If I could give a handful of tips to every new player starting up with World of Warcraft, it would be these. Note that many of these would apply to almost any online game.
Use the tooltips. When you first bring up the game it starts up automatic tips that teach you about the interface and gameplay. Judging by some of the ridiculously simple questions I see people asking on the general channels, there are far too many people who turn these off and then can’t figure out what they’re doing. Leave them on for a little while until you get the hang of things. They really will walk you through the basics.
Read the manual. The manual explains a lot of things like how professions work, how the auction houses work, etc. Yet I see people asking questions all the time that are answered there. If you don’t want to take the time to read the manual before playing, fine (I understand impatience), but at least look things up in it (or on the official website) before asking how to do them.
Read the quest. I can’t stress this one enough. If you’re having trouble figuring out where to go or what to do for a quest, read it thoroughly before asking for help. 90% of the time when I see someone asking “where do I find X?” or “how do I get X?” or saying “I can’t find X,” it’s a question that’s answered in the quest text (usually quite clearly, although sometimes there’s a trick to it). Read it carefully, paying attention to wording. For example, if a quest says “look for so-and-so by the caves,” then he’s probably by the caves, not in the caves. Asking for help without reading the quest first makes you look lazy, and the people who know the quest answers your question won’t want to help you.
Don’t let your friends walk you through everything. It’s been a while since the game started up, and it can be tempting to have your friends who’ve been playing for a while power-level you by walking you through your first ten, twenty, or even thirty levels. Don’t do this. Those first quests are designed not just to level you, but also to teach you how the game is designed. They teach you how to use your abilities, how to solve quests, etc. As you go up in levels your quests will give you less information and assume you know more of what you’re doing. If you don’t learn that stuff early on, you’ll find yourself unable to do the simplest quests later. I see more and more people these days who aren’t capable of doing very simple quests by themselves because they’ve been walked through everything.
Don’t assume the other players are being mean if they don’t answer your question. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen someone ask a question on the general channel, ask it again a moment later in all caps with question marks and exclamation points, and then get very angry that no one has answered them. Take a deep, calming breath and realize several things:
- The other players are not your personal tip line. They are not getting paid to act as customer service reps. They have no obligation to help you out. It’s nice of them to do so, but they don’t have to.
- It takes a few moments to type in an answer, particularly if it’s a complicated one. Sometimes I’ve seen people get upset before most people would have even been able to type out an answer to their question.
- There might not be someone around who can help you or who knows the answer to your question right now. Most people don’t bother writing “sorry” or “don’t know” because there are so many players in these games that it would completely clutter up the channels. They aren’t ignoring you–they’re trying to be polite to the wider player base.
- The player who does know the answer to your question might be in a position where he can’t immediately answer it–like a pitched battle with Murlocs. Don’t expect someone to drop everything and get his character killed just so you can get your answer right this very second.
- The player who does know the answer to your question (or the player you’re talking to if you’re talking to someone in specific) might not be looking at her chat log right now. She might be looking at a different part of her screen, or she might be talking to someone in real life, or whatever. Don’t assume she’s being rude.
If you don’t get an answer to your question, do one of several things. You could wait five minutes and ask again; by then there might be someone around who can answer you. Just make sure you wait the five minutes or people will get annoyed that you’re spamming the channel. You can also check out one of the web sites that collect information on quests and such, such as Thottbot or Allakhazam. In particular, try to go look things up on those sites when the answer you want is complex–such as stats on an entire set of armor or the location of several items in a quest.
Talk to people before inviting them to your group or guild. It’s a basic social thing. I don’t accept such wordless invites any more because I generally find that the social skills of such people are so incredibly lacking that I end up having a lousy time working with them. There’s an insanely high correlation between these invites, in my experience, and “ninja looters”, sexist jerks, self-righteous jerks, etc.
Remember you’re dealing with real people. Try to behave in a semi-civilized manner; you’re more likely to actually get along with people, make friends, and end up having a good time. Don’t ninja-loot (steal resources and treasure out from under people), don’t make sexist or racist comments, don’t bully, etc.
Use your English. (Or other language on non-English-speaking servers.) A lot of people think that English skills don’t mean anything. I’ve seen people make the argument that it just doesn’t matter if you’re being grammatically correct or spelling correctly as long as you’re getting your message across, to which I always want to nod vigorously and say, “yes, that’s the problem exactly.” A lot of people think they’re being clear when they aren’t. I’ve seen people ask questions that were worded in such a way that they could mean any of several equally valid things. Think about how you word your communications; you may think you’re being clear, but people who can’t read your mind might see things differently.
Talk to people before hitting them with a duel challenge, guild charter to sign, etc. Partially this is for the above social reasons. However, in this case it’s also a practical matter. I’ve had people send me these things when I’m in the middle of transacting business–dealing with quests, crafting, vendoring, dealing with something AFK–and it’s really annoying under those circumstances. Without asking someone first you can’t be sure they aren’t in the middle of something.
Look around. The game is actually very good at funneling where you should go next. For example, I’m forever seeing people ask where trainers are, but all you have to do is right-click on a guard in a major city and not only will they tell you where the nearest trainer is, but they’ll mark it on your map. I’m always seeing people ask where the next higher trainer for a skill is, but if you go to your current trainer they’ll tell you who to go to next. Usually when it’s near time for you to move on out of a region you’ll get a quest directing you onward. If you need more information on areas that are relevant to your level, just check out the official World of Warcraft website; it has things like charts of zones with appropriate levels. If you want quests to work on, all you have to do is look around.
Don’t beg. It’s a game. You’re supposed to go out and do quests, kill things, and generally earn your way up. Although people often enjoy helping each other out, they don’t like to do everything for you by and large. They certainly don’t like it when people beg for money and items. It’s okay to ask for help, but don’t beg, be polite if someone refuses, and don’t act like you’re entitled to whatever you want.
Listen. You might not agree with your party-mates if they ask you to alter your behavior, but if you want to have a good grouping with them then you should pay attention to the fact that they seem unhappy with something you’re doing. Whether or not you agree with them it might be a good idea to at least make an effort to find some way to compromise. If you can’t compromise, then move on and find people you get along with better.
If you’re asking for a service from someone (such as getting a lockbox opened), offer to pay. People will sometimes offer to do it for free, and you can certainly refuse to do business with them if you don’t like their prices, but you shouldn’t expect to necessarily get what you want at the price you want it.
Most of these suggestions boil down to a few basic guidelines:
- Try to figure out something yourself before asking how to do it or asking someone to do it for you. People like helping those who help themselves, and there are a lot of resources you can make use of.
- Remember that you’re dealing with real people and treat them in a reasonable fashion.
- If you get upset, take a deep breath and try to move on. Try to understand others and put yourself in their shoes.
- Talk to people at least for a moment before interacting with them in other ways, if you can.
I think you’ll find, if you follow these suggestions, that people will respond to you much better. You’ll have an easier time figuring out what you’re doing, and people will be much more willing to answer your questions, party up with you, and so on.
Edited to add: Take a look at Psyae’s tips for getting help for more great suggestions!