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General: Forum Spotlight: Instancing

StraddenStradden Managing EditorHalifax, NSPosts: 6,696Member Common

Community Manager Laura Genender takes a look at a thread from our forums that discusses instancing in MMORPGs.

This week on the forums, poster Elikal brings up a hot topic in the MMO world - Instances: Taboo or Holy Grail? Citing several games that either embrace instances or avoid them, Elikal poses his question and his own opinion to the community.

"My first MMO was SWG," states Elikal, "which is quite devoid of instances, which shaped my understanding of a MMO greatly. Then I move to EQ2, which uses instances, but only sparsely. The only game I played which uses a lot of instances was CoH, since all your missions are instances, but as CoH is shaped, you just cant make those missions otherwise, so it wasn't a big deal either."

Read more of this column here.

Jon Wood
Managing Editor


  • AlienovrlordAlienovrlord San Antonio, TXPosts: 1,525Member

    I have to agree with the quote from Lomillar in the article, Instancing is neither good or bad, it is a tool.  It's how the developer uses it that determines if it works or ruins a game. 

    My main problem with City of Heroes Instancing was the limited number of mission maps and tiles.   Considering such a large amount of their game is dedicated to Instanced missions you would think they would have provided more variety for them.  Anyone who has a played CoH/CoV has seen the exact same end-mission sewer room, or the same warehouse entry room, or the same office intersection hundreds of times.  CoH had to institute lower death penalities inside Instances to get people to go back into those missions instead of just street grinding (where there was at least a little more variety).  But Cryptic STILL didn't add any more variety to the maps and tiles. 

    Personally I think Instances should be reserved for special quests/missions where the Developers don't want some climatic scene ruined by an ADD 11-year old.     If they're going to be used as a major part of a game, then steps need to be made to keep them fresh and interesting.   They have a place in MMORPGs, like any other tool available to developers, they need to be wisely used.

  • DrowNobleDrowNoble Trenton, MIPosts: 1,296Member

    I also agree that instancing isn't bad or good it is how they are used.

    Instancing a zone when the population gets over a certain point can be good to help with load times and lag.  Just make sure you give options to still be able to zone into Version One of the zone if someone wants to meet up with a friend.

    WoW's instancing of dungeons was done well to eliminate the camping and such that was a problem in EQ1.  Now no one is fighting over who gets to kill Baron when he spawns, everyone has their own version of him.

    GW's vast amount of instancing is great for the pve aspect, dynamic quests and such, but really hurts the social interaction aspect.  The only time you meet people is in towns, rest of the game is a personalized instance for you and your party.  So in this case, instancing is a mixed blessing.

  • SWGLoverSWGLover Tallahassee, FLPosts: 539Member

    They're a valuable tool that limits the griefers ability to ruin another players gaming experience - hence they're good!!  


    I'm all for them, obviously, and I love their useage. I've played MMORPG's since The Realm, and I wish they would have been developed for UO and early EQ during the old days. It certainly would have made game play more fun for most players ( except the griefers, of course ).





  • shukes33shukes33 telfordPosts: 1,051Member

    i agree with the how they are used theory too!

    i think most of a world should have no instances. i played some games and completed a dungeon to get an item that i thought maybe a rare item just to walk out and see 10 people in the same area around me holding the same items. this seems to devalue things for me. and also it does ruin the idea of a virtual world when you are fighting the same mob as a 1000 other people at the same time. though you can't see them and there should be one of that mob not 100.

  • ElikalElikal ValhallaPosts: 7,912Member Uncommon

    Wow, I am famous now. ^^

    Thanks for taking this topic into a feature.

    So much pressure now to live up to the fame. ^^

    People don't ask questions to get answers - they ask questions to show how smart they are. - Dogbert

  • eritheerithe Olympia Fields, ILPosts: 8Member

    I like and don't like instances, mostly for reasons already given.   It's nice to be able to get to the big name bosses in a game without having to climb over the corpses of every other guild on the server.  And it's nice to avoid the endless camp for that one quest item you need - if the quest is set up like that - and the opportunity it gives the player to become more integrated into the story.

    And story is the main reason, in my opinion, to use instances.  It would be great to see more done in MMO's that use instances as a story telling tool.  In fact, one of the biggest detractors from live events in EQ was the way everyone would mob the GM run characters as stories were taking place.  The spam was also insane.   It would be interesting to see instancing used as a GM tool to invite players into a more intimate setting for lore and story events.  Right now you can get cinematics and major storyline involvment in Guildwars, but it's still static in the way a non-MMO RPG is static.  It would be interesting to see what developers could do for live events with people behind the NPC's in an instanced environment.

    I think that there is no losing the instancing in MMO's.  They're a useful tool for developers to control and manipulate the gaming environment and quest lines.   It will be interesting to see how the use of instances evolves with the industry.

  • KlavKlav Agoura Hills, CAPosts: 20Member

    When it comes to Instancing- it depends who you are talking to.

    Instancing in EQ1 really shook the game around. Ive heard of massive clans coming together to do raids back in the day (Pre Kunark) 100ish people in Plane of Fear. Now with instancing-the leash on how many ppl can join an instance is shortened-Somewhere around 60. They took a tool and dumbed players down to having to work with that # of ppl- DPS wise-that extra 40 ppl makes a diff!

    Everyone is right- it is a tool. But for the most part in my opinion, they are being used incorrectly. Right now- its dungeons and missions that are instanced. These little tangents of the game. If you really want to add a real storyline, massive scripting is the way to go- not privatized dunegons. From there the average non-RPer. is sunk into the repetative dungeon crawl. It is really just  a haunted house- find your loot, rescue someone, whatever excuse.

    I am really for non private open zones, where others can join (without being part of the raid).

    1) Having high end clans doing the same bosses yet never clashing- where is the fun in that? Where is the competition?

    2)PvP Aspect- Having a high end clan hidden away in an inaccessable zone ruins gameplay, Already they non pvp town zones ruin PvP.

    3)Having wide open instanced zones, you can implement scripts similiar to PoP, or The Great Divide (Velious Era of eq1). Right now, everyone is dependant still on Tank, Healer, DPS trinity (sorta going off on a tangent) things like this can break the mold, have fun as whatever class and enjoy a great storyline.

    Storylines are not about what happens in a dungeon or an office building, Especially with worlds as big as Middle Earth or Norrath or Paragon City etc etc etc.

    "Tell me what your gamer plays.
    Show me why you pay.
    Teach me every single part. I'll be your guide.
    You are a prisoner.
    Cash-cowing slows you down.
    You can change your game.
    But can't change your mind.
    No matter what they do."

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