The WWI is up, and the WoWInsider coverage is interesting, especially the non-linearity of instances.

The Burning Crusade offered us many instances to run, either as levelling - which many of us skipped, having never personally stepped foot in half of Auchindon until downing half of SSC - or as level 70 instances, with the heroic versions to attempt to keep interest and allow "raid"-level gear to be acquired in a small group environment allowing anyone with sufficient time and gear level to reach T4.5, T5.5 gear through Badges of Justice. These instances are however rather boring, maybe because we spend so much time here for the rewards, badge gear is viable, and often the best in slot for many "hybrid" classes and especially for "off-spec" talent builds. You run the same dungeon, with the same enemies (with a small variation in each group normally barring set mobs) and in the same way, the dungeon layout is always the same.

Diablo II allowed semi-dynamic dungeons, the world layout changed slightly, and this made it more replayable, imagine entering Shattered Halls and being presented with a truly epic citadel, long passage ways, rooms, large swathes of monsters and bosses. Within the same instance you could have multiple paths, the easy long trash filled path, the short brutal path through the elite's barracks or the stealth path with chaining patrols, one mistake and you become swamped by mobs. Of course removing the linearity of an instance does not help with replayability, eventually you will have done every path, many times, and pull like there is no tomorrow along the best path for your group. This is where randomness comes in, different groups, different patrols and to an extend entirely different fights within the citadel, the layout of the citadel can be relatively constant, there are paths between bosses with the final gauntlet section on the timer being the most fixed to ensure its possible, Blizzard knows the pull distances of mobs, it knows the relatively difficulty of mobs combined with the size of groups, setting this up to be generated would not be that difficult, processor intensive for a short while yes, but interesting yes.

Bosses can also be random, clearly not totally, rushing through Shattered Halls to find Kargath went out for a while, but his Lieutenant is there, but doesn't drop the axe... well that would be terrible, most people play the game with a purpose, being foiled through a resettable mechanic seems wrong considering the effect this has from MgT, the third boss's adds can with some groups present an insurmountable issue to progression, step outside and reset it. Instead something more like the Opera event on early bosses, which of Kargath's Lieutenants will you encounter, or even a boss that paths the whole instance, requiring you to fall back and engage, or even having to fight him while engaging other enemies, multiple tanks and healers within a 5 man becomes possible if you have to engage multiple groups that cannot be held by 1. This was demonstrated well in MgT, its not to say that its a nice instance, frankly normal is set on a difficulty with most heroics, and heroic is not really much harder if played correctly, what it does offer is a multiple options.

Taking MgT, the first boss is tanked, spanked and his fight mechanics ignored, not dpsing the crystals has no real downside beyond him not attacking for longer, and his aoe going on longer, the Steam Vaults encounter like this, missing the tanks is a problem, even in T4.5-T5 gear 2 tanks missed will nearly kill me, 3 basically guarantees my death. The second varies based on your healer and group composition, can you rush him, ice blocking and aoe healing, do you go slowly and let the buffs disappear or do you combine the two, the healer and group setup dictate the fight's progression, but in no way restrict its completion, its a hard but in many ways perfect fight as it requires thought and focus to down. Skipping the third fight we have Kael'thas Sunstrider, in many ways harder than his Tempest Keep version as the Phoenix is nearly a guaranteed wipe if left up, again though the fight has interesting mechanics and changes slightly based on group setup. The third boss though is the key, firstly it has no tank (well you can tank Delrissa, but she resets aggro too much for it to be really viable), however her adds completely change the fight, going from soft, to insane. Of course the encounter is actually badly tuned, a bad add setup or minimal CC often results in a failed run or swapping out, but the principle is good, a dynamic fight, one which you need to identify threats, cannot tank in the traditional way and forces people to react and depend on each other. This is the key to real replayability in dungeons to my mind, a fight in a dungeon that has a large number of possibilities, with a unique gimmick (untankable in this instance) that forces you to work around a traditional 1 tank, 1 healer, 2 dps and the 5th man group composition.

You then have the heroic mode, the older heroics seem less tuned than MGT, but they are a good example still, they are more difficult than a normal version of that instance, however in so doing they present a level of attainment that is not forced upon normal players, my groups can clear any heroic in under an hour, often making 20-30 minute runs, however for groups just starting the instances, and the heroic once you have the gear need to be viable and completable. This is where I think there needs to be a change like MgT, the gear available from the normal and Heroics do not really overlap, my warlock is still trying to find a group for normal to go and acquire the cloak, a T4-5 player with an incentive to run normal instances is good, it draws the player base back together and offers help through what can often be a difficult transition for players, moving from solo-play to instances and from levelling instances to normal and heroic end-game instances. The tips and tricks still apply, they just need to be passed on. The same is true though for heroics, they are too easy once you reach a certain level of gear, what would be interesting is the same mechanic applied to Zul'aman and Shattered Halls, timers.

Timers don't increase the difficulty of an instance, the bosses and trash remain the same, what they do offer however is a benefit to completing quickly (besides the obvious time benefits), extra loot, and they stress a higher level group, its no longer a case of take each pull nicely, wait for mana, full health, it becomes a survival race, can I pull at 50% healer mana and survive, can the dps keep drinking while I build threat to let them go full out while I take a break mid fight? These would actively draw higher end players into heroics again, the reward could simply be extra badges from the end bosses, or as with Shattered halls some primals and pots, it doesn't have to be big, but something attractive to players. You could even present rare lootables, ultra-rare world drops, or anything in these runs, they are only accessible by high end players, their rewards can be minimally better than anything else, but its a draw into the instance, and it gives people something to aim for.

So really what would be interesting, generated dungeons tend to be worse than hand crafted ones for obvious reasons, but a partially generated and partially hand crafted dungeon with multiple paths, a variety of boss fights and differences between runs would be a wonderful addition, no longer is it "that long corridor to Kargath for my 5 badges thank you", its a Citadel, with patrols, bunk houses, and bosses we need to think about the encounter with. Adding a proper heroic / normal split to ensure both get run, and a function such as a timer to make it more interesting and to try and push groups would add a significant draw to many players like myself, those that enjoy the small end game as much as the large, enjoy helping, but would like to really be pushed, be it in 5 man, 10 man or 25 man raids, give us the option to make it as hard as it can be, no one will complain that a bear is seconds away from your Zul'aman group, instead you look to shave off those seconds and win the bear.

Hopefully we will see something like this in the future, true epic scale and replayability, but with a decent volume of content, it does force auto-generated content on us, but it would make life more interesting.

5 comments:

Larísa said...

Oh I would love what you're describing. Adding timer and different sorts of things to keep the instance interesting, even as you progress by gearing up. I recently did Durnhold on heroic mode for the first time - I had heard it would be really hard and challanging, and was almost a bit disappointed we completed it so easily. It's just that we're overgeared for the 5 man instances nowadays, waiting for new challanges in the expansion.
Tuning them for several levels of difficulty sounds like a great idea.

At the same time I must admit that I rarely get tired or bored with any instance. Even if they linear it's really never exactly the same. The group you're going with is rarely identical, that's what makes the game so fascinating. Just like performing arts. You'll never do inte exaclty the same way as last nigt.

Zupa said...

Some great ideas there Nin!

There are some technical obstacles to overcome of course, but surely Bliz can just throw money at them until they come up with a solution?

I like the timer mechanics currently in the game, and the randomly generated add combinations such as in MgT, and agree that expanding on those should help keep things lively. If a timed run, for example, was tuned so that only the best geared and most skilled groups could crack it in the minimum time, but there was a range of time windows you could finish in to score different loot... That would give you something to aim for, a reason to come back, and as you get better at it, and the group begins to gel more effectively, you could really make some serious gains in terms of time, netting you the epic loots!

I like it!

Something else that I enjoyed in TBC was the outdoor instances like Old Hillsbrad Foothills. Was just a bit different to the standard zone into a big underground cave with lots of bugs and things to kill.

Moar plz!

Christopher said...

I see that as part of the problem Larisa, the groups I normally run with have reached the gear level where it doesn't matter what the pull is (well :P we didn't care even when we weren't overgeared, we just wiped more). Its easily possible to reach a gear level where you can pull 2-3 groups of mobs and not worry about it, shattered halls we wait for the patrols now, so I take enough damage to build threat :P.

With something like the approach to murmur though in SL you have something else entirely, you can time it right, and go slowly clearing each group (which is the right tactic really since the summoners are actually quite dangerous), however you could expand that, on a timer run you need to pull the corridor at once, taking advantage of the mobs running in 1 at a time but chain pulling a whole corridor, or an area where you can sneak by using a hard route (which is conversely easy on mobs) on time, or you can plow through the barracks to get the boss and his chests.

Applying things like these also allows you to break up the traditional 1 tank 1 healer group, maybe there are a large group of mobs immune to aoe (so single targetted down), so your tank runs in and body pulls down the corridor, your off tank and group then need to slowly clear the hallway before your mt runs out of health, again it gets harder with a timer :P

Outdoor instances are a lot harder to provide meaningful random generation too since they are normally taking place in a well known area, however like a first person shooter your group could spawn in different places, and using scout mechanics like za force either a slow methodical approach, a stealth approach or indeed the Leroy approach.

Its not to say Blizzard did badly, the instances look good and are well balanced, but being able to imagine entering the stockades and descending through 4 levels (linked dungeons?) to reach the prisoners, taking different directions through it, you can even make a shifting dungeon make sense in terms of lore using something like Dalaran "The prisons beneath Dalaran were unusual, to escape them you needed to know your own mind, and that of anyone you brought with you, the jailors were as much prisoners as keepers".

Thing is I can also see Blizzard pulling this off much better than say the random dungeon generators which just chain features together, having the bosses, or a variety of bosses spawned, as the core features of the dungeons and altering them slightly - "The hellfire citadel was a massive affair, a limitless number of passages led from the entrance to the central tower, however from there only one path led to the bladefist". Actually that would be scary, Kargath Bladefist potentially wandering his instance, having to fight him in a non-ideal location or withdrawing (can have him re-spawn patrols to encourage you to fight at the earliest opportunity), imagine having to fight the bladefist as the gladiators watched? Movement off that small area pulls them, so there is a new challenge, yet a less experienced / geared group can simply wait for him to pass, or reach "safe areas" and resume pulling him to the area he is designed to be engaged.

Perhaps a thought for the future.

Anh Nam said...

Vùng mắt nơi hoạt động nhiều tiếp xúc nhiều môi trường bên ngoài cho nên cần được bảo vệ và chăm sóc. Chọn kem dưỡng da vùng mắt hiệu quả an toàn
hôm nay chúng tôi megavita chia sẻ cho các bạngiúp chọn kem dưỡng trắng da mặt hiệu quả
dưỡng da mặt được hiệu quả và an toàn là điều mà các chị em quan tâm. Nên tham khảo thêm chia sẻdưỡng da mặt hiệu quả và kinh nghiệm chọn mua kem
Lựa chọn kem dưỡng da nào tốt nêu bạn cần có thể tham khảo thêm tạikinh nghiệm lựa chọn kem dưỡng trắng da
Megavita chúng tôi xinchia sẻ cách chonh mua kem dưỡng da mặt
Vung mắt hay bị nhăn hôm nay chia sẻcách chống nhăn vùng mắt hiệu quả

An Binh said...

Kem xoài được khá nhiều người yêu thích vì nó ít ngọt hơn các loại kem khác. Dưới đây là 3 cách làm kem xoài
Sau đây chuyên mục món ăn ngon xin hướng dẫn cách làm sữa chua từ sữa tươi, cách làm sữa chua từ sữa đặc ngon tại nhà. Với những hướng dẫn chi tiết sau. Mong rằng sẽ cung cấp cho bạn được cách làm sữa chua
Đứa trẻ nào cũng bị “hút hồn” bởi “ma lực” của kem chuối, ngay cả người lớn cũng vậy. Vậy cách làm kem chuối thơm ngon như thế nào để ôtủ lạnh nhà bạn luôn có món kem chuối khoái khẩu?Sau đây chúng tôi chia sẻ cách làm kem chuối
Không chỉ là một loại dầu đa năng, phát huy tốt tác dụng trong việc chăm sóc sức khỏe, chế biến các món ăn hàng ngày, dầu dừa còn có công dụng làm đẹp da rất hiệu quả mà không phải ai cũng biết. Chính vì vậy, trong thời gian gần đây, rất nhiều chị em trở nên “cuồng” loại mỹ phẩm tự nhiên này nhờ hiệu quả làm đẹp vượt trội mà nó mang lại. Vậy dưỡng da bằng dầu dừa
Tác dụng của dầu dừa trong việc làm đẹp rất tuyệt với và được rất nhiều chị em phụ nữ tin dùng. Tuy nhiên, không phải ai cũng nắm được cách làm và tác dụng của loại thần dược này, hãy cùng khám phá cách làm đẹp bằng dầu dừa
Dầu dừa là một loại thảo dược vô cùng tốt cho sức khóe,cũng như công cuộc làm đep của chị em phụ nữ.Nó được làm từ hoàn toàn tự nhiên,không độc hại,nhưng cách sử dụng dầu dừa đúng cách
Dầu dừa là dược phẩm rất tuyệt vời để làm đẹp da, hạn chế rạn da, nám da hay tắm trắng. Bạn hoàn toàn có thể tự làm dầu dừa tại nhà để có được dầu dừa nguyên chất cho nhu cầu của mình. Chúng tôi sẽ hướng dẫn 2 cách làm dầu dừa