Sunday, March 22, 2009

PUG Groups

(As you may have realized, these posts are becoming more and more commentary-oriented. This is for the sheer lack of news in the wake of Book 7's release, which is fine. Book 7 in itself is giving us plenty of stuff to write about).

One of the main reasons people join a kinship is to get help (and hopefully help others just as much) doing quests that someone can't do solo. Kinships are by far the most used method of reliable questing. If kinships fail, then usually someone has a close circle of friends they can call on to get stuff done. However, when both of the aforementioned techniques are unavailable, there is still one option left to turn to. You go to the LFF channel, and you type in something to this effect: 60 hunter lff 2.6.8 pst.

If you're lucky, you'll get picked up by another group that needed your class, or you'll find someone else and advertise that you have the makings of a fellowship, and eventually you'll get together enough people to attempt whatever it is you need to do. Of course, this does not guarantee that you'll succeed.

Unfortunately, in the general pool of LotRO players, there are a variety of adeptness levels. Some players know their class backwards and forwards, and know what to do at what time. Others, however, have no idea what they're doing, don't know what their class is for, usually press the same 3 keys when in a fight, and have gotten to level 60 mostly on sheer luck, and a little bit on other people's coattails. It's when these people are picked up unbenounced to the other fellowship members that trouble starts to brew.

Usually it's obvious from the start. The person in question pulls a mob when people aren't ready yet, they're tanking when they shouldn't be, or they're consistently not being johnny-on-the-spot with conjunctions that will make or break the fellowship. After you've maybe wiped a couple times, you've got a pretty good idea of who's behind it all, and a fair share of mocking/irritated comments have been passed through various tell channels, or sneered over Ventrilo if the weak link doesn't have it.

Thus arieses a dilema. Of course, the unwritten rule can't be broken. What's this? You don't know what the unwritten rule is? Well that's probably because it's never been written down. Oh, wait, I have a post-it here somewhere...hold on...ah here it is...ahem..."Thou shalt not kick a player from the Fellowship based purely on his skill level or lacktherof." Ok, so that's not exactly it, but you get the picture. In every kinship I've been in, and every person I've had on my friend's list, it's always been a general consensus that it's not cool to boot someone that you've invited into a fellowship just because they have no idea what the hell they're doing. Maybe I've been in a small circle of naivite where everyone is blissfully ignorant of the real world, but I doubt it. If you invite someone, they have the impression that in the not too-distant future they'll have the quest they signed up for completed, and can go on until the next one pops up. That's a very good feeling, no matter how good you are.

This doesn't change the fact that too often you get a player that is completely clueless. How do we solve this problem? Usually the leader of the fellowship ((s)he is the one with the nifty asterisk badge after all) takes the member aside and explains what they need to do to shape up. This is done in a gentle and reassuring manner, in order to not damage the player's fragile ego. He is, after all, a level 60 just like the rest of us, so he couldn't have been doing too much wrong, right? Notice I did not make that one gender-ambiguous. Guys, sorry to say it, but I've never come across a female player who's sucked. And disregarding the fact that they're probably are out there, every female player has been much more receptive to criticism than any male player I've ever seen. Never have I seen a gal gamer storm out of an instance shouting "WTF YOU GUYS ARE ALL TEH SUX, SCREW THIS ----ING SHIZ...", you get the point.

So, does this whole thing have a point? Yes, but not one as absolute as you were probably hoping for ( he's not saying we should get rid of everyone who sucks? Awwww, no fun...). My point is that in a PUG you're playing roulette, with a ball that's hoped up on Coke and Red Bull moving around a wheel with 3,000 different slots for it to land in. So yeah you can critiscize PUG groups, and you can avoid them like the plauge in favor of your kinship even when that will set you back a couple weeks until enough people need your quest. But they are out there, people ARE getting things done with them, and not everyone shouting in the LFF channel doesn't have a clue.


  1. PUG's have a negative connotation in many LOTRO blogs and forums (fora?). Too negative in my opinion. Yes you can do fellowship quests only with your kin mates, that is safe and the risk of failing the quest is perhaps smaller. But being afraid/negative about PUG's is, IMHO, a sign of social weakness. See PUG's as an opportunity to meet new people, you may like them! Make sure there is a plan before diving into fights. There is no harm in giving basic friendly instructions before the fight anticipating where it can go wrong. There will always be a few who do not want to listen, but many others may pick up something and improve their fellowship skills. Enjoy PUG's! They are key in LOTRO and for many make the game what it is.

  2. I started playing LotRO a couple of months ago. My kin is mostly made of level 60s as well as a huge bunch of lower-level alts; I tend to get group quests done on my own, by joining PUGs or forming them myself. I find it distasteful to 'expect' kin members to run me through things in the worst case, and I find it slightly uncomfortable to depend on other people like this in the best case.

  3. Er, that is, that's not to say there's anything wrong with doing group quests only with kinmates -- just that I personally don't like asking about it, mostly because my kin is really nice and they will re-log or trek from far away to help and I really don't like to inconvenience people. If I see them on alts that are of similar level I will ask if they have the quest done or not, or whatever.

    I guess it's a personal issue. I mean, most of the kin has no problem with asking others to run them through stuff. I guess I'm just not good at asking for favors. I will help you all you want, but I will think twice about asking you to help me (and probably wouldn't ask) because I just feel uncomfortable and shy and would rather do it on my own.

    Maybe it's a cultural thing, I don't know. I'm Chinese-Thai, lived most of my life in Thailand ... a cultural aspect, called 'kreng jai' (translated loosely as a sense of consideration, but it's something much deeper) is a big part of the culture.

  4. PS (Sorry, last one I promise :P)

    It helps that my server, EU-RP Laurelin, is filled with people in all tiers and getting a group is very, very easy. Every time I advertise on LFF, I will get at least 3 people in the span of a few minutes, and then after that it's just easy to get the rest. :)

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  6. So, I heard you mention that each class should know what their role is. I'm fairly new to the game and before I end up being "that guy", would someone mind telling me how to play as a captain in a fellowship or even solo?