Patch 4.0.6: Of Dungeon Locations, Attunements and Gaming the System

Posted by on February 5, 2011 - 15 Comments »

One seemingly small change coming soon in Patch 4.0.6 has been stirring up a lot of debate.

The removal of the requirement that a player must discover a dungeon’s entrance before they may queue for it from the dungeon finder has a lot of people flustered.

And I can see why. Back in May when WoW developers announced that this requirement would be coming in Cataclysm, most players seemed pleased. There were a lot of positives to consider.

The requirement would encourage exploration of new zones and therefore the questing and lore that encompass the areas around them; players would be more likely to know the way from the spirit healer back to the dungeon entrance, in the case of an untimely wipe; and the dungeon finder would potentially have fewer players joining randoms for dungeons that they had never before encountered.

But along with those positives also came scheming for how the new system could be used to a player’s benefit.

All around the WoW community, as the news spread, one other potential benefit of the system became obvious — players could use the system to opt out of the dungeons that weren’t as quick or easy as they would like; that didn’t have the rewards they were looking for; or that, for whatever reason, they didn’t want to encounter. By simply not discovering those locations, a player would never have to worry about entering a less than ideal dungeon again. They could eliminate the potential of an Oculus 2.0. — or, in this case, The Stonecore.

Sure, why not? Why not optimize fun levels while playing? I’ll tell you why.

Because when enough people start taking advantage of the system for their own benefit, it results in a downside for those players who are not. Even though most players who took advantage of this option did not do it with malicious intent, it still had the potential to give them an advantage over other players.

Some players complained that the queue times for less popular dungeons increased; others started noticing that they weren’t as likely to get the gear they wanted because they weren’t only queuing for the places with the best drops for them; and some players who wanted to experience the full breadth of new dungeons that Catacylsm had to offer were frustrated that their queues continued to put them in the same dungeon again and again — likely because the pool of players who shared that mindset was smaller than those who were only attuned for the dungeons that they had chosen.

I have no proof that this is what led to the change in WoW‘s stance on finding the dungeon location. There’s plenty of other potential downsides that also have been pointed out and encouraged developers to rethink their idea. These possibilities range from guilds having a more difficult time putting together group runs when some members hadn’t yet discovered a dungeon to the fact that some players found the process of finding dungeons on each and every toon too cumbersome.

And as for players using the requirement as an impetus to learn more about the lore of the area, well that’s also questionable. Savvy players could still find their way around that aspect by simply looking up the entrance and flying over it once, never to return. And some did, as evidenced by the continuing popularity of our very own dungeon location guide.

I still like the idea of finding a dungeon as a kind of attunement; but it needs some work. Instead of removing the requirement altogether, I would suggest making it a requirement to queue for a specific dungeon. But when it comes to queuing for a random dungeon, simply leave it to chance so that everyone is in the same pool of candidates.

As for the time being, though, expect the requirement to be removed altogether as soon as the next patch drops.