Instance dungeon

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In massively multiplayer online games, an instance is a special area, typically a dungeon, that generates a new copy of the location for each group, or for a certain number of players, that enters the area. [1] Instancing, the general term for the use of this technique, [1] addresses several problems encountered by players in the shared spaces of virtual worlds. It is not widely known when instances were first used in this genre. However, The Realm Online (1996) is sometimes credited as introducing the concept.

A massively multiplayer online game is an online game with large numbers of players, typically from hundreds to thousands, on the same server. MMOs usually feature a huge, persistent open world, although some games differ. These games can be found for most network-capable platforms, including the personal computer, video game console, or smartphones and other mobile devices.

A virtual world is a computer-based simulated environment which may be populated by many users who can create a personal avatar, and simultaneously and independently explore the virtual world, participate in its activities and communicate with others. These avatars can be textual, two or three-dimensional graphical representations, or live video avatars with auditory and touch sensations. In general, virtual worlds allow for multiple users but single player computer games, such as Skyrim, can also be considered a type of virtual world.

The Realm Online, originally known as The Realm, is a massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) launched in December 1996 for Windows PC. It was designed in the tradition of graphical MUDs, before the usage of the terms "massively multiplayer" and "MMORPG".


Design considerations

The problem can be stated as follows: every player wants to be "The Hero", slay "The Monster", rescue "The Princess", and obtain "The Magic Sword". When there are thousands of players all playing the same game, clearly not everyone can be the hero. The problem of everyone wanting to kill the same monster and gain the best treasure became obvious in the game EverQuest , where several groups of players would compete and sometimes harass each other in the same dungeon, in order to get to the monsters dropping valuable items. The creation of instances largely solves this set of problems, leaving only travelling to and from the dungeon as a potential risk in player versus player environments. [2]

<i>EverQuest</i> video game

EverQuest is a 3D fantasy-themed massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) originally developed by Verant Interactive and 989 Studios for Windows PCs. It was released by Sony Online Entertainment in March 1999 in North America, and by Ubisoft in Europe in April 2000. A dedicated version for macOS was released in June 2003, which operated for ten years before being shut down in November 2013. In June 2000, Verant Interactive was absorbed into Sony Online Entertainment, who took over full development and publishing duties of the title. Later, in February 2015, SOE's parent corporation, Sony Computer Entertainment, sold the studio to investment company Inception Acquisitions and was rebranded as Daybreak Game Company, who develops and publishes EverQuest to this day.

Player(s) versus player(s), better known as PvP, is a type of multiplayer interactive conflict within a game between two or more live participants. This is in contrast to games where players compete against computer-controlled opponents and/or players, which is referred to as player versus environment (PvE). The terms are most often used in games where both activities exist, particularly MMORPGs, MUDs, and other role-playing video games. PvP can be broadly used to describe any game, or aspect of a game, where players compete against each other. PvP is often controversial when used in role-playing games. In most cases, there are vast differences in abilities between experienced and novice players. PvP can even encourage experienced players to immediately attack and kill inexperienced players. PvP is sometimes called player killing.

Stated another way, instances can be used to reduce the competition over resources within the game. [3] Excessive competition in these spaces leads to several undesirable behaviors such as kill stealing, spawn camping, and ninja looting as players do whatever they can to acquire the limited rewards. Instancing preserves the gaming experience, since some gaming scenarios do not work if the player is continually surrounded by other players, as in a multiplayer setting. Instance dungeons may contain stronger than usual mobs and rare, sought-after equipment. They also may include level restrictions and/or restrict the number of players allowed in each instance to balance gameplay. Several games use instancing to scale the mobs to the players' levels, and/or the number of players present.

In multiplayer video games, particularly in MOBAs, first-person shooters, MMORPGs and MUDs, kill stealing is the practice of obtaining credit for killing an enemy, when another player has put more effort into the kill. This usually happens when a game only keeps track of which player defeats an enemy, leading to the so called last-hitting mechanics. If one player whittles down some enemy's health points, but a different player eventually finishes the enemy off, this second player might obtain all of the loot or experience points from the enemy. Kill stealing is common when the rewards for finishing enemies off is highly desired within the game.

Despite its advantages, instancing in MMOGs has been criticized. Brad McQuaid, lead designer of EverQuest and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes (both of which did not feature instancing at launch), wrote an essay in 2005 arguing that instances can negatively affect the game's community, virtual economy, churn rate, and other factors. [3] In response to this article, Raph Koster added that instancing should be limited to situations in which the creation of a "pocket zone" makes sense within the context of the fictional universe such as the holodeck in the Star Trek franchise. [4] One reviewer described the extensive use of instancing in Age of Conan as "[destroying] the sense of expansiveness an MMORPG should have". [5]

Brad McQuaid is an American video game designer who was the key designer of EverQuest, a highly successful massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) released in 1999. He later co-founded Sigil Games Online where he served as CEO and Executive Producer of Vanguard: Saga of Heroes until Sony Online Entertainment's acquisition of Sigil Games Online in May 2007. On July 6, 2012, SOE announced the re-hiring of McQuaid to continue his work on Vanguard. On January 13, 2014, McQuaid announced his role of Chief Creative Officer at Visionary Realms, Inc. for the PC MMORPG, Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen.

<i>Vanguard: Saga of Heroes</i> video game

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes was a high fantasy-themed massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) created by Sigil Games Online, and later developed and run by Sony Online Entertainment (SOE). Originally, the game was co-published by Sony Online Entertainment and the company producing it, Sigil Games Online. The game was released on January 30, 2007, with an early access date of January 26, 2007 for pre-order customers. On May 15, 2007, it was announced in a press release that Sony Online Entertainment had completed a transaction to purchase key assets of Sigil Games Online, including all rights to Vanguard.

A virtual economy is an emergent economy existing in a virtual world, usually exchanging virtual goods in the context of an Internet game. People enter these virtual economies for recreation and entertainment rather than necessity, which means that virtual economies lack the aspects of a real economy that are not considered to be "fun". However, some people do interact with virtual economies for "real" economic benefit.

Technical considerations

Having players participate in instances tends to spread out populations of players, instead of concentrating them, which may reduce or level the workload for both the server and client by limiting the number of potential interactions between players and objects. Because the player characters in the instance do not need to be updated on all the information going on outside the instance, and vice versa for the characters outside the instance, there is an overall decrease in demands on the network, with the net result being less lag for the players. This also reduces the demands on each player's computer, as the number of objects to be processed can be more easily limited by the game's developer. The developer can better reason about the worst-case performance requirements in an instance because they do not have to consider scenarios such as hundreds of players descending on any location at any time.

A game server is a server which is the authoritative source of events in a multiplayer video game. The server transmits enough data about its internal state to allow its connected clients to maintain their own accurate version of the game world for display to players. They also receive and process each player's input.

Client (computing) piece of computer hardware or software accessings a server service

A webclient is a piece of computer hardware or software that accesses a service made available by a server. The server is often on another computer system, in which case the client accesses the service by way of a network. The term applies to the role that programs or devices play in the client–server model.

Player character fictional character in a role-playing or video game that can be played or controlled by a real-world person

A player character is a fictional character in a role-playing game or video game whose actions are directly controlled by a player of the game rather than the rules of the game. The characters that are not controlled by a player are called non-player characters (NPCs). The actions of non-player characters are typically handled by the game itself in video games, or according to rules followed by a gamemaster refereeing tabletop role-playing games. The player character functions as a fictional, alternate body for the player controlling the character.


Perhaps the first virtual world to use instances was the MMORPG The Realm Online , launched in 1996. Combat in this game was extensively instanced, with every battle taking place in a special room outside of the open world. [6]

In Guild Wars , Town/Outpost areas are created on demand, with a new "district" of that town being created for every 100 players in it; players can move between these at will. When entering an Explorable Area or Cooperative Mission, a separate instance will be created for each group (ranging in size from 2 to 12) of players. Players can play with players across the globe, as in EVE Online , along with the advantages in load scaling and resources of a traditional multiple server model for ArenaNet, the developers.

In RuneScape , instances are used mostly in quests, so that other players cannot interfere with the player who is doing the quest, such as battling boss NPC s or having to accomplish a special task. They are also used in certain 'minigames'. However, most monsters not related to quests are not instanced, so players often have to compete with each other to get the reward from killing them. They are also used extensively in the new skill Dungeoneering.

Wizard101 has a unique system for its instances. As soon as a player steps on the entry area, ten seconds are given for up to three other players to enter. Once inside, the instance usually triggers a new line of quests, which must be completed to gain access to other parts of the instance. If a player logs out or leaves through the "front door", progress wil be reset (a warning message will appear). If a player dies, flees, or teleports, data will then be reset in 30 minutes. If a monster is defeated in an instance, it stays defeated. Players can repeat instances as many times as they want.

See also

Related Research Articles

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<i>Furcadia</i> 1996 video game

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<i>Dungeons & Dragons Online</i> video game

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  1. 1 2 Simon Carless (2004). Gaming hacks. O'Reilly Media. p. 112. ISBN   978-0-596-00714-0. A term used to describe a private portion of a gameworld created just for an individual or group of players.
  2. 1 2 King, Brad; Borland, John M. (2003). Dungeons and Dreamers: The Rise of Computer Game Culture from Geek to Chic. McGraw-Hill/Osborne. pp. 255–257. ISBN   0-07-222888-1 . Retrieved 2010-09-25.
  3. 1 2 Brad McQuaid (29 November 2005). "Instancing in Online Gaming". GamerGod. Archived from the original on 24 March 2006. Retrieved 8 August 2010.
  4. Raph Koster (30 November 2005). "From instancing to worldy games" . Retrieved 8 August 2010.
  5. Ryan, Leon (July 2008). "Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures". GameAxis Unwired: 35. Retrieved 8 August 2010.
  6. Horn, Daniel Reiter (2011). Using a Physical Metaphor to Scale Up Communication in Virtual Worlds. Stanford University. p. 11. Retrieved 2014-12-15.