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"Job" performane based leveling schema

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Just catering to the imagination.

"Everyone" (and by that I mean every hobbyist developer yet none of the main-stream professionals) is working hard to "eliminate the grind" in MMO's by generating leveling schemes that discourage repetitive play. Further, one of the main complaints leveled against established and traditional games like WoW is the repitition of the formula of "grind + quest grind +/- craft grind", which does sum up most of the advancement opportunities involved in those games, pvp based advancement aside. I would love to have a discussion about the merits, pitfalls, pros and cons of an alternative, parallel system of advancement. That is, one that players can freely choose without the need to eliminate the traditional schema, or better yet one that would work alongside it to augment its functionality with neither being universally superior choices.

The concept I've been considering is a "job" system that rewards players with the same rewards as the traditional system - rewards for benchmarks much as quests offer rewards or perks, level ups by way of the same XP players would gain from farming or quest running, stat points gains and whatever else. This affords players who have no interest in, say, fighting endless hordes of PvE monsters or fighting it out in PvP to feel rewarded for participating in their own style of play while adding to the game's total content rather than consuming it.

I do make a few assumptions about the environment in which this system would work: a world with Open PvP, and an isolated Player Driven Economy (no global auction houses!).

Some jobs are readily obvious, and don't add significantly to the game's content. Others are more subtle, and do much to provide a means for the game to grow dynamically. The obligatory "jobs" include things like a crafting job, which might reward a player for every item that player has manufactured while having this job and the gold for which he was able to sell it, or harvesting, which would be very similar to crafting (and traditional farming) but again offer rewards that aren't seen in traditional schemes, and of course a trading job. These three roles automatically create an alternative to the tank-ranger-healer trifecta, because a trader can help a crafter sell their wares for better, and a harvester can collect the requisite materials for cheap. This is nothing new, though.

Less obvious jobs would be one's such as raiders, who gain experience from attacking and defeating other players, and "police" who gain experience for stopping raiders or hostile NPC's. Games like Eve online have this in the form of pirates and antipirates+mercenaries, but their rewards are limited and they (specifically antipirates) receive absolutely no advancement for their efforts. By specifically rewarding players for policing the world, you give players a reason to police their world and reduce griefing while feeling as though they are advancing.

Even more subtle would be a world building job, such as one that allows a player to add objects to the game world, such as houses or features (a healing well that charges for usage, a shop stall for traders to sell from, ect).

And there's more. Perhaps an Instructor job, ala Asheron's Call where players are rewarded based on performance reports from newbies who receive their aide. A Traveler job that rewards exploration of new locations and confers special abilities like making one's party move faster across a map.

The real beauty of the system is the interrelatedness of the jobs. Builders might create simple towns (just a few houses and shops clumped together) near resource points. Crafters would meet with Traders and Gatherers there, to exchange their goods before heading back to their respective jobs. Traders could then hire Police to escort them to other towns, to avoid raiders. Police might pay off Raiders for information on their hideouts (built by Builders) then hire a Traveler to steal a march on them.

Many of these things aren't that difficult to incorporate into a well designed, robust enough system. Perhaps not on WoW's scale, but in a simpler game or even better a MUD. And none of them require killing 10,000 rats to advance to the next level in order to kill 10,000 blue rats, then 10,000 red rats. RPG's have traditionally been focused on advancement and role playing. Multiplayer games, arguably, have been focused on interaction. Any MMORPG would benefit, theoretically, from an increase in ability for advancement, roleplay and interaction... and a system like this would provide such interaction.

The interesting thing is that all of these ideas have been circulating for a very long time... and yet only sporadic implementation has ever been done. Why do you think this is the case? Is there an inherent problem with such a system? Does this concept have merit at all? I'm very curious to see any discussion on the topic.

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Just catering to the imagination.

"Everyone" (and by that I mean every hobbyist developer yet none of the main-stream professionals) is working hard to "eliminate the grind" in MMO's by generating leveling schemes that discourage repetitive play. Further, one of the main complaints leveled against established and traditional games like WoW is the repitition of the formula of "grind + quest grind +/- craft grind", which does sum up most of the advancement opportunities involved in those games, pvp based advancement aside. I would love to have a discussion about the merits, pitfalls, pros and cons of an alternative, parallel system of advancement. That is, one that players can freely choose without the need to eliminate the traditional schema, or better yet one that would work alongside it to augment its functionality with neither being universally superior choices.

The concept I've been considering is a "job" system that rewards players with the same rewards as the traditional system - rewards for benchmarks much as quests offer rewards or perks, level ups by way of the same XP players would gain from farming or quest running, stat points gains and whatever else. This affords players who have no interest in, say, fighting endless hordes of PvE monsters or fighting it out in PvP to feel rewarded for participating in their own style of play while adding to the game's total content rather than consuming it.

I do make a few assumptions about the environment in which this system would work: a world with Open PvP, and an isolated Player Driven Economy (no global auction houses!).

Some jobs are readily obvious, and don't add significantly to the game's content. Others are more subtle, and do much to provide a means for the game to grow dynamically. The obligatory "jobs" include things like a crafting job, which might reward a player for every item that player has manufactured while having this job and the gold for which he was able to sell it, or harvesting, which would be very similar to crafting (and traditional farming) but again offer rewards that aren't seen in traditional schemes, and of course a trading job. These three roles automatically create an alternative to the tank-ranger-healer trifecta, because a trader can help a crafter sell their wares for better, and a harvester can collect the requisite materials for cheap. This is nothing new, though.

Less obvious jobs would be one's such as raiders, who gain experience from attacking and defeating other players, and "police" who gain experience for stopping raiders or hostile NPC's. Games like Eve online have this in the form of pirates and antipirates+mercenaries, but their rewards are limited and they (specifically antipirates) receive absolutely no advancement for their efforts. By specifically rewarding players for policing the world, you give players a reason to police their world and reduce griefing while feeling as though they are advancing.

Even more subtle would be a world building job, such as one that allows a player to add objects to the game world, such as houses or features (a healing well that charges for usage, a shop stall for traders to sell from, ect).

And there's more. Perhaps an Instructor job, ala Asheron's Call where players are rewarded based on performance reports from newbies who receive their aide. A Traveler job that rewards exploration of new locations and confers special abilities like making one's party move faster across a map.

The real beauty of the system is the interrelatedness of the jobs. Builders might create simple towns (just a few houses and shops clumped together) near resource points. Crafters would meet with Traders and Gatherers there, to exchange their goods before heading back to their respective jobs. Traders could then hire Police to escort them to other towns, to avoid raiders. Police might pay off Raiders for information on their hideouts (built by Builders) then hire a Traveler to steal a march on them.

Many of these things aren't that difficult to incorporate into a well designed, robust enough system. Perhaps not on WoW's scale, but in a simpler game or even better a MUD. And none of them require killing 10,000 rats to advance to the next level in order to kill 10,000 blue rats, then 10,000 red rats. RPG's have traditionally been focused on advancement and role playing. Multiplayer games, arguably, have been focused on interaction. Any MMORPG would benefit, theoretically, from an increase in ability for advancement, roleplay and interaction... and a system like this would provide such interaction.

The interesting thing is that all of these ideas have been circulating for a very long time... and yet only sporadic implementation has ever been done. Why do you think this is the case? Is there an inherent problem with such a system? Does this concept have merit at all? I'm very curious to see any discussion on the topic.


At work so very brief.

I am a believer in that developers should aim to provide gameplay without making it overly structured. Games can and should have functioning economies where people can actually play the game to be a trader. In Ultima Online it could have been as simple as being a rares collector. You trade your stuff in and out to try and grow your collection. When the game was young I found the economy to be much more enjoyable to participate in. Deals were more varied as the concreteness of price was not yet established. You could barter this for that. Later it became gold, this much, or you can't touch it.

I feel that auction houses, developer designed, are not the way to go, but players should be more than able to setup their own auction events. I feel that most of the items in a game should be player crafted and they should deteriorate through use so as to keep items leaving the economy rather than building up and causing everything to lose their value.

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I think it's the leveling itself that creates grind. Grind is just gameplay that the player is doing not because they enjoy it, but because they want the XP (or money to buy higher level more expensive items) it produces. I in one case participated in a MMO (if you use the term very loosely) where I had a "world building job" as described in the first post. Specifically in Gaia Online I was a colorist at a pet shop, which sold custom art to other players. It was _still_ a grind, because I was doing that job to get gold, not for the fun of doing the job.

On the other hand I think there are a lot of benefits of having leveling and/or rare expensive cool items in a game. I wouldn't advocate trying to remove these things in order to reduce grind. Instead I'd suggest adding alternative methods to earn money or XP, such as by playing minigames and by climbing a tech tree through sim gameplay.

Overall I think the best way to reduce the feeling of grind is to try to make sure players earn the same amount of xp and/or money per amount of time they spend playing the game, regardless of what type of gameplay within the game they are doing. Rewards being equal, players will do whatever they most want to do and thus not feel as if they are grinding. If they want to pvp or play minigames all day, reward them with money they can use to buy gear and xp orbs to level themselves up. If they want to pve, reward them with crafting ingredients they can sell for money, which they can then use to buy gear. If they want to craft or breed pets reward them with the crafted items and pets which they can sell for money, etc.

(Personally I LOVE worldwide marketplaces, although I could really do without them having fees. I HATE player shops. I think market speculation and attempts to create monopolies should be a legitimate part of the gameplay.)

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I think it's the leveling itself that creates grind. Grind is just gameplay that the player is doing not because they enjoy it, but because they want the XP (or money to buy higher level more expensive items) it produces. I in one case participated in a MMO (if you use the term very loosely) where I had a "world building job" as described in the first post. Specifically in Gaia Online I was a colorist at a pet shop, which sold custom art to other players. It was _still_ a grind, because I was doing that job to get gold, not for the fun of doing the job.

On the other hand I think there are a lot of benefits of having leveling and/or rare expensive cool items in a game. I wouldn't advocate trying to remove these things in order to reduce grind. Instead I'd suggest adding alternative methods to earn money or XP, such as by playing minigames and by climbing a tech tree through sim gameplay.

Overall I think the best way to reduce the feeling of grind is to try to make sure players earn the same amount of xp and/or money per amount of time they spend playing the game, regardless of what type of gameplay within the game they are doing. Rewards being equal, players will do whatever they most want to do and thus not feel as if they are grinding. If they want to pvp or play minigames all day, reward them with money they can use to buy gear and xp orbs to level themselves up. If they want to pve, reward them with crafting ingredients they can sell for money, which they can then use to buy gear. If they want to craft or breed pets reward them with the crafted items and pets which they can sell for money, etc.

(Personally I LOVE worldwide marketplaces, although I could really do without them having fees. I HATE player shops. I think market speculation and attempts to create monopolies should be a legitimate part of the gameplay.)


I understand, to an extent, a person having hatred for player shops. In order to truly express this though I would need to know what type of player shops you are thinking of in particular. Aion, certainly, annoying as sin, but there is certainly room for player established stores in games.

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[quote name='sunandshadow' timestamp='1313957590' post='4851998']
(Personally I LOVE worldwide marketplaces, although I could really do without them having fees. I HATE player shops. I think market speculation and attempts to create monopolies should be a legitimate part of the gameplay.)


I understand, to an extent, a person having hatred for player shops. In order to truly express this though I would need to know what type of player shops you are thinking of in particular. Aion, certainly, annoying as sin, but there is certainly room for player established stores in games.
[/quote]
Primarily I dislike not being able to search all available sources for what I want to buy. NeoPets is the only game I know of that has searchable player shops which don't clutter up a world map (well, it doesn't really have a world map), and that's only kinda sorta an MMO. In that game they are only mildly annoying, but it's still a pain to click on a search result for a particular item and then be shown a screen of the 101 pieces of junk the player is selling, with the one I want lost in there somewhere, and there isn't even an intelligible sort order. In a case where player shops exist to the exclusion of auction houses I wonder whether players would even be able to take bids on items instead of selling them outright. Also I extra-specially detest player shops that only work while the player's computer is logged into the game but not playing. That's just wasteful and irritating.

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[quote name='Caldenfor' timestamp='1313962499' post='4852018']
[quote name='sunandshadow' timestamp='1313957590' post='4851998']
(Personally I LOVE worldwide marketplaces, although I could really do without them having fees. I HATE player shops. I think market speculation and attempts to create monopolies should be a legitimate part of the gameplay.)


I understand, to an extent, a person having hatred for player shops. In order to truly express this though I would need to know what type of player shops you are thinking of in particular. Aion, certainly, annoying as sin, but there is certainly room for player established stores in games.
[/quote]
Primarily I dislike not being able to search all available sources for what I want to buy. NeoPets is the only game I know of that has searchable player shops which don't clutter up a world map (well, it doesn't really have a world map), and that's only kinda sorta an MMO. In that game they are only mildly annoying, but it's still a pain to click on a search result for a particular item and then be shown a screen of the 101 pieces of junk the player is selling, with the one I want lost in there somewhere, and there isn't even an intelligible sort order. In a case where player shops exist to the exclusion of auction houses I wonder whether players would even be able to take bids on items instead of selling them outright. Also I extra-specially detest player shops that only work while the player's computer is logged into the game but not playing. That's just wasteful and irritating.
[/quote]

Again, all depends on the type of game. I would hate to see a massive search function for all available items in a medieval fantasy game. A space game I could see it working out, but I would still want individual sales areas that aren't linked server wide. If something is very easy to find in one area the market price in that area is probably going to be lower than other areas, thus adding a dimension to the economy. I feel large search tools take away from the individual's ability to be a salesman. In my mind player shops should be buildings of which they own/rent out a spot to place a vendor, like Ultima Online. The vendor is persistent as long as it is being paid. If a player is doing a good job advertising and setting up their shops finding what you want shouldn't be overly difficult if the system is designed right. Sure, in Ultima Online, I had to go from vendor to vendor checking through their goods to find particular stuff that I wanted. I was shopping. Sometimes it was hard to find what I wanted, but that adds to the economy, the community, and an activity that other games wouldn't have... shopping. You could coordinate shopping with other players and have a list of what you want and what they want and thus multiple eyes could be shopping for the same things covering more ground.

If someone places an item for sale on their vendor and they want too much money, it won't sell, unless someone overpays. That doesn't stop the shopper from being able to contact the owner and make offers. If the owner of the shop/vendor isn't around it would be great to be able to leave a note/letter behind so they can instead contact you. Players could also have pre-planned auctions that they can operate. It would be a player created event for others to attend and hopefully get some stuff that they want as well. The more freedom and options provided I feel it allows players to almost create their own activities in games. World of Warcraft type auction houses are very straight forward and offer no challenge. If you don't price lower than others, it won't sell, and if someone is undercutting there is nothing you can do. If you break down the market system into separate parts it allows the players to work the system and actually become Traders.

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*shrug* For me personally, it doesn't depend on the setting. I don't want shopping to be challenging, earning the money and figuring out what I want to buy is challenge enough. I definitely don't want to be a salesperson, I just personally find that sort of activity repulsive, both in real life and in games. Nor am I interested in being a pack mule carrying goods from one place to another (especially since that implies a lack of quick and convenient transportation). Anyway the point is that I personally as a player would 100% of the time prefer to play a game which has a global auction house and does not have player shops.

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We don't need alternate ways of leveling. Your suggestions are like "make work" projects governments do to get people off the unemployment lists. We need content. There's no shortcut, there's no cheap way, there's just content, well written content with as much variety as possible. There's no magic to it if you don't count great writing, great presentation (like TOR's 100% audible speech) and a bit of ingenuity in the mission design and no short cuts in the engine design that limit mission design. What there is to it is a lot of work and a lot of investment. I'd add patience to that list, but frankly patience and investment don't go together that well given how much time is required to make a MMO. Better to just get much more money, so that the return starts before your investors get impatient and force you to go to market before you're ready.

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Interesting turn this thread has taken, with the economics. I never would have expected that one phrase to spur such a discussion. But it's all for exploration of ideas and stimulating imagination anyway, so it's all welcome.

I personally hate global auction houses. I feel that it removes something interesting from the game, when your prices are automatically shifted toward equilibrium for you and your items are emailed to their intended recipient. Travel is important in any game that wants pvp to play an important role (nominally WoW, certainly EvE, ect). If your desired item is across enemy territory, the need to get there safely provides opportunity+incentive for excitement, cooperation with escorts/fellow tradesmen, and a bit of exploration if you've never been there. It also means you can turn a profit by taking a risk others might not have the means or desire to take. Likewise, since prices are localized and not automatically shifted towards global equilibrium, you can profit by buying low+selling high. You're also only competing with local buyers and local prices, not the whole world.

You lose all of that with a global auction house. It's an added feature that strips overall depth, and thus I hate it. I don't, however, mind players knowing where they can shop and make a profit. I don't mind "reserving" an item so that it isn't gone when you get there, either. But I do believe that for a player to get the maximum benefit of something, they should put at least a little effort into it. I think players knowing where profits can be made creates an opportunity for 'expiditions' of a sort (group with friends/comrades, set out for money) without requiring vast information networks that simply wont form in small-time games.

We don't need alternate ways of leveling. Your suggestions are like "make work" projects governments do to get people off the unemployment lists. We need content. There's no shortcut, there's no cheap way, there's just content, well written content with as much variety as possible.
I definitely beg to differ. Most mainstream games have quite a bit of content (by ways of quests, dungeons, zones, colorful NPC textures ect) and few if any pique my interest or the interest of those who aren't entertained by variations of get group, find instance/spawn point, kill things, hear NPC tell you how wonderful you are, && repeat. No number of pretty dungeons will intrigue someone whose primary concern is pvp, and no well written storyline will ever give a player who does not even read the text any form of satisfaction. To satisfy a player, the style of play must match their own tastes, and not all players even care that an NPC has a realistically scottish accent, or a two-day-to-read backstory.
There's no magic to it if you don't count great writing, great presentation (like TOR's 100% audible speech) and a bit of ingenuity in the mission design and no short cuts in the engine design that limit mission design.[/quote]I don't mean to say that these things aren't important: they are. But not to the exclusion of everything else. A player who only enjoys manipulating markets and establishing economic control wont ever see or care about the amazing mission involving a dragon raid on a town, no matter how well designed it is. It's outside of their interests, so they wont be satisfied by it. The idea behind this alternative leveling is to allow that player to feel progression and achievement in the same manner as someone who is delving into dungeons or running NPC quests without being forced into a playstyle that they do not enjoy.

I would argue that depth and variability is the most important thing. Players will chew up new content faster than you can make it. But a deep and dynamic system can yield experiences players haven't yet had, which is arguably the goal of new content - new experiences. I merely want to match those experiences to their desired playstyles.

If by content you mean more than just zones, dungeons, graphics, stories, ect, if what you mean is "things to do" or "ways to play" in general, then I wonder how this concept is contrary to that?

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