Dan Rubenfield on instances

One of the real spoilers in MMORPGs happens when the game clicks for you and you get a great group and game going. You're fighting really hard battles and barely keeping your group alive and together, everyone is nervously watching that mass of goblins just inches outside of agro range. Tension and fun are really high. And then some level 60 flounces along and takes out the goblins in two strokes. (Or in WWII terms finding a reallygreat infantry battle only to have a friendly tank arrive and annihilate all the EI in one long burst).

On the other hand, too much instancing can make it hard to get a group. How many friendships form – never mind groups – from two people failing to kill or wanting to take out the same mob?

I think Dan's right on the state of instancing so far… Its had dubious success, I don't think it's been done as well as it could so far in most of the games that have tried it. Some games have overused it (MxO, CoH). EQ2 almost got it right, but the fact that they re-use so many instances really clashes with the seeming richness of the game proper.

Not wanting to repeat myself, but I think that's a matter of perspective. Several instancing games don't fit my niche, i.e. I'm not crazy on them. So I can't say "they did instancing wrong". WoW uses instancing, but I don't dislike WoW because of its instancing, infact I'd say it does its instancing fairly well. But I'm in that minority of non-WoW players too.

But clearly instancing carries a risk — If we're going to say that instancing hasn't been done right or at least well yet, and its been done a number of times, then we should start to think that maybe its hard to do and we need to be wary of it. Particularly, a lot of instancing done wrongly will transform your game from Massively Multiplayer to merely Massively Multiuser.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with that ifit's what you design for – DND Online designed for it, and I think their use of instancing works very well in creating an online tabletop experience. (I think that's a bit like recreating an online mountaintop experience — you can see the sights, you can hear the wind, but you don't get the mountain air, feel the wind or smell the grass)

When god created man, he either didn't read the manual first or she is really sadistic. According to the biblical version of creation, he either created *woman* (of all things) as a solution to man's boredom instead of, say, creating Blizzard and letting Adam play WoW — or she knew that woman would cause man to think about sex every 30 seconds and so created woman just to prove the point. Either way, he/she knew in advance that woman would get tired of his breaking wind and scratching his crotch, and try to make him eat "healthy", ultimately leading to the fall of mankind.

Maybe this isn't the first creation to exist. Maybe there have been others. But our god felt that other gods had lost their balls, that souls would *prefer* a gritty, earthy universe with lots of "hero opportunities" (i.e. suffering), "active roles for healers" (plagues and epidemics, sickness and disease, plastic surgery) and probably the best smuggler implementation of any creation (hola carlos, desee la hierba?)

When SWG launched, man it put its design balls out there. I hope that's not what Dan's referring to because I don't think the SWG team lost those balls, I think they realized quick sharp that players will kick you in that area no matter how much you believe that's a foul.

Incidentally, I don't mean to beat down on Dan – if anything I can see how what he's saying would work, I could see how that could make a game I'd like. I'm dubious that it would be an M-MO, but I don't consider that a criticism either.

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