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Durakken

MMORPG lvl progression time balance?

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What is a good amount of time between levels/to max level? and how do you figure out how long it will actually take? I was thinking that 24 hours average per level should be expected so that by the time you reach lvl 100 you've played 2400 hours...if you played completely safely. Is removing a relative hard cap a bad idea? i ask because my idea is thus... 12 classes Max level per class = 100 All classes can be maxed All class stats and skills carry over, but only the class set earns exp. Exp to next level based on over all level. Alternately, exp is based on to next of all classes together...for example if you have 1 class that needs 50xp to lvl up and another that needs 1xp to lvl up to lvl up any class would take 51 xp. so let's say you a lvl 100 warrior... you have to practically level to lvl 101 to become lvl 1 white mage. I've always hated when I level something and get to max level I have all that work be tossed out to progress further.

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How do you plan to create content for 2,400 hours of play (multiplied by 12 different classes!)? That's a lot of content!

Also, if I play your game for 1 hour per day, 4 times a week (which is actually quite a lot more than I normally play any one game), are you saying that it's going to take me one and a half months to reach level 2? I think a game where you're catering only for the extreme harcode is going to be a really hard sell.

I guess what I'm tryin to say is, I think you need to turn back the dial on investment here. 4 hours of game play to level is fine. Put your level cap not at some arbitrary number (e.g. "100"), but at how much content you think you can create. You need to make sure your players actually stay interested in your game long enough to reach the level cap. I would suggest 20 as the cap initially (that's 80 hours of gameplay if you go with the 4 hours per level, which is still quite a lot). You can always add more content and increase the cap once your game is released and people start playing it.

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80 hours of game play is extremely low... I don't know what other people do, but when I pick up an MMO I'm looking for something that will keep me interested for years, not a week, maybe a month at best. Maybe it's just me and my friends who play 2-10 hours a day usually (not every day but most days)

I'm not saying 24 hours per lvl straight out, but rather 24 hour on average per lvl solo... Early levels would be easier to level and obviously levels would go by faster in a team.

i don't think 1/3 a year is a bad average and it's close to what is used by most of the more successful MMOs that I've seen (1/3 year, roughly 4 months, most MMOs you need 3 months of dedicated play to cap).

Also codeka, you miscalculated...it's not 2400x12, it's actually much higher though I don't know how to do the math to figure it out the 2400 hours would only be the first 100 lvls... after that to get two classes capped would be 7200 hours...that might be a bit much but then this is only a starting idea. I'm pretty sure it needs to be adjusted...

but the thing is I don't want people to even reach the first cap to begin with too easily. I want those who get there to be looked at as something special rather than the flash in the pan that they are in MMO right now.

This is definitely an incomplete idea and needs work, but lowering the amount of time to what your suggesting is just ludicrous for a MMO in my opinion.

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I think the amount of time it takes to reach a certain level is probably the least important part of MMO design.

Having enough interesting things to do that people will want to play 2400 hours is the true problem that needs to be solved. If you have 2400 hours of interesting things, people will play 2400 hours, regardless of level cap. If you have 80 hours of things to do, people won't play your game for 2400 hours.

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There are other ways to keep people playing in a MMO even after they've reached the game's level cap or end of content. PvP tournaments for example, as well as build-your-own-content features. Ultima Online had a build-your-own-house feature that made use of its crafting system (which already had a large variety of things you can make). City of Heroes/Villains (now reaching 5 years of age and still living) has just recently released a new update that allows you to design your own missions (quests), complete with a level editor, enemies, and story/dialogue design. Guild Wars is also another example - has a level cap of 20, but has its gameplay centered around class abilities and it's strong PvP and Guild vs Guild system. Speaking of guilds, guilds and groups are also another way to offer additional gameplay (this time having to do with social interaction).

Quote:
Original post by Durakken
What is a good amount of time between levels/to max level? and how do you figure out how long it will actually take?

I was thinking that 24 hours average per level should be expected so that by the time you reach lvl 100 you've played 2400 hours...if you played completely safely.

I do know that many MMOs (and other RPG games) don't use linear times in their level-ups. You often start out with your newly-created character leveling up pretty fast, then your rate of leveling begins to decline slowly as you go up into the higher, more advanced levels.

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Quote:
Original post by Durakken
80 hours of game play is extremely low... I don't know what other people do, but when I pick up an MMO I'm looking for something that will keep me interested for years, not a week, maybe a month at best. Maybe it's just me and my friends who play 2-10 hours a day usually (not every day but most days)
I'm not talking about what players of an MMO want, I'm talking about what the developers of an MMO can create. It's no good saying "I want it to take 2,000 hours of gameplay to reach the level cap" if you can only create 40 hours of interesting gameplay. Nobody's going to repeat the same stuff over and over again for the remaining 1,960 hours...

I'm (obviously) not a hardcore MMO player myself, so here's some comments from massively.com which hopefully illustrate my point:
Quote:
Source: How long should it take to reach the level cap?
The question is not how long it takes, but what your doing. I took well over 2 weeks (played) to level my first char in lotro, i did evey single quest, did all the deeds, got as many titles as i could, helped guildys and went to every dungeon run i could find. I had great fun, a really good experience. On the other hand, aoc, yes its shorter, but fact is theres bugger all to do for about half of your leveling time (60-80) you just have to grind, even if you do get there in 3 days played without effort, its boring and tedious most of the way.
There's also this article where the developer of Age of Conan says it will take, on average, 250 hours to reach their level cap. Now, Age of Conan is a AAA title with hundreds of people working on it. If they can "only" create 250 hours of gameplay with hundreds of designers, artists and programmers (and according to the comments, there's not even 250 hours of interesting gameplay) how would an indie team with half a dozen people even come close?

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see the thing is i don't really want people to ever reach a cap. they shuold be able to improve to their hearts content.

as far as CoH, i hate the fact their answer to more progress is roll a new character. And Guild Wars... that system is boring.

I dislike the whole concept of "end game" and rerolling. I should be able to continue improving as long as i play the game...and the fact of the matter is if you look at how MMOs are structured so you must level up to x point, experience content, level up to another point, experience more content. Where as I think a person should experience content as they level up...

Another thing is i don't like the whole thing that MMORPGs are more focused on game elements than Role-playing elements. If I ever got a chance to make an MMORPG (as they are hard to make without certain things) I'd make most things player generated. That's not to say I wouldn't create content for it but rather any place where I could get players to create or alter the content of the world themselves I would. People are after all more interesting and entertaining than AIs. And people should be able to create and influence the world they are in. I mean, what's funner? playing out the same story everyone else has done and be called the chosen one when everyone else around you has done the same thing, or literally trying to conquer or save the world? i would think the latter, but maybe that's just me.

when I think about creating game worlds...if I have story to tell I'll put it in a regular game, but if I have a world I want you to explore it should be an MMO... You create the story by playing. i shouldn't have to give you one huge overarching story, but that's not to say there should be some story or what not.


The only real problem with having such a high lvl cap and such is creating more and more higher level stuff, but then if it's built around the principle that players create their own content and battle each other then that really isn't all that much of a problem.

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I think the problem is that it's impossible to create enough *good* content to even come close to achieving that. You could create endless content if the game was all about just killing mobs over and over and over for eternity, but very few people would want to play that.

I think modern MMORPG fans expect quests and crafting and stuff, and all of that takes development time. There is only so much a company can make, without the quality taking a nose dive. If it was easy to make an almost endless stream of content, then games like WoW would have already done it. They didn't though, because gamers expect quite a lot of quality in what they do. They want horses and boats and lots of zones and lots of different mobs, and when you are creating all that for every level, it limits how much you can make.

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Re: Codeka

How do you estimate the amount of play time a game has? Say hunting a rare monster involves these activities:

2 hr - Researching about the monster online
5 hr - Find other players to go with you
18 hr - Camp at the site where the monster is likely to appear, compete against other groups to get the monster, killing it enough times to get the rare item
0 hr - Fighting the monster
5 hr - Time earned to show off the rare item

Total: 30 hours.

Do you count it like this? So that if the game has 10 rare monsters that would be 300 hours of content?

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First, choose how much time it should take to max a stat.
Now that you've got the maximum, you just need to map a learning curve to it. A sigmoid curve is a possibility (a curve shaped like an S).

An approach I thought was interesting is to design leveling so that it would take the whole lifetime of the game training a stat to max it.

Say you expect your online game experience to last for two years.
So it would take 2*365.25*24 = 17,532 hours doing nothing but sword training to get your sword technique to the maximum.

This prevents hardcore players from being masters of everything. The important thing is that having a max stat is not necessary to play.

As to the whole issue of limiting the lifetime of a game, I think it's compulsory. You really can't have ever growing levels and a ever growing world, unless your virtual world is really like the real one so that people can evolve through the ages.
Actually, I think the best thing to do is to reset the whole world every few years. This allows time-specific events to be used, streamlining content.

[Edited by - loufoque on April 20, 2009 8:14:19 AM]

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