EQ Progression Servers Remind Us Why Instancing Started in the First Place…

While I have not been playing on the Fippy Darkpaw for several months now, I have been keeping an eye on it and occasionally mentioning events on the server.

Somebody has to do it, I suppose, and after the big (for them) build up to the Fippy Darkpaw launch back in February, SOE has since seemed determined to keep a lid on all information about how things are going.

Me, I would have made the roll-out of each expansion a front page item on EQ Players.  The purpose of the progression servers is to SELL nostalgia for the game.  Actually mentioning what is going on once in a while might actually help serve that purpose.

But such is life.  One more disappointment from SOE.  Add it to the list.

So, there being no official information coming out about the time locked progression servers, I am pretty much left with the time locked progression server forum as a source of news.

Fortunately, SOE implemented RSS feeds for their forums, so I can subscribe and let new messages find me.  And this also means when SOE deletes posts from their forums, I can still read them.  At least if the reader grabs them in time.  SOE forum moderation is very quick to lock, edit, or delete.

So you can get posts like this.

Subject: So GMs need to start gettin involved in the Raid targets..

B/c from watching Redacted and what they have pretty much said is they dont care if your in there way. Thy dont care if your about to engage they will run over you. I saw this with  vindi.. 2 guilds sitting there waiting they bum rushover ad say F you and take it anyways… They are crude and just plain dont care. O yeah an the Revamp CT shouldnt be in yet… so all those earings they got ect shouldn’t be awared to them and should be taken back and the new CT taken out. But do GM’s care? I would say not till you get a ton of petitions against them for KSn mobs.. (which will happen) b/c we all know on this TLP server Redacted does not care about any other guild.. (yes stated by some of YOUR members Redacted) So when will GMs get invlolved.. When we train Redacted back for the BS they do to us? Or will you all do something about it now.. JUST like last expansion… Redacted has always been this way… even on ther other server as Redacted but different… but hey SOE… if we keep this up who knows how the server will go…. downhill or uphill…

The word “Redacted” was substituted in by Piestro, the EQ community relations lead, because naming names in the forums is against the rules.

This post also illustrates one of the three flavors of posts that seem to come up regularly in the time locked progression server forums, guilds fighting over raid targets.

Left to itself, multiple guilds hanging around waiting for the same target ends up being survival, or at least success, of the fittest contest.  And while some (the winners no doubt) see this as right and good, SOE has it somewhere in their head that all of the people out there are paying customers.  And so the game masters, such that they are, get involved now and again, policing those waiting for a given target and determining who was there first in adequate force.

This, of course, leads to more forum posts:

Subject: wtb

Pocket GM to grant raid targets to guilds who cannot mobilize fast enough to beat real players. And have such a high attrition rate due to bad management that most of their guild is comprised of boxes being run through 3rd party programs. PST to 2nd rate guild in Fippy.

P.S. It has come to my attention that they already have one.

Please disregard.

Just a guess here, but I am going to say that this guy was in the guild whose name was redacted by Piestro in the first post I quoted.  These sorts of posts go back and forth.

And this is exactly the sort of thing that comes to mind whenever I read somebody’s piece on the evils of instancing, because this represents a good chunk of the reality of the situation.  I recall on an episode of Shut Up We’re Talking Karen responding to an assertion that PvE is not competitive.  Her response was essentially a recap of guilds and the very real and very aggressive competition for bosses in a non-instanced MMO, with EQ being the poster child.

So if you are one of those dreaming your happy dreams of an MMO without instancing because it is bad for “community,” make sure you have an answer for this situation.  EQ is an example of what happens. Either the company has to put a yard duty on the playground to make sure everybody plays nice or the whole thing becomes Lord of the Flies, and neither is a good answer.

I suppose instancing does not have to be the answer, but it seems to be the one companies choose.  People revile WoW for instanced content, but even EverQuest II had raid bosses in instances from launch to keep some of their most vocal customers from complaining about the spawn camping situation.

What other choice is there?

And for those of you waiting for me to tie up that thread I left dangling, the other two regular post flavors in the forums are “something is broken” and “I wish I could change something about the progression servers.”  Some of the latter are amusing, but generally only the former have much value.

15 thoughts on “EQ Progression Servers Remind Us Why Instancing Started in the First Place…

  1. Aufero

    Repeatedly training players from opposing guilds who were forming up for a raid was a common feature of raiding on my EQ server right up until PoP. (We finally started co-operating when everyone had to work together to get keyed.)

    I have very little nostalgia for non-instanced raid content.

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  2. Graham

    During the original days of EQ, I was in a smaller raiding guild that was competing with a lot of other guilds for raid targets. There was a lot of drama, we often lost targets and I was often left annoyed by the situation.

    Yet, given a choice between sterile, instanced content where everyone on the server ends up in the same cookie-cutter gear or the high drama, non-instanced contested zones. I would go for non instanced every time, though what developers should do is provide a variety of both, the instanced gear being of lesser quality but everyone can get it.

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  3. bhagpuss

    You ask “what other choice is there?”

    The alternative to instancing that we are just beginning to see is simply to give everyone who participates an equal shot at whatever the rewards are, regardless of how little they contributed or how late they arrived.

    The trend probably began with quests. Quite a few MMOs now give quest credit automatically to anyone involved in the kill of a quest mob, not just everyone grouped with the character that kills it but even people outside the group who do some damage. Rift extended this principle to pretty much any open-world target, with everyone who throws a heal or fires an arrow getting their own personal lucky bag of loot.

    I believe GW2 is going to take things even further. It’s by no means impossible to remove all competitive elements from PvE, if that’s what seems to be desirable.

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  4. Brian Ward

    If a game is properly designed, instanced raid bosses are not needed. EQ, however, is designed dungeon and raid wise, to provoke conflict. We never EVER had issues like this in Dark Age of Camelot, because there was enough stuff for all the players to do.

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  5. SynCaine

    Bah, lack of edit:

    On our PvP server in WoW, back when the world dragons were still important, guilds from other Horde and Alliance took turns, and everyone knew not to screw with an attempt and trigger the anti-zerg mechanics. Even without being able to communicate to the other side, there was never any real drama. Whichever guild got 40 there first, got first crack.

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  6. Drew

    Actually, I think World PvP is an excellent solution to non-instanced raid bosses. That’s essentially what training mobs overtop of people in FFXI (or EQ as noted here) was, only without much risk to the offenders. This way, they actually have to compete for the mob directly. I don’t like the “taking turns” idea – particularly in WoW. Why the heck would a Horde group stand there and wait for the filthy Alliance to kill the dragon, and vice versa. Go kill each other, whomever’s left standing take out the dragon.

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  7. SynCaine

    Problem with that Drew is that the graveyard is 30 seconds away, and by the time one 40 man group wipes the other, half of them are back, and it only takes one person to trigger the dragon’s “anti-zerg” insta-gib mechanic.

    If there was a debate about who got their first, you might have one 40v40 fight, but then for the sake of moving on, guilds would take turns.

    (On the other hand, in Darkfall, killing a group trying to kill the red dragon and then killing it yourself is very viable, but DF and EQ/WoW are pretty apples/oranges)

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  8. Remianen

    What Graham said, to the last detail. Back in the day, as the raid leader of a mid level guild (usually an expansion behind….along with up to half a dozen other guilds) with most clerics on PST, we dealt with a lot of races lost. It forced us to adapt (using our multitude of druids in heal rots, for example) and streamline operations. Get to the target FIRST, buff, clear trash, rebuff and drop the boss in as little time as possible if you want to win. After a while, it got to the point where training us was just free xp.

    I really dislike everything being instanced. It removes any motivation to strive for efficiency. Plus, there is no ‘top guild on the server’ anymore because EVERYONE can do the same “endgame” content, whenever they please. Part of the drive to complete certain content (see: Ssra, Vex Thal, North ToV, VP in the old days, etc) was, if you didn’t clear the zone, the next guild would come right behind you and do it for you. With zones like Vex Thal, that meant they would get the top loots (Aten essence/neck, etc) while you get the entry level stuff. The first time I stepped into Vex Thal, I was there for 13 hrs while we cleared the zone (and wiped repeatedly, of course). Why? Because there were two other guilds just waiting for us to quit so they could come clear the rest. That doesn’t even mention the entire weekend (72 hours) we spent farming armor in Halls of Testing since there were no fewer than eight guilds on the server at that same stage of progression.

    The drama on Fippy is expected. Didn’t you have the same whining/complaining about people using mass HT squads? I guess I just miss the competitive aspect of having to have your (stuff) together. Racing home from work to get on and get the guild moving was also part of that. Now it’s like, why bother? Mob will be up whenever we get there.

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  9. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Remianen – The thing is that I have long since moved on to a point in my life where I cannot invest 12 hour stretches, much less 72 hour straight runs, in any game.

    Our current group is, and has been for the last five years, pretty much limited to 3 hours on a Saturday night. If it cannot be done in that time frame, we’re not going to be able to do it.

    So the idea that we might waste that three hour window with the whole competitive bullshit, which is really a distraction from the game rather than being part of the game in my opinion, isn’t flying with me.

    Instancing is the way to go for dungeon content in my opinion. But I was never much for the zero-sum, not only must I win but you must lose, level of competition in a PvE focused MMORPG in the first place.

    And I didn’t say the forum drama was unexpected, I merely said this is why games went to instanced content.

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  10. Drew

    @Syn: Yeah, I was thinking more along the lines of my FFXI days where a death cost you XP and sent you back to your “home point” which was generally far away from boss spawns. You’re right, though, in that in WoW and similar games the fights would never end, really.

    I”ll have to look, but I think AION does something similar to this. (World PVP with World Bosses). I wonder how the graveyard system works in those areas.

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  11. Aufero

    @Drew – Aion’s graveyard system is unique (I think) in that you can set up your own graveyard spawn point for PvPvE raids, which can also be attacked and taken out by the other side if they find it left unguarded.

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  12. R

    Instancing is the MMO version of 12th place ribbons and taking the losing team at little league out for ice cream its why our country is going soft. Man up and win a contest instead of whining about it not being fair cause you pay the same 15 bucks a month

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