Question of the Day: What are your favourite instances/ flashpoints of all time?

I have been running a fair number of flashpoints recently in SWTOR, and I’ve come to the conclusion that Kaon Under Siege might be my favourite instance/flashpoint in any MMO ever. What really makes this instance stand out for me is the incredible atmosphere, great instance-based storytelling, a few challenging trash mob pulls, and interesting enough bosses (OK, the bosses are not really the highlight of this flashpoint, but I feel they have enough strategy to keep them both interesting and in genre with the rest of the instance).


What I mean by atmosphere is that this is a zombie survival type of setting. Parts of the instance are eerily dark, with players using torches that hover around their heads. Parts involve zombies/rakghouls jumping out at you, in packs. Even if you know the instance reasonably well, the atmosphere is solid. Part of this is down to good pacing; sometimes you can see the rakghouls wandering around so you have time to plan the pulls carefully and other times you’re walking down a dark and quiet corridor and they leap out. It leads to an instance that doesn’t feel as though it’s just a static bunch of mobs standing around in corridors.

By storytelling, I mean that you pick up an entire storyline as you are travelling from boss to boss. There are some conversations (that people tend to skip through if they’re in a hurrt) but also you get some of the information as you are moving/ fighting. On arrival, you know that the planet is quarantined, then you learn via radio that some nobles are trying to break the quarantine so you try to stop them, then you see their hijacked ship crash, talk to the surviving pilot and see him succumb to the disease, and finally have to pick your way through infested and dangerous areas to get to a place where you can find where the infestation began and get a pickup for your team. It’s very smoothly put together. There’s plenty of show to go along with the tell.

The bosses have some interesting features. One boss fight features waves of rakghouls where one character gets to sit in the weapon turret and everyone else helps mop up and take out the rakghouls that are more dangerous. Another boss has to be kited towards explosives when it goes into frenzy (although tbh people seem more likely these days to tough it out). Another set of three have different abilities depending on the kill order. So again, it doesn’t feel like a set of bosses standing in a room waiting for you.

Some of the packs of trash mobs have interesting abilities also. There are rakghouls which have crowd control, others which explode when they die, and others which will throw players around (probably into any other packs of mobs in the area). So as players learn the instance, they can learn the routes which avoid pulling two packs at once, and learn which mobs should be taken out first.


I feel it’s an instance which shows off the very best of SWTOR design, with an attention to the detail, storytelling, that extends into boss mechanics in a way that I haven’t really found in WoW recently. (My favourite WoW instances were Stratholme and BRD, vanilla versions.)

So for any fellow instance runners: Which are your favourites, and why?

[Question of the Day] What is your favourite live event/ holiday event in an MMO?

The rakghoul plague continues, with additional daily quests being unlocked as time goes by. We hung out in guild groups last night and headed out to complete the quest that gives the crimson rakghoul pet, which was a lot of fun. Mostly for the company and jokes on voice chat.

Because you get rakghoul DNA when you die of the plague and there is also a daily quest to infect other people, large infection ‘parties’ have been rolling on the fleet. This basically involves everyone standing around in a group for long periods of time, waiting to be infected/ explode, and then repeat ad infinitum. I wouldn’t exactly call this fun, but if you just want to keep the game window open while you do something else online, it’s a very easy way to get the tokens.

Anyhow, this has all been making me think about other live events or holiday events that I have enjoyed in other games. Here are some of my favourites:

LOTRO: The Yule Festival Theatre

LOTRO has tended to go with hobbit/shire type of themes for holiday quests, with the local equivalent of maypole dancing, apple bobbing and foot races featuring strongly. Some of these themed mini-games are more fun than others, and then there are elements like this theatre which are like nothing I have ever seen in any other game.

The theatrical event involves an NPC theatre company putting on a play. If you are in the audience, you may get a chance to participate as one of the actors.  This involves being given a role and at certain points in the play, you’ll be given a chance to do an emote – you can get titles for picking appropriate ones. If you are in the audience and not selected to act, you can also take part by throwing flower petals or rotten fruit at actors who perform well or badly; doing this appropriately also gives you tokens.

I love this because it’s so completely bonkers, doesn’t involve killing random mobs, encourages players to have fun and interact,  and is still somehow completely thematic. More of this kind of thing please!


WoW: Hallow’s End

WoW has some great holiday events, although they press you far too hard to be a completionist (this is probably a bonus if you are a completionist anyway) and tend to get dull after you have seen them once. I had to think quite hard to pick my favourite, which came down to either Brewfest  (which probably has the best minigames) or Hallow’s End but the manically rhyming headless horseman pipped this one for me. Also as a Forsaken player I love this quest because it is so thematic and actually plays a real role in the game world (ie. festival for forsaken to celebrate their freedom from the lich king) other than just being a standin for a real life holiday.

There is plenty to do during Hallow’s End, including saving the poor starter towns from the headless horseman’s wrath once an hour, heading into the Scarlet Monastery graveyard with a high level group to lay him to rest and try to win cool pets and mounts, playing trick or treat on your guildmaster and other notables, collecting wacky masks, and so on. This was actually the first holiday event in which WoW included a holiday boss, if I remember rightly, which is something they have started adding to other holidays also.

So it’s the well themed holiday along with the vast amount of cool stuff to do for everyone from newbies to endgame players that makes this one a winner for me. I think it’s generally one of the more popular holidays.


WoW: Gates of Ahn’Quiraj

This was possibly the most epic event that ever took place on WoW servers, involving everyone in helping to unlock the new raid and daily quests associated with Ahn Quiraj. It also crashed a lot of servers when the gates opened, and Blizzard decided never to do anything like it again.

But I remember it fondly, and some of the hardcore guilds got involved with organising and rewarding more casual players to get them to help out. There was a time when every server had to have at least one player who had completed the questline (which included raid kills and crazy grinds so they would have been a member of a hardcore guild) in order for those zones to become available. Back in the day before server transfers, this was a much bigger deal than it is now.


DaoC: The Poetry Contest

When I played Dark Age of Camelot, I don’t remember holiday events being much of a thing so if we wanted events on our servers, they were either organised by players or by GMs. The poetry contest was a genuine live event, and was organised by GMs on our server in the Hibernia realm (I guess they felt it was thematic for mythic ireland to have poetry contests).

So they advertised the event on forums and encouraged guilds to submit entries. When the event itself happened, GM characters took on the role of storytellers and marshalled the competitors, and then led everyone off to hear a story and kill a boss mob (I think). What made this event stand out is that players really got involved. We had a good crowd of players at the contest, people were enthusiastic about cheering the poets who they found most entertaining, and everyone was generally playing along happily and not griefing.

For me and Arb, this one is particularly memorable because we had formed a newish guild for alts on the realm and our guild was broke and the prize from the poetry competition (which was about 1000g I think) would have let us do some stuff we really wanted to with guild banks. One of our guildies entered the content, and the player was a 15 year old who was   very nervous about this. As soon as he stepped up on his little lurikeen with his poem about how much he liked blowing things up (which was in contrast to the more po-faced earlier poems), the audience  went wild and everyone was bouncing up and down and casting buffs on him to show that they loved it.

He won the contest. It’s one of my favourite memories from that game.

I recall Warhammer Online also had some good holiday events, I think Witching Night was one of our favourites there. And sandbox games can spawn some fun live/ player-driven events too if you happen to be in at the right time.

Do you like live/ holiday events, and which are your favourites?