I remember participating in my first raid in
style="font-style: italic;">World of Warcraft.
The feverish excitement of finally cracking one of the big instances in
the game had me almost giddy with thoughts of being part of some heroic
undertaking. When we finally started, the raid leader led us through
the instance with constant commands, such as, “Walk up to
this line here, but don’t go over so you don’t
aggro that passing patrol” and “Hug the east wall
so as to avoid the flames that shoot out of the west wall.”
My heroic dreams were dashed on the hard shoals of mundane reality
where epic questing was reduced to following a pattern or making sure
that you only color within the lines. Where was the sense of
exploration and joy of discovery? What about the adrenaline rush of a
sudden ambush where the entire party had to scramble to survive? Sorry,
gamers, but don’t look for such things here. Instead, we just
follow a dull pattern of Step A, Step B, Step C, and so on.
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alt="world of warcraft"
Glad we followed the same old
steps to this boss...yawn.
Why can’t we have dynamic instancing? What if every time we
entered an instance, the layout was different with varying mobs of
creatures? How about having differing loot drops and traps at different
locations? That way, every time we go into an instance, we get that joy
of discovery and our sense of accomplishment is even greater at
conquering it. What is so special about following the same boring
pattern time after time?
What makes this even more frustrating is that we know that dynamic
instancing can be done. Let’s set the Wayback Machine to the
year 1996 when style="font-style: italic;">Diablo
came out. In style="font-style: italic;">Diablo,
we had fixed points for the various dungeon instances, but when you
entered the dungeon, it was randomly generated. The layout, the mobs,
and the loot were all created when you stepped in. The only fixed
feature was the room with the final boss, and even that room was
randomly located on a fixed level. If the big boss was to be found on
level three, then his fixed room was always on level three, but you
didn’t know style="font-weight: bold;">where
it was to be found on that level as it was randomly placed.
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Random layout of a
The creatures you fought in each dungeon could vary each time you
entered the dungeon. That was a great feature that allowed for a large
amount of replayability. Fight mostly skeletons the first time around?
The next time you might fight zombies or wraiths! Plus, the placement
of the mobs would vary due to the random layout of the dungeon. Even
later games, such as style="font-style: italic;">Left 4 Dead,
have random mobs of zombies if the game’s AI thinks that the
party is taking their time or spending too much time in one location.
In addition, the location of weapons and ammo is slightly randomized in
4 Dead, where each level has
several locations where those supplies might be found.
All of this brings us to today. There are no dynamic instances to be
found in the popular MMOGs, only static instances that never change.
Why? To quote the style="font-style: italic;">Six Million Dollar Man,
“We have the technology.” I know that many people
will cry about balance issues and carefully constructed encounters, but
I say bullcrap to that! Did style="font-style: italic;">Diablo
II come off as unbalanced?
The answer is no! Sometimes you could be overwhelmed, but you could
then run away. Plus, the difficulty of the creatures scaled with the
number of players as well as the quality of the loot drops.
It’s despicable that we can’t apply features from a
game that’s style="font-weight: bold;">15 YEARS OLD
to games made today.
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alt="dungeons and dragons online"
Wouldn't it be awesome if
traps were randomly placed? It'll keep you on your toes!
I know that graphics have improved since 1996, but the increased
graphic detail does not render dynamic instancing impossible. A solid
design could easily incorporate the ability to pair up high-end graphic
templates with compatible templates. An example would be a large airy
chamber that is domed should have a very low chance to lead to a
cramped narrow hallway, but more likely to other large chambers. Plus,
we could also incorporate random traps (even though only href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/ddo"> style="font-style: italic;">Dungeons and Dragons
really uses traps on a regular basis) to keep the parties on their
toes. Random placements of mobs, with the chance of spawning a larger
mob if large area-affect spells such as fireballs are used.
Would you rather go into an instance where the layout was different
each time you entered, along with a variation of the creatures to be
encountered therein rather than go into the same plodding instance
where you just follow a pattern to get through? Personally, my choice
would be for the dynamic instance. Instead of hugging a wall to avoid
aggro in a large chamber, wouldn’t it be more exciting that
as you crossed a chamber, crossbow traps were triggered that shot bolts
from one of the room’s walls? The triggering of the trap
captures the attention of the patrol in the room that then attack the
party. A few lightning bolts and fireballs are unleashed on the foes,
which then triggers a fresh mob of reinforcements to pour into the
room. After the fight, you come to an intersection in the
hallway…do you go left or right? Which way to the lair of
the dungeon’s lord? There’s only way to find out,
and that is to explore.
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It makes me want to weep that
we've had the ability for dynamic instances for 15 years!
We could have all of what I just described if game companies
wouldn’t take the easy way out of designing instances, and we
players willing to accept the same old repetitive dungeons of old. We
have the ability to create fully dynamic instances and we’ve
had it for fifteen years! Don’t you think it’s
about time we use the technology to really enhance the gameplay of
today’s MMOGs rather than lame attempts to redo crafting or
skill trees? The core of any game is questing in a dungeon or instance,
and that is where we should demand the change from a static environment
to a dynamic one. My God, there are still people avidly playing style="font-style: italic;">Diablo II,
which came out in 2000. If you make it, they will come, but not only
that, they will stay.
Agree with me or think I’m just a grouchy old bastard? Let me
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