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Wutalife37

Character Development

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Imagine an MMORPG that has player-killing, and only player-killing. There are no monsters to go fight, only other players. However, there''s a problem with this. Level 90 characters can still fight level 10 characters. The gameplay would be unbalanced because all players aren''t equal. However, if everyone couldn''t advance then there would be less reason for the purpose to play. Is it possible to retain character development without letting characters gain an advantage over each other?

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The simplest way to do this is by making the higher level not matter as much. Lock all weapons and attacks at the same level of damage. Lock all character's hit points at the same number throughout their whole lives -- maybe giving tiny bonuses occasionally.

Within the combat environment, each character has a probability to hit the opposing character according to whether his combat skill is greater than the other. For the character to hit an enemy of lower skill, there is a 60% chance of success. For a character to hit an enemy of higher skill, there is a 40% chance of success. If the two combatants are of equal skill, there is a 50% chance of success.

This way, no matter how much higher-level a character is than another, there is only a 20% difference in their chances to kill each other.

For a good reference of just this type of thing, see Dying Lights (http://www.ghazporkindustrial.com/)

Another (more silly) solution is to add arbitrary rules explicitly for helping-out the underdog: Something like:

1) Attacking too-low a character makes you an outlaw or looses you popularity.

2) Or make it so that critical hits kill -- regardless of what the hitpoints of the target are.

3) Klepto Blizzard's "Thorns" aura.

Things like that can make it so the newbs don't get totally trounced by the Obsessive-Compulsive.


- = - = - = - = -
Good is the enemy of excellence.

[edited by - ishpeck on January 5, 2004 7:08:37 PM]

[edited by - ishpeck on January 5, 2004 7:20:04 PM]

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You can have different areas of the game where only certain people can go. For instance, area A can only be accessed by people level 10 and under, while area B can only be accessed by people level 11 and up.

While I'm at it, I think it'd be pretty cool to have a game where you go out and capture monsters and breed them to battle each other. Kinda like how you can battle your creatures in Dragon Warrior Monsters, or Pokemon, just not... Pokemon-ish.

Edit: Added second paragraph.

[edited by - orionx103 on January 5, 2004 7:17:42 PM]

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quote:
You can have different areas of the game where only certain people can go. For instance, area A can only be accessed by people level 10 and under, while area B can only be accessed by people level 11 and up.


One of the earlier MMORPs (the Realm) did that. I hated it it. I strongly discourage it for the following reason:

The entire objective here is to ENCOURAGE NEW PLAYERS to play the game. Telling them: "You can''t do that until you''re a level 1038974890189" just discourages them from even trying to advance their character. You can make it easier for new players to break into the game more by providing less necessity for everyone in the game to be obscenely high level.

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Or possibly if you had it so that characters fighting could only be level x+n, where x is the lowest level character and n is some constant. This would still give the lower character a chance. Work this in with what the other guys said above!

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Or perhaps you could allow players to fight -- just not always to the death.

You could give the lower-level character XP whether he wins or looses. After all, you can learn a lot from your mistakes.



[edited by - ishpeck on January 5, 2004 7:34:40 PM]

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quote:
Original post by Wutalife37
Is it possible to retain character development without letting characters gain an advantage over each other?



I doubt it.

Development would have to be completely meaningless or separated from combat.

Even allowing victors treasure or items will be used to gain an advantage over others.

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There's an MMOFPS game called PlanetSide that did a pretty good job of encouraging character development while not providing a real advantage. They had certifications for different weapons/vehicles/skills. The higher your level, the more certifications you could have. Since everyone could use the same weapons/vehicles/skills at any level, the only advantage that the player had was versatility. When you're fighting 100 different people, their versatility means nothing to you. All that matters is your versatility, and so the system was amazingly successful.

So it is definitely possible. It's just that the method above would not apply well to my game, so I need another idea.

[edited by - wutalife37 on January 5, 2004 7:56:14 PM]

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The reason you''re seeing these problems with PK''ing is probably because you''ve got your mind set that a MMORPG has to be set in a specific way. For example, a (mmo)rpg doesn''t HAVE to have levels, there are level/experience-less rpg-systems...and even if there is levels, they don''t have to give a player any considerable higher chance of killing a lower-level character..

-Luctus

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Guest Anonymous Poster
You could always try basing it on skill. I.e. if you play the game for a week you are crap because you haven''t learnt how to fight, after a few months you get better. Of course you''ll need more than the standard RPG point and click attack to provide players with the opportunity to get better and better as they learn.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
You also have to consider the non-newbs... if I''ve invested 100 hours in the game I want to be able to kill newbies easily. That would be the whole point of advancing in a game with no npcs, surely?

You probably need to encourage newbs to gang up for self-defence. I think alot of MMORPGs have done this?

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I''m sorry, but I just don''t see the point of a role playing game of any type where gaining levels doesn''t give you any advantages. I mean, what would be the incentive to advance, or even play at all?

In other words, I believe the question isn''t "*could* it be done?" but is instead "*should* it be done?"

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quote:
I''m sorry, but I just don''t see the point of a role playing game of any type where gaining levels doesn''t give you any advantages. I mean, what would be the incentive to advance, or even play at all?


Take the following truths:

1) Player-killing is half of the fun of an online game. There''s just a certain sense of satisfaction in knowing that you are superior to someone else. If you didn''t want to PK then what''s the point of playing a multiplayer game? Strictly cooperative play looses its appeal after a while.

2) Newbies do not want to play the game if they''re going to get killed every 6 seconds by some other OCD high-level player. They just won''t. Discouraging new players is bad business practice and will make the online world grow stagnant.

3) Restricting PK between player''s levels is dumb. You don''t want to only fight people of the same level as you. It is fun to show your mighty prowess off to lower-level players.

As you can see, points 2 and 3 conflict a bit with each other. This is a commonplace occourance and is solved with a practice that designers call "game balance."

The solution is not to REMOVE the advantage of being "higher level." The solution is to REDUCE the advantage of being "higher level." If you want easy kills, go play one of the existing MMORP''s (the kind where game balance goes to hades in a handbasket). If you want interesting fights, play this one.

There are many logistical advantages to this model of MMORP: Developing AI and trying to maintain an economy is much simpler. NPC shopkeepers and the like often have an infinate wellspring of resources/goods and that can hurt the value of currency or "rare/powerful" items. You won''t need to design/develop a plethora of monsters for the killing.

A very sound way of doing this is explained in my initial reply to this question. Inherit in the design is the fact that a more-experienced character will have the advantage in battle but a less-experienced character has a fighting chance. The exact numerics can be adjusted to accomodate a greater spread between experience levels but the objective is to remove the word "impossible" from the gameplay.

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I can see how reducing the differences between character levels would be appealing to lower levels characters, but it would be much less fun for higher level characters.

1. If you''ve spent 200 hours playing the game, being killed by someone who has only been playing for 15 minutes is hardly going to give you a feeling of superiority.

2. Newbies should learn the art of tactical withdrawal and avoiding fights where their opponent is much stronger than them. Banding together and/or using guerilla tactics should be encouraged, rather than allowing them to go head to head with impunity.

3. What mighty prowess? If lower level characters have anything more than a slim chance of killing you, you''re not really that powerful after all.


To me, it sounds like the intention is to tip the balance too much the other way.

A level 5 character should have a fighting chance against a level 10 player, if (s)he uses superior strategy or has better equipment, but if everything is equal other than the players'' levels, the higher level character should have a much higher chance of beating the other.

Just because your opponents are controlled by humans rather than the computer does not mean that the game should allow you to win fights with stronger enemies any more often.

If the reason for wanting this adjustment is to prevent the wholesale slaughter of newbies by experienced players, then some sort of duelling or arena system could be introduced where both players have to agree to the fight before it can take place.

This wouldn''t have to be the only way to fight, just the only way for characters with widely differing levels to fight with each other.

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I feel like a whore for saying this, but. . .

The truth of the matter is, no matter how good you are, you''re still mortal. A game might be fun in reflecting that. It forces players to think twice before throwing their lives on the line. It encourages more ROLE PLAYING and less MUNCHKINING.

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How about a simple point system? Instead of having levels or experince you get skill points for each victory. These skill points are then spent to increase a stat, get more health, purchase new skills or improve existing ones. You also keep track of total skill points accumlated. The greater the diffrence in accumlated points the more you gain for winning the battle.


But instead of making fighting to death have the game use a dueling system. Player agree before hand on the rules of battle and can even wager items against each other. There rules could be things like:
first hit
first to score 3 hits
Reduce opponent to 50% health
Knock opponent unconsius.
Duel to the death.

But make death permant and the winner gains all the loser possions.

-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project
Chaos Factor Design Document

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TechnoGoth, don''t let the winner take all of the loser''s possessions. The formal duelling system you describe is incompatible with looting. If I''m going to go to the lengths of promising to stop fighting after the first hit, then I shouldn''t have that temptation of just sticking the guy and taking his stuff. It''s a return to homo lupus (that''s a Hobbesian term, it means "gay wolf" ). So you can wager stuff (and not just on fights you''re participating in. You should be able to bet on other people''s duels), but if you die and have wealth or property that hasn''t been divested from your estate, it''s included in your mausoleum. You are laid there clutching your magic sword, weearing your fancy armor, and surrounded by your various possessions. Keys, coins, potions, etc. are all arrayed about the room.

Better to have a dead character''s stuff be buried with him, or perhaps sold to get him a tomb in the Mausoleum of Heroes. It''s a spaceless place that has an infinite number of plots, only one of which can be viewed at a time (sort of like a top score list with an image for each entry, but, you know, magical). So if you die at a high level, you get a certain amount of fancy stuff in your tomb. If you die with a buttload of cash, you get more expensive stuff in your tomb. That way, even in a game with permadeath, there''s a lasting sense of achievement. You could even go to the Hall and look at the plot that''s reserved for you, to see how fancy it is. So you can wager stuff (and not just on fights you''re participating in. You should be able to bet on other people''s duels), but if you die and have wealth or property that hasn''t been divested from your estate, it''s included in your mausoleum. You are laid there clutching your magic sword, weearing your fancy armor, and surrounded by your various possessions. Keys, coins, potions, etc. are all arrayed about the room.

I suppose some way of retrieving those items for use in-game would be nice. Perhaps the next character that player creates would be able to "inherit" some of the items, but he might also be able to sell it. I''d leave out grave-robbing, since some jerk will make a career of it.

This is really just a post about perma-death. The game you describe, wutalife, isn''t too bad an idea. I think that a good representation of skill would be appropriate to make a gulf between characters. A supertough sworsman would be largely untouchable, but with TechnoGoths duelling system, a newb could pay him for lessons until he reached a level at which he could confidently wager. That way, character development and roleplaying are both ensured, since a degree fo fame and skill would actually affect the way other players treated you. You could conceivably have some kind of NPCs or monsters or something for players to butcher, but the real focus would be on getting skills and perhaps competing in tournaments or other forms of competition.

I think the idea of tournaments came up in another thread, but I''m too lazy to look it up. It was a thread about alternate XP systems, and we were discussing hiding stats from either the player or other players. Instead of saying "Hey, that guy''s a level 48 Paladin! I''d better watch out," you would either see that he was kicking your ass or else, through conversation or research, learn that he is in fact three-time champion of fencing and generally finishes in the top ten with hand-to-hand and has a few little prizes for archery and has eight confirmed player kills, either from duels or as a result of his profession as a bodyguard. If you see that guy in the woods, you steer around, but if you see him beside a dojo with a sign that says, "Fencing Lessons - 50GP or equivalent value in items," you go and talk to him.

Character development on that level would be almost Sim-like. You could even have characters with scars from real-blade duels or monster attacks. Get yourself an eypatch and a raggedy coat to go with that top-level knifethrowing and short blade use, and you''re a pretty scary assassin type.

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Perhaps you need to consider what happens in the real world between people who are vastly more experienced in combat versus the rank and file grunts.

In medieval times, the heirarchy of warriors was rather simples, the peasents, the knights, then the upper-class. The upper-class never directly fought. The knights fought, but typically they just led the army and only fought other knights. The peasents fought in droves, but never fought the knights or the upperclasses.

Lets analyse why.

Peasents were generally unarmored. Leather was considered the best they could do. The reason is because any good armor was expensive. Fight a knight with armor and good weaponry, and you''d get killed real easy.

Knights were very well armored. However because of the expense of becoming a knight, there were few of them. Knights didn''t throw themselves into fights with peasents for two reasons. 1. He had his own peasents to do the fighting for him. 2. He would get overwhelmed and torn apart by the sheer number of fighters.

The Upperclass just plain didn''t fight. In fact, they weren''t even at the fight. The most they would do is sit behind the lines guarded by their own group of knights.

Now, last to understand is the difference between the unexperienced and the experienced.

Injuries.

The more experienced were almost guarenteed to have more permanent injuries. Peasents were obviously more guarenteed to be dead, but among the knights, for each fight with other knights, you faced a risk of having that armor break and hit landing being severe. If you survived the bleeding, the limb was ruined.

MMORPGs that support PKing have to take a look into what they could do about permanent injuries if they want the newbies to have any chance in beating the griefers.

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In line with the last post: damage would have to affect you physically, and stamina would play a major factor. The longer you''re forced to continuously fight the more fatigued you are, and the more fatigued you are the less likely you are to hit - and more likely you are to be hit.

By the same token injuries should cause drastic fatigue declines, which then leads to the above. So should encumberance.

This gives a pack of intelligent newbs an advantage over an overconfident veteran. He might have great armor but it slows him down; over the long haul it fatigues him quicker. A stick and move attack by several newbies would quickly wear him down, evening the playing field.

"Hit points" should NOT be a factor, and there definitely should not be a way to raise it. You can increase your physical strength, you can learn skills to make yourself more agile, you can protect yourself to lessen damage - but you shouldn''t be able to drastically increase how much trauma your body can suffer.

Everyone should have a chance to hit with a weapon; the difference should lie in damage/weapon type, personal defense modifiers, positioning and skill at range. If I come up behind you with a baseball bat, I should NOT need a staff-wielding skill to bash your head into goo - it should be good night, over and out. Certain weapons shouldn''t require any skill at all to use - but having related skills (such as martial arts training with staves) should allow you stronger defensive abilities and a wider range and speed of attacks.

And, as I''ve said before, death penalties should be more severe (I''ll be kind and not go so far as to institute permadeath) so that people are LESS likely to rush bullheaded into a fight, knowing they''ll just respawn if they die and head back towards the battlezone. Force people to consider tactics and escape plans, and encourage working in groups.

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Unfortunately the design of the game doesn''t allow for ganging up on people. It is impossible to make ganging up work, so it isn''t an option.

I want things to be as equal as possible between the two fighters. Slight advantages for the longer playing player would not work. It combines the frustration of being beaten by someone who has an advantage with the frustration of not obtaining enough for leveling.

The dueling idea also would not work. It would slow down gameplay too much, and does not eliminate the problem of an advantage. It also limits the number of people that you can fight, since you can only fight people around your level.

One idea I had was to add a class system. You start off with some classes that you can choose from, and after mastering certain classes others will be unlocked. The unlocked classes would be different, but not necessarily better, than the original classes.

I''m thinking this might not provide enough incentive to achieve new classes, but this is an example.

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quote:
Original post by Wysardry
where gaining levels doesn''t give you any advantages. I mean, what would be the incentive to advance, or even play at all?



Surely that tells us that there is something wrong with the design of RPGs- if they are so unrewarding / not entertaining that the only reason people play themm is because they gain XP.

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okay,okay. I''m just going to come out and say what where all thinking.

You have to have advantages and disadvantages in the game or else whats the point?

If a level 10 and a level 90 are close enough in ability so that either one could win in a battle. Then why have levels at all since they are meaningless, unless going up levels provides an advantage.

Also whats the point of classes unless they provided some benifit.

You want a game about player killing and you don''t want any player to have an advantage over the other. That means no equipment, no levels, no skills, no classes, no progression of any kind. So what I want to know is, where''s the fun???? And whats the point???


-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project
Chaos Factor Design Document

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It''s been done before. Like I said, the method used in PlanetSide was highly successful. But that doesn''t work in my type of game.

We need to think outside the box. It can be done well, it''s just a matter of finding out how.

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Regarding level and advancement, this is totally my opinion but I rather enjoy games where there is a significant advantage to gaining a level. And not just a character specific level, but a level in anything, weapon skill, magic power, whatever. However, at the same time, this doesn''t imply that I like gaining 90 significant levels. I had been playing Disgaea--which is a pretty fun TRPG for the PS2--but when the numbers got huge, even though I was still getting significant level bonuses, they seemed worthless. However, in a game like FFTactics where you would have 8 levels per class, it seemed more like a good goal to aim for.

That said, theres no need for 255 levels of sheer goodness, when 30 levels of advancement, or even 16 would be just fine. However its important that theres some degree of tiered or quantified advancement so the player knows his skill and how to progress. Otherwise, Why wait for level 50 to enter that cave with strong enemies if level 2 works just as well?

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I hate XP systems in general. I''ve said it before, and others have, too: XP is a relic from a time when there wasn''t a better way of representing skills. HP, too, is a throwback. If you want to do this, and do it right, you need to forget about raising levels. What sort of nonsense is it that I can perform the equivalent of chopping wood for eight hours and then stop and say, "Hey! I just became more intelligent, wiser, luckier and more agile! Also, I''m a better archer, and can cast ''Haste''. Yippee!" Absurd.

I think that skills should have, not eight or sixteen or 99 levels, but closer to 1024, and the player should never know where they are, except in a general way. Have improvements seem to be analog. You train at a skill, or practice it in battle, and it increases. Secret of Mana had a system where your weapon skill went up when you used that weapon, and the same was true of magic. That''s great. Expand that to apply to strength, stamina, intelligence (to an extent; you can''t really raise your IQ just by working at it), and all the other little stats that go up three or four points when you raise a level.

This way, it''s tougher to just compare scorecards with other players. You might not be able to beat a guy, but it won''t be because he''s got 5 more strength than you. He''ll just seem tougher. You''ll finidh a battle and say, "Whoa. I couldn''t even hit that guy," instead of "Well, he''s got an agility rating of 238, what was I supposed to do?" Train your character. Groom his stats to be complementary to your style of play, and then he''ll be able to contribute to the gameworld. Not every quest has the extermination of goblins as its objective. Surely there''s another way to go about designing a game.

That''s something that''s wrong with "gaining levels" and having it boost ALL your stats. A level 12 character is superior to a level 11 character in every way, barring equipment and stat-improving potions and such. And so that level 11 character knows to steer clear of the 12 guy. But if I was a generally skilled archer/swordsman/grappler, I''d be a match for a guy who was a master axe-swinger and could do nothing else. What''s more, a wizard might get his butt kicked by anyone who gets close to him, but at fifty yards, a supertough knight has no better chance against him than a knife-wielding newbie thief. The knight would have to up his defenses against magic or else just watch out for anyone--newbies included--who had trained up on fire spells.

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