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Nytehauq

Ever thought about how an RPG that...

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Has no classes, non-linear character progression, skill-based combat would function? I have been pondering such an RPG for awhile, anyone thought about classless and or level-less skill based RPGs? A game where the experience is worth more than the illusion of progress but progress still exists, where combat is dependant on the player and enhanced by the character, and characters are defined by skillsets and abilities not by premade "class" restrictions? I would explain more, but it is getting a little late. Any thoughts?

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Yep. I have a bit of an idea that I want to flesh out more for how to deal with a dynamic "class" system too.

I think it's valuable to reflect a player's style in their character rather than stereotyping them as "The Priest that must heal" or "The Warrior that must tank".

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Original post by Nytehauq
Has no classes, non-linear character progression, skill-based combat would function?

I have been pondering such an RPG for awhile, anyone thought about classless and or level-less skill based RPGs? A game where the experience is worth more than the illusion of progress but progress still exists, where combat is dependant on the player and enhanced by the character, and characters are defined by skillsets and abilities not by premade "class" restrictions?

I would explain more, but it is getting a little late. Any thoughts?


Old school Ultima Online (The MMO, not the CRPG) was very much like that...it's been forced down ever since UO:R further and further. I have the feeling they felt (and probably correctly) a grind MMO makes more money for a large corporation.

I'm in the process of designing my own RPG with that kind of advancement (skill importance kept to a minimum, class-less)...but the problem is it's not the only area I want to make unique so it'll be a long time before I get working on the actual game if ever.

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morrowind did this, though not very well as the skills were very unbalanced with some being essential and other skills that were equally difficult to increse were either useless or made redundant by another skill

The biggest thing i dont like about skill based systems is that usally half way through the game i end up restarting becouse the skill combination i chose when i started the game isnt working out, you shouldnt have to master the game before you've even started playing it.

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I've been thinking a lot about such a system, and I think I have a pretty good working of it... but I'm definitley not satisfied with it, and I don't really feel like posting it... also, it has to do with a FPSRPG... so... =]

(and I'm also tired and distracted... heh...)

Basically, though... it works like this:
The character has a basic set of stats; str, dex, int, const. These don't do much by themselves but increase HP and Stamina slightly. The big thing is they play int just about everything that you do with your character: run faster, use your weapon better, more accuracy, carry and use 'bigger' equipment... the like.

There's also a skill system that basically is areas you can 'learn' in. Sniping, demolitions, high calibur weapons, hand to hand, artilery... pretty much anything you DO learn about in the military... >.> You can re-train your guy, but it does take a little bit of time and investment. Training also determines what gear you can use in the specialized areas; you can't use what you don't know how to!

This way, how the character is built only determines the play style it works best with... the rest is in the hands of the player... ^.^

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I will play devil's advocate and ask "why would it be more fun without a level-based system"? My favorite aspect of the "old-school" RPGs (the best, in my opinion) is that they were level based. Not only that, but you had to level up. You had to spend a decent portion of your time doing a repetitive but kind of cool activity. And after you put all that work in, you got to see the benefit of it when you kicked something's ass that had previously taken your party out.

That was the best! So what would be the benefits of a non level-based system?

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Original post by FunkymunkySo what would be the benefits of a non level-based system?


1) Realism
2) Personal preference.

Those would be my quick answers. Granted, not everyone enjoys realism in their games, but this is something I strive for in my own games. Hence it is also personal preference. :)

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Original post by Funkymunky
I will play devil's advocate and ask "why would it be more fun without a level-based system"? My favorite aspect of the "old-school" RPGs (the best, in my opinion) is that they were level based. Not only that, but you had to level up. You had to spend a decent portion of your time doing a repetitive but kind of cool activity. And after you put all that work in, you got to see the benefit of it when you kicked something's ass that had previously taken your party out.

That was the best! So what would be the benefits of a non level-based system?


Because a decent number of people do *not* like them and therefore it could be a (more or less) untapped niche?

The only reason I ever played a level based RPG was RL friends playing it. And never for more than 4 months. It's just too boring and repetitive.

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I've seen strict level systems, totally lose skill systems, and everything in-between.

Some level based games with linear progression are Final Fantasy, Lufia, and Chrono Trigger. Nearly all console games. There are a lot, but not a lot of really good ones (IMO).

Most of my favorite (gameplay-wise) RPGs are level based with non-linear progression. Morrowind, Fallout, Deus Ex. Most PC RPGs seem to fit here.

Those that would consider GTA: SA an RPG could put it into the level-less and non-linear progression category.

My favorite RPG, Shadowrun for the Sega Genesis console, is completely level-less and non-linear. The experience and skill setup is very much like Fallout, except the pure level-less-ness. Players spend the experience itself, straight up, to increase their skills. Something like Morrowind's skill (not body attributes) system, except that the player chooses where the experience goes, regardless of actions performed to earn it. That's likely why they call it Karma instead of experience. To blur the line a little more. You're not performing activities to add to stats. You're performing activities to get a job done. Getting the job done gives you karma, and karma increases your abilities.

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Has no classes, non-linear character progression, skill-based combat would function?


Yes, actually alot of your Multi-User Dungeons evolved into using classless systems. While on the surface non-linear character progressions seem like a really great idea, it must be implemented very carefully. Otherwise you run into the chance of alienating both the casual gamer and the hardcore gamer. For instance the casual gamer likes simplicity through the use of a small learning curve. Without some sort of linear character progression a player will run into problems such as what Kaze mentioned about Morrowind. Now I am running on the assumption that you aspire for a system that is realistic. In which case I will explain how it may affect hardcore gamers shortly.

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Quote:
Original post by FunkymunkySo what would be the benefits of a non level-based system?
1) Realism


First, I have to disagree with this statement. Our society is based on level distinctions. In martial arts you earn "levels" in the form of ranks. The military is ruled by levels. You can earn a level II Electrical Engineer Certification. Even your local hospital might have a level III trauma center. Therefore having levels in a video game are not unreasonable. Levels are a form of distinction that people crave and fiend for. This is especially true for the hardcore gamer. The hardcore gamer lives through distinction by examining the game rules and developing the best character possible. The end result though could be a very linear progression with small deviations because the hardcore gamer will go with what is proven. They will attempt to take the current trend and make it better by increasing intelligence by one point instead of constitution, for example.

I do agree there are better ways to go about character accomplishment in CRPGs, although for totally different reasons.

I feel that character levels in current CRPGs are static and stagnant. Levels are too restrictive in their use and undermine personal accomplishments. The achievement in level advancement can be so short lived due to the nature of grinding that you have only a few true levels and many false advancements. For example in World of Warcraft, the first 10 levels go by so fast that there is no real accomplishment. I believe level 20 is when you are able to start placing traits (It has been so long since I have played. This may be incorrect.) and you actually reach a point where real character development begins. Then level 40 you can get your mount assuming you have enough gold. This system works for World of Warcraft though because it appeals to both the casual and hard core gamers. I personally could only take small doses of it before I got bored.

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