There's been a lot of discussion this Halloween about the issues with various people acting like they own a Labyrinth instance and can tell everyone else in it how to play or demand that they leave. This isn't a new problem by any means (or exclusive to the Lab) but it seems to me that it's been worse than in previous years. The more I think about it the more I think the best solution for everyone might actually be to give them exactly what they want.
Option 1: Default Lab - Exactly what we've got now.
You enter the Lab via a door in LA or any other method and you end up on a public copy of the map. You can then play on that map or use LFG/logging out and back in to switch as you wish.
Option 2: Private Lab
This would need to be 'activated' in some way - I think speaking to the Lunatic Boatmaster would be the easiest to implement but whatever works. It takes you to a brand new copy of the Lab map which is identical in every way to the one you left except that other people can only join it by first joining your party/squad and then using the right-click [join in Mad Kings Labyrinth] option. (Or possibly the pop-up that already exists for Fractals and Dungeons.) If you don't advertise it then no one else will be able to get in, or even know it's there.
If you want to solo everything on the map then you can, safe in the knowledge that no one else is going to come along and interrupt.
If you want to play with just your guild or little group of friends you can do that too.
If you want to get a full map and run a strictly organised squad where everyone must wear purple and kneel in front of each door before it opens, well you can do that as well.
Most importantly it means the people who want to play solo will never find their map 'taken over' by a squad that demands they start wearing purple and kneeling to doors and the squad will never find they're unable to fill their map because some randoms are running around trying to solo everything.
Anet don't want to promote exclusivity or splitting the playerbase up unnecessarily and normally I'd say that's a great philosophy. But I'd argue that the Lab is a special case for 2 reasons:
1. It's very small for a PvE map and each copy is only able to hold 25 people, which makes it more like a large raid or a guild mission than an open-world map.
2. As a result of number 1 it's already fairly common to see semi-private maps - a commander gets onto an empty map, advertises it in LFG and within minutes they can fill it up, at least to the point where the game won't drop random extra people into it.
So IMO all this would do is formalise the process we basically already have and prevent conflicts when people who expect a private instance find they don't have one.
However, I also think it could be useful to put some sort of restriction in place so players are discouraged from creating a private instance unless they really want one. I thought about restricting it to commanders but that could exclude a lot of the people who want to play solo as they're unlikely to have a tag. I think a better solution might be to either restrict it to 1 private map created per day (using the daily reset) and/or add a cost to open one. Make it something reasonable like 5g - low enough that you can get it back easily by playing in the Lab, but enough that people aren't likely to create a private copy just for the sake of it.
Alternatively maybe making a private lab could require a token which you can only get in the Lab, meaning you have to play on a public map 1st. But that brings us onto...
It would take too much time/effort/new tech for Anet to develop. Of course only Anet can answer this accurately, but I think this suggestion should require relatively minimal effort on their part. The technology to create private copies of maps and then invite other players in already exists - it's used in dungeons, Raids, guild halls, the Triple Trouble Wurm boss etc. All they'd need to do is apply it to this map. This is also why I suggested making a new map by talking to the Lunatic Boatmaster - it avoids the need for any new UI elements or tech. He's already able to send you to Lunatic Inquisition or the Clocktower, I assume the same method can be used to send you to a new Lab. And of course there's nothing new needed to be able to invite other people because we've already got the LFG tool and right-click to join system.
What if people join a private map then leave the squad to troll them? For example joining out hypothetical squad from earlier, leaving the squad as soon as they're in the map and then brazenly wearing what is clearly Magenta instead of pink and refusing to bow before doors. (Or more seriously running around opening doors before the squad arrives, opening boss doors when the squad said they're not doing them and all the other things we see currently.)
I have to admit I don't have a solution to this one, except that I think the whole idea is a solution to the root cause of it. I seriously doubt many people now deliberately get onto the same map as a strictly run squad so that they can defy their rules. Likewise I doubt many commanders get into a nearly empty map and go "Hey that one dude seems like he's happy no one else is around, time to invite my whole guild and demand that he leaves now we're here!". I think if people who are using the Lab in different ways were given their own separate copies to play in the incentive to troll each other would disappear.
That's (finally) it from me. But I'd really like to know what other people think - is it a good idea? Could it be changed or improved? Is there a problem I've not thought of yet? Do you want a cookie for reading the whole thing even though it was boring?
"You can run like a river, Till you end up in the sea,
And you run till night is black, And keep on going in your dreams,
And you know all the long while, It's the journey that you seek,
It's the miles of moving forward, With the wind beneath your wings."