Been tossing this idea around in my head for a little while, and seeing as I'm at a lack for posts lately I decided to share it.
So. The Super dungeon is something like an actual leveling area. You have various level ranges (ergo, deeper you go into it the harder it gets) and giant monsters that roam around and serve as bosses, generally spawning randomly so that farming them is difficult.
It would be an instanced area, much like regular dungeons, with a cap of, oh, let's say 30-40 players. Multiple floors, winding passages, and the chance to run into another player who may help or simply leave you to your fate.
But the most important thing about the super dungeon is that it is large. I'm talking Mines of Moria large here. Exploring and taking on new challenges is the name of the game here. There will be respawns after a while, yes, but most of the time you cut a swath through to find treasure and such.
I don't think it would be too difficult to randomize the floors, but having a static dungeon wouldn't be bad either. Let's try and create an example.
The Caves of Really Dark is a level 10-20 dungeon. Its entrance is out in the forest, and the denizens of the local village have been concerned about the goblin attacks coming from there. Normally they are few and far between, but they have been coming in bigger numbers and better organized. Players can go in alone or with a party to explore. Players over level 25 gain no rewards for this dungeon, and at 30 they are forbidden from entering. The enemies start at level 10, but the challenge can ramp up quickly depending on which direction you take, so that higher level players familiar with the area can quickly get to the tougher enemies. Upon exploring the cave, you find a group of Druegar (grey dwarves, sort of like Dark Irons) have mined their way into this cave from an outpost of theirs and have been training the goblins to attack settlements, and equipping them. Bosses include goblin generals, a cave troll that attacks player and enemy, and the Druegar warlord who started this whole mess as the final boss. Players will receive quests from the townsfolk and inside the dungeon as well, taking advantage of quests that transition automatically into one another.
Winding passages and tunnels off the beaten path encourage players to explore to find secondary bosses, treasure, and new areas. Should players get split up, any player outside your line of view and outside a certain distance will not be shown on the mini map any longer (and won't receive exp or loot) , to encourage sticking together if possible. Maps will be created as you explore, so anything unexplored by your party will not be visible.
The point of this kind of idea is to create dungeons that are an actual experience. I for one am both disappointed and bored with the model of dungeons that WoW, City of Heroes and many other games use. You walk in, are given a set path and goals and complete them. There is nothing else to the dungeon other than the scenery. There is a place for encounters like that, but there is also the sense of exploration and excitement of the unknown that I think needs to be recaptured in an online world. But, I will save that particular rant for another post.