Dungeon traps and the lost spirit of exploration

While reading up about Neverwinter I came across this mmorpg.com thread about the zergers running through all the traps much to the annoyance of the rogue-playing original author of the thread. This reminds me of playing DDO, years ago, where PUG dungeon runs with random players were almost always some kind of bizarre, uncoordinated race to the finish.

Fire trap

Fire trap in DDO

One of my earliest characters was a Ranger/Rogue but I gave it up pretty quickly as I never got to use stealth, disarm traps or other rogue skills with the experienced players in random groups. I love having traps and locked doors/chests in dungeons – it makes for a bit of variety beyond kill, loot, kill, loot – the standard activity pattern for most MMOs.

I’m very glad Neverwinter’s dungeons include these, plus levers to pull and the skill/class-locked bonus ‘chests’ lying in partially hidden corners. This all helps to add a layer of  exploration away from the ‘glowing line’. Even if we don’t get to do everything with only two characters it’s nice to see it.

Arrow traps ahead!

Arrow traps ahead!

I think the problems of people rushing through traps before the rogue can even reach them is part of a bigger problem. So much emphasis is given, by the playerbase, on ever faster progression that the ‘spirit of exploration’ is lost, or pushed to one side (Bio Break has a quote of the day on this topic). If you try and PUG dungeons in most MMOs it is more than likely at least some of the group will want a speed run. This leads to all players having to try and keep pace, since a split group generally means failure and the potential of players dropping out.

A thread from the Neverwinter forums encapsulates this issue from the perspective of Neverwinter players, and I find myself agreeing. Players who did the earlier beta weekends will know at least some of the dungeons well enough already. So when duo’ing the game with my partner we’re reluctant to PUG anything, we just hate being rushed in dungeons. I do think though that the community needs to provide the solution to this problem, Cryptic can’t force players to slow down.

I’m tempted to start advertising for “norush” runs of dungeons. I’ve seen this work, very occasionally, in DDO and WoW. Some of my happiest memories in those games were of trying dungeons with that sense of exploration intact – just giving it a go, strictly no spoilers. When this is possible it can bring back some of essence of exploration to what is otherwise (IMHO) a rather soulless experience.

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3 Responses to Dungeon traps and the lost spirit of exploration

  1. Nils says:

    We need good randomly generated dungeons to get the unpredictability back that makes exploration necessary, and thus, fun. If a large company put together a team of their brightest people they should be able to work something out that looks good enough and doesn’t seem to repeat every 30 minutes ..

    • Telwyn says:

      I could see that working for ‘challenge mode’ style content. Random traps, maybe even semi random key placement with locked doors baring progress.

      Of course I’d rather be playing new story-rich Foundry content myself.

  2. Shintar says:

    Oh god, yes. I play a rogue too and thought the ability to see and disarm traps was so cool! Then I join a group and everyone just rushes through all the traps and it doesn’t matter. So sad. And it’s not just that, people also keep rushing past treasure chests and those random class kits too. In my very first dungeon run of the very first dungeon, we even ran right past a boss. Depressing, even more so in a game like this that actually rewards taking your time and looking into all the nooks and crannies.

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