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Reader Comments (18)

Posted: Jul 26th 2011 2:29PM Caliber said

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'"level X rat-worrier"'

Oh God! The rats are coming!

Posted: Jul 26th 2011 3:20PM (Unverified) said

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"We need to have games that reward us for playing and advancing, but at the same time it's important to not lock out new players from the beginning."
&
"We need to support making it easier to get through the low-level portions of the game that are all but abandoned, before players coming in after the initial rush have already abandoned the game altogether. We need to recognize that every level should not feel like an important milestone, and that when we can give players good cause to push forward, it rewards everyone."

Sounds like what Blizzard has intended with a lot of its changes to WoW to allow more people to experience higher-level content sooner rather than later. Every expansion they increase leveling speed in a prior segment of the game and with every patch, they make it easier to catch up in gear through dungeons.

I don't mind other people being able to catch up if it's done in a reasonable manner. Though I can understand the sting of doing what some may consider epic challenges and then having that challenge nerfed so more can do the content.

I've had more experience with level-based MMO's and have only dabbled a bit in Guild Wars' take on it. While I like having levels to go through, I've also run into the downside where you do feel left behind. I didn't join Rift in the initial surge of players and when I leveled, the world felt emptier than I'd have liked. It was especially painful to get dungeon groups together or even a group for elite quests.

That's why I keep hoping for more games to adopt scaling dungeons/quests. If you don't have the time or ability to do group content, you can do that same content by yourself. It'd be for less reward of course, but you'd still get to experience it. And even so, I fear that such content would lessen the feel of the social aspect of an MMO. If you're not required to have a group to see a dungeon or quest, then more people are likely to solo such content and not engage in group activities.

One horrible drawback to levels that I wish didn't exist is that anything prior to max level feels pointless. I don't see how you could ever make all parts of the leveling process feel important though. It's usually just the case of rush to max level and don't look back. While that's good for a goal to keep you going, it feels bad knowing that content you're experiencing is usually a one time thing.

Posted: Jul 26th 2011 4:10PM aberent said

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While I understand the basic problems with levelling, I don’t think I would enjoy an MMO that lacks some form of levelling system. The game would lack a sense of accomplishment that is such a huge part of playing any game. On the other hand I see the benefits of two additions to levelling systems.

-Allowing you to temporarily lower your level (like in City of Heroes) to enter a lower level dungeon/area or to simply play with your lower level friends.

-Allowing you to reincarnate your character to start a new class at level 1 while providing the new character some unique benefits. Dungeons & Dragons Online gives all max level characters this option and it brings back many of veteran players to again level up their new improved characters.

Enjoy your levelling :)

Posted: Jul 26th 2011 5:25PM hereafter said

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This sounds... wrong to me:
"if we want to have a high level barrier to scale, we need to also be ready to help newer players scale it so that they can get to the fun parts"

The leveling part of the game shouldn't be a chore. The endgame shouldn't be the only thing worth experiencing. The problem might be, as you say, the leveling paradigm itself, but it sounds like the real problem is a lack of meaningful content prior to that.

I think we've established that levels are useful for the sense of progression and I can agree that scaling systems like in CO or GW2 are needed to make grouping easier, but for the problem of barren low-level content, there needs to be incentives for older players to re-roll. This can take many forms: a "legacy" system that offers bonuses in skill or customization for the new character or the account, a wide variety of content such that players can see new things with each playthrough, a job system that allows players to add/unlock another specialty by starting the same character from scratch, etc. It really depends on what progression systems the game has in place.

So anything that gets more people playing together is good, but any mentality that treats leveling content as a hassle that needs to be rushed is bad.

Posted: Jul 27th 2011 2:05PM Djinn said

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@hereafter

I also don't understand the idea of "getting to the fun part". I enjoy questing and levelling ALL of my characters. Certainly once you've done the lower level quests a few times it can get boring but I work on one of my higher level characters. Then when I get bored with that I go back to one of my lower level characters. I've never had a character do "end game" activities and I've been playing MMOs for 10 years...
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Posted: Jul 26th 2011 5:25PM Saker said

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I despise the whole class/level mechanic, have been hopeful someone smart/creative would put a well deserved stake through it's heart for years!

Posted: Jul 26th 2011 10:51PM donweel said

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@Saker
I am with you on that. It was ok in pen and paper gaming, but modern MMOs should be able to do better. Some sort of skill based system where you learn by doing. You should be able to use any item in the game, and wear any armour. Instead of level grinding for gear perhaps it could be replaced with crafting. Or perhaps random loot drops for caves found exploring. It would be nice if dungeons scaled according to party size. The part I hate most about levels is not being able to play with my friends because of game restrictions. For the people that enjoy grinding give them achievements or something like that to do.
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Posted: Jul 26th 2011 5:56PM DarkWalker said

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I have another big problem with levels; it leads to content obsolescence.

WoW has about 60 dungeons; only 12 of them are actually usable by a max level character, any of the others became too trivial due to outleveling them.

It's even worse with raids. 26 of them, and only 2 seeing constant use right now.

Levels have basically made most of WoW's content unavailable to a max level character. If levels were not in the way, we could have a large enough choice of random dungeons to not need to repeat a dungeon in a couple months, quite literally.

It's why I like LotRO's Skirmish approach so much, and look with interest towards GW2 and it's level scaling concept.

Posted: Jul 26th 2011 6:34PM Seffrid said

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I don't have a problem with levels, they provide a sense of reward and distinguish between the different abilities of people who've played different amounts of game time and content.

Nine times out of ten people who clamour for the end of levels are wanting skills to be graded such as Apprentice, Journeyman, Master etc and that is just levelling by another name! Even just putting points into a skill is a form of levelling - there's no practical difference between a group looking for a level 30 Fighter, a Master Fighter, or a Fighter with minimum 100 points specced. All such terms are indicative of the player's level, and without it how can you establish the viability of using that player?

Posted: Jul 26th 2011 7:07PM Graill440 said

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For love of those oh so tasty blue and yellow peeps do not consider this an attack (Heavy sigh) its a simple observation. Nice article btw.

I see MMO sites repeating things that have already been pointed out by other folks on this site. Is this the new norm, if an editor gives the subject the spotlight its suddenly more relevant?

I wont knock massively to badly, but they do it alot, however, i also appreciate the the orignal subjects they come up with and the controversy that can come with it, almost no sites allow or engage in debate (mmorpg.com*cough*) which is a sign of a weak mindset at that business and not wanting to deal with challenges against printed pieces by editors. We are rather fortunate here.

I went through a hundred or so posts and couldnt find the originator (we need a search function, hint, hint**) A couple folks talked about this very subject slightly off topic on another thread and it got a big ride from quite a few of us having hijacked the original piece, not purposely, well sorta.

My point is the subjects that have been addressed, such as the point of this article, folks need to be given credit, then the editor can expand on the subject if anything new is relevant. There have been some great posts by folks and i have seen editors make even bigger pieces from those responses, but no credit is given for the pearl that sparked it.

Posted: Jul 26th 2011 8:20PM Borick said

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@Graill440 It's enough for me to have a forum to blather in. I enjoy imagining that my thoughts might feed someone else's ideas, and whoever moderates this forum seems to have a sensible grasp of what needs to be cut out.

I agree about that other site. The mods there seem to go wild with the banhammer sometimes.

I would hate to be responsible for moderating a bunch of aspies and MMO geeks.
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Posted: Jul 26th 2011 8:47PM Palebane said

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I like long leveling times. They tend to de-emphasize level-based progression and allow players to focus on other aspects of the game. The majority of modern MMOG players are highly level/achivement driven, so of course this would not work from a financial or marketing standpoint. But it's ok to dream.

Posted: Jul 27th 2011 12:35AM scrubmonkey said

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Very interesting article.

Anyone else notice that you could go and re-read the entire article and replace every instance of the word "levels" with "stats", and the article has the same meaning and relevance?

At the end of the day, levels are just another stat, and stats are both the greatest strength and greatest weaknesses of the genre.

Posted: Jul 27th 2011 1:18AM donweel said

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@scrubmonkey
Ok suppose instead of killing ten rats gaining a level spending it on stats seeing your trainer etc., you gain sword strength and attack power by using your sword, or gained spell power by casting spells. Maybe even have no classes at all.

Posted: Jul 27th 2011 1:49AM scrubmonkey said

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@donweel

*shrug* same thing done slightly different. There's still going to be limits on what you can take on based on your sword strength and your character's hit points (or stamina, or morale, or whatever they feel like calling it). There is still going to be some sort of grind to attain the requisite stats...

It's the same thing. Stats and levels are measured in terms of time spent and luck (I.E. the random number generator). Skill will play a part, but the system basically makes it so you HAVE to concede that some of your skill takes a back seat to the stats... That's where the gate to future content comes in.

Not that this is entirely a bad thing... I feel that stats and levels are so fundamentally pleasing because we all crave order. We all crave analysis. Fantasy football. The stock market. Number of people in the accident on the 5:00 news. How many millions that hit movie made in the box office... ect. ect. We also crave a sense of progression. Levels and stats are about the "ding", so they give is that progression. The article touched on all this.

So... why not remove the intermediate grind and let you go straight for the end goal? The article touched on this as well. You lose the sense of accomplishment when the feeling of progression is taken away.

These conventions might have a lot of drawbacks... but they have a lot of things going for them at the same time. That is why RPGs are successful. The question is, how do you give people their sense of progression without making a large chunk of content obsolete each time you move progression? How does your game deal with friends that want to play together, but are at different points in that progression? How do you take a system that inherently creates imbalances and put everyone on the same playing field?

It's an interesting question.
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Posted: Jul 27th 2011 7:30AM pancho72 said

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One possible approach could be to give higher level players more options instead of just passive power. This could mean that in higher level play it becomes harder to fully realize your potential, and require a greater insight into the game world.
Most MMOs do that to some extent of course, but sometimes it feels that the need for higher and higher levels forces developers to simply slap passive stats on top. Maybe they should look into how they can broaden power instead of simply letting characters grow on a lateral scale.

Posted: Jul 27th 2011 4:16PM hereafter said

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I'm kind of the same way. I ran heroics in WotLK and did one raid (that my old computer couldn't handle) but I always find something to do. That or I play something else for a few months. It's why I really appreciate a lot of leveling paths. Games like CO, STO, or Rift are too limited in that regard, while a game like WoW (and apparently TOR) has more replayability because of the many starter zones. I like breadth of content. How far up it goes is less of a concern since that always comes with time.
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Posted: Jul 27th 2011 4:17PM hereafter said

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@hereafter
disregard the above comment, this went to the wrong person >_
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