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Innovation : What if ...

I'm amazed at the number of things that are not in most MMOs. Player Housing, Non-Instanced Dungeons, Why everything is Tiered and no one gets to experience dungeons like Blackwing Lair at the appropriate level.

Author: azmundai

What if? ... 1st Edition

Posted by azmundai Saturday July 23 2011 at 5:35AM
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Lets start this all off with a broad topic and we can start getting into details in later entries. So, you've killed the big ogre eating all of the fish in the lake that makes up most of the zone you are in and the poor old guy you helped be able to fish again tells you there is a girl in the next town over that needs your help. Tired of the particular pallete of pixels you have been beating around in for the past two hours you happily make your way over to Annonymous zone #23312 to bash some pixels of another color.


Why ... that is the question. I haven't played a single game that has anything more than some small token quest that sends you back to some zone to talk to some dude isolated off in a corner which may or may not spawn a mob of higher level than the 1000s of mobs that makeup that zone.

Levels is one issue, but I don't really want to get into that at this point. I am really intrigued by the idea of a level-less MMO .. but it has been done at least in some ways so we will leave that for a more indepth discussion later on. It is however good to note that levels is a big obstacle, perhaps one of the only obstacles.

The one thing that really baffles me is that no recent MMO has really tried to address this especially given the obvious fact that even Blizzard struggles to release enough new content to really keep people interested without having to resort to things like daily quests and endlessly grinding the same 5 mans over and over and over again. This is fine for a lot of people, and I am not bashing it. Heck, I have done it .. and at least fooled myself into believing I enjoyed it. Seriously though I do enjoy it to an extent, but I would enjoy it a lot more if somehow every instance in WoW was miraculously scaled to my level.

Scaling Dungeons

So why isn't this done? Is it really too hard? If given that a game is to have levels, is it really that hard to have rescaled versions of dungeons available? I can only guess it is. I can only guess that the brain trust we currently reside under has contemplated this very thing and deemed it not possible .. or not feasible. I can't help but wonder why that is though. I mean it's not like all of the mobs aren't fairly regrugitated as it is. While the gene pool has expanded quite a bit, there is still usually a detaunt mob in the isntance, a "kings" pack of bosses of some kind, and especially in 5 mans a lot of the bosses are very similar to bosses of previous expansions at least.Often times even bosses in the same expansion have similar mechanics. So why not copy/paste mechanics more and at least we have different skins and dungeon layouts to play in. Shadow Labs anyone? Shattered Halls? Blackrock Spire? Man I miss those places.

I have to ssume it's not a loot issue. With the badge system firmly in place and spreading soon to an MMO near you, this can't be the issue. Just grab an old graphic, add some STR and take away some AGI .. and blamo .. more content!! Most of it's garbage loot anyway. When's the last time you picked up an upgrade from a dungeon run? Honestly? About 2 weeks after the expansion?

Which brings me to the next idea surrounding all of this. These dungeons don't have to be ready for lvl 90s when the expansion hits. We are all going to be wanting to try out the new dungeons, not rehashed Deadmines :) ... but lets face it, rehashed Deadmines is fun. Was fun .. i'm actually not currently playing "that game" and don't see myself returning .. but that's beside the point.


The other big obstacle is the zones. This is a tough one. In today's instanced worlds / 5-10 levels per expansion environment I am not sure how one would address this. One thing is for certain to me though ... what a waste of pixels. It's a mind job figuring this one out. If it's so easy to make game art that you can throw away entire zones 1-2 levels at a time, then why are there so few new dungeons? Is it the scripting? The testing? Isn't most testing done for free these days? It's hard for me to understand this. Is it simply that there is no other solution?

Take Rift for example. Why not have random endgame group and raid rifts opening up all over the place? The mobs can all stay in the nice little bubble, under the swirling vortex thingie. Sure you would have a few noobs running up to do a faceplant, but just code something in that brings down a little angle to rez them if they are 10 levels below the mobs and don't give them a durability hit.

Taking it a bit furter, so some noobs get manhandled. If there is a real fear they will cancel, then so be it, but what if ... What if each zone was expanded to have a lot of side quests and a few more quest hubs. The point being that if a quest hub or area gets overrun by level 60 elites in a level 20 zone, there are plenty of other places to go to level. You put a zone cap of some kind so that only 1 area can be taken over at a time .. and allow level 60 elites to swarm lower level areas.

Again, it's something else to do. The pixels .. they are different colors!! I think that would help a lot. Something has to be done to break the monotiny of farming CC for some chest piece so your "friends" will let you raid with them.

As a final thought on Rift and zones. I would like to see zone events that are tiered to higher levels. So when a zone event pops up in Freemarch, there is an objective for level 10s, an objective for level 20s and an objective for level 30s. The higher level stuff again would be designated to a small area .. but it would again, bring higher levels back to lower level zones.

I remember thinking this kind of thing when running around Warcraft zones in vanilla. The lvl 20 elven area I can't remember the name of it .. there was a lot of extra space on the outskirts of that zone. Would have been cool to have some lvl 60 seamonster pop up once in a while. They did this with Azshara and the blue dragon raid boss, and later with the green dragons, Kazzak, and some others but for some reason the idea seems to have stagnated towards Ring of Blood or whatever .. /boring


Well, there isn't one. Not entirely anyway. What I would say in conclusion though is please share your thoughts. I would like to do a second entry on this topic once I get an idea of what some others think. Either way, a major fantasy of mine is to be able to do Blackwing Lair again, as intended, Defense caps with shild blocks and all. It really is a shame how many people don't know what burning adrenaline is .. how many people don't -really- know what burning adrenaline is. writes:
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