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LuvPrince

TechnoGoth's Idea.

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Alright, I have just been searching the Internet, and I came across this particular thread from a user named TechnoGoth speaking about a non-grinding, balanced-leveled MMORPG. I couldn't help but to notice that I seemed to be one of the only few who supports this idea. As I tried to reply (forgive me for I am new and have no idea as to how old the post is) I recieved a message stating that it has been "retired". Well, I want to revive it and discuss this a bit more, with my ideas thrown in. I like the idea of no base level differences because as he said, people who have been playing longer have an obvious advantage over the player who just started, and that creates and infinite gap between the two. Now multiply that by a number in the thousands place. That's the problem with most MMORPG titles. Now explain to me how killing loads of small lizards or giant rats is supposed to give you more experience. Forgive me, for the one feature I observe is general realism, and that just doesn't cut it. I get the vibe that TechnoGoth isn't aiming for a fantasy game as he mentions computer hacking and security guards, but why can't we be stronger than another player by skill, rather than by time played? Some perfect examples are the critically acclaimed "Elder Scrolls" titles. The later games do involve level systems, but that affects skills, not how literally strong the player is. I dream of a game in which a user's skill and strategy are what makes his character the better in a PvP duel. Seriously, what is a game without a little strategy thrown in? I don't bruise easily, so don't hold back on your replies. I need feedback. Thank you.

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It might help to link to the thread or website that describes the original idea.

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Quote:
Original post by LuvPrince
Now explain to me how killing loads of small lizards or giant rats is supposed to give you more experience.
...it's a game? It's just a collection mechanic, it doesn't have to make sense.
Quote:
but why can't we be stronger than another player by skill, rather than by time played?
Pretty much every game does this, except games with stat-based character progression (most often RPGs).
Face of Mankind comes to mind when thinking of MMO's with no character-stats.
Quote:
Some perfect examples are the critically acclaimed "Elder Scrolls" titles. The later games do involve level systems, but that affects skills, not how literally strong the player is.
Elder scrolls III and IV have a character stat of 'strenth', which increases as you level up (i.e. the longer you play, the stronger you are). Isn't this exactly the kind of system that you don't want?
Quote:
I dream of a game in which a user's skill and strategy are what makes his character the better in a PvP duel.
Stop playing stat-based games then and jump in Call of Duty ;)

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I think one could design a level-less fantasy-themed MMO which would be fun to play. I don't think realism is an important design goal or particularly compatible with fun play though.

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Technogoth's had a lot of ideas, many of them excellent. Gotta be specific around here, many of our posters are quite prolific.

For the terminally lazy, behold! Linkulated!

For my part, I think that taking away the character stats and the associated "grind" puts a huge burden on the developer to produce something else for a player to do during that time. You've got to be working toward something to feel like you're making progress, and polishing skills is a great reward system that will fuel thousands of hours of play, particularly in an MMO. If you aren't earning phat lewts or jacking your stats, what are you doing? Telling a compelling story? More the domain of tabletop games, in my opinion, but I'd love to be proven wrong.

The other problem, from a design perspective, with taking away the linear progression of characters, is the "best build" phenomenon. If you can start your character just the way you like him, and then work from there, then it'll take about fifteen minutes for your players to find out how to min-max a new character to kick butts. Put all your points in agility and fireball, and you'll be able to dodge your own splash damage and "smartbomb" through an army wearing nothing but sneaking boots and a backpack full of mana potions. Dump 99% of your points into archery and one point into the "First Strike" and "Double Shot" talents and go around blinding every enemy with double-eye-shots from 150 yards. Your design team will see the imbalance and spend a week or two writing a patch to correct it, and then half your exploiters ragequit due to nerfing, the other half will adapt to the newly discovered "perfect stealth/steal weapon/poison pin" maneuver, and the rest of your population will whine on your forums about the balance issues.

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Thank you very much. All of these are nice replies and great points made, too. On the off hand, realism is just my thing. I didn't intend to sound like I would implement that. Anywho, I was thinking maybe instead of characters and players being just "citizens" in the world, is it possible for one character to be the "King" of that Realm of Server? Maybe if a person could get involved in politics with other players they could come out being the King or Lord of that particular server. That leaves room for assassination attempts and mutiny. I'm talking about less NPCs and more User-controlled games. I'd like to be the King of my own province in-game. It would be fun to have to always watch my back for Ninjas or others who may want me dead. Also, (this may be the part where you all go away) maybe no respawning! (DAH DAH DAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!), just free spots for new characters and if they die then they die, too bad. While that's a bummer for the person who loves their character, (but not getting flaming mad because he worked so hard on it because there would be no levels), it adds to the, "Oh, SHI-" feeling, but it's still fair. Thank you, people. Continue with the replies. I love 'em.


P.S.-This may sound noobish, but could someone PM me about how to link something for future reference? I tried, but it was just a URL. Thanks in advance.

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I was playing GuildWars more than 1 year (but more than 1 year ago). In GuildWars a character has a level (1-20) but that means nothing. Every PvP character is instantly level 20. Only PvE chars level up. In the first chapter, the whole PvE campaing was about leveling. In the second chapter, more or less all environments where only playable by level 20 characters. Only a small part of the whole map (in contrast to chapter 1) was there for leveling up. Especially in PvP everything was player skill. Intelligent people were able to unlock some important skills (playing no more than 10 hours) and than where able to play immediatly PvP, without a big disadvantage. Good team players were able to play in the top thousands without playing everyday.

Personally I think, that this whole leveling is stupid. Game designers invent complex formula how to calculate a level from a given exp, then create new formulas, how and when how much exp can be received. How the monsters level up... Only to create a illusion that you get stronger. After all the strength difference between monsters and character is more or less a constant.

Every month it was possible to ask question to the community managers (anyone remembers Gaile Gray). I remember that there were 3 questions all the time, repeating over and over. 1. When does GuildWars has a monthly fee (there was never one, as long as I played)? 2. Why is there a level cap? 3. I cannot jump (Maybe the same people you see jumping around constantly, perfectly destroying any illusion of a fantasy world). This was soo annoying.

My conclusion was: Although the artists and designers have created an amazing game (IMHO, have you ever seen the astonishing artwork by-products they created?) most people don't care and don't understand about the futility of levels. They prefer raw numbers for comparison instead.

If you like to create an MMO this days for the masses, introduce levels. Introduce tons of levels. If you like to create a master piece for a small audience, don't care about levels.

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Guild Wars is exactly the idea; I also haven't played in a while, so I assume this is still true. You can roll characters that start at the max level with the statistically best equipment, although restricted to PvP. But see, that's what doesn't make sense - you could make a game that is nothing but that, but then why make it an MMO? There's a PvP-only purchase option, but I can't remember if it was stand-alone. But in all honesty, if it wasn't for being glued to the PvE game, I have no doubt in my mind that Guild Wars would have flopped as bad as that game Fury.

As far as I can tell, people don't play MMO games to be immersed, or to hear a story, or for halfway passable gameplay, or even just fun. They play so that they can feel the satisfaction of [strikeout]accomplishing a task[/strikeout], being rewarded, and showing the reward off to everyone. Guild Wars reinforces this theory; despite max level coming quick and the best equipment being readily available, players will go to incredible lengths just for a better sword skin. People will sell these for upwards of thousands, when the functionally identical items can be bought at an NPC for something like two-hundred.

In summary, a game without experience points can and has worked, in a limited sense. However, "the masses" expect certain things from games labeled as MMOs, and if you don't deliver, it's popularity will suffer. Personally, I would love nothing more than a game like STALKER, but replacing all the NPCs with other player characters. No experience points, no reputation, no skill bars, just exploring and shooting, and encountering other people doing the same.

PS: I went back to look at the game, and I don't even recognize it. It's a few steps removed from an item mall.

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Well some people will argue that it's not really an RPG if you take away all the stats. I don't really agree with this.

I think (though it's technically an action game) the legend of zelda series does a good job at escalating the difficulty curve while also pretty much avoiding most of the stats seen in a typical rpg.

Instead of the player's goal being to level up and build their stats, how about the player's goal be to obtain new items/weapons that can do different things that will help them along their quest? Once you've gotten so far in any Zelda game, skill is all that is going to matter. Knowing which tools/weapons to use and using them well is the key to winning.

You don't have armor that helps you take less damage. You don't have a sword of power that does 500 more damage than a newbie sword. Sure there are a few upgrades to the sword and whatnot, but overall it's pretty consistent.

Player's could battle eachother on even grounds and skill (and possibly a little luck) would determine the winner.

Earning experience is actually just what it says. You earn experience in playing the game. You become experienced with the combat system and the game itself, instead of the player earning some arbitrary number of points. No one player is going to have a huge statistical advantage over another. Battles would involve actual combat experience and player's skill. Something I definitely would prefer over "my sword does 10000 damage so I win".

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I'm in the process of designing a game that fits these requirements and one which I hope to eventually bring up to the stage of a popular MMO.

Some points which I think relate:

Character level while not displayed to everyone else in the open world is seen by the player but based on their total stat cap. Two players might both have 60 available stats to distribute making them both level 12 (5 Stats = 1 level) but both could have different character builds depending on how their stats are placed.

Skills gain Experience through training them so player’s aren’t left to kill 10,000 Evil Rabbits but can attempt to kill anything with anyone because the moves/abilities they use determine their experience gains.

I think the grind and level system is found in most MMO's that have nothing to offer as an endgame. Once the players reach level 70 it’s easy for developers to introduce a new level cap and just change some stats on creature mobs to add more grinding. The grind is a time sink and for most subscription based MMO's it’s the best way to get the players money.

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I'm a big fan of having skills and stats exist in a sort of matrix, to be used in calculating the outcome of skill tests.

Dwarf Fortress has really captured my fancy, and it's got about half of the system I imagine in it. You gain skills through direct practice, so you can just do laps to boost your swimming skill or throw rocks at a cactus to practice your throwing skill or practice breaking the fingers of an unconscious orc to level up your wrestling. Each activity also gradually boosts your physical abilities, so you'll get stronger as you carry rocks, gain more endurance as you operate a water pump or build agility from running up and down dozens of flights of stairs. Diminishing returns are in there, so you only suck for an hour or so, and then gradually become more and more awesome as time goes by.

What I'd like to see, and don't in any games I know of, is a "familiarity" skillset, where the entire world taxonomy is related to the player. Raising and riding horses would build your "horse-lore", giving you a bonus to all interactions with horses. If you know a lot about gorillas, then you're less likely to be afraid of them, and more likely to shoot them in the right place or avoid them when sneaking. I'd like to see familiarity with all kinds of things, from dragons and wolves to swords and spears to rain and snow to bureacracy and royalty, allowing you to be buffed or debuffed depending on your comfort level in the room.

So without "levelling" per se, you could start out as a desert nomad, and be very powerful in your sandy domain with your camels and your scimitars and your hard-to-find water sources. But if you travel too far, and find yourself in a coniferous mountain biome, where thin air and big bears and cold winters are the challenges, you'll be confused and disoriented, and need to either spend some time as a newb getting acclimated to the region or just high-tail it back to your comfort zone.

Throw in some skill rusting, so you'll lose your edge if you go a few years without performing a certain type of task, and I'd be very happy with the model.

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Amazing!!!! See? We're going somewhere. Game's without grinding and extra damage-dealing weapons. Zelda is another great example. Much thanks. Keep it coming.

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Who would pay a monthly fee to play Zelda Online or do you have another transaction in mind? Why is it online and not just single player? Why wouldn't a player just try and zoom through to the end as fast as possible?

Item aquisition is already the focus of MMO content at max level. Specialized items for different dungeon's has been done.

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Part of the reason that the successful MMO's are so successful is that they appeal to the audience that wants the shiny item. I know a lot of players that judge other player's worth based on their equipment, since they think that all the good players have the same aim as them to get the best equipment and stats. Part of the reason that leveling has been in a game is to represent your abilities as you get more experienced, also I think that leveling helps with the learning curve to use a character's abilities.

That said I do like the idea of a non grinding MMO. I completely agree that grinding is the worst part of MMO's, and I would love to see a game where things are based on player skill, however it seems to me that in order for it to work properly you're going to need to be able to have an MMO that plays like an fps, or third person action adventure. However if you're talking about making a system without the huge stat items then what can you give the player as a goal? Political goals are okay, they did that in Star Wars Galaxies, and it worked pretty well, however most players are looking for something more action oriented.

As a concept it would be interesting to see a world that is mostly blank except for natural resources, and then the players have to create everything. They start out and begin building towns and houses, and different communities/nations start getting benefits from having them. Some players could decide to be bandits that rob from these little places of civilization. Eventually players would learn to make better technology, eventually erect a castle, develop weaponry that isn't just a stick from the ground. Something like Civilizations but from a ground level. New players would simply appear in society as it is when they start. Material gathering could be changed so that a player can set NPC's up to handle that so they don't have to "grind" it.

Anyways, this is an interesting topic, I am curious where it will go.

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I think the original idea behind an RPG was to tell a story where a player controlled a character and could change the course of that story. Throughout this story the player's character gained knowledge and power.

Overall, the level gap between two characters is not completely unrealistic. If you walked into a fencing class with no experience in fencing would you honestly expect to be able to contend against someone who has been taking that class for a year? If you were a young lad leaving your village for the first time, do you honestly expect to be able to take down a dragon as easily(if even at all) as a knight who has been hunting dragons for years? Or if you were a young wizard just entering the academy.. you would not have the knowledge and magical strength to create a fireball bigger than the wizards of the senior class.

There MUST be some kind of gap. Don't get me wrong, though, I'm pretty sick of the grind too.

So, I think the real question that should be asked, is how do we represent the progression of knowledge and power without using numbers and roll checks?

Guildwars is one of the few that have had success at this. Your continued growth of power comes with the collection of new abilities, and not so much gaining a level. You can only use 8 at a time, so it keeps the game balanced by forcing the player to strategize which abilities they should pair up, and how they are going to use those abilities in different situations through the game(whether its pve, or pvp). This also means that just because you got that new elite ability, doesn't mean that you are suddenly uber if you do you not know how to use it properly.

Plus it focuses heavily on playing as a team, ensuring that not one single player will become a powerhouse. But, at the same time, they can excel beyond all other players in certain situations depending on if they effectively use their abilities according to what situation best compliments those specific abilities.

None the less, eliminating the grind in an RPG would be very difficult, if even possible at all. Even though GW doesn't focus on levels, you still have to focus on gaining the right abilities for the kind of build that you want. That takes time, just like gaining a level. You just aren't restricted to killing the same enemies over and over in one area in order to achieve it.

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Quote:
Original post by Konidias
Well some people will argue that it's not really an RPG if you take away all the stats. I don't really agree with this.
True, an RPG is a Game where you Role Play. Whether you have character stats, experience points, levels, etc is irrelevant.

FWIW the original Super Mario Bros on NES described itself as an RPG in the instruction manual, because you Play the Role of a hero on an epic quest.

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My whole problem is numbers. Also I wasn't suggesting a Zelda Game. I was saying that Zelda is a perfect example of player skill over numbers. Thank you everyone for your repkies. I love to hear your ideas. Also, thanks for not being douchebags and just saying no. I love feedback. By the way, that idea about the primitive game in which players create civilization, but from a ground level, is genius. I would play it.

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Just quickly, about the idea with starting a civilisation from nothing then becoming something over time. I've had to think about this a lot and I've come to believe a pure blank canvas while it could work would be an immense waste of time on the developer’s behalf considering even when new players join in they would never start right from the start unless they wanted to just for fun. The greatest aspect of an MMO is the social freedom and guilds would rush to supply new groups with resources to help them get started.

I've tried to focus on is why build a city in the first place? Games like MineCraft are awesome with the total freedom you have to create anything you want but in the end unless your totally artistic and enjoy the end product the building needs a purpose. Designing the construction side of the game in an MMO around social attainment and management is the main path I'm focused on and hope to see become more common in the future.

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You'd have to pick a range on the continuum, but I think there's plenty of room for a rags-to-riches progression. Taking WoW again, even among top-level characters, there's a whole spectrum of wealth and sophistication. Consider this:

Rags: A level 80 character who soloed all the way up, runs daily quests or the odd pick-up group to earn money and faction standing and is equipped with the best gear he can find or earn alone will be pretty poor. He'll earn a few dozen gold a week, spending some of it on potions and ammo and food, tucking the rest away for the next mount or to pay someone to enchant his gear. His guild, if he has one, is small and largely inactive, little more than a shared chatroom for low-impact guys like himself.

Riches: That same level 80 character, with a good guild and support group, will have constant access to dozens of like-minded players who'll be active in his timezone. He'll make his money running high-level instances, raids and PvP operations where his share of the net loot is far greater than what he could earn on his own. He'll gain access to a steady stream of potions and gear that his mates can make, and there will always be an in-house market for whatever he loots or crafts. He'll also gain access to bind-on-pickup gear from those high-level dungeons that no solo player would have a prayer of earning.

So if you set your range as being the fairly common copper dagger -> mythril broadsword spectrum, you'll have "newbies" out there in a dirty loincloth with a primitive weapon, scratching a living from bare rock, and the more advanced players will be galloping around on steel-clad warhorses with burnished breastplates and high-quality packaged foodstuffs to enjoy. Include destruction of goods, as in EvE Online, and it's the infrastructure, rather than the character stats, that'll determine uberness.

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Quote:
Original post by LuvPrince
Alright, I have just been searching the Internet, and I came across this particular thread from a user named TechnoGoth speaking about a non-grinding, balanced-leveled MMORPG. I couldn't help but to notice that I seemed to be one of the only few who supports this idea.


I totally, totally agree, completely support this idea, and have always found it very interesting. I've been an advocate for this kind of game system for....I don't know how many years. lol I've written big articles and massive forum posts on the topic, probably more than enough to be annoying. :)

The possibilities for non-grinding advancement are huge--there's more ways to "advance" than just statistics and levels, particularly in role-playing type environments. There is a *long* list of advantages that throwing the whole "level-based grinding" template into the trash can gets you. And there's another long list of crap and problems that throwing out the level cookie cutter template does away with, too.

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