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Reader Comments (32)

Posted: Jan 11th 2010 11:20AM HackJack said

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The fix is coming from Funcom with its new MMO The Secret World.

But you wouldn't care about such a "game", now would you dear reader? You better leave it be... forget I said anything! *disappears into the shadows*

Posted: Jan 11th 2010 11:22AM jealouspirate said

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I understand that leveling provides a strong sense of progression in a game, but I agree that perhaps it's time to come up with a new mechanic. Levels, gear... these forms of progression usually separate players.

I'd like an MMO where everyone can just do what they want together. I don't want to feel pressured to log in everyday and grind lest I fall behind everyone else. If my friend starts up I want to go kill a dragon together, not wait for him to kill 100 wolves, boars, etc...

Not only would this kind of model be fun, it would (hopefully) eliminate the huge egos of many players. MMOs should be *cooperative* games, but they often turn into competitive games where someone is strutting around expecting people to bask in the glory of their achievements, belittling those who haven't achieved the same status.

Posted: Jan 11th 2010 11:23AM Joystiq Login Bugs SUCK said

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There are some people who actually like to level more than be stuck at end-game. People who like to go to a trainer and see what new tricks they get, people who like to spend time researching their character's skills and setting their trees and traits, people who like to see the XP slowly build towards a *ding*

I wish, seriously wish, that the current crop of MMOs would slow down. Not all of us are in a rush to the boredom of level-cap.

Posted: Jan 11th 2010 11:31AM Sephirah said

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Do you prefer to kill X boars with a multitude of alts?
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Posted: Jan 11th 2010 11:34AM Wisdomandlore said

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I completely agree. The real adventure is the journey. Seeing the world, discovering your character, meeting people while completing quests...that's where the real meat of an MMO is at for me. Once your each the cap, though, the real grind begins. Raiding, instance runs, rep grinds, whatever: they're all stale.

What MMOs need to figure out is how to keep that sense of adventure, exploration, and achievement going once you hit the cap.
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Posted: Jan 11th 2010 11:35AM Pingles said

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I'm one of those people. I *love* dinging through levels whether it's the quick progression of low levels or the slow work on the higher ones.

I'm always willing to try a new method but I'm happy with the old one.
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Posted: Jan 11th 2010 2:16PM TexRob said

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People forget the good reasons for leveling. Just to name a few:

1. Teaches you the class. If you gave everyone all skills right up front, it would be daunting.

2. Allows you to meet people. Some will say they don't want to meet people, well then, don't play an MMO. The point is, you level, you group to level, you meet people, you build friendships, alliances, etc.

3. This is one I feel people way overlook. Consequences. What consequence would there be for people to just ninja loot and do whatever they want, if there was no risk involved in doing so? You take a month or more to level up a character to max level, you have some vested interest in protecting that avatar's reputation. If you could just go login, create a max level char and go do "end game" content, then asshattery would be rampant.

Sure, some get the equation wrong. I don't think there is a problem with a high level curve, or low drop rates for gear, but there is a problem when both are very extreme. Even in Everquest, a game we can all agree was pretty "hardcore", it took time to get those big loots off dragons and such, but these encounters always dropped gear, and there were plenty of dungeons with upgrades. I am playing Aion, and really enjoy it, but the drop rates for the time invested are not in check to where they should be. It's going to hurt Aion in the long run. It's a great game, but you have WoW where the loot falls from the sky, and Aion where it's like a puddle of water in the desert. NCSoft needs to get it a bit more in the middle if they want Aion to compete mainstream.
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Posted: Jan 11th 2010 3:13PM Snow Leopard said

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I feel the leveling system has started to fall apart from what it was first designed to do. As mentioned, it’s designed to help you meet people, explore and learn your character. However, it’s always been my experience that the results are the opposite.

For example, I can meet someone while leveling up. However, if I leave for a week and don’t log on, I find out they’ve jumped twelve levels ahead of me and are playing completely different content. If I invite real-life friends to join the game, I need to either roll a new character I’m not exactly thrilled about and spend time leveling with them while the rest of my friends plow on ahead and leave us in the dust. It always feels like a game of catching up just to stay on the same content as old friends and new acquaintances you want to maintain relationships with.

As for forcing you to explore the world, I don’t feel you really need an incentive to do this. Most people, upon first logging into an mmo, want to explore as much of the world as possible. Yet, from the start they’re met with invisible walls and glass ceilings that make the world feel very artificial. I’ve had people I’ve recruited to WoW come on and ask if they can go to different parts of the world or in the very least, leave the starting areas. When I tell them they need to go up ten or twenty more levels, they get a little perplexed. I feel this is rightfully so. In single player games there are chapters that break apart the world for you. In open world games there are also physical barriers in place to stop you from experiencing the story all at once. However, even Assasin’s Creed and GTA feel vast from the start. There’s no fear of walking down the street and being mauled by enemies that are mysteriously unbeatable.

Finally, there’s the idea that leveling help you learn your class. I somewhat agree with this. If I jumped into WoW for the first time and started a raid, I would certainly be lost. But 80-100 levels and months of leveling just feels like a long time for any new player to “learn the ropes” especially when many find themselves learning their classes all over again once they hit endgame.

Overall, I feel the genre needs to break out a little from this system. Levels just feel like an inorganic and strange way of pacing the story and your character’s development and it’s immediately to anyone new to the genre. It’s also increasingly tiresome to those who are veterans of mmo’s and creates a further divide between new and older players. Maybe character development needs to become more horizontal instead of vertical and exploration and socialization more open-ended.
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Posted: Jan 11th 2010 11:32AM (Unverified) said

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Dungeons & Dragons Online has taken a unique approach to this dilemma by recently introducing "True Reincarnation".

After reaching the max level you can opt to go through a reincarnation ritual which basically restarts your character at level one except with some added benefits such as retaining feats from your past life.

More info on that here:

http://www.ddo.com/ddogameinfo/developer-diaries/759-how-to-true-reincarnate

Posted: Jan 11th 2010 11:37AM (Unverified) said

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Here's an Idea...if you don't like levelling...don't paly any RPG's at all.There problem fixed.

Posted: Jan 11th 2010 11:50AM eNTi said

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i'd have a simple fix. just make a game that's fun and worth while playing on it's own. remove any form of numbers and replace them with approximates or completely remove them. give the players a good idea, what they are facing, when they roam about. make them level up, without them even noticing it. dont implement a level cap. give only slight visible clues to progression. make the game fun, not the progression.
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Posted: Jan 11th 2010 11:55AM Arkanaloth said

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I've always enjoyed leveling... in all the mmo's I've played that's one of the best aspects... all too often the level cap is when things begin to get dull.

farming *again*

raid for a singular piece of gear I won't get *again*

at least you can sit in the middle of lowbie zones and look nifty... >_>

Progression at the level cap slows to a point that can only be measured in geologic time, which is why I love the leveling game more. I think the only exception to this rule for me has been GuildWars. You hit the level cap quickly but unlike other games where you're pretty much done with the stories at the level cap with Guildwars you've barely scratched the surface and have so much more ahead of you.

Posted: Jan 11th 2010 12:08PM (Unverified) said

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This recent trend of trying to re-invent MMO's is so ridiculous. If I wanted to play something else, then I would. But I choose to play MMO's because I feel more vested in my character, and my online community. Leveling is all part of this. There is nothing wrong with the genre. All this reinvention just causes big failures. Yes i want to mash buttons, Yes I want some sort of carrot to chase, Yes I want singular servers that have a sense of community. The list goes on. The model is pretty tried and true I would say.

Posted: Jan 11th 2010 12:13PM Suplyndmnd said

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Hmm, this makes no sense at all. There is leveling for many reasons. You start to learn how to use your character. You meet new people along the way. You're *supposed* to be having fun just questing with other people. I'm currently playing WAR and I love the leveling up. It seems less "Kill x of y and talk to z". Though there is quests like that (many quests) It feels like it's for a reason. If MMO's took out the grind then people would play for a month and leave.

I think one solution could be along the lines of any character you create you can start at the level of your highest level or half of your highest level, something along those lines. That way you can skip the beginning and such or choose to start 3/4 in where it is fun.

Posted: Jan 11th 2010 12:42PM Wensbane said

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An MMO without levels, now that would be a dream come true! That really brings some questions to my mind:

If I can be a trained and experienced soldier from the start, in regular RPGs, why can't I be one in MMORPGs?

Why must I always be the "rookie", the "newcomer", the "cannon fodder", struggling to prove myself without any skills or knowledge? And how does killing 100 rabbits help me do that?

Why can't I learn new skills and crafts by going on missions that are revelant and important to the storyline, instead of killing more rats while watching some blue bar gradually go up-up-up?

Why can't I, as a brand new player, compete with older players, even with superior tactics?

Why can't I focus on exploration, on learning the history of that particular virtual world, on playing the game the way I want to play it from the get go, without being forced to grind levels, just so I am not automatically barred from most of the content.

Really... kill 10 rats, get to level 2. Kill 20 scorpions, get to level 3. Kill 30 boars, get to level 4... AGAIN?! REALLY?! GAAAAAAAAAAAH!

If the goal is to get me (the hamster) to run forever on your wheel, I have to say... it isn't working. Because I'm getting tired. REALLY tired.
"Oh, but if you grind this for 200 hours you will get another purple item! Isn't that EPIC? Go on little hamster... RUN!" - Ya know what? Why don't you stick that "purple sword of epic awesomesauce" right in your... bank.

Posted: Jan 11th 2010 1:15PM (Unverified) said

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There's nothing wrong with a MMO without levels it just wouldn't be a MMORPG,it would be a MMO third person or first person action game or some other sub-genre.I believe companies are starting to look beyond RPGs for MMOs now but it will take time to get things right with them.

But asking for an MMORPG without character progression and quests is like going to a FPS forum and asking for them to be third person and lose the weapons.
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Posted: Jan 11th 2010 1:30PM (Unverified) said

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"And how does killing 100 rabbits help me do that?"

It doesn't; it instead 'helps' you continue to pay a subscription to a publisher..

Levels exist in MMO's now simply to try and artificially lengthen our retention. Content is light because of one term: net profit.

Single-Player RPG's are the realm of development love, and they're budgeted to turn a profit based upon box sales only.

MMO's, on the other hand, are designed to provide as little as possible for as long of a period as possible, by continuously dangling a carrot.

MMO's aren't about development love anymore, it would seem.
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Posted: Jan 11th 2010 3:19PM Wensbane said

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Indeed Amana, but sadly, that "tactic" usually has the opposite effect on me. Meaning that by the 5th "kill 10 rats" quest, I'm about ready to cancel my subscription.
Like I said, if the plan is to keep me chasing that carrot for a bit longer, it obviously isn't working, because I can see right through it. I want... no... I NEED more than that.

Oh, and Abriona, levels only serve to create (annoying) gaps between the various sectors of a game's community. The same goes for gear gating and equipment tiers, but those are for another topic I'm afraid.

Those things work in single-player RPGs PRECISELY because they are meant for a single player, not a vast group of people. MMO developers need to find ways to bring players TOGETHER, right from day one, not push them further apart with every "expansion" they release,

The truth is that you don't need to gain levels to advance. In fact, in most modern MMOs the real advancement begins AFTER you've reached the level cap. The problem is that not everyone likes that. I know I don't!
It's like those levels are there simply to squeeze two or three extra payments out of me. Oh, wait...

What makes a Role-playing game massive, for me, is not how many levels it has, but the fact that I can watch a (good) plot unfold, with literally hundreds of people by my side.
I want be stuck in the middle of major battles and I want to know that the guy next to me is controlled by an actual person, not some predictable Artificial Intelligence!
The same goes for everything else. Whatever challenges they throw at me, no matter how large or how difficult, I want to have other people by my side conquering them with me. THAT is the beauty of MMORPGs.
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Posted: Jan 11th 2010 1:31PM (Unverified) said

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I'm like the person in the article. I've played so many MMOs that I'm quite sick of leveling.

In single player games, I don't mind it. Because the story is usually really new and entertaining, and so the leveling just comes along in the background as a result of advancing the storyline that you are the center of.

In MMOs, its nothing like that. There is no real story to mask the level grind. Quests are generally uninteresting the first time around, and even more so if you're playing through with an alt, because you wanted to try something different.

Still, my main beef with leveling, especially in established games.. is that suddenly the game design is preventing you from playing with everyone else. The main bulk of players is maxed out. Friends that may have got you to sub up, are max level.. you can't play with them, unless they start even more alts and play in lockstep with you.

I am truely shocked that more MMOs don't have some kind of sidekick and mentoring systems to help get players to play with each other. Game design that stops friends from playing with each other in a multiplayer game, is in my opinion, bad game design.

Frankly, what I want to see in established games especially, are leveling NPCs. You goto them.. they ask you what level you want to level up to.. and poof, you're there. Problem solved. Players who want to level up normally can. Players don't want to level grind don't have to. Players who are elitists and demand that everyone slog through the same content that they do to reach the top... well they can go suck an egg.

Posted: Jan 11th 2010 1:39PM ChromeBallz said

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I think the example of City of Heroes was a bad one - The game is about alts and levelling rather than the endgame. Trying out new combinations, costumes and different origins (and thus 'quest'lines) is a major part of the game, a typical example of "the journey is more important than the destination".

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