Jeromai and I must be on similar wavelengths, even though I know I do not have anywhere the gumption required to solo a dungeon. He writes this morning on how in six days that was all it took for the community situated around the Molten Facility to distill down to “mostly tired, lazy or focused on getting as speedily to the end as possible”. I was thinking the exact same thing over the weekend where I ran it one more time and decided I was likely done with the dungeon (especially since our guild is unlocking guild challenges this week).
Six days, indeed.
There is a lot to be learned from the Molten Facility, which was created by a Living Story team, not the dungeon team (who have been particularly silent about their projects since the Ascalon Catacombs refurb). It was created first and foremost as a storytelling device, just like the Rox and Braham instances in Flame & Frost last month. Those instances were also farmable, although easily done in a solo manner.
Within the first few days players jumped on the wagon to complete the new dungeon. It was fresh. It was fun. There was a small, small chance of getting something fantastic too. The community energy pumping around the Molten Facility was intoxicating. With the weekend I saw it more like Jeromai. The people running it were more on the order of slot-machine grannies vacantly pulling the one-armed bandit in the hopes of the ultimate payoff.
In my opinion this is all working as intended. I have to think the developers, putting this dungeon in for only 2 weeks (appaling, I know), foresaw this. While the community raged on about transient content, the Living Story team perhaps silently said “you’ll see”.
What I think in view of ArenaNet’s post-launch dungeon, Fractals, is that creating repeatable dungeons is an art. Creating storytelling dungeons is an art. And, perhaps the two are not so alike. This is not to say either is flawed. Fractals has some nice lore embedded in the dungeons, and people have highly praised the mechanics of the Molten Facility. This just makes my armchaired-self scratch my head a bit more.
I think a big issue was the rewards and speed of the Molten Facility. For dungeon runners the profitability per time is pretty bad compared to Citadel of Flame and other dungeons. The pros ran it a few times, updated their calculations, and went elsewhere. Considering a 2.5 gold run in Citadel of Flame done in 15-20 minutes, a dungeon runner could buy any of the Molten Facility drops off the market in a weekend of hard farming… guaranteed. Or they could crap-shoot with the Molten Facility.
The rewards paired with this same idea. The vast community runs the Molten Facility and inundates the market with the drops, some of which are only available in the Molten Facility. Who is left? A weird middle of players not running dungeons with the pros but still wanting to take one more chance at one of the exotics drops.
With the exception of trying to make the guaranteed profit of running the Molten Facility more on order per time of that of conventional dungeon running, I am not sure I would have liked the Molten Facility with any different reward scheme. Designers could have added a token currency requiring X number of runs to buy Y, but I am not sure a healthier remaining community would have been the result because most players would still run a finite number of times. The dungeon could have been made more farmable in a “know the dungeon”-sense, but then a lot of the pacing would have been lost on fresh players joining veteran runners.
In a sense the Molten Facility reminds me a lot of Arah’s story mode. Here again was a dungeon that end-capped a ton of soloable content, but the dungeon was more of a set piece than this mechanically difficult challenge. Molten Facility was much more challenging, but it was built for this end-of-chapter experience to be shared. I’d go back and run Arah’s story mode with guildies, but I don’t expect a dungeon experience on par with the explorable modes.
It’s a weird thing to say now that two weeks was just about the right amount of time for this Living Story dungeon, especially if ArenaNet has things ready to replace Flame & Frost mid-May. It’s weird to see how the dungeon was designed to live for just about that amount of time. It is definitely not something very conventional in MMO space, where precious dev time is usually aimed at max player activity per dev time. ArenaNet keeps saying that Retribution is really setting the pace as the studio is finally lining up for this kind of content output. An MMO, or really any game, set on this type of content production is going to be really interesting.