Why do people boost?

Boosting is the local term for when a high level character runs lower level characters through an instance so that they can get some free xp, quest rewards, and possibly other stuff like drops also. Certainly in WoW and presumably in other games too, if you stand around in a city you will hear people asking for boosts through instances. If you get really lucky some of them might whisper you personally to ask.

Now, I have no real idea why anyone would ever agree to do this. I guess it’s just possible that you wanted to go to that low-level instance anyway for nefarious reasons of your own and figure it’s no extra  hassle to take a random hanger on.

Or maybe if it’s a friend who is feeling down in real life or going through a rough levelling patch in game, I could see taking 30 mins out to run them through an instance to cheer them up and give them a boost (in the wider sense of the word.) But what I cannot figure is why anyone would do that for a random beggar.

Yet, I assume some people must answer those plaintive ‘will u boost me through zul’farrek’ (or the even more pathetic ‘will pay u 10g for boost through scholo, you can keep all the drops’) whispers with a cheery ‘Yes, let’s go!’ In fact, even me answering with a mild ‘Haha, nice try but no’ seems to be met with a bruised response, as if somehow that wasn’t what they were expecting.

All I can imagine is that some people are so bored that running a random instance to help a random beggar sounds like something interesting to do, they’re lonely and the random person is being friendly, or they just aren’t good at saying no.

I’d love to know more about the dynamics of boosting and why it happens. I can’t help feeling that somewhere in there lies the answer to getting experienced players to help out newbies, and that there’s a section of the player base who specifically enjoy taking their high level characters and helping (aka showing off to) lower level guys.

Why I boost

I generally get frustrated with running halfway around the world to low level instances to help people who could perfectly well just skip the instance, and who won’t really experience it in any meaningful way when I’m performing a perfectly executed one-woman zerg.

This weekend, I made an exception. I’m  busy working on my city reps (as per last Friday’s post) and I had a bunch of quests to do in Blackrock Depths. I knew that one of my friends and my husband both had an alt in the right sort of level range, and asking around in guild threw up another appropriate level alt also. So I told them that I was planning to zerg BRD and offered that they could bring their alts along. And that I’d like to take the runecloth (for rep) but everything else was fair game.

So we went off and did this, and it was good fun. We chatted on Teamspeak, the guys got good great xp for their alts (in WoW, you get more xp in instances if the group size is larger so it was actually good for all of them that we had a few alts with us), I picked up a load of city rep for quests and a few stacks of runecloth.

It just doesn’t really feel like boosting when you’re in a win-win situation like that. But it was definitely more fun for me to have people along with whom to chat than it would have been to go on my own (I know, social player etc). And I’m glad to be able to help my husband out from time to time with his alts, he does the same for me.

Also it turned out that one of the other guys collects runecloth as a hobby (!) and sent me about 10 stacks afterwards as a thank you. It’s by this kind of gesture that my guild ‘enforces’ a helpful culture.

The appeal of long distance travel

The other thing I’ve grown to appreciate over the weekend’s rep gathering is what long distance travel can add to a game. Zipping around the old world in search of various quests really made me think about working out the best routes, how long I had left on my hearthstone, where the nearest inter-continent zeppelin base was located, and so on.

It was an interesting (if time consuming) mini game of its own, and I enjoyed the minor added challenge. I think this is the appeal of the holiday quests WoW sometimes throws in that ask you to visit every town in the game. It’s a DIY travelling salesman problem.

I don’t want new games to let me just teleport straight to anywhere I want to go. I enjoyed working out my routes and using my world knowledge to plot out the best time savers.


21 thoughts on “Why do people boost?

  1. I found myself running old low level instances on my 80 lvl char for three main reasons. One was the cloth for rep back when I needed it, second was achievements and third to get some green drops for my alt to DE and level enchanting.

    When I was new I bought a boost in SM for the hat drop, it was basically right after the introduction of the lfg tool, which thought that I had out-leveled SM. With very few ways to look for a party my only choice (I HAD TO GET THE HAT!!!) was to buy a rather expensive boost. I leveled to my 40s on two toons before I figured out that getting a party for low level content was a waste of time.

    My alt got quite a few wispers for legit runs over the weekend so I guess with achievements out if you are planning to get all the PvE achievements it pays to run BRB in a normal party and not as a fresh 80 lvl char.

  2. There ARE some players who really enjoy boosting strangers, how strange it may seem. I was questing in STV with my little druid a while ago, when a lvl 80 DK yelled in capitals in general: “DOES ANYONE NEED HELP”? I surely had a couple of quests where I could need a hand, but I didn’t bother to answer. He probably wanted gold anyway. A minute later I got whispered by him. He really was bored and was desperately looking for some company. So finally I let him help me with a couple of quests, mostly because I pitied him I guess. I wonder if it wasn’t after all I who boosted him (his self confidence) rather than the opposite way?

  3. The ease of travel is one of the reason why mage players often cannot stand to play any other class for longer. 🙂

    I once played a whole weekend guild taxi with my Warlock. I beamed guys to the mage who then opened a town portal. While waiting for transports we were fishing and wondered if our human rogue should not better be a dwarf, as it would be way cooler if a dwarf would fish “The One Ring”. This was in the days when levelling fishing was not as easy as nowadays! 🙂

    I only ran strangers through instances when I already ran a friend, then we picked them up to fill up the party – and only if we liked their nose and they were not in the same or similar class and competing for certain drops we wanted. :>

  4. Nope, I don’t get it either.

    I understand is more in the context of the anecdote you relate – a group of friends helping each other out for mutual benefit. If you’re grinding rep, or finishing off quests, or you *have to get that hat* then boosting makes a degree of sense.

    But as a general practice? I don’t understand where the fun comes from? I find *being* boosted tremendously dull. I mean, you just walk along carefully behind someone picking up stuff. And I find doing the boosting (not that I do all that much of it, what with being a holy priest) equally tedious – although there’s a certain pleasure on splatting enemies miles below you it gets old very quickly.

    I think, in a wider sense, he muses, going off on one, it’s connected to the a lack of distinction between seeing the content and doing the content. Therefore if you have a low level guildie, or a friend, and you have fond memories of SFK or ZF or whatever, you think making them follow your 80 through it will give *them* fond memories as well. This possibly ties into the philosophy behind nerfing certain content – Blizzard wants to the player base to *see* it. Gah!

  5. Despite loving MMO’s I’m really a solo player, so I’ve never run random low levels through instances. My husband & friends are different though, and since I just love revisiting old instances I’m always asking them if they want help with instances or even just questing. My main is a paladin so even just helping their alts get around faster using Crusader Aura can be a help.

    I have been known to help out strangers on occasion when I’ve noticed them struggling, but generally I keep to myself. Anybody doing the “will u run me thru rfk” thing gets either or ignored or a polite “no”, depending on how they ask.

  6. Only boosted a complete stranger once.

    He was really bored all the way through. So he kept running forward and meleeing and getting himself killed. Took about 30 minutes to get 75% of the way through Wailing Caverns. At this stage he promptly announced he was going to dinner and went afk on autofollow just before the bit where you have to jump. I thought what the hell am I doing here and left and put him on ignore when he came back later and started whining. He made an alt to whine at me some more and I ignored that too. He then made another alt, apologised, and asked if I would take his main off ignore and give him another boost.

    I’ve occasionally boosted a RL friend and been boosted in return. Something like the blue bow from Wailing Caverns is a very nice boost to a 19 Hunter and the boostee can wait at the little pool near the entrance while the booster runs to Serpentis, drags him over to the top of the chute and kills him there.

    I think the “Boost me plx I give 10g” guys are just new. They have been told they need 5 other people including some of specific roles OR any one high level person. The latter seems much easier to find than the former.

    I wouldn’t boost anyone now myself partly because I think Gevlon is right here – you’re teaching new players to expect loot without putting any effort in – and partly because it’s actually a really boring way to spend time.

  7. A while ago me and a friend started level 1 alts with the purpose of turning them into twinks. What we did was take turns on our 70’s (at the time) and run each other’s alt through those instances where blue drops are best in slot for the level 19 bracket.

    Later on we joined a twink only guild, where it was common to share the boost-me-i-boost-you technique, for those of us that still needed some gear.

    Could we have done it with the proper level groups? Possibly, but the XP reward was close to 0, so the risk of out-levelling past 19 before the equipment we needed showed up was smaller.

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    • Cynically, I’d say it’s because levelling in MUDs was long, tedious, and annoying. Plus no instances so chilling out in a powerlevelling group was a good way to socialise. MMOs these days make more of a fun game of levelling.

      But it is interesting how player attitudes on stuff like griefing and powerlevelling can vary from game to game (eg. CoH players and PvP griefing). I wonder if the payment model is also involved, but suspect not in this case.

  9. BTW, this happens in Guild Wars, too. Even completely new players, not alts, get the notion that they need someone to “run” them through the game, without playing it themselves.

    I do not get it why people do this. Nobody to group with? Catching up? No idea.

  10. My baby hunter was training skills (and getting her mohawk trimmed) in Orgrimmar once, when a level 70 paladin tossed her a random group invite. I was curious, so I accepted, and the paladin proceded to run me through RFC a few times for no reason other than she thought it was fun.

    My warlock responded to a trade channel ad a few days later from the same paladin. She was looking for netherweave bags, so I gave her a few for free.

    Good karma.

  11. I’m ambivalent about boosting.

    Personally if it’s a class I’ve played, I don’t mind fast xp boosting. But if it’s a class new to me, I’d rather learn to play my class/group with level appropriate people. So I don’t seek boosting.

    I think it’s one reason there are so many fairly incompetent players level 60+ that do not know how to play as they’ve been carried.

    Making twinks (especially for the 10-19s)you really have to boost/be boosted because of the xp gain/gear collection.

    The problem I’ve seen with boosting people – is the truly lazy, ‘I’m on autofollow’ or ‘I’ll be back in sec’ types. Sorry you’re being helped so – stick with it!

    A polite no or ignore seems to work.

    I often wish they’d put level restrictions on instances 15-40 max. it would make people have to play, or do like EQ2 and have mentoring. The level 80 mentors down and is effectively a well geared level appropriate player. They get to revisit instances, but it’s not a cake-walk either!

  12. @Ziboo:

    I think that’s actually a great idea. They already make heirloom gear in WoW that automatically scales based on your character’s level. How hard could it be to make other gear automatically scale based on the level of an instance? Now that would be cool.

    Plus it would mean I’d get to experience all of the instances that I missed by not discovering WoW until earlier this year. 🙂

  13. I am absolutely not a fan of boosting, I have to say. I’ve always hated it ever since it was called ‘power leveling’ back in Everquest. It just breeds bad players and discourages proper grouping.

    It honestly boggles my mind that Blizzard have allowed low level players to still obtain exp when group with super high level ones. They should really just copy EQ2 and invest in a mentoring system, that would be really awesome.

  14. I only really started doing it when I started a new alt recently. Which I was around the point I noticed you could get groups for exactly 4 pre-WotLK instances anymore. RFC, WC, SM and Ramparts. Now, I’m a touch anal retentive and I want to finish quest chains and the fact that it was getting difficult even to get groups to finish class quests anymore had me asking people to run me through stuff.

  15. I’m with Zaphind here. I love boosting players, and I love being boosted myself. But, I don’t care for the word boosted, so I’m going with the terms I use. Power Leveling and Run Throughs.

  16. Put me down as another anti-booster.

    I’ve never understood people who ask for boosts. You don’t need the gear. You’ll get better XP questing, and all you’ll be doing is following some level 80 around.

    The *only* legitimate reason for it I can see is for twinking, where you actually do need best-in-slot gear for low levels.

  17. I’m with Zaphind here. I love boosting players, and I love being boosted myself. But, I don’t care for the word boosted, so I’m going with the terms I use. Power Leveling and Run Throughs.

    Now, I don’t like to get my own characters power leveled, but I do like getting them runs through instances. I don’t like to power level much because I then do not have a full understanding of how to play my class, how to react to certain situations, etc. It’s a personal decision that I don’t feel as confident after being power leveled as I do when most of my leveling is done via normal questing and groups of appropriate level. I like getting my characters run throughs for the sake of getting the gear or farming mats for my professions.

    As was mentioned by Ziboo, I also do this for the sake of getting my twinks geared up without having to push too hard towards my level cap. If you run those instances with characters of the appropriate level then you have that many more people trying to snatch up the same gear you’re going for. I’ve got the full Fang set for a rogue twink in two WC runs, and I ran it with groups on my Druid 5 times and not only did he only get 2 pieces of the set, but he also leveled out of the 19 bracket by doing it.

    As for being on the giving side rather than receiving, I very much enjoy helping out other players. I prefer doing most things in the game solo because that’s just the way I am. I don’t mind running with other people, especially if they are social, I just prefer to do it alone. Spending hours to run through a low level dungeon for gear sucks. The reason you do it is either because you are trying to twink the character, or because you are struggling with questing because of inadequate gear. Getting some upgrades from instances can boost your questing ability quite a bit.

    But some of the most loyal, generous, and helpful friends I have in the game I have because I agreed to run someone through a low level instance. Do I do it for money? No. Do I take money if you are offering to buy a run? Sure. If you want to pay for a service that I’m providing then I’ll let you do it. I’m not going to charge you myself, but if you offer then I accept.

    I will note though that I don’t bother boosting anybody through any instance beyond Uldaman. Once you pass your mid-upper 30’s you’re on your own. That’s the point where you need to learn how to play your class yourself and do your own thing if you’re not going to suck. Level 30 is usually where a character really starts to develop in the specific role you want to fill (tank, heals, dps), and level 40 is where that’s solidified. Those are the levels where you really need to develop a firm grasp of how your class works and what you have to do to fill your role.

    Most of the servers I have been on have very few people looking to group for lower level instances. As was mentioned by other replies above, you can spend 3 hours getting a group together for RFC, WC, SFK, or wherever and get that instance done. Or, you can get a run through that same instance in 10-20 minutes. In some cases yes, it is done for power leveling, but in most cases it is done for loot drops and profession mats.

    I power leveled a paladin on my old server from 28-40 in just a few hours by getting runs through Scarlet Monastery from an 80 hunter in my guild. Full clears of SM:C took 8.5 minutes each, SM:A took just over 4 minutes, and SM:L was about 5.5. So we hit cath 4 times, armory twice, library twice, emptied inventory and then switch to me running him and then back again. It was an extremely effective method of leveling our characters in a short amount of time.

    The reason why we did that was so that we could get gear, levels, and thus better abilities to allow us to go on to 2-man other instances. We cleared Uldaman with just the 2 of us at minimum level. We cleared ZF, we cleared ST, and we were getting ready for Stratholm when I decided to ditch the server. To say that people become bad players because they get ran through low level content is false. A boost is just that, a little boost to get you over a wall. If that’s the primary method of your leveling, then yes you are most likely going to suck unless you already have experience with the class.

    The only time bad players are made from doing this is when they get power leveled through the vast majority of their levels. It’s the reason why most Death Knights suck, they have no experience playing their class until they are already in Outlands. It doesn’t take 80 levels worth of constant grinding on your part to learn your class, but you certainly can’t walk into Northrend having your hand held the whole time and expect to be a good player.

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