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Feedback: Dungeon Design

Discussion in 'Project: Gorgon Discussion Hall' started by Mendel, Sep 29, 2014.

  1. Mendel

    Mendel Visitor

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    After a rather frustrating time playing PG this past Sunday, I decided to share some thoughts on basic dungeon design as the game seems to indicate. As always, I hope this feedback will be useful to the developers (it is an alpha version after all), and encourage some discussion of these issues.

    Scenario: Three players in a group decided to go into the Crypt for an afternoon of adventure. The primary combat skills of the players was a 30 sword, a 25 sword, and a 15 archery, each with a variety of secondary skills active. We spent about 2 hours adventuring in the Crypt, a good bit of it inactive.

    Issues.
    • Breaking the group. There were several occasions where the group was isolated from each other, and unable to function. The level 1-to level 2 portal is a significant design issue for groups. Normally, a 1-way portal isn't an obstacle for a solo player, but it presents becomes increasingly important with groups. Regrouping usually required all trapped on the second level to suicide.
      • Death on level 2. A death in the second level of the dungeon allows the dead character to revive at the entry to level 1, breaking the party. It was exceedingly difficult for the 1 character to return solo to the group.
      • Portal to level 2. The portal to level 2 only opens in response to some event (possibly killing the level 1 boss mob). The bigger issue is there appears to be a time limit on this portal. On at least one occasion, all three of us did not use the portal in the time allotted.
    • Multiple groups. The dungeon is cramped. There is no place where multiple groups can effectively hunt in the dungeon. There are no niches where a group can camp a set of mobs while other groups move through. There wasn't space to 'leap frog' another group without mass confusion.
    • Linear design. The linear nature of the design ensures that the dungeon can support only a fixed number of groups at a time. Every place is 'on the way' to another place deeper in the dungeon, and there's no reason to not go in deeper. Many quests basically encourage constant movement, get to a specific location or kill these mob types.
    Conclusions: This situation was very frustrating. But it did make me think that the design incorporates some fundamental scaling issues. The layout of the dungeon, while pleasing, seemed more appropriate for a single-player game. At several points, when the group was broken, it relied on the ability of 1 player to solo the first level (including rhinos and boss) to regroup. Even for the highest skilled player, this proved very difficult to do.

    Maybe Project: Gorgon, in its current inception, would be more suited as a single player game.
     
  2. awollsd

    awollsd Adventurer

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    (a little off topic but not totally as you are talking about groups and issues with getting separated)

    I've woundered why no skill shave a group summon ability that a player can cast and the other members would get a portal that will teleport them to the caster. (or none that I've found/heard of) that would help eliviate some of these issues. also if they concider another suggestion someone else posted about being able to invite players that aren't right next to you to a group then will be even more helpful.

    it could easily be a lvl 40-50 teleportation skill or something just don't see why it's not in game :)
     
  3. Mendel

    Mendel Visitor

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    At least give us the ability to use a player's tombstone to recall them to that location. But that ability is probably buried in the Necromancy skill, I don't know. Still forcing groups to become independent soloists due to a timer or death is a group-breaker. There is no reason to group except for ease of communications.
     
  4. Nuhaine

    Nuhaine Visitor

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    That little bit on the bottom was unnecessary. However, your feedback should help the devs to understand the problems you are experiencing. Thanks for helping out PG with your feedback! I myself notice this, but I have a feeling that if we get bigger most of the dungeons will be redesigned to fit larger crowds of people.
     
  5. Gorgonzola

    Gorgonzola Adventurer

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    There are definitely problems.

    I'm already getting flashbacks of EQ 1, on the bad days, when I'm at Agalpa trying to get some decent items for gifts or myself (now that I can finally survive that room), and there is just _1_ other guy in there, and we both obviously are doing quite well without any help, and we both obviously harbor no hate for each other... aaaaaaand we both obviously need to kill Agalpa. Hmm. What do we do now? Roll dice? Take turns? Lay out a long plan in nearby chat? Explain our deep psychological motives for wanting to slay Agalpa and get his loot? Who ought to get the loot this time? Wait, if you move back without looting, did that mean it's my turn? Or did you intend to do something else? ... Ohh the headaches.

    Too much headaches trying to figure out a simple gameplay scenario. Personally I quit blaming people and myself for limited game design. I see Agalpa, I attack him. I loot him. End of story. And you can do too. If you get the loot before I do, that's cool. It's neither your fault or my fault, it's just a limitation in the game design that causes conflicting scenarios to happen.

    The big problem with "non instanced" loot mechanic is that it's always ripe with subjective interpretation. See a group of individuals will automatically assume somehow that they have priority. Strengths in number. or someone is in a location, they automatically assume if you walk there, that they are there "first". When it could be that you just died minutes ago, and had to make your way back. It goes on and on. But people who are so attached to their memories of EQ and DAOC mistakenly believe that such archaic loot mechanics are what makes a game social. It even get to the point where they propose on chat that "the community will figure who are the bad apples" and whatnot. Kinda sad.

    The social aspect of the game is a shared experience. Shared experience as far as I'm concerned is to have fun in a shared virtual environment.

    TLDR Imho all special foes should have instanced loot for everyone who participated in the fight. If 5 people are setting up camp at Agalpa, then let them all have their loot. Who cares. Agalpa is a mini boss. Reduce the loot quality or frequency if need be. A game is to have fun. Fighting monsters is fun. Fighting with other fellow players is not fun. Having "non instanced" loot doesn't really do much to the immersion in the game one way or another, so may as well have instanced loot.
     
  6. Gorgonzola

    Gorgonzola Adventurer

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    Also while this comes to mind... The loot is interesting .. to me it feels like a mix of ARPG loot and MMO loot, and I think it's quite fun how each piece of equipment can augment your abilities in various ways.

    At the same time preciely because high tier items are largely randomized, it doesn't make sense to have to fight for the better items.

    The Lucky Belts attunement is also a problem as it's pretty unpredictable who will score the kill right?

    Imho if we must have really oldschool loot mechanics, I think it would be best limited to truly unique items that have fixed properties, drop from the most difficult encounters in the game. So then you can have a funnel a the top end, where the social aspect is almost mandatory (ie. guild or groups, unlike much of soloable content).
     
  7. Citan

    Citan Project: Gorgon Developer
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    Thanks again for the feedback! I'm a bit confused about this one, though. Firstly, not sure why you'd take someone with 15s skills to level two of the dungeon. It's a big dungeon with a lot of areas that are intended to be easier than level 2. It sounds like you're saying level 2 is easier than e.g. the halls to Ursula? Or did you not find the other hallways? The dungeon is definitely in no way linear. I'm not sure how the dungeon would be at all appealing as a single player experience. Too non-linear, you'd be backtracking all the time.

    I think some of the contextual info has broken down as the landscape changed, that's all. Previously, you would be sent to that dungeon very early and told to avoid the giant spider in the middle. If you do that, you'll naturally follow the hallways to other areas of the dungeon. You'll also learn about poison resistance potions if you follow the signs in there, which were once quite critical, but now seem to be less important after various combat changes -- I may need to up the power of spider poison a bit to reinforce "hey, you need to learn about potions, they're going to be important." And add more signage to get you to the various other parts of the dungeon.

    The level 2 part is pretty close to the entrance, but that's not because I want people to rush to level 2. It's basically to make death less of a hassle. If the portal to level 2 was at the very end of the dungeon -- past the spider NPC and rhino guardian, I guess -- it would be way too annoying to have to run back. I might need to jack up the danger of the portal room to reinforce that it's not the "right" way to for newbies to go.

    RE: per-person instanced looting - I'm experimenting with that with the mobs in Sun Vale now. Seems to work okay for group mobs, with a few exploit cases and confusions. It doesn't really work out for solo able mobs, though. It just is very awkward there, because corpses are resources with fixed outputs. Either you get a meat when butchering, or you don't. And I don't want to flood the world with 5x as much meat just because people are in groups! I guess I could make it so only one person in the group saw each corpse, and thus only that person could do actions on the corpse, or something. But anyway, a more immediate change would be to give all boss monsters per-player looting, and that is already in the works. However, I kind of feel that many bosses need to be made tougher before this is done to them, to reinforce their "group-worthiness". Otherwise it'd just be a piƱata party. Still trying to figure that one out a bit. But I think we'll eventually have separate per-person loot for at least boss mobs.
     
  8. eggsalicious

    eggsalicious Adventurer

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    I'm not sure what you mean here by level 2, but I will say that Agalpa's room is the most desirable place in the game to farm long after you pass its intended level range. It affords a ton of money, faction items (swords/staves/artifacts), Goblinese, art appreciation, cheese, and level appropriate food which would otherwise be difficult to farm individually, and they allow you to level/collect all these things while getting excellent xp (you can pull the entire room with about lvl 40-42 skills and bury corpses for virtually instant respawns). The other rooms are filled with trash mobs with terrible drops and the occasional buggy painting. Further down, the named bear and the goblin are annoying to get to, have terrible drops, and who only need to be killed once for quests. You essentially have one room near the zone entrance which allows you to level your character in multiple ways for little effort competing with several other zones that are frustrating to get to and yield very little.

    The solution to this might be: have several agalpa style rooms, have the nameds therein call everything in the room that is alive when he is pulled, have the Goblin soldiers path as well, and give some of the mobs a power drain. This won't stop the 50's piggybacking secondary skills to 40ish, but it might slow down the farming and spread out the population.
     
  9. Gorgonzola

    Gorgonzola Adventurer

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    Still trying to figure that one out a bit. But I think we'll eventually have separate per-person loot for at least boss mobs.

    Sounds good! On the one hand some mechanics truly are archaic and were beloved because that's all we know then, on the other hand, modern MMOs have also ditched valuable elements that made the older MMOs feel a more satisfying experience and attainment. Anyway, TLDR... a middle line sounds good :)

    ps: Come to think of it for the non-instanced mini-bosses, it may just be that the dungeon is very simple at the moment. By adding a few more Agalpa's (like a slave room, and a torture room and whatnot :p) it would provide more "camps" for people and less congestion.
     
  10. Gorgonzola

    Gorgonzola Adventurer

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    Actually what I was hinting in my earlier comment regarding "instanced loot" is the special treasure only. Conveniently, when the enemy drops special treasure, it makes a distinctive sound and you have the treasure particle effect (and even the looting sound when someone examines the item on the corpse)... all of that is heard by nearby players. So all of that can be a cue to nearby players who know they participated in the fight that the special item is shared. Just the special treasure. All other regular loot can stay as it is, along with ability for one person to bury a corpse.

    As for burying corpse (I haven't been t Sun Vale's Elites solution you used yet), another idea following that above would be that a buried monster is replaced by a "monster tombstone" or "monster soul". Perhaps a little floaty effect, or a little sparkly chest? Either way, it shows that someone buried the corpse, so now all is left is the treasure someone didn't take. So maybe what that means is when burying a corpse that has special treasure left for someone who had participated in the fight, a new lootable thing is put in its place. Come to think of it that lootable "soul" visual could be per-client only (for the ones who didn't loot their special treasure yet). If however no one buried the corpse yet, then the concerned clients can get it from the corpse.