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The Case For MMOs With Little to No Stat Gap

EldurianEldurian Member EpicPosts: 2,161

Introduction

One of my first posts here was called “The Case for MMOs with Little or no Leveling.” Nearly two years have passed since that post and it’s been a cause I’ve consistently rallied behind. I think the time has come to re-assert that argument, and with greater clarity.

In these posts, I will do the following things:

  • Clarify what the issue is and why I feel this is a problem.
  • Clarify what I mean by “little or no stat-gap”.
  • Refute common arguments against my position.

 What is the Problem? / “Dragonball Z” Progression

In short, your average MMO allows a newer player to be one shot, by someone who can be one shot, by someone who can be one shot, by someone who can be one shot, by a max level player with good gear.


I call this Dragonball Z progression in reference to a show I find ridiculous where early on in the plotline a character having over a power level “Over 9000” is seen as a shocking revelation, but by the series end there are characters with power levels in the billions.

The consequence of this is that the driving motivation to play most of these games is to acquire power because content is not fun until you have the power to do it. It also makes all older content in the game redundant and useless as a single player can effortlessly plow through content designed for entire groups of low level players.

This has given rise to a dominant “power leveling” mentality within the MMO industry. Players plow through content as fast as possible to become competitive in PvP, so they can do the same PvE content as their friends etc. This mentality overrides, roleplay, immersion, or enjoying the content that is being powered through. Everything before high level endgame play is perceived as a barrier to entry by many players.

This means a large number of players aren’t really enjoying the content they perceive as a barrier to the level of play they want to be on. Whether their goals is to play with the higher level friends, or simply to enjoy competitive PvP, many aren’t having fun until they reach that point of play, and this leads them to seek out games that don’t present this barrier to entry.

Another problem is the idea of loss of relevance of previous progress. You may work very hard to achieve a high level of power, only to find that once you reach it, the next expansion moves the goalpost making it easier to achieve your power level and creating a new power level that makes your character seem weak. This is of course since if increasing power is the primary content, the cap must be lifted for it to continue to work as the game’s primary content once players start to reach that cap.

 

SteelhelmYashaXThunder073
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Comments

  • EldurianEldurian Member EpicPosts: 2,161

    What is The Alternative / What is Meant by Little or No Stat-Gap

    No stat-gap is of course easy to explain. In an MMO with no stat-gap, permanent character upgrades that make your character unquestionably stronger than a brand-new character don’t exist. You start the game with all the power you could ever hope to achieve in terms of power granted by your character.

    An MMO with little stat-gap is another case. There are three primary ways this can be achieved.

    The first is just simply make the stat-gap lower. As opposed to a new player having 100 health and a veteran player having 5,000,000,000,000 a new player might have 100 health and a veteran 200. So, the veteran is awarded for progression but lower level players and content are not rendered redundant. This progression can last as long as wanted though. It could take 5 years of solid grinding to achieve that 200 health.

    The 2nd is to make the stat gap something that is closed very quickly. For instance, it may only take a week to reach max level stats, so the content past that first week so that the game is effectively a no stat-gap  game after a brief introductory period. 

    Finally, all stat progression can be made very temporary so that things which give you an advantage are frequently reset keeping the power gap much smaller. This is seen in games where all gear is lost upon a player death and/or gear degrades over time and is not simple to repair. 

    Why is This Better?

    Because these systems address the common problems with Dragonball Z progression. The barrier to entry is no longer an issue. With a small enough power gap, the need to power level is no longer as pressing. And if progression is no longer the primary content the goalpost no longer needs to be moved with each new expansion.

    Obviously different systems address different needs better. The PVE game looking to allow players to enjoy content together with their higher-level friends and keep their content enjoyable at all levels of play may just want to shrink the power gap to a more reasonable level but keep the leveling time very long.

    The PvP game looking to avoid the issue of older players running around slaughtering newer ones without challenge or consequence may want to reduce or remove the stat disparity based on level and move it all to temporary gear advantages lost upon death so that the consequences of dying a newb with newb gear are insignificant but the consequences of dying as a well geared griefer are great.

    SteelhelmYashaXThunder073
  • EldurianEldurian Member EpicPosts: 2,161
    edited April 16

    Commonly Used Arguments For Stat Gap

    That is Your Problem Not an MMO Problem

    It’s far more than just my problem. Stat disparity is the most commonly recited reason I see most people leaving both particular MMOs and MMOs altogether. As MMOs fall in popularity the playerbase moves to games such as  Minecraft, LoL, and PUBG that address these issues. The MMO industry becomes more and more of an echo chamber as this happens but even here on these boards there are many who want to see stat-gaps addressed.

    But I Like Stat Gaps

    This is a case for MMOs with less stat gaps. Not the case that “All MMOs need to Remove Their Stat Gap!” Players that want it to comprise a well catered to market with many existing MMOs to choose from. But the players who don’t comprise a significant quantity of players who have no product to cater to their needs. Perhaps even a majority if you count the players who would return to MMOs if more reasonable stat gaps were available in more titles.

    It’s Not an MMO Without Leveling

    Actually, it is an MMO as long as it is massively multiplayer and online.

    It’s Not an RPG Without Leveling

    Actually, leveling is just a common feature of RPGs, not a requirement to be one.

    Both authors and major publishers of tabletop role-playing games consider them to be a form of interactive and collaborative storytelling. Events, characters, and narrative structure give a sense of a narrative experience, and the game need not have a strongly-defined storyline. Interactivity is the crucial difference between role-playing games and traditional fiction. Whereas a viewer of a television show is a passive observer, a player in a role-playing game makes choices that affect the story. Such role-playing games extend an older tradition of storytelling games where a small party of friends collaborate to create a story.

    While simple forms of role-playing exist in traditional children's games of make believe, role-playing games add a level of sophistication and persistence to this basic idea with additions such as game facilitators and rules of interaction. Participants in a role-playing game will generate specific characters and an ongoing plot. A consistent system of rules and a more or less realistic campaign setting in games aids suspension of disbelief. The level of realism in games ranges from just enough internal consistency to set up a believable story or credible challenge up to full-blown simulations of real-world processes.

    That is a role-playing game. One and done matches with no greater narrative are not RPGs. Linear shoot-em-ups with no character choices are not an RPG. But a game that tries to immerse you into a greater world and define your role within it is an RPG, and if it’s massively multiplayer it’s an MMORPG. Regardless of the size of stat-disparity or even lacking it’s presence entirely.

    Leveling is Content Without It There is No Reason to Play

    Then why do people play Minecraft where levels are just enchantment fuel and all gear/levels are lost upon death? Why do they play EVE where the leveling doesn’t require the player to actually play? Why did they play the original Guild Wars where your stats capped out halfway through the original campaign and the cap was not raised in any of the following expansions? Leveling is content but it is not the only form of content or even the most engaging one for many people.

    All three titles listed offered alternative forms of content. Player interaction in EVE, creativity in Minecraft and horizontal progression of new but not inherently more power skills / cosmetic achievements like titles and status symbol armor that has the same stats as easier to acquire armors in Guild Wars.

    Post edited by Eldurian on
    SteelhelmYashaXThunder073
  • EldurianEldurian Member EpicPosts: 2,161

    Just Play a MOBA If You Don’t Like MMOs!

    I love MMOs, I love everything about them except the stat-gap. I love building a character in a persistent world even if all I have to show off are titles and accomplishments. I love organically encountering players out in the open world. I love defining myself in the community and building a reputation. I love territorial control, exploration, I don’t even mind well written quests that are put there as an enjoyable option as opposed to a barrier to progression.

    What I don’t like is not participating in content that I want to be doing because “It doesn’t give good XP” feeling forced into particular content because “It gives the best XP” wielding unrealistically huge amounts of power in lower level zones or having it wielded against me. Feeling separated from my friends for separated from the world by a constant driving need to keep progressing.

    There is no reason that I and other’s like me who enjoy all the former need to be denied that content just because we dislike the latter. 

    Why Not Just Make Levels Scale To Zone / Party?

    Why make levels scale to zone / party? Why include Dragonball Z progression just to include another system that entirely guts it? Wouldn’t it be better to just start with a realistic progression system that can be constantly in-place rather than systems with counter systems just so you can watch your health scale from 100 to 5,000,000,000,000?

    It’s Just Like Practicing Guitar! The More You Do The Better You Get! 

    Except it’s not. But I can tell you what is.

    When you play a lot of StarCraft or Halo and get good at the game, that is just like practicing guitar. Time investment pays off with more skill. But it’s more than just time investment. Someone who just sits there and plays “Hot Cross Buns” for 10,000 hours cannot just suddenly switch over to playing “Through The Fire and Flames”. 

    To advance they must push their envelope constantly and seek challenges worthy of their skill level. That is the way you master anything. As a StarCraft player advances through the leagues they learn more advanced strategies and face more powerful opponents who present a greater challenge and this is what pushes their skill level to its limits. They don’t 3 pool rush over and over and over with no adaptations or advancements to their strategy and suddenly become the best Star Craft player.

    In Dragonball Z progression, running through the motions doing the easiest content available to you for 10,000 hours absolutely will enable you to beat someone who pushes their limits but has a much lower level or gearscore.

    So skill based gameplay that must be mastered perfectly simulates practicing guitar. Dragonball Z progression perfectly simulates a participation trophy.

    It’s About The Hero’s Arc of My Character

    Yeah. I remember the part where Frodo got to Mordor and one shotted all the orcs. And those Ringwraiths he faced early in his journey, total chumps by the end! I think my favorite part of the books is where Aragon took a blow from an orc and it pinged off him for 1 damage. Then he did that shout move that one shot every orc within 20 meters.

    Hey wait… none of that happened.

    Hero’s Arcs don’t have to be ridiculous to be engaging. In-fact hero’s arcs make a hell of a lot more sense when the reskin of the mob you faced a level 5 and can now one shot isn’t the new level 100 enemy.

    CryomatrixMorgenes83SteelhelmYashaXThunder073
  • waynejr2waynejr2 Member EpicPosts: 7,756
    Have no stats or gear.  How you start is how you end.
    http://www.youhaventlived.com/qblog/2010/QBlog190810A.html  

    Epic Music:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAigCvelkhQ&list=PLo9FRw1AkDuQLEz7Gvvaz3ideB2NpFtT1

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    Kyleran:  "Now there's the real trick, learning to accept and enjoy a game for what it offers rather than pass on what might be a great playing experience because it lacks a few features you prefer."

    John Henry Newman: "A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault."

    FreddyNoNose:  "A good game needs no defense; a bad game has no defense." "Easily digested content is just as easily forgotten."

    LacedOpium: "So the question that begs to be asked is, if you are not interested in the game mechanics that define the MMORPG genre, then why are you playing an MMORPG?"




  • TheScavengerTheScavenger Member EpicPosts: 2,500
    waynejr2 said:
    Have no stats or gear.  How you start is how you end.
    Spellborn :)
  • TamanousTamanous Member RarePosts: 2,733
    edited April 16
    I see a change coming. Old mmorpgs were largely built upon the old style RPG mechanics and have since been become the norm few have vision enough to deviate from.

    One simply has to look at some of the newer generation RPG systems like Savage Worlds to see the shift in direction. There is far less vertical scaling and hit points are a thing of the past. Many newer RPGs (counting several over the years that didn't really take off but still worked quite well) use something akin more to a threshold system where upward scaling is intentionally limited. Damage scaling is integrated into the skill system so the better you are at doing something BOTH the chance to hit and damage is increased so that even if you use a starter weapon you are still the more effective character. On top of all of this, you only have 3 wounds ... forever!

    As an RPG player seeing current Wow players talking about stats in the thousands, I cringe hard at their delusion and disconnection from reality. They are part of the stagnated engine that keeps the genre from evolving because their expectations are stunted. It is so far gone that even the developers are seeing how badly they lost course and attempt to return to their old ways through half-assed methods, but can never truly change because expectations are set.

    Personally I think a major fault of mmos is their disconnect from their origins. Developers once translated a genre into video game format. Developers now just copy other video games. One is like tasting beef, liking beef and then deciding to grow beef, but in a different way, so everyone can eat beef. The other is like someone growing chickens seeing other's eating beef ... then growing bigger chickens and selling them as beef. 

    The industry that helped spawn MMORPGs has continued to evolve. The MMO industry did not because it turned into an inbreeding cesspool. 

    RPG systems have changed their rules dramatically ... all in order to maintain and perfect the core nature of the genre.

    MMORPG systems have preserved and cloned their rules and evolved around accessibility and profit while freely altering or even completely abandoning the very genre they tried to create.

    The industry is corrupt. Morally, ethically and on principle ... corrupt! The very foundation on which games are created, cannot sustain genre development because the concept of "genre" is not identified or preserved. 
    Post edited by Tamanous on

    You stay sassy!

  • WizardryWizardry Member EpicPosts: 13,947
    1 pvp in rpg's is just stupid,you limit your PVE side of the game and is VERY unbalanced so why would anyone looking for a challenge want to play something that has no challenge?
    2Now that pvp is removed we can get over to making a quality mmorpg

    Stats MUST be there,there is no other way to mimic realism unless you have stats.

    The best way to implement stats is via doing stuff,that means NO to offline stats,NO to afk gaming NO to piggy back or power leveling etc etc.
    So you want to be proficient with a sword,USE IT and efficiently,if you die you lose stats on sword proficiency and stats on YOUR proficiency.You want to be good at healing,USE IT,healing skill stats instead of just leveling and all of a sudden you can heal like a pro even through perhaps never having healed once ever.

    I guess the overall picture is that games are rewarding people for doing NOTHING and to me that is pathetic.


    Never forget 3 mile Island and never trust a government official or company spokesman.

  • EldurianEldurian Member EpicPosts: 2,161
    I think it's largely just an issue of bad format translation too.

    In a Dungeons and Dragons campaign for instance the DM hand selects the content they want the party to face. If the level 15 party decides to go back the the area they were at level 1 and start massacring everyone then the DM will likely have some Challenge Rating 15 (An enemy or encounter designed to be a fair challenge for a level 15 party) enemy hear of their deeds and come to stop them. With a DM constantly overseeing the actions of the players it's very hard to break the world or render any area redundant in challenge level. Also all players progress at the same rate in most campaigns so massive stat disparity between players tends not to be a major issue. And of course PvP has never been a focus of pen and paper adventures.

    This was translated into single-player RPGs. Early single player RPGs tended to have the character progress through the world in a linear fashion. Even if they were sent back to an area they faced earlier the challenges put there by the scripted story line would be in-line with the current strength of their character.

    MMOs are a completely open format. You can move around as you desire to any area within the world. You can interact with any players you choose to interact with. The difference in stats makes this completely broken when an older character goes into areas meant for newer players.

    But MMO designers have never accounted for this and attempted to create a system more suited to a open and massively multiplayer format. Or if they have, they've done as I mentioned above and de-level your character when you go to a lower level zone, which seems totally immersion breaking to me.

    If the stats were more balanced an older character would find that going back to the zones meant for weaker players would have their character seem appropriately heroic. Not untouchable and godlike. And to me, going back to a lower level area and being able to enjoyably interact with the content as a more powerful and heroic character actually seems more rewarding than one shotting everything.


    YashaX
  • EldurianEldurian Member EpicPosts: 2,161
    edited April 16
    Wizardry said:
    1 pvp in rpg's is just stupid,you limit your PVE side of the game and is VERY unbalanced so why would anyone looking for a challenge want to play something that has no challenge?
    2Now that pvp is removed we can get over to making a quality mmorpg

    Stats MUST be there,there is no other way to mimic realism unless you have stats.

    The best way to implement stats is via doing stuff,that means NO to offline stats,NO to afk gaming NO to piggy back or power leveling etc etc.
    So you want to be proficient with a sword,USE IT and efficiently,if you die you lose stats on sword proficiency and stats on YOUR proficiency.You want to be good at healing,USE IT,healing skill stats instead of just leveling and all of a sudden you can heal like a pro even through perhaps never having healed once ever.

    I guess the overall picture is that games are rewarding people for doing NOTHING and to me that is pathetic.


    While I entirely disagree with you on RPGs being a bad format for PvP I'll set that point aside and focus on theoretical game designed around PVE content.

    Suppose your character progresses from the level of a single new character stat wise, to the level of a full party of five new characters over a process of many incremental but small upgrades that take significant time to acquire. In other words, content meant for a small party would become an appropriate solo challenge for you at maximum level but it would present just as much threat of death to you as 5 low level players.

    This would seem far more realistic and to address all your concerns and could work perfectly well within a usage based leveling system.

    Do you have an issue with such a system, and if so, what is it?

    As to the "why" of such a system. It would make two major improvements over a DBZ progression system:

    1. No zone would be entirely redundant to any character / all content could be fairly enjoyably experienced at any level of play. So if you want to hang around and quest in a zone you particularly enjoy you don't really have to worry about outleveling it to the point of it no longer being fun.

    2. Which sounds more fun as a newer player? Adventuring alongside your godlike friend to whom you are of no assistance at all, or adventuring alongside your heroic friend whom is far more powerful than you but you can still make an impact in the fights you face together.

    OR 

    Which sounds more fun as a veteran player. One shotting through content that's weak enough it won't get your lower level friend instantly. Fighting through challenging content that is a good fit for you and your low level friend to face together?

    3. Which sounds more fun?

    Having your character deleveled so that you can enjoy the low level content designed in option 1 or 2.

    Being able to use your character's full power, but having that power disparity realistic enough that you still can enjoy that content.
    Post edited by Eldurian on
  • sayuusayuu Member RarePosts: 638
    Hate to break it to you OP but this has already been done.


    Elder Scrolls Online: One Tamriel is the MMO you are looking for. . . Lower level players are given buffs to compensate for the fact that every zone is now max level.


    Max level players are more powerful as the stats they get from their level appropriate gear, abilities and champion points outscale the buff lower level players recieve.

    this gives max level players the opportunity to defeat world content like Dolmens, public group dungeons, and World bosses solo if they are skilled enough, as even being in BiS gear and max CP is no guarantee of success when tackling group content solo.







  • EldurianEldurian Member EpicPosts: 2,161
    sayuu said:
    Hate to break it to you OP but this has already been done.


    Elder Scrolls Online: One Tamriel is the MMO you are looking for. . . Lower level players are given buffs to compensate for the fact that every zone is now max level.


    Max level players are more powerful as the stats they get from their level appropriate gear, abilities and champion points outscale the buff lower level players recieve.

    this gives max level players the opportunity to defeat world content like Dolmens, public group dungeons, and World bosses solo if they are skilled enough, as even being in BiS gear and max CP is no guarantee of success when tackling group content solo.
    I actually directly addressed that in my refutation of common counter-arguments.

    "Why Not Just Make Levels Scale To Zone / Party?

    Why make levels scale to zone / party? Why include Dragonball Z progression just to include another system that entirely guts it? Wouldn’t it be better to just start with a realistic progression system that can be constantly in-place rather than systems with counter systems just so you can watch your health scale from 100 to 5,000,000,000,000?"
    Blaze_RockerYashaX
  • MadFrenchieMadFrenchie Member EpicPosts: 4,184
    edited April 16
    Eldurian said:
    sayuu said:
    Hate to break it to you OP but this has already been done.


    Elder Scrolls Online: One Tamriel is the MMO you are looking for. . . Lower level players are given buffs to compensate for the fact that every zone is now max level.


    Max level players are more powerful as the stats they get from their level appropriate gear, abilities and champion points outscale the buff lower level players recieve.

    this gives max level players the opportunity to defeat world content like Dolmens, public group dungeons, and World bosses solo if they are skilled enough, as even being in BiS gear and max CP is no guarantee of success when tackling group content solo.
    I actually directly addressed that in my refutation of common counter-arguments.

    "Why Not Just Make Levels Scale To Zone / Party?

    Why make levels scale to zone / party? Why include Dragonball Z progression just to include another system that entirely guts it? Wouldn’t it be better to just start with a realistic progression system that can be constantly in-place rather than systems with counter systems just so you can watch your health scale from 100 to 5,000,000,000,000?"
    They do it because having the Illusion of progress is better than having people slog theough 50 levels and hundreds of CP points for no significant reward.

    Horizontal progression fails not because devs don't care to use it, but because the more horizontal strands you add, the more balancing those strands to make them all useful and fun is a fool's errand.  You can only think of so many ways to have a Pyromancer tackle a problem with roughly the same effectiveness.

    Folks aren't going to spend weeks leveling when the reward is doing 50 more damage on fireballs DoT and 50 less on the direct nuke to ensure it's "horizontal".
    Post edited by MadFrenchie on

    image
  • MendelMendel Member RarePosts: 2,155
    I like the premise of your idea, @Eldurian.

    But even P&P RPGs had the issue of statistical and power gaps.  Games like Bushido (Tyr/Phoenix/Fantasy Games Unlimited), Chaosium's RuneQuest, and SPI's DragonQuest attempted to address these issues, mostly by having a relatively constant number of HPs for a character.  I thought this was a reasonable solution, but it made such campaigns relatively lethal.  It wasn't unusual for any of these games to see characters succumb to the one lucky hit.  While that is fine for a combat simulation, it hurts persistence.   Characters who live a long time are simply lucky, which makes the character's decisions and actions rather moot.

    Is there a good solution to this problem?  I don't know without recasting the Game aspect as more of a Simulation.  For such a thing to become popular, it would need to have some degrees of clearly stated premises to be simulated.  For instance, the developers might decide that any human character can withstand a maximum of 6 blows, then design the weapons damage, damage frequency, armor, and health to accommodate this idea.  It *might* not agree with everyone, and would not attract players that weren't willing to accept that as a ground rule.

    The basic solution adapted by the industry and implemented in games is the "it's a game" idea.  I don't know that the industry sees this as a problem.  Few games have attempted to instill a simulation concept, even the heaviest PvP modern arms combat games have some degree of 'suspension of disbelief' built into the game.  Characters take massive damage from direct hits and continue to play on.

    Players don't seem to want anything more realistic than that, either.  If they step on a land-mine, they want to survive almost every time, not realistically lay on the ground for an hour hoping a medic will find them before "something really bad happens"®.

    So, I think addressing this issue is something that will take a complete shift in player's *and* developer's expectations for a game.  I would love to see it, as it might foster more actual role-playing.  I just don't know if such a dramatic shift in mindset is in our immediate future.

    Good topic, and well presented.  Why the heck are you here, anyway?   :D




    Logic, my dear, merely enables one to be wrong with great authority.

  • Mars_OrbitalMars_Orbital Member RarePosts: 617
    the game is called Counter-Strike Source .
    lahnmir
    .... Has gone full tinfoil
  • ikcinikcin Member UncommonPosts: 1,122
    edited April 16

    In the old L2 the problems are the bufs -they increase %, so the strong become stronger, and the class balance. But in EVE I think the things are made well. Anyway you do not need high gaps to make good progression. Most developers use it because it is easier than the horizontal balance, and it is more addictive. But in general the high gaps break the games. And this is the main reason - even in a so called open world you have separated areas. The so called end game should start from the first level.

    Post edited by ikcin on
    Blaze_Rocker
  • WizardryWizardry Member EpicPosts: 13,947
    Dnd is a bad analogy because "campaigns"are single player design and hand picking content is NON immersive which  a rpg world SHOULD be.
    Ideas NEED to make sense,they cannot simply be mechanics or ideas that are just there to say "we have content".
    One idea that comes to mind that really miffs me is for example "map completion rewards"i think it is just dumb and again rewarding people for non realistic ideas.Adding stuff just to give players things to "complete" but does NOTHING to bring about role playing or immersion or has anything to do at all with the world is just LAZY game design.

    Of course it is super easy to implement a map completion reward,it is like 3 lines of code,whoa i hope those system guys are not over worked.Try putting in some effort to content and start im,proving the genre,bring npc's to life,make them more important so the world is at least alive and immersive.

    Never forget 3 mile Island and never trust a government official or company spokesman.

  • MadFrenchieMadFrenchie Member EpicPosts: 4,184
    the game is called Counter-Strike Source .
    Eldurian is interested in RPG mechanics, just not the traditional gear-based stat progression included with most MMORPGs.

    I've debated with him before about his issue with levels and RPGs, and he understands it's a common trope and popular in the genre, but his arguments are that, regardless, it's detrimental.  Don't necessarily disagree, though I think labeling levels or anything else detrimental pigeonholes that thing unnecessarily.  It's all about the implementation, baby.

    image
  • EldurianEldurian Member EpicPosts: 2,161
    Eldurian said:
    sayuu said:
    Hate to break it to you OP but this has already been done.


    Elder Scrolls Online: One Tamriel is the MMO you are looking for. . . Lower level players are given buffs to compensate for the fact that every zone is now max level.


    Max level players are more powerful as the stats they get from their level appropriate gear, abilities and champion points outscale the buff lower level players recieve.

    this gives max level players the opportunity to defeat world content like Dolmens, public group dungeons, and World bosses solo if they are skilled enough, as even being in BiS gear and max CP is no guarantee of success when tackling group content solo.
    I actually directly addressed that in my refutation of common counter-arguments.

    "Why Not Just Make Levels Scale To Zone / Party?

    Why make levels scale to zone / party? Why include Dragonball Z progression just to include another system that entirely guts it? Wouldn’t it be better to just start with a realistic progression system that can be constantly in-place rather than systems with counter systems just so you can watch your health scale from 100 to 5,000,000,000,000?"
    They do it because having the Illusion of progress is better than having people slog theough 50 levels and hundreds of CP points for no significant reward.

    Horizontal progression fails not because devs don't care to use it, but because the more horizontal strands you add, the more balancing those strands to make them all useful and fun is a fool's errand.  You can only think of so many ways to have a Pyromancer tackle a problem with roughly the same effectiveness.

    Folks aren't going to spend weeks leveling when the reward is doing 50 more damage on fireballs DoT and 50 less on the direct nuke to ensure it's "horizontal".
    I find an illusion of progress to be a completely unsatisfying system and one which wastes a great deal of resources.

    It's like saying. "I injected you with rattlesnake venom. I also injected you with an antidote at the exact same time." To which my reaction would be "Couldn't you have not injected me with anything and saved yourself the time and resources?"

    I'll fall back to to the Lord of the Rings example again. I think we can all assume pretty safely that the hobbits were level one characters at the start of their journey. They were all chubby little people who liked to farm, garden, cook and party. No combat experience. Frodo however, started with a very high level item (The one ring) and acquired two more shortly into his journey (The mithril coat and sting). The rest started with crap.

    Now. What level would you figure Legolas, Aragorn, Gimli, Boromir and Gandalf were? Much higher level characters who contributed significantly to the combat capabilities of the party, especially Gandalf.

    But would you say the hobbits had no meaningful contributions to offer the party? Even early on? I would certainly argue they made many significant contributions. 

    So if we wanted to mimic this in terms of game mechanics the following could be said:

    Low level characters can make meaningful contributions to a high level party.

    We also know all these characters got stronger as the storyline progressed. However there is one part of the books that is a favorite party of mine the movies pretty well glossed over. Destroying the one ring was not the final battle for the hobbits. In the books they returned to find the Shire being oppressed by the forces or darkness. As heros come back from fighting more fearsome foes elsewhere they gather up the hobbits and overthrow the forces of darkness. They were heroic in that battle however it wasn't as simple as "Frodo single handedly cut through all the enemies while their attacks pinged off him harmlessly." There was an actual battle.

    So in terms of game mechanics the following could be said:

    Player characters can reach the status of great heros, but not gods. 

    Why create with a counter system that makes another system redundant when you can just design the original system correctly in the first place?

    If I were to play a PVE centric MMO again, that's the system I would be looking for. One where me and my friends can play together enjoyably without rendering all my accomplishments redundant.

    ______________________________

    In terms of horizontal progress. 50 straight damage vs. 50 DOT is not a fair tradeoff. DOT takes longer to inflict and can frequently be dispelled which is a weakness. It would be something more like 50 Damage vs. 75 DOT or 50 and 50 but the 50 DOT opens up some cool combos. Each with their respective downsides and upsides that make them different but roughly equal.
  • MadFrenchieMadFrenchie Member EpicPosts: 4,184
    edited April 16
    I realize it wasn't a true one-to-one comparison, but that illustrates the point.  Manipulating the mechanics and then attempting to make them roughly equal has been the goal of every MMORPG that's ever allowed you to spec within a class framework.  It's never worked.

    Devs can't even find balance between players at equal levels and tier equipment.  The idea that they could normalize that curve even further just seems unrealistic.

    Would like to post more in-depth, but I'm on my phone right now.  I will echo a previous poster's sentiment that I appreciate the in-depth post and time taken to format your ideas clearly.  Kudos!
    Post edited by MadFrenchie on

    image
  • EldurianEldurian Member EpicPosts: 2,161
    I think MMOs that fail to find balance (And I would not say they all have) has less to do with balance being impossible and more to do with the type of balance they seek.

    To me, poor balance means having a very small number of builds completely render all other builds obsolete in every circumstance. Good balance means every role having an area in which they shine.

    To the average MMO player it seems to be "WAAAAAAH! THAT ASSASIN BEAT MY BARD IN A 1V1! NERF ASSASSINS AND MAKE BARDS NOT SUCK!!!" To which my reply is "Assassin should beat your bard in a 1v1. Assassins are built for single target elimination while bards are built for group support... Bards are great if you use them in their proper context." 
    ScorchienSteelhelmYashaX
  • TheocritusTheocritus Member EpicPosts: 5,767
    I want to get stronger as I play...The point of playing is usually to improv,e not stay the same as when we started.
  • EldurianEldurian Member EpicPosts: 2,161
    I want to get stronger as I play...The point of playing is usually to improv,e not stay the same as when we started.
    How much stronger do you feel the need to become?
  • MadFrenchieMadFrenchie Member EpicPosts: 4,184
    Eldurian said:
    I think MMOs that fail to find balance (And I would not say they all have) has less to do with balance being impossible and more to do with the type of balance they seek.

    To me, poor balance means having a very small number of builds completely render all other builds obsolete in every circumstance. Good balance means every role having an area in which they shine.

    To the average MMO player it seems to be "WAAAAAAH! THAT ASSASIN BEAT MY BARD IN A 1V1! NERF ASSASSINS AND MAKE BARDS NOT SUCK!!!" To which my reply is "Assassin should beat your bard in a 1v1. Assassins are built for single target elimination while bards are built for group support... Bards are great if you use them in their proper context." 
    I have to disagree.  Rift Prime is an excellent example.  Folks aren't arguing about whether a Bard or Assassin should win in a 1v1 fight; they're quite literally arguing about how DPS Warrior specs do noticeably less DPS than Mage/Cleric/Rogue ones.

    Again, I'm not implying your idea is a bad one, but a hard one to implement successfully.  That's likely why most devs won't try and/or pubs don't wanna gamble on those kinds of games.  Take a look at MOBAs and how there's always a meta.  Always.  At best, you can hope for more than a few "must-picks" in any given role.  At worst, you get highly stratified tiers of power among heroes in a game that's centered solely around horizontal balance between heroes and group-based roles.

    image
  • EldurianEldurian Member EpicPosts: 2,161
    edited April 16
    @MadFrenchie

    The answer to that is counters. For PVE this is a bit more complex (I'll get to that in a second) for PVP this is simple. We'll go back to the example given. Two fireballs. One deals 50 direct damage to every target in it's area. One sets them on fire dealing 75 damage over the following five seconds. Otherwise the same in every single regard.

    Now there are two other abilities in the game which can be swapped in and out of builds.

    ABILITY 1 (Shield of Faith): Incoming magic damage is reduced by 33% on the target for 10 seconds. This has no effect on DOTs.

    ABILITY 2 (Dispel Curse): Ongoing negative magical effects on the target are removed. Including DOTs

    Now lets say this a game where you are allowed to pick out a limited number of skills that you can have slotted at once. Lets also say that the first two abilities turn out to not be balanced. DOT pyromancers are found to be stronger than direct damage ones and a lot of people start playing the DOT version.

    As a healer, I'm going to slot Dispel Curse the minute a bunch of DOT pyromancers start showing up. Any intelligent healer will do the same. Once cure affliction becomes commonplace enough in enough builds, and people stop running Shield of Faith as much because so many mages are DOT based, the direct damage pyromancer actually becomes a stronger build and the DOT one weaker. Not because it actually is, but because it's what is and anticipated so more counter-builds exist.

    _____________________

    Now back to the PVE context. This is an issue with predictability. For instance the "Goblin Warlord" dungeon is known to contain 30 goblin warriors, 15 worgs, 10 goblins shamans, and the goblin warlord. They all have static strengths, weaknesses, and predictable abilities. So there is an ideal party for that dungeon and through enough analysis you can find what builds are optimal.

    Now suppose instead of the "Goblin Warlord" dungeon you'll be facing the "Mysterious Cave" Before starting the dungeon you aren't really sure what enemies there are inside because the challenges found within are randomly generated each time the dungeon is entered. Could be goblins, could be skeletons, could be corrupted wolves and bears. You don't know.

    Now lets take it a step further. Imagine rather than all goblins having cloned stats, they vary a bit based on RNG. Some goblin shamans may have Dispel Curse. Some may have Shield of Faith. 

    Now lets take it a step even further. Imagine if the goblin abilities were not completely RNG but that they were based on analytics of user data, and builds that are currently very popular will more frequently find their abilities countered by NPCs than builds that are less popular.

    _____________________

    Unpredictability is the greatest guardian of balance. MMOs are unbalanced simply because they are so predictable. Bringing back unpredictability not only makes things more balanced. It reintroduces a sense of mystery into the game world.
    Post edited by Eldurian on
    MadFrenchieSteelhelmYashaX
  • Mars_OrbitalMars_Orbital Member RarePosts: 617
    edited April 16
    Kind of sounds like a carebear who doesn't want do the hard grind like everyone else. The reality is, if you get equal stats , the player who has bever been in the deep end, will get that much more wrecked.

    End game is end game for a reason, it rewards those who have learned the mechanics and figured out the class, blaming a stat gap for poor mind set of pvp is pretty redundant.

    I've complained about classes sure, but I know , it is just me who needs to "get good"
    Post edited by Mars_Orbital on
    KyleranCryomatrix
    .... Has gone full tinfoil
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