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Pros & Cons of Persistent vs. Instanced Worlds


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#1 El Duderino

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 01:20 PM

I know a lot of people like the persistent world, but my question is why? I honestly don't get why bumping into people that have the same kind of powers as you lends to a game where you feel like you are helping to save the world - everyone else seems just as capable. Or how you are supposed to feel immersed in a game where you clear an area but the mobs keep popping up out of nowhere.

When you consider that a persistent world diminishes the ability to do a lot of things related to loot, immersion, problem solving, teamwork, anti-zerg, etc. I just don't see what things a persistent world does well that you can't do better with a mostly instanced world to the point where developers and players continue to try and make games in persistent worlds. Not to mention the fact that a lot of people point out that it is much harder to develop a game with a persistent world - to the point where it seems to detract from the development of a game - or at least the amount of time it takes to make one.

#2 MrIllusion

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 05:34 PM

MMOs which are too heavily instanced defeat the purpose of an MMO to begin with. From a technical standpoint, I don't even think they can qualify as an MMO.

In GW2's case, a heavily instanced world contradicts with DEs.

#3 kidkilowat

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 05:46 PM

Persistent open worlds have a more social feel, bumping into people and chatting over map channel keeps people company while they play and gives them a feeling of being part of something.

Instanced closed worlds make people feel lonely, like playing a console game. This of course only pertains to solo play, which for people with schedules like mine make party opportunities far fewer than just soloing.

To be honest, if Dragon Nest was open world I probably would have played that game and no others for the last couple of years since it came out. The action-style combat is fun and I like the aesthetic, but alas, I get tired of being mostly alone and drift in and out of the game.

#4 El Duderino

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 05:59 PM

View PostMrIllusion, on 08 May 2013 - 05:34 PM, said:

MMOs which are too heavily instanced defeat the purpose of an MMO to begin with. From a technical standpoint, I don't even think they can qualify as an MMO.

In GW2's case, a heavily instanced world contradicts with DEs.

That kind of tiptoes around the whole point of the thread which is to evaluate the pros and cons of each system.

View Postkidkilowat, on 08 May 2013 - 05:46 PM, said:

Persistent open worlds have a more social feel, bumping into people and chatting over map channel keeps people company while they play and gives them a feeling of being part of something.

Instanced closed worlds make people feel lonely, like playing a console game. This of course only pertains to solo play, which for people with schedules like mine make party opportunities far fewer than just soloing.

To be honest, if Dragon Nest was open world I probably would have played that game and no others for the last couple of years since it came out. The action-style combat is fun and I like the aesthetic, but alas, I get tired of being mostly alone and drift in and out of the game.

I agree that I play online to feel like I am part of the community, but I still get that solo lonely feeling in GW2 much more than when I was in GW1. I rarely talked to anyone in the open world other than to say thanks or good job or DE event happening at this waypoint. So, while I agree that in theory it should work that way, I don't think it necessarily works that way in practice.

Before heroes, the social nature of GW1 was astounding, especially as it basically forced 8 random people to group together to get through missions, and requred much more teamwork than say, doing most dungeons in GW2. As such, those mechanics felt much more important in creating a social atmosphere than say, whether the explorable world was mostly persistent or instanced.

Edited by El Duderino, 08 May 2013 - 06:00 PM.


#5 AKGeo

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 06:15 PM

All arguments against persistent worlds being less social due to no need to party up ignores the instanced end-game content.

Yes, EVERYTHING in gw1 required a party. But once you were good enough at the game where you could focus on aesthetics rather than just exploring and completing it, you tended to stick to a select few areas. Correct? Yeah, in GW2 that's dungeons. Instanced content.

Persistent open-world is the tutorial that Pre-searing was in GW1: soloable content but LONELY unless you spent your time in Ascalon. But it's a lot bigger, and seeing other people, being able to interact, that offers the opportunity to be social. It's not Anet's fault that you take that opportunity and throw it away. Players make the choice to be unsocial. If it's enough of a concern to make a post about it, then perhaps you should work to change it, and not wait for others to take the initiative. Start up a conversation. Find someone who seems to be doing the same things you're doing. Ask in map chat if anyone wants to party up to explore or whatnot. Complaining without acting to change things  doesn't help. What do you want Anet to do to make a persistent world more social? I don't think there's anything else they CAN do. GW1 was lonely. You ended up doing everything with the same few people after a while and you only met other players when you were in a town, and then you had to fight trade spam to have a conversation.

I think the biggest piece of evidence against your argument is that map chat conversations are much more polite and cordial, and trolls are the exception rather than the rule. GW1 "taught me" how to be an asshole in chat, because that's all there was. If I went into LA map chat with the GW1 attitude I'd have everyone on my ass in seconds. This is a symptom of a more socially-mixed environment. People are nicer to one another because they all feel like they're in it together.

#6 Fizzypop

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 06:49 PM

My main problem with instanced worlds is the loading. If it hangs too long it messes with my immersion and enjoyment. I often fill my loading time with something else and before I know it I'd forgotten about the game completely. I have a beast of a computer specifically so I can enjoy games with min. loading times. My play time is limited by my family so when I get a chance to play I want to use it to the fullest before someone comes crying to me about something. Persistent worlds are able to engage me for a much longer period of time because I don't have to worry about loading and travel time is often minimal. I don't feel punished for wanting to go to a different area. It isn't a chore to do so either. Now instanced worlds don't bother me as much if the areas are huge and sprawling, but GW2 doesn't really have large maps like that.

Edited by Fizzypop, 08 May 2013 - 06:53 PM.


#7 Susanoh

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 08:15 PM

The feeling of actually being in a world is a fairly powerful one. That I can run into people and we can potentially help each other, complete an event, or even just pass each other by gives the impression that you aren't the only one out there. Not that there's anything wrong with games that do that, but there's loads of single player and standard multiplayer games out there that do the same thing. What separates MMOs from the rest of those games is that feeling that you aren't the only sentient being in a world of AI. Even if I happen to be the only one out there at the time, and think to myself, "huh, it's pretty quiet here today" I still feel like I'm a part of the world, because I know I'm the only one out there (server wide, at least, though in this case each server would be its own world).

In an instanced game, the feeling is entirely closed off. There is no busy, and in turn there's also no quiet to compare it to. No possibility for interaction. Just a tiny slice of a world created just for you, and you know nothing will ever change. It's the feeling you get from standard games, and yeah, there's a lot you can do in an instanced world that you can't in a persistent one. But at the same time, you could never match the feeling of a persistent world with an instanced one.

#8 Featherman

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 09:07 PM

Just seeing people isn't enough for me. There needs to be a dynamic for interaction, a meaning for why players are there on the same map and a means to change the way these players look a the content because of the presence of others. I think UO did this quite well, before the change in management anyway.

A lot of the newer MMOs these days simply ramp up the difficulty of content to force players to work together, or funnel them into certain areas and think that constitutes interaction. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's an incredibly shallow way of promoting player to player interaction. The biggest consequence is that interaction through this method causes other players to become blank faces; they're just a part of the crowd that's there for the sake of being there.

I guess anti-kill steal mechanics of GW2 works against it somewhat because it limits the variety of ways they can see content. The presense of other players does nothing but adjust the speed of the content. i.e if there are a lot of players around things will simply die faster (or scale ridiculously thanks to the latest patches, whatever ANet's whims are).

Personally, I'd prefer a mix of open world and instance. The open world should serve to immerse the player while instances deliver well-constructed content.

#9 BrownPatrick

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 09:18 PM

View PostFeatherman, on 09 May 2013 - 09:07 PM, said:

Personally, I'd prefer a mix of open world and instance. The open world should serve to immerse the player while instances deliver well-constructed content.

Sounds like dungeons.

Edited by BrownPatrick, 09 May 2013 - 09:18 PM.


#10 Featherman

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 09:32 PM

View PostBrownPatrick, on 09 May 2013 - 09:18 PM, said:

Sounds like dungeons.

Not GW2's dungeons...Those aren't well-designed at all.
Most dungeons are inconsequential anyway. They don't change the way open world NPCs react to the player.

Edited by Featherman, 09 May 2013 - 09:32 PM.


#11 Draino

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 09:56 PM

Well, one giant world, broken into regions, like GW2, WoW, or Eve, provides the most chance for wild occurrences (meeting friends, enemies, or new people). I guess in the end I prefer that for most of a game's content. I have to say I also prefer some kind of controlled PvP system in the world as well (this is something Eve does fairly well, with safer zones and less-safe zones).

But one thing I remember about GW1 with an unexpected fondness is this: spending some time out adventuring, solo or with a party, then returning to a city. It was always a little amazing getting that "back to civilization" feeling, seeing so many people teeming about, chatting and hawking their goods.

I suspect there's a irritation factor about the chat in Kaineng that time has washed from my mind though, heh.

#12 Baron von Scrufflebutt

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 10:44 PM

Data centers, servers, waypoint fees and the absolutely lacking on-demand, open-world content pretty much completely ruined any sort of a benefit a persistent world would bring: "Great! I don't need to restart the map so that I can kill trash with friends that are in the EU, are on my server and are willing to pay for the waypoint fee!"
Honestly, I'd rather restart the map.

#13 Trei

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 02:54 AM

The first time I stumbled into the pirate jumping puzzle in gendarran, I found a couple of other players there trying to solve it too. I was swimming up all alone in that cave when I saw their legs threading water above me, discussing the puzzle on /say.

Various other times I would come across players trying to complete certain  DEs alone without making much progress, so I ask if I can lend a hand and found a new friend to play with for the rest of day.

Or I end up being that guy above and someone come bail me out instead.

These are game experiences I find very interesting and impossible in instance-based game worlds.

I responded with a similar answer to a different topic before - I only feel like I'm playing in instanced games like diablo or guild wars, but persistent worlds make me feel like I exist in them.

That's one of the main reasons why I play MMOs.


#14 Tranquility

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 07:35 AM

I like your style Dude, every time I decide to check if anything has been changed towards making the game more enjoyable, I always see one of your threads.

I, for one, much preferred the instanced gameplay of the original Guild Wars. Having dozens of people running around named "ButtflapMcgee", plowing through all of the equally spaced enemies just feels...dull.

Instanced environments feel harsh and unwelcoming, like a challenge waiting to be overcome. Open world just feels meaningless, it brings to light that there's hundreds or even thousands of people doing the same thing you are doing, before you do it, while you do it, and after you do it. It makes it feel like your actions have no impact, as enemies will just respawn in a minute or two, and then another horde of ButtflapMcgees will flood through and mindlessly kill everything again.

Not that all "open world" is failed, in some instances (lol) and respects, it is better. The pros just don't come anywhere near outweighing the cons for me...but maybe that's because I enjoy challenge more than I do bumping shoulders with Buttflap.

#15 lmaonade

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 02:30 PM

As much as I would sing praise about GW1 as an MMORPG, persistent/open worlds do really give that massive feeling, there's a huge difference between instanced and enclosed settings and just wandering around and just bumping into other people doing their own thing.

For me personally it comes down to mood, sometimes I feel like being the master of my own destiny, moving through an epic story weaved for me and me alone. But at times, I really do like to wander around open worlds with other people, occasionally finding people with temporarily cooperative or sometimes even clashing objectives, just makes it seem like the world is made more than just for me, which for some may be a turn on.

Also, I think a quote from ZeroPunctuation's review/first impressions of GW2 describes it pretty well: "I like playing by myself, but sometimes I like playing an MMORPG so I can play by myself where everyone can see me!"

#16 aspi

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 04:17 PM

View PostTranquility, on 10 May 2013 - 07:35 AM, said:

I like your style Dude, every time I decide to check if anything has been changed towards making the game more enjoyable, I always see one of your threads.

I, for one, much preferred the instanced gameplay of the original Guild Wars. Having dozens of people running around named "ButtflapMcgee", plowing through all of the equally spaced enemies just feels...dull.

Instanced environments feel harsh and unwelcoming, like a challenge waiting to be overcome. Open world just feels meaningless, it brings to light that there's hundreds or even thousands of people doing the same thing you are doing, before you do it, while you do it, and after you do it. It makes it feel like your actions have no impact, as enemies will just respawn in a minute or two, and then another horde of ButtflapMcgees will flood through and mindlessly kill everything again.

Not that all "open world" is failed, in some instances (lol) and respects, it is better. The pros just don't come anywhere near outweighing the cons for me...but maybe that's because I enjoy challenge more than I do bumping shoulders with Buttflap.
You could try the new neverwinternights beta. Even the beginning was heavily instanced and it might be what you like.

#17 El Duderino

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 04:21 PM

View Postaspi, on 10 May 2013 - 04:17 PM, said:

You could try the new neverwinternights beta. Even the beginning was heavily instanced and it might be what you like.

Again, that kind of sidesteps the question of what is inherently better for making a better video game. We aren't talking about finding games that have instanced content vs. persistent content - we are talking about the pros and cons of the systems themselves.

#18 aspi

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 04:36 PM

View PostEl Duderino, on 10 May 2013 - 04:21 PM, said:

Again, that kind of sidesteps the question of what is inherently better for making a better video game. We aren't talking about finding games that have instanced content vs. persistent content - we are talking about the pros and cons of the systems themselves.
One of the biggest problems with instanced gw1 was once you started, no-one can join. The open world op gw2 allows my gaming friends to come online and start with me, right away. It also made it feel like an empty world with no players in it.
I'm sure I can go on for a long time, gw2 isnt perfect, far from it with the current bugs, but it has potential. Like gw1 with only prophecies had.

#19 MazingerZ

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 04:39 PM

View Postaspi, on 10 May 2013 - 04:36 PM, said:

One of the biggest problems with instanced gw1 was once you started, no-one can join. The open world op gw2 allows my gaming friends to come online and start with me, right away. It also made it feel like an empty world with no players in it.
I'm sure I can go on for a long time, gw2 isnt perfect, far from it with the current bugs, but it has potential. Like gw1 with only prophecies had.

I'm not necessarily for a total instance and a total persistent world scenario, but what you describe could easily be done with:  The minions of Zhaitan get stronger/weaker.

A maximum occupancy thing would be necessary, but to not include hot-join scaling is bad.
It's okay to enjoy crap if you're willing to admit it's crap.
Every patch is like ArenaNet walking out onto the stage of the International Don't Kitten Up Championship, and then proceeding to shiv itself in the stomach 30 times while screaming "IT'S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD! IT'S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!"

#20 El Duderino

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 04:59 PM

View Postaspi, on 10 May 2013 - 04:36 PM, said:

One of the biggest problems with instanced gw1 was once you started, no-one can join. The open world op gw2 allows my gaming friends to come online and start with me, right away. It also made it feel like an empty world with no players in it.
I'm sure I can go on for a long time, gw2 isnt perfect, far from it with the current bugs, but it has potential. Like gw1 with only prophecies had.

I do like the idea of friends being able to join in with you. I'm surprised no one has tried doing a hybrid of the two. Something that limits the amount of players in an instance, but also allows more than one group at a time. Maybe one of the developer people here can tell us if this is some kind of technical nightmare or not.

#21 Archon_Wing

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 05:14 PM

I prefer a persistent world because it's a massively multiplayer game and allows for freedom to associate with others and activities and leave as you pleased. Zerging is the best part of the game.

Edited by Archon_Wing, 10 May 2013 - 05:16 PM.


#22 Konzacelt

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 07:48 PM

Solution:
  • ANet devs incorporate optional instancing for all the current zones in the game.
  • Players, whether solo or up to 5 max, can choose to enter this "shard" for map clearing where mobs do not respawn.
  • All mobs are scaled to your level, and drop loot is appropriately scaled slightly up the less players you have in your party.
  • New Weekly Achievement would be clearing all zones in an area(Krytan, Shiverpeaks, Orr, etc) -- this would give players, especially the older ones, a lot flexibility to finish it.
  • Provide interesting rewards for this Weekly that make sense and matter...
Only problem I see with this is the strain on the servers.  I hear they are/did cannibalize the lowest pop servers, perhaps use those?  /shrug, I'm an idiot with technical problems.

#23 Bloodtau

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 09:57 PM

In a way, GW2 is instanced. major cities are their own instance, so is each map. Just the scale of instance is bigger.




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