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Blizzard working on ways to improve dungeon finder

The current dungeon finder is of course a vast improvement over the old LFG channel, but it can always be made better. In response to a forum thread about the dungeon finder's ever becoming performance-based, Zarhym weighed in with some interesting news.

Zarhym - Dungeon queue should be performance-based
We would love to implement better ways for Dungeon Finder to detect if players know what they're doing in dungeons beyond just the gear they've accumulated. We have some long-term design goals in mind for this we're not quite prepared to share this early on though. ;)


What was more interesting was the idea that Blizzard wants to improve the educational aspect of the service, however. With the current vote kick system, often players who are forced out of a group may have no idea why they failed, especially when they are new to the game.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Cataclysm

Guest Post: How to succeed in dungeons without really trying

This article has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

Make no mistake: Early Cataclysm dungeons are not the faceroll that we experienced at the end of Wrath. Not only have everyone's gear levels dropped dramatically relative to the content, but Blizzard has returned to a more BC-style design philosophy wherein crowd control really matters and one live mob can make the difference between an easy pull and a very difficult one.

Of course, the ideal solution is to read up on the dungeons beforehand and make sure you're prepared for them, but we don't live in an ideal world. Sometimes, you'll wind up in a random dungeon that you weren't expecting, and you haven't had time to research. Additionally, dungeon guides don't always give tips for trash, and trash pulls now require some coordination. Luckily, instance design does not expect you to have an encyclopedia in your head. An alert dungeoneer can succeed on the fly by following a few simple tips.

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Filed under: Cataclysm, Guest Posts

The Classifieds: Buttering up the Panera Bread WoW Man

The Classifieds brings you weekly updates on guild recruiting, rankings, splits and merges, progression and more. Have guild news or a Random Act of Uberness to share? E-mail TheClassifieds@wow.com.

Remember back during the holidays, when we had a nice cozy Breakfast Topic chat about the fellow who's been spotted schlepping his entire iMac to the local Panera Bread to play WoW? Sharp-eyed reader Paul discovered a followup article at Gizmodo, featuring five questions with the Panera Bread WoW Man. It's no headline news, but it's an interesting peek into how a fellow WoW player gets his fix.

Let's open up The Classifieds ...

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Filed under: Guilds, The Classifieds

The Classifieds: WoW player/MMA fighter on the mend


The Classifieds brings you weekly updates on guild recruiting, rankings, splits and merges, progression and more. Have guild news or a Random Act of Uberness to share? E-mail The Classifieds.

In news from the WoW community, guildmates of MMA grappler Haydn Clasby, aka Croc of <Defiant Hearts>, US Bloodscalp-H, are rallying in support after he suffered a broken neck in what was called a freak accident during a match in New Zealand last month. Friends and fans are publicizing a Recovery Fund to help Croc out with the medical costs of the devastating accident.

Our friend Jens "Little Evil" Pulver, also an MMA fighter and inveterate WoW player (and seen in yesterday's 15 Minutes of Fame), offered these words of support for Croc: "My heart and thoughts go out to you, brother. Make sure you keep your spirits up and tackle this with the same grit and guts you used to get in there in the first place. Take the time to heal and get well soon. Chin down, hands up and always come out fighting; don't let this stop you. I wish you all the best."

Best wishes, Croc, for your continued recovery!

Let's open up The Classifieds ...

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Filed under: The Classifieds

The Classifieds: News briefs on guilds and players

The Classifieds brings you weekly updates on guild recruiting, rankings, splits and merges, progression and more. Have guild news or a Random Act of Uberness to share? E-mail The Classifieds.

Welcome to our first installment of The Classifieds, an evolution of our former Guildwatch feature. As more and more players move into endgame raiding, we thought it fitting that our guild news should evolve, too. The Classifieds gives you more of the news you can use: who's progressing, who's marking milestones, who's recruiting. But it's not only about guilds. Because we're all down there in the trenches of Dungeon Finder groups at every opportunity, The Classifieds lets you send a shout-out to that player who made your last PUG a thing of real beauty (whether through pure technical finesse or a winning attitude). And if you're curious about how WoW intersects with the world at large, we'll be passing along links to academic research studies seeking participants, as well.

Editor's Note: One thing you might notice missing in Guildwatch's new incarnation is the "Drama" section. In the interest of fostering community growth and positive interaction, we're checking the drama and negativity at the door.

Let's open the Classifieds!

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Filed under: Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Guilds, Features, Raiding, Bosses, Achievements

How reputation governs the game

Ravius over at Kill Ten Rats ruminates on the importance of reputation in these very social games that we're playing with each other, and it resonated with me in terms of a few different things going on in World of Warcraft right now. We've talked lots before about ninjas and how that back-and-forth works -- in that case, karma is directly driven by what other people think of you, and of course that's seen more weakly in lots of other places around the game, including guild recruitment, your friends list, and just the general server at large.

Ravius talks mostly about the negative reputations we earn, and certainly that's a powerful motivator for a lot of people. But positive reputation is also a strong force in this game -- I'm interested to see how we deal with earning and keeping positive reputation in the new Dungeon Finder and eventually the Battle.net system. Gone may be the days when you build up a good reputation by saying "remember me if you need a good DPS" at the end of a run. It'll be interesting to see what methods we replace that one with.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Guilds, Instances, Raiding

How many wipes does it take to end a raid?

This is probably a good question to revisit since we're heading into a patch where lots and lots of us will be running pickup raids and groups. Souldreamer on WoW Ladies LJ asks: "just when do you give up on a raid?" It's a good question, and unfortunately, the answer probably depends on the raid itself. If, going in, you're not sure just how much DPS the raid can do, and your healer says he's actually specced prot, and you were planning on going to bed anyway, one wipe is probably enough to call it. On the other hand, if you've dropped a few bosses and have an issue with the tank losing aggro for a second on a boss, you'll probably go back for another few wipes just to see.

Do any of you have an actual policy? I tend to not get involved in PuGs at all if I think there's a chance they won't make it -- there are too many fish in the sea, and too many other things for me to work on rather than beating my head up against a boss. But maybe it would be good to set up a rule that most of us can agree on, something like, "three wipes and you're out." That might save a lot of time and frustration in the new Dungeon system.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, How-tos, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Instances, Raiding

Breakfast Topic: The ninja problem

The new LFG system is certainly great, but there's one problem with random PuGs that I'm sure it won't fix, and that is of course the problem of ninjas. As long as random people are getting into groups (and with the new rewards system in place, there'll be plenty of that), some of them will always find the loot more tempting than keeping their reputation clean. So what's the solution?

Obviously, over on Guildwatch, we've been covering people shouting out names and guilds on the forums for a while, but as we've also reported a few times over there, that barely helps -- even if people do remember a ninja on their server, one name change later and they're gone. A few guildleaders over on Jubei'thos have tried putting a site together to track known ninjas on the server, but even that has issues; it's tough to avoid false positives, even if you do require screenshots.

But surely there must be a solution, so let's put our heads together: a debuff? Something like the group vote-kicking system that's coming in patch 3.3? If Blizzard wanted to really go for fair, they could just take the Need-before-Greed system and turn it into straight Need: if an item matches your class and spec, you get a roll (with items everyone can use giving everyone a roll), and the best roll always wins. You can turn it off (for a Master Looter-style raid), but for PuGs, why even bother with a Need/Greed difference? What do you think?

Filed under: Items, Breakfast Topics, Instances, Raiding, Bosses, Making money

Breakfast Topic: How to be realm-famous


I like this post on the General forums about being "realm-famous" and how to get there. World of Warcraft has a gigantic community around it, but sometimes my favorite part of the game is that there are all sorts of little micro-communities in that big one. There's the player base at large, and then groups of people who read WoW.com or other sites. Then you've got the realm forums denizens, and that's a different group than the factions on either side of each realm in-game. And then you've got your guild, and then within that, your raiders and maybe even your friends list. We're all part of one big group -- we all play the game together -- but there are all sorts of little identities in all of these little micro-groups as well.

And people can become "famous" in these groups. It's tough for us at a macro level to cover all of that stuff, though I like trying to keep up with some of it in our Guildwatch column (and the picture above shows what happens when someone can become "realm-famous," or realm-infamous as the case may be. What's your experience with realm-fame -- can you name people on your own server, or have you ever gotten "famous" for nabbing a realm first or earning a reputation?

Filed under: Realm News, Guilds, Odds and ends, Breakfast Topics, Forums

The purpose of Achievements, and how it's changed over time

Moonglade has a good post up about the pros and cons of achievements. Nowadays, achievements are everywhere, but when they were introduced to the game a while ago, they were seen as a great way for Blizzard to integrate an idea that had really taken off on Xbox Live (and that an impending competing MMO, Warhammer Online, was implementing for themselves). They were mostly seen as a benefit for the solo player -- even if you hit level 80 and nabbed some awesome gear, there'd be some optional fun for you to have in the future.

Since then, achievements have changed quite a bit -- I'd argue that they're actually more used in groups than in solo play, as raids check players for achievements when inviting them, and guilds use achievements to rate where their proficiency lies. There are certainly still lots of things for solo players to do (every holiday, achievements come to the forefront again), but titles and mounts have become the main goals there, not just optional points. As Moonglade says, instancing and checking up on what players have done seem to have become the main point of achievements. What was just a bragging competition on Xbox Live has transitioned to a real yardstick in terms of what a player focuses on in game and what they've done so far.

Is that bad? I don't think so -- Blizzard has done with achievements what they've done brilliantly with all of the other features of their games: borrow them, polish them, and then make them better. If you look through that old thread, most of the talk was about achievements pushing people to keep playing the game, and that happened, but I think one thing Blizzard has done is use achievements as a way to see what people have done so far as well: what instances have you run, what quests have you completed, what titles do you have already? There's lots more value to achievements than what any of us originally envisioned.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Instances, Leveling, Achievements

Drama Mamas: It's not you - it's them

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with the Drama Mamas. Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are real-life mamas and experienced WoW players -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your server. We're taking your questions at DramaMamas (at) WoW (dot) com.

You can't fix other people. "Good Intentions" discovered that hard truth last week, after writing in for help coping with the fallout of a BoP misloot that rendered him a social pariah. When it's other people's issues, attitudes and behavior that are causing the problem, sometimes the only alternatives are to grit your teeth and endure or to cut the line and move to another fishing hole.

This week, we hear from a newly 80 player who can't seem to gear up fast enough for everyone around him. We also revisit the unfortunate scarcity of a particular WoW netiquette basic that continues to set one incensed player's teeth on edge. On to the drama!

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, Features, Drama Mamas

Researchers study WoW to see how gangs form and fade

We've seen WoW used for a lot of research, from epidemics to anthropological fieldwork, but this is probably one of the craziest and one of the most helpful (assuming it works) ways to use it. Psychologists at the University of Miami and the University of California, Irvine have been studying how guilds and groups form in World of Warcraft in the hopes that it'll help them figure out how gangs form in real life. It sounds like a wild idea, but following guilds and groups in World of Warcraft is much easier than trying to study spontaneous guilds in the real world, because you've got immediate access to data: when people joined and left and why. And the psychologists say putting data together like this will help, because it'll help answer questions about, for example, what happens when you decide to separate a group of people -- do they form their own groups again or do they stay separated?

They say there are other connections as well: though killing dragons is far less heinous than killing innocent bystanders, Warcraft guilds form, grow, stick together, and fall apart just like gangs and even other groups all over the world do. No matter what kind of group it is, the researchers say that "group ecology" is the same everywhere, so studying the way we work in endgame raids can lead to ideas about what we're doing elsewhere. Very interesting.

Unfortunately, they're full on potential but still pretty short on conclusions yet (listen, guys, all you have to do to break up gangs is ensure there's not enough loot to go around), but once again, Azeroth seems like a fertile ground for directly studying just how we players interact as humans.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Guilds, News items, Raiding, Bosses

Groupcrafting: The art of getting a group together

Tales of the Aggronaut sent us this multipart guide he wrote on one of the things we all do in the game that might nevertheless be tough for a lot of people: actually getting a group together. It sounds like a simple thing (just ask people whether they want to group up or not), but as you probably know from experience, sometimes it can be pretty tough. So TotA set out, instead, to do a from-the-ground-up guide, from how to find and network with people in the game to how to build a group piece-by-piece.

And I like it a lot -- he starts with a preamble with some general networking tips, including finding social channels to join (many guilds and realms have a few social channels constantly filled with folks LFG or interested in playing socially) and putting together a solid friends list, then goes on to explain how to communicate (probably a great read for anyone in any part of the game) and then how to actually build a WoW group, from core classes to splitting up class roles. Very impressive -- while most veteran players have probably heard or done this stuff before, it's nice to see a clear, concise guide that starts at the beginning.

And it's even nicer to see a guide that emphasizes the social aspect of gameplay. Even here at WoW.com, we're all about gameplay tips, from profession insights to class balance discussion, but sometimes we overlook that to play a social game like World of Warcraft, you sometimes need to focus on social skills. As much as theorycrafting and gear upgrading can help, sometimes it's better to learn how to be friendly and social instead.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Instances, Raiding

Great guild traditions and where they come from


Neth wants to know your guild's traditions over on the forums. We've talked about funny guild moments and traditions before as well, too, but there seems to be a never-ending supply of them. There are as many different memories out there as there are guilds, and each one is a little different: even all of the guilds I've joined up with for any significant amount of time (there have probably been four, I think, in my WoW career? It's not that I'm a guild jumper, just that I've switched servers and factions a few times for various reasons) has had their own moods and well-known members and busy times and special things they do while raiding or leveling together.

While it would be great if Neth was asking this to get some input on guild housing or the upcoming guild battlegrounds features, she's probably just asking to hear it -- it's definitely fun to look inside the other groups in the game and see what they do the same and different. For all of the drama that tends to attract our attention, the truth is that Blizzard's ad hoc ingame guild system has created some pretty strong ties between us. I like reading through that thread and seeing just what people have come up with just as much as Neth probably does.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Guilds, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Forums

GC: If you're OOM, tell your guildies to get out of the fire

Ghostcrawler did battle with the forumites this weekend, and the topic of discussion was the recent mana changes. Players are saying that the changes (including the BoW and Mana Spring change last week) are basically forcing them to bring more healers along to larger raids, and GC in return expounds on the raid balance that Blizzard is aiming for lately. Interestingly, it's not the 5 healers / 5 tanks / 15 DPS that you might think it would be -- Ghostcrawler says that if they aimed for that makeup, bringing more healers would often make the fights inconsequential.

He goes on to say that the way the fights are designed, you aren't supposed to run out of mana, as long as you're dodging the AoE and are geared up correctly. Making mistakes in gameplay digs into your mana reserves, and so when Blizzard nerfs mana regen, they aren't just trying to make things harder, they're trying to take away that extra breathing room that you get around errors. They don't want healers just healing through damage -- they want people trying to avoid it in the first place.

And, if guildies won't get out of the fire, and your healers keep running out of mana because of it, it's time to weed out the ranks a bit. Finally, GC adds what we've heard before: those looking for a tough battle in Ulduar likely won't find it right away -- the instance is designed to be only a little harder than Naxx. But the hard modes are where the difficulty will really ramp up. If short, says GC, if you don't have enough mana on the easy modes, it's not Blizzard's design: it's the way you and your guildies are geared and playing.

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Instances, Raiding, Classes

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