Don't get me wrong, I remember the hell of finding a group in those days before the looking for system was added. I remember logging in and waiting for someone to post in trade they needed a DPS for something, anything. I remember asking in trade looking for a group. I remember spending hours, yes hours, try to find a group for a dungeon and sometimes still never getting to do one that day. I remember more days than I could count where I tried on and off for four hours and never got a group. I remember those times I did get a group and then someone would disconnect after the first pull meaning we needed to go back and look for someone again, or if it were a DPS deciding on if we should try it with only two damage dealers.
It was not fun. Anyone that joined the game after the looking for system was introduced will never be capable of understanding what it was like. I am not looking at those days with rose tinted glasses and saying how great they were because they were not. They were their own small piece of hell just for you.
When the looking for system was added to the game our own little hell of trying to find a group was replaced by a different little hell, the hell of being with random people. There are good, bad and the people that do bad on purpose because they think it is justifiable because other are bad.
But did the ease of group assembly end up losing us more than we gained? We gained the ability to instantly assemble a group without even trying and lost any sense of accountability in the process.
The days before the dungeon finder, as I said, were not fun when you were a new player. You basically needed to luck into a group and the only way you could do that is with continued spamming in trade or reading in trade and hoping you were the first person to respond to someone that was posting they needed someone for your role.
I had many times where I went days without finding a group. Other days I logged in and saw someone posting and whispered right away and got lucky and was on a flight path to the dungeon within minutes.
One of the best tricks to getting a group was to hang around the stones of popular instances. I did this a few times to get a group. Basically what you were doing was hoping that someone dropped group or DCed and that they needed someone to fill in and they might just take you being you are already there. Just saying in say, LFG, was usually enough to get an invite if someone needed you.
You basically had to work your butt off to get into a group. It was all worth it however because once you did get in a group it was your time to show everyone why you were a good person to have along. Do well, or exceptional even, and you will be remembered. Even antisocial people like myself would often chat with the people in the group because you had to. These people were from your community and if you wanted to make sure you get an invite again next time they needed someone, you sure as hell wanted them to remember you as a nice person and a good player, not just one or the other.
It took me a long time, many different dungeon pugs over the course of two months stalking trade and taking an invite from every group that would give me a shot and making connections with the people on my server. After some time doing this people started to know me, they started to know I was decent and willing to do dungeons just about any chance I got.
The time came where I no longer needed to hang around and read trade. My chains were unlocked, I could now go out in the world and do other things. No longer was I confined to a city if I wanted to do a dungeon. I was now known and known to be a competent player. I would not get an invite every day but it had gotten to the point where at least 4 of the 7 days in the week someone would whisper me looking to have me join their group. When I was building my reputation, even on a good week, I could not get 4 dungeon runs, now I got them without even trying to get them.
That was the power of accountability. I did groups with people that saw I was good and they wanted me around. Sure, the nightmare of those months trying to find a group at the get go were not easy at all but being groups were assembled by hand, people were accountable for their actions.
When someone was looking for a damage dealer my name started to get around as someone that is often looking and I could hold my own. More and more invites came. If I had been a bad player or had been a huntard my reputation would have went the other way and it would have became increasingly harder for me to get groups. People that were not very good were kept out of the inner circle because, not trying to be rude here but it is true, they did not deserve to be involved in group content.
Those people you see now in 480 gear that are struggling to do 12K, whether it is because they are bad players or slackers that are better but just do not try, would never see the inside of a dungeon or a raid again and that is how it should be. Those people have no business ever being in that content because they are not capable of doing it.
Just because you can pick up a baseball bat doesn't mean you should be playing for the new york yankees, same goes for group content like dungeons or raids, just because you have the gear and are capable of entering them, doesn't mean you should be doing them. The accountability system was a much better player run system to keep people out than the item level gating of the looking for system.
The looking for system was a wonderful addition for what it did, helped you find groups faster, but it was a horrible addition for what the game lost when it was added, and that is accountability.
People can act poorly, play poorly, or just exhibit poor work ethics and never have to worry about any repercussions. No one is going to say in trade, he is a slacker, he ninja pulls, he ninja loots, he can not put out what is required for the content. They do not need to worry about being invited to groups because any group is only one button away. How they play and act means nothing now. Nope, not even in the slightest, it no longer matters. There is no accountability in the game any more. You can act any way you want, play any way you want, do any thing you want and it will rarely if ever get back to hurt you.
If someone did not know how to play their class or role, it got noticed, word got out. If someone had a bad attitude and was a problem player, word got out. If someone was rude and insulting, word got out. If someone had constant disconnects or AFKs, word got out. If someone tried to get carried by letting everyone else do the work, word got out.
Just like those people added me to their friends list, the one that allowed me to get back into the world and no longer need to sit around reading trade, they put people they did not want to group with on their black list. People shared their lists too. Bad players names got out just as quickly as the good ones did. If anything the bad players names got out faster because some people wanted to keep the names of the good people to themselves so they would hopefully always be available for them when they needed them.
If you needed a healer you would ask a friend and your friend would say, let me see who is on my friends list. Do you remember those days? I do and fondly actually, when we were missing a healer for the raid and everyone was looking through our friends lists and switching characters to see if we had one on another friends list.
We played with people because we wanted to play with them. We played with people that were good or at least good enough. We played we people we liked. It took a lot longer to make groups and sometimes we still couldn't but we always played with the people that were worth playing with, that deserved to be doing the content, they are the same type of players we are.
Now with the looking for system there is no accountable, there is no consideration about who we want to play with, there is no filter to keep all those people out of there that should not even be there in the first place. People seem to have this idea that if the system lets me sign up for the content that means I can do it and that is about as far from the truth as you could ever be. Many people do not deserve to be there.
The bad players do not deserve to be there. They deserve to get a bad reputation for being a bad player, which in turn will teach them to learn their role before trying to do content they are obviously not capable of doing.
We now have instant access to dungeons and raids and no one is being held accountable for their actions. Was the complete dismantling of community and self moderated group content really worth what we gave up for one button group assembly?
Sometimes I say yes, sometimes I say no.
But one thing I always say is that I missed being able to be in a group where everyone was at least a decent player capable of doing the content because it was built with people that earned the right to be in that group by the accountability system we had in place before the looking for system.
Sometimes I wonder if what we lost is worth what we got. We sold our souls for an easier system and lost our community in the process.