I’m going to keep this brief. I am considering a proper article on EQ2′s latest expansion, Age of Discovery, but frankly every time I try to write it I become filled with ennui.
So, this picture below will have to speak for me. The situation is this: I’ve just entered a dungeon that another player has made. That underdressed lady is me, as we’re not able to use our real characters in player-made dungeons. The green swirly thing is the entrance. The pack of 12 wolves already tearing me to shreds, that’s pretty much exactly what it looks like. If you look over the top of those wolves, you’ll see the whole room is lined with them. In case you’re wondering, the next room is similar, only with slugs. Maltheas; just maybe he’d have a chance, but the pre-made avatars stand nary a ghost of one. We’re using avatars rather than our own characters because of balance concerns, you see.
At least this “Dungeonmaster” had the decency to reveal his complete idiocy right away. Often you don’t get to such deathrooms until you’ve spent quite a while battling through the dungeon.
Here is the thing. As a visitor to a dungeon, you get no rewards whatsoever unless you can get to the exit. If you leave via any other means, your entire time in there was wasted. You also cannot rate the dungeon unless you get to the exit, which means that you can do nothing to warn other people away from these deathtraps. The dungeon-maker, however, can make the exit completely inaccessible, either by putting it behind an impossible fight, or just by walling it off. Some seem to be hiding the exit in such a way that you can only use it if you know where it is, allowing them to actually get some votes from their alts and accomplices, glueing them to the top of the ratings board.
I’m largely a dungeon-maker in this system, or trying to be. It is quite frustrating to be competing with this nonsense. Because of the way the rating system works, one 10 out of 10 vote from a single alt will put the dungeon ahead of any dungeon that allows normal players to rate it, as no matter how good you are, you’re never going to have the 100% rating that single vote brings. Rating matters, as it unlocks more building slots for you. Under the current system you’re far better off making sure nobody who might not give you 10/10 ever makes it to the exit.
Right now, it’s a disheartening business whether you’re a Dungeonmaster or a dungeoneer. Using the house-decoration rating system without making any modifications for the entirely different context, was incredibly short-sighted. New game systems need to work AND BE FUN from the get-go, or people will not use them beyond the first week or so. If you launch them half-baked, you might as well not bother, unless you just really needed a feature to put on the side of the virtual expansion box. That’s how most of Age of Discovery’s features feel to me right now: Distinctly undercooked.