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Quo vadis?


Desiring some quick VP before raid last night, I queued up for a heroic dungeon and was whisked away to the Temple of the Jade Serpent. I must admit, that dungeon gives me a bit of anxiety because for the past few months I’ve been laboring under the delusion that it’s possible to get the achievement Cleaning Up while in a LFD group. And yet, so far, things have not worked out — though my delusion persists.

Without fail, in every run, I turn to head into the library first and some of the group members stop in a haze of confusion and ask where I am going. Some can only muster up the strength to express a single “?” in party chat. I must know, when did it become the default for so many people to head into the pool room first for a little splashy-splashy, so much so that they would think starting with the library was actually an incorrect choice?

Brick Road, the dungeon-building character from Earthbound, once declared that “[his] statistics show about 70% of the people go to the right first.” But obviously that’s not really scientific, and further, I’m not entirely sure his dungeoneering degree is from an accredited institution. He may just be blowing smoke. (I don’t actually think that his declaration is a representation of any real data, mind you).

I only learned of that quote yesterday while reading a dissection of the first dungeon from the first Legend of Zelda game at one of my favorite gaming blogs. The author there was talking about how the designers at Nintendo were guiding the player through the dungeon — which starts with a similar left-right split — with subtle clues that would hint at what may be the correct path. Then hours later I had my Temple run with its similar left-right split at the entrance. Does that count as an example of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon?

From a dungeon design or gamer psychology standpoint I’m willing to wager the reason that left seems to be the obvious first path for the Temple of the Jade Serpent is because, between the two otherwise equal paths, the left is distinguished by having enemies visible in the doorway. When you enter a dungeon, you’re on a mission to clear out all the mobs and collect all the loot, so the brain would be naturally inclined to start with the most immediate and clearly present threat.

I can’t speak for the actual designers at Blizzard, but I can imagine that their logic was to make the seemingly obvious path pool then library with mobs as cues, and then the achievement (because they have to involve some kind of flip or reversal) the counter-intuitive opposite. It’s subtle but, if intended, pretty clever in how it manipulates the players. And oh boy are there players who fall for it.

Anyway, just something I found interesting! Now if only I could get queued up with a group that doesn’t have that one dps player who can barely do above 5k dps. One day.

April 18, 2013


Leave a comment
  1. Dan
    April 18, 2013 at 11:19 am #

    It’s definitely a visual cue, yes. Disposing of the dungeon’s denizens is intimately tied to completing quests, experiencing storylines, and collecting loot, the true purposes behind this content. Initiating combat is, in a sense, the first step in completing these goals, so reacting to the presence of enemies by attacking them is a natural response that has been conditioned into us since our early days in Ragefire Chasm.

    As far as it being intentional, I suppose it is possible but I doubt it was a top-down decision. The types of enemies found in the “library” area are coming out of the books, so it makes sense that they would be near them (perhaps even near the books that they “came out of”).

    Also, it’s highly unlikely that you will get the speed run achievement on your first time in the instance, which would be the only reason I could see for the “misdirection” between the wings.

    I would be willing to bet that placing the water enemies at the entrance while the library enemies were further inside would give the players an impetus, a starting point, from which to begin their dungeoneering.

    • Rhidach
      April 18, 2013 at 11:29 am #

      I knew you would enjoy this topic.

  2. HĂȘneryn
    April 19, 2013 at 6:16 am #

    There’s also an other factor to consider: the speed of the dungeon clear. Going left first seem to be slightly faster to me. The thing is that if you go the other way, the speed buff you get after you kill after a boss will usually not last you long enough to go all the way, so you will have to run at normal speed a bit to start the other wing. Also, when you kill the second boss there’s some rp before he opens the door so there some downtime there too. Yes you can run back to the entrance and go in that way but most people wont think of this usually.