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Author Topic: stupid question... "instancing"?  (Read 15600 times)
Kenrick
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on: May 17, 2004, 01:08:29 PM

Okay, as I'm looking ahead at upcoming mmorpgs (haven't really played one seriously in about 3 years...) I keep seeing the word "instanced" pop up, ie. "instanced dungeons" and whatnot.  Can someone tell me what the hell "instanced" means?  Thankee.

p.s. -- Neither WoW nor EQ2 have been able to interest me, but I really like what I've seen/read about Vanguard.  Anyone following that one?
cevik
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Reply #1 on: May 17, 2004, 01:14:01 PM

Each player, or group of players, gets his own private instance of an area to use as he pleases.  For example, in CoH, when you get a mission it will mark a location on your map, you travel through the multiplayer world either solo or with your group, then when you arrive at the location there will be an entrance to a private area (either a door, or a cave, or a sewer grate, etc).  When you and your group enters the door you are transported to a private dungeon (an office building, a warehouse, a cave system, a sewer system, etc) full of mobs and adventure for you to fight alone without the risk of random_asshole_2247 interrupting your fun..

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Kenrick
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Reply #2 on: May 17, 2004, 01:19:57 PM

Interesting... I can see how that would be a very nice feature but I can also see how it would annoy true RPers.  Anyhow, thanks for the info.

Also it's funny you mention random_asshole_2247 -- that fucker just stole my slurpee!! :(
HaemishM
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Reply #3 on: May 17, 2004, 01:32:11 PM

I imagine it would only annoy true RP'ers until random_cum_guzzler_007 rampage through their wedding dropping purple potions everywhere, killing himself and everyone else in the general vicinity for no other reason than to say the words, "HA HA DIE RP FAGS!!1! LOL NOOBLERZ!@"

For the small break in immersion, which is really a very rare occurence, I'll take the instancing over the purple potions any day.

WayAbvPar
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Reply #4 on: May 17, 2004, 01:33:27 PM

Quote from: HaemishM
I imagine it would only annoy true RP'ers until random_cum_guzzler_007 rampage through their wedding dropping purple potions everywhere, killing himself and everyone else in the general vicinity for no other reason than to say the words, "HA HA DIE RP FAGS!!1! LOL NOOBLERZ!@"

For the small break in immersion, which is really a very rare occurence, I'll take the instancing over the purple potions any day.


I don't know...that sounds mighty entertaining!

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Numtini
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Reply #5 on: May 17, 2004, 02:09:49 PM

It's not a big issue for RPers at all. It's most adventure zones.

COH I would say it is a problem because everything is instanced including the public zones.

Most games just instance dungeons or other private adventure zones. The kind of place where if you see anyone else, chances are whomever got there second has wasted their time getting there because it only supports one group anyway.

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El Gallo
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Reply #6 on: May 17, 2004, 02:23:41 PM

More of a problem for your casual socializer types than your hardcore RPer types, I think.  Instancing is a good idea in moderation, but someone needs to tell game designers that "instancing" does not mean "instancing bland, characterless, randomly-thrown together crap areas" which seems to be something they are confused about (firsthand, I know that this is what the instanced zones in EQ and AO are like, by secondhand reports that is what the CoH instanced zones are like as well).  Why they don't instance handcrafted zones is beyond me.

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Reply #7 on: May 17, 2004, 02:28:13 PM

They don't instance "hand-crafted" dungeons so much because they can still only create so much content so quickly. Putting together random building block zones is much easier and lasts longer than trying to handcraft every single instance someone enters.

In my first 14 levels of CoH, I've probably done close to 60-70 missions. That's a whole shitton of content to try to handcraft.

Random is fine with me, so long as it doesn't look boring. The CoH missions are the best I've seen, but even then, they get somewhat repetitive. It still beats the hell out of getting in line to kill the dragon that sixteen people in front of you are going to kill.

Xilren's Twin
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Reply #8 on: May 17, 2004, 03:20:49 PM

Quote from: HaemishM
They don't instance "hand-crafted" dungeons so much because they can still only create so much content so quickly. Putting together random building block zones is much easier and lasts longer than trying to handcraft every single instance someone enters.


Not to mention that you can add more sets of building blocks probably easier than you can add more handcrafted zones, so the reusability of content cost savings is there in more than one way.

Personally, as long as they pass the "the environment should not detract from the game" first blush test, that's ok with me.  In CoH, graphiclly they are fine to nice, and do provide some tactical decisions with some parts having multiple vertical levels and other small chokepoints and doorsway to defend.  Fer instance (pun intended), I was jumped by 6 Tsoo in an office map earlier today and was able to sprint into a small office and hold the door with my hurricane power, which allowed me to lure the sorceror into range (by hurting his ninja compatriats so he would teleport into range to heal them) of small short range high dam attack so I was able to take him down, then mop up the rest.  Course, my Def specializes more in area denial then say healing, but play to your strengths.  After all, it's not the maps which matter, it's what you do on them/in them.

It does appear you start to get some new maps around lvl 15 in CoH too.  The high tech lab and some of the larger caverns are cool.  Can't wait to see a nazi bunker.  And they are getting ready to add more variety in content patch 1 like outdoor mission areas; mid air battles here I come.

Instancing, it works for me.

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Fargull
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Reply #9 on: May 17, 2004, 04:59:12 PM

Quote from: Numtini

COH I would say it is a problem because everything is instanced including the public zones.


Strangely I am not finding this an issue at all.  I do not feel less emmersed.  If the fact another Astro Park is added for incoming heroes to zone into and I will not be forced to wade through 200 heroes buying inspirations I am cool.  Community is built through action and reaction, not being squeezed into a box...

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SurfD
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Reply #10 on: May 17, 2004, 05:08:14 PM

My only complaint with the instancing issue of multiplayer City secitons in CoH is that I wish all instances of a City Section (say Kings Row 1, Kings Row 2, etc) shared a single "Looking for Team" channel.  It is really annoying for a team leader to have to zone in and out of each instance looking for team members if no one in a particular instance is seeking team at the moment.

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cevik
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Reply #11 on: May 17, 2004, 05:16:00 PM

Quote from: SurfD
My only complaint with the instancing issue of multiplayer City secitons in CoH is that I wish all instances of a City Section (say Kings Row 1, Kings Row 2, etc) shared a single "Looking for Team" channel.  It is really annoying for a team leader to have to zone in and out of each instance looking for team members if no one in a particular instance is seeking team at the moment.


I'm hoping that one day, when they've finished some of the content patches, they'll consider going back and revamping the looking for team tool.  I think this is one of the most important features in a MMOG, yet it's rarely done correctly and is usually nothing but a pasted on afterthought..

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El Gallo
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Reply #12 on: May 17, 2004, 05:39:24 PM

I just have different preferences on that, to me the environment is a huge part of the game.  The choice for me is not between "waiting 16 hours in line in a handcrafted dungeon like Sebilis" and "not waiting in line 16 hours in a soulless randomly generated strip mall zone."  The answer is not waiting in line in a handcrafted dungeon called Sebilis-Instance 12".

It all depends on what you are willing to scrimp on I guess.  Setting is huge for me, but if SWG and later games are any indication, it isn't for a lot of people.  I think that WoW at least has gone with the instanced handcrafted dungeons approach.

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cevik
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Reply #13 on: May 17, 2004, 06:02:30 PM

Quote from: El Gallo
I just have different preferences on that, to me the environment is a huge part of the game.  The choice for me is not between "waiting 16 hours in line in a handcrafted dungeon like Sebilis" and "not waiting in line 16 hours in a soulless randomly generated strip mall zone."  The answer is not waiting in line in a handcrafted dungeon called Sebilis-Instance 12".


I half agree, I hated the instanced missions in AO because they felt random to me, but in CoH the dungeons are seemless enough to not really seem random, they are put together in a way that feels somewhat organic.

I've been a big preacher of instances for a long time, and I feel the ideal way is a lovely handcrafted EQ style world with instanced handcrafted dungeons, but until we finally convince game designers that's what we really need, CoH style missions will do.  It's not the best, but it's not the worst either.

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Arnold
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Reply #14 on: May 17, 2004, 06:17:04 PM

Quote from: WayAbvPar
Quote from: HaemishM
I imagine it would only annoy true RP'ers until random_cum_guzzler_007 rampage through their wedding dropping purple potions everywhere, killing himself and everyone else in the general vicinity for no other reason than to say the words, "HA HA DIE RP FAGS!!1! LOL NOOBLERZ!@"

For the small break in immersion, which is really a very rare occurence, I'll take the instancing over the purple potions any day.


I don't know...that sounds mighty entertaining!


Hehe, I remember the bombing of a UDL knighting ceremony that was quite entertaining.  They are mad rollplayaz, of course.
Arnold
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Reply #15 on: May 17, 2004, 06:19:32 PM

Quote from: HaemishM
They don't instance "hand-crafted" dungeons so much because they can still only create so much content so quickly. Putting together random building block zones is much easier and lasts longer than trying to handcraft every single instance someone enters.

In my first 14 levels of CoH, I've probably done close to 60-70 missions. That's a whole shitton of content to try to handcraft.

Random is fine with me, so long as it doesn't look boring. The CoH missions are the best I've seen, but even then, they get somewhat repetitive. It still beats the hell out of getting in line to kill the dragon that sixteen people in front of you are going to kill.


Yeah, it's probably a lot like the old X-Com missions.  Sure they were random, but you got thrown into different situations based on the scenario and the placement of everything.  The "handcrafted content", or lack thereof wasn't the fun.  The fun was in how the game played and the tactics involved to pull off a successful mission.
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Reply #16 on: May 17, 2004, 06:22:15 PM

Quote
I imagine it would only annoy true RP'ers until random_cum_guzzler_007 rampage through their wedding dropping purple potions everywhere, killing himself and everyone else in the general vicinity for no other reason than to say the words, "HA HA DIE RP FAGS!!1! LOL NOOBLERZ!@"
 

I think that everyone who debates these topics should have been forced to endure this kind of melting pot of gaming playstyles to understand what a horridly, horridly, bad idea it was. And consider that I feel early UO was a great game, with an almost total lack of accountability.

By beating the grief factor and the disneyland factor (waiting in line to access content) in one swell foop, I feel it's worth losing a little 'immersion', though I've never felt it ruined the immersion at all, certainly not as much as WAITING IN LINE TO KILL A DRAGON or the aforementioned death robe purple potion spammer.

Nothing makes me feel more like a walking wallet than a company's tacit acceptance of that kind of behaviour.

cevik
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Reply #17 on: May 17, 2004, 06:27:49 PM

Quote from: Sky
By beating the grief factor and the disneyland factor (waiting in line to access content) in one swell foop, I feel it's worth losing a little 'immersion', though I've never felt it ruined the immersion at all, certainly not as much as WAITING IN LINE TO KILL A DRAGON or the aforementioned death robe purple potion spammer.


I quit EQ because I was fucking sick of camp checks and trying to fight over limited resources in a damned game that discourged player conflict.  It's fucking stupid to have to run around the gameworld looking for a place to set up camp, only to have some asshole come along a hour later and decide he's camping that spot now.  I decided at that point I was only going to play games that either had PvP, so I explain it was MY FUCKING CAMP, or games that handled the problem in unique ways, which instancing covers well.

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Reply #18 on: May 18, 2004, 12:16:30 AM

Quote from: El Gallo

It all depends on what you are willing to scrimp on I guess.  Setting is huge for me, but if SWG and later games are any indication, it isn't for a lot of people.  I think that WoW at least has gone with the instanced handcrafted dungeons approach.


They have indeed. don't know if it'll stay that way in the long run but for now at least it's all hand crafted.

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Monika T'Sarn
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Reply #19 on: May 18, 2004, 01:57:33 AM

I hate instancing, Its a cheap copout, whichI fear it will slowly kill MMORPG's as we've known them. All we'll get are diablo clones.

I'd rather see a game where every other player you meet up with in a dungeon is welcomed as help against a common enemy - or as part of the encounter you have to fight.

Make dungeons work like keep sieges in daoc. You kill the boss, then everybody who was there gets rewarded, and the dungeon turns into a town for your side.

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Reply #20 on: May 18, 2004, 02:08:16 AM

I'd rather see Diablo clones than Everquest clones. At least until someone figures out how to do 'massive' right.
Morfiend
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Reply #21 on: May 18, 2004, 02:17:08 AM

Quote from: Monika T'Sarn
I hate instancing, Its a cheap copout, whichI fear it will slowly kill MMORPG's as we've known them. All we'll get are diablo clones.

I'd rather see a game where every other player you meet up with in a dungeon is welcomed as help against a common enemy - or as part of the encounter you have to fight.

Make dungeons work like keep sieges in daoc. You kill the boss, then everybody who was there gets rewarded, and the dungeon turns into a town for your side.


I think instancing defenetly has it place. CoH would not even be half the game it is with out instancing. I think there defenetly needs to be a ballance between the two, Instance and non-instance missions/dungeons. If you take CoH for example, I think they have overdone instancing just a bit much, there really is no sence of comunity. Oh, its great to do the missions with the Super Group, but some times its nice to go to populated dungeons and get a pickup group, or hang at a popular hunting spot and maybe make a new friend. I think if they added some uninstanced dungeon type places, more like the hazzard zones, it would help a lot.

On the other hand, you never have to worry about johnny_fuck_nutz stealing your kill, or training you.

What im saying is a happy medium is needed.
eldaec
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Reply #22 on: May 18, 2004, 02:59:39 AM

Quote from: Monika T'Sarn
I'd rather see a game where every other player you meet up with in a dungeon is welcomed as help against a common enemy - or as part of the encounter you have to fight.


I'm not saying this wouldn't be fun.

But in reality most of the teh EQ/DAoC/CoH etc pve 'community' don't actually want to play a massively multiplayer game. (note all the whining about kill-stealing, zerging in pvp, or about the 'need' to take keeps/bases)

What they want (and get) is a co-operative multiplayer game with the lobby/matchmaking service rendered in the game engine itself. There is nothing wrong with this of course. But if you are going to set up a game that is about xp, and you are going to give serious xp penalties for helping each other out of group, then putting everyone in the same dungeon is daft - instancing makes much more sense; and as a bonus it allows the designer to easily set actual victory conditions for a dungeon - as opposed to just facilitating spawn spot camping.

That said, there are genuinely massively multiplayer games in existence, which work the way you describe, ATitD and PS spring to mind immeadiately. Or arguably Daoc in an rvr zone (despite the best efforts of the players to turn it into group vs group multiplayer).

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Soukyan
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Reply #23 on: May 18, 2004, 07:14:18 AM

I think you'll find that we will see more instancing and the technology used for it will evolve to provide zones that appear to be hand-crafted or can match the quality of hand-crafted. I would rather see developers work on that because, let's face it, hand-crafted zones take too damn much time and resources to create and players will burn through them faster than they can be created.

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Alrindel
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Reply #24 on: May 18, 2004, 07:48:20 AM

Wait: the technology of instancing has nothing to do with whether or not the zones are hand-crafted or randomly generated.  As far as I know, in CoH, all the indoor mission zones ARE hand-crafted, the only thing that changes randomly is mob placement.  Can anyone confirm or deny this for sure?
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Reply #25 on: May 18, 2004, 07:52:58 AM

Yes. All of the zones in City of Heroes are hand crafted. That said, there's only about 4-6 of them per map type. Possibly less (I've only seen 3 different maps for Circle of Thorns/Perez Park missions, out of about 50 cave crawls). Mob placement is semi-random to be sure. I'm sure there's a sphere of possibility for where mobs can be placed and how many can be placed per your level/size of group.

Instancing however is ONLY (and nothing more or less) than missions set apart from the actual world that only you/your group can access. All instancing does is reduce server load, thus reducing lag and it pretty much just gets rid of the concept of 'camping' altogether.

Edit: One thing about buildings (i.e. zones with more than 1 floor) - it seems that there is a bit of randomness to the layout of entire buildings. For example, there's 5 possibly 1st floors, 5 possible second floors, and 5 possible 3rd floors, etc. Now there is a level of randomness to how these floors get placed together, but even then, each floor is handcrafted. If it isn't this way, it should be.
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Reply #26 on: May 18, 2004, 08:10:00 AM

Quote from: Alrindel
Wait: the technology of instancing has nothing to do with whether or not the zones are hand-crafted or randomly generated.  As far as I know, in CoH, all the indoor mission zones ARE hand-crafted, the only thing that changes randomly is mob placement.  Can anyone confirm or deny this for sure?


Right, but what I'm getting at is that the technology of instancing needs to be furthered such that a hand-crafted setting can be duplicated sans the hand-crafting time and resources, if that makes sense. If the technology were capable of doing such a thing, it would allow for rapid development of lots of content. Hell, it would be a boon to MMOGs as a whole and not just ones that used instancing heavily.

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Alrindel
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Reply #27 on: May 18, 2004, 08:22:45 AM

Who's to say they didn't already do that, ie. use tools to automatically generate dungeon layouts and then tweak them manually to make sure they're consistent and finished.  I know that's how SWG's planetary terrain was created.

The thing is that whether you randomly generate infinite variations of "brightly lit indoor office zone" or manually create 10 premade ones, the player probably won't notice the difference.  The real bulk of the work in adding new areas is creating the bitmaps, object frames and textures to work from, and I doubt that can ever be automated to any significant degree.
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Reply #28 on: May 18, 2004, 08:58:19 AM

I agree that it would be nice to have a good mix of "standard" dungeons and instanced ones. For the most part, to my memory, AO was like COH mostly instanced missions. (Though I haven't played the expansions). I do sometimes miss the big dangerous dungeons like I used to find in AC1. (Some of the best fun I've had EVER in one of these games was a dungeon romp or two in AC1 that turned into total clusterfucks about halfway in.).

Despite all the advertising WoW is more standard dungeons than instanced ones. (I'm level 20 and I've been in ONE instance so far.). COH is the opposite I've yet to see a static dungeon. I don't know if there are any at the top or soon to be added.

In any case, I like instancing, but I enjoy the big static dungeons too.

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Reply #29 on: May 18, 2004, 09:02:00 AM

AC1's dungeons were randomly created then touched up by a person. I don't like randomized content, I like handcrafting, I don't think a single dungeon I've seen in any other game comes close to the original release dungeons of EQ.

But I do like instancing, because kids can't play nice, and there is no lifeguard at the pool.

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Reply #30 on: May 18, 2004, 09:14:25 AM

I never played EQ. I didn't know that about AC1's dungeons, but I will say they were probably the most fun dungeons I have encountered to this point. WoW's dungeons seem kind of small to me (except the 1 instance I was in which was huge) and other games I've played have given me similiar feelings. The dungeons in AC1 were huge for the most part and I miss that.

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Reply #31 on: May 18, 2004, 09:34:37 AM

Quote from: Riggswolfe
COH is the opposite I've yet to see a static dungeon. I don't know if there are any at the top or soon to be added.


All the hazard/trial zones are effectively outdoor static dungeons - and most have enclosed areas that look and play exactly like a traditional MMOG dungeon too.

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Alrindel
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Reply #32 on: May 18, 2004, 09:50:54 AM

Quote from: Riggswolfe
COH is the opposite I've yet to see a static dungeon. I don't know if there are any at the top or soon to be added.

I would argue that the forest in Perez Park meets the definition of "static dungeon".
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Reply #33 on: May 18, 2004, 11:26:22 AM

Yes, the size of AC1's dungeons was nice. And the dungeons weren't /bad/ by a longshot, I can still remember a lot of fun romps in them. The only reason I didn't stick with AC was mostly the unarmed nerfs at the end of the beta. Probably had to be done, but nerfed the heck out of my character so I just quit and never bought the release (went back to uo/siege). I think I 'only' made level 35 or 36 in beta (for disclosure purposes :)).

But they lacked style and substance, like Guk, which is a pretty huge dungeon itself (2 zones, upper and lower). Even little things like the goblin 'town' in Runnyeye, complete with banker or the backstory of Unrest.

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Reply #34 on: May 18, 2004, 01:24:19 PM

Quote from: Alrindel
Wait: the technology of instancing has nothing to do with whether or not the zones are hand-crafted or randomly generated.  As far as I know, in CoH, all the indoor mission zones ARE hand-crafted, the only thing that changes randomly is mob placement.  Can anyone confirm or deny this for sure?


I have not played CoH and was basing my comments on what I read at http://fohguild.org/forums/showthread.php?s=6cf575b7903c198192048f81ee256ab9&threadid=11502&perpage=15&pagenumber=7

in particular

Quote
Zones. There are 3 zone types.

1: Standard city. They all look the same. Don't kid yourself. the only 2 zones that have any character to them are Brickstown and Founders falls. Bricks because it has the prison, and founders falls because of the many waterways and cobblestone feel.

2: Burnt/Destroyed City. Boomtown, creys etc. They all look/feel the same. You've seen 1, you've seen em all.

3: Wildlife/nature. Perez park has some, Eden has a lot, and of course the Hive. if you've seen one forest, you've seen em all. Nothing new to explore in Eden if you've seen perez park. Its the same trees, same rocks. Just a few different mob names here and there.

Some zone intermix the types, but its still the same.


Next up - dungeons. Randomly generated Dungeons =! content. the EQ LDON expansion had this same problem. Dungeons that are randomly spawned/different - are still the same dungeon. If you want truely good content, you need to hand craft each dungeon. Just because Office A has 3 more rooms than office B, does not mean its different. It means there is a serious lack of creativity and effort put into creating more content.


especially the last paragraph, which led me to believe that CoH was like LDoN/AO.

This post makes me want to squeeze into my badass red jeans.
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