More Vanilla Dungeon Nostalgia

When I picked up playing on Kronos again after a break of several months, I dumped a whole bunch of group and dungeon quests from my quest log and vowed to myself that, in the future, I wouldn't allow them to bog me down. If I got them done, great, but I wasn't going to fret about it and if I outlevelled them before a good opportunity presented itself to complete them, I'd just throw them out without a second thought.

In terms of group quests, I've actually been pretty lucky since then - just as the ones in Stranglethorn Vale and Alterac Mountains were starting to build up and beginning to feel like a problem, I had a lucky day and got the whole lot of them done in two runs (one for each zone).

Also, I've been running dungeons again, mostly as a healer, even though I always feel a bit self-conscious wearing a dress as a paladin. I tend to not put my healing gear on until we're at the instance and I immediately take it off again as soon as we're done. Funnily enough, the one time I didn't do that and left it on for a bit while wandering around Ironforge clearing my bags, a dwarf paladin whispered me accusingly that paladins shouldn't wear dresses (it was clearly tongue-in-cheek but still telling)!

I'd kind of given up on the idea of actually tanking dungeons because it's just too annoying without a taunt, but ended up doing so for one SM Library/Armoury run anyway because everyone else in the group was several levels below me, which I figured would give me enough of a threat buffer. It did work out OK, though towards the end we had to replace one damage dealer and the new one was a shadow priest that was only one level below me or so... she had aggro pretty much until the end of the run.

Overall I've been enjoying these runs, for a variety of reasons. I'd forgotten just how much more distinctive the classes felt in Vanilla due to their different abilities, and it really makes every group excitingly different as well. Having a mage means that you can always sheep one mob in each pull, which vastly increases the tank's amount of control and makes the healer's job a lot easier, not to mention that their secondary job as a water vending machine is a godsend for any mana users in the party. (Remember when everyone had to sit down after every other pull to drink up?) Warlock summons are really useful in this age before summoning stones if one party member is slacking on their way to the instance and makes it so much easier to replace someone if you need to. On the other hand, they constantly lifetap themselves to within an inch of their lives and then just stand there, waiting for me to drink and heal them up again! Get your own food or drink, buddy, or at least some bandages! Hunter pets are actually really useful as occasional off-tanks since tanks have so little control, and over the course of the evening you can get really attached to the little critters. I always apologised if one died and often resurrected them afterwards. I actually felt sorry for Sheldon the turtle when his happiness level dropped to "unhappy" because he'd died so many times... also, as a paladin I'm having oodles of fun with seals and judgements. In Scarlet Monastery in particular, runners can be a real problem and I got a real kick out of slapping them with a judgement of justice when they got low on health so that they couldn't run away. There's just so much utility and so many synergies going around. The more time passes, the less favourable I look back on Ghostcrawler's "bring the player, not the class" mantra and the effect it has had on the game.

The whole experience is also just so different from most dungeons in more modern MMOs. Syp posted about what he considers a good dungeon run yesterday, and Telwyn wrote a post in reply to offer a counter-point on the subject of why "should take 30 minutes or less" might not be a good requirement for an instance. I can actually enjoy a 30 minute dungeon run as well if everything else about it works for me, but there is a certain quality to these old-school, multiple-hour runs that seems to be missing from many newer games. Both the time and effort required and the rewards you get are just so much greater. There's the whole issue of having to manually assemble the group and getting everyone to the instance (the trip to Scarlet Monastery as an Alliance player is epic on its own), but then once inside you earn decent XP and the drops are just amazing. I'd completely forgotten how rare even greens used to be in Vanilla and I sell almost every single one I find on the auction house. My own paladin still has level twenty gear in several slots simply because I haven't had any appropriate drops or received useful quest rewards. So going to a place where you're pretty much guaranteed to see multiple blues or at least high quality greens drop is just exciting. It's pretty much comparable to pugging a (non raid finder) raid in a newer game, just with fewer people. I guess as someone who enjoys raiding to this day, it's not surprising that those old-school dungeons appeal to me as well - though I fully admit that I wouldn't want to be running them every day either as it would get quite exhausting.

One thing I definitely do miss from those days is the greater sense of patience pervading every group endeavour. You could argue that people simply had no choice, since getting impatient and dropping group would just result in having to spend even more time finding a new one, but I think I'm not alone in actually enjoying that slower pace and feeling more comfortable with it. In one SM Library run, one of our dps apologised profusely that he had to leave to get dinner, but we encouraged him to not leave the party and continued clearing trash with just the four of us. It's not as if we'd gotten that far by the time he came back fifteen minutes later... Then there was the hunter who said "one sec, potty break for 4 year old", or the warlock who suddenly went AFK and then came back ten minutes later to say that her son had cut his foot open and she'd had to help him out, though he was all OK now... and everyone just nodded knowingly. In some way, this atmosphere is actually more casual and family friendly than the more modern, shorter but much more hurried runs, where there is a constant feeling of being on the clock and any interruption means wasting people's time. I really prefer a more relaxed approach where it's not all about efficiency but more about enjoying the experience of simply being in the game, where a bit of downtime is something that's perfectly acceptable every now and then.


  1. I am of a similar opinion that a more relaxed pacing of dungeons is more enjoyable and satisfying for the player than 'efficient' runs, where sociality is an obstacle to game-play mechanics. In MMO dungeon runs efficiency does not always equal player satisfaction, whereas dungeons that have a slower pace and a visceral sense of danger can promote player sociality. A slower paced dungeon with a feeling of danger often requires player interdependence, tactics, and sociality, and serves to provide a wellspring for deep personal satisfaction. Furthermore, dungeons which provide a sense of danger and require player interdependence can foster visceral emotions and bonding behaviors, which serve to cultivate friendships and investiture in the game world. Players need to need each other in the game world - where the journey is as important as the goal - to foster deeper personal satisfaction.

  2. I enjoyed both. The multi hour LBRS runs of vanilla and the 10 minute rushes of WotLK. And I think both should exist in an MMO concurrently.

    Since Cataclysm WoW tries to merge these both concepts in the newer dungeons and fails again and again for multiple reasons.

    I would love to have

    a) fast and efficient 10 minutes WotLK dungeons, like a rift in D3. You would play them like a moba. Have 10 minutes before logging? Open a rift/dungeon. (I think they tried that with the scenarios in MoP but forgot to add rewards while they did add rewards to LFR.)

    b) slow, huge, meaningful dungeons ("5 player raids") that might take even multiple days to clear as an alternative end game content.

    They should create a 5 man dungeon out of every raid they make (would save asset costs). And the 5 man dungeon would be more about "sneaking" through it and fighting key lieutenants instead of the big raid bosses. More oriented on challenging trash pulls, instead of dancing with the boss.