Monday, October 1, 2012

Party Etiquette

It’s amazing sometimes what people know. You can be surprised by the area and expertise that someone knows about subjects that you have no clue about. I always like to talk to people who know a lot about things I know nothing about; it makes things interesting. I stopped playing Guild Wars 2 last week. It’s not that it isn’t a great game, in many ways its probably one of the best games of its genre, and certainly a game of the year contender. I took a step back and realized that the lack of real story was hurting my enjoyment of the game more than I had realized, plus the play style isn’t exactly my cup of tea so I went back to The Old Republic. Oddly enough though, one of the best things about The Old Republic since I’ve been back is the group finder. I tend to play a lot of MMO’s totally solo. Whether it’s a residual effect of playing Guild Wars 2 or not, I’ve played in more parties in a week times then I did in three months last time I was playing. Speaking of parties, here are my Rules of Engagement for parties:

Colonel Run Away
Do not under any circumstance run away from your tank or healer. I know it’s an obvious thing, but you can’t imagine how many times I’ve played a tank or healer and seen people run away to escape death. First of all, it doesn’t work, not in a single MMO I’ve ever played. Second of all, your tank is trying to help taunt the mob off you, but can’t because you’re running away. Thirdly, your healer is getting angry because your death is making them look bad, and it’s entirely your fault. Run toward the tank or healer when you’re close to death, unless you have an imminent AOE about to drop a ton of bricks over your head, no one is going to be able to save you when you run away. 

The Look Out Block
Think of your tank and healer as offensive lineman. When everything is going well they get no credit and no respect, but the minute the quarterback gets sacked it’s all ‘look at that horrible block’. If your tank has nonsense gear, and is laughably (or not!) bad, please, please, please don’t out-aggro them. Not only is your healer forced to spam heals on two people you’re all about to start seeing red, and not just on the game screen. A DPS’s job is to put out just enough damage to be right under the threat level of the tank. Going crazy might look cool, but when you’re all staring at dirt no one looks cool and no one is happy. Maybe the tank or healer is bad, maybe they’re just new, but they need your help; we all started somewhere and there’s nothing more terrifying for a tank or healer then to not only believe they’re the reason the party fails but to know as well.

No One is Here
There is power in the spoken word. Depending on your beliefs, the universe either began with ‘Boom’ or ‘Let there be Light’; either way words have consequences. We’ve just heard speculation about the reasons that the founders of BioWare called it quits. I think somewhere in the back of our minds we were all thinking it, but a former BioWare employee says it was exhaustion and hurt from fan reaction to their last three games. Any way your cut it, a little civility wouldn’t hurt. When I party with people I tend to pass on anything I don’t need. It’s a nod to karma I suppose. The money I might make selling it is chump change compared to the knowledge that people who play with me know that when I need something I’m using it right away. I’m not saying people should start passing on everything, I’m usually the poorest guy in the group, so maybe that should tell you something, but don’t ‘Need’ an item when you can’t use it right away. There’s nothing parties hate more than the guy who steals items away from everyone else.

What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate
Make yourself instantly understandable. I know it’s an odd thing, but you have no idea how someone is going to take your words, either written or spoken in an MMO. A joke might be taken badly, an instruction might be unclear; do not leave room for doubt as to what you are saying or expecting. I’ve rarely if ever seen a party leader get taken to task for talking about a boss fight before it happens, but I’ve seen full wipes or even partial wipes get into shouting matches. Be clear, be concise, and feel the mood of the party. Some parties, it’s a cakewalk and everyone is relaxed shooting the breeze. Other parties everyone is intent on doing everything as well as possible and no one talks. Sometimes it’s a speed run and talking is frowned upon, other times the mood of the party is were not compatible but let’s get it done for the good of the whole. If real estate is about location, then parties are about communication both verbal and nonverbal.

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