We know our front page is stocked up on Dragon Age news for now, so let's break up the monotony with a more in-depth look on The Old Republic's instance system, the Flashpoints, brought to you by the World Designer for the MMO, Jesse Sky.
Sky brings us into the development process for the dungeon-esque gameplay that TOR will feature, along with some insights that will hope to set it apart from the usual trash-and-boss fests that many MMOs today feature.
Think of the Death Star – Luke and his friends didn’t wander around aimlessly shooting Imperials. They had a plan: rescue the princess, deactivate the tractor beam, and escape in the Millennium Falcon. Of course, things didn’t go quite as planned. They had to deal with a legion of Stormtroopers and a dianoga in the garbage compactor. Before they could escape, Obi-Wan was killed in a confrontation with Vader. Maybe next time you won’t split the party, Kenobi.
Of course, Obi-Wan likely ragequit because he wasn't getting heals, but this gives insight into what the team is thinking - they want to recreate the choices and dialogue that takes place in these epic Star Wars moments.
Jesse goes on to write about the need for variety in both environments and combat, seeking to create a unique experience in each flashpoint. Along with different settings in each instance, the combat team is working towards scenarios that focus on team-based coordination without falling into the usual "tank-and-spank" grinds that instances in most MMOs seem to fall back on in instances.
While the TOR team has a lot of time to work on this, I wonder just how effective the flashpoints will be in keeping the instances unique. They've stated that the choices and dialogue options will help replayability, which they very well might. But, as any MMO-player will tell you, it's all about the gear. Particularly if a player is running the instances for a particular drop, the environment add-ons are a drag (Trial of the Champion, anyone?).
You can read Jesse Sky's post detailing the development of these flashpoints here. Tell me - what are your thoughts on this approach to MMO instancing?