- Expansion Title
- Possible major changes to external content
- The level cap
We have, however, given very little thought to what instances may bring. I don't normally recycle content, but it's the weekend and I think this particular post deserves a re-air, because it deals with how I'd like to see 5 mans evolve, and it was written ALL THE WAY BACK IN MAY OMG THAT WAS YESTERDAY. So if you're reading this and think it's familiar... well it was, but I think the idea bears repeating in my 31 day countdown. Anyway, enough chat, let's get to it!
|I fail at Infographics, but it's all there...|
I've had a fair few ideas floating around in my head since Blizzard told me I'd get no new dungeons until the next Expansion. I found this disappointing, especially as the dungeons we have are, in essence, duplicates of places in the gaming world. Just how hard would it be to make a real basic change to dungeon design, working on the eight years worth of 'experience' I have with this to begin with?
Hence, the 'Temple of the Next Expansion's Big Bad' 5 Man Dungeon was born.
You're going to have to help me here, because I'm no artist and my Photoshop skills are basic at best (don't even own the program ^^) but I have the ideas, and that is what matters. So, imagine if you will we're fifteen minutes into the next Expansion and you plus four of your mates want to see what Blizzard have to offer you in terms of small group entertainment. I'll be your Dev for the evening, so press the Random Dungeon Button and away we go...
|Now loading, your latest five man experience.|
Once you arrive, you'll see some dialogue playing out. It explains what's going on in this dungeon and why you are here. After a couple of trips you'll ignore it, but for now it tells you two important things:
1. There is a Quest Giver here whose objective changes every time you run the dungeon in a 24 hour window. Yes, that's a Dungeon Daily for every 5 man, one of half a dozen to complete (and when you do, there's that Just Achieved Ding for your troubles.) Once you've completed that quest, the Daily Dwarf (Melgrew Ironstout) conveniently becomes a repair vendor, because you will have forgotten to do that and not everyone carries a Jeeves.
2. Melgrew's mate is a haughty Bloodelf inexplicably called Collin who has been sent here on a mission of great importance, and he'll take any help he can find. This is the one-time quest chain you receive on first arriving here: not simply at the start of this Expansion, BUT EVERY PATCH FROM THEREON IN. Here's my first big suggested change: each time a new patch hits, this Dungeon Quest evolves too.
Collin's in love with a Dwarven lassie called Stella Goldenhair, but she's quite a demanding girl. He's been sent in here to find an item that drops from the third boss, and if he returns it to her she's promised to take him out for a night in Dalaran. You'll pick that up in patch 6.0 but by the time 6.1's rolled around Collin will be back, because Stella's decided one item isn't enough and actually she needs something from the second boss as well. Theoretically Collin might turn up in other dungeons too, it really depends how much in love he is with this woman to begin with....
That's my first point. Dungeons have the potential to be evolutionary places, just as much as the 'Real' World is outside them. Give us more variety, and make that change every patch so that the dungeon experience is never the same twice. With each new patch, these 'standard' dungeon quests change too. If you make it to 6.4 and do the set you get the 'reward' of a one person scenario that rewards you something awesome for sticking with it. You know, like the Legendary quest but less orange.
|Questgivers. Just add adventurers!|
Armed with your quests you clear a few packs of mobs and save an NPC, who introduces herself to you. It transpires she is the vendor for this Instance. Yes, every Instance has it's own rep, after a fashion. You can choose at this point whose Faction you'll be earning your reputation for, but running the dungeon itself also has benefits. Ooh look, that's a Battle Pet she's selling you, and she only needs 100 Crystal Shard Fragments for it. 'Hmm, where do they come from?' you wonder, until you realise you picked up one from the mobs you had to kill to reach her. 5-10 drop per instance, meaning that you'll need probably 10 runs though here to pick it up. Those shards also buy useful items to help you complete some of the puzzles in the instance faster, for achievements once you've learnt the ropes. It was a good idea to have saved her, but you could just as easily ignore her if you want.
Finally, you reach Boss One.
He never changes, regardless of what patch you happen to be on. He's the warmup guy, who's a real challenge 15 minutes after the expansion but you'll breeze through in 6.3. He knows you're not interested in what he drops after three months, but when 6.4 comes you'd better watch out because he'll have a chance to spawn a 'secondary' boss who'll hand you your behinds if you're not paying attention. He'll consider it worthy recompense for the people who didn't read the Patch Notes :p
Then there's the first Puzzle Section of the Dungeon. Each five man will have at least one, the more challenging will have two. It might be jumping (I'm doomed if it is) or it might be working out some codes. It could be a mini-game all in itself. You'll swear and curse when you have to do it the first few times but by 6.1 you'll just want to skip it and so and so, rather conveniently, a Quest will appear. Your reward?
|Binds on Pickup, One Hour Cooldown. PRESS TO RESET.|
Your [Big Friendly Button] allows you to cancel any puzzle in ANY DUNGEON, but you can only use it once per hour. Better make sure everyone's got one! Oh, and don't expect the grind for that to be a five minute job either... ^^
|Remember to stack the trash on this boss...|
Ohh, look, more trash and here comes Boss Two... except she's not here yet. She will be, but not straight away. You know his boss exists because you've seen the datamined information, but it's going to take two patches for that to happen, so for now you clear the trash and try and pick up clues as to how Boss Two will finally manifest. Fortunately the trash itself drops items you can't get anywhere else for crafting as is the case with all mobs who are, in effect, Boss placeholders. These drops have a value of their own, which makes clearing the mobs preferable to skipping. Once the boss arrives she'll drop those items too, but in greater numbers.
|The minions in this fight are particularly annoying.|
Oh and here we are at Boss Three, whose going to only be here for two patches and then he's gone, off into the World somewhere, doing the bidding of the Big Bad in their nefarious Scheme 'o' DOOM [TM] He'll end up as a Special Elite then and drop you a cool Vanity item, but for now he's here, making your life difficult until you've got better gear. Once you get to 6.3 you'll want to speed through here anyway, so he'll vanish when things need to get a bit easier. For now don't forget Collin's Quest item and off you go on the last section. There's some tricky trash here with a cool signature mechanic that will teach you how to do the last boss, if you're paying attention.
Then, you're at the End Boss.
|Admit it. YOU'RE AFRAID :O|
It's three bosses, actually, but they'll all die once you work out the mechanics, and when you do a Mole Machine will appear, courtesy of Melgrew Ironstout, to take you back to the Instance Entrance so you can hand in your quests and be on your way. You'll be satisfied with a Job Well Done, at least until 6.3 rolls around. This time there'll be no datamined forewarning, however, you'll kill the boss and suddenly you'll find he's left you a key. Then and only then will you notice the door carved into the wall behind the bosses smouldering remains and realise that you've opened a completely new section of dungeon...
This is my final point: design dungeons so they can be evolutionary places in themselves. Halfway through the expansion your dungeon gets a 'secondary' area that opens up and gives players an extension of the original experience. Allow 'secret' rooms to be accessed that give players more than one route to complete the trip. Find a way to return the 'WoW' Factor to a game that was more than capable of bringing the goods in the past, but seems to have become (in places) sadly predictable in its outcomes. We need some jaw-dropping moments. It needs to be just more than playing the game for loot.
We probably also need someone who's better at artwork than I am.
This dungeon design, ultimately, should be flexible above everything else. It can be run in Normal mode as a 'basic' experience, and a Heroic Mode with changes to the Quests, better rewards and two tiers of experience gains. Challenge Mode simply removes the NPC's and Quests. The emphasis is shifted away from Dungeons being simply an experience in gearing or point gathering and moved squarely back to the immersive experience they were to begin with. What should matter, more than gearing for raids, or indeed gearing at all, is enjoying the journey to get to the the gear. If we can fix that 'problem' I think it would be a fabulous first step in finding a way back to the great days of the game.