Improving Themepark MMO Dungeons
I’ve done thousands — maybe tens of thousands — of dungeon runs in themepark MMOs, and they all seem to suffer from some of the same issues.
- Repeating the same dungeon over and over
- Too many trash pulls and not enough bosses
- Encounter variety and mechanics are always the same
In themepark MMOs the gearing or experience systems inevitably involve running the same dungeon(s) many, many times. Right now In FFXIV I am running Ampador Keep repeatedly over nad over because it is the only dungeon to offer me both Philosophy and Mythology Tomestones (tokens to buy gear) at a reasonable rate. It takes ~35 minutes to complete, and then I go back through. World of Warcraft is the same way. In WotLK I think I ran Utgarde Keep 750+ times.
Knowing that this system of repeating dungeons isn’t going to change, one solution would be to increase the number of dungeons available. I want 10 or more dungeon options, each providing a different atmosphere just so that I don’t have to stare at the same walls every time.
Dungeons are inundated with trash mobs. Sometimes they are difficult, but for the most part they act as a time sink or busy work to limit the number of times a boss can be killed. First, I would remove 50-75% of the trash mobs. The remaining pulls I would want to be entirely unique. I hate having to pull 5 groups of mobs and have that group be the same each pull.
I would love a bit of randomness thrown into the mix. I think that’s the best part about sandbox or open-world dungeons. Although I’m sitting in the same dungeon, in the same room, day in and day out, at least there’s a chance of something unique happening if a train goes by or something completely random and out of my control occurs. Maybe have bosses utilize random mechanics, or have the trash mob composition change. Anything to change it up so that I’m not always standing to the side of a mob or avoiding his breath every time I fight him.
One of the biggest changes I would love to see in Themepark dungeon design would be to add way more bosses. I think a dungeon full of nothing but boss fights would be fantastic. Other variables can be adjusted to make up for it.
Themepark design may be here to stay, and it may be the easy route for developers to go, but there’s still a great deal of ways to improve the execution and delivery.