Noob Wars - by Julie Whitefeather
Jul 10, 2007 02:04:42

[An article that was inspired by a Virgin Worlds feature, the Noob Experiment.]

Occasionally being new to a game - a noob - is complicated by controls that seem designed for an alien species with three left hands. However the most limiting factor, and at the same time the easiest solution, is the players themselves. The Blizzard Corporation has so many subscribers at this point that a mass exodus equaling most of another game's player base would barely be felt. Being such a large game, and at the same time such a well established game, can have real drawbacks. Once any game has been around for awhile it will naturally have a player base of experienced players at or nearing the game's level cap. Under such circumstances new players, and even players who have leveled for awhile, can have difficulties playing the game. Getting a group together for a noob can be a real battle. It can become like Oliver Twist asking for another bowl of gruel. Wow players have it a bit easier as Blizzard has designed their game to be solo-able. Players of other games like Lord of the Rings Online, that is designed to require groups much of the time, can have a bit more difficulty. As new as Lord of the Rings Online is, I have already heard complaints of this sort.

All one has to do is read the forums of any given game, and listen to the various chat channels, and you will read and hear excuses by players unwilling to help out noobs that run the gamut of possibilities. Typical is one excuse my sister got the other day - "We've all run the lower instances so many times our eyes bleed".

But any barrel sufficiently large enough will have bad apples amongst the good - and the bigger the barrel the more bad apples. But like the proverbial little girl with the little curl who "when she was good was very, very good" players can be the best solution to "noob wars" as well. After all, any barrel that has bad apples also has good apples.

After my sister got the negative response from her own guild, she met some good apples - Sef, Dix Nattashaa, and Serenetie of the Earthen Ring server. I will let Sister Frances herself tell you about her experience:

"Well, my first time doing Sunken Temple was with my Troll Priest, I think at the time she was l evel 46 or so, maybe 50 at most. Anyway, the group I was with had been there many times, and it was my VERY FIRST time. I was the healer, and as you can guess, it didn't take long before everyone was mad at me for not keeping up. I didn't know the layout, it seemed like an endless circle of tunnels and stairways, I couldn't tell one from the other. Anyway, the group ended up breaking up within about 5 or 10 min., leaving me there alone. So, when my next character, "Feathana", a Human Warlock was contemplating doing Sunken Temple, I was a little afraid of the group I'd get.

At first I signed up for the "Looking for Group" service that WOW provides. I had one person who I was "auto joined" to, but she left me, abandoned me, because I was not who she wanted, or she didn't like my looks, but after she left me she went right back to the looking for group thing and hitched up with someone else...maybe I stunk? So I resorted to asking on the #4 channel, the [4. Looking for Group]:, channel. I waited and waited. I got one hit, Serenetie (of Pirates Never Die guild), a level 70 Mage (who really kicks butt), said she was bored and would join me, a couple of whispers, then Dix and Nattashaa, a really great couple who play WOW together, whispered me and joined our group, then I got a couple rejections. So as Serenetie, Dix, Nattashaa, and I waited for more at least one more to join, I decided to try my guild. No luck there (only grief). Finally, I think it was Serenetie who got Sef, a high level Paladin to join us. So actually, the "looking for group" service this time, did not work for me, but just posting on the #4 channel did.

I had not really experienced nor seen the Sunken Temple before, since my first time was only for about 5 or 10 min. I really wanted to experience it this time, and see all of it (if possible). And hopefully not die too many times. Well, this time was the best raid I've ever done, and according to the chat at the end of the instance, the best the other's had done as well. No one fought over the goods, people passed on items they really didn't need, and the high level people got what they wanted, a good time, some fun, and a couple of blue or green items. I even got a couple of blue items. We kicked butt so well, that there were a couple of rooms where I barely got one or two shots off before the monsters were dead! Everyone in the group was great, and they did not abandon me when I accidentally jumped into the pit and got myself killed. They easily could have just left me, but they did not. They couldn't resurrect me for some reason, but they waited, and actually came to get me when I got myself lost (it's so easy to do there). What a great time, and not only did I, a noob, have a great time, even the level 70 people did!! It was a fun time even for them!!!"

In theater, there is an expression - "Be nice to the people you meet on the way up, you will meet the same people on the way back down." Remember we were all noobs at some point in the MMOs we play. And while you may say to yourself, that you are "not your brother's keeper" the same noobs you meet in one game, may be the experienced player YOU meet as a noob in the next game.

See you online,

- Julie Whitefeather

Submitted by Brent on Jul 10, 2007 02:04:42 CST (comments: 4)


'The Noob experience in a mature MMO' by Scott
Submitted on 2007-07-10 15:40:51 CST
Another interesting topic Julie.

As games like WoW have matured over the last 2 years and the majority of the player popular has "done [x] instance until their eyes bleed" and increasing become resistant to doing anything but endgame content or bypassing content by min/maxing other avenues for leveling it can make for an incredibly frustrating experience for new players.

I think this is one barrier to entry that many MMO developers have overlooked, as you pointed out when they rely so extensively on the group experience it can make it nearly impossible for a new player to get a unique first experience as the developers intended when they can't find a group to adventure with, or if they have to bypass appropriate content by soloing and grinding for xp to advance.

Playing catch-up with an older playerbase or to friends in the game ahead of you can be a horrid experience for a new player.

You can occassional find some really cool individuals willing to help out, often times they're the bored but very social high levels remaining in the game for casual or social interaction.

I too think its a shame when this aspect of a game is overlooked and its gotten to this point. I truly have a hard time recommending some games due to this as it can have such a negative impact on a players initial impressions.

'End game or alt game, or just game' by Sente
Submitted on 2007-07-12 17:37:31 CST

That is a problem with games like WoW where the "end game" play is a substantial part of the game. TO some extent I had the same experience with EQ2 also, at least before the Echoes of Faydwer expansion - with more people starting new winged characters, there were more people to play with at lower levels and doing the quests etc. Otherwise is was too much powerleveling, master spell farming and rushing through quests for xp for my taste.

Although for a better noob experience I can definitely recommend City of Villains/Heroes. The game does not have any end game similar to WoW, but is a quite alt friendly game. Lots of people that have played for a long time and may have one or aa few maxed out characters will also likely have some lower level alts which they play also. And it is also easy to play with higher level players even if you are a lowbie. There is a mixture of new and old people and for the most part, people are generally friendly and helpful.

I think the lack of an end game of the type that WoW has helps to build the more friendly atmosphere - it is all just about having some fun for a while.

'Everyone has their limits' by Token
Submitted on 2007-07-13 17:56:07 CST
I hardly ever help noobs in WoW, at most I will throw someone a couple of gold and it's not because I don't have the time...

Noobs in WoW are always either casual gamers or re-rollers, every hardcore gamer has already played WoW and got an opinion on it. So that leaves me with people who have busy lives. Busy poeple can login to WoW for a few hours and have a laugh,. They can join rubbish groups, spend 2 hours wiping to the 2nd boss in an instance thats been nerfed 30 times, then 2 of them will pull their modems out of the computer. This is the WoW noob from a hardcore gamer's perspective.

The more free time I have to play WoW, the less likely I am to help out a random stranger. My priorities are so skewed after playing for 30 hours a week that WoW is now a job. Just like my real job where I depend on my next paycheck all I require from WoW is the next thing I think I need to progress my character a bit more. Helping a noob in WoW almost certainly will not result in a useful raiding member a few months down the line, because that would mean that hardcore players are still trying WoW for the first time and I already covered that.

Sometimes we will help out other people but it's always either real life friends or guildmates who contribute to my group. So there you go.

'Helping' by Akely
Submitted on 2007-07-14 06:09:31 CST
I still enjoy helping new players. I try to see them as future playmates (no... not that kind of Playmate) and I'd rather have new player meet up with friendly people instead of people who can't be bothered. I know that sooner or later one will get tired of doing it all again, so there is no flame towards the ones opting for not helping.

Me and a friend have toyed with the idea of starting a Saints guild (in EQ2) all we would do was to help low level characters. Always and only. Just to see what happened and if people would use or abuse this.

I usually try to stay away from the term noob for new players. I've been killed far to many times by "experienced" players who just did not know how to hold aggro or refrain from getting aggro or stay off area effect spells or to use the correct heals and cures... the list goes on. My current high is the level 70 necro that wanted to group with us level 28's and refused to mentor down to our level.

ALL: "Look dude... nobody gets experience if you do not mentor, furthermore the Quest we are on will not get update success."
NECRO: "Sure it will. Why would it not?"
ALL: "What? Did you just buy this character, or what?"
NECRO: "Shut up, noob! I've worked my way to 70. You mother£#$¤*&@!!!11!"

To prove his point he then killed a wandering lvl 30 monster and asked us if we got XP. When we said "no" he called us all liars and disbanded. Now THAT is a noob!

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From the desk of Julie Whitefeather


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