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Is the Eve Online style time based leveling up system good or bad?

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The MMORPG Eve Online has this skill advancement system where you pick a skill and it accumulates "experience" on its own over time. Once it accumulates a certain level of experience, your character obtains or level up the skill.
 
It might take minutes or hours to train low level skills, and months to train high level ones. There is no way to speed up advancement, and you can only train one skill at a time. E.g. you want to pilot battleships, you choose to train battleship and one month later you acquire the skill.
 
I used to be quite against this type of level system. I have seen similar systems in free to play (FTP) games where you have to "wait X days" to upgrade or build a new weapon for example. I always thought this was a blatant way to force players to pay to speed up the process.
 
But recently, I started wondering if this might be a good way to spread the game out more. Instead of letting players grind through all the weapons in a few days, you can force them to play with each tier and wait 1-2 days before they unlock the next.
 
What do you guys think? Have this sort of system been implement well before?

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Why not exactly the same thing in implementation, I felt like Final Fantasy 8 had a similar system - at least in the feel of it.

While not a perfect match, because FF8 is a single-player offline game, it feels similar in this regard:

During combat, you'd kill monsters and get experience and level up, like normal. But also you had a bunch of 'summons', and your summons had pages of skills/attributes that also gained experience when you had that summon equipped to one of your teammates. But out of each summon's thirty or so skills/attributes, you pre-choose two or three of them to gain experience with you in battle, and the other attributes don't progress at all.

 

So it felt like, "okay, I'm grinding and leveling up my characters", but at the same time, your summons' attribute experience would progress so slowly, and only in the two or three that you pre-selected, that it basically felt like you were choosing what abilities/bonuses you wanted to acquire three or four hours of heavy gameplay down the road.

In MMOs, replace 'hours' with 'days' or 'weeks', but it still had the same feel. A choice you were making now, but without instant gratification - pre-planning for the future.

 

I like the idea of mixing many different methods of advancement - some controlled by the player, others not, giving progress in different areas of the game (i.e. *not* all going into a common experience pool).

 

More recent games in series like Rune Factory or Harvest Moon (and some of the 2nd gen and higher Pokemon games) I think also implement interactions with the passage of time - regardless of whether the time is passing in-game or while the game is off. But these mostly (I think! I haven't personally played them) are in relation to in-game events, not necessarily player advancement.

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actually never heard of exp as a function of elapsed real or game time before.

 

sounds pretty sh*tty if you ask me. make me WAIT? who the F do you think you are? this is MY entertainment time and dollars! and you're going to make me WAIT? i can't progress at whatever pace i'm capable of?  Screw that!

 

sounds like a contrived fix to get additional gameplay time out of too little content. need to read between the lines. its not a gameplay feature, its a money making feature. want proof? translate it to single player. now pay as you go instead of one licence fee up front. now, sit down for an evenings play, only to discover its 48 real time hours til you can level up again. and you have to pay for the privilege.  yeah, that's a really cool gameplay feature there! (NOT!).  

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First off, I don't like to think of "good and bad". I think these systems have their own merit, so I propose to examine them in light of their functional objective.

 

An interesting aspect of a system where you acquire experience over time is that it accounts for the time you spend offline. You could easily assume that your character is attending classes or training in specific fields (possibly by browsing the inter-space-web). This adds to immersion.

 

Another factor is functional. One means to insure that players come back to play is to give them reasons to, even if only to switch your current study field (so you've completed training in piloting VI? how about some weaponry engineering now?). This is known as a hook to user retention and is critical to a successful MMO. It's also a positive incentive which is far more interesting than "your crops will wither if you don't come!". In this case, we're saying "what do you want to learn next?" and you don't lose anything.

 

This does limit your ability to grind however, and players may feel they are losing control over this. In a number of games, there's a fun and addictive loop: to kill stuff and grow stronger. If your experience is time-based and that your in-game experiences do not affect your learning in any way, your approach to conflicts in general will be different. Unless your game plans to replace experience points with substantial loot, you risk altering this conception to the point where fighting will be less desirable (you only stand to lose something, not gain anything).

 

In general, I'm more of a fan of the Planetside 2 Hybrid approach: your CP's increase over time, but the longer you remain alive, the faster they grow, and the better you fare (kills during this life) the faster they increase as well.

 

My 2 cents!

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EvE's time based leveling up is bad. It leads you to the point, unless you have friends to play with, to just log on, switch skills, and then log off, as there is no differences between playing and not so there is no reason to actually play if you are alone.

 

Another thing is that if you start a year later that someone else you are simply always going to be less advanced than someone that started a year before. No amount of playing or skill will ever make up for this so there is, again, not much point to play as there is no reward in a lot of ways.

 

Also, playing can cause you to lose effort as it can make you vulnerable to attack, so the optimal is to get what you need to get to the skill level you need and then just log on/off until you reach the desired level.

 

The solution is simple. Make it so that playing increases the speed that you increase your learning speed. And/Or if, for example, you mine, mining skills get an increase in learning speed. Flying in a given class type bumps the speed that you learn ship skills. From a story line point of view it is simple to explain by way of you are having the data written into your brain, but it takes time to incorporate into your muscle memory and such, but by actively training it increases the speed with which those neurons are shifted to their new arrangements.

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So... after 10 years and 162 million SP, 100+ billion isk in assets and 20-30 billion isk in liquid assets, I stopped playing EvE last year. It was kind of a poignant and sad moment for me, mind you, but I had a disagreement with the direction the game was taking. Especially in relation to small people corporations, the significant failure to implement anything to make lowsec worth squat, and the general trend of boosting carebear safety in what is already arguable overly safe space (compared to even say 5 years ago).

So... on the skill side of things:
When the game came out, everyone started with pretty much the same basic skill set, and it was low. Insanely low. You entered the game with about 1k in skill points, just enough to fly the lowest tier of T1 frigates, use the lowest tier of mining lasers and guns, and generally do pretty much nothing. It took you a month or more just to get into a battleship. A month if you just rushed battleship and stuck frigate guns on it. More than a month if you desired to actually equip it with battleship class weapons. Now, on release, and for a large majority of the life of the game, you had a set of skills you could train (ironically enough called "learning skills") which would boost your fundamental stats (intelligence, etc.) which increased the speed at which you learned skills. The problem was, these skills pretty much became mandatory for all new players, there was just no way to "catch up" moderately speaking, without maxing them out. So you ended up spending the first two weeks of your game maxing out learning skills. Or, in other words, not learning any new ships. This became an issue when you have a 14 day trial period, because that's really all someone who actually wants to play the game can do, unless they want to train inefficiently.
Thankfully, a few years ago they reworked the system to remove those skills and give everyone the maximum points in their stats, allowing you to move those stats around once a year. The important thing to realize though is that careful attention must be taken when designing a system like this, which uses real time training, or else you will end up in the same situation.

People make a big deal about players who have lots of skill points, claiming that they have an "unfair advantage" because they've been playing longer. This is really a non-sense argument, as the same is true in any game. Go into WoW and PVP against someone who has been PVPing for 4 years, and good luck. Not only have they optimized their skill loadouts, but they have also tweaked their gear and any other stats they can specifically to optimize their abilities on the field. If you're new to the game, you haven't had the TIME to get that experience. Experience plays a HUGE role in EvE too. Skill points don't win or lose battles. I've won against players with as much or more SP than me, and I've lost to players with only 6 months of play time. The importance here is not just in how many SP you have, but in where you've put them. A player with only a few weeks of playtime in EvE can be extremely useful in a fleet. Drop them in a frigate, with a scram, and they're a perfect expendable tackler. Do the same thing with say my character, which can fly T2 interceptors and i'll only be a marginal bit better, sure I can fly faster, tank more, lock faster, and all that. But when it comes down to a fleet fight, the law of averages applies.

Now, in one on one combat, SP can make a huge difference, but at the same time it doesn't. Sure, I can have say T2 guns on my T2 ship with T2 modules... but if I'm flying the wrong kind of ship, and you are picking your targets well, then a "n00b" in a rifter with T1 guns can wreck my day.

Now, someone mentioned earlier the money aspect... which is interesting, but let me make note: For the first 5 years of the game your skills would train regardless of being subscribed or not. Now, you couldn't CHANGE skills unless you were subscribed, but if you happened to training a long skill and didn't desire to play for a while, you could unsub and it would continue to train. That was nixed in 2008, mainly because of the number of cap pilots who were doing it.

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I 've played a few MMO's where you had to do something to get your skills up.

Usually, it meant i had to log in once or more a day and expend my "action-points" which tends to get boring after a month or so,

the whole having to log-in/play on a regular basis to stay competitive becomes annoying and the grind becomes repetitive,

at the same time if i wanted to play the whole day, well, there was interaction(communication) with other players but these games tend to lack other types of content.

 

Time-based leveling seems a good system in accomodating the player.

Off course, this model works best in a pay-to-play model, or a pay-to-level-up model,

as to discourage inactive characters just to grind levels.

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I am not in favor of the time-based-leveling system but one could see it as a "less demanding" version of the typical MMORPG grind. In most MMORPGs, you grind experience or gold to unlock the next character or equipment level. You are forced to spend X hours/days/weeks grinding to get there.

 

Instead of making you sink time into grinding, they just automate the process. In either case, you are forced to wait X amount of time to get to the next level, but for the time-based system, you can spend that time doing what you like instead of being forced repeat boring grind.

 

Unfortunately, players don't tend to see it that way. As pointed out by someone in this thread, because it takes away agency, players feel as if they don't have any control or impact on the leveling process. The time-based system could be timed in a way that it matches optimal grinding, but players will probably still feel bad about it.

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