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[Column] General: Levels



  • st3v3b0st3v3b0 Gainesville, FLPosts: 155Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Quartilius
    For me, EVE Online tackled the idea of progression (no levels) perfectly. As your stats increase, you're able to equip better items and then eventually given enough stat increases you're able to fly a more powerful ship. But conversely, you never had to upgrade your ship. You could stay in the frigates for years, raising different skills to become a better frigate pilot. The game excels (I believe) because the low level ships are just as important to group & PvP dynamics as the higher level ships. It's the constant rock/paper/scissors of fast vs agile vs high dps vs utility etc The problem is, I can never get my head around how it would work in a fantasy MMO setting. The basics are there: you give a guy a sword, he can deal damage, he can either raise his ability to deal damage or raise his off hand strength to be able to hold a shield - he can now tank, badly, and can choose whether to become better at blocking or dodging or maybe start learning how to heal? But regular MMOs just don't seem to have the in-depth character variation of EVE. And frankly, it saddens me, because I'm not a huge fan of space sci-fi and would love to see a fantasy MMO of EVE's standards!

    This is precisely how I feel and I think it could work in a non Sci-Fi MMO.  I hate how MMO's want to classify people right from the start.  Why not just give them various abilities and then build from there.  Based on what the player wants to use as weapons he/she can work up skill trees (similar to SWG and EVE) towards what he/she wants to learn.  Want to be a Rogue type class that wants to heal?  Perhaps offer a skill tree for each "role" and then once you get to a certain point you gain special abilities ONLY available to the combination of those two roles.  If someone wants to be a jack-of-all trades and be able to tank, heal and dps let them progress as they want.  Sure you may not be as powerful as any one or two roles, but you will have the ability to get as good with time.  Levels to me are a cop-out to make developers lives easier for telling players where to go based on their level, what gear they can wear.  Sure it is easy, but that does not make it right.

  • residentxresidentx Columbia, MDPosts: 101Member Uncommon



    I just don't see how you can make a game without leveling. Most of the MMOs now are geared toward younger people. The leveling is a universal concept that all understand.  With that said, I felt COH was great because the game was more than leveling. At a point, you made it and you could focus on other things. The loyal community that COH developed was rich because the focus was community...not leveling. Leveling attracts the achievement minded but I don't think that builds a great community.  A good MMO needs both to survive.


    I don't see how you could see this a mistake...


  • residentxresidentx Columbia, MDPosts: 101Member Uncommon

    One of the things I love about these forums is the different opinions. I've played COH, STO, and SWTOR.  All were level based games. My question to the audience is how is statistical/skills based limits different than leveling? One method is obvious but the other is indirect but they exist for the same classify players.

    As a game designer, I could see why Matt would want something different than specifically levels. Levels limit the software engineer when it comes to content. From his perspective, it would be a lot easier to do the "grinding gear" ..."look new bling...go get it mentality." He could possibly double dip the user too. The first time you grind, the next time you buy for an alt.

    Do you even need to bother with story then?

    Directly about COH, I enjoyed the idea behind the incarnate system but I hated how everyone had the same powers. I just hated, hated, hated, hated that. I got to a new level but I wasn't unique anymore because everyone had the access to the same powers! This was a major turn-off to me. I did 3 alts in Incarnate and then deleted them because once you got to the top, you couldn't use those powers in the lower game and there wasn't enough content to justify continuing them. Also, the blizzard of different currencies/xp was irritating too.  

    I felt the sub-50 game...which you guys disregarded and offered for represented the game's core concepts but the pressure of the F2P model just didn't let you guys think through things completely.  I so enjoyed working with sub-50 players, seeing their unique powers...seeing them in action...and bonding with players by helping them choose useful powers.  

    The incarnate game was for hard-core players only and had limited it's possible COH had plans for incarnate archetype unique powers. Any comments, Matt? 



  • xBenzinxxBenzinx Washington, DCPosts: 10Member

    I personally believe that leveling is a core part of mmo gameplay, but only insofar as fostering a 'learning' experience for the player.  I think that most MMOs focus too much on it when ideally the game proper shouldn't begin until you actually hit the level cap.


    I think 'we as mmo gamers' are stuck in a levels=content mentality because that's how developers make their games.  95%+ of their created content is for leveling, when 95% of a players time will be spent at the level cap. Instead of creating end-game content, developers create busywork for their players.  Repeatable & ultimately grindy content like daily quests, heroic versions of instances, and battlegrounds are their poor substitutes for creating meaningful content.



    At this low point in MMO gaming, I refuse to play even the shiniest turd.

  • DamianoVDamianoV Apple Valley, MNPosts: 12Member

    Not personally a big fan of ye olde experience level, but it is a simple method of achieving the primary goal... providing a yardstick to measure a player's progress.  I'd love to see more experimentation along the UO/Chaosium/RuneQuest line, i.e. skill-based (which is, at core, just multi-class leveling from a highly detailed perspective, of course).

    Even less of a fan of gear-based progression, to be honest, but that is a combination of disgust at many of the present incarnations of that system that I have encountered, and a philosophical issue based on a desire to recreate some of my favorite pen-and-paper characters more closely... if equipment is a paramount importance in character development, you really can't have/allow thieves, after all.  (Not assassins or thugs... actual pickpocket, cat-burglar, taunt-as-you-disappear-into-the-shadows-avoiding-combat-completely _thieves_.) 

    One interesting thought experiment I've been toying with for quite some time is a "knowledge collection" advancement paradigm, based loosely on the age old idea of seeking out the martial arts master or ancient mystic on the lonely mountaintop, tracking down grimoires of forbidden knowledge, et al.  Progress would be attained by learning new abilities directly, through a badge-like system of collection perhaps... to use CoH parlance, it would be a little like Accolades on steroids.

    The advancement paradigm of achieving certain ranks, i.e. white belt/black belt or journeyman/master, would be done by passing series of "tests", proving mastery of skills/ability to perform in-game.  It effectively turns the existing paradigm on it's head... you learn/collect abilities to earn levels, instead of vice versa.  Might be interesting...


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