Diablo 3 has a neat feature where if you know someones battle.net tag, you can add them as a friend. It shows when your friends are online and you can instantly join their game. You have regular text party chat just like in an MMORPG.
Last night shortly after I created my first character, one of my co-workers whom I had swapped IDs with just appeared in my game. He was four levels lower than me but that didn’t seem to matter. The dungeon challenge level adjusts and you fight more monsters at once. He was able to catch up pretty quickly to me in level so it would appear you also get more experience when grouped.
The problem with having someone else in your game, especially someone that you don’t know super well on a personal level, is that one person winds up deciding which way to go and the other follows. There are numerous ways to go in a dungeon, and part of the fun for me is to explore every corner. I did not know if my friend felt the same way about exploration, or if he just wanted to get to the objective in the most direct way possible.
The years of playing MMOs have clearly shaped me. When I group with other people I feel this need to be efficient, and to be really good at playing the game so I don’t cause wipes or failures. Suddenly I’m not stopping to take in scenery, or paying much attention to the lore audio clips that play in the background. I don’t want to stop moving for too long while staring at my skills or the stuff in my inventory. I get into the “go go go” mentality.
However I’m also a polite person, so I don’t want to tell my friend to shove off because I want to play alone. It is difficult to convey to someone without it hurting their feelings. There will most certainly be times that I want to group so I’m not looking to burn bridges either.
If Diablo 3 implemented a way to make yourself appear offline even when you were not, it could solve the issue in a non-confrontational way. At the character selection screen you can set yourself as “busy” or “away”, but not “appear offline”. A quick search of the battle.net forums shows many other people want the feature.
If I can’t hide from the world I’ll either have to change my mindset, or become more assertive.