Playing with strangers = playing solo?

Short World of Warships update:
Legendary upgrade, 20km torpedoes. Horrible damage, stellar winrate. I told you I’ll break the meta!


Sandrian wrote a post about the need to play solo sometimes. That’s not particularly new, everyone has time when he doesn’t want to chat with “friends” or even real friends, just play.

What makes the post very interesting is the list of “solo” activities. Most of them are group content. Dungeons and island expeditions. Just not with “friends” but with randoms who might say hi/bye, might not, but there is no meaningful communication. But they are still players, they are still people.

I’m the least social person who has a blog, but I always went with “friends” to dungeons, to avoid the randoms who damage less than the healer. So – unless Sandrian is in a retard-guild that somehow manages to be worse than LFD filth – the price of playing that way is longer dungeon time.

But socializing has a price that often outmatch the price of incompetence. “Friends” tend to tell jokes, stories even in chat and if voice chat is involved, anything without an iron-fisted raid leader is unbearable.

This is something that MMO designers should keep in focus: that players want to play with other people, but without the cost of chatting with them. Because the other guy is not at all fun to listen to. So designing automatically grouping content with stratifying players (preventing morons play with good players) can be some form of holy grail, something that explains the WoW success. Games should be designed especially to separate “friends” if they are not on similar skill level, to let players play without them without having to personally reject them. “Sorry, you are not attuned to this instance” sounds much better than “I just don’t want to play with you because you are insufferable on voice chat”.

Author: Gevlon

My blog:

10 thoughts on “Playing with strangers = playing solo?”

  1. I never understood your dislike for voice chat. People seem to be as likely to chat about nonsense in voice as with text. Voice is the superior medium because instructions and acknowledgments can be called out quickly without extra load on the fingers, which can often already be overloaded with movement and attack sequences. Assuming peak performance interests you, voice chat should be a part of this.


  2. I preferred WoW before the group finder. When servers policed themselves by establishing “black books” that guild leaders would use to keep track of the ninja looters, underperformers and drama queens, and keep them out of raids and dungeon runs. Because of my healing abilities, I was honored to be deputized by the leading guild on our server in the weeks leading up to the opening of the gates of AQ. It felt good to be playing with people who knew their classes inside and out, even if they were complete strangers to me prior to being introduced to them. They were all professionals, and acted like it in chat and/or voice comm’s. The goals were plainly understood and well communicated by the guild leaders. The guild was so well ran that it set a majority of the server firsts on our server. Blizzard even rewarded them with a Legendary ring named after the guild. Later on, I would be invited to attend guild runs with them when someone was out sick or had a work or family related issue. They knew I was up to the task and not once did I ever let them down. I never once carried their Guild name over my head, but then again I didn’t have to. My complete sets of Tier 1 and Tier 2 gear said all that was necessary.

    So, playing with complete strangers is a good thing when the mechanisms are in place to allow players to police their own servers and the players on it. It is also desirable to do so(play with strangers) when you see goals being achieved, bosses downed, gear attained..etc, and the relationships that grew from this process were way more solid and lasting than what grows from the process that WoW has now.


  3. @eatenbyagrue:
    1: because chat is easier to police for nonsense. “lol” is there or is not. People are more likely able to control themselves from typing “omg”, than exclaim in voice “oh my God”

    2: instructions means one leader makes the call and the others are glorified bots. Following orders blindly might increase performance in killing pixels, but creates no improvement in real life. Thinking for yourself over anything does.

    @Noguff: self-policing is good if the community is generally performing and culturally homogen. This was the case in early WoW where practically all players were in STEM college. If the majority of the players are casuals, then the “why so serious” becomes the norm and those get policed out who are performing. If the community has different sub-cultures, then baddies of the same culture become preferred over goodies of “the other” (consider not taking girls a decade ago, or conservatives today)


  4. @Gevlon

    “self-policing is good if the community is generally performing and culturally homogen.”

    I do not believe that culture has anything to do with it. Unless you mean the “server culture” that is established because of the heavy policing – where the ninja-looters and baddies are weeded out due to repeated bad behavior/performance, then yes, I would agree that the server culture plays an important role. But the “why so serious” culture only establishes itself in the absence of self-policing, and if the players on the server allow it to take hold.

    At one point, making the decision to play with strangers was easy because you wouldn’t risk grouping or raiding with someone who had a bad reputation. When the Guild I mentioned in my previous comment disbanded, many of the ex-members created their own chat channel where we could all stay in touch for raiding/dungeon purposes. Although the numbers have dwindled, if someone new showed up in the chat channel, you could rest assured that they were someone you would want to group with. Stranger, or not.


  5. @Noguff: maybe the too loaded “culture” shouldn’t be used. Rather “players care about the game while playing instead of real life”. If they care about real life stuff while gaming, you reject players based on not skill, but game-irrelevant things.

    Explicit example: in PUBG squad play “China numba 1” is a serious problem. It means that if Chinese players have teammates who speak English on team voice chat, they teamkill him, shouting “China numba 1”. This is throwing the game, as their squad is now down by a player. But they do it anyway because they rather lose a game if they can annoy a “bad American” (who can very easily be an English speaking Brazilian or French)


  6. ” I’m the least social person who has a blog, but I always went with “friends” to dungeons, to avoid the randoms who damage less than the healer. So – unless Sandrian is in a retard-guild that somehow manages to be worse than LFD filth – the price of playing that way is longer dungeon time. ”

    That’s actually an interesting statement to make. On one of my current max level characters I’m in a guild that only contains my main and my alts. Not very many people to run with 😉 I prefer it this way though because I prefer not to socialize all the time. Running with randoms doesn’t require me to be social and, as much as you think LFD is only filled with trash, I’ve had mostly perfectly fine experiences. When in a LFD group I usually only say hi and then just focus on what I’m doing, rather than feel the need to be chatty. Hence I count it as “solo” play. It also helps me focus on learning dungeons and learning to play my class better because I’m not distracted by chatter.


  7. Sandrian:

    Are you sure you’re an extrovert? Heh. I ask because I read your original post linked by Gevlon, and thought “I bet this guy is an extrovert. I expect to see clues of that in the post.” Lo and behold, I didn’t even need Thelma to spot the clues for me.

    I’m a complete introvert, being around others is exhausting after a very short period of time. (Extroverts never get tired of sucking the energy from others.) I do exactly the same thing you do, turn off the “show online” feature if possible, have ‘guilds’ of just me and my alts, ignore others while in LFR or dungeons, etc.

    That doesn’t mean I run screaming whenever another person gets too near me, no… I switch on “social state” and engage. But that requires energy, even though there IS a “interactivity recharge” component to it at some levels , the net is energy drain.

    Extroverts, on the other hand, can’t stand to be by themselves. I’m sure there are middle of the road people that balance that equally, of course. It’s a spectrum.


  8. Surely you admit that most people are not you- most people are social and would prefer some ability to make a positive, lasting connection with people that they have good experiences with, underwritten by the fact that they “get along” socially, accepting the cost of occasionally having to /ignore some idiot. There are plenty of people who want to socialize in ways you’d consider unprofessional (both stupid and smart), and an MMO developer would have to be stupid to deny them access to what they consider a core part of the game instead of giving people the opportunity to form, join, or leave channels/guilds/groups that cater to their individual interests. The reason this broke down with LFG is that there was no way to find people you can have meaningful, lasting social experiences with. Once that is gone, the only thing that matters is competence, and you need to sort by that if players depend on their teammates.


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