Where is the Contest in Contested Mobs?
Your group makes its way down a darkened cold hallway, as the air
smells of death. Creature after creature is slain, as
you draw closer to the nefarious boss leading this evil army against
you. Your healer struggles to keep your group alive but the
injuries do nothing to deter you from moving to the large room at the
end of the hallway. "I'm going to check it out." your
Assassin or Ranger declares as they stealthily slip into the bosses
room. Your palms sweat, and your heart beats faster while
you prepare to face the menace standing between you and the completion
of a Heritage quest. Seconds feel like hours as you wait to
hear the Scout report on what you'll be facing but out of nowhere the
cry arises "Camped!" It's happened to everyone at some
point, especially veteran players of older MMO's.
Contested creatures and dungeon areas have long been an issue of MMO
players. Some players take it in stride and accept it as a
necessary evil to ensure a proper content mechanic. Others
proceed to complain relentlessly about it on the forums as "unfair"
(and believe me your rants are seen if nothing else by the other
posters). So the question remains on how to deal with contested
content On one hand you have the player who dedicates 30+ hours a
week and feels that the time they put into defeating contested content
gives them a "right" to better treasure, quest, etc. On the
other hand you have the casual player, who has become a significant
part of the player base, that feels excluded because they are unable to
put the time in to experience the contested content.
Raid Isn't Just for Roaches
No other word in MMO terminology makes me cringe more. If it
isn't apparent at this point, I will admit I do very little in the way
of raiding in Everquest 2 primarily because it's hard for me to raid if
I have died of boredom. Yes, I played in an age of raids where
you'd stand around for 2-3 hours just getting together enough people to
kill a dragon. You had to kill this dragon, of course, because one
person needed a piece of skin for their "Uber Epic Flaming Sword of
Death 1.25" and this weapon was the best there was.
Of course they never told you that there were always 4 more dragons to
kill after this one and that their super weapon would be obsolete in
less than a year. What does it matter though, right?
It was just your time.
Some creatures had such a ridiculous respawn time that some sad
people would actually form "lists" to schedule the killing of these
rare monsters. I don't know about you but I have trouble
penciling in a raid without at least 2 to 3 weeks notice. I never
did ask what would happen if someone didn't adhere to the
schedule. I guess you could have been black balled by the Raiders
Association and lost your list priveleges but fortunately times have
More troublesome to me, these raids were always frequently run by a
player with a "commander" personalilty. When they spoke in
the raid chat I always envisioned them standing in front of a large
American flag pacing back and forth to the sound of drums.
announce encouraging things such as:
"Tonight many of you will die but you have a greater purpose."
"We have to stay coordinated in order to defeat this."
"RadarX please stop giving me the /rude emote while I'm talking."
Then you always have that one person that isn't paying attention to
anything that is being said. They will be standing in the
wrong place, casting an AoE through the walls, all the while opening
doors to let additional creatures you don't want in the room and
chatting about what DVD they just bought.. I've always
referred to them as the "chaos factor" and they are usually the first
person to die but I digress.
Raid competition had a part in the development of instances but on a
smaller scale so did the average every day group.
Are We There Yet? How Much Longer?
In small groups it was very viable and frequent that you seek out a
rare creature in a dungeon. This is the rare spawn that gave you
that wonderful piece of gear that allowed you to levitate or look like
a dark elf. Your group fought its way down to a certain point in
the dungeon and the creature could be dispatched with a small number of
people. Sounds easier? Sure it was. The
problem lies in the fact that the creature only spawns once every three
hours. I've literally made stew in the crock pot waiting
for a creature to spawn once. These types of groups required much
less coordination and more in the way of "being able to stay awake long
Many times these types of groups are coordinated by the "ambitious
player" who wants to hold the room where the creature you are after
spawns in but hold every other room on the entire level as well.
This often leads to chaos, in some rare cases missing the creature you
were after, and me calling this person names involving "monkey anatomy"
and "feminine products."
Content in an Instance
What has the MMO industry done to combat this problem?
Increased spawn times, while semi-effective, only lead to people "loot
farming" and still ousting the casual player. Eventually,
an idea was
hatched to transport a group or raid group to a static dungeon that no
one else has access too. These "instances" provided uncontested
content and gave people who orindarily wouldn't be able to experience a
"raid" or a "dungeon crawl" the opportunity.
These instances provide a lag free zone that casual gamers and
raiders alike could utilize. There would be no "camping" or
"ganking of quest mobs" as the dungeon would be created for the group
entering it and no one else. Instancing also removed those
players from larger zones that could already be heavily
populated. Most importantly, however, it would alow this
"casual" player base whose wives only let them play on Friday nights to
experience more content.
There are a few negative aspects of instancing. Primarily, it
segregates groups, and makes the game feel less "massively" multi-player
and more "Xbox" multi-player. There is also the potential
for players to redo instances repeatedly for easy experience and loot
which takes away from the challenge of the game. MMO makers have
tried to combat this with "lock out"
times that prevent reentry within a certain period of time but it still
promotes the "single player" feeling at times..
It seems the idea of instancing has been welcomed by every MMO in
some form or another. It appears to be a efficent and productive way to
provide content to all
players. There will always be players who demand the
contested content with good reason, but these instances seem to be a
wise step in the right direction and here to stay.
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