Monday, February 23, 2009

Green Flight Encounter

The last write up had a tree fight taking place in my dungeon's 'garden', an area I previously had reserved for this encounter that I'm typing up here. This is another very loose idea, and I'll go back later to really polish it up. Most of what I'm doing by posting these on the blog instead of just typing them up in Word offline is looking for feedback. I'm not on a development team, but being on a team is what I imagine to be the most influential part of encounter deisgn. Someone has a rough idea, they throw it out, and other members pick it apart, or offer up variations on the basic principle. In this way, the encounter changes over time, and settles into something everyone in the room agrees could be fun or challenging. Then you need to prototype it in-game, and the process (I would imagine) begins anew. I doubt someone just crapped out the Tempest Keep Kael encounter on their Blackberry on the way to work one day. Maybe they did, though. ;)

In that vein, I make these public because YOU (whoever you are, reading this right now) are my dev team. You are the only people I have that I can bouce shit off of, and I value any input, be you anonymous or otherwise. I'm actually pretty reserved in-game, and I certainly don't spam trade with my blog URL. My readership is comprised of a few core people who either knew me from NotAddicted, or have otherwise discovered my blog through crosslinks from Tobold or whatever. While Google Analytics give me all kinds of piecharts and fruity bar graphs, it doesn't appear to give me an "average daily views" stat in numerical form. I have a chart that shows each days hits as a jagged line type thing (imagine a companys stock price chart), and I guess from that I can see I get anywhere from 100 to 200 visits a day, but there's still a pretty small core of people who will regularly bother to post a comment. I may look into trying to find some sort of plugin where anyone reading the post can give a quick 'thumbs up or thumbs down' without having to go through the CAPTCHA words, or type anything up. When I see 100 people read a post, but only 3 bothered to type something up, I get all fruity and start to worry I'm setting myself up for distaster. 

I'm honestly on a mission to try and do this kind of shit for a living, but it's still a good ways off. Once I finish this semester here at Yorishima, I'll have a good month and a half in Japan with no work, and will be able to really devote more time to polishing the presentation of these up, and come up with room schematics and diagrams, and a back story to tie the whole place together. So far I've focused on this one dungeon, but I'd like to have more than just this one (no matter how polished) to show at the end.

Anyway, let's get on with it. 

The garden has changed from a single static encounter to a dynamically spawned event like the Opera in Kara. I liked having different encounters in the same area, and think it places a unique challenge on the designer to come up with encounters that fit that area. The Opera event was tied to the idea of 'the theatre', and had various plays being acted out by the raid. That was awesome. My garden has a very loose "nature" theme, and given the tree encounter from before, and this one of a Green Dragonflight member, I think it's working enough to pull it off. I'll need a third or fourth, will give them some thought on the drive home today.

Green Dragonflight Encounter

The Setting:

The same garden. It's hexagonally shaped, and has a gentle sloping rise in the middle. The Tree and this encounter don't rely on interacting with the environment. Maybe I can try and brainstorm something that does, so I can place various shrubs or such around the area to spuce it up a bit. For now, just imagine lush green garden enclosed in a hexagonal wall. This area branches off of the last 'boss tower' in my map layout (yes, that 3d layout still needs work). In my image to the right there, the garden has no ceiling, but I think it would be a good idea to have a latticework dome covering it, so people can't see what boss is waiting for them until they actually pass thru the garden threshold and take a look inside. Then again, it might be kind of cool to zone into the instance and see off in the distance a slumbering dragon awaiting you later, or a huge tree sprouting up in the middle of it. Then again again,  this kind of thing affects PUGs, where people are like "ah crap, it's the dumb tree this week; he drops healer crap, I'm outta here after the Library". Then again again again, maybe it would be good for PUGs because people could spam trade looking for more, and include that the dragon is up this week, even thought they haven't unlocked that tower yet, which encourages people to join to bang it out. Stuff like that still needs to be fully addressed.

The dragon is asleep on the rise of the hill. In the tree encounter, said knoll is dominated by the tree itself. When you get the dragon, the tree just isn't there. There's a specific reason for this, but it's kind of hard to explain without sounding like I'm just making it up right on the spot. When you fight the tree, the dragon isn't there. When you fight the dragon, the tree isn't there. I felt like rather than try and have the tree 'be there' would take away from the overall picture of just seeing the dragon up there. The tree is an actual boss, not just some tree, and I feel like having it there, but not activating would be kind of lame. 

Hmmmmmm.... I just had in idea, though. Maybe the garden, in addition to being the Opera of my dungeon, is ALSO the Sarth 3d? Perhaps each boss has a different summoning mechanic (poison the well to activate the tree, have the raid drink sleep potions to 'see' the dragon, do whatever to see the third, as of yet undecided, boss). Doing all three, though, activates all three bosses, and the garden becomes a huge three raid boss circus. That might be a little much... can you imagine doing all three opera events at once? That would actually be pretty friggin sweet. ;)

Anyway! I keep getting sidetracked. 

There needs to be a common theme running through all of these encounters as to why we need to destroy the garden. This (as lame as it sounds) will need to be addressed later. I need to fill in the back story for the entire place, who the bosses are, and why we care enough to go there (purple pixels don't count). The 'blighting of the garden' will serve as a final plot hook before the final ascension to the Baron showdown. I just need to figure that hook out. I brought up the poisoning of a well for the last enconter, and I kind of like that idea, so let's just stick with that for now until I decide if it's feasible to have the three ring circus thing actually play out. So we put a well off to the side, in an easily accessible (but otherwise unobtrusive) area by the entrance. We throw some poison in the well that we loot from the Alchemists Lab, and the dragon awakes as the blight in the garden spreads.

The Encounter:

The dragon awakens, and engages... basic dragon tank and spank for phase 1. This lets everyone get into their rotations, and begin the fight. Most dragon phase 1s are like this. Nightbane, Onyxia, the world dragons. People know what to expect when a dragon trains onto a tank, and that sets up a nice sense of familiarity that people can appreciate for the first minute or so of the encounter. Every single second of every single fight doesn't need to kick you in the nuts or shock you. Sometimes it's good to expect something to happen, and have it actually turn out that you're right.

There are other green dragons out in the world that can be killed, and they share some common "green dragon rules". 


All four dragons share the Sleep, Noxious Breath, Tail Sweep and Mark of Nature abilities. Each time a dragon loses 25 ± 5% of its life, they perform a unique ability.

If I remember correctly, Emeriss, Lethon, and Taerar have clouds that float around sleeping people for 4 seconds. My encounter favors the clouds, as well, as it fits with the rest of the fight. They can give a stacking debuff that slows casting & attack speed by 20% and if the debuff reaches 5 stacks, then you sleep it off for 6 seconds. Basically, watch the cleave, don't get tail whipped, DPS attack the hind legs, dispel the drowsy debuff or just avoid the gas clouds altogether. 

Phase 2 is where things get interesting, though, as the tables are turned, the dragon beats its wings, and throws out a huge cloud of sleep dust that can't be avoided. Basic emote along the lines of "let's see how *YOU* like being harassed by a swarm of insects, rawr!". The whole raid slumbers, and phasing kicks in. Our screen briefly fades to black, and when we 'awaken', we find we're suddenly a member of the green dragon flight, with a 25 (or 10) man raid attacking us. Technologically speaking, this has been done in various 5 man dungeon bosses, so the mechanic is there. It just hasn't been done for the effect of turning us into dragons with 25 man raids beating on us. Threat tables are ignored for simplicity, and we take out the healers, dps, and tanks (likely in that order). Spawned copies of the raid probably won't play them very effectively as it is (healers casting smite or whatever), so this phase is pretty simple, actually. Once you manage to wipe the raid, you regain control of your character. Any damage you suffered during the dragon phase is transferred to the players themselves (percentage based), and you have a chance to bandage while you wait for the rest of the raid to finish. The whole phase is timed, and anyone that can't overcome the odds dies, or is infected by some sort of 'overcome with nightmares' debuff... maybe a green whelp erupts from their body, killing them? Maybe the eruption doesn't kill them, but just hurts really bad? After the time limit is up, the Green stops channeling the nightmare phase, and tanks pick her up again for phase 3 (phase 1 over again). This happens at 75, 50, 25% HP, or less frequently if desired (maybe 66, 33%).

That's the basic rundown of the fight mechanic, but obviously there will need to be more flavor abilities thrown in to mix up the fight, depending on how difficult the actual dream phase is.

Playing with the green flight mechanics would be fun, and you could poke a few jabs in for good measure... druids trying to sleep a whelp actually enrages them (or empowers them), and dreamless sleep potions (do people still use those?) snap you to number 1 on the threat table (emote: HOW DARE YOU SLEEP, BUT FORSAKE YOUR DREAMS?!). Clever use of phasing could make an interesting fight as well. We could have adds spawning randomly throughout the encounter, and slip a raid member into a phase without them realizing it, and make a raid member targettable (and visible) as a whelp. Having the rogue on whelp duty begin beating on someone and the raid freaking out saying THAT ISN'T A WHELP DIPSHIT, IT'S FRED, GOD DAMMIT would make for classic encounters. Not a direct mind control that takes control AWAY form the player, but to make it appear on their screen that the shaman standing next to them is a whelp, and they go to Mutilate Bob three times before realizing that it isn't a whelp after all.

That would be some phasing I could get behind and appreciate. :)


Anonymous said...

The 4 green dragon encounters are linked and overplayed. Make a new encounter, if possible.

Sleep clouds sucked, as did most of the mechanics.

Maybe a green poison breath that doesn't leave a retarded cooldown debuff, but paralyzes and bounces. Also, maybe give him a buff that reduces melee damage unless weakened and necessitate a tank drag to X area (To possibly smash people with the breath). Also, needs cleave and tail whip.

I'm totally for a whole new encounter. Azuregos was nothing like Malygos, Nefarian was nothing like Onyxia. Just because their colors are linked doesn't mean their abilities should be. It often feels like a watered down encounter if it's not entirely fresh.

I vote for a redo/revamp, but it is your encounter.

Rich said...

Having it be some 'vanilla' dragon wouldn't fit with the nature theme of the garden, but yeah. The clouds were kinda lame, and there's no reason to keep them around if that mechanic sucked.

I do like the 'sneaky phasing' mechanic, though. Perhaps that could be the main "phase 1" hook, with the mind control / wipe the raid thing be phase 2.

tail whip and cleave are in there, maybe I cut that paragraph out during edits on accident?

Anonymous said...

No, im just retarded and overlooked the tiny portion of text that said "Don't get cleaved / tail whipped".

Also, I love the idea of becoming the dragon and attacking the raid.

I really hate sleep clouds though, especially as melee.

Krunchy said...

I like some of the stuff in here. Becoming the dragon seemed really cool to me and having the dragon react to doing certain things seems like it could be cool, but that could be misconstrued as an unsubtle cockblock to consumables or certain abilities.

Anyway, the thing that popped into my head is that you don't need to pick the dragon's color just yet. Depending on how you want to play up the tower's backstory or what's going on in that garden, you can call on one of the other flights. Is the tower threatening to destroy creation? Black dragon. Is there some sinister plot by other flights to become more powerful? Red dragon. There are a bunch of possibilities.

Oh, and spawning whelps while making players look like whelps seems like a great way to either bolster communications or tear a guild apart. I'm all for it. Although maybe the player who gets turned into a whelp would have some extra purpose. Maybe they can understand draconic so they can hear the dragon say something about his next attack or maybe only they can destroy a particular special add.

Oh, and as far as the multi-boss thing like Sarth, what if instead of just fighting multiple bosses at once, different permutations of the 3 bosses there do something different (although still harder than individual). For example, what if summoning the dragon and the tree at the same time caused the raid to teleport to a forest where the terrain itself is against the raid and the dragon is strengthened with some different attacks? Just a thought.

Rich said...

wah, krunch back from the dead!

I think you're misinterpreting the whelp thing. While there would be whelps spawned throughout the event, there would also be phasing where one raid member sees a few other raid members as whelps himself. they don't actually become whelps, he just *thinks they're whelps*.

a few obvious issues with this raises its head, though... depending on who appeared to be whelped. if it was a mage, it would just be standing in the casters, but not really attacking anyone. If the tank appeared as a whelp, it would be pretty obvious, because the whelp would be tanking the dragon.

there would need to be some mechanic involved to confuse the players for a second... like: say 10 whelps spawn in the middle of the raid, and need to be burned down ASAP. at the same time, everyone needs to spread out evenly to a void giving each other some disease type debuff. with the whole raid scrambling into position, as well as legitimate whelps in the mix, it could create enough confusion to have the raid members attack each other on accident.

it would be a bitch to code, though, I imagine.

Krunchy said...

Hm, how about this. What if everyone except the person who was highest on threat (and maybe one or two others if you're feeling saucy) got teleported to a certain spot when the whelps spawn? The phased people would just see a bunch of whelps run out from the spawn point, but it wouldn't be initially apparent who the whelps are (since they're following their aggro targets) and who the players are (who are also running back out to their positions). It would also discourage carpet bombing AOE since a healer could get caught in there.

Rich said...

that could work, since the initial reaction would be to carpet bomb the whole pack, as you're saying.

threat would be weird, because a tank could just run in and thunderclap, and the mobs themselves would attach to him,

but the players who appeared to be whelps would just keep running. it would defeat the confusion factor. gimme a bit to chew on it and see if i can think of anything else.

p.s. you got internet now sucka or what?

Krunchy said...

I think the whelp thing would totally work with some tweaking. To deal with the threat of a thunderclap or something like that, maybe only the phased people can attack the whelps or you need a certain pick-uppable weapon. Or if you really want to hard counter something like that, give them unchangeable aggro where each of them picks someone and will not deaggro from them until dead. In any case, the MT will be facing the dragon away from the raid anyway so another warrior would have to 'clap in the whelp group. Oh well. Getting the bugs out is half the fun of encounter design, right?

Oh, as far as internet, my primary PC (the WoW pc) does not have functioning internet. I've been forced to borrow (damn near steal) a notebook PC from some family. It won't run WoW, but I could probably get vent running on it if you folks miss my suave, debonair voice that much.

By the way, is your xbox live account a US or Japan account? I picked up Street Fighter IV recently and I seem to recall you talking about it in the past...

Rich said...

xbox live is where the girls play.

real husky dudes with hair on their chests (that's me, btw) play SF4 on the Ps3... as girl characters. : /

i'm ixobelle on the ps3 if that matters, but you can't actually set matches up i think? it all seems very random.

Krunchy said...

I think you can set up matches on live, but I don't have a PS3, so it's moot, I guess. I wish I did, though, because the d-pad on the 360 controller is the worst I've ever used. 8/10 shoryukens end up causing me to jump because it thinks I'm pressing up-forward instead of stopping at down-forward. Oh well.