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Dev Discussion #50 - Dungeon Delving
edited May 4 in General Discussion
Glorious Ashes community - it's time for another Dev Discussion! Dev Discussion topics are kind of like a "reverse Q&A" - rather than you asking us questions about Ashes of Creation, we want to ask YOU what your thoughts are.
Our design team has compiled a list of burning questions we'd love to get your feedback on regarding gameplay, your past MMO experiences, and more. Join in on the Dev Discussion and share what makes gaming special to you!
Dev Discussion - Dungeon Delving
Dungeon Delving: On average, how long do you prefer a dungeon playthrough to take?
Note that most dungeons in Ashes of Creation will be an open-world experience, where you may compete with other players to progress through the dungeon. You can read more about our dungeons here, on the wiki!
Keep an eye out for our next Dev Discussion on the Mage Archetype
Quality time can be for skins for transmog and other juicy tidbits. Generally across the night rather than peak times.
So, would you go over if your group was looking for something important and specific, or perhaps under if the competition in the dungeon is tough? Just curious to hear more from you and your group!
What makes 90 minutes feel like the sweet spot to you? Or, the "official time", rather.
Ok well I think you know who my 'leader' is by now. If she doesn't pass through soon I'll summon her for you. I think she was taking a break for a bit.
(I believe Steven said this on stream, if not, 🤫) I recall Steven saying that for example, especially with the Story Arc system, players could expect to spend a lot of time in and around Carphin while questing in the Riverlands! Is this also what you're talking about, or do you mostly mean killing monsters and players in dungeon environments?
We'll take all the feedback we can get in these Dev Discussion threads! It's super helpful to the team and makes writing the reports that much more engaging
Well, the 90 minute mark for official purposes mean we can fit 2 or 3 dungeons in on an official night. I realise there are unforseen complications and some dungeons are harder than others.
I would still hope for larger 40 man dungeons(raids) to last longer than 90 mins, like 150 mins but I wasn't sure if we were on such a narrow topic.
90 minutes feels like a special endeavour, 150 minutes feels like an epic endeavour and an all nighter feels like a consumer endeavour.
This may be slightly off topic but for high difficulty boss fights, I would consider having a lockout mechanic that creates either a magical barrier or barrier of entry to the boss area like a giant door for example, that shuts out all players from entering for a set time once the fight is started (maybe 10-15 minutes), giving that group a chance to beat it without being collapsed on and attacked by other groups to steal the boss kill once it's low health. The barrier would also go down immediately once any players inside are defeated and the boss would reset.
but also farmable dungeons for lets say some crafting material you need 15x of an item to make this one really nice weapon that will elevate your preformance then 15-20min runs are the better types in my opinion, as doing the same 1-2h long dungeon run when your main goal is the last boss or one of the alternative rare spawns in the dungeon, it might feel like a wasted 1h since no loot, or you lost the roll on it.
TLDR; 10-20min runs for farming style game play.
~2h runs for 1-3 time dungeon dwelving.
Feedback will be expanded upon in subsections by the group members that face the effects of different changes in their own posts.
An FFXI 'Assault' or BCNM has a 30 minute timer. Assaults are 'missions' with special parameters, BCNMs are usually boss battles.
A player must be able to experience three things to stably enjoy their game session, as I know it.
1. Ability to plan their participation according to the normal 'time blocks' available to the standard working adult or reasonably studious teenager.
2. Ability to enjoy the content without needing to go 'straight to 100%' for those of us who cannot due to the mindsets required for either work or study.
3. Ability to enjoy a reasonable challenge and fit in most if not all of the after-progress, particularly for those who roleplay slightly or more than that.
Relative to Point #1 - @GrandSerpent @SunScript
Ashes of Creation has some intent to have 8 person groups. Open world Dungeon experiences, I would assume to be content that at least can be done without very heavy planning, but given the PvP competitive nature of the game and the expected balancing, it should always be optimal to have all 8. Arranging a timeframe for 8 people, even people who are used to doing this, consistently, creates a situation where you must line up 8 availability windows.
30 minutes is optimal for that, but not optimal for points #2 and #3.
Relative to Point #2 - @JustVine @SongRune
Ashes of Creation has some intent to have dynamic content and potentially PvP competition. Players need to be able to 'fail' or 'be pushed into a corner' at least once without feeling like they have to give up due to time constraints. They need the flexibility to choose, here. If they try it once and fail, either there should be 'something else happening' for them to go do, or they should be able to regroup and retry at the same time when everyone is fresh still. This is particularly true for those who take longer to 'warm up' or 'change over' from their standard day mindsets. Non-tacticians can end up with the feeling that they do not stand much chance of success. This implies to some that content should be shorter and therefore more repeatable, but this does not work for Dungeons, as the situation changes quickly. There needs to be a 'buffer space' at the entrance or while navigating the Dungeon of 20m or so for those people to assess their status, and then still be able to engage the content with at least one failure chance.
20-30 minutes 'easy buildup to boss or deep dungeon content', 20-30 minutes Boss/Mission-like content attempt #1, 30 minutes 'celebration and winding down' or 'retry' (likely to have failed previous section quicker than 30m so full retry is possible.
Few things are worse than 'wanting to retry a challenge and not having enough time for everyone to do so.
Relative to Point #3 - @GrandSerpent @GrilledCheeseMojito
Ashes of Creation hopes to foster dynamism and related feelings, and some people need the ingame feedback of success and some time to enjoy it before heading off for their next obligation, even if they return later. Social people enjoy explicitly doing this with their friends. But quick content isn't satisfying for some, and it's too fast to get any real 'RP' out of. Those people need both, sometimes all three, and Ashes not only lacks fast travel, but getting back out of the dungeon safely with the loot is part of the dungeon.
The misery of 'having to leave your team who might need you to help them win PvP to actually escape with your spoils' is what I'm talking about here. At least if one only wins after a retry at the boss you can feel 'well that was somewhat on us for not being strong enough to win in one try', but 'warming up, being properly challenged, winning, and then having to leave your allies to fend for themselves' is a pain point that can't be understated.
These are the three components to a 'Dungeon Run' in Ashes of Creation that I consider important. Not everyone can be 'warmed up' in less than 20-30 minutes. We don't enjoy challenges that take less than 15m in a synergy-heavy game, certainly not with 8 person or larger groups. Escaping with the spoils is its own entire experience that requires a similar coordination.
Since I didn't really know if this was a question about 'how big should the dungeon be' or 'how strong should the bosses be', I gave the entire explanation.
EDIT: @SpaceWolf - in case of any additional general notes.
To expand on this, I can't really imagine a dungeon run that takes much less than 30 minutes being particularly satisfying.
A lot of what I enjoy about this sort of content in other games (e.g. FFXI) is there being a sense of progression over the course of a dungeon run, so you're not immediately dropped in at max difficulty, and have time to warm up and get properly coordinated with other members of your group.
So, you might start out fighting solo enemies at the beginning of a run, then dealing with more tactically complex situations with multiple enemies and links, then finally having to fight some boss. That sort of progression requires a certain minimum amount of time, which is, generally, about 30 minutes.
If my group has time, I would also want the option to do longer/more involved content.
What Azherae mentioned about 20-30m of warmup again weaker enemies towards the start of the dungeon, followed by 20-30m of fighting challenging bosses/dungeon depths enemies, and 30m or so spent getting back to the surface and winding down, sounds just about perfect. Any longer and it would start to become too logistically difficult to coordinate or too tiring to run through without a break.
So, tl;dr, I'd want a range of possible lengths of content, but not less than 30m, and probably not more than 80-90m.
The reward for all that time spent is I get good XP rates and sometimes rare drops that make the time spent worth it.
As long as I can leave feeling like my time was well spent, I’ll spend as long as it takes!
Absolutely. There's no feeling worse than failing in some stupid or basic way, because you couldn't find your groove, and dragging down the night for your entire team, because the first attempt took long, or there's no time to try again.
I come from work, and sometimes life obligations, that have a tendency to leave me in all sorts of different strange states. Tense. Distracted. Pissed off at a colleague. You know how it can be. It's not easy to go from dealing with frustrating incompetence, or bad luck, right into a full power performance in a competitive game. Even with time to cool down, I also need time to warm up. To find all those little flaws in my mindset or emotions that I lost track of throughout the day. Not to mention just warming up muscles that my day job does not use.
And that's why it matters. Some days we don't have a lot of time to play. My group has a wide variety of people from a variety of life positions, but our one constant is that we do a lot. We make the effort to make time to play together, and this works. But even then, that ramp up is crucial. Some of my friends can go from 'off' to 'on' almost instantly, but many cant. The opportunity to ramp up, and to suffer a failure or two before we get in the groove is crucial. Sometimes you need to push yourself to realize that there's something wrong, and fix it. "Powering up" or dispelling the day's debuff doesn't even always take more than a few moments of realizing how you fucked up and remembering your rhythm. But if you've already failed by that point? That moment of "Okay. Got it! I'm ready now!" is suddenly "Well, that's it then. We've failed, and the Paladin and Fighter are out of time." And THAT is true misery. Even when it's just "we were going to do two dungeons tonight, and now can only manage one", it feels terrible. But with a 'warm up' phase, and the chance to fail once or twice early, without losing the night as a whole? Now you can get the whole team in sync, and really hit your stride, and that's where real fun comes from.
Just in case of the unlikely chance you didn't understand she is not trying to say that we want 30 minute dungeons. Each 'point' here is part of a whole. If a dungeons boss is not at least 30 minutes, the boss is either easy OR 'a damage check'. If it takes me less than thirty minutes to get to that 30 minute boss then the dungeon itself is shallow or small or the enemies are probably too weak. If there isn't at least 30 minutes of 'struggle for control' in that 1h of delve plus boss, then I'd assume the loot sucked or you made it instanced because there is no way people won't gank and hassle others at dungeons if the loot is good. So 90 minutes.
I hope we get many dungeons of varying sizes, levels, and types. All the way from small 30 minute run to clear dungeons, to some vast, sprawling dungeons with multiple entrances and sections, where players can disappear for hours and hours on end, should they have the time, with big bosses spread throughout, and perhaps an überboss at the bottom. Think Darkness Falls in DAoC, but bigger and better, where realistically players only have time for one section per run, but also a place where the no-lifers can risk staying for hours without running back to sell and repair.
On a tangent, I would like to see dungeons designed in a way where groups with the right class combinations can skip sections by using those class utilities to go through hidden or magical doors, pass through poison and other traps, and thus either decrease travel time to a boss, or enter an entire section of the dungeon that isn't accessible to any other group without that class composition.
So eventhough i think 60-90 Minutes for a Dungeon (Not a Raid) is the perfect run time you should add atleast 2-3 Dungeons with a lower Run Time. like a ''2 Boss'' Dungeon where a Run only takes like 30mins or something.
So the players can Run this dungeons too if they dont have the Time for the Larger/Longer Ones. (Maybe 1 for Low level, Mid, High Level)
You've also got to account for failures/restarts/increased difficulty/etc. A perfect run may only take 1.5hrs, but how many are likely to get that perfect run?!
My best dungeon experience from any game was from Everquest's Sol A and B.
As opposed to modern MMO's, Everquest level progression was mainly through repeated mob grind from static spawns, and I really enjoy that kind of gameplay. I don't mind questing, but I loathe basic "fetch and kill" quests. Might as well just kill some mobs and grind some resources instead.
From more modern games, I also really enjoyed the original 15-man Blackrock dungeons. These could take several hours.
I think a solid mix of shorter dungeons (1-2 hours), and some longer dungeons in the 3-5 hour range would be good. I don't appreciate conteing being arbitrarily cut short to meet a perfect timefram formula, and I would rather spend 5 hours doing a single (long) run, than running the same (short) dungeons on repeat for 5 hours straight.
The only right answer is: it depends. Depends on where the dungeon is located at, depends on what the dungeon (mobs) level is, depends on what the rewards are and, last but not least, depends if it's open world or instanced.
Instanced dungeons are easier to design, I don't worry too much about those.
Open world dungeons are where things get interesting. I have high expectations for them, so I'm only going to focus on them from now on.
I hope that some dungeons will be easier to traverse than others; different teams holding different rooms; dungeons with multiple floors similar to what you'd see on some isekai manga; variety not only in aesthetics but also in boss fights; timers/conditions for certain good or bad events to happen; (difficult) parkour to advance to the next room; specific (bard, rogue, ranger, summoner, etc.) skills to be able to advance and/or trigger extra content and much more.
With that said, I still have too many questions to be able to say how long a dungeon's playthrough should take.
I can't wait to test these things in Alpha 2, hopefully that'll happen before I have kids.
Depends on the difficulty.
I don't like easy dungeons.
Anything under 25 minutes is usually pretty under-whelming. Every MMO with major dungeons/raids typically has 1 wherein it's literally a single, really tough boss with a lot of mechanics. These can be fun, but that short of a length in an encounter doesn't typically spur memorable moments.
I like Fractals due to their high intensity and traps, where even the smallest mistakes can be fatal. With 1-2 mini-bosses and 1 boss to defeat, Fractals can take up to 20 minutes to complete, especially if you take your time to explore and play with friends
In EVE, players can take the Extravaganza missions, where the use of a special key can unlock a secret room after clearing the final room. This key is randomly obtained from mobs across the region and is not required to enter the dungeon. The Extravaganza missions are open to all, with ganking being common. These missions can take up to 20-30 minutes to complete, but players love the thrill for the loot while being in the danger of risk of losing everything in the open dungeon and even tough the secret room is no secret anymore people love openning that room. Sometimes, a larger dungeon can be divided into sections, allowing only those who meet certain criteria or have accomplished certain tasks to progress further and have the full dungeoning experience
I also think it would be fun to see some optional mechanics that required players to finish the dungeon (or achieve some objective inside the dungeon) within a certain time limit. Perhaps a resource near the entrance to the dungeon needs to reach the central chamber in order to be processed into something useful, but it goes bad or falls apart if it doesn't get processed quickly enough. Something to keep the pressure on throughout the run as an extra, but not necessary objective.
Note that most dungeons in Ashes of Creation will be an open-world experience, where you may compete with other players to progress through the dungeon.
A: For me the question only makes sense in the context of instanced dungeons, as already present in the question. open world dungeons are places "where you may compete with other players to progress through the dungeon." and such unpredictable variable can dramatically change the time a open-world dungeon playthrough can take.
For instanced dungeons 30-90 min on average seems like a reasonable range depending on its difficulty/rewards/player amount requirements and players strategy.
For Open World dungeons the best answer i can give is similar to @NiKr 's "as long as it takes" or "the longer the better". L2 Style, A extremely long lasting content source as a POI should be, where grinding inside of them is almost never obsolete(other than level disparity) with unique resources, unique monsters/bosses drops, unique repeatable quest rewards and etc, always incentivising competitivity and conflict between the players dwelling inside of them.
Aren't we all sinners?