Thursday, September 23, 2010

Some instances just bring out the worst in me

Since I do quite alot of randoms, sometimes I focus on lowbie instances and sometimes on heroics, I often get the feeling that some instances seem to promote bad behavior or bad playing more than others. I seem to get stuck with bad groups more often in some particular instances! Groups in which players don't seem to know what to do, wipe the group or just generally act like poosticks. It made me realize that there are some factors, qualities of an instance if you like, that contribute to these kind of problems arising.

First I thought - "ok, which are the instances I dislike the most?". I came up with WC, GR, BRD, LBRS, Oculus and PoS (I can imagine Scholo and Strat would suck pretty badly to do with a random pug, but I haven't been that unlucky fortunately). What do they have incommon? Quite alot it turns out.

Size matters
The most important factor to whether an instance is going to turn out good or bad is probably the length of the instance. For really short instances like SM GY (most of the SM instances actually), AN, VH, even Ramparts, things can go wrong as well, but since everyone knows they're close to the end they usually stick it out. And the shorter the instance the less things can go wrong. You're simply fighting less mobs and have to deal with less situations so this is completely logical. For the insanely long instances like WC and BRD, not only can alot of things go wrong, but people usually don't have the time or inclination to stay for the whole length. This means you'll repeatedly have to wait for replacements, which doesn't exactly promote a good mood.

The longer an instance is, the more likely it to be like a fricking maze. That means you might get lost, which will only make the instance take even longer and further increasing the chance of drop-outs. And if someone happens to die he might never find the way back. Which means you have to spend time guiding the lost player around, which in the end probably will turn out fruitless because he'll get so frustrated he leaves instead (or someone else in your group will). They really should implement a "teleport to instance guide" or even better "teleport to corpse" button. Because we all know the dungeon guide rarely knows his way around himself.

Umm, what do I do here?
Some instances, albeit relatively short, just rarely turn out well because they require more than the average performance from the group. Oculus is a good example of such an instance. It's not too long, and you can easily finish it in under 15 minutes. Well maybe not easily, and here is the problem. These instances often require the player to do something else than spam that aoe-button of theirs, and therefore makes it more likely that someone will screw up. In an instance like Oculus, one persons slip up could wipe the entire party, and unfortunately this happens more often than I find comfortable. It seems like because people are suddenly riding on a dragon instead of running on their own feet (paws, hooves) they totally forget about essential stuff like not aggroing random mobs when running around. And if one of your party members don't know how to use their dragon against Eregos, the entire party might die. The more people who have to take responsibility for the success of the group, the higher the chances the group will fail.

The perfect example is the difference between HoR and PoS. HoR is generally seen as the tougher instance. For some, namely the tank and healer, this instance is really difficult indeed. It does however hold very few surprises. It would make things easier if all the dps used utility tools like traps, fears and stuns but my experience say they'll very rarely do this. And it's not needed. You can't overpull in HoR and the tank and healer always know what they will have to handle from one second to the next.
PoS on the other hand offers plenty of opportunity for overpulls and people to wipe the group. I think since I started doing PoS I've always had someone pull the patrol in the beginning of the instance, for example. There is always someone in the group who forgets he is standing in the path of a patrol, or simply doesn't know. If people don't reset their stacks on Garfrost they'll most likely die, no matter how good the tank or healer happens to be. If someone accidentally pulls one extra group from those horrible packs of mobs just after Ick, it's almost surely a wipe. If someone doesn't stop dpsing when they're marked on Tyrannus, they might kill the tank. These are several factors (of which most have happened to me plenty of times) that contribute to making PoS more difficult than HoR. In HoR you can only fail if the tank doesn't tank, if the dps doesn't dps and if the healer doesn't heal. And that doesn't happen too often fortunately. Because HoR is so linear, it gives little room for mistakes. Giving people choices is what kills us.

Just imagine what would happen if you could be randomly pugged into instances like Magister's Terrace, where every pull has to be carefully orchestrated and crowd controlled? In wrath, and outside of pvp, when was the last time someone had to touch their cc button? The horror.

Actually I think the linearity of an instance is the key component to make it easy or difficult. The more surprise factors (aka overpull areas, standing in this shit will kill you), or choices (aka ways to go), the instances offers, the likelier something will screw up. This might sound obvious, but the problem seems to be that the difficulty level rises like the Richter scale. An instance with 3 surprise/choice factors is ten times more difficult than an instance with 2.

Sit back and relax, with a nice cup of tea (I really like japanese lime)

The next time you end up in an instance like one of the above, take a quick glance on your watch and your "patience-gauge". If you have enough time (for some of these instances at least an hour) and the patience to go through with it, it can be rewarding. I've done these instances with awesome groups, it's just very uncommon. If you don't have the patience and/or time, tell the group right away - "guys, let's do until X, but then I'll have to go". That way you and the rest of the group have a clear goal and won't waste time running around trying to figure out what to do, this is especially true for the endless instances BRD and BRS.

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