23/02/2020

Dungeon Milestones

Something that I've been thinking about while levelling my alts in Classic is just how important dungeons are to me, and have been ever since I first encountered them as a concept back in 2005. I mean, I've known for a long time that I like this sort of small group content, but I'd never really paused to think about just how much it influences the way I play, both in WoW and in other MMOs that I've played over the years and that have similar types of content.

To summarise it in a simple example: I can't imagine levelling an Alliance character and not taking them to the Deadmines around level 20. Running that place is just way too enjoyable and rewarding, so that while levelling any character through their teens the goal of "running the Deadmines" serves as a beacon for me the entire time: get x more levels from regular quests, start gathering up the various dungeon quests around level 18, then start looking for a group while doing some more regular quests in the area.

Then I rinse and repeat the whole process for every single dungeon in the game (more or less). In a way it makes me much more resilient against the drop-off in interest that many people seem to experience in the forties as quests become more sparse, as there's no lack of dungeons at any level range, always giving me something interesting to work towards.

You might wonder how well this system works in other MMOs that I don't already know inside out the way I do Classic - after all, I can't really use dungeons to plan my levelling when I don't know what dungeons there are, right? This is correct, but at the same time modern MMOs tend to make it much easier to get into this content than Classic does. Usually you can simply open a dedicated interface that will show you what group content is available at your level and you can just queue up for automated group formation, without having to spend time manually looking for a group or hunting down dungeon quests.

That said, my "obsession" with dungeons has its own pitfalls too. It's just a different sort of routine and has its own vulnerabilities to getting disrupted that can cause my progression to stall or even halt completely.

For example, many modern MMOs are designed around the idea that you don't actually need to do a lot of the available content to get to the level cap - which is fine in principle, but feels bad to me when the available "content chunks" don't slot into each other in an organic manner. For example I was not pleased when in post-Cataclysm WoW, basically doing any dungeon whatsoever would quickly cause you to outlevel whatever zone you were questing in, making it hard to meaningfully combine the two types of content. During my first stint in Neverwinter, one of the reasons I lost interest was that I accidentally outlevelled a skirmish while doing some quests, and there was no way of going back to see that content once you'd left the eligible level bracket. It may seem a bit silly to get upset over something like that, but the point is that it can really disrupt my flow and therefore lessen my enjoyment of the game.

Even in Classic itself I can run into issues when I feel that I "ought to" be doing a certain dungeon but it's hard to get a group for it for example. What got me thinking about this whole thing was that after doing BFD, the Stockades and Gnomer on my nelf hunter, I thought about Razorfen Kraul as my next potential destination and how hard it was going to be to find a group for that as Alliance - not to mention that I was enjoying a blast of nostalgia doing more or less all the quests in Ashenvale at the time. So I made the conscious decision to give myself "permission" to skip that one, and any later ones as well if I just don't feel like doing them at the time.

It does require a conscious effort for me to think like that though, because my default is simply to always make a beeline for the next piece of group content.

5 comments:

  1. I started off mostly playing solo for a couple of years then moved to mostly playing in groups for maybe another five before slowly drifting back to soloing again. On balance I prefer solo play simply because it gives me complete control over my time. Group play is generally more exciting but it's a trade off between that and convenience and convenience wins.

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    1. I don't really think of my dungeon habits as a matter of soloing vs. grouping. When I level with friends (like Wilhelm and his instance group), of course we do dungeons together because they are an obvious thing to do with friends. But this hunter is being levelled completely solo, with no friends or guild... but when the right level for a dungeon rolls around, I still feel compelled to seek out a group for it.

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  2. I also get a bit perfectionist when it comes to do all the content I can. I usually just make a text file with any zones or dungeons that I miss so I can plan to take them on an alt. It helps me keep that "If I can't do it all, I don't want to do it period" mentality at bay.

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    1. The funny thing is that I'm no perfectionist or completionist at all when it comes to quests in Classic. I think the lack of an achievement interface or anything like that makes them feel a lot more optional. There's just something about those dungeons...

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  3. The low to mid level dungeons in WoW are just about perfect for me. I don't know why, but it's like the MMO equivalent of comfort food when I get into a Deadmines or Blackfathom Deeps run. (A SWTOR equivalent is Athiss; something about that place just puts me in a happy mood, which is odd for a Renegade Sith hideout.)

    Oh, and Happy Anniversary!!! (Following my own advice here.)

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