Cryptic Needs To Figure Out The Queue System

While browsing through the latest patch notes you might have caught the fact that you will no longer be able to kick players during the Demogorgon fight. What seems to be a good move to protect the pug from douches actually is a reminder that one underlying problem is still unsolved.

It all started nearly two years ago with the announcement of a leaver penalty for PVP. Back then Domination had gotten pretty ugly as players would quickly leave any match that wasn’t an easy win. Without matchmaking pugs were helplessly exposed to premades and grinding out a loss wasn’t worth it because of the tiny rewards you got. That’s what had led to nearly no match being completed at full strength, the only exception probably being ten players that were purely interested in a good fight no matter the outcome.

Neverwinter DominationRight off the bat I was highly opposed to the change and very vocal about it. If you have one group of players that is interested in competitive PVP and another group of casuals that just wants to get dailies done or farm glory, forcing the latter to stay within a match they want to be no part of is not called a solution. Of course there’s always a small percentage of guys acting like prima donnas, but players generally were not leaving because they could, but because they literally had no reason to stay. So we predicted the problem to simply shift to afking and that’s exactly what happened. At first players that still didn’t get what PVP was truly ailing came up with strange ideas like repeling players off the campfire after a certain time of inactivity, but today nobody cares any longer and afking at least parts of a lopsided match is widely accepted. Time also showed that matchmaking as one of the major selling points to the penalty never had a chance due to low population.

Temple of Tiamat
Temple of Tiamat

Nobody knew back then that three modules later mixing players with different intentions and skill level would hit PVE as well. The devs announced Tiamat as 25-sized experience but kept quiet about one major drawback. Since you did not queue up for the raid and simply entered a new adventure zone, players were randomly distributed to the next available instance and group affiliations were not respected. There has not been a complete explanation to date for this design choice. Cryptic said there were technical limitations, but that’s only one part of the story as we know that bringing 40 players to the same map through a queue was possible from the original Gauntlgrym. Because the fight was very hard in Module 5, too hard for the entry requirements, Tiamat has always been surrounded by speculations that it was intentionally designed so that high-geared players would allow lower-geared ones to succeed and participate.

Managing a pug of 25 was completely hopeless and getting enough players that knew what was going on a gamble. Today the zerg has established and higher item level have made the fight fairly easy anyway, but back then it was not pretty and randomly pugging into a fight had a decent chance of failure. Just like in PVP players soon started quitting the fight if they didn’t see a chance of winning, frustrating those that believed you still had a shot or wanted a legit try no matter what. As workaround private high gear score and later item level channels were created that helped syncing entrance to the Temple of Tiamat in order to get as much allied players in one instance as possible. But overall for the second time force-mixing different tiers of players took away the fun.

And now, Demogorgon. Since it’s a real queue you can at least pick half your team but are left at the mercy of the system to deliver the other 50%. And hey guess what. Players are quitting no gold rewards, kicking out of frustration and absolutely don’t care about or camp the leaver penalty. Sounds familiar? Because it is! To be fair: Kicking players doesn’t solve your problem that your team won’t get gold rewards and it should absolutely be permitted, but it’s also once again fixing a symptom and not getting to the underlying problem. I’m also absolutely stunned they are again enforcing a leaver penalty in content in which players are exposed to randomness.

It’s pretty obvious for two years that players want to have more control about whom they are playing with and don’t like to be forced into a predefined setting. So the devs have to finally give in and make concessions. Allowing greater groups might not be possible, but there has to be a way to fully premade more players. I will never get why the devs refused to separate the competitive from the casual queue, because that indeed would have been a solution and not just dealing with a symptom. Ironically the system worked best during the first and only PVP event on Dragon so far, the Combat League, which showed that matchmaking and a penalty indeed work well in a competitive environment, but are completely out of place in a casual one. For PVE getting a full team into a fight also means players of same skill and intention come together. You could lfg gold groups (or similar) so it’s clear that any other result might be quit.

Until then, we will have to live with players acting abusive out of frustration no matter what workaround the devs are trying to establish. And for the most part, you can’t even blame them.


j0Shi plays the Neverwinter MMORPG since the open BETA in 2013 and is a regular contributor to the blog and the whole UN:Project. Originally a Guardian Fighter, he has built up ALTs of all classes and plays on BIS/near-BIS level.