Directed Instancing

One of the things I find discussed quite often is the use of instancing in games.  Some people like it, some people hate it, and there is every shade of gray in between.  The problem with no instancing is that places can get crowded… you go out to kill orcs and find that all the orcs are being killed.  The problem with too much instancing is that it can seem like you are the only one there… messing around in Guild Wars with their version of instancing, in the city there are people, then I go outside and am usually alone.

Just spit balling here… but what about a “directed instancing”, where you have an area that is an instance designed for a few dozen people/groups each unit performing different tasks.  The idea would be that before leaving “town”, you or your group has to select a task.  Once you leave town, the task is locked and you zone out into an instance that all but guarantees that no one is performing the same task you are, but may be populated with people performing any one of the couple dozen tasks the area supports.  You might head into the forest to kill orcs and run across a player chopping lumber, another hunting bears for meat and skins, a group searching for a missing child, and a raid about to siege the wizard tower at the far end.

Would that work?


  1. Felipe Budinich says:

    It sounds good in theory, but i think that in practice it would be a work of genius to pull it out.

    What happens if i’m out on “picking flowers task” because i’m alone, and my character is some kind of alchemist that uses that resource, but i would rather be “killing orcs task”, but you know, i can’t because i’m alone.

    But then, when i’m “picking flowers” i see a group of people “killing orcs” on the same area, and i would reaaaally like to switch tasks, because now i can join them.

    How would you manage that?

    I’m thinking that you would need to mini-instance it, like battles in old final fantasy games (i don’t know about the new ones). Basically you are walking around, and when a battle triggers you are removed from the world map and you get into the battle screen. (the trigger wouldn’t need to be random like in FF games, in fact i would hate that).

    That way people on the same area would just see people disapear. It would be bizarre, but not as bizarre as seeing tham fighting right next to the “flower picking” guy with orcs completely ignoring that player (and all his combat actions proving ineffective against the orcs).

    And besides, you would need a way to easily change tasks on a whim. I think you would need a grouping system where people can get invited to a group, and the task it’s defined by the group type.

    -For example, i’m alone on the town square.

    -I go to my “group” menu,

    -I choose “start group”

    -Then i get to choose from the avaliable tasks i have, some are general (hunting, gathering, crafting). Others are specific (tasks based on quests i got on my quest log, or specific area i’m in; “fishing”, “kill 10 rats with 3 other people quest”)

    -After i do that, i’m the group leader, and i can spam the chat asking for people to join my group, and there we go.

    -Then when i’m doing my task, someone asks me if he can join my task, so he/she has to leave his/her group, and i can invite it over to my group.

    -If that person was the old leader of his/her group, the oldest one in that group becomes the new leader. If there are no people left in that group, the group disapears.

    -In the end it would not be instance based, but it would be “group+task” based with mini-instances that would make the group appear/disappear from the main map.

    The only point i don’t like is the groups appearing/disappearing, it would need an effort to create ways conceal it(triggering an animation of all team members running of the screen, cartoony dust cloud, etc…)

  2. Felipe Budinich says:

    and, this is the usual apology for broken grammar and all the mistakes i realized right after i posted :-p (you really need a way to edit posts)

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