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While reading a post about a MMORPG skill system, one thing catched my mind. Skill systems usually work with the practice-to-become-better approach, but they focus on skills most of the time. What about applying this to abilities as well? A character would get stronger if he carried much, wiser if he read much, faster if he run a lot... You could even include maximum hitpoints into this: The more often a player is wounded the higher his max hitpoint go. (=getting tougher by surviving injuries) What do you think of this? Have you already tried something like that? Would it be sensible? Would it be fun for the player? ------------------------------ There are only 10 kinds of people: those that understand binary and those that don''t.

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To be curt, definitely no. This is actually one of the major problems with current MMO''s. This would do nothing but encourage the mentality of mindless repetition for character improvement. I believe America''s Army hit an alternative head on, skill based improvement. In America''s Army for example, to get access to sniper classes you are forced to go through sniper training. The test is extremely non-trivial and a good ( if not majority ) of players never succede in passing it. It can often take days/weeks of practice to succede.

Skill based improvement is where its at. If a player was playing a figher type class then the test to improve strength would be drastically easier than for a caster type class, etc.. Developing logical skill-based tests is where the difficulty lies at, and is probably why this has not been implemented in any MMO''s I know of. A major difficulty would be in avoiding easy implementation of client side bots. This is largely OT so I will leave it at that.

I feel that reptition based statistical improvement is probably not a good idea.

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quote:

to get access to sniper classes you are forced to go through sniper training.



Huh? That sounds quite a bit like "experiance required to work here, but you can only get experance if you work here". Do you mean that you have to study on your own to meet basic qualying criteria?

I actually had a similar though yesterday. Then I reallized that Morrowind does something like this. At every level you get to increase 3 stats. The stats the you used the most get the highest point increase if you select it. Its a single-player game but I like it.

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The test based idea might not be such a bad way to go about it. For instance, say we have a skill that every player wants, the LockPicking skill. When they show up at whatever guild that administers the test, for the duration of the test, they have the lockpicking skill available and perform a number of tasks related to it, which really just test the player''s intuitions, and the amount of generic experience he''s gotten. (like, if he doesn''t have 11 Dexterity yet, ho has no chance in getting passed that locked chest in the second tier.) If he can pass the test, then he gets to keep the skill. If not, its taken away from him.

Major Benefits: Skills become a controlled resource. A guild can refuse to administer the test for attack magic Firebrand if the player in question has a bad reputation.

Pitfalls: How do you acculumate the experience required to even take the test. Some form of guild related apprenticeship / training would be neccessary. Perhaps a low level Mage can only perform unlearned magics if a Trademaster bestows the ability on to him.

COMING IN FALL, 2005, THE MMORPG THAT EVEN MISTER MIAGI PLAYS. OLDBIES TAKE NEWBIES UNDER THEIR WINGS AND TRAIN THEM IN THE BLACK ARTS, OR RACE AROUND TYPING POORLY AND IRRITATING OTHERS.

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Final Fantasy 2. Not the one we got here in America, but the Japanese one for the NES. If you used magic, your INT and WIS and MP went up. If you got hurt, your HP went up, and when you fought with weapons, your STR, AGI, DEX, and weapon-specific ability increased. There was a neat little trick by which you could declare an attack, then cancel it, then declare it again, and max out your weapon skills in one (very long and boring) battle. The problem was that doing one thing caused another to atrophy. Your magic users couldn''t keep their STR up without compromising some of their INT, so you basically wound up with either highly polarized characters or else generally weak ones, and only long play and training could fix it. If you mitigated that atrophy a little, the system would have been better.

But that was just in combat. If you wanted to make other activities affect your stats and skills, take a look at Wonder Project J for the Super Famicom. Little Pino has to read books, and practice with sticks, and spend time with fuzzy animals to adjust his attributes. Maybe that''s the sort of thing you''re looking for.

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I wouldn''t say that is a totally bad design. However, you need to add some more things such as the cap for each ability, and also things that prevent players from doing it over and over again. For example, running. Running requires stamina. You run a lot, your stamina decreases. If you do not include stamina, I can already see it players making bots running all day long and become uber fast in a day. Stamina must decrease and you must make it even harder to restore the stamina. Don''t include any skill or item such as Stamina Restoration or Potion of Stamina, because that just defeats its purpose.

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quote:
Original post by Kars
quote:

to get access to sniper classes you are forced to go through sniper training.



Huh? That sounds quite a bit like "experiance required to work here, but you can only get experance if you work here". Do you mean that you have to study on your own to meet basic qualying criteria?

I actually had a similar though yesterday. Then I reallized that Morrowind does something like this. At every level you get to increase 3 stats. The stats the you used the most get the highest point increase if you select it. Its a single-player game but I like it.



No, its not at all like Morrowind. Try it, its a free game. It is a SKILL based test, as in HUMAN SKILL based test. You are given a gun and go to a shooting range, you have to score 34/40 targets to pass the school. So technically anybody could pass it their first time through. In reality it takes lots of practice and somebody new to FPS style games will not stand a chance of passing it for weeks.

Morrowind has the exact same dull repetition based skill system. Let me clarify, when I say skill: I mean human ability to perform a certain activity with a requisite degree of aptitude. I don''t mean a number on a virtual character''s stat table.

As another example, the upcoming PS3 will have built in motion detectors. Let me offer what could be a potential situation. You have a character that is trying to pick the lock on a chest. This could be represented in game as a screen where a number of tumblers of various length go around in a wheel ( kind of like wheel of fortune only with varying length ''rewards'' notches ). This wheel has a number of ridges. The player''s job is to stop the tumblers when they all fit into the ridges in this wheel.

Now this is where skill comes into play. The wheel will have a base velocity. Let''s say its 20. Now that velocity will be modified by your characters'' abilities. Let''s say there are two character classes. Fighter and thief. A fighter has a base dexterity roll of 1.5, a thief has a base dexterity roll of 0.5. Now this is further modified by your in-character dexterity by a constant amount. Let''s say the fighter has a characteristically low dexterity and recieves a base dexterity penalty of 1.0. The thief has a characteristically high dexterity and recieves a bonus of -1.0.

We end up with a total figher modifier of 2.5 and a thief modifier of -1.5. Now we can finally calculate the final velocity of the wheel for each player.

Fighter = (5/2) * 20 = 50 velocity for wheel
Thief = (3/2)^(-1) * 20 = 13.333

It will be significantly easier for the player playing as the thief to stop the wheel at the correct moment. It will be significantly more difficult for the fighter player to stop the wheel. Both players have a chance, the final result is left up to the ability of the human behind each character.

Now do you understand? Games need to become more interactive and skill based, as opposed to mindlessly repetitive. This is a first idea towards that goal.

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Thats is what is commonly refered to as a minigame. The problem with what your suggesting is that it has nothing to do with skill it a reflex test. The player has to click the button at just the right momment and effectively alients players not good at that test, since if the player has to perform this mini game whenever they unlock a lock then players not good at the game will never be able to open locks. Most players don''t want to be forced to play a complicated mini game over and over agin to perform an in game action.


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I believe what Haro is trying to say is that it''s a case of skill vs repetition.

Anyone can repeatedly press a key to jump and increase in agility, but add an element of skill and the repetition can be toned down or removed entirely.

Take the sniping example. If a player had to shoot a stationary target, that may be easy. Now to get the next increase, a player may have to shoot a moving target, or a number of moving targets. To get the next advance, the player may have to shoot a moving target while he himself is moving. This could go onand on, but the difference is that progression is related to the skill of the player rather than simple repetition of exactly the same task. The negative point to this is that utilising player skill may encourage twitch gameplay, which not everyone is partial to, a la most FPS games, but this in itself is a separate issue which I''m not going to go into.

To summarise I think the main point is that perhaps it would be more entertaining to base ability increases on how well something is done, not how often it is done, so that characters abilities reflect how well the player is getting to grips with the game rather than simply how long the player has been playing. This way the player is rewarded for getting better at the game, perhaps penalised if he lets his skills deteriorate, and generally the character is a better representation of the player. I''m not personally fully decided on my own views here, but I do know that in most MMORPG''s I get tired of seeing people who don''t know how to play the game being super uberly hard simply because they have pressed a button 50 gazillion times more due to having been playing a lot longer (even if they suck at playing), but then I suppose that suits some people, and I wouldn''t want to put anyone off of my game because it didn''t fit in with their way of playing.

Cheers,

Steve AKA Mephs

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quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
Thats is what is commonly refered to as a minigame. The problem with what your suggesting is that it has nothing to do with skill it a reflex test.



It is not a minigame by any definition. Would you call the lock picking in Splinter Cell a minigame? How about the attack meters in Gladius? Is sniping in Metal Gear Solid 2 a minigame? You get the point. Its gameplay enhancement.

As far as reflex tests, that is exactly the point of a dexterity test. Intelligence tests for casting a spell for example, would require a more cerebral action. An example might be a basic "shift the pieces puzzle" each time you cast a spell, you must organize the letters of the scroll for the spell you are casting into its actual form and then it is instantly cast. The idea would be to integrate the tests as closely into the actual game as possible. The classic case would be "Punch Out" on the NES. That game is nothing more than a series of basic pattern recognition + reflex actions. Its also one of the most entertaining games ever made. Other classic pattern games include "Excitebike". There were very few ways to orient your bike on ramps and landings. Perfection of this ability resulted in extremely well done races. This pursuit of perfect is what made these games fun.

There is no logical argument against this. All of these traits can be developed and improved over time. The idea would be to have an MMO that is guided by something other than how long you can play. If MMO''s had any level of skill required to play, they would open themselves up to an entirely new world of players. Right now they tend to have an audience largely made up of young boys who have significant amounts of wasted time on their hands. While a substantial demographic, this is far from the ''prime'' audience that MMOG''s could potentially attract.

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I agree with the MMOs there. Mostly the longer you play the better your character is. It has little to do with the skill of the actual players. Even though a player might know everything about a game, but if his character is a newbie, he will appear as a newbie. On the other hand, a player who just bought a character from eBay for $200, knows nothing about the game, can appear uber and kill those who are more familiar with the game.

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quote:
Original post by haro

There is no logical argument against this.


I have a logical argument against it. A human being may not be skilled enough to be as good at an ability as he wishes he could be. You may think, "Tuff", but that depends on the game. Sure, if you're playing a FPS a 9 year old kid with no reflexes shouldn't be able to own one of the best quake 3 players in the world, but i thought we're talking about RPGs here?

It is supposed to be fantasy, a type of escape. I want to play the "role" of someone else. If i needed to do a really hard word test to cast one of the cool spells and i am not smart enough to do it 90% of the time, this game sucks for me now and is totally annoying rather than fun.

There can be something fun about the repetitive style of leveling up. If the rewards of leveling are cool, then you want to go through that repitition. You simply make it so you get a cool spell every few levels.



[edited by - tieTYT on March 26, 2004 9:26:50 PM]

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aren''t we forgetting something? developers WANT people to spend as much time on their mmo as they can (more time playing = more money through subscription, more players to interact with eachother at any given time which attracts more players.....) they achieve this by rewarding the people who play more frequently with more powerful characters. involving any sort of skill -nay gameplay in an mmo would be sacrilage to the players who think that because they jumped up and down a corridor for 12 hours straight they should have maxed acrobatics stat!

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Well, I think ratings based on the skill of the player himself are quite fascinating. Look at Puzzle Pirates for example.. You have two different ratings, one just says how much you have played a certain puzzle and the other states how good you performed it.
This actually works really well, as you are improving your own skill, not just a number on the screen. However, it probably isn''t applicable to most mmorpgs, because combat would have to be mainly based around player skills which makes the rpg-aspect rather useless.

Also, I really like the concept that you raise those stats of your character that you use the most. It makes a lot more sense than distributing points or anything like that, and it actually gives me the feeling of really advancing (as it happens gradually).
However, raising HP for getting hit sounds very, very weird.. I mean, if you wanted to play perfectly and you met a weak monster, you''d benefit the most if you just stand around and let the monster hit you and just finish it when you are close to dead. That wouldn''t exactly be fun.. Plus, it is totally unrealistic as well. Most of the time, when you are badly hurt and healed from that again, you are lucky if you are as healthy as before. I''m not saying that serious wounds should permanently lower your constitution, but certainly not the opposite either.

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i do like the op idea and had definitly been this way

some direction
1) rewards player for trying hard, the more risk you took the greater rewards you would have,
fighting a dragon whith sword +2345 is VERY EASY you would have poor rewards
fighting a dragon with a knife is NEAR IMPOSSIBLE you would have an ultimate things!! this encourage true heroic action and would create a lot of competition between player (you know i have make the cave of the north with a litle wooden sword and get alive to the exit, wow!)
it would also add a risk calculation gameplay that would make the player think more of strategy

2) create different gameplay for each class of skill, this would automatically create class of player without actually coding it because player would tend to specialise themself into their favorite one

3) create a limit amount of skill storage, skill would be ideally like equip object, you can equip or desequip them, this force to choose carefully and to plane more in fct of he playing style, if you have a compatibility chart it would be more complicate but funny for the stragical customize freak (at least some powerful or useful object would be use this kind of limitation), this also lead to custom class
this also make player to team up to cover their lack or specialisation

4) create an ecosystem in an loop imbalance, if A is required to have B and B is required to have C and C is required to have A, this would create an endless dinamic flow, the number of ressource of course is less than really needed, the more A is wanted the B you would have, this create an imbalance that would ceate for an inflation of B when it will became more availaible, of course each are more easy to get with DIFFERENT skill, that the player would have to organze beetwwen them

5) type of equipement, equipment would have bias on the skill, create the challenge more easy and more hard according to compatibility, a rod would make magic casting easier, that a player who like magic but don''t have real ability to cast it would get a magic compatible equip, BUT this has a price, the price of other skill which became less good (try to attack a dragon with a rod without using magic !)
really good player would have a fighter for ex and would cast magic with NEAR IMPOSSIBLE magic gameplay
these player would be rare and respect, the thing is that they may fail ofthen because the challenge would be near impossible but NOT impossible, this would create a tension among player battle, because it''s more risky to try a skill that didn''t fit our set of equip

6) make magic not based on power but on strategic success, the paper scisor is the most simple, it also a kind of ecosystem of skill, this would make poker like tension between player, guessin which skill the other hold accoding to his equipment style, and the kind, bluff and lying would be a good skill too in the game
to have an equilibrate equip, you have to would get medium effective coverage but prepare to all action, or you would have a more specialize equip with great strong part and great weak part, by putting twice a skill in a slot you make it more powerful but you lost one slot

all of these has been thought to encourage team, strategy, different style of playing, and to evacuate all the MMO flaws
the design is built that the player''s interaction would generate automatically some imbalance in the universe that by trying to get other this imbalance the game is kept dinamic (inspired from chaos theory and economics dinamic) if there is enough item and a complex ecology , gameplay would be emergent and quest beetween player also

it''s actually the base of many of future game i''m making, (but i''m a one man show, it would be old snes style gaming, the luck is that i don''t have to hired artist, the most rare item for team dev )

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quote:
Original post by tieTYT
I have a logical argument against it. A human being may not be skilled enough to be as good at an ability as he wishes he could be. You may think, "Tuff", but i thought we''re talking about RPGs here? It is supposed to be fantasy, a type of escape. I want to play the "role" of someone else. If i needed to do a really hard word test to cast one of the cool spells and i am not smart enough to do it 90% of the time, this game sucks for me now and is totally annoying rather than fun.



Do you realize you''re being hypocritical here? Current MMORPG''s have a rediculous large time commitment. Most people are not willing to spend 20 hours a day playing a game so their character can be as strong as little Jimmy Dropout''s who still lives with his parents. This is where the current bias lies.

My suggestion is to turn this bias away from rediculous time commitments and into a skill commitment. Consider the FPS analogy. How would you like it if the more you played, the more HP and better weapons your character got? FPS''s would become completely pointless to play, it would be a test of who can stay online the longest as opposed to who was the best.

Are you starting to understand yet? People keep playing FPS because the fun is DEVELOPING HUMAN SKILLS. This is an infinitely more attractive system than ''do the exact same task which requires no skill, 10000000 times to make your character become good at it.'' This is also why FPS are much more popular/mainstream than MMO''s.

People often play FPS''s for years ( or until the next release in the series ). I know of extremely few people over the age of 20 that have played an MMO for more than 3 months. You''re natural retort will be the cash factor. If you actually believe this, then compare the number of people which still constantly play Diablo 2 ( a free repetitious style game with a hint of skill ) to the number of people that still play counterstrike. The skill based game always wins.

MMO''s will not expand their tiny niche auidience until the current trend of mindless repetition is remedied. The sims online is an interesting anomaly to consider.

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How is raising your lockpicking skill by performing a million repations of a tumpler lock puzzle any less mindless then then picking a lock a millions times? It still breaks down to whoever spends the most time online will have the better character. Also many people don't want to be forced to play say a tile sliding puzzle whenever they want to cast a spell when what they wanted to play an rpg.


-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I'm a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave


[edited by - TechnoGoth on March 28, 2004 9:18:27 PM]

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quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
How is raising your lockpicking skill by performing a million repations of a tumpler lock puzzle any less mindless then then picking a lock a millions times?



Is this an attempt at a flame or do you really just not get it? There is a challenge when you are forced to actually learn how to pick the lock, you become much more involved in your character and are forced to see things from his view rather than from an objective 3rd party "god-view" as current RPG''s stress.

Again with the FPS analogy, how is raising your auto-aim skill by shooting the same monster in the head 1,000,000 times and less mindless than actually learning how to aim well? I really hope you understand this.

quote:

It still breaks down to whoever spends the most time online will have the better character.



No clue where this conclusion came from. There will of course be a slight correlation between time::skill but time is by no means the deciding factor. Those that actually take the time to learn how to use their character''s abilities will have the better character. Another analogy here being chess. Many players play for decades yet still play at an extremely amateurish level simply because they never put much effort into it. Another player who has been playing for a year will probably be a much stronger player if he has actually worked at learning how to play the game correctly by study or with a coach for example. In game coaching opens up an entirely new world. How cool would it be if you could actually take swordry lessons from another player in the game and actually learn how to fight better with your character. The reward would be immense, as opposed to just raising yet another statistic.

quote:

Also many people don''t want to be forced to play say a tile sliding puzzle whenever they want to cast a spell when what they wanted to play an rpg.



I doubt many of the current MMO players would enjoy what I am suggesting. Current MMO players are a very niche audience who tend to have an affinity for mindless repetition. I am suggesting a redesign of the MMO genre to appeal to a more expansive audience. The reason many companies have not ventured into the MMO market is simply because profitability/success is extremely rare. A twist on the genre could really revolutionize it.

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i also would not like having to rely on reflexes or anything else to play an RPG. one of the meters in Gladius (where you must push two buttons alternately really fast to try to get it to the red zone before time runs out) prevents me from using any skill or attack that uses that meter, because i just can''t do it. this annoys me to no end, because i have my character develop (with "job points") that skill just to find out that he can''t use it anyway!

sure, some games are great simply because they rely on human player skills, but that doesn''t mean it is appropriate for RPGs.

if the problem you are trying to solve is "time == 1337ness", perhaps a revamp of the entire design would be more appropriate. as it stands, you are suggesting that we replace the kiddies with too much time by people with excellent reflexes.

oh, to the OP: it kinda makes sense for strength, and maybe the dexterity-like abilities, but i''ve never heard of anyone becoming more intelligent by reading (although they do gain more knowledge, so maybe it can work). wisdom is a bitch though; that just takes time, and some people still never get it. i also liked the way Morrowind did it.

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I have seen some good points mentioned here, but nobody has come up with the idea that immediately came to my mind. I''ll explain this idea using an RPG as an example.

One person mentioned that running alot should make you faster. OK, this is realistic; you run more and your legs are stronger and your lung capacity is increased. But this gives people who run around all day an advantage. Now let''s take the sniping idea. To become an archer, you must take a test and shoot n targets in x amount of time. WHY CAN''T THESE BE IN THE SAME GAME!?!?!? Some attributes are increased by repitition and some by skill. This means that a skilled player can''t be perfect without playing alot and a player that spends all day online can''t be perfect without skill.

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OMG I sense a flame war coming up, I really have to take a part in this =)

Heh anyways, I think that the whole player skill vs. character skill problem is because of this: some people don't have time to develop an RPG character, other people don't have twitch-based skills (or don't wanna develop them). It's very hard to please both audiences. Personaly I think that a game based on twitch or actual strategy/tactics (something you get better at) is much a much "richer" experience than one based on the character's stats. But that's a matter of personal preference.

I think that a game like that must have challenges (mini-games/aiming/tactics/etc) with rewards appropriate to the skill of the player. Look at the standard game of Counter-Strike. If your reflexes aren't 1 nanosecond faster than the other guy, you die. My games weren't exactly exciting until I had developed some reasonable skill because of this. This is one of the things that seperates these 2 kinds of players. I think that, whatever the system is, it should be more like RPGs in that way (you get a reward appropriate to your level). This way it could be much more appealing to players used to the standard leveling thing.

EDIT: This way Krez would just get a kind of a lower skill when using that meter in Gladius, it wouldn't be like a crucial part of the game is lost because it relies on human skill, you simply have a greater advantage if you're more skilled.

[edited by - Jotaf on March 29, 2004 2:46:51 PM]

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quote:
Original post by Jotaf
This way Krez would just get a kind of a lower skill when using that meter in Gladius, it wouldn''t be like a crucial part of the game is lost because it relies on human skill, you simply have a greater advantage if you''re more skilled.

all i''m saying is that this doesn''t belong in an RPG; it should be my character''s skills versus your character''s skills, not my skills versus yours.

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quote:
Original post by krez
all i''m saying is that this doesn''t belong in an RPG; it should be my character''s skills versus your character''s skills, not my skills versus yours.


Oh you are so taking the entire idea out of proportion. For starters there are different levels of the "button mash" scale in the example you offered ( Gladius ). If you can get it to half way up which trivial to do unless you are physically retarded then you get a "normal" hit. It is extremely difficult to get it into the red area which is a "critical" hit and this is exactly how it should be. The ease of most of all of the other meters is actually a huge failing in Gladius, it makes the game way too unbalanced/simple but that''s another topic.

Also the button mashing is different based on class. The skills you are probably taking about are for example the "overhead cleave" skill for a legionnaire. This is a medium type class doing a heavy type attack. Of course its going to be difficult, that is the entire point. Now if you use a centurion and use their button mash attacks ( I do not recall the skills off hand ) then they are extremely trivial to perform because it is a heavy class performing a "heavy" skill. The meter grows much more quickly.

This is the type of attitude that is catered to by MMO''s and also what is completely wrong with MMO''s today. They cater towards the lowest common denominator. Your characters should not be able to score 100% critical rates or always instantly kill a weaker class with a single combo ( DAoC assassins ) with no skill required.

I also used to have extreme difficulty with the ''fast'' button mash meters. They are really the only meter that isn''t completely trivial in Gladius. After a couple of weeks of practice I can now hit criticals most of every time. The fact you gave up immediately because you were not able to immediately solve the problem is exactly what would be positive about this type of system. Those with no motivation to learn their characters would remain with characters inferior to this with players who take the time to actually learn how to play well with their characters. This, what you are complaining about, is the entire point of the system.

This would undoubtedly scare users like you away from any such game, but I am simply wagering that more players are interested in human skill based systems as opposed to ''repetitious skill development'' type systems. The current popularity and success of the proverbial FPS compared to MMO''s supports this point.

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Well, it seems that such a system would be welcome in a MMO Adventure Game (MMOAG). I enjoy Zelda games, even though it is my responsibility to ensure that Link''s arrows find their targets and his shield points the right direction. If you''re going to sell it as a role-playing game, though, you''re in for a flood of negative opinion.

RPG players, as a group, prefer a level of passivity in their game-playing. Winning a big fight isn''t an achievement in and of itself, it''s rather the payoff for long hours of careful character building. In an adventure game, you see the energy bolt coming at you and think, "I just have to duck over here and then dodge left and I''ll only take a little damage," whereas in a RPG, you would think, "No problem, Sir Jotul could handle this with one hand tied behind his back, and that Armlet of Magical Mitigation will take care of anything that gets through. Let''s see how this guy likes the taste of Righteous Zeal!"

If you''re looking at making an MMOAG, you might find that you''ll get more griefers and casual saboteurs. After all, once you''ve got the chops to compete in-game, there''s no reason to role-play. If I''m good enough that my soldier can best most of the dopes in the Royal Guard, what''s to prevent me from breaking into their barracks and stealing their gear, and then twitching my way out the back door? Superhuman feats will become commonplace, and the player base will be stratified by skill, as it is in all other twitch-based games.

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