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Scaling up the instances

July 24, 2010
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It has been brought to my attention recently that Lord of the Rings Online (another MMO that I’m sure you’ve all at least heard of, if not played at some point) has recently implemented a feature that allows for the scaling of their dungeons. Their reasoning was along the lines of:

We have great content that the majority of players aren’t in a level band for, and the players who want to play it are left with something not in their level range and an unrewarding experience as a result.

This is all fair enough, WoW suffers from the same problem. Throughout WoW’s long history, Blizzard have been continually adding raids and dungeons to the game. Some are large and sprawling that mimic entire zones like Zul’Gurub, some are tiny spawn based rooms like Violet Hold. There’s generally only a few instances that any one player could pick out as ‘I really, really never want to run that place again.’ Often the reasoning behind that isn’t in the design of the instance itself.

For example, Oculus’s design concept is sound enough. However, the majority of 80’s have it hardwired into their heads that Oculus is not worth even trying with, and that was a illusion brought on by the kind of player who can’t read three buttons and work out what they do. I hope these people never reroll, they wouldn’t get out of the starting zone. In the case of the Oculus, it’s the players that have given the place a hard rep.

To give another example, most of the people I’ve spoken to about it despise Sunken temple for its maze-like qualities and multi-tiered style. I find it irritating for this reason, and prefer my dungeons linear and friendly, with an exit portal at the end.

It’s only the few and the difficult that players ring as ‘bad instances.’ Whether that’s a fair judgement or not, it does mean that there’s a lot of other instances left around that players would maybe do once or twice whilst levelling, and then never again. Classic places like Wailing Caverns, with its echoey music (which for some reason, always makes me think of a swimming pool) and its Deviate theme. Classic places like the four wings of the Scarlet monastery, with their tricky mobs, unusual trash pulls, and fun/hidden bosses.

Imagine if WoW made it so that all of the dungeons, from RFC to the Arcatraz, scaled with your level. It could work in a similar way to heirlooms. Or the new Cataclysm spell ranking system. Already Blizzard have programmed in for things to determine what level you are, and alter accordingly. They could make it even easier on themselves, and bracket it like the Battlegrounds are done. Mobs from 12-18, bosses at 19. Loot from the bosses is 15-19. Loot from your grab bag at the end is perfectly scaled to your level, class and spec. Just take those figures and insert a 2, 3 or whatever to bring it up to the bracket you’re interested in. Try an 8, for example. Imagine at 85, after you’ve levelled through broken Azeroth and tried all the new dungeons, you resign yourself that you’ll be grinding those 11 or so places for Badges and Gear until the spark and awe that made them amazing is crushed behind a wall of unskilled puggers and repetitive boredom. Imagine if, instead, you had the option to visit the 51 or so old world dungeons, scaled up to level 85 heroic. Imagine if you were getting your badges off The Glutton in Razorfen downs, and getting your 85 epics off the Shade of Eranikus. The pool of possibilities would be endless, and you’d be hard pressed to get bored with all those different places.

Another interesting point – they’re already working on bringing Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep up to level 85 heroic dungeons. This might be a test of the waters to see how people react to being able to run old content at 85…

-Zal

All credit for drawing this to my attention goes to the lovely Miss Riccah.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. July 24, 2010 9:07 am

    Absolutely brilliant idea tbh, although some instances like RFC would have to have scaling of boss mechanics too to prevent people from only queueing for simple tank and spank instances and preventing ones that actually have tactics.

    • July 24, 2010 10:00 am

      Yeah, there’s enough Lava in that place for them to have fun with knockback bosses :p

  2. Riccah permalink
    July 25, 2010 9:24 am

    Another things in Lotro that made this seem really interesting is the way they give quests. It’s similar to the way that Blizzard used to do the daily quest system, by pulling random quest from the list of daily quest possibilities. But in Lotro, when you enter a dungeon of your choice and level range, 3 things happen: a random quest is pulled from the big hat of quests FOR THAT DUNGEON ONLY that you can complete as a group, a random quest is generated THAT IS PERSONALIZED for you only (every other person in the group will get another completely random quest) which could be something like kill x foozles in the dungeon, AND last but not least, a CHALLENGE is randomly created for the group which is comparable to a heroic verson/hard mode for a certain boss. It could be anything like Kill x boss without using the aid of whatever (a la Freya or Hodir) or defeat x Boss within the time limit of x minutes after engaging boss 1 (a la like the weekly quest in ICC with BPC and BQL). And all these 3 optional things are created UPON ENTERING the instance.
    Another thing Zal didnt mention is the fact that besides the dungeon scaling to your level, you may also choose the scale for the party: SOLO MODE (if you wish to defeat the dungeon by yourself), DUO MODE (specifically scaled for a party of 2), SMALL FELLOWSHIP MODE (half a party, ie. 3 people), FELLOWSHIP MODE (the normal size, ie. 6 people) or RAID MODE (12 people, but they have only done this for a range of the higher level dungeons), so this makes for even MORE choice and replayability.

    • July 25, 2010 11:33 am

      Yeah, it’d be a bit odd to be doing ICC solo in the morning and 25 man in the evening, or similar…

      With the quests as well, reminds me of the Corpse Burning thing people used to do every time the daily led to Old Kingdom. And in terms of the Challenge, stuff like the Bronze drake in CoS?

  3. Riccah permalink
    July 25, 2010 9:26 am

    Oh, and i forgot to mention that those 3 random quests/challenge that happens when you enter a dungeon, will happen EVERY TIME you enter a dungeon, so its not a 1x a day/week thing like Blizzards dailies and weeklies. And there will also be meta-quests ( i dont think Lotro has achievements…yet) as complete every challenge/quest in x-dungeon.

  4. Ryoko Lam permalink
    July 25, 2010 4:25 pm

    My only hope is that the old world instances, if leveled up to 85, or just kept the same. That they alter it since some are just too maze like until you get used to them!

    I want bosses with different strategies, not and instance with a know how to get around….like blackroch depths was crazy, don’t even wanna imagine partying with ppl through that really since it would be forever to complete haha!

    • Riccah permalink
      July 25, 2010 5:22 pm

      Well, there was an instance in lotro as well in the lower levels that is very similar in build up to BRD. It’s called Ost Guruth, and the problem it had was that it was big, maze like, and you had to keep going back to it for over 15 levels. The result was: everyone hated the place, and just skipped the whole thing. About a year ago, it was 1 developers crusade (Orion) to update and revamp the old zones. Lone-Lands, the zone where Ost Guruth is located, was the last zone he did (lvls 20-ish to 30-ish i believe), and he did a helluva job. What they did to OG was that they cut it into 3 smaller pcs, like 3 seperate instances, with level brackets set to each “wing”. They changed a lot of the boss mechanics and other things in the dungeon that made it horrible, they made it available specifically for 3-man parties, and you can now get reputation for a specific faction in there. The result: people like and and go back there now. The way they cut it up isnt like the way they did BRD in wow, where you can use the LFD tool for a specific part of BRD, but you can still wander into the “wrong” part of the dungeon. Its more like Scarlet Monastary, but it used to be 1 big dungeon, and now its 3 small ones. If they could do that with BRD and Maraudon, that would be cool 🙂

  5. Riccah permalink
    July 25, 2010 9:16 pm

    Edit: when i said Ost Guruth i meant Garth Agarwen. Just covering my ass in case any Lotro fans show up 😛

  6. Cthulhu permalink
    July 26, 2010 12:55 am

    I adore blackrock depths. This is a good thing, as I recently finished farming the Circle of Flame after a good 200+ kills of ambassador flamelash in there. If I didn’t like BRD, I’d have given up on getting that long ago.

    It’s a huge place, sprawling and flavourful. I enjoy playing it on every alt I level, and I’d enjoy playing it at high level, although given the tight-packed mobs it’d probably be as easy to AOE splatter at 80 as it is now at 50.

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