This week the Scrying Pool looks at an upcoming feature in GW2: an LFG tool.
In each article of The Scrying Pool, I look at what is and what could be. After taking a look at what is present in Guild Wars 2 now, be that lore or game mechanics, I then ask What If? What if this happened in the lore or this feature was added in a future patch.
In last week’s article I talked about solo dungeons. These would be ways for players to play fun and interesting content when they didn’t have a group ready to jump into because friends weren’t online or the player was one who just likes to go it alone.
I briefly touched on the idea that solo content should not outweigh group content in a game that labels itself as massively multiplayer online (MMO). An MMO should always strive for people playing together; something that ArenaNet has done very well in GW2 with mechanics such as everyone can loot a monster or resource node.
I mentioned that the rewards for running solo content would just need to be less than that of similar group content. At no point should an MMO be balanced so that I can get better rewards for doing things by myself than joining a group. Solo content in this context does not include things like PUGs or using an LFR tool, as those result in a group of players working toward a common goal.
Another side to solo vs group content is ease of access. This is where GW2 currently has a problem in the solo vs group balance. Without any kind of Looking for Group tool built into the game, it is much more difficult to form groups over just going it alone. Third-party tools such as GW2lfg.net help in forming groups, but between it being a tool that runs outside the game and its lack of features such as removing fulfilled party requests these tools still create a high barrier of ease when creating groups.
Have no fear, for ANet is already aware of this group finding deficit in game. For a while they have said they are working on a group finder tool for GW2. They have said that they plan for the new LFG tool to be released sometime in 2013, which may be coming sooner rather than later after pieces of a LFG tool were datamined after a recent patch.
While they didn’t give much insight into how this tool would work, they have said that they don’t want a group finder that is completely automatic. This would imply that it won’t be the similar setup that other games have that will automatically put together a party of five and then teleport them straight into the start of the dungeon.
I like this idea as it helps to make grouping more personal. Instead of being grouped together with some random Mesmer, I know that I am grouping up with I N K S. In all of my time using LFG/LFD tools I almost never get thanked for healing the party doing the dungeon. In GW2 where I’m not even a vital component like a healer in other games, every single party I have been in everyone was thanking the party for the run before leaving the group.
I think a big part of this has to do with the awesome community that GW2 has, but it also is a bit in the effort taken to form groups. It isn’t some automated process but finding a listing on a third-party tool. So in this way, I think the LFG tool in GW2 will be a combination of what third-party tools are doing and the system used in GW1.
For those who didn’t play GW1, the party finder there was more of a listing system than an actual finder. Players would make a post which would show up in the window where other players could click and join the player. A couple of things were special about this system: it showed how full a party was and it only showed up in the party window in the same instance as the posting’s creator.
The first is the biggest feature lacking in third-party tools and something that they would not be able to mimic. This feature would show up at the end of a listing, showing the current party count out of the maximum member count (a maximum that could change depending on which town the players were currently in). For example, in GW2 this might read as 2/5 showing that there are two players currently in the party with the standard maximum party size of five.
While a maximum wouldn’t be necessary in GW2 – as parties have the same maximum of five no matter where players are in the game – it reads much simpler than just a number two. Just having the number can cause some confusion, like is that two showing the current party size or the fractal level the party is looking to finish? Simplicity reigns supreme and all.