Ravious at KTR detailed how his GW2 server, Sanctum of Rall, is dealing with the issue of AFKers at the Tequatl event by finessing the Overflow system. Jeromai at Why I Game had a powerful response to that, which he rolled up with a series of observations on the impatience, elitism and downright bad manners so often seen in modern groups.
Jeromai counterpointed his bad PUG example with a good one but Stargrace at MMOQuests and Stabs at Stabbed Up were singing the praises of going into tough fights with people you really know, people you can trust to stick with the job 'til the job gets done.
Meanwhile, Mrs Bhagpuss has put FFXIV on the back burner in favor of building castles in Rift and I have drifted back to GW2 and other worlds, both our choices guided at least in part by the inevitable, unavoidable tyranny of the Duty Finder. A certain malaise is in the air.
I'm beginning to wonder if I'm just getting too old for all this. I had to rewrite my original comment to Ravious's post because my initial reaction seemed unreasonable even to me. I know all this server-hopping, guesting and guilds pimping themselves out as mercs-for-hire isn't technically cheating or exploiting but it sure feels like it to me. In a way that's worse because it suggests that activities that would once have been deemed unacceptable either by game developers or players or both are now seen not just as tolerable but almost praiseworthy.
|Just the four of us? Are you sure that's right?|
Of course, there never really was a Golden Age of Grouping. There were good groups and bad groups then just like there are now. The big difference was that then you had some hope of meeting people more than once, of building relationships through repeated, shared endeavour, of turning PUGmates into acquaintances and acquaintances into friends. There was a payoff to not behaving like an arse that went well beyond the simple satisfaction of not behaving like an arse. Although that should never be under-rated.
A combination of closed, instanced dungeons and automated, cross-server group-finding mechanisms put paid to all that. Now your arseness or lack thereof is of the most transitory value or concern, at least outside of your own sense of self-respect. If you behave like a spoilt toddler and play like one too, the moment the group dissolves it's as though it had never been. On the other hand, even if your PUG gels into the greatest group of adventurers ever, short of all changing servers there's no way you can repeat the experience. What happens in DF stays in DF, with all that entails. It's a very high price to pay for fast instance pops and you don't always even get those.
|Hmm. If I could tame whatever made this print I'd never need to group again.|
I would still like to down Tequatl and I'd be lying if I said the time will never come when I'll take whatever kill I can get. If I end up knocking that dragon back into the ocean anywhere other than Yak's Bend, though, the victory will be hollow, the achievement tarnished.
There's nothing new about all this, that's the sad thing, or perhaps it the saving grace. It was ever thus. Clearly right now the wind is in favor of harsher mechanics, sterner rules, less patience among players and a work ethic that borders on obsession. The all-too-brief sunrise of MMO as light-hearted entertainment is disappearing behind the thunderclouds of serious commitment. Buckle down, learn your class, pay your dues. Anyone that doesn't comply to the new orthodoxy must be a moron, a slacker, an afker. Leave them, they're not worth it.
As usual, Wilhelm at TAGN has the middle path that works. Have fun with friends and a different kind of fun with strangers. If necessary, to stay sane turn the whole thing into a meta-game. Have your fun with them while they're having theirs with you but never let your standards slip.
A time will come when you'll need those standards again. Buff them til they shine.