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[Column] General: The Case for Never-ending Progression



  • haplo602haplo602 Posts: 224Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by jtcgs
    Nice read...but the answer was already given at a GDC a few years ago. 100% scalable content where the CONTENT scales to the player, not the player to the content. The developer gave a slideshow showing how to do it. player = level x with y skills mob then = level x with y skills if player = priest, mob also has z skills and x loot table he then showed a graph on how to scale a mob to the player no matter their level and how the mob would remain a challenge. He then moved on to how to scale a mob to a GROUP, with skills for each type of class in the group so a mob would be custom fit no matter the group combo...and that it can even be done for full groups of 5, 10 and even RAID sized groups. The man came up with a way to make 100% of a game 100% viable 100% of the amount of time playing no matter the players class, level or group size.  

    So he just did the same as Oblivion mechanics. Remember the frustration when everything jumped to your level each 4 levels ? Your numbers increased (levels, skills etc) but they were meaningless because the mobs jumped with you.

    Worst idea ever.

  • WereLlamaWereLlama Lubbock, TXPosts: 246Member Uncommon

    I think special play zones might negatively impact immersion.

    I do agree that level identification is here to stay, but we might want to focus on endless progress within that context.

    In a project Im working on Im considering a larger number to indicate strength to allow for more varied progression.  Ex. Attack Power


  • ZekiahZekiah Posts: 2,483Member Uncommon
    The only problem with that model is when there is PvP involved because new players can never catch up and are at a disadvantage, sometimes great. EVE and Darkfall are good examples of this. I'm not sure how you solve that issue without some kind of in-game boosts, temporary or otherwise.

    "Censorship is never over for those who have experienced it. It is a brand on the imagination that affects the individual who has suffered it, forever." - Noam Chomsky

  • EpoiisaEpoiisa AlbanyPosts: 7Member
    Originally posted by jtcgs
    ...and that it can even be done for full groups of 5, 10 and even RAID sized groups. The man came up with a way to make 100% of a game 100% viable 100% of the amount of time playing no matter the players class, level or group size.  


    Yes, but if you scale everything then you're making "level" essentially redundant. And if levels are redundant, why not make the game without levels. Awesome comtent that is made level-agnostic by a scaling method could theoretically be awesome comtent in a non-level-based MMORPG.


    If you don't scale everything, then weaker characters (be it their level or gear) have to stand back and throw pebbles and avoid nuclear missiles, while stronger characters do the work that counts.


    Scaling is a great mechanism, and I like the way it works in GW2 during the grind to level cap. But I disagree with the possibility of it having any role in improving end-game levelling, even if coupled with a cap-less (infinite) leveling mechanic.

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  • ThelricThelric Woodbury, NJPosts: 27Member Uncommon

    I have always found my pleasure in mmo's knowing my character can still progress. Leveling has always delivered because unlike the gear that will one day be replaced, the stats I gain through leveling are my characters to keep despite the ongoing gear acquisition he will go through. I second the need of such infinite progression system.


    The whole fear of never catching up is ill placed since there will always be time to do so aslong as you invest it. Those who've invested the time into it should have somethign to show for it and there can be a balanced system so that the game can still be competitive in any aspects. An example can be made simply by having a max limit of primary stat gains but continual acquisition of HP. The advantage of gaining more levels can be as simple as just having more HP or gaining other stats which offer an added protection.  There's just too many options available for such a complex system to be put in place in an mmo.

  • simmihisimmihi -Posts: 622Member Uncommon

    Sounds like paradise for bots and gold spammers, really. Oh, and griefers too. How about resource management, won't there be "nodes" and stuff like that? Everyone can harvest everything? Will gear scale also? It surely should, right? If yes, how about crafting, how would that go? Will gear "cap", will there be just one "best" item for each class and role, an item which everyone wants?

    How would be the "progression" received, if you are always scaling? You gain power, mobs get tougher, won't everything feel the same?

    On the other hand, i think EvE got it right. I'd play a medieval fantasy EvE any day. No idea why no one thought of that yet.

  • EpoiisaEpoiisa AlbanyPosts: 7Member
    Originally posted by haplo602
    What we need is endless world shaping by players...




    And if that is a sufficiently awesome experience in and of itself, then levels are redundant.


    Here are a few ideas for world shaping:

    • Territory control (because I'm a PvP/RvR fan)
    • Economy (via player resource collection and crafting)
    • Success in PvE generates more difficult PvE challenges for opposing factions (make life hard on them).
    • Success in PvP rewarded with greater access to the resources for crafting better gear (so resources are somewhat geographical).


    I've run out of steam. Great article and great comments. I'll check-in tomorrow.


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  • ThelricThelric Woodbury, NJPosts: 27Member Uncommon
    Despite the awesome points of having PVP and PVE merged in mmo's, it always creates more conflict than it's worth which is followed by unbalance. PVP and PVE should stay separate unless the structure is well implemented. PVP maniacs seem hurt when this is mentioned since PVP provides them the  feeling of dominance over others, while PVE players will be bothered since to them the game is about living in the world created and acquiring and exploiting the world they're in. Both are after separate pleasures.
  • BattlerockBattlerock Youngstown, OHPosts: 1,393Member Common
    Ok so my earlier post I hinted at the imbalance I was afraid of, but what if I changed my perspective like some of you are doing for me and embraced the fact that thier are going to be some hardcore players that are more powerful than me , but this is an mmo right I'm on a team per say and I probably have op mmo gods on my side too, I may just be a minion in the big picture but I'm fighting for purpose and I'm having fun, I can start to see how this would work and be a good thing too.
  • TalmienTalmien Hopewell, NJPosts: 95Member Uncommon

    I think one of the problems with this type of endless advancement is immersion. Endless advancement is nice, but if you can only go into a special little corner of the world to try out your strength its not very immersive is it?

    I don't know about anyone else, but when my character gets more powerful I like to show of that power by defeating the enemies I had trouble with before. If i'm always getting scaled down unless I'm in the special box there doesn't seem to be much point. I don't feel immersed in the world and I don't feel like I've really advanced.

    There is a text based game called Gemstone that had endless advancement, and it worked. it took a really long time, but then again text based games are more about RP and you keep playing you character for other reasons besides then to just level. but someone who made level 150 was able to show of his power in any area of the world, not just a special box.

  • ThelricThelric Woodbury, NJPosts: 27Member Uncommon
    I agree, King. That's my perspective. I would still have fun being a minion of a bigger faction with player gods which can just be like bosses to beat. Specially in PVP. I would be after this high representatives of their faction and again, the devs can have rewards implemented for defeating such players.
  • ThelricThelric Woodbury, NJPosts: 27Member Uncommon
    Good point, Talmien. :) Being able to show your power offers its own rewards. I don't like to be scaled down, unless I have chosen to do so myself.
  • GravargGravarg Harker Heights, TXPosts: 3,409Member Uncommon

    I think when it comes end-game it's down to the players really.  I hit endgame in a game, like Rift, WoW, or Pirate101, and I make stuff up to do.  I don't need a quest to tell me to go help this person out for the day, or go ransack Sanctuary with friends, or sail around the spiral looking for booty (not that kind of booty! In a kid's game, you're sick! lol).  I take a game and make my own up inside of it.  I know I probably sound crazy, but I can't count the hours I spent in DAoC pulling a single guard or maybe 2 with my Troll Warrior and stomping them, just because it as fun.  Or sometimes I'd just charge the gate and get my butt handed to me, but it was still fun.  I forget who, but some famous person or philosipher or somebody once said "Fun is what you make it" and it's upto the player to make thier own fun, especially when it comes to post endgame. :)


    It would be nice to have a game without endgame though.  A never ending game of levels, however, as mentioned before.  Without a set goal, there really isn't progression, since you're not progressing to a goal.  Players could make up thier own goals, much like I do in current games, but I'm the only "crazily-imaginative" one that dies on purpose for fun lol.

  • YilelienYilelien Vacaville, CAPosts: 323Member Uncommon

    I like what alot of the FPS games do. You start again at lvl 1. But you get a "special skill" or weapon etc that you can start the game again with.

     I enjoyed the AA ability in EQ. I also liked the PA system in Rift. Once you hit that wall there are still things for you to try and do, besides the dailys or raids etc.


     But starting again at lvl 1.....I talked to a few friends about this and of course they said they dont want to repeat content. I ask. How many alts do you have? IMO if i was able to take that same toon back through the game to gain X. I would do it.

  • reillanreillan Tulsa, OKPosts: 241Member Uncommon

    I think this is where Neverwinter will come into the mix. In order to have constant character progression, you need constant new content. The real problem I see with games is not the cap, but the fact that there's nothing left to do. Even if I level my character using every quest and every mob kill I can find, eventually I'll have done *everything* in the game, at least once... and then the grind begins. I run the same instance a dozen times until I beat it, and then I run it 100 times to get all the gear it offers... and then... what?

    We need player-created content in order to have something else, something to make the grind seem less... grindy. To make it feel like there's something new and different to do, even when it's all really the same thing. RPers have this down already - they create RP situations for themselves, to give themselves new things to do, but it's really all just like playing with the toys you had as a kid. You're just using your imagination to create your own fun. New quests and content in a game allows you to participate in someone else's imagination. A grind prevents both your imagination (your brain goes kinda dead in the repetition) and your participation in someone else's.

  • gaeanprayergaeanprayer Somewhere Out There, PAPosts: 2,335Member Uncommon

    Ick, you really can't think of a single reason for neverending progression?


    If Guild Wars 2 has proven anything, it's that even allowing high level players to be rewarded by high level things for visiting low level areas is not enough to get them to go to those low level areas. Now let's look at WoW; everytime the cap is raised and progression is furthered, all the content before it becomes ghost towns and proof of irrelevancy. Let's be perfectly honest, gamers aren't always the most logical people out there. If there is an area that's out of their level range at some point, they're going to naturally assume they have to progress to that point and once they do, they aren't going to look back. Give it time, and that means people new to a game with infinite progression would essentially be playing a single-player game for many levels, if not forever, because they have no hope of catching up to the people that came before them.

    So that's why it's bad for PvE. For PvP, take a look at Darkfall in its initial iteration, where people who played first were inevitably, and infinitely, more stronger than anyone who came after, because progression was forever and thus there was never a way to catch up to them. The only way to avoid this is via progression that doesn't necessarily make one stronger, but evidently that's not good enough for some people.

    Love ya Bill, but this is a terrible idea. Stop it.

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  • FangrimFangrim PrestonPosts: 593Member Uncommon

    Another 'new' feature creeping into MMORPG's is the stupid 'I can do anything with respecs' so you can totally respec your toon to do anything.

    I think this is a bad idea,one of the reasons I stay in a good MMORPG for years is the ability to have a main I generally raid/group with guildies  and lots of alts to play whenever and however I want.This crappy respec thing which is the only thing putting me off Archeage is horrible and makes you only need 1 character ever :(

    So this also takes away replayability of a game,especially in one with lots of different classes (EQ2,Vanguard) that are vastly different from each other.


    Edit : Respec or no roles (Trinity,hate that word with a passion,especially holy trinity when talking about a role in a RPG!)

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  • RoughshodRoughshod Kansas City, MOPosts: 16Member
    Originally posted by Vorthanion
    I kind of like the idea of reincarnation.  Once you reach max level as, say a fighter, you either pass away or retire by choice of course and you are replaced by a new incarnation of a different chosen class, but with a legacy of fighter skills and strengths to supplement the new class.  This way you are continuing the journey, leveling the whole way, starting a fresh new path, but not having to do so completely from scratch as a weak first level character.  This of course requires world building so that there are multiple, multiple paths of upward progression with little overlap in those paths in order to alleviate the "been there, done that" syndrome.  World designs like EverQuest and Vanguard come to mind.

    I agree, the vertical game design ends up making old content obsolete, even if it was really awesome. There's a game in development I'm really interested in called Trials of Ascension - one of their main mechanisms is perma-death. You only get so many lives on your character at the beginning and once those are all up, you're dead. This is sort of like reincarnation, it removes the strongest players eventually from play on a regular basis. Not only that, but if you spend a lot of time aggressively leveling your char you're more likely to take risks and die, thus the faster you 'max' out your char (there are no character levels in ToA, just skill levels), the closer you are to death and the more you have to think twice.

    If done right, it should allow the game to expand horizontally and avoid the major problems listed in this article. Other comments have touched on the problem of skill levels in EVE, I've tried to play EVE twice but I'm so outclassed I don't even bother. You might want to check out a game called Firefall when it comes out if you're looking for a FPS. Seems like they are designing it correctly.

  • ThorkuneThorkune Eastern, KYPosts: 1,958Member Uncommon

    Great write-up Bill!

    I like games that do not have a level cap that must be reached. I hate the fact that developers ,a lot of times, rely on these level caps to sell their expansions.

  • JaedorJaedor Denver, COPosts: 1,171Member Uncommon

    It's a good read, Bill. And a provocative one. A couple things came up strongly when I read it:

    1. We have, indeed, become Pavlovian gamers; addicted to "ding!" and progress at all cost. This is pretty sad, actually. I include myself in this.
    2. Because we have what seems to be a linear existence, we want and expect linearity in our games. Progression is perceived as linear, whether vertical or horizontal. And every participant with a linear perspective will figure out a way to compete against and complete that line. And then say, "Now what?"


    As human beings, we like mysteries we can solve, unexplored places that can be explored and contests we can actually win. We get little adrenaline rushes every time it happens. In contrast, everything else is just a grind.


    So I'm guessing that a system where you can have linear progression without end has yet to be conceived simply because it's not how our world - or our mnd - works.

  • FelixMajorFelixMajor London, ONPosts: 781Member Uncommon
    Idk, EVE is probably the most recent MMO to capture that feeling of never ending progression...however the simple fact that you basically warp from area to area in a ship makes the world feel very small, and after a while every where feels the same.

    Even in gw1 there was a sort of limitless progression, every time you leveled passed 20 you would receive a skill point and either hunt down elites or buy new skills from trainers, also the idea of having a primary and secondary profession was great, being able to pretty much design your own profession.

    I think the tools are already out there, and the systems have all been put into action in many games, by not all in one game.

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  • Scorp2778Scorp2778 Swanton, OHPosts: 31Member

    I think the wall hit in games is just as much about content as it is about leveling and progression. Other than Eve, I have yet to play a game that offers a world that feels alive. Rift and GW2 claim that the world is alive, but they aren't really. Both offer dynamic events(which are fun) but are pretty pointless in the grand scheme of the world. Regardless if the events are a success or failure the world stays the same. 

    I would like to see a leveling system similar EQ1 with a living world. A level cap that isn't easy to reach with AA once you reach max level. Add a system similar to that in a world that changes and evolves based on player and NPC actions and I think the wall hit by players wouldn't exist nearly as bad.

    I would love to see a game where an army of orcs or undead take over an area and begin expanding until something is done about it. If nothing was done than the group would grow stronger and continue growing until players, or other NPC's/mobs starting fighting them back. Just add an RTS AI mechanic to mobs/NPC's behavior and see what happens. You would have different monsters and factions growing and fighting each other without player interaction. Every time you would revisit an area it would be a new experience.

    I also believe that mob scaling should be determined on the level makeup of a server instead of the idea that this area is always 10-20 and that area is 20-30. Monster difficulty should change as the player levels on the server change. Some ares would need to stay static for new players though.

  • XiaokiXiaoki White Pigeon, MIPosts: 2,793Member Uncommon

    Really not liking any part of this.

    First you say dont like endless repetitive grinds at max level but your solution is to make leveling an endless repetitive grind.

    Where do we level? Where do I go for levels 801 to 900? The same place Ive been to before just with a new coat of paint? Then what about levels 901 to 1000? Its possible to make levels infinite but its not possible to make content infinite.

    Do you scale the players to the zones and expect them to be happy about having to kill a million boars? Do you make instanced zones that scale to the players? But then why make the game a persistent MMO? How fast do we level? Is it going to take us an hour to get 1 of these endless levels? A day? A week?

    What do you do about the crushing feeling of the leveling at the beginning? "Level 100? Level 1000? Its all too much for me to handle". You dont want people to feel overwhelmed when they first start the game.

    You say that low level people can contribute because of scaling but "perception is reality". If people perceive they must be a certain level to feel worthy then they wont actually feel that way until they meet that certain level.

    Lastly, one thing that has plagued MMOs since the beginning is the community. Yes, the people playing the game. Whatever plans or intentions the developers may have for features can become altered or corrupted when thousands of players are let loose upon them.

  • DrakadenDrakaden Quebec, QCPosts: 138Member Uncommon

    I'm not one to write a long wall of text about this, but to sum it up, i share your viewpoint Bill, i lose interest in games when the cap is reached, i care not for gear grind, i want character progression in itself.

    That reminds me of The Realm, the level cap in the game originally was 20, then upped to 100, then upped to 1000. Still a cap, but the point was, character progression is golden.

  • azzamasinazzamasin Butler, OHPosts: 3,090Member Uncommon

    Yet another article I agree with you 100% on Bill.  As a longtime on and off player of Asheron's Call since November of 1999 I can honestly say it is the only MMO I've known to take this format and run with it.  Not only does it take many months (years) to hit max level, there are many more systems in place post level cap to aquire never ending progression. Such as:

    basically there are so many places and systems to spend a lifetime leveling and I find it amazing it hasn't ever been done before.

    Sandbox means open world, non-linear gaming PERIOD!

    Subscription Gaming, especially MMO gaming is a Cash grab bigger then the most P2W cash shop!

    Bring Back Exploration and lengthy progression times. RPG's have always been about the Journey not the destination!!!


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