Dungeons used to be scary
I like difficult games because I get a greater feeling of accomplishment when I overcome obstacles or reach certain goals. If it’s something easy then it means nothing, really. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t find reaching max level in games like WoW to be anything to brag about. I mean, if old people and eight-year-olds can do it then what is there to feel proud about? Though I probably shouldn’t knock the young and young at heart; my eight year old self somehow beat games that I struggle with today but hopefully you get my point. There are numerous topics you can get into on this subject but one of the first that comes to mind would be dungeons.
Back in earlier days of MMOs dungeons used to be insidious deathtraps. If you didn’t get yourself killed by a tough monster then it was by some kind of trap or hazard. If you were lucky you grouped up with somebody who had been there before and knew to tell you to “hug this wall” or “jump across that.” This actually brings up an interesting topic that I’ll probably get into in a future post. Getting back on track, these places where high-risk high-reward situations. If you weren’t careful you could die easily but if you knew what you were doing then you could benefit from great exp, loot, and experience awesome dungeon environments. I was a total dungeon rat and I can still remember the layout to pretty much every dungeon in EQ below level 30.
What also made the experience great was the lack of instancing. Being able to see other people and possibly join together with them only adds to the experience. Say you’re getting overwhelmed but then somebody heroically jumps in to help or vice versa. Obviously this can lead to some bad situations where these strangers can accidentally get you killed but that’s part of the charm of the dangerous experience. Probably my favorite thing about old-school dungeons would be trying to get out of them. Think about it, nowadays you clear a dungeon and get ‘ported out or even gate/hearth if you want. Sure some classes could gate back in games like EQ but that was a bigger deal when your bind point was in a place you didn’t want to be. The people who couldn’t gate where the ones who had to fight or sneak their way out. It’s a fun concept that just doesn’t exist anymore because people don’t want to do anymore than they have to. I probably don’t even have to mention that dungeons were essentially rogue paradises. You were essentially walk around naked in these joints if you could stealth or turn invisible. These kind of utilities were greatly beneficial. Do MMORPGs even have invis spells anymore?
I like dungeons. REAL dungeons, not the virtual equivalent of splash mountain. However in order to have dungeons like this you also need very different game mechanics than what exists today, but that’s way more than I want to get into right now.