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The Purpose of Progression

cameltosiscameltosis Member EpicPosts: 2,665
My attempt to help with forum activity!

So, with all the recent discussions about the different types of progression and scaling, I thought it might be interesting to go a step deeper and look at why we enjoy progression, regardless of what form that progression comes in. Why do you progress? What do you get out of it? I'm talking purely about progression mechanics, rather than player progression (getting better as a player).

I've come up with the following reasons, and was wondering what else you can think of and what your personal reasons are?


1) A means to an end
You progress because it allows you to do things that you couldn't do before. This could be as simple as progressing to unlock more content, or progressing to get better at pvp / raids.


2) Sense of achievement.
The game tells you that progression is a goal, so achieving those goals gives you a sense of achievement. This in turn releases all those lovely brain chemicals, making you feel good.


3) Status
Progressing further than other people can make you feel important. I feel like this is usually combined with timing (being first to progress) but for some I'm sure that simply reaching the end of progression and being further ahead of other people will provide a sense of importance.


4) It's just a by-product
I'm sure for some players, progression is just a by-product of playing the game and they don't actually care. They want to see the game and couldn't really care about progression, it just happens naturally.


5) Searching for more depth or challenge
Most games with progression start out pretty basic, but as you unlock more things, the game can become more challenging or gain extra depth. Thus, the motivation comes from wanting to search out that better gameplay so you can have more fun.



Where do you sit? Can you think of other reasons to progress?


[NB: im deliberately ignoring developer's reasons for having progression, like providing a nice on-ramp for learning, gating content, providing long term goals etc.]
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Comments

  • cameltosiscameltosis Member EpicPosts: 2,665
    For me personally, I progress because it's a means to an end, and also to search out that extra depth and challenge.


    I want to see all the content in the game, and beat it, so I need to engage with the progression in order to achieve that goal. In addition, I really want to master playing my class (player progression) but I can only achieve that once I've finished with the game's progression. Can't exactly master my class if I haven't unlocked all my skills!



    This also explains why I don't get on with looter-shooters and similar games. In those games, the progression serves no purpose, it doesn't tend to unlock new content or make the game more challenging. So, from my point of view, the progression in something like Diablo or The Division is almost all pointless, it just doesn't motivate me at all.
    tzervoxpsyncAmarantharAlBQuirky
  • tzervotzervo Member RarePosts: 605
    6) Metric for improvement/competence. If your goal is to improve your skill and game knowledge as a player, you still need something to measure that improvement. Meaningful progression (i.e. clearing content that needs skill/knowledge) can provide that metric. It is the "intrinsic" side of (2) and (3): it is not an achievement because the game tells you so or because you can boast about it (extrinsic), but because you know that to clear this content you need to have achieved a certain level of game mastery.

    AmathexpsyncAmarantharcameltosisAlBQuirky
  • AmatheAmathe Member LegendaryPosts: 7,481
    It's part of the classic squire to knight story of personal growth and achievment in a RPG.

    It's the fulfilment of your efforts to sculpt a character from clay to a more finished product.
    tzervoxpsyncAmarantharkitaradAlBQuirky

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

  • RhoklawRhoklaw Member EpicPosts: 7,231
    It's simple really and a facet of every day "carrot on a stick" human behavior. Even in real life we simply trudge forward trying to make more money, become more popular and experience new areas of the "map" lol.
    AlBQuirkyAAAMEOW

  • AmarantharAmaranthar Member EpicPosts: 4,242
    edited September 28
    My list...

    1) A means to an end

    2) Sense of achievement.

    5) Searching for more depth or challenge

    I think 5, depth and challenge, is the most important to me. 

    Also, and I'm not sure this deserves a separate category as it fits into 5 nicely, I like being able to do many things. I like options, and meaning for them. 
    And gaining them is very rewarding game play. I do want that gaining to be rewarding to play out, too. That's something that feels lacking in the typical level grind.
    cameltosisAlBQuirky

    Once upon a time....

  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Member EpicPosts: 6,349
    Amathe said:
    It's the fulfilment of your efforts to sculpt a character from clay to a more finished product.

    This is it for me.

    I play RPGs as a "puppet master", meaning *I* am not in the game. I want to take that starting character and mold them into something within the bounds set by the game and systems they employ.

    As for me the player, I want to explore as much of the game and systems used as I can. I want to learn and understand how it works and fits together. I want to uncover the lore of the world.

    When I get to the "end game", that particular character's journey has ended and if I enjoyed my time, will roll up another character to journey through the game again.
    RhoklawCatibrie

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR


  • cameltosiscameltosis Member EpicPosts: 2,665
    AlBQuirky said:
    Amathe said:
    It's the fulfilment of your efforts to sculpt a character from clay to a more finished product.

    This is it for me.

    I play RPGs as a "puppet master", meaning *I* am not in the game. I want to take that starting character and mold them into something within the bounds set by the game and systems they employ.

    As for me the player, I want to explore as much of the game and systems used as I can. I want to learn and understand how it works and fits together. I want to uncover the lore of the world.

    When I get to the "end game", that particular character's journey has ended and if I enjoyed my time, will roll up another character to journey through the game again.

    So, with the molding of a character, is that really done through progression systems?

    Nearly all of the MMOs I've played have pretty linear progression systems, the only real choice is generally which "tree" you spec into....but you can always respec. I don't feel that there is much progression that offers you meaningful, lasting choices, certainly nothing to do with roleplaying.


    But, I haven't played many modern mmos or asian mmos, so I may be a bit out of the loop.
    AlBQuirkyGdemamiCatibrie
  • cameltosiscameltosis Member EpicPosts: 2,665
    Amathe said:
    It's part of the classic squire to knight story of personal growth and achievment in a RPG.

    It's the fulfilment of your efforts to sculpt a character from clay to a more finished product.

    Would you classify this as "wish fulfilment" then? Or perhaps as an aid to story-telling?
    AlBQuirky
  • xpsyncxpsync Member RarePosts: 1,209
    edited September 28
    Progression is a bit of a two way street as well in that capping out "leveling" is not the only progression.

    For instance in wow retail, you cap but then what do you want to do, roll another toon, or make that character broken af by doing all the end game leveling options.

    In SWG:L you level to cap and are pretty much dropped, left wondering what to do, when in reality the games just started, pick your progression, like creature handler and progress up to 60 point pet, which makes leveling to cap a joke comparatively in the difficulty department.

    In retail my progression became to cap all 12 classes so i know them inside out and can pick wisely the 4 i want to main for SL.

    9 so far, 10th is a pally which i didn't expect but is growing on me huge, and might be on the 4 main list. Knowing all classes in an mmorpg is just good business.


    The pally is now in the 60's but, knowing pre-patch is coming it's going slow, where before i'd already would have capped that on the weekend.

    Then i have a warrior and shaman left but i don't want to create those until pre-patch.

    Progression goes way beyond leveling.
    Gdemami
    There are two ways of arguing with a woman, and neither one works. - John Marston

    Currently Playing; SWG:Legends, Wow r/c, DoS2
  • Jean-Luc_PicardJean-Luc_Picard Member LegendaryPosts: 8,385
    The purpose of progression... to PWN noobs ? B) ;)
    cameltosistzervoxpsyncTheocritusAmarantharkitaradAlBQuirkyAmathe
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  • Hawkaya399Hawkaya399 Member UncommonPosts: 583
    edited September 28
    Rhoklaw said:
    It's simple really and a facet of every day "carrot on a stick" human behavior. Even in real life we simply trudge forward trying to make more money, become more popular and experience new areas of the "map" lol.

    what 9if someone would rather do that in games or simulations than IRL? i have a job and pull some of my weight in life. maybe not much compared to average, frankly. there's not much choice either, we can't all rely on somebody else. but still, i often ask myself what i would choose considering my current circumstances. it comes easy to say i think i enjoy going into virtual worlds on my computer more than I do the real world. if that's a condemnation of me, so be it.

    not suggesting real life isn't a wonderful thing. but a lot of people go int othese virtual worlds to get something they think is harder to get irl. in games imagination is limit. it's yoru choice what game you play or whether it's modded or cheatmode. you can make the game yourself. irl we have scarce choice about the limits. we're confined to them, at least until we can overcome them--for example when we crossed the ocean in sailing ships. gamers are following path of least resistance, to be in a palce without real life's limits.

    my thinking is eventually everything will become virtualized, even the real world. pain will be reduced substantially. pain and lack of choice are thw two things make the real real. we only have one life and we're confined to it. these things will end. People will be able to play any world anytime, the limit only being their imagination. nothing will be real again, not the way it's now.

    that's what i think will happen. god might not exist. this might not be a simulation. it might be cruel. but that gives us a purpose. we will make god, if that's what we wnat. we will make all the things we wish to be. we'll give ourselves the choices nature didn't.  nature doesn't have its own intelligence like we do. if we don't like particular things, we can remove them.
    Post edited by Hawkaya399 on
    xpsyncGdemami
  • MendelMendel Member EpicPosts: 3,985
    For me, I think progression is a by-product of playing.  I'm more about telling my character's story.  Not all stories are about 'being the best' or 'improving' or 'beating the ultimate bad guy'.  Some stories are all about simply surviving against the odds.

    Sadly, MMORPGs have never developed the mechanisms for me to tell my character's story to anyone other than myself.  The role playing element of far too many games tends to only consist of a chat window.  For some games, that's fine.  For others, it isn't even close.



    cameltosisAlBQuirkyGdemami

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

  • xpsyncxpsync Member RarePosts: 1,209
    The purpose of progression... to PWN noobs ? B) ;)

    Haha, yeah enough beating around the bush! Straight to the point, i like it! :) lmao
    Jean-Luc_PicardAlBQuirky
    There are two ways of arguing with a woman, and neither one works. - John Marston

    Currently Playing; SWG:Legends, Wow r/c, DoS2
  • cameltosiscameltosis Member EpicPosts: 2,665
    Rhoklaw said:
    It's simple really and a facet of every day "carrot on a stick" human behavior. Even in real life we simply trudge forward trying to make more money, become more popular and experience new areas of the "map" lol.

    Whilst progression systems are indeed intended to reflect real life (thats the whole point of games, to teach us lessons that are relatable to real life but in a condensed and enjoyable fashion), the question i asked can equally be applied to real life: why do you progress?


    In real life, my reasons are much the same as in games: a means to an end. There is no real reason why I need to buy a better car than the one I have, I don't have to progress there, but I choose to in order to have a better driving experience. The experience is the end goal, the progression (upgrading cars) is the means of getting there.


    Likewise, a lot of life's progression is just a by-product of being alive. For example, I never really enjoyed my career (software engineer) so I never actively tried to progress, but promotions still happened simply as a consequence of time spent in a job or by virtue of being more intelligent than average.


    AlBQuirkyGdemami
  • TheocritusTheocritus Member EpicPosts: 7,741
    I always need that carrot in front of the horse to keep going. It's why I don't do end game very well. I need to have progression goals to keep going or I get bored very quickly.
    AlBQuirkyAmathe
  • AmarantharAmaranthar Member EpicPosts: 4,242
    There's not much to do at "End Game" in most games. Maybe all of them? 
    It seems strange that we just accept that this character's story ends there. 

    Once upon a time....

  • AmarantharAmaranthar Member EpicPosts: 4,242
    Mendel said:
    For me, I think progression is a by-product of playing.  I'm more about telling my character's story.  Not all stories are about 'being the best' or 'improving' or 'beating the ultimate bad guy'.  Some stories are all about simply surviving against the odds.

    Sadly, MMORPGs have never developed the mechanisms for me to tell my character's story to anyone other than myself.  The role playing element of far too many games tends to only consist of a chat window.  For some games, that's fine.  For others, it isn't even close.

    Yeah, I think games need some sort of memory system for each character. 
    If a character finds a great weapon, or an ancient artifact, maybe the game should write that down somewhere. 
    If there's a major GM Event Plotline, world wide and over a month, maybe the major players in that story should be written about and memorialized in-game. 
    If a character discovers a new formula, that too. 

    GMs could use these sets of information as clues in new events, too. 
    cameltosisAlBQuirkytzervo

    Once upon a time....

  • cameltosiscameltosis Member EpicPosts: 2,665
    There's not much to do at "End Game" in most games. Maybe all of them? 
    It seems strange that we just accept that this character's story ends there. 

    This is definitely true, which is why I won't play an MMO unless it includes "open pvp"

    (by "open pvp", I mean non-instanced and non-player-capped, i.e. open to everyone if they so choose. i know others have other definitions but this is what i mean)

    But, I tend to live at endgame and stick to one character. I love player progression, that feeling of getting better and better at playing my toon. It's only once progression has finished that I can finally start benchmarking my own skill and can easily measure my own progression.

    With open pvp, there is always something to do, always some slight variety. But beyond PvP, yeh, usually not much to do at endgame in most mmos. Grinding raids is all well and good and I do that too, but that's more about the social aspect for me, or at least its all about the social once I've cleared it for the first time.
    AlBQuirkytzervo
  • ScorchienScorchien Member LegendaryPosts: 7,416
    edited September 28
    Mendel said:
    For me, I think progression is a by-product of playing.  I'm more about telling my character's story.  Not all stories are about 'being the best' or 'improving' or 'beating the ultimate bad guy'.  Some stories are all about simply surviving against the odds.

    Sadly, MMORPGs have never developed the mechanisms for me to tell my character's story to anyone other than myself.  The role playing element of far too many games tends to only consist of a chat window.  For some games, that's fine.  For others, it isn't even close.

    Yeah, I think games need some sort of memory system for each character. 
    If a character finds a great weapon, or an ancient artifact, maybe the game should write that down somewhere. 
    If there's a major GM Event Plotline, world wide and over a month, maybe the major players in that story should be written about and memorialized in-game. 
    If a character discovers a new formula, that too. 

    GMs could use these sets of information as clues in new events, too. 

    And what UO Legends server is going to do , your history will be kept in a Library for others to read ..And for GM events

      UO again ahead of the curve , and also has no end game per say...Amazing that 23 years later devs still chase UO as nearly every activity has been done there first ...
    AmarantharGdemami
  • CryomatrixCryomatrix Member EpicPosts: 3,003
    I actually yearn for status the most. My favorite aspect of the mmo's i played are ones where you develop a reputation or a status.

    In SWG, i was a high level weapon crafter, got random emails to.craft people weapons all the time. It was great. 

    In EVE, i built ships for people and that was fun too. 

    Currently, in Entropia, i just crafted a rare set of armor plates and im one of a few people with the blueprint probably. Of course, i need high levels to farm the specific leather i needed, but otherwise, was great. 

    I crave a good sandbox with population where i can achieve a status without playing 24/7. 
    AmarantharcameltosisAlBQuirky
    Catch me streaming at twitch.tv/cryomatrix
    You can see my sci-fi/WW2 book recommendations. 
  • AmarantharAmaranthar Member EpicPosts: 4,242
    There's not much to do at "End Game" in most games. Maybe all of them? 
    It seems strange that we just accept that this character's story ends there. 

    This is definitely true, which is why I won't play an MMO unless it includes "open pvp"

    (by "open pvp", I mean non-instanced and non-player-capped, i.e. open to everyone if they so choose. i know others have other definitions but this is what i mean)

    But, I tend to live at endgame and stick to one character. I love player progression, that feeling of getting better and better at playing my toon. It's only once progression has finished that I can finally start benchmarking my own skill and can easily measure my own progression.

    With open pvp, there is always something to do, always some slight variety. But beyond PvP, yeh, usually not much to do at endgame in most mmos. Grinding raids is all well and good and I do that too, but that's more about the social aspect for me, or at least its all about the social once I've cleared it for the first time.
    For gamers that can give up the huge power curves, and want a worldly Sandbox with challenge and where you don't level past 95% of the content, the future is very bright. A world like that can have so much to offer, not only at End Game but all the way through it. 
    There is no limit in sight for what can be built in and added to such a game to keep playability at a high level for many years. 

    Once upon a time....

  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Member EpicPosts: 6,349
    edited September 29
    AlBQuirky said:
    Amathe said:
    It's the fulfilment of your efforts to sculpt a character from clay to a more finished product.

    This is it for me.

    I play RPGs as a "puppet master", meaning *I* am not in the game. I want to take that starting character and mold them into something within the bounds set by the game and systems they employ.

    As for me the player, I want to explore as much of the game and systems used as I can. I want to learn and understand how it works and fits together. I want to uncover the lore of the world.

    When I get to the "end game", that particular character's journey has ended and if I enjoyed my time, will roll up another character to journey through the game again.

    So, with the molding of a character, is that really done through progression systems?

    Nearly all of the MMOs I've played have pretty linear progression systems, the only real choice is generally which "tree" you spec into....but you can always respec. I don't feel that there is much progression that offers you meaningful, lasting choices, certainly nothing to do with roleplaying.


    But, I haven't played many modern mmos or asian mmos, so I may be a bit out of the loop.
    I think it is through progression. After creating the character you start your journey. You progress by improving skills, learning new spells, getting better clothes/gear, upgrading your weapons, and even amassing currency.

    I don't play modern MMOs, either. They really are too shallow for me, basically being  just combat simulators.

    Really, though, isn't "progression" linear by nature? But I do agree that most RPGs make little use of our choices in game terms  :)
    iixviiiixCatibrie

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR


  • IselinIselin Member LegendaryPosts: 14,545
    I am all about character development and the more options I have to go off in my own direction with development the better.

    Neither status, nor sense of accomplishment nor unlocking content are primary motivators for me. I enjoy having the game play become more interesting because what I have developed is a more interesting build than what I had before.

    I guess that puts me squarely and almost exclusively in the "more depth" category.
    tzervoAlBQuirkyCatibrie
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  • iixviiiixiixviiiix Member RarePosts: 2,152
    The purpose of progression...

    ...to kill time. and to keep the fun being limited . *pain*
    If i have a chose , i don't want progression .
    AlBQuirky
  • nate1980nate1980 Member UncommonPosts: 1,947
    I progress because I enjoy discovering new things, and because I enjoy building a character and making it my own. I then like to take what I created and test it against the game. I learn from those tests, and if the game is good, I will replay the game with what I've learned from the first time.
    AlBQuirky
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