The problem with inspecting other players in MMOs
One thing that strikes me about TESO is how there is no inspect function. Coming from LoTRO where you can see not only what someone else is wearing, but what they choose to show they’re wearing (why on Nirn doesn’t a TES MMO have a cosmetic system?), I found this most odd.
At first, I thought ill of it. Why would the devs hide something so fundamental from us? Then I read the Grumpy Elf’s experience with the ‘if you were better geared’ syndrome. Ho ho ho. I guess it’s not so fundamental after all, nor such a bad idea.
Thus far, my PUG experiences in TESO have been pretty amicable. No one ragequits, no one disses, and only once have I seen a leader give an underperformer the silent boot. (That counts as bad conduct in my book.) Even on my Dragonknight, where I’m supposed to tank, no one throws hissy fits when I don’t block enough or exhibit non-tanky behavior. I wonder – would I still have it this easy if there was an inspect function and the team saw my plain, crafted, unenchanted digs?
Back in LoTRO before I gave up on group content, it was practically the opposite. The millstone of optimization and by-the-book builds hung heavy around my neck even in landscape groups; one time when I took my Captain into a Dol Dinen run, the leader inspected me and promptly questioned why I had standards instead of heralds equipped. Recognizing the imperious tone even across the filter of an MMO chat window, I pulled out my bannerman with a shrug and marched on. It was a tiny thing. But it still sticks with me, even years later.
I’ve heard of other cases where folks are denied a spot on PUG raids because they’re not in all-teal gear, or have ‘the wrong stats’ on their Legendaries. LoTRO makes it simple to find out, since you can inspect a player from his or her name in the chat window. Remembering these, perhaps it’s a good thing TESO keeps how well- or poorly-geared a player is hidden. The last thing we need is more ammo for elitists to fire players from group content.
In my ideal MMO, there would be both an inspect function and a cosmetic system – and the former would apply only to the latter. True, that might get the gear hounds howling. Which is why I thought of an MMO I hardly think about anymore: DC Universe Online.
Perhaps DCUO is the one doing it right. There, they use Combat Rating, a derived statistic nobody seems to have figured out the workings of, which is calculated from gear. (I heard it may even take into account gear sitting in your inventory, which, if true, is pretty screwy.) CR serves as a gate for instances and raids, like LoTRO’s old Radiance system, but nobody can see your exact number. Group leaders can’t verify your CR when you put it forward while lobbying for a PUG spot. They can only inspect you – and then only if you’re close – and draw their own conclusions from your gear.
Aren’t some job applications that way? Yes, go ahead and confirm I do know everything I say I know on my CV. But whether or not I have enough of some arbitrary skill you say you need? Sorry, my word will have to be good enough for you…