or a random one, designating your role (tank, healer, DPSer), and then matching you up with others across several servers.  If you’re willing to brave out PUGs — and not everyone is — this sweetens the deal by offering incentives: a daily goody bag for the first random dungeon run, and a non-combat pet after grouping with enough other puggers.  Plus, the system teleports you right into the dungeon once the group is formed, and returns you to wherever you were in the world after you’re done.

That’s convenience.  And, I think, it’ll breathe new life into dungeon running in WoW.  From my experience in the game, I always loved 5-mans, but they were painful to form and travel to, wasting gobs of time where you just sat around waiting for your party to get to the dungeon itself.  Now it’s one click and you’re in like Flynn.

Reading up on this made me think of an odd comparison to Dungeons & Dragons Online, but for a good reason.  While I don’t play DDO these days, I cannot praise its dungeon system enough, particularly its ease of getting people together (their LFG interface works really smoothly) and the minimal travel time to any given instance (since the city functions as a hub for all the dungeons).

Plus, I always liked how DDO would reserve loot in chests for each player individually — it never felt like you were competing against others for loot, but that the dungeon would reward you personally.  WoW’s goody bags have that same feel.

Despite what some people may claim is the trend of the industry, I don’t see grouping as becoming irrelevant.  What I do see are dev teams recognizing that the obstacles between a player and a group need to be dealt with — travel time, party formation, lack of incentives for grouping — and then devising new systems to do just that.  And as a solo-happy player, I feel more comfortable with grouping than ever before when that happens.


10 thoughts on “Dungeon Finder Taking A Cue From DDO?

  1. kaozz December 10, 2009 / 7:38 am

    Yes it indeed makes finding groups smoother. I love that.

  2. Ravious December 10, 2009 / 8:05 am

    This one feature might actually draw me back in to WoW.

  3. Stabs December 10, 2009 / 9:14 am

    Forced grouping should die a miserable lonely death.

    Grouping by choice should be at the top of most people’s list of fun things to do.

  4. Tesh December 10, 2009 / 2:10 pm

    I’ll second Stabs’ comment (especially since it’s linguistically interesting), and add an observation that Callan reminded me of over at my place: Puzzle Pirates has a fantastic LFG system, wherein crews (guilds) post job offers on a central, server-wide jobbing board, and interested pirates can apply to the crew’s posting and, if accepted, be on board literally with one click. It’s EASY to join a ship almost anywhere but during combat. “Grouping” in PP is easy to start, and most often, far more lucrative than soloing.

    Thing is, I’m a dedicated soloist. I love that I can sail my own sloop with a trio of NPCs handling the grunt labor. I don’t need other players to HAVE FUN… but if I do join others, I have a different kind of fun, and tend to make a lot more in-game money.

    Consequently, I’ve grouped more in PP than I have in all other MMOs combined. It’s easy and fun to do (the heart of why I do so), and the increased earnings are icing on the cake. Most importantly, though, I can do almost everything in the game solo if I choose to do so. If my skills are good enough, I can even succeed in most activities. Playing with other people is just often more efficient and sometimes even more fun, so I’ll occasionally *choose* to group. Not because I need to to pass a content gate or get the best gear, but because it’s fun.

  5. moxie December 10, 2009 / 3:18 pm

    I’m loving this new feature. It’s as smooth, fast, easy, and polished as you could want, and soooo convenient. The best thing though, is that in addition to making it easier for level 80s, it’s made it a piece of cake to do lower-level instances on alts, rejuvenating the altoholics and helping people learn how to play their class in group situations before they hit level cap.

  6. Anjin December 10, 2009 / 3:21 pm

    I agree with your final statement, Syp. I don’t group normally because it’s so annoying. This tool has taken the pain out of PUGing, so I’m enjoying groups a lot more than I ever expected.

  7. Mesar December 10, 2009 / 3:29 pm

    I love the LFD utility. As a lvl 25 druid on Proudmoore I hardly see anyone doing quests through Darkwood, yet I can put together a dungeon group in less than 5 minutes and receive a random blue just for completing it.

    It’s completely changed my appreciation for WoW.

  8. Taint December 11, 2009 / 12:03 pm

    It is fantastic, especially the random dungeon feature. As a healer, I can find a group for an 80 heroic dungeon within seconds of clicking “join”. With one exception, I have had a huge amount of success with the PUGs that have been thrown together by this system. The problem, however, is that it is making accessibility to emblems very, very easy. I foresee a Dalaran filled with people all with Level 232-245 gear in the not to distant future.

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