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Topic: Ten Years later: You're still leveling?

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Xinika the Omnispawna
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Ten Years later: You're still leveling?

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The general consensus of getting somewhere amongst the greater share of gaming, is leveling. At least this is how it is with MMOs. Back in the day, leveling sounded like a pretty badass idea. Let's think about it. There was always that one guy or gal who was at a whole new level (literally) ahead of you and well, they were much stronger. Naturally we felt inclined to get that level or perhaps surpass that person. I know for a fact, I didn't just want their level, I wanted more. Now this is mainly speaking about the past, before games like WoW came about and set a more standardized leveling system.

MMOs back in the past had a tendency to have an absurd level cap. Mainly, the Eastern-Asian MMOs were grindfests. Personally, that's the root of my online gaming history. I tended to get caught up in those quite often. There was a lot less control than what games like WoW did to the MMO face. WoW took leveling and made it more 'fair' for fellow players. They added a reachable level cap and end-game content so that the player could have other things to do rather than just go from 51 to 62.

But wait a moment, if we do hit level cap and do end-game content, are we not just leveling up in a different fashion? Think about it for a second. When you're maxed level you still have more 'leveling' to do. You have gear to get, dailies to complete, arenas to do, points to gain and so on and so forth. So when exactly does the leveling really end?

Better just light the desktop on fire and end it for good. There's seemingly no end in sight. Even the newer MMO models of today's age (which, can't really even be considered that new) are still using these grindfest models of getting gear, leveling and achieving some feat for your 'entertainment'. Now, from the business point of view, if I make a game, then I'm not just making a game for your entertainment. I'm making a game to make money. I need to pay the bills. Bread for the kids have to come somehow. So you know what? I need to do what's necessary.

Why is leveling a good idea for the business man? Well, it automatically makes the player committed to a cause. Whether it be achieving max level, getting certain arena ratings, becoming top PvE progression guild or whatever. Point is, you're committed to my game and therefore that means you're paying that lovely little subscription fee. So as far as the business end is concerned, leveling is awesome! You can complain and moan all you want, but at the end of the day you're still doing it because let's face it - once we achieve that 'level' (Take level in various forms, not just the actual level) then we feel like the world's off our shoulders. We feel like we've accomplished something. And then? Then we want more... and so the cycle begins again in another form.

Whether it be grinding for new gear or clearing new raid bosses - we're at it again. Players in 2003 loved this model to a T. Players in 2013 are growing bored of it. So what do we do here? Do we remove 'leveling' from gaming? Then what? It all becomes all sandbox-like with no true commitment. The player has no goal to attain. Nothing to really chase after. Sure, the freedom's there to do whatever you please, but with no real goal, the player eventually loses interest. Which is why leveling is somewhat of a necessary evil. Now that we're in a transitioning age of gaming, we are realizing that the former model is bland and we're getting bored of it quickly.

We do need something to chase after but we don't want to feel obligated to do so. So how would you go about changing it without breaking it?



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I've thought about this a lot myself. When GW2 came out everyone was super excited because you had an instant max-level character and gear didn't matter. It seemed like the dream scenario. However, because you get all this for free, and haven't earned it by any work on your end, it's hard to appreciate and really immerse yourself in the game. You then play the game for hours on end with seemingly no reward system. Sure, you get some cosmetic rewards and get to pvp, etc. but there was nothing really to work towards. Now, I think you can have a system like that but it needs to have a really competitive system in place with tourney's and such. If you can't progress physically (gear, levels, etc.) then you need to be able to progress mentally (skill, outplay, move up in rankings).

The reason I hate leveling isn't because I hate the grind or think it's boring (although both of those things are true, I can grind boring things all day if there's a goal) but because it's seemingly useless. I know once I hit max level all of this will have been a waste of time. It's stupid that there's a two-three week grind of leveling followed by 6-12 months at max level. What's the point of putting anyone through that? But like I said before, there's some value in leveling in that it gets you invested in your character. Finding the sweet spot between logging in to max level, and having to grind for weeks will be the key to the future of gaming imo.

Another thought provoking article, good job. Keep 'em coming!



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One thing I've learned from playing MMOs so long is that nowadays, a lot of players do not know what they actually want.  By this I mean, a lot of players claim to want quick leveling or casual gameplay, but then they quickly become bored of the MMO.

 

It is as you say, leveling is a necessary evil in MMOs.  The longer a leveling process is, the less content devs had to make because the leveling was stretched out.  Despite how we hate leveling now, leveling in old school MMOs used to be an experience in and of itself, a journey if you will.  That no longer exists in mainstream MMOs.  Leveling to max level has been compressed, and has simply become something to rush through so that you can get to endgame.

 

To be honest, you are correct in saying that most everything you do in an MMO is like leveling.  Leveling in itself, to max level, is improving your character so that they can become stronger.  Getting new endgame gear, or even doing PvP over and over, accomplishes the same feat.  The bottom line here is that there is progress to be made in all of these things.  Even if there is no gear to be had for PvPing day after day, you progress in the fact that your skill level and personal experience will increase.

 

Even so, having that difficult to obtain endgame gear is necessary.  Regardless of how much people complain about the leveling process, or endgame gear being too difficult to obtain, a lot of people need to have a goal to shoot for in order to make their gaming time feel like it is worth something.  Guild Wars 2 made this abundantly clear to some of us.  We were PvPing and having fun for the first week, but then we already obtained the best looking gear the sPvP system had to offer.  So we quickly became bored, because we felt there was nothing left to do.

 

If we take it a step further, almost everything in life too, I consider to be a leveling process.  To me, leveling = progress.  When we study an entire book in a given subject, our knowledge increases.  When we run 3 miles every day for 2 weeks, our endurance increases.  When we workout in the gym, our strength increases, and so on.  People by and large need goals to shoot for, otherwise our lives would be stagnant and boring.  MMOs are no different in this respect, they were created to be largely goal driven, and the genre attracts those types of players.

 

The moment a leveling process ends we become bored.  So it is best that it does not end. 



-- Edited by Zabuza on Saturday 20th of July 2013 06:09:26 PM

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Xinika the Omnispawna
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Zabuza wrote:

If we take it a step further, almost everything in life too, I consider to be a leveling process.  To me, leveling = progress.  When we study an entire book in a given subject, our knowledge increases.  When we run 3 miles every day for 2 weeks, our endurance increases.  When we workout in the gym, our strength increases, and so on.  People by and large need goals to shoot for, otherwise our lives would be stagnant and boring.  MMOs are no different in this respect, they were created to be largely goal driven, and the genre attracts those types of players.


 I love this part.smile



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Watching
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Here is my take..

Remove traditional leveling as we know it (ie: everyone has a blank toon) and apply the same principles to individual abilities. The more you use an individual ability, the more experience you gain towards leveling that ability up.

The type of ability, ranged, melee, magic ect. determines what base stats increase as you level that ability. Leveling certain ability trees would open and close other trees, but everyone would be free to chose what route to take. This eliminates advanced classes as we know it as well.

This type of system is geared for very long, and potentially endless character progression. Lets say you want to be a fire mage. In order to unlock the 'fire mage' tree you have to have a certain amount of mana, in order to increase your mana pool you have to level basic magic attacks available to everyone.

So you finally unlocked the fire mage tree? You're a fire mage now! oh wait a minute.. now you have to level your fireball spell to 50 unlock the next ability. As you hit benchmark levels, lets say every 10 levels up to 50, for individual abilities they become more powerful, added damage, bigger aoe radius, cooler animation ect ect.

I could go on for hours really..

but back to my 'blank' toon idea, where the only leveling is done on your abilities and is reflected in your stats as you progress, makes every single bit of content created usable in some way by every person that plays the game. No more tiered planets, instances, raid zones, and no PvP brackets though some sort of matchmaking system would still be needed.

This idea only works if you have the proper stat caps though, lets say everyone starts with 100(for simplicity) in every base stat. The maximum attainable stats for 'capped' toons should be somewhere around double the base. This would make most PvE content doable with large amounts of people, but would mean less loot for everyone. This also means that x# of people per instance/raid would have to go away for it to work as well.

So far as PvP is concerned, hello open world! Four brand new 'bads' would still have a chance to take down one person at the stat cap because there is no level based scaling involved, like how a level 30 cant even hit a level 55 in SWTOR. Good for developers, good for players IMO.

At any rate, what I suggest here is essentially a complete overhaul of what we have come to know as MMOs but you asked!
'

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Xinika the Omnispawna
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Dargos wrote:

Here is my take..

Remove traditional leveling as we know it (ie: everyone has a blank toon) and apply the same principles to individual abilities. The more you use an individual ability, the more experience you gain towards leveling that ability up.

The type of ability, ranged, melee, magic ect. determines what base stats increase as you level that ability. Leveling certain ability trees would open and close other trees, but everyone would be free to chose what route to take. This eliminates advanced classes as we know it as well.

This type of system is geared for very long, and potentially endless character progression. Lets say you want to be a fire mage. In order to unlock the 'fire mage' tree you have to have a certain amount of mana, in order to increase your mana pool you have to level basic magic attacks available to everyone.

So you finally unlocked the fire mage tree? You're a fire mage now! oh wait a minute.. now you have to level your fireball spell to 50 unlock the next ability. As you hit benchmark levels, lets say every 10 levels up to 50, for individual abilities they become more powerful, added damage, bigger aoe radius, cooler animation ect ect.

I could go on for hours really..

but back to my 'blank' toon idea, where the only leveling is done on your abilities and is reflected in your stats as you progress, makes every single bit of content created usable in some way by every person that plays the game. No more tiered planets, instances, raid zones, and no PvP brackets though some sort of matchmaking system would still be needed.

This idea only works if you have the proper stat caps though, lets say everyone starts with 100(for simplicity) in every base stat. The maximum attainable stats for 'capped' toons should be somewhere around double the base. This would make most PvE content doable with large amounts of people, but would mean less loot for everyone. This also means that x# of people per instance/raid would have to go away for it to work as well.

So far as PvP is concerned, hello open world! Four brand new 'bads' would still have a chance to take down one person at the stat cap because there is no level based scaling involved, like how a level 30 cant even hit a level 55 in SWTOR. Good for developers, good for players IMO.

At any rate, what I suggest here is essentially a complete overhaul of what we have come to know as MMOs but you asked!
'


 This is a very interesting concept. I do remember a game performing this but it was too hardcore which led to its demise. The name of said game slipped my mind. However, if an MMO can manage to do such a feat without completely casualizing it (aka Making it too easy), then such would be a step in the right direction I think. For one, it makes the player and their character more unique. There's also a splice of versatility behind it.



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^^ Sounds a lot like Fable and the Elder Scrolls games, which people tend to love, so you might be onto something. I know a lot of people are still pumped for TESO, which is supposed to be doing something like this but a bit more streamlined (last I heard, and I haven't heard for awhile...). 

 

Anyway, I like that idea, but I still think gear progression is a good thing and I don't mind the WoW/SWTOR system. In PvE it works amazingly, and in PvP there's just that little "getting over the hump" period where you're just going to have to suffer through it a bit but then PvP is all the more rewarding and you've had to devise a few good tricks to survive in your terrible gear along the way. 



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