I find groups in RIFT to be very tolerant. I think that’s probably because the queue to join those groups tends to be long in comparison to, say, WoW. As I’m still gearing up towards 150 focus (a stat mainly available on T2 level gear and craftables), I find myself constantly in queue. At any given time, wait times range from 20 to 60 minutes as DPS and only slightly less as tank. Since I, and I’d assume many MMO players, don’t have 3+ hours to play at a time, this makes that first group valuable, because given the time it takes to run a dungeon and the time it takes to re-queue, probably means it’ll be your only attempt of the night. You have a vested interest in the group’s success. Those wait times effectively discourage players from being trolls.
Yet, 20-60 minutes is a lot. This is on Sunrest (US) — and we’re a high pop. server, so you’d think queues wouldn’t be that bad. I can’t help but feel like finishing quests while I wait is anything but busywork. There’s no great reward beyond story, after all. So I empathize with the players calling for a cross-server dungeon finder. Dungeons are arguably one of the best pastimes available to the non-raider in RIFT, yet each failed group effectively means less content you get to see.
On the other side of that token, though, there is one huge benefit to keeping things single-server: Community.
It might seem obvious, but I’d like to draw attention to some things that players often wax nostalgic about in WoW. Before cross-server dungeons, people had reputation, groups talked, and you started to feel like you knew the people you played with — or at least recognized their name. It made you feel like part of a community. That is exactly where RIFT is at right now. Level 50 chat thrives and poor groupmates are often called out for their bad behavior. Unlike on WoW, you can’t just behave like a jerk and have no repercussions. On the other side of that, great tanks and healers and DPS get remembered for their competency. It’s less and less a matter of “this shaman is great with his role,” and more “wow, remind me to group with NAME again.” As a result, it’s not uncommon to get thrown into a group with one or more players you’ve joined with before. Or to receive a wave from one of those people later in Meridian.
The value of all this really can’t be overstated. It’s the difference between standing on a busy New York City street during lunch hour and being a student in a suburban classroom. You may not know everybody in that class, but you can at least recognize them.
It’s also brought back the importance of the guild tag. Let’s be honest, your guild in WoW really doesn’t matter to anybody else. A few select groups might get noted for server firsts, but for the most part it’s another element lost in the ether of cross-server dungeoneering. In RIFT, players represent their guilds much more meaningfully. Guilds have reputations, good and bad, and players react to them.
Yet for all of this, playing a tank in WoW has spoiled me. Waiting a long time for a dungeon is a drag.
So the question, I guess, is if it’s be worth it to make the dungeon finder cross-server. I’m inclined to say no because maintaining that community is more important to the whole game than my own progress. Still… How about you?