Commentary: 10 Ways to Save Dungeon Finder

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, Grouping

“All level 90 characters are created equal, but some are more equal than others.”

Nobody likes to be picked last for a team, yet the days where any player with level-appropriate gear could contribute in a meaningful way to the majority of dungeons introduced in an EverQuest II expansion are long gone. The straightforward turn-and-burn fights up to and including Kunark zones have given way to heavily scripted 6-person mini-raids. All but the easiest Velious dungeons have substantial checks on Gear, Alternate Advancements, and Skill.

I’ve talked to several players over the last week about Dungeon Finder and the recurring theme has been — Players who have normally been skittish about asking to join a group are queueing themselves up for Dungeon Finder, regardless of Gear, AAs, or Skill. They seem to figure ‘What have I got to lose?’

Quetzl: “Did you run any Dungeon Finder groups this weekend?”

Confundus: “Yeah.”

Quetzl: “Cool. What have you gotten so far?”

Confundus: “Lockouts.”


While that player may not have anything to lose, the rest of the group most certainly does. While we haven’t had Group XP debt in a long time, one thing we do still have is Zone Lockouts. If even one named is killed during an unsuccessful attempt at a Velious dungeon, it still results in a persistent instance or “lockout” which cannot be cleared for 18 hours.

The sad reality is, this has become the strongest discouragement from using Dungeon Finder at level 90, as an unsuccessful group doesn’t just eat up time, ammo, food/drink, and a mender bill; it often means you cannot remount a group to complete the zone for 18 hours.

We’ve got some ideas on how to fix Dungeon Finder…

10. Allow players to list Alts.

It is rare that I am logged into the character I actually want to run dungeons with.

I am usually questing, crafting, or otherwise working to improve my alts. But when the opportunity to group opens up, I want to bring my strongest character to ensure the best chance of success in that dungeon. Since almost all gear is tagged HEIRLOOM, I am assured that I can bring any character I want to a dungeon and my alt characters will still benefit.

If the Dungeon Finder matches up a group with one of our alts, we will receive a prompt telling us:

“Dungeon Finder would like to invite your alt character ‘Felkrim’ to a group in the dungeon ‘Fortress Spire’. Would you like to join this group?”

[ Accept (Switch to Felkrim) ] [ Decline ]

Your character would be insta-camped, and then the Dungeon Finder would add your alt’s name to that group and you would be auto-invited you when that character logs in. The technology to handle this already exists using the same code that auto-rejoins you to groups if you go Linkdead.

Solution: Extend the Dungeon Finder to allow us to list Alt characters.

9. Narrow the level range for dynamic dungeons.

Last week, a level 81 healer reported being grouped with five level 90 characters in one of the new Dynamic Dungeons. As a result, the enemy mobs were level 89 and bosses were level 91. Suffice it to say, keeping everyone healed was impossible.

Solution: Dungeon Finder should add players to the Dynamic Dungeon groups based on the average level of the members so far. If it starts with a level 90 character, no characters under level 86 should be added. if it starts with a level 81 character, no characters under 78 or over level 84 should be added.

8. Restore Critical Mitigation checks.

It is a commonly-held myth within the EverQuest II community that removing Critical Mitigation from Velious dungeons would make them more accessible to lesser-geared players. In reality, Velious dungeons ramp up from medium to extreme difficulty, regardless of the presence or absence of Crit Mit.

Since Critical Mitigation was removed as a needed stat from Velious dungeons, I haven’t seen any evidence that groups are more successful in the harder Dungeons (Kael and Drunder). In fact, I’ve heard the opposite. it seems that more groups are attempting in these zones but then failing due to the same Gear, AA, or Skill limitations present before the change.

It’s true that the Critical Mitigation requirements were excessively high at launch, with a developer famously saying that the only Yellow adornment any player should consider was an increase to Critical Mitigation. Lowering this number by 20 points across the board would give players the freedom to choose Yellow Adornments other than Critical Mitigation, yet still ensure that they are wearing gear that has a chance of keeping them alive.

Removing Critical Mitigation entirely created a false sense of security, as well as a belief that anyone, in any gear, could attempt most Velious dungeons. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Solution: Restore Critical Mitigation checks to all Velious dungeons, but reduced by 30% from their original numbers.

7. Add Critical Chance checks.

The elephant in the room when it comes to Velious dungeon difficulty is Critical Chance. Originally a rarely encountered stat, Critical Chance reached 100% for most players by the end of The Shadow Odyssey and became a forgotten stat. Destiny of Velious introduced the controversial Critical Avoidance mechanic, a sort of Critical Mitigation for enemies.

As players reach harder Velious zones, they find that their Critical Chance is being debuffed or “subtracted” by certain mobs or even the entire zone. Kael Drakkel zones, for instance, reduce your Critical Chance by 70-100%, while the hardest Drunder instances sap a whopping 170% from this crucial stat.

Being unable to reach 100% effective Critical Chance is a bummer for DPS and Fighter classes, slowing your DPS, but it is literally a matter of life-and-death for Healers.

Solution: Add a Critical Chance check to the Dungeon Finder for Velious zones to ensure that each player has at least 50% Critical Chance after debuffs.

6. Support Mentoring

One of the most compelling uses of Dungeon Finder for me was going to be revisiting older dungeons on alternate characters for AA. When the feature list of Dungeon Finder was announced, the EQ2 community issued a collective sigh when we all read that Dungeon Finder would not support Mentoring.

We get it.

Mentored characters are extremely powerful. Stats like Multiattack, Potency, and Critical Bonus didn’t even EXIST until Echoes of Faydwer, Rise of Kunark, and the Shadow Odyssey respectively, and yet they barely scale down for mentored characters. It’s no secret that level 90 characters mentored down in level 20-70 dungeons are absolute killing machines.

We would hate to see Mentoring undergo the kind of nerfs it would take to make a level 90 character mentored down to level 20 have roughly the same power as a level 20 character. It would remove a lot of enjoyment from players revisiting old dungeons. However, for Dungeon Finder, I propose a compromise.

Solution: Specifically within Dungeon Finder, when a higher level character joins a Dungeon Finder group, auto-mentor them down to the average level of the group, and then put a debuff on them that reduces Critical Chance, Critical Bonus, Potency, and Multiattack by 15% for each 10 levels tbey are mentored below their own level.

5. Be smarter about classes.

Just in the last week, we have heard (and witnessed) some of the most bizarre, randomly selected groupings imagineable. We’ve seen groups with 3 Wizards, or 2 Rangers, or two Clerics, or two Druids, or two Shamans. In the case of DPS and Utility classes, buffs aren’t exactly complementary and may overlap. The problem for healers is even bigger, as their buffs and wards within their own class tend to conflict, even with players of two different subclasses (ie. Warden, Fury).

Solution: Don’t put 2 of the same class, or 2 healers of the same class/subclass in a Dungeon Finder group.

4. Be more selective about classes.

Although established guild groups, as well as exceptionally well-geared pickup groups can manage just fine in the more challenging Velious dungeons, Dungeon Finder should be a bit pickier about which classes are needed.

These restrictions could be relaxed over time, as people get more gear or zones are nerfed, but for the time being, Dungeon Finder shouldn’t just grab a Tank, Healer, and any 4 classes as it does now.

Naturally this suggestion (as with all our suggestions) would not affect anyone forming a group outside of the Dungeon Finder.

Solution: Be more stringent on the Dungeon Finder group formula than Tank, Healer, and any 4 classes. The ‘average’ Iceshard Keep group ought to have an Enchanter. The ‘average’ Throne of Storms party really needs an Enchanter or Bard. The ‘average’ Temple of Rallos Zek group should have 2 healers not of the same Class. All Drunder zones formed by DF should have a Bard or Enchanter and probably a second healer.

3. Spell/Gear Reality Check

The solo quest lines in Rise of Kunark, Sentinel’s Fate, and Velious collectively award over 200 platinum to each player that completes them. With the abundance of plat in EQ2, there is no excuse for level 90 characters to be attempting to run Velious dungeons with Apprentice spells, Treasured, or Low-level gear.

Of course there are a few pointless spells that go ignored by each class, and sometimes due to Reitemization, a Treasured item or lower-level item may be useful. But there has to be a threshold somewhere. I joined a Dungeon Finder group for Iceshard Keep that had a level 90 Inquisitor with level 79 Kunark quest gear that had powerleveled to 90.

Solution: A character with more than 4 Apprentice spells, 4 pieces of Treasured gear, or 4 pieces of gear below level 80 should get a message “Your gear/spells are insufficient to run a Velious dungeon. Are you sure you want to Queue anyway?”

2. Survivability Score

Three expansions ago, any character in Treasured or Mastercrafted armor and a modicum of AAs could join a group and contribute. It might have taken a bit longer to kill things, and it might have taken a few tries on certain bosses, but being a little short on gear didn’t sabotage your group’s chances.

After seeing the mostly negative ramifications of the introduction of “Gear Score” to WoW, I would not like to see a similar stat added to EverQuest II. A “Gear Points” value for each equipped item appeared and then was removed during both the Sentinel’s Fate and Destiny of Velious betas.

But we aren’t against the idea of a “Survivability Score” which tallies your character’s Health, Power, Mitigation, Avoidance, Critical Mitigation, and other stats and using some logic, prompt players who may fall short if they really want to queue up for a Dungeon Finder group.

Many players don’t realize that since the introduction of Velious, they should re-spec their Character page to their main stat (AGI for Scouts, WIS for Priests, STR for Fighters, and INT for Mages), choose Physical Mitigation for resists, and increase Max Health wherever possible.

Solution: Introduce an unpublished Survivability Score for each archetype. If a player falls below it, prompt them before queueing them for a Dungeon Finder group.

1. Remake Dungeon Finder as a Group Builder.

Expecting Dungeon Finder to put together groups as well as a human is foolhardy.

The antiquated LFG tool wasn’t successful because it required initiative on the part of a player, and it lacked the ability to include Alts. It was also no help in finding players with suitable gear to run specific zones. It was intimidating for group leaders as they were expected to handle all communication about getting to a zone, getting the quests, and often knowing the strategy for the zone.

Solution: Rebuild the Dungeon Finder as a Group Builder. Upgrade the underused /LFG tool from mere ‘shower singer’ to the level of ‘rock star’.

Artist’s Mockup

Conclusion

If you have read this article and are left with a feeling of horror, well, I’m afraid you’re viewing the rolling snowball post-avalanche. The as-implemented Dungeon Finder is a function of EQ2 management’s blind spot to seeing just how difficult Velious dungeons truly are. That Dungeon Finder needs to be “picky” is just a function of EQ2′s current progression difficulty, which has been encouraged by players.

The days of any 6 players forming up a group and having a great time in a Dungeon are long gone. If this is your speed, then I suggest grouping up in dungeons one expansion removed. This is what many casual players who are tired of the Velious “rat race” have embraced. With the Reitemization of Sentinel’s Fate gear, some of the items dropping in those dungeons are worth a second look.

I’d like to thank Dellmon of EQ2Talk for his insight during the development of this article. While he may not agree with all (or any) of my suggestions, his feedback and perspective were invaluable. Do you like multi-page articles like this? Leave us some feedback either in a Comment, or shoot us an e-mail.

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Comments (43)

  • Anaogi

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    Well thought out analysis and comments. Which sadly means SOE will ignore it and blunder along cluelessly.

    A few points, by item…

    10: Straight on, with a mod for what’s locked for what. (I have 6 90s so far, and know folks with more–this would be an excellent addition.)

    9: Word. It’s insane that 81s and 90s are weighted the same. I assure you, they are in no way equivalent.

    8: Crit Mit is a misbegotten concept that should never have been implemented.

    7: This, this, OMG THIS. If you can’t crit, you can’t handle T9.

    6: What do a 71, 80, and 90 mentored-to-80 have in common? Not a thing. Let the mentors roll manually.

    5 and 4: Don’t get me started. I’ve done enough multi-tank groups to feel queasy when I see odd lineups that -humans- put together. It takes skill to keep from stepping on each other’s toes. Add bad combos and, well.

    3: In theory, I’d add a DPS check. In reality, this is so affected by skill that I have no idea how you’d do that. (I am sorely tempted to start running seminars in ‘basic DPS’ and publish an in-game book called ‘Tanking for Dummies’, as my guildies know full well… ;) )

    2: Word.

    1: As an aid to see which characters are up to snuff and which aren’t, this could be great as such a tool. But there’s no substitute for the Mark I brain, and no predictors of skill. Dungeon Finder will remain a failed concept and an utter waste of resources in my mind.

    Reply

  • Claviarm

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    “The days of any 6 players forming up a group and having a great time in a Dungeon are long gone.”

    This is sad. And not because I have a certain idea of what the difficulty level ought to be–the quoted line does not reference success or loot, but rather fun.

    As for mentoring: Really, you don’t think it should be ‘nerfed’ overall? It’s a joke as it is now. On Extended, where we actually have low level players, I frequently see groups refusing mentored characters because they ruin the fun. As is, the system doesn’t let you play with your lower level friends in any meaningful way, it only lets you power level them.

    The ‘fun’ of plowing through a lower level dungeon with no challenge isn’t being threatened–you can do that by not mentoring at all. The rewards for plowing through a low level dungeon with no challenge, on the other hand, would indeed be threatened by a readjustment of mentoring. Personally, I would question whether such activity warrants those rewards.

    And since you asked: I found the multi-page format troublesome. The reason it’s common on certain web sites is that it creates more ad impressions; its common usage does not necessarily signal that users favor it. Personally I’d rather have a single long page behind a “read more” link.

    Reply

  • Feldon

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    Claviarm,

    Mentoring is one of those love-hate things that no matter what you do to it will make some people happy and some people ragequit.

    There is no perfect solution, but one solution would be to split Mentoring and Chronomentoring. They could make it so Chronomentoring works how it works now, but Mentoring another player truly reduces your character’s power to be appropriate for the level of your groupmate. Turn off Multiattack. Turn down Crit Bonus, Crit Chance, Potency, etc. etc.

    I grouped with a level 30 and even stripping off all my gear but a sword, and turning off all my buffs, I was still one-shotting mobs. Right now there is physically no way for a level 90 to play with lower levels without trivializing the content.

    And I know that higher levels in low level dungeons is disruptive, but this is a direct result of the constant nerfs to instance dungeons. Players are forced into contested zones for XP. Grinding in instance dungeons doesn’t really hurt anyone and keeps mentored 90′s from disrupting contested zones.

    Also, thanks for your feedback on the article format. I’d rather the article be reader-friendly than ad-friendly. That’s not a real ad up there anyway. I was just trying something I’ve seen other sites do.

    Reply

  • Claviarm

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    As best I can tell, the two sides of the issue are mostly composed of people who want to re-experience older content without it being trivial on one hand, and a larger group of people who don’t want to lose the ability to powerlevel their friends or alts on the other hand. (As I mentioned before, I have a hard time accepting the ‘mass slaughter is fun’ angle since that can be done regardless of mentoring.)

    I suppose the main question for me would be: What is the intention of the mentoring system? It’s trumpeted as a way to play with and help your lower level friends–is this intended to include shooting their level up far faster than would otherwise be possible? Is it intended to include one’s own alts? One might infer from the fact that it’s been this way for so long that it is working as intended. Hard to say. *shrug*

    Anyway, I’m straying from the topic of the article and this isn’t something likely to change any time soon, so I’ll stop now. Thanks for engaging me on the subject. :)

    Reply

  • Lempo of Everfrost

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    Quetzl: “Did you run any Dungeon Finder groups this weekend?”
    Confundus: “Yeah.”
    Quetzl: “Cool. What have you gotten so far?”
    Confundus: “Lockouts.”

    Lockouts. lol

    Reply

  • Murfalad

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    Mentoring just needs to be fixed so that it truly puts you down to the proper power level.

    E.g. if you your chest at level 90 has 90 STR on it and the minimum strength for DoV is 50 and the maximum say 150 for a chest then mentoring down to level 40 should put you at

    STAT/(level 90 MAX) * (level 40 MAX)

    So if the most powerful chest at level 40 has 35 STR that would be

    90/150 * 35 = 21 STR.

    In other words your gear progression through the current expansion gives you the equivalent gear at lower levels when mentored.

    In addition too some stats just won’t exist depending on the target level (crit will be 0 below level 80). Also some AA’s won’t exist at lower levels.

    Do that and mentoring would be working correctly, however they still need to properly look at the lower levels and either nerf the gear more or buff the mobs up so that 6 people are actually needed for some of the dungeons, as right now for example I can solo a level 50 dungeon in legendary gear – that’s just wrong.

    There’s a lot of work to do there, but I think its worth it as I think a there are a lot of people like me utterly bored with the state of the lower levels right now. To be honest WoW offers more of a challenge in its lower level dungeons (at least 0-60), that’s just plain wrong.

    Reply

  • Murfalad

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    One other big problem with dungeon finder though isn’t with dungeon finder’s implementation – its progression.

    The latest change to Ry’gor gear makes shards virtually worthless, yet catapulting players into Drunder with just a set of Ry’gor gear won’t produce happy happy results.

    Some people will be able to win there with that gear, but the majority cannot.

    I believe the best solution here is to keep a modest number of shards required for Ry’gor gear and add in a third tier of shard gear (with Ry’gor gear handed in to be upgraded). That makes all the dungeons worthwhile as players who can master drunder have an option for slow advancement on a third tier (to fix being unlucky with drops), and other players can slowly overgear Drunder and therefore complete it (40-60 shards an item sounds fine to me).

    Reply

  • Isest

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    Well I ran IK yesterday, I was invited after the first tank failed to be a tank. So I went on my sk. The problems that I found was the healer was in treasured sf gear, and could not heal, the dirge one who sings in channel all day and has a bad rap on guk, kept pulling mobs into the group that I did not have targeted. The trouby had no clue how to use a power song.

    So after several failed attempts we finally got the rare named down, the dirge needed on priest gear from the drop. The trouby got mad and left group, but did it in such a way we could not use the reinforce as it said group is full, this after the dirge and trouby both left, you cant do the last boss with 4 folks.

    So they got some problems that need fixed with how folks leave group and how you can reinforce.

    Reply

  • esadiaf-sj

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    They put out broken garbage like this instead of fixing pathing/warping. One can only hope that the next producer doesn’t have their head up their butt.

    Reply

  • sompet

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    With the checks and scores the zones with easy and hard modes should be split to separate zones in DF because they would need different levels.

    Reply

  • Khaer of Unrest

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    Very insightful comments which jibe well with what I’ve been hearing from guildies who’ve used the dungeon finder. They’ve had occasional fun, successful runs, but more often they fail because of undergeared / inexperienced players, and earn a lockout.

    It isn’t the fault of the players. You mention that Velious dungeons are too hard for a random group, but there’s another factor: the difficulty range varies too widely. Everyone wants – and I believe should expect to be able to do – random instances. Yet if I queue for a random, I’m invariably assigned to Temple of Zek. I’m a fury in mostly PQ gear with just under 200 AA and I would not be able to heal Zek. I can just about hold my own in Ascent.

    So I queue for a random, Zek pops up and I decline. I’m one of the cherry-pickers that Smokejumper wants to penalize, but I’m not doing it because I’m looking for a particular dungeon, I’m doing it because I don’t want to cause a group to fail.

    The proposed lockout will make this problem worse, because weaker players will be forced to take hard instances or suffer the lockout.

    And the additional change of separating instances into Velious, SF and other isn’t going to help at all. Selecting Velious isn’t sufficiently fine-grained. I want Velious groups. I want the shards, the gems, and the experience, but I can’t queue for random Velious instances. So I have to choose specific instances (so far the queue has only once popped for me on a specific instance, ten minutes after I joined a group created in level chat), or choose SF, which doesn’t give me the rewards I need to progress in Velious.

    To me this difficulty range is the biggest single problem – coupled with limitations on class construction. (No required enchanter or bard?) I think we all expected it to be addressed with the crit mit checks, but since those were dropped there’s no difficulty discrimination. (As a test I have tried stripping off all my gear and putting it in the bank – I still get sent to Zek.)

    There’s another solution, though, that you haven’t mentioned, and it’s one that makes me uneasy to mention, because it is the solution that other companies have selected. It’s very hard for an automated tool to handle the complexity of selecting an effective group for a difficult instance – so dumb down the instances so that they’ll work with an automated system.

    Blizzard did this. Burning Crusade instances were fairly complex, and required interaction between group members, maybe some crowd control or different tactics if CC wasn’t available. Wrath was pretty much tank-and-spank, and tank + healer + DPSx3 worked everywhere.

    Trion had a couple of rounds of instance-nerfing before they introduced the finder, because some instances were not well-tuned, but before the finder came in there were mass changes to simplify encounters so that they’d work with the finder.

    EQ2 old-world instances are pretty bland, mostly tank-and-spank. Over the years they’ve become much more interesting, and I don’t think most EQ2 players would really want to go back to the days of having instances that we can AE blast through. I have a suspicion, though, that we’ll start seeing dungeon’s retuned to the finder, not vice-versa, because dungeon character isn’t an MMO feature checkbox, while a finder is.

    Reply

  • Jrel

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    I liked Khaer’s proposal of retuning the dungeons for DF users. However, I would greatly prefer a Group Builder with the builder being able to inspect your gear and stats. There are groups out there that will still take an undergeared player because they know they can just burn through a zone fast with what they alread have, and just want people to fill up slots for fun, company, utility, etc.

    Reply

  • Beelon

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    Dungeon Finder must become a “cross server” entity if it wants to be anything but a footnote in the EQ2 system.

    Reply

  • Vel

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    “The days of any 6 players forming up a group and having a great time in a Dungeon are long gone.”

    This is incredibly sad but true. The last time I played was TSO and it was just too grindy for me to try and collect all those shards to gear up one toon, let alone an alt, so I wound up lapsing into casual style of play and even stopped after that. I came back to EQ2 these past 2 months but I’m terribly disappointed in what I see. The retarded stat revamp and taking out choices regarding stats is one thing, but the problem I seem to be having lately is that fact that I can’t just jump in and have fun, I’ll have to grind my butt off if I want to see any of this new content, and for something that is supposed to fun… well, it just isn’t, any more. I’ll keep playing until this sub up, for the mere fact that I made the mistake in pay for it, but unless something changes soon I don’t think I’ll being coming back to this game again, sad to say.

    Reply

  • Vel

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    To add on, I don’t want everything to be easy-mode tank and spank with no tactics and I have no problems gearing up a little. I like a challenge and the chance to think about and utilize tactics with an encounter, I just don’t want to grind for two months to get perfect gear and stats before I see that encounter… and then not have anyone take me on because I don’t have experience with it (this happened to me in AOC – even if you had great gear, people didn’t want you if you hadn’t done the zone before.)

    Reply

  • Xanguine

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    Having only joined the game in June, I have to say it’s a little bewildering reading about all details one seems to need to tend to in order to play 70+ content.

    Whatever happened to just .. having fun? Once a game goes down the route of “You must have this gear” and “you must build that stat”, it loses a lot of the fun factor (for me, anyway..YMMV).

    From the sound of it, playing level 70+ isn’t actually fun anymore, but a giant headache that is anything but enjoyable. Thank you – I think I’ll be locking around level 69 unless I find out that there is reasonable solo content above that. By reasonable, I mean that you don’t get all the way through a quest to discover that a group is required to finish it.

    IS there good solo stuff at the higher levels, or does it all require this terrible headache you all agonize about so much?

    Reply

    • Feldon

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      Originally posted by Xanguine:

      Having only joined the game in June, I have to say it’s a little bewildering reading about all details one seems to need to tend to in order to play 70+ content. Whatever happened to just .. having fun? Once a game goes down the route of “You must have this gear” and “you must build that stat”, it loses a lot of the fun factor (for me, anyway..YMMV).

      You can solo to 90 (make sure to do the Velious quests from 87-90) and then have the gear necessary to group up with friends and do Kingdom of Sky dungeons at 70, Kunark and TSO dungeons at 78-83, and Sentinel’s Fate dungeons at 84-90. It’s the Velious dungeons at 90 that are challenging.

      Originally posted by Xanguine:IS there good solo stuff at the higher levels, or does it all require this terrible headache you all agonize about so much?

      The Velious quests are well-written and reward gear that helps a lot. And Public Quests are something that anyone level 85+ can participate in. And once you have Thurgadin faction, you can just buy a set of gear. So there is absolutely stuff to do in Velious for a solo player and gear to earn. But the progression into grouping wasn’t very smooth.

      Reply

  • Xanguine

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    I should clarify:

    While I mostly enjoy soloing, I do like the odd pick-up group now and then. The dungeon finder seemed like it was going to be useful in that capacity, but given what I’ve read, some want it to be “elite-only” or something. Maybe two different levels of dungeon finder are needed, like a casual version and an elite version – instances could be adjusted accordingly (no idea if this is even possible in EQ2, but have seen dungeons adjust very well in another game).

    Is the Velious content (mind you I have no idea exactly what bits are Velious or other expansions, exactly) so very inflexible that casual pickup groups aren’t possible?

    I guess what I’m asking is: is the difficulty in the dungeons themselves or in a class of “elite” players that don’t want the “riffraff” grouping with them?

    Reply

    • Feldon

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      Xanguine said:

      I guess what I’m asking is: is the difficulty in the dungeons themselves or in a class of “elite” players that don’t want the “riffraff” grouping with them?

      The dungeons in Velious really ARE that difficult.

      Also we’re not talking about people showing up with a mixture of PQ and Velious quested gear for Pools, Ascent, or ToFS 1. Sure some people want to burn through dungeons as fast as possible but most of those folks already have guild groups or will build their own group. The problem is, you’re getting folks in Dungeon Finder showing up for ToFS 3, Spire, or Iceshard Keep with level 80 quested gear and 100 AAs. Been there, done that, got the lockout.

      Again, Velious is the biggest gearcheck we’ve ever had for doing dungeons. Even ToFS 1 and Pools (arguably the easiest Velious dungeons) are tougher than Vault of Eternal Sleep, or Deep Forge, Obelisk of Ahkzul, or the Erudin Library were.

      Reply

  • Flirpy Irondoe

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    “Rebuild the Dungeon Finder as a Group Builder. Upgrade the underused /LFG tool from mere ’shower singer’ to the level of ‘rock star’.”

    I agree. However it’s a lot more work than the screenshot you put together. Judging from the UI concept above, the group leader is hand picking whomever he wants to fill his group, I assume from a pool of players queuing for random dungeons, or perhaps the pool of players queuing for the selected dungeon.

    First I don’t like the idea that one person gets to choose who goes in their group. It assumes that the group leader has all the power, and the other group members are completely passive.

    I would prefer that anyone who starts a group puts it on the DF list, along with the intended roles he wants (eg. heal, tank, any x 4). Other players may choose to join an existing group by clicking any one of those slots setup by the group leader, or start thier own. And then maybe, the group leader sees “applications” and can choose to turn down some applications (if one is not happy with that they can always start their own group or join another).

    Reply

  • Feldon

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    Originally posted by Beelon:

    Dungeon Finder must become a “cross server” entity if it wants to be anything but a footnote in the EQ2 system.

    Here’s what I said on the EQ2 Forums:

    Yes, cross-server Dungeon Finder will be popular. It can’t help but be popular with the kind of numbers it will have. Cross-server Dungeon Finder is already in the works, which is why I didn’t list it.

    But we’re missing a huge opportunity if we don’t fix it on local servers FIRST by making sure that those who are picked can actually survive the dungeon, putting together groups that have a chance of success, and by allowing us to list Alts. If they made the changes spelled out in the article, Dungeon Finder would be useful on local servers, and then be absolutely huge when it goes cross-server.

    The “killer app” of Dungeon Finder shouldn’t only be that it lets you play cross-server. It should be that it, you know, HELPS you Find Dungeons and puts people in the group who can succeed.

    Also people forget that Dungeon Finder on Freeport (EQ2X), Valor, Storms, Nagafen, Harla Dar, Barren Sky, Bazaar, Vox, and Sebilis will never be cross-server. So to not make it useful locally means it’s a wasted feature for over 1/3 of EQ2′s servers.

    Reply

  • Striinger

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    Multipage format: I use my phone so the multipage format is ok up to about 5 pages. A previous next button set helps navigation too. Mostly, I wish publishing comments from the mobile theme worked. it always thinks the message is too short.

    Mentoring: SJ got it right when he said mentored players like the God-mode feeling. An easy way to permit them in DF is to have an allow mentored toolbox.

    DF success (generally): It’s really only going to succeed if it gives people as much control as they have manually, but makes it easier…OR if it offers a shortcut to something otherwise hard to get. Even BG was popular when it gave a fast path to near-raid level gear sets. Maybe they are saving that for DYOD? If the point is to get groups for toons who couldn’t otherwise get groups it was doomed from the start. I think a LOT of people do the opposite to Feldon and bring their alt with the most to gain (usually least to contribute). 25% xp means nothing to a 90/300 toons unless it comes in an hierloom token.

    Reply

  • Feldon

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    Striinger,

    I took a whack at fixing the “message too short” error today. No luck, but I’m not giving up yet.

    Reply

  • Joe

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    Could you please focus some attention on the lower level problems too? The RDF was not meant to be hijacked by elitist 90s who dont want to put a group together from the numerous 90s available. It was meant to shoehorn the significantly fewer available players in the 20-80 game into places they wouldnt be able to get to because of lack of visible available players.

    Reply

  • camelotcrusade

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    A very interesting read. It also confirms my belief that EQ2 still skews towards needing to know how to play your class to run higher level content (thank goodness, imo). As such, I can’t imagine doing PUGs and not spending all my time in guild groups. Even in our guild groups it takes a good while for varying levels of skill to meld into a good team and it’s rare we conquer a new tier of dungeon on the first try. Most of the fun is in slowly figuring it out and continuing to build our group tactics to overcome it.

    Knowing that, I would only expect a PUG to go well if everybody in it has already been through that process. Seems to me what the game needs isn’t a group finder… it’s a guild finder. :)

    Reply

  • Harvy of Unrest

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    I’m not sure if anyone has suggested this, but a much simpler fix that would help. Which the mechanic is probably already part of the game code in some way so it wouldn’t be a programming nightmare. Is to have a progression access restriction for dungeon finder. Example:

    You can’t join a ToFS 2 group till you have completed ToFS 1 one time…

    You can’t join an Ascent group till you have done forgotten pools 2 times…

    You can’t join a Drunder 1 till you have completed Kael 3 two times

    Or some combination in some sort that required you to progress up the instance chain.

    If you get the drift with. People would SCREAM if they had a “gear score” or “spell score” because of those labels would be used in a derogatory, or unfair manor by some. But this way, you could at least promote your capable of handling the previous instance content in more than one occasion – to prove you had the cit mit and chance to have a group succeed.

    If your super uber guy, you can just get your core group without the dungeon finder and slide in a couple Kael 3 to get to use dungeon finder to get into drunder 1… But it would at least limit the riff-raft of unqualified players that will just frustrate people that have paid their dues.

    Another cool part of a concept like this, is that it would force people to “pay dues”, keep lower end dungeons useful, and learn their class.

    If someone just PL’d to 90, put on heirloom armor from their main and tried to join a drunder group… you still would be looking at a lockout instead of a success. But if you had to run 18 dungeons with the AA and mini upgrades along the way, you would be useful in drunder 1.

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  • Necromancer

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    I decided to give Dungeon Finder an honest try yesterday and it was an absolute disaster. I specifically wanted to try the Kael zones, and the only thing I got out of the experience was lockouts.

    In my instances in ISK, both the tank and healer were barely out of diapers, and the Tank could not keep aggro off both my Dirge, and the Warlock in the group. The Warden could not keep up with heals on the tank. It was a complete disaster. We couldn’t even finish the first name in the zone.

    I tried Throne of Storms next and it was even worse. The tank we were given was a barely out of diapers Brawler who had his set of Thurgadin armor, and solo quested DoV jewelery and he could not hold aggro off my Dirge, and was being killed a few seconds into the fight because of a lack of gear, skill, and a very poorly geared, and inept healer.

    So then, I decided to try one of the lesser instances and got into an Ascent group, and even that was a disaster. The Paladin we got for a tank barely had 30K HP, and the two healers we got (Mystic and Templar) couldn’t keep the group alive when the Paladin lost aggro.

    All in all, Dungeon Finder was a complete disaster for me, You add this with the changes made with shards regarding Ry’Gorr armor and my fears have been fully realized – under skill players are going into instances they shouldn’t be.

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  • StepChylde

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    Imo, the idea to make it more of a dungeon builder, rather than a dungeon finder, is spot on.

    Here’s a suggestion, have it give you 2 choices:

    1) JOIN a group: Gives you basically the DF you have now. You select the zones you want (or hit random) and queue up. Might not be ideal but its faster.

    2) BUILD a group: Gives you above but also with the following options.

    – Have a menu for each spot that allows you to pick roles (Any/Tank/DPS/Heals/Utility and even by Scout/Mage/Plate Tank/Chanter/etc/etc if desired)

    – have optional drop downs for Min Crit Chance/Crit Mit/AA/etc

    This option will take longer to fill, but you get to be pickier. Also made add an option to the JOIN for “Allow player-made groups/Only player-made groups” or whatever.

    Get the best of both worlds there. They both draw from the same pool of players. Ones quick and easy, ones slower but more select.

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  • C W

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    Why not have a buttons available only if your level 90 that asks if you want “Easy” “Medium” or “Hard”.

    From there, Dungeon Finder will put you in the instance that is appropriate for you.

    I have 2 level 90 characters that are not geared (only a couple PQ items), and I refuse to use DF because of fear being put into a dungeon I cannot handle. If I had the choice, then I would just select “Easy” and put into a group of other 90′s that are similar to me. If I select “hard” and don’t have the gear, then the group that I am assigned too can always boot me for selecting the wrong option.

    Reply

  • UliTheGrey

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    Why not change the random list of dungeons into something structured as a ladder or reverse tree form. Every step/node represents a dungeon and you cannot proceed to the next node/level befor you have completed the previous steps/nodes (n-times if you want to make it even harder).

    It would be awesome, if somehow the game would keep track of dungeons done outside the DF to allow people to start at an elevated level. The more levels people are willing to step down in difficulty, the more exp-bonus they get. People at the bottom (or at their respective max-ladder-level) only get minimum exp bonus or none, since they benefit from the progression/gear.

    Benefits: No more involuntary mix-ups of people without appropriate gear.
    Costs: Smaller pool of people to build groups with, but could be offset by sufficiently high exp-bonus.

    If you (devs) want to make this exceed my expectations:
    Have a visual representation of this including a color code for group-readiness / average queue lengths. Display individual statistics for each dungeon, e.g. Number of tries, Number of successes, # of Nameds killed, Fastest time to kill boss, etc.
    Also Nice to have: A clue how many upgrades the zone would potentially have in terms of Spells / Armor / Jewelry / Quests

    Reply

  • StepChylde

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    Maybe have it display all the time zones everyone is in, age of player, total time played, number of raids attended, drops looted, drops bought, average ping, current price of Sony stock, how much redbull you have left in the fridge and a built in mp3 player. Oh, throw in a mini-game to play while ya wait too.

    Or, keep it as sleek and simple as possible. Yeah, I like that option.

    Reply

  • Feldon

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    Excellent straw man, StepChylde. Bravo!

    Reply

  • Puddlejump

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    >>So then, I decided to try one of the lesser instances and got into an Ascent group, and even that was a disaster. The Paladin we got for a tank barely had 30K HP…<<

    I am guessing from comments like these that my chances of success as a tank in even the easy Velious instances is going to be very limited. Wearing PQ/Snowfang/Othmir/quested gear my health is just over 32K.

    The importance of being in an understanding guild looks more crucial than ever if you want to group in this expansion.

    Reply

  • Harvy of Unrest

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    @StepChylde I’m down with doing it the K.I.S.S. way – as that is my philosophy with most things in life… but it’m pretty sure unless they make a mechanic, ladder idea, gear\spell scoring match, or something to have it match better, it will be a graveyard.

    I’m not a DF user as a play style need personally, but I know its an important part of the longevity of the game as it evolves. And that IS important to me :) I just hope they apply something that makes it the heartbeat of the casual\average player, not the frustration.

    Reply

  • Ashien of Butcherblock

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    I joined a Random DF group … and ended up doing a SoL run, with 2 level 86 toons (brig and coercer) and an inquis … so, the inquis tanked, and I healed (was on my mystic) :/

    With the changes coming to DF, maybe we won’t get stuck without a tank again, though, it wansn’t really an important zone, I would hate to get into a group in a zone that mattered that was built like that one … and really, does SoL need two healers? lol

    I plan to keep using the DF regardless, the 25 bonus xp isn’t much, but when there is nothing better to do … why not randomly run a zone! lol

    I don’t think I would trust it for a Drunder group though :/
    I didn’t try inviting to a DF group, but if that isn’t allowed, it should be.

    Reply

  • Anaogi

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    There is an excellent way to be able to check whether a prospective teammate has the gear and spell upgrades, AA, HP, and such to get the job done beforehand.

    Sadly, it hasn’t been maintained in years…

    Reply

  • Feldon

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    Originally posted by UliTheGrey:

    Why not change the random list of dungeons into something structured as a ladder or reverse tree form. Every step/node represents a dungeon and you cannot proceed to the next node/level befor you have completed the previous steps/nodes (n-times if you want to make it even harder).

    Originally posted by Harvy of Unrest:
    I’m not sure if anyone has suggested this, but a much simpler fix that would help, Is to have a progression access restriction for dungeon finder. Example:

    You can’t join a ToFS 2 group till you have completed ToFS 1 one time…

    You can’t join an Ascent group till you have done forgotten pools 2 times…

    You can’t join a Drunder 1 till you have completed Kael 3 two times

    This is actually a really smart idea.

    A lot of folks are getting into the harder DF dungeons having *never set foot* inside any of the easier ones. It wouldn’t solve every problem, but putting in basic requirements to clear each zone before being able to group in the next one would certainly educate players.

    Originally posted by Necromancer:
    So then, I decided to try one of the lesser instances and got into an Ascent group, and even that was a disaster. The Paladin we got for a tank barely had 30K HP

    30k health is not required to tank Ascent, although it certainly helps. Every tank has tools to increase their mitigation, decrease incoming hits, hold agro, go more defensive, etc. I think it’s more likely that he was not familiar with the class, was possibly short on AAs and spell upgrades, and just needed more practice.

    I think you have to draw a line somewhere on a Group Builder. If you can see all the stats of every character (I know it was available on EQ2Players for a time), then people will only pick the best. Picking a dungeon, especially ToFS 1-3, Pools, Ascent, etc. shouldn’t require “the best”. Just competant players willing to pay attention who aren’t wearing old gear or the wrong gear. GearScore would kill casual grouping. Dungeon Finder, done right, would save it.

    Originally posted by Joe:

    Could you please focus some attention on the lower level problems too? The RDF was not meant to be hijacked by elitist 90s who dont want to put a group together from the numerous 90s available. It was meant to shoehorn the significantly fewer available players in the 20-80 game into places they wouldnt be able to get to because of lack of visible available players.

    Unfortunately with the Reitemization, pretty much all 20-70 group content is now soloable or duoable.

    Reply

  • StepChylde

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    @Harvy – My apologies, certainly didn’t mean that to come across as a personal snark and I suspect it did.

    I completely agree with both points. There almost has to be some sort of system in place to rate or gage the level of those wishing to run the ‘harder’ zones. As has been stated, just being able to zone in isn’t enough anymore. You need a set level of gear AND skill to succeed.

    I’m liking the prereq idea, having to clear previous zones a number of times to unlock the next. Like Feldon stated, it wouldn’t solve every problem, but its a good start imo.

    And let’s keep it as simple as possible. The more options added, the greater the chance its done wrong. More importantly I think the easier it is the greater the likelyhood it will actually be used. Let’s face it, the majority of the playerbase simply won’t bother with anything more complex that ‘click the zone ya want the hit GO’

    Reply

  • Bountycode

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    I agree with UliTheGrey and Harvy of Unrest

    Having a prereq to doing the next dungeon would help immensely.
    Also having a normal/hard mode where only lvl 90 could pick hard would help too.

    Reply

  • Charn

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    ***WARNING*** Snarky comment to follow. Reader discretion is advised.

    At the rate the Dungeon Finder is going, it seems to me it would be better suited (both in-server and cross-server) to finding 6-on-6 groups into random Arena Zones (I’d add BGs, but that already has its own dungeon finder system and isn’t QUITE as bad as the Arena) . . . maybe it will give both of these systems a boost in player use instead of yet another wasted system.

    The amount of man-hours given to create systems that will go un-(or little) used saddens me in the face of what I (and others on the forums) consider a very NON-expansive expansion. That and the time that could be used to fix the itemization fiasco and create new and fun content for ALL players, casual and hardcore alike, is just mind bottling (and yes, I AM quoting Will Ferrell from Blades of Glory).

    I just hope the Design Your Own Dungeon system doesn’t fall into this same category. Yes, it’s great to try new things, but it just becomes disheartening to the players when too many systems are just done poorly and are rarely (if ever) used (LFG system, anyone?)

    Reply

  • Areila

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    I would gladly wait longer for an expansion if Sony would just slow down and sort out content that already exists within the game, instead of continuing to add new elements that don’t work well, and leaving them that way… LFG tool, Shader 3, BGs, gear re-itemization, to name a few things.

    Reply

  • Wanyen

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    Instead of a pre-req that dungeons be done in order, I feel that it would be better as an informational/indicative thing when choosing to proceed or accept a DF scene. This information is mostly if not completely available already via individual achievements, isn’t it?

    Dungeon finder needs to be capable of matching:

    1. Level range, because regardless, everyone wants to earn credit through experience and treasure.

    2. Preferred age: KoS, RoK, SF, DoV, etc. We all want to play in certain areas, with certain secondary goals — albiet faction, side-quests, experiencing unexplored content, whatever it may be.

    3. Preferred location (as appropriate): the group of dungeons only interested in such as the different groups in SF, DoV (such as ToFs/Rime, Kael, and Drunder), and presumably going forward

    4. Preferred scene: specific dungeon, or specific objective (perhaps an overland adventure, as few as those as there might be at this point). The specific preferred scene could easily be obtained by having this information come from a players quest journal, as almost all instances now have some associated quest that directs you to an instance, or overland task.

    3. Match a casting call, because we can’t have a good story where everyone in the show is the dashing, philandering executive or a group of burned out rockstars:
    – Standard casting format no duplicates (tank, healer, damage specialist, utility provider, and any mix of complements; no duplicates of any classes),
    – Standard casting format duplicates ok,
    – Minimal casting format no duplicates (tank, healer, and any other four that don’t duplicate)
    – Minimal casting format duplicates ok (tank, healer, and absolutely don’t care who else, just fill the group so we can steam-roll this)

    Perhaps one more nuance would be a -strict cast-, where the tank has to be plated, and the healer has to be, oh I don’t know — I’ll get wrath for this, but a non-druid, only because I see players posing it as a requirement in level chat. Perhaps theres a better way to identify that strict requirement on healers by someone smarter than me.

    4. Lastly, if we are still able to be picky at this point, preference on level of experience.

    – Veteran: I have been there before and won (achievement check). Let’s hurry it up, guild manicurist is coming in twenty minutes and they are going to earn every friggin copper.
    – Experienced: I have done things similar, but either haven’t been here, or haven’t won yet. Show me the way! (achivement check)
    – Rookie: I have done things, but not quite at this level. I may have soiled myself. (achivement check)
    – Fan: I like what you guys do, and I know what that sword your carrying is called, and even where ya got it. Can I touch it? Sometimes it is good to have an entourage…

    Reply

  • Wanyen

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    Forgive me, as this came at the end of a long session. If I could edit, I would have, obviously the numbering is not correct.

    The second thing,I would have done is perhaps reformatted and grouped age, location, and scene. It should be obvious, but if someone is only interested in a specific scene they are being most specific in where they want to go. Not specifying a scence means they just want to be in the general area, etc and any scene would be ok.

    Last, group formats, or casting calls are essentially the choice of standard or minimal structure, with an option for no duplicates, and an option for strictness in role specialty. This last bit on role specialty strictness is something that I believe the LFG tool already (mostly) can identify.

    Reply

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