Encounter Routes are interactive adventures that can be used to progress a storyline, or simply to create a fun play experience for a group of lucky players.
Encounter Routes are not /only/ spawned via items – we have other means of tracking a group’s action within an area. View an Encounter Route as a series of linked events or conditions which must be met in order to receive a reward. Our encounter routes are not an entitlement; not everyone will get to experience each one of them
We will have both covert and overt Encounter Routes. Covert ones may not give the players any feedback as to their progress along the adventure. Overt ones may give you feedback such as “Kill ten more Foozles” or “Return to the Throne Room”. .
Certain Encounter Routes will have a minimum number of players that must meet the conditions. It will not often be a full group requirement – so yes, additional players may join in. It would certainly not be fun to find out you are on an Encounter Route that you have no way of defeating – just because the Ranger and the Cleric didn’t hit accept group yet.
We may create some solo and casual encounter routes – but the focus of most of the Premiere Dungeons past a certain level is typically group. That’s not to say we wont have mini dungeons with encounter routes for solo players – but creating this content does take time.
As for higher level players returning hoping to do those Encounter Routes – they will find that they are not eligible. This falls in line with Trivial Loot.
The intent is to not trigger or allow encounter routes to happen with a solo individual in a group based area.
The maximum level for a given encounter route will probably be in line with the level range of the dungeon or area that it is in. It should be pretty clear to players that when a dungeon is trivial to them the encounter routes it contains are also trivial.
Also please keep in mind that these encounter routes are not an entitlement. Not everyone will get to experience every one of them.
We have a variety of options here and will likely use them. If the plan is to have the item persistent (saved) we can do that, or we can have the item disappear after you trigger the encounter route. The latter will probably be more common.
The second group with the item that triggers the encounter route would fail to trigger the route until the first group had moved on. That said, remember that longer routes are divided into segments, so there would be an item/trigger for each segment. The idea there being that more than one group could be on the same route, but in different segments (but not on the same segment at the same time).
How many routes and segments per dungeon depends on the size of the dungeon, the level range, etc. The idea behind our larger dungeons is that they should support multiple groups that are either just adventuring or on various routes and the segments within those routes. Ultimately, while we think the encounter route system addresses what instancing tries to addresss but without the negatives, having a lot of content and huge dungeons is just as, if not more, important.
"Golden Mobs" are typically only at the end of an encounter route or special quest which involves massive amounts of work by one set of individuals. We do not want a groups collective effort being spoiled after working towards something for a long period of time.
There is a huge difference between two groups competing for a standard spawn, and a group coming in and destroying the last hour of /your blood sweat and tears/.
Again to be clear – only a very limited number of NPCs will be golden. These will most often be the final boss type encounter NPCs.
A very limited subset of NPCs involved in an encounter route will be “Golden” NPCs. These are the only NPCs which others may not interact with. A majority of encounter routes are planned to play upon the standard population of the dungeon as stated above.
The purpose of the “Golden” NPC is to insure that a group which has been working on an Encounter Route for several hours and finally spawns a boss mob does not have said boss mob “stolen” “ks’d” or otherwise molested by other players.
The current thinking (not set in stone) is that if you or your group caused a boss mob to spawn with our flag-based quest system, it would only do so as you approached the correct location in response to your flagged group. Most likely it would be locked to your group so someone else doesn't gank it when you did all the work on a long, detailed, and difficult quest that culminated with the boss mob spawning. As mentioned above, only a very limited number of mobs or NPCs will be considered “Golden”. .