Honestly, since the release of the random dungeon finder tool, I’ve done nothing but love it. It has made finding groups for whatever 5 man you want to do SO much easier, which is especially nice when you’re levelling alts. Heck, it’s even possible to do Ragefire Chasm in Orgrimmar as Alliance and Stockades in Stormwind as a Horde now without being brutally murdered on your way in. That’s awesome, and I believe everybody can agree on that.
However, I was reading this article at the MMO Melting Pot, and it made me do a small double take. As I said in the comments there: if the LFD tool was available from the start of TBC, I wouldn’t have met Dan. Chances are, I’d have seen him chatting in trade and on the forums, thought he was a bit of a douche because I’d never had the chance to get to know him as a person, then moved on with my life. Considering I’ve been with him for 2 and a half years, that’s a slightly scary thought.
See, I pugged a lot when I was levelling my Priest. I found that doing a few 5 mans inbetween questing made the levelling a lot more fun, and it gave me a chance to practise my healing. I’d chat to the people I grouped with, possibly add them to my friends list, and if they wanted, I’d invite them to the social guild I was running back then, in which I’d only invite people who were friends of friends, or seemed nice, most I met in pugs. One of these people, when I’d reached my late 60s, I got talking to him again once I’d found which character he was playing and he’d joined a small friendly guild. They didn’t really advertise so most of the members joined via word of mouth, and I was no different. This was the guild where I met Dan. If I hadn’t got speaking to that guy in a pug in my 50s, I wouldn’t have joined that guild and spoken to Dan.
The result? Well, you can still pug with people from your server, though you’ll find that will be mostly raids. I’ve joined raid pugs which weren’t quite so bad, but I rarely whisper people now. I don’t know what it is, but these days people just come across as much less approachable and sure, a lot of this has to do with the way Wrath has changed the game, people can’t be bothered to form friendships outside of their guilds anymore because they assume everybody else is bad. This is how it comes across to me, at least, and it’s kinda sad – the guild I was in while levelling my Priest couldn’t exist now. I’d have to advertise in trade for social members and that’s the perfect way to attract flies without using an application process, which I find a little pointless for a social guild.
Blizzard seem to have created a way to maintain old friendships in the form of Real ID, but downgraded the ways in which we can create new ones. Sure, they’re still there, you can chat to people in pug raids, join a new guild, talk on the forums and in trade, whatever you want but it doesn’t seem to be the “done thing” anymore, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I miss the sense of community this game used to involve. Nowadays we have to make do with lots of small communities, in the form of guilds, which can also act as server cliques, as opposed to one big one, with serverwide events, radio stations, and everybody seeming to know each other.