This is part of a series in which I try to write a post every day on silly video game topics. For the list of topics, click here.
The savvy reader might notice the exclusion of a question within this post’s title. This is most assuredly on purpose as there is, in my mind at least, no question. Instances in MMOs are so necessary, so fundamental to the stability and experience of those games that to go without these days is simply unthinkable. Fans of an older, bygone day can wax nostalgic all they want. I urge anyone to wax nostalgic about waiting at the entrance of Sebilis with a full group looking for somewhere to set up camp on a busy night. Recollect fondly upon the lag within The Lake of Ill Omen, or Greater Faydark or Eastern Commons due to the hundreds within the zone. Cherish those golden times when finally assembled, buffed and ready to engage, another guild engages the very beastie you sought out to slay, that one that’s been on a 2-week respawn that you’ve slept in shifts camping.
Jesus Tapdancing Christ, did I really play that game for 5 years?
My rants aside, the advent of instanced, private dungeons (done first within Anarchy Online, if memory serves, at least first done in a 3D MMO) was a massive step forward for MMOs. Dungeons really should be experienced all the way through, from start to finish, and in Everquest, they really weren’t (not until Lost Dungeons expansion, I think?). There were few dungeons left un-violated for a proper dungeon crawl (Najeena, maybe? Kedge Keep, surely!) and the experience of having a proper go at clearing out a dungeon full of bad guys with out interference, trains or camps is, in my mind, the best of what MMOs have to offer.
So yes, not really a question, but a much beloved addition to MMO design.