View From the Road

A View From the Road: Dungeons, Directed

John Funk | 14 Dec 2009 21:00
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But would it be what players actually want? Personally, I think it would be a great addition to the genre, but it would probably make the vast majority of the "hardcore" playerbase unhappy. The benefit of WoW's Hard Modes is that they confer additional rewards; if the top tier of raiders get the difficulty but none of the bonus goodies, where's the incentive to improve?

While you could certainly work up an algorithm to determine loot rewards on a "Boss used stronger ability = Boss drops better gear" basis, in an ideal world this wouldn't even be necessary. I certainly enjoy the fights themselves, seeing everything come together while chatting with friends on Ventrilo, but, for many people who play MMOGs, there's a very ingrained action/reward system. "I have triumphed over this hurdle, ergo I am rewarded with better equipment."

Compare that to a game of Left 4 Dead 2. If the only reason you were playing the game was the final "The Survivors have escaped!" message, you'd quit after a few tries on Expert difficulty. But you - and I - keep playing because the varied experience is entertaining in and of itself, win or lose. Simultaneously, a boss that responded to player performance by growing stronger or weaker correspondingly would make for a more varied and entertaining experience - and one that could never quite be reduced to "on farm" status.

Then again, maybe players like having content "on farm," so to speak. If implemented poorly, it might just end up like Final Fantasy VIII's strange design decision to have all the monsters level up when you did. If you get stronger and go back to the very first area to fight monsters, and they give you just as much trouble as they did in the beginning, what's the point in getting better in the first place? Is it just for the sake of ... getting better?

Maybe. I still think it would be a cool idea to implement in an MMOG. But perhaps for most people, L4D's AI Director and massive online raid content are like orange sherbet and pizza: Awesome on their own, but hell if you'd ever want them combined.

John Funk's guild killed Lord Marrowgar on Saturday, but Lady Deathwhisper is going to be a total bitch and a half.

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