Instance layout and failure

| Saturday, January 17, 2009
Question: What is the single most important difference between Gun'drak and Halls of Lightning?

Answer: Order of boss difficulty.

There are a couple forces competing with each other in instance design. One is the idea of the last boss being the hardest, the coolest, the badass of the place who makes all previous bosses seem trivial. This is the coolness force. The other is the playability force, it asks "if you start this instance, can you finish it?" This force obviously works towards short instances so people don't have to leave halfway in (this was an area where BRD was pretty bad). It also encourages instances that only save you to them once you've demonstrated that you have a good chance of completing them.

Gun'drak is usually done with the snake boss first. This one is fairly difficult. This is a good thing. If you're saved to Gun'drak, you either ran it backwards or your group is good enough to beat it.

HoL is the total opposite. The first boss is trivial. If you can beat the first boss, you just might wipe on the second. The third is easy. Beating all three of those does not mean your group can do Loken. He's not a gear check or a composition check or a healing check. All he tests is whether or not your group members are capable of moving at the right times in the right direction. It's actually simple, but it's a skill that is rarely tested and is not tested in HoL until you're already saved.

Making the last boss the hardest sounds cool, but in terms of playability, it's terrible. To make it even worse, the last bosses drop epics and daily quest items, so to many people they're the only bosses that matter. To get to the end, the goal, and then get held back by a fail group, which you had no chance before to see if it was full of fail, that is not fun or challenging, that is just frustrating.

Trash doesn't help either. After too many wipes, even if you've not called off the run, the trash is back. Now you have to redo the entire instance, as if you'd never started, except with no badges along the way and with a group that you already know is bad.

TL;DR: For the sake of player sanity, put skill checks at the START of instances, not the end.


Kiryn said...

Preferably, the end boss will still be difficult, but the first boss should certainly be just as difficult. Save the harder bosses for the harder instances.

Pangoria Fallstar said...

That's like saying the bouncer and the owner are the toughest, and the bodyguards and the dj are the easiest.

Green Armadillo said...

FWIW, I've had two groups that could handle the snake but broke up on the Colossus in GD, due to the need for mobile DPS (not standing in the puddles) on the 2nd/4th phases of the fight. Also, if there's one setup I hate, it's HVH saving you before the first boss even SPAWNS. I realize that they don't want you resetting the instance for different random bosses, but it's very unfortunate to be saved before you've really had the chance to tell if your group can hack it (especially since there's no way to ditch the group if things are looking dicey without causing them to fail the event).

The broader question is which incentives matter. From your perspective, it sounds like you care about the Daily Heroic quest and the boss epics.

From my perspective, the only heroic loot I really feel is must-have is Loken's pants, and, frankly, I'm thinking my chances of getting Archavon to drop something is better than farming those in a PUG. I'm there for the emblems/wintergrasp shards and the rep, so a group that can't down the final boss has actually gotten me 3/4 of what I wanted from the dungeon in most cases.

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