Besides hirelings (detailed in another post), one of the most important things not taught while adventuring in the Korthos Island tutorial area is LFMs. Are you tired of adventuring alone? Do you need help completing a quest? Then you are Looking For More (LFM) people to adventure with, and there is a tool to help you find them.
The Social panel is a window you can bring up by default using the ‘O’ key. It can also be found in the main menu, located in the lower left of the screen, looking like a dragon curled up into an ampersand (‘&’). There are four tabs at the top of the social panel. GROUPING, GUILD, FRIENDS and WHO. This post will focus mostly on the GROUPING tab.
LOOKING AT GROUPS
When you enter a quest or wilderness area, you have the option of selecting a Private or Public group on the Grouping options in the lower right area of the entry window, which is what you use to select what difficulty you want to run. If you select Public, then an LFM will automatically be posted on your behalf, or you might join others already inside an active adventure. But most people select Private, and experienced players will often post an LFM before even going to the quest entrance. All of these will show up on a list of parties in the GROUPING tab.
At the top of the GROUPING list, are the titles for the four columns. They are Leader Name, Quest, Classes Needed and Lvl. The Leader Name is the party leader. If the group is private, then he or she can accept or reject requests to join the party. If the party is public, then requests are automatically accepted. Keeping the mouse still over a box in this column (called hovering the mouse) will bring up a tool tip that will show if anyone else is currently in the party, their classes and levels, and their current location. The box might also contain extra information, like a comment posted by the party leader about his goals, needs, etc. Also possible are a timer that tells how long it has been since the first party member stepped into the quest (listed in light blue), and possibly how long before the ability to automatically join expires on a public posting (listed in yellow).
While the Quest column is automatically filled in by those who choose the Public option, LFMs stay up until a party fills with 6 members, and does not automatically change when entering a different quest if the leader is using the private option. The leader also has to select the quest from a list, and may choose to put something in the comments area instead about what quest is being run. Again, hovering over the box in the Leader Name column will tell you where party members are, so you can tell if information is outdated. Hovering over the box in the Quest column will give you more information about the quest listed, including the difficulty the leader intends to run it on (or is running it on if it is a public posting). Be aware that a few quests are actually raids that allow a party size of 12. Raids usually require you to run prerequisite quests to “flag” for them and thus be able to enter them.
The Classes Needed column is fully populated if you use the private option. And there are party leaders using the private option who might use the comments section about what kind of needs they have, instead of using this column to indicate what types of adventures they are looking for. If this area is covered over with a big graphic that says BUY NOW! , then you do not own the rights to enter the quest. (Note the level 10 quest, Hiding in Plain Sight, is a free-to-play quest accessible by everyone. A bug involving it being a flagging quest for The Restless Isles adventure pack may make it display the BUY NOW! graphic).
The last column, titled “Lvl” is actually level range. For public postings, it is calculated using the party leader’s character level. This and all other information can be modified later if the leader so desires, even on postings automatically made by the Public option. The purpose of the column is to indicate the restrictions on what level characters can join in the adventure, since it may affect how many Experience Points everyone in the party gets.
Both Classes Needed and the Lvl column can help you filter out parties that your current character is not qualified for. There is a check box near the upper left that is labeled “Show groups I am not eligible for”. If this is not checked, the list that will be displayed will be only those parties where you meet both the class and level requirements set by the party leader.
JOINING A PARTY
Unless the Public grouping option throws you into an active adventure when you enter a quest, you will have to manually request joining a party. Simply double click the party you want to join in the list on the GROUPING tab and a request will be sent to the party leader (unless the party is public, then you will be instantly accepted). Upon joining a party, most people will select the Party tab on their chat box, so messages typed will by default go to other party members, and most non-party relevant messages will be filtered out (unless you change the default settings for the tab by right clicking on it).
If a party fills up while you are waiting for the leader to accept your application, you will automatically be rejected, since there is no more room. But leaders of private parties have the option of waiting and looking at all incoming requests, before choosing who they think would best fit into the party. If you have carefully read the comments posted in the LFM, and double checked that you fit the class and level requirements, you can click on the Tell button near the bottom right to have a message started to the party leader. Just complete it by typing your message and hit Enter. Sometimes if a quest is in progress (sometimes noted in the comments with the acronym IP), the party leader may not see your request, and a polite tell can ask if he is willing to accept your application. You can also use this facility before requesting to join a party if you have any question about the posted comments, whether you might fill a role needed even thought your class is not listed, etc. by selecting a party with a single click and then pressing the Tell button.
CREATING AND MANAGING YOUR OWN LFM
If you don’t see an LFM that you qualify for and are interested in, you can always create your own. Simply click the “Create/Edit LFM” button near the bottom left of the GROUPING tab to open a new window that facilitates the process. This window will have all the necessary means to create or modify everything listed in an LFM, except the leader name. (Note that if someone else is promoted to party leader, the LFM is taken down).
In the top left corner is a check box labeled “Advertize as looking for more players”. If you uncheck this box, it will remove your posting from the GROUPING list, but will not disband your party if you already have other members in it.
Down the left side is the Class Selection area and a check box labeled “Any”. Each class has a three letter label below the icon, and a green check mark that can be toggled on and off by clicking on the icon. The check mark means that you are looking for a character in that class to join your party. There are currently 13 different classes. Toggling the “Any” check box will set or clear all check marks so you can manually deselect or select classes staring with a full or empty set of them.
Below that are the two level range boxes, where you can restrict who you want in your party by the level of their character. Be warned that this does not prevent them from applying or being accepted into your party (unless you have selected the public group option, then this affects whether they are auto-accepted or not). You will need to examine each request to join carefully to make sure the petitioner meets your requirements.
On the right side is a list of quest names that is sorted by base level by default. It can be sorted by name by clicking on the first column title, “Dungeon”. Note that not ever possibility is listed here, such as wilderness areas, and sometimes updates introduce bugs into the game where some quests will disappear from the list. In this case you may have to resort to the comments section to let people know where you plan on adventuring. Below the quest list is the three radio buttons where you indicate whether you want to run the quest on Normal, Hard, or Elite difficulty.
The Comment section, which will put text below your name in the Leader Name column, is below the class, level and quest selection areas. There is a limit to the amount of characters you can type, and long lines are not fully visible until you post them. You can use the arrow keys, as well as the Home and End keys to move around in a long line of text when editing it.
At this point the Max Party Size drop down has not been tested, so it will be skipped over for now. To the right of it are two buttons, “Update My Party” and “Join Requests”. If you press the Update My Party button, any changes you have made will be posted to your GROUPING listing. If you simply hit the ‘X’ in the upper right corner, you can close this window without making any changes. Whether you are creating a new LFM, or updating one, clicking on the Update My Party button will automatically check the “Advertize as looking for more players” box.
Below this area is a list of people who have double clicked on your listing and want to join your group. If you want to have a separate window with just this information in it and the relevant buttons, you can click the “Join Requests” button. The new window will be labeled OUTSTANDING INVITATION REQUESTS and will have an additional button labeled “Modify Party”. This button will re-open the “Create/Edit LFM” window.
Join requests are simply that, requests to join your party. Information about the player is listed in the four columns. You can select any player in the list and press Decline to remove them from the list, Accept to have them join your party, or Tell so you can start a conversation with them. Join requests will also show up as party messages with special words in white that allow you to accept or decline a request without opening a window. There will also be “open the outstanding request list” in white in the party message, that will allow you to open that window.
As your party fills, it is polite to modify your class requirements and/or comments to let other players know what your new requirements are. Some people will not do this and might just be rude enough to reject join requests without explaining why. There are also more experienced players who are happy to join forces with anyone and will take on almost all comers so they have no restriction or comments in their LFMs.
LFG AND COLD CALLS
An under utilized facility is the LFG system. Most people will use LFM and LFG interchangeably, but LFG is not where you advertize as a party leader forming a group, but advertize your own personal willingness to join existing parties. At the bottom of the GROUPING tab is a Comment box, with an Update button to the right and a “I am looking for a party” check box below. Clicking the Update button will automatically check the box. When you do update or check the box, two things happen. An icon appears over your head when other players look at your avatar, indicating you are looking for a group/party to join. The other thing is that updated comments are put under your name in the WHO tab, and you are flagged as “looking for groups”.
The WHO tab is useful for finding other players who are online. At the very bottom of the WHO tab is a check box that is labeled “Anonymous”. If this box is checked, you will not show up in the WHO list, and people mousing over Leader Names in the GROUPING tab will see you name listed as Anonymous, if you are part of a group. It does not disable you from receiving tells, or any other direct use of your character name, like the people seeing you real character name floating over your head when looking at your avatar.
Unless they are anonymous, there are five columns of information listed for each player that is online and fits the search criteria that you can specify at the top of the WHO tab. Clicking the “Search” button with nothing in the Name box, all character classes selected and the full range of levels, will show you everyone who is online. But you can restrict your search criteria to the same classes and levels that you have posted in an LFM and use the WHO listing to send tells to people who meet your criteria, but may not be currently looking at the GROUPING tab. In the business world, starting a conversation by phone with someone you don’t know, and have never communicated with before, is called a cold call.
It is polite to check the information listed in the WHO tab for each person before you select them and click the “Tell” button to send them a message. It is usually considered rude to select them and hit the “Invite” button without communicating with them first.
The first column is an icon. If it is blank, then the player is not currently part of a party and does not have an LFG status. If you send an invite to someone already in a party, it will automatically be rejected. People with an LFG status can be considered actively inviting tells to join parties. You can even check the box “Show me only players looking for groups” to filter out anyone who is not flagged LFG.
The second column is labeled “Name”, but will also show the current location of the player. If a player is shown by an icon in the first column to be in a party, and their location is shown as being in a wilderness area, it is possible that they may just be increasing their slayer count and have a hireling along to help heal them. Thus there is a chance they might be interest in joining your party. They could also be in a real party and on their way to a quest entrance in that wilderness. Anyone in a quest without an indicator icon of being in a party, is probably just soloing it. But sending a tell to anyone who is currently involved in another activity might just get your tell ignored, or a reply explaining that you are being rude, or worse. So it is best to look for players who are in public areas and not currently in a party when making cold calls.
The third column will show the character class or classes. The fourth is the total character level, and the fifth is the name of the guild they belong to (if any). You can click on any column name to sort the list into a forward or reverse order based on the information in that column.
As an aside, the comment used in the LFG system on the GROUPING tab is available for generic use, and is updatable by filling in the Comment box and hitting the Submit button at the bottom of the WHO tab. This will not affect whether or not you are flagged as LFG. That can only be changed on the GROUPING tab.