Before working on my WvW exploration, I tried to work on my personal goal of working through every story mode in the Guild Wars 2 dungeons before hitting Zhaitan. I joined a party of two that had been sitting in Lion’s Arch for half an hour trying to get people to join them for Sorrow’s Embrace. We exchanged pleasantries and the group leader starting saying that I had been the only bite for the mid-level dungeon’s story mode in quite a while. She was clearly depressed at the thought of working for another hour to pick up another two party members at that rate. I decided I might not have time for the party wait plus the dungeon and excused myself.
ArenaNet has been adamant against creating a “LFG” system that would bring people looking for the same activity together. There is a lot of confusion both for ArenaNet’s decision and their definition of a “LFG” system.
To begin with, there is a “LFG” system in Guild Wars 2. In the social menu, a player can tag themselves as “Looking for Group”. However, this feature is constrained to the instance the player is in. A player in Lion’s Arch will only see other players “LFG” in their instance of Lion’s Arch. A player “LFG” in the explorable map will likely never be seen.
I get the feeling that most players want an expansion of this same system to simply find players across the game world interested in joining along for the same dungeon. Going to a random auto-grouping system similar to World of Warcraft would be a significant step beyond what I believe the vocal player base is asking for. Yet it seems unclear whether ArenaNet does not intend a “WoW-type LFG system” or simply no expansion of their own LFG system, period.
This is a feature request I have seen in many post-launch interviews. Players that can play together, stay together seems a simple enough reasoning to add it. Another MMO, Star Wars The Old Republic added their LFG system months after launch. How many players would have stayed had it been easier to group up for instances? I don’t understand why it took BioWare so long for what I feel is an incredibly important feature. How long will it take for ArenaNet to buckle to the vocal players?
I don’t buy for a second the emphasis on server community for anything other than WvW. More and more it feels like my Guild Wars 2 community is within the entire game instead of server-based. I was in overflow most of the Mad King’s events, and I was having a blast with people from all over. My secondary guild has players in quite a few servers. Even now I can invite anybody from any server to join my dungeon. Overflow is sometimes a better place to be. Take the next step, ArenaNet.
Another interesting spark in the community has been discussion of adjusting explorable area population with underpopulated areas by going the route opposite of an overflow server. Basically a few people from each server will create a lively explorable area. This was best named, in my opinion, by Reddit as an “underflow server”. GW2 Hub also writes about this issue as well. The underflow server is a great idea, but would likely require some updates to technology by ArenaNet. I feel it is one worth pursuing, at least in spirit.
The problem then becomes as one Reddit poster puts it, the bottomless bucket issue. If there is one person in their home server, they would get moved to underflow. So there would be no people in the home server. If twenty people from the same server are in the underflow, it would make sense to move them back, but I think too much moving around would create issues and players might want to stay where there are forty players from a bunch of servers. An interesting idea would be assimilate servers on a map per map basis. For Dredgehaunt Cliffs take five servers and make them share that map. Heck for Dredgehaunt’s map smoosh all the servers for each region together. Still significant tech would need to be introduced for this “small” feature.
Population control is a very tricky thing in MMOs. I get the feeling that for most MMOs it’s more akin to wizardry and voodoo in deciding when to merge servers, and it is done in usually very blunt ways. Guild Wars 2 has some great technology in place already that blurs the line between discrete servers. I feel that much of the community has solidified around these features in great ways both on a server level and an entire game level. I hope ArenaNet can continue to push technology to let people play together easily without relying on archaic community structures.
During development ArenaNet spent significant time and resources to develop story mode in dungeons (being voice acted by not inexpensive voice actors) and the mid-level zones. I think it’s great that ArenaNet is continuing to add mid-level content, like the Modus Sceleris events, and obviously they are still working on dungeon rewards. Still, it would be a shame if these areas became avoided simply because of poor population segregated to each zone or server. I don’t want to eventually hear that I should save crafting XP for the middle areas so that I can avoid doing those ghost towns. This is for the long tail though, and ArenaNet really seems focused on rewards (see 21:10) at the moment over additional features.