My lil stint with randomly cold calling players off of /who to locate a 10th player for a Karazhan raid the other night had me thinking.
Here we were, 9 people ready to play the game. Can't play without a 10th.
A boat-load of total blind luck, and a drop of assertive resourcefulness, ended up locating me that 10th player. And it worked out perfectly. This player and our group matched up on class, spec, relative gear level/progression, availability for the same three hours on all three nights of the raid week, maturity level, etc...
Blind luck prevailed and 10 players had a great time and a great raid for three nights over a week's time in two different dungeons. Couldn't have worked out better. Well, would be better if she could join our guild, but apparently "that's complicated". /crossfingers
So that got me to thinking about how much of this sort of thing is out there. Groups of players who all have the basic fundamental building blocks to form a compatible raid, but who have never happened to locate one another.
As this one example I provide shows, the concept is out there. And on any given raid night, if we're struggling to find a player, it makes me wonder what Blizzard could be doing to help with this situation.
When looking for a player, we typically go thusly:
1) Look in the guild first.
2) Look on friends lists.
3) Enter into LFM tool
4) /who for classes and Armory for spec, followed by blind whispers
5) Spamming /general in Shatt City or Deadwind Pass
Numbers 1 and 2 are ideal, as the players on those two lists are already known quantities. We wouldn't have you in our guild or on our friends list if you didn't match up with our team at a basic level.
Numbers 3,4,5 all suck.
Blizzard needs to contract out to eHarmony.com to implement a new match making system. This should be usable for a long-term search, such as finding a Guild for yourself or finding new recruits for your guild, and it should be usable for short-term searches like a LFM tool.
You answer a whole stack of questions about yourself and they have these funky algorithms that match you up with players that they think you are compatible with.
The questions can cover the basics like class and spec, number of raiding nights/hours you are interested in, what nights you are available. Then they would get into the personality profile type questions to match players up on how likely they are to enjoy playing together. And they could try to understand how you react to different game situations (out-of-game research, thoughts about loot, how you react to wipes, etc).
The basic idea is that there's lots of great players out there, but its not easy to find them. It is easy to find players, but its not easy to finds ones that match up to form a successful bunch of friends and raiders.
In the end, the conspiracy theorist in me thinks Blizzard LIKES it when we can't field a team. That's one more week that we aren't gobbling up their content and one more week slapped onto the end of our subscriptions. So I'm doubtful we'll ever see something implemented to fix the situation. But the optimist in me remains hopeful.