This is in response to Vajuras' excellent post. Please read at http://mmorpg.com/blogs/vajuras/102007/598_Optimization-Patterns-and-Routine
Is the way Hellgate:London and Dungeon Runners operate truly dynamic or is it merely random?
Let's say you have a level range for an encounter/instance. Let's say it's 7-10. So, the "randomness" occurs as follows. All enemies within the encounter are assigned point values. The total point value for all enemies in the encounter has to add up to a certain number. That magic number is based off of what a level 7-10 player should be able to defeat.
So one time through you may have tons of level 7 mobs but only a few level 10. Next time it could be less total mobs, but more of them towards the level 9-10 range.
Get what I'm saying? Is that truly dynamic or just controlled randomness?
To me, "dynamic" means that it alters the encounter based off of your character's build, your group compisition and size, the level range of your group members/your own level, the mean level of your equipment, etc.
Only level 7 but have twinked out uber level 7 gear? Have a "optimized" high DPS build? Have 3 people in your group instead of 4?
A truly "dynamic" encounter would be able to collect allllll of these variables and alter the difficulty and symantecs accordingly.
Is this possible? I think it definetely is, but it would require a lot of programmer leg work.
So why do it? Because then the game wouldn't require optimal builds and maxed out stats etc. but instead be custom tailored to your character/group and you'd win based off of your skill, coordination, and effort... You'd have to use what you have to the best possible advantage instead of pre-loading your group for success.
Not because you "prepared" enough before hand by farming the "right" equipment, finding the "right" group members, and using the "right" build.
This way, every encounter and every instance run would be different. No optimization and memorization. That's all WoW raiding is, trust me. Optimizing your party layouts and configurations, optimizing your stats/talent build to fit your role, then memorizing and repeating the content. Over and over.
But what if it was different every time? No longer would you have to call a raid off because you don't have enough of X class or somebody of Y class is the wrong build.
But why stop there?
Make the encounter different if you run it during the game's day cycle then if you ran it during the night.
Make different difficulty levels, where the "magic number" the game tweaks the encounter to is set to a different lowest common denomenator. So from our previous 7-10 level range encounter, "easy" mode is based off an average level of 7, "standard" mode is based off an average level of 8-9, and "hard" mode based off a level 10 average.
Games like WoW have done random events and situations in raids. Like the final boss of Karazahn, the Prince guy, where his Infernals that fall from the sky land in random locations. Sometimes, this random spawning can and will destroy even the best raiding group. That's no fun. You can't over come that kind of randomness.
Dungeon Runners is all random dungeons. Not a bad start. From what I hear, Hellgate: London is very much the same way.
But why stop at random?
Why not make them truly dynamic.