Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Cross-server dungeons for WoW

This is a side train of thought I had when writing about Blizzard's new fast forward mid-level game: In spite of them also improving the mid-level dungeons by reducing the level-range and making the loot better, a faster mid-level game probably means even less people visiting the mid-level dungeons. If people go through these levels faster, it becomes even harder to find a group of the appropriate level range. Already cities are full of lower level players begging for level 70s to run them through dungeons. This is not the way to enjoy the dungeon content.

When World of Warcraft had a similar problem with getting enough players of the right level range into the PvP battlegrounds, they solved that by introducing cross-server battlegrounds. So why not introduce cross-server dungeons? Dungeons being instances just like battlegrounds, there should be no technical problem with that.

To make that successful, we would need a better LFG system. You should be able to specify what classes you'd want in your group. Like having one slot for either a warrior or feral druid as tank, one slot for a priest or paladin as healer, and three slots where you'd accept any dps class. Players could see all the not complete groups waiting for a dungeon, and see where there is room for their character, of set up a new group if there isn't any. And this dungeon group forming interface would be shared between several servers, thereby much increasing the number of potential participants.

I enjoyed playing World of Warcraft by joining lots of groups for dungeons of all levels. Some places like Shadowfang Keep or the Deadmines are really great. It would be a pity if new players couldn't experience them, just because there are too few other mid-level players around. Cross-server dungeons could really boost this sort of gameplay. And by playing in groups early, players would arrive at the end game with a much better understanding of how to play in groups. The "level up to 70 solo and then group / raid" concept isn't really working all that well, people simply don't know how to play well in groups if they never did it.
Hear thee, hear thee!!

Excellent thinking there, Tobold: it may not come as a surprise that I agree you on every account. I'm a bit surprised, though, that you are so strongly against the soloing to the level cap. Positively surprised, as I have gathered earlier that you don't as much oppose it.

Yes, the cross-server instancing would be great. I'm getting fed up with the curren PUG hell in the server I'm playing and the fact that some of the instances are completely neglected by the majority of the powerlevellers. I'm missing my first Deadmines experience, Shadowfang isn't fun when you're forced to quit at Lord Arugal and overall the game is way too easy already to solo.

In the first place, more emphasis should have been put to the quest-lines so that more of the quests would direct you to instances. The new announcement on adding the rewards on the instances and instance quests is welcomed, but is it still necessary to increase the exp at the same time? The exp gain from an instance is higher anyhow than what you get from soloing... or it should be...

Great thinking, as I said already. This might help the up-and-coming players to learn to play their classes before the 60s-70s and later 80s raiding and instances.

And the social communication doesn't hurt anyone, especially when you're trying to learn your class!

I think it is important that a game offers the possibility to solo. Forced grouping for every combat, as EQ1 and FFXI have, is very annoying when you don't have the time to search for a group.

But once you hit the level cap, there isn't much left to do solo. Raids, most forms of PvP, heroic instances, all these require a group. And playing in a group is harder than playing solo, it requires coordination with the others, and aggro management. If a warrior waits until level 70 before he finds out what the "totally useless for solo" Taunt button does, that is bad news for everyone grouping with him. It is much better to already get some group experience in the lower levels, and thus have good training before reaching the end game. The dungeons are ideal to get that training.
Cross-server instances are great until you run into your first cross-server ninja looter. Or the player who signs up to an instance run, but first takes 45 minutes to get there (he gets lost easily and went afk to eat at one point), dies several times to the mobs outside, has a full inventory, is dressed in greens for a Heroic instance and forgot to repair and buy ammo. And when you finally get him into the instance, he keeps aggroing the wrong mobs all the time.

In an average-sized server news travels fast, and people like those stop getting invites quickly. But when the player pool consists of tens of thousands of players they can keep fouling up for a long time.

In addition, there's the issue of transferring loot between servers. Allowing cross-server loot transfers opens a big can of worms, so cross-server battlegrounds forbid you from trading anything but conjured items. In a normal instance run, you trade stuff all the time. Buff potions, surplus cloth, keys, crafting reagents, reputation turn-ins, shards from disenchanting..
Well the idea is kinda good but suffers from a few drawbacks. One of which is the fact that for most low-level instances you have to first fight a score of elites to get to instance. It isn't until level 55-60 (post temple I think) that instances are directly accessible, there must have been a change of policy in world design at that point of development.
Moreover I like the feel of playing on a closed server, it creates a sense of community. While battle groups were a great progress in terms of queue time (well, not for me, I'm horde) a lot of people regret the feeling of being part of a common world it created, with associated cross-faction friendships/e-peen contests on official realm fora.
Well if you are that much against cross server instancing the only real solution I see, since server mergers are a dead idea, is to start telling low pop servers they'll be shut down in 2 months and offer them one or two other servers as free transfer options. If they'd do that till every server was at least medium population it would help the problem.

I think cross server instancing would work better though. Especially for old content.
As I posted earlier - just make an official noobie server. All new characters start there, and you get a free transfer at 60th.
WoW Tobold, I think that is the best idea I have heard for a long time. I currently have a 70 Warlock in a hard core raiding guild. I also have a level 68 mage, a 55 paladin, and a Shammy I just got to 20 to wait and build rest until the new exp gains are released. I love my paladin, he is so fun to play with, and he obviously shines in a group setting being a support class and all. I have spent so many hours in the LFG tool, in the LFG channel, the only dungeon that is easy to get a group for really is ZF, before that or once past that try to get Mara, ST, BRD, heck even LBRS and you will be waiting a very long time. When not raiding I want to try different things, which is why I rolled a paladin. I can tank, I can heal, pretty much the total opposite of my Lock and I love it, but when I don't get a chance to use my abilites to the fullest I just go back to farming primal water with the lock and the poor Pally is shelved. Bring on X Server dungeons!

Shamlock, Eldre'thalas
That's a really good idea, although I agree with the previous poster that they'd have to come up with a workaround for the outside-the-instance parts of many instances (Mara, Gnomer, going from one section to another of SM). Still, it'd be a clever fix; guildie runs are great, but I do sometimes miss being able to get a half-decent group at level for Azeroth instances.
the only dungeon that is easy to get a group for really is ZF,

Isn't the carrot the only must have item pre 60?
I would only like this if I had the option to pick WHO I want to group with. I know TONS of people who play WoW but we're all on different servers. Having the opportunity to run instances with my friends on different servers would be golden, IMO.
Also, if people could group with twinks to do dungeons, there'd at least be a bit larger pool of players to run dungeons with. And it'd be a lot more fun than having a 70 run it with you. I know I'd be up to run SM or RFD again on my 39, except for the trifling problem of gaining xp. =/
Well, since experience during leveling will be increased ...and it was raised in another thread that a result of faster leveling will be less gold accumulated per level...

A good solution to eliminate the thread of ninja looters is have it so everyone (on a 5/10 man, pre-60 cross-server instance group) receive a copy of all drops.

The items they can't use they just vendor for coin.
I would play WoW again if I could use my paladin (on arthas) to raid or do dungeons with my friends on different servers.

Also... As far as lower lvl content getting a facelift, one addition I would add to what tobold mentioned is to be able to make "arranged team" groups from other servers, as competition this could be "ranked" very simliarly to how pvp is with 2 v2, 3v3, 4v5 or 5v5. Its more of a pve competition really, which I think could totally revitalized the lame 1-69 lvl gameplay.
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