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Delphinus

MMORPG Addictions - Is the solution to abolish levels?

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For rather a long period of time, I've played MMORPGs. Every single one, however, seems to fail at the same point - they reward the hardcore gamer, thus encouraging addiction. This may be a good business ethic, but is it an ethical one? I don't think so. As well as this, a very lowly-skilled player, spending enough time, can easily gain enough experience (in game terms) to get to a far higher level than another player, less hardcore, who has far more skill. There are multiple ways of dealing with this, as far as I can see. One of these is to thoroughly rid the hypothetical MMO of levels. However, this would almost certainly drive away many of the target audience, as much of the appeal of an MMO is the ability to gain instant fame simply by that number beside your character's name. Instead I believe that the player's skill should be measured by level, with levels in the traditional sense playing either no part, or being very easy to raise, and having a low skill cap. This should apply to equipment also. For example, if a player is relatively skilled at the game, then they will earn experience quickly, due to being able to kill creatures easily. This experience will not contribute to the player becoming stronger, but will rather contribute to the player's "rank". The player, due to weapons having little effect on overall strength, will easily be able to experiment with different professions, decided by the weapons wielded and the skills equipped. Likewise, the player's skills will not increase by a very significant amount, but will nonetheless be easy to make stronger, through the player learning how best to use those skills. To conclude, I believe that players should be able to easily become of equal strength to the strongest players, yet should not be disadvantaged because of this, and that a new player with skill should be able to be more well-known, and of higher rank, than a hardcore gamer with very little skill. -Delphinus

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Well, it would certainly be interesting. However, as you noted, it would drive away a massive part of the MMO player-base, and those who don't go near MMOs for the reason of addiction and leveling might not trust it in the first place. So it could end up a very small MMO.

Other than that, I think a big problem would be that combat would have to be more involved. In many MMOs, combat is very simple, and being more skillful than another person is relatively nothing, because combat is so simple. You may be able to be 5% more efficient once you (and adversaries) get past that new stage where you're still figuring things out. This would likely be the biggest problem, and if it is managed to make a more combat-rich game, you are likely going to have bandwidth problems (a major reason we haven't seen the wonderful combat of FPS in Massive scale). In a few years, these problems could be ironed out, and the making of a (player) skill-based MMO could be possible, and amazing, too.

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Has it ever occured to anyone here that you don't need to make an MMORPG? It is actually possible to build an MMO that isn't an RPG.

I'm all for driving a wedge between those two acronyms. Worst genre, ever.

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Original post by Delphinus
For rather a long period of time, I've played MMORPGs. Every single one, however, seems to fail at the same point - they reward the hardcore gamer, thus encouraging addiction. This may be a good business ethic, but is it an ethical one? I don't think so. As well as this, a very lowly-skilled player, spending enough time, can easily gain enough experience (in game terms) to get to a far higher level than another player, less hardcore, who has far more skill.

There are multiple ways of dealing with this, as far as I can see. One of these is to thoroughly rid the hypothetical MMO of levels. However, this would almost certainly drive away many of the target audience, as much of the appeal of an MMO is the ability to gain instant fame simply by that number beside your character's name. Instead I believe that the player's skill should be measured by level, with levels in the traditional sense playing either no part, or being very easy to raise, and having a low skill cap. This should apply to equipment also.

For example, if a player is relatively skilled at the game, then they will earn experience quickly, due to being able to kill creatures easily. This experience will not contribute to the player becoming stronger, but will rather contribute to the player's "rank". The player, due to weapons having little effect on overall strength, will easily be able to experiment with different professions, decided by the weapons wielded and the skills equipped. Likewise, the player's skills will not increase by a very significant amount, but will nonetheless be easy to make stronger, through the player learning how best to use those skills.

To conclude, I believe that players should be able to easily become of equal strength to the strongest players, yet should not be disadvantaged because of this, and that a new player with skill should be able to be more well-known, and of higher rank, than a hardcore gamer with very little skill.

-Delphinus


You talk about skill throughout the entire post and I get the expression that you think MMORPG's are all about (showing) skill.
First of all, most commercial MMORPG's are entertainment games and are designed to entertain its playerbase. These MMORPG's are just like other games, with the addition of a highly praised social factor (and here is the part were gaining fame becomes interesting).

You talk about all MMORPG's failing at the same point, but what really does failing mean exactly? In my terms it would mean the entire playerbase stops playing the game. Well if take a look at a very popular MMORPG named World of Warcraft, you see this one is doing everything but failing.

What I do agree upon is that WoW tend to reward hardcore players over the casuals, but this is still not really defined as problem frankly, in fact, this is an accepted game design (albeit not by everyone), due the lack of a better game design.

As for the WoW example applied on your conclusion, the creators (Blizzard Entertainment) somehow did accomplished this. The Arena system lets casual players with 'great skill' compete against 'skill-less' hardcore players and be victorious. Yet this arena feature doesn't seem to be key element of making WoW so succesful though, that is far more complex story...

Regards,
Xeile

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How about a MMORPG with turn based combat... you know... for what reason does it HAVE to be in realtime? You solve your lag problems, you can add more strategy, etc.

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If you want to see an MMO that doesn't have levels and does depend on skill, check out Puzzle Pirates. The only determinant of your effectiveness in whatever you're trying to do is how good you are at the puzzle. And while your skill with each puzzle is reported (ranging from Novice to Ultimate), that's just a measure of how good you are, and it does not increase monotonically.

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UO didn't have levels (at least when I played it) and there was still a disparity with hardcore vs. casual players.

Dofus is a MMO with turn based combat. It didn't solve lag problems, it just made them annoying in different ways.

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Original post by PaulCesar
How about a MMORPG with turn based combat... you know... for what reason does it HAVE to be in realtime? You solve your lag problems, you can add more strategy, etc.


... Estimated time of next turn: 12 years, 9 months, 25 days, 18 hours, 35 minutes and 13 seconds...

Yeah, great concept that would be :P

Just kiddin' of course, but to be serious, hasn't Final Fantasy Online done that? (not sure, havn't player FFO...)

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Original post by Kest
Has it ever occured to anyone here that you don't need to make an MMORPG? It is actually possible to build an MMO that isn't an RPG.

I'm all for driving a wedge between those two acronyms. Worst genre, ever.


While I feel the genre is poorly designed as opposed to being fundamentally flawed, I do agree that there should be other MMOs that do not need to be RPG or at the least pure RPG.

I would like to see something that is somewhat a mix of MMOFPS/RTS where you take the basic quake style game, put it in a large MMO setting. Have two or more factions with NPCs in ultimate command to keep balance. Put captureable(SP?) forward bases and a good way of commanding multiple PCs and NPCs and you have something I would play. (Think MMO Battlefront II with better command structure and larger maps...)


Quote:
Original post by Xeile
Quote:
Original post by Delphinus
For rather a long period of time, I've played MMORPGs. Every single one, however, seems to fail at the same point - they reward the hardcore gamer, thus encouraging addiction. This may be a good business ethic, but is it an ethical one? I don't think so. As well as this, a very lowly-skilled player, spending enough time, can easily gain enough experience (in game terms) to get to a far higher level than another player, less hardcore, who has far more skill.

There are multiple ways of dealing with this, as far as I can see. One of these is to thoroughly rid the hypothetical MMO of levels. However, this would almost certainly drive away many of the target audience, as much of the appeal of an MMO is the ability to gain instant fame simply by that number beside your character's name. Instead I believe that the player's skill should be measured by level, with levels in the traditional sense playing either no part, or being very easy to raise, and having a low skill cap. This should apply to equipment also.

For example, if a player is relatively skilled at the game, then they will earn experience quickly, due to being able to kill creatures easily. This experience will not contribute to the player becoming stronger, but will rather contribute to the player's "rank". The player, due to weapons having little effect on overall strength, will easily be able to experiment with different professions, decided by the weapons wielded and the skills equipped. Likewise, the player's skills will not increase by a very significant amount, but will nonetheless be easy to make stronger, through the player learning how best to use those skills.

To conclude, I believe that players should be able to easily become of equal strength to the strongest players, yet should not be disadvantaged because of this, and that a new player with skill should be able to be more well-known, and of higher rank, than a hardcore gamer with very little skill.

-Delphinus


You talk about skill throughout the entire post and I get the expression that you think MMORPG's are all about (showing) skill.
First of all, most commercial MMORPG's are entertainment games and are designed to entertain its playerbase. These MMORPG's are just like other games, with the addition of a highly praised social factor (and here is the part were gaining fame becomes interesting).

You talk about all MMORPG's failing at the same point, but what really does failing mean exactly? In my terms it would mean the entire playerbase stops playing the game. Well if take a look at a very popular MMORPG named World of Warcraft, you see this one is doing everything but failing.

What I do agree upon is that WoW tend to reward hardcore players over the casuals, but this is still not really defined as problem frankly, in fact, this is an accepted game design (albeit not by everyone), due the lack of a better game design.

As for the WoW example applied on your conclusion, the creators (Blizzard Entertainment) somehow did accomplished this. The Arena system lets casual players with 'great skill' compete against 'skill-less' hardcore players and be victorious. Yet this arena feature doesn't seem to be key element of making WoW so succesful though, that is far more complex story...

Regards,
Xeile


For a MMORPG that allows low SP players to combat high SP players with high levels of success if the low SP player has a better understanding of the game than the high SP player, see Eve Online, my current addiction. Reactions are somewhat important but a good understanding of how to run combat in the game is in many cases more important than SP (unless you run into a ganksquad :p)

I think that skills should be used primarily to allow for the use of better weapons (but not weapons so much better that they are "leet") and expanded strategies. With this approach a player with a smaller group of strategies can defeat a player with a larger group of strategies if they employ it better

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Original post by Delphinus
Every single one, however, seems to fail at the same point - they reward the hardcore gamer...


Don't most things in life reward the hardcore? As a general rule, a student who studies more tends to learn the material better. A developer who spends more time writing software will tend to do better than those who don't practice the art as often.

Quote:
Original post by PaulCesar
How about a MMORPG with turn based combat... you know... for what reason does it HAVE to be in realtime? You solve your lag problems, you can add more strategy, etc.


How would you handle joining one in progress? How would new players get inserted into the turn system? Real time also prevents you from having to sit around for an hour while someone else makes a turn. To a degree, WoW is turn-based, for example. You character has a set speed at which it can attack for instance. That's sort of like a turn. Think Baldur's Gate. That was a real-time implementation of a turn-based system. Quite a fun game too.

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