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Nerd Rage! It’s 2011, Where the Hell is My Dynamic Instancing?

Posted Thu, Jul 07, 2011 by jeffprime

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I remember participating in my first raid in 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.

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 Diablo came out. In 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 where it was to be found on that level as it was randomly placed.

diablo
Random layout of a dungeon...holy crap!

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 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 Left 4 Dead, where each level has several locations where those supplies might be found.

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