Fortunately, I have CDs to spare myself a 30GB download. Mostly.
So, in honor of ESO's first great screw-up, I thought I'd make fun of the developer of one of the game's quests for a few minutes. ;-)
The quest we're going to talk about is called The Dungeon Delvers. And it's hysterically badly designed. As a matter of fact, it's so poorly designed that it should be forever preserved as a case study into bad MMO level design. Here's how it works:
- For those that know Elder Scrolls lore, the dungeon is a Dwemer ruin populated entirely by Dwemer "spiders".
- The level itself is split into three large circular rooms connected in series by corridors. Call them Room 1, Room 2, and Room 3. The entry door spits you out into a corridor leading to Room 1.
- Before you reach Room 1, you are stopped by an NPC that hands you a Macguffin and explains that the Macguffin will allow you to take control of a damaged spider, but "it might take a few tries." The NPC advises you to take the Macguffin into Room 1 and try it out.
- Inside Room 1 are spawn points for about eight spiders, each with a spawn rate of about once per minute. As a result, the room spawns about eight spiders per minute.
- It takes about four tries for the Macguffin to successfully take control of a damaged spider. So you whack one a few times and try the Macguffin until it works. If it doesn't work, it kills the spider. If it does work, you get a little spider pet. The game directs you to Room 2.
- In Room 2, you again find the NPC, who now advises you that some of the machinery in Room 2 needs repairing and for that you need repair parts. The spiders were originally Dwemer repair bots, so she advises you to go back to Room 1, kill a few more spiders, then use the Macguffin which will now tell your spider to salvage the dead spider for parts. Come back when you've done this to five spiders.
- So you return to Room 1 with the same eight spiders, whack them a few times, then apply the Macguffin. If you do it right, a counter goes up telling you that you've succeeded. You keep doing this until the counter reaches five.
- Then you go back to Room 2 with your pet spider in tow. The rest of the quest is irrelevant to my discussion.
There are eight spider spawn points, which will spawn about eight spiders per minute total. To complete the quest, you need to damage something between nine and 14 spiders depending on your reflexes and your diligence to the quest instructions. So, if you were in the level by yourself, you would spend three to four minutes in Room 1 to complete the two steps necessary, plus a minute or so for reading instructions and travel time.
But you're not by yourself, are you?
So yeah, Room 1 is complete and utter chaos. Remember: for the first step, you have to damage the spider, then apply the Macguffin. If you kill the spider, you have to try again! Meanwhile for the second step, those players just want to kill the spiders. Therefore, at any given moment, there can be upwards of a dozen or more people in Room 1, all falling on any spider that is crazy enough to spawn and often obliterating it in a fraction of a second. If anyone manages to apply the Macguffin, it's a miracle. It would be funny as hell if it weren't so stupid:
- You've got people just coming into the room for the first time who haven't read the instructions properly and are smashing any spider they see and wondering why the quest doesn't work;
- then you've got people who did read the instructions who are trying to be fairly gentle with a spider so they can Macguffin it, wondering why there's a dozen people in here smashing any spider stupid enough to show its face, not even close to understanding why, and getting frustrated;
- then you've got people who did somehow manage to get step one completed who are only motivated to smash spiders as fast as they appear and getting frustrated because before they can get their hit in, someone else has already obliterated it and claimed credit for the kill; and,
- you've got a few people who have figured all this out and are just smashing spiders as fast as they can just to grief groups two and three.
- Finally, a lore book points you at this very same dungeon(!) as a source of a treasure chest, so you've got not a few randoms wandering through and killing spiders just 'cause they're in the way.
There's no equivalent of "local" in ESO: just one chat channel for the entire zone. But it's actually pretty easy to imagine the rage this room promotes all over the world. And if a group enters Room 1 together? Forget about it. How did I myself get through it? As I keep mentioning, I live in California. So I waited until late one night and came in and cleared the thing while everyone else was asleep.
So yeah, in the theme park that is this part of Elder Scrolls Online, I expect this little ride is going to have an "out of order" sign slapped on its front door before too long while the level designer gets a talking to from his team lead and gets the job of rearranging this mess.
And my reinstall is now 93% complete. That was diverting.