28/10/2018

My #2 Most Wanted UI/QoL Improvement

I think the obvious question after reading that subject line is: What's your #1 and why aren't you writing about that? So let's get it out of the way right away: My #1 most wanted UI/quality of life improvement for SWTOR would be an account- or at least legacy-wide friends list. The existing character-based one is utterly useless and I stopped referring to it years ago. However, I don't feel like there's much to say about that beyond what I just wrote, which is why I didn't want to make a whole blog post about it.

My #2 however gives me more ground to cover, so here we go: My #2 most wanted UI/quality of life improvement for SWTOR would be a manual group finder.

To get one thing out of the way right away: I don't mean for this to replace the existing activity finder. I've made my peace with automated group finding and don't expect it to go away anymore any time soon. However, even Blizzard, the ones who unleashed the original automated dungeon finder madness upon the world, have conceded several expansions ago that a) it isn't necessarily ideal for every type of content and b) if you do want to form a group manually, it's nice to have more options than to just spam general chat in the game's main hub.

I was reminded of this during last week's Gree event, after doing the heroic mission for the event a few times. The Gree heroic is one of the few heroics that still requires other people... strictly speaking it can be soloed I suppose, but doing so makes it both a ridiculously slow endeavour and results in other people in the area hating you as you'll effectively be blocking a pylon for half an hour, while a full group could have been in and out of there in about five minutes. For that reason and because the event is only up for a limited time, many people actually make a point of joining a group for it when they can, so it's actually quite easy to find other players for the quest. I could just put a LFM request into general chat and we'd be off about two minutes later. It did get me thinking about the whole process of group formation in general chat though.



For example I've noticed that many people seem to be shy about taking the initiative when it comes to looking for others in chat. I don't know if it feels like too much effort, if shyness is a problem, or if more casual players are just uncertain how to go about it. (During my brief foray into LOTRO I do remember finding the thought of manually forming a group for a dungeon intimidating simply because I didn't understand what kind of group/class setup would even be viable for example.) It was funny to me how I could watch general chat for several minutes with nobody saying anything, and the moment I decided to take things into my own hands and went "LFM", I'd be flooded with whispers in seconds.

That aside though, it also made me think of the different kinds of group content for which it is much more of a pain to build a group. Getting a full ops group together to tackle the event world bosses for example, such as Xenoanalyst or the Eyeless, is already much more daunting. And while regular operations do have an option in the group finder, it's only for story mode and one per day. If you want to do something harder, a different operation from the featured one, or one of the instanced bosses that simply aren't included in the rotation, such as Golden Fury or the Colossal Monolith, you have to put the group together manually.

Even when it comes to smaller group content though, there are still gaps that aren't covered by the existing activity finder, such as the Star Fortresses, or the heroics at the end of the Seeker Droid / Macrobinoculars quest lines. The latter are particularly tricky because the Macrobinocular one at least requires exactly four people to complete; you can't even substitute one person for a companion as an actual human being is required to click on things. On top of that both missions sit at the end of a relatively long quest chain, so it's not like people are lining up to do them en masse at all times.

A guildie of mine claims to have successfully completed the Shroud heroic several times simply by camping Nar Shaddaa general chat (where the last mission takes place) but who wants to hang out in Hutt Vegas all the time? Many people have simply clamoured for a nerf to the quest, which I personally think would be a bit of a shame actually as it's very fun mechanically... but I agree that the difficulty of finding a group for it is a problem. I'd just prefer to solve that by making grouping easier instead of dispensing with the grouping requirement altogether. I suspect it would be much less of an issue to find people for this if you could simply set yourself as "LFG {[Heroic 4] The Shroud Revealed}" in a dedicated group finder at the start of your play session and then go about your business as normal until more people interested in the content sign up too.

6 comments :

  1. Couldn't agree more. Automated group finders in their current state leave a lot to be desired.

    Personally, the thing I would need the most is a toggle or slider for choosing between 'speed run' or 'want to savour the experience', something along those lines. I hate, hate, hate the rushing mentality most people have nowadays when doing dungeons, and I just refuse to play along and stress myself out.

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    1. Compared to the last dungeon I ran in WoW, even the most "gogogo" people in SWTOR are positively sedate. ;) Maybe I'm just lucky, but in most of the runs I'm in people are also generally willing to talk in regards to whether to watch cut scenes / bonus bosses etc. so I rarely have issues. Except when it's Battle for Ilum, which makes me mad. XD

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  2. Something like Warcraft's premade group finder (https://www.wowhead.com/news=249173/premade-group-finder-guide-how-to-use-and-group-suggestions) would be an excellent addition. You still have to manually post your group and folks need to apply to the group, but at least you don't need to spam and be limited by one area's chat to find others.

    Because it is located in the UI with the automated group finder options, people are more likely to actually look in the custom groups. Wow also helps the discoverability by adding a button for group quests that takes you right to the custom group finder with the group quest title already in the search bar.

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    1. Yes, that's what I was thinking, which is why "conceded several expansions ago" was a link to a post about this feature on WoW's own site. ;) It wouldn't even have to be that fancy though. I think the two key points would be to have LFG requests and availability taken out of chat so that they are visible at all times (as long as the person is online) and can be seen from anywhere in the game, not just on fleet or wherever.

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    2. Oops, mea culpa. :) I misread that as they added the automated group finder several expansions ago. I really should click on the links.

      Interestingly enough, addon authors improved the procedure enough that they made joining these impromptu groups so easy Blizzard deliberately broke the addons and made it harder to group. Blizzard's stated reason was too many people were joining the groups and afk leaching the results. The community responded by simply listing the quest id -.- and making people search for the group by quest id. (This being for the World Quest stuff.)

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  3. Yeah, that sounds really useful. The WoW one was very nice in the last expansions for those "kill a world boss" event or something.
    I think I'm just not patient enough for this "LFM xxx" and then waiting, I'd rather just not do the quest than waste an hour sitting and trying to get people - but I'm in the lucky position that there's hardly any group content I *need* :P

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