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I was thinking about a game where every enemy encounter is a "boss".
Of course this can't work with the current "standards" but lets think about it a bit. Several things would need to be adjusted to make this works.
Lets say we limited exploration to a multi-path dungeon with certain POIs, think of it a bit like a more open Torchlight or Diablo map-design, where every POI is "guarded" by a "boss" or rather a raid encounter. The paths twist and turn and lead to new POIs with shortcuts inbetween.
An endless WoW raid dungeon so to speak.
And by raid, I mean a massive-scale raid, not 20 people, not 40 people, but upwards of 500 people. Grouping would be automatic, you enter the zone, you get put in the same group as the people fighting in the "raid". Drop in drop out raiding.
Fights on one of those guardians would be long, ranging from many hours in the beginning, to even days later on. Combat dynamics would change according to how many people participate in it. i.e. I want to see an almost continuous battle with guardians where reinforcements drop in and out depending on timezones.
The death of the "guardian" would be permanent, no respawns.
Killing a guardian gives the realm significant resources so new players can be easier equipped and ushered to the next encounter. The previous leves of the dungeon are now safe and can be used to move the "front line" (i.e. stores, repair, crafting locations) resources could now be mined from the safe zone and utilized by the realm to equip for the next encounter. All of this requires a consolidated effort, crafting and resource gathering is an open "quest" to everyone.
New players entering the game don't need to grind for XPs, they get leveled up to the same level of the realm but equipment is far more important than your levels.
Characters have a great deal of customization and freedom on how to approach combat and crafting, not necessarily governed by a class system, but can be. Siege weaponry can be created and used in the raids, it must be operated by several people (loading, aiming, firing, moving; think tank-crew)
To not make the game feel too safe, attacks are sent against the frontline encampments if the realm does "too good" that can destroy your infrastructure and make you lose resources (think base-defense in xcom).
Clearing a realm would "reset" it in the sense that a new realm is created with new, different challenges (there could be ~10 premade dungeons that get cycled through with alltogether different challenges and enemy behavior). Clearing a realm could take up to 6 months.
Would this design philosophy be viable?
Its just a brainstorm outline but I'm interested what people would think about this kind of "endless warfare" simulator.