Progression of Skills and Skillsets Vs. Vertical Progression of Level and Gear

cantankerousmagecantankerousmage CaliforniaMember UncommonPosts: 992
I do believe MMORPGs went backwards in their evolution since Ultima Online.  Progression of skill makes much more sense and is much more realistic than vertical progression of levels and gear.  There is a definite limit to how much better equipment can give a person an advantage in the real world.  Forcing players to choose what their specializations are is much more interesting and challenging in my opinion.  Add to that the possibility of losing stats upon death, stats which must then be regained with difficulty by earning more experience.  And a limit to how many times a character can die based on a Constitution stat.  But being forced to start a new character is not such a problem in a game that is not about vertical progression of levels and gear.  It would be about the experience of trying to survive in a dangerous fantasy world.  Helping your community/faction/alliance to survive grow and flourish while other neutral or enemy communities or factions are trying to do the same thing.  Even the possibility of having all characters on an account be in the same family line or community, so that new characters on the account might gain some benefit from what the previous character did, even if they died permanently or were forced to retire doing to them be too old or weak to continue exploring/adventuring/working/fighting in a hostile world.
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  • EronakisEronakis Member UncommonPosts: 2,102
    Man, you're on a rampage with your posts about faults in MMO's aren't you? lol

    There has always been two design elements of progression for RPG's, through levels or through your skill set. That is one of the natures of the genre it self. I personally feel like Everquest did it right. Everquest had a balance of level progression and skill progression. The idea was that if you didn't use your skill enough, especially a spell caster, your fizzle chance was high. I like that idea as it made you know your full class arsenal and what you had access too. To me, Everquest was sort of a Sand Park sort of game with a slight blend of themepark and sandbox elements

    Sandbox style of gameplay does seem to allow the player to truly customize their playstyle and may be a bit easier to balance. However, with that it's just a library of skills with no interesting thematic core mechanic to give you that immersive feel of a class.

    Also, the Sandbox style of gameplay with skill allocation is more customizable than class trees. However, most players try to make the Battle Mage/Tank spec in sand boxes because usually that is the most powerful build. There is nothing wrong with Themepark or Sandbox games, everyone has a preference.

    In my design, I am also going for that Sand Park blend of skills with classes that have a core thematic mechanic to give you an immersive interesting feel for that class. I do not have any class trees in my design because it truly bottlenecks you into one play style and you don't have full access to your class. My design is contingent on adaptable combat mechanics where players can adapt in combat and must adapt to different AI ranks and mob types as each mob type may behave different in a battle. I value variety, so I allow the player to have full access to all of their skills/spells but with a 15 slot hot bar limitation. That way, just like in Everquest, you can make different hot bar sets for various play styles and situational circumstances. You can freely toggle between different hot bar sets out of combat.

    Those are just my ideas of how I believe is the best way to do something to make gameplay more intriguing.
  • SEANMCADSEANMCAD Houston, TXMember EpicPosts: 15,078
    exactly the specifics aside for the moment in principle I agree that a Skill based system is TONS better than a Level/Class based system. by like a large margin

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  • SirmatthiasSirmatthias tampa, FLMember UncommonPosts: 562

    "omg I finally hit level XX I can finally wear this red shaded piece of gear!"

    verse

    "omg I just lost 1 skill point in swordplay to spell casting and 1 stat in dexterity for intellgance"

    ugh I pass on both

  • SEANMCADSEANMCAD Houston, TXMember EpicPosts: 15,078

    "omg I finally hit level XX I can finally wear this red shaded piece of gear!"

    verse

    "omg I just lost 1 skill point in swordplay to spell casting and 1 stat in dexterity for intellgance"

    ugh I pass on both

    not all skill based systems are created like that...just an FYI. I like the flexiablity of skill based. If I want to be a polearm expert farming spell casting ninja I can of If I want to be a horsebreading blacksmith, archer expert I can. or all of them

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  • ArglebargleArglebargle Austin, TXMember RarePosts: 2,053
    Skill systems with limited points available, so you cannot be a master of everything.  Much of the other OP stuff, I would not care for.   Classes are usually far too limiting for me.   People in a skill system can follow class-like templates.  Not so much the other way around.

    If you are holding out for the perfect game, the only game you play will be the waiting one.

  • cantankerousmagecantankerousmage CaliforniaMember UncommonPosts: 992
    edited March 2016
    Yes, limited points so you cannot master everything.
    Post edited by cantankerousmage on
  • SEANMCADSEANMCAD Houston, TXMember EpicPosts: 15,078
    Yes, limited points so you cannot master everything.
    I am in a minority in this view. I think everyone should be able to try out every single aspect of a game if they want at somepoint in their gaming lifespan.

    how exactly that works I dont know but I dont like the idea of restrictions on that level.

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  • cantankerousmagecantankerousmage CaliforniaMember UncommonPosts: 992
    Well, not everyone needs or wants to play the same types of games.
  • ArglebargleArglebargle Austin, TXMember RarePosts: 2,053
    IF you don't have a skill cap, you end up with players having an Ueber-Mensch Sword Mage.   I prefer  alting anyway.

    If you are holding out for the perfect game, the only game you play will be the waiting one.

  • waynejr2waynejr2 West Toluca Lake, CAMember EpicPosts: 7,609
    IF you don't have a skill cap, you end up with players having an Ueber-Mensch Sword Mage.   I prefer  alting anyway.

    Funny how the decades old lessons aren't still learned.  haha.  But these kids know it all and think they should try everything!
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  • nariusseldonnariusseldon santa clara, CAMember RarePosts: 27,201
    SEANMCAD said:
    exactly the specifics aside for the moment in principle I agree that a Skill based system is TONS better than a Level/Class based system. by like a large margin
    and yet a game like D3 is a tons better game, for me, and by the sales, many others, than a skill based game like Eve.

    So it depends on the game, and the player preferences. 
  • ArglebargleArglebargle Austin, TXMember RarePosts: 2,053

    'Depending on the game and player preferences' is pretty much a tautology.  For me, D3 is not up to snuff.  Terrible lore and story, and bad design way back when.  Muchly preferred Path of Exile and Torchlight.   Blizzard has a long tail, and will sell millions regardless of the merits or demerits of the game.


    Class is an abstraction useful for game design and internet ease.  Not always a bad thing, just a limiting factor that helps out designers but causes narrowing of options for players from the get go.  

    If you are holding out for the perfect game, the only game you play will be the waiting one.

  • filmoretfilmoret Palm Bay, FLMember EpicPosts: 4,906
    It's called Mortal Online but noone likes it.  I'm starting to sound like a broken record now.
    Are you onto something or just on something?
  • KyleranKyleran Paradise City, FLMember LegendaryPosts: 26,052
    filmoret said:
    It's called Mortal Online but noone likes it.  I'm starting to sound like a broken record now.
    There's a lot that is broken in MO, having a skill based system doesn't improve on all that.

    On hiatus from EVE Online since Dec 2016 - Screw off-grid PVE boosting changes

    In my day MMORPG's were so hard we fought our way through dungeons in the snow, uphill both ways.

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  • KyleranKyleran Paradise City, FLMember LegendaryPosts: 26,052

    SEANMCAD said:
    exactly the specifics aside for the moment in principle I agree that a Skill based system is TONS better than a Level/Class based system. by like a large margin
    and yet a game like D3 is a tons better game, for me, and by the sales, many others, than a skill based game like Eve.

    So it depends on the game, and the player preferences. 
    EVE is not a game, it is a virtual world simulation, which definitely has a smaller player base than those looking for casual "fun"

    It also has a number of unique designs which many can't abide for one reason or another, but the fact it has a skill based system probably isn't one of them.  

    In fact, it's time based skill gain system (vs effort) is one some love, many dislike, but hey, you can now use the cash shop to fix all that, better right? ;)

    On hiatus from EVE Online since Dec 2016 - Screw off-grid PVE boosting changes

    In my day MMORPG's were so hard we fought our way through dungeons in the snow, uphill both ways.

    Don't just play games, inhabit virtual worlds™
    "This is the most intelligent, well qualified and articulate response to a post I have ever seen on these forums. It's a shame most people here won't have the attention span to read past the second line." - Anon


  • coretex666coretex666 PragueMember RarePosts: 3,201
    For me, both systems can work equally well...in a good MMORPG.

    I always preferred level based progression though. I also play RPGs which combine both. You get certain number of skill points after each level up which you then put to e.g. sword, bow, leather, chain, plate, fire, cold, diplomacy, etc... 

    By the way, are they not both just different types of vertical progression? I always considered horizontal progression to be detached from your ingame character, but rather related to players' skills.

    The title "Progression of skills and skillsets vs. vertical progression of level and gear" is, therefore, a little misleading?
  • filmoretfilmoret Palm Bay, FLMember EpicPosts: 4,906
    Kyleran said:
    filmoret said:
    It's called Mortal Online but noone likes it.  I'm starting to sound like a broken record now.
    There's a lot that is broken in MO, having a skill based system doesn't improve on all that.
    Game works when I play it.  You sure it wasnt a rumor of a cousin's cousin who once saw something?
    Are you onto something or just on something?
  • cameltosiscameltosis ipswichMember EpicPosts: 1,557
    By the way, are they not both just different types of vertical progression? I always considered horizontal progression to be detached from your ingame character, but rather related to players' skills.

    The title "Progression of skills and skillsets vs. vertical progression of level and gear" is, therefore, a little misleading?
    Really depends on the game, progression of both levels and skills can be either horizontal or vertical, it is just that most games opt for vertical. 

    All comes down to the relative power of your character. Typically, leveling up gives you more stats which is why it is considered vertical progression. On skill-based progression, again, most games either make your skills more powerful or unlock more powerful skills to use, both of which are vertical. 

    There are some games though which do offer horizontal progression for skills and gear. In those games, typically you unlock more specialised skills, rather than "better", so your overall power stays the same. They are few and far between in the RPG genre, most tend to stick to vertical. Horizontal progression is far more common in FPSes. 
  • TheocritusTheocritus Gary, INMember RarePosts: 5,336
    Yes UO the game where 99% of the playerbase macroed their skills to max....That should be the way games are played?
  • DarkswormDarksworm Member UncommonPosts: 395

    'Depending on the game and player preferences' is pretty much a tautology.  For me, D3 is not up to snuff.  Terrible lore and story, and bad design way back when.  Muchly preferred Path of Exile and Torchlight.   Blizzard has a long tail, and will sell millions regardless of the merits or demerits of the game.


    Class is an abstraction useful for game design and internet ease.  Not always a bad thing, just a limiting factor that helps out designers but causes narrowing of options for players from the get go.  

    I am sure many of Diablo III's players care about lore and story.

    Path of Exile and it's messy Skill Tree and basically forced rerolls if you click the wrong circles (or log off and wait for a major content update) is not something many of those players care about, evident in the fact that it has had no impact on the Diablo III player base at all.
  • AmatheAmathe Miami, FLMember RarePosts: 2,865
    I like games where I can meaningfully progress in levels, skills and gear. 

    EQ1, EQ2, SWG, SWTOR, GW, GW2 CoH, CoV, FFXI, WoW, CO, War,TSW and a slew of free trials and beta tests

  • AmarantharAmaranthar OhioMember UncommonPosts: 2,905
    edited April 2016
    Yes UO the game where 99% of the playerbase macroed their skills to max....That should be the way games are played?
    UO added some code that made macroing much harder to do. But scripts defeated that code.
    I'm sure something can be designed to remove simpler scripts for AFK (Away From Computer...do people even say that anymore?) skill gain. Plus game design that makes scripting dangerous, a la randomness.
    Post edited by Amaranthar on

    Once upon a time....

  • AmarantharAmaranthar OhioMember UncommonPosts: 2,905
    There's pluses and minuses for both skill based and class based.
    Both can be used in Sandbox game design. The biggest thing is the power gaps that force the world to be divided up into chunks of playable content instead of freedom and choice.
    Either type of game can have too much power gap.
    Either can have small enough power gap, plus horizontal ability gains, to work in a great Sandbox game.

    Gear is really just "Buffs", if you think about it. Maybe sometimes also a new spell (magical ring) or specific ability (a particular weapon's special attack type). Simply keeping the balance here (with skills or level advancement) would be the primary goal. But there can be much more to that balancing goal that first meets the eye.
    Why is it that a class based Mage can't wear armor? (Usually)
    Way back when, before the age of computer gaming, playing D+D we asked that question. And the answer was "because the metal interferes with magic casting."
    At least that's what most gamers and the major magazines and so forth came up with. It was widely accepted as the reason.
    So why isn't that part of the games? A "Mage" should be able to wear armor and wield a sword if he wants to, but his magic should suffer considerably.
    That would remove the "Tank/Mage" thing.
    It's no different than a Thief class player wearing heavy armor. He should be able to if he chooses, but at a very substantial loss to his thief skills.

    And that's one reason that skill based systems are better. They allow players to mix and match. But they should also have such restrictions in this way, a way that feels more natural and "realistic" (yeah, I just said that,  =) ).

    The primary good thing about Classes, in my opinion, is the identity. It's simple and direct.
    "I'm a Warrior, I Tank."
    "I'm an Engineer, I Tink."
    "I'm a Bard, I Twank."

    I do think that would be something that can be added to skill based games.
    If you start out as a fighter type, the game would be better if it had special classes that you can join.
    A player could join a religion's ...
    Paladin's Guild.
    This could require a special mix of skills and restrictions to certain things, and offer a few special benefits like a basic Healing Spell and the ability to Turn Undead so that it mimics the standard view of what Paladins are.
    (Same basic thing for other "classes".)

    Restrictions to the Paladin can function the same way as the Mage wearing armor (above).
    If the Paladin is supposed to only use a sword, then maybe using (as in holding) another weapon type removes his Paladin special abilities.
    Or maybe the Paladin's Personal Sword is the magic item that allows those special abilities.
    There's different ways a game can go about this stuff.


    Once upon a time....

  • AmarantharAmaranthar OhioMember UncommonPosts: 2,905
    I do believe MMORPGs went backwards in their evolution since Ultima Online.  Progression of skill makes much more sense and is much more realistic than vertical progression of levels and gear.  There is a definite limit to how much better equipment can give a person an advantage in the real world.  Forcing players to choose what their specializations are is much more interesting and challenging in my opinion.  Add to that the possibility of losing stats upon death, stats which must then be regained with difficulty by earning more experience.  And a limit to how many times a character can die based on a Constitution stat.  But being forced to start a new character is not such a problem in a game that is not about vertical progression of levels and gear.  It would be about the experience of trying to survive in a dangerous fantasy world.  Helping your community/faction/alliance to survive grow and flourish while other neutral or enemy communities or factions are trying to do the same thing.  Even the possibility of having all characters on an account be in the same family line or community, so that new characters on the account might gain some benefit from what the previous character did, even if they died permanently or were forced to retire doing to them be too old or weak to continue exploring/adventuring/working/fighting in a hostile world.

    I really like the idea of losing stats on death.

    The first reason is that I'm really tired of "easy".
    And I'm really tired of seeing players (myself included) just playing with no real care if you die.

    But you don't want to overdo it. I'd suggest a chance of a stat loss as opposed to fixed loss.
    And also possibly a max stat loss so a normal player doesn't get hurt too much by bad luck (or even playing really dumb). -I'd prefer not to have this, but it could be too much for some players.

    I also think there should be ways to recover those lost stats besides just earning them back normally. But at a cost, through a temple donation or similar things.

    And in games with OWPvP and a Justice System, PKers having negative karma should never be able to use this (i.e. griefers only recover through normal game play).
    I also think that griefers should NOT have a max stat loss, as part of their penalty for griefing others, if that's in the game design.

    I'd like to see stats play an almost equal part to skill.
    I'd also like to see stats used directly, so that a player with great strength can push a boiling cauldron over and spill it towards an opponent. Or a player with great agility can tightrope walk across a canyon.

    Any skill should be heavily modified by the stats involved.

    Making stats very important in game play, and in grouping for adventure into the unknown.

    In effect, anything the player does should be a chance based on a combination of skill and stats.

    With that, death hurts but it's limited, and recovery takes time from more game play or an extra cost to the player.
    And griefers (if it's in the game) suffer badly if they continue to play the griefer.

    Once upon a time....

  • mmoguy43mmoguy43 In cyberspaaaaaaceMember UncommonPosts: 2,770
    The way I look at it is we have:
    Skill based gameplay(player skill) and Progression based gameplay(stats,levels, skills, gear)
    Then progression can go the route of horizontal progression without disrupting the player skill based combat
    or the exponential vertical growth route which is the removal of player skill. Only a handful of games like Eve Online is able to do both player skill based combat and skill based progression but only by have a relatively low power curve. You could also say you are learning how to best use your hybrid turrets just as your avatar is. So I'd say that is the best way to go if there is going to be any sort of competitive PvP.


    Skill based progression is the emulation of the avatar's skill growth but not the player. I would like to have them match up more. So if you are able to do more skillful feats, it show that you are getting better as a player and then, also advances your avatar. Repeatedly using the same skill over and over, like in UO, to advance isn't interesting and doesn't necessarily make sense when you aren't challenged.
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