Ok, in general I will be updating this blog weekly. But, since we just started and everyone is all excited right now... here is a second post for the 12-15 of you who actually follow the link to this blog. Enjoy!
Answer this question for me, "How can you make an encounter more difficult and/or interesting for our players?" I have to believe that this question has been asked numerous times by countless gaming companies over the years. And yet, it seems that only ONE answer has prevailed through them all. It goes something like this, "I know... lets give the monster MORE hitpoints, and... put MORE monsters in!"
This seems to be the solution to all of your problems when designing a more interesting, or more difficult, encounter. One might be tempted to say, "Surely this cannot be the case after 10 YEARS of design!". But, one would be so very, very wrong.
I know that each game has its own little variety, and some boss encounters contain some interesting tidbits here and there, but when you get down to it, what separates an Epic encounter from a Daily encounter usually consists of the Number of Mobs you have to kill and the Number of Hitpoints on those mobs.
I often wonder... why can't the mobs sheep/mez/stun/CC us? Why can't they see who is healing and focus on that person? Why can't they move, root, dodge, break LOS? Why do they just get more HP and more Adds?
Because it is easier for the Devs, thats why. Games like Counterstrike have proved that human-scripted AI's can actually move and "think" pretty well even in the FPS genre. There is no reason, then, that games like WoW that use completely instanced content for 5-10 man raids could not have the same types of AI. Its not like the Devs would have to create a script that responds to 100 different inputs... just 5 or 10.
Now, some people might say, "But... if the mobs could mez/stun/root and focus on healers and such, then it would be too HARD." Sure, that would be true IF you kept everything else constant. If you don't allow MORE ways to break things like mez/stun/root, if you don't allow more ways to taunt/distract mobs, if you don't bring the HP/Mana on the mobs more in line with what players have, then sure... it would be near impossible.
But, if you have SMARTER monsters, then you don't have to pump them up with ridiculous amounts of HP and Mana. When a team of 6 attacks a group of 6 mobs it would be more like attacking 6 other players... making the Strategy and Response the key to victory... not just the perfect mix of characters who are able to repeat the right set of moves necessary to kill Type X-1 mob.
Some games claim that their AI is going to be new, dynamic, etc... and I hope that they can pull it off. But, if history of design is anything to go by, then AI will get smarter by getting beefier.