Posted on February 8, 2013, James Murff Why MMO Dungeons Are Irrelevant & 5 Ways to Change Them
Want to find out more ways that the MMO genre can be improved? Check out the rest of our series on fixing broken MMO mechanics!
I stand my ground in front of the hulking monstrosity, blocking every blow from his giant axe. The mages in my party weave complex spells of healing and destruction, and eventually the monster is no more. On his corpse I find a long-lost relic of significant power, and I resolve myself to use it. A day later, the process repeats, and I wonder if I’m stuck in some kind of time loop.
Everyone who has ever played a role-playing game is familiar with the concept of dungeons. They litter the landscape of games – from tabletop to MMO – with promise of forbidden loot and difficult challenges. While standard MMO design approaches dungeons in a competent and straightforward way, all designs can be improved. Dungeons are no exception to this rule. They lack relevance for players that aren’t in the endgame, and their overly linear focus makes running them more rote memory than skill.
As they exist now, dungeons are fun. I can’t deny their appeal, and I enjoy running through the colorful environs and killing enemies that require teamwork to down. I did dedicated raiding and heroic dungeons on my World of Warcraft main, after all. As I implied in my exploration article, however, there’s more to fun than just moving like a rat through a designer-made maze. Give players greater freedom, and they will gobble it up. So while dungeons are serviceable, I think they can be better. If you don’t, feel free to let me know just how wrong I am in the comments!