Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
 
A leveling game

Yesterday I described a pure endgame MMORPG, for people who are only interested in the raiding endgame of existing MMORPGs, based on various comments from raiders about what they want and what they hate. Having thus got rid of the endgame, I can now describe the game I would actually want to play: A pure leveling game without endgame.

So how would a MMORPG without endgame be even possible? To understand that, one has to realize that the endgame is a fake solution to a real problem. The problem is people with different levels having difficulties to play together. Thus, on paper, once everybody is at the level cap, everybody is at equal level, and we can all play together. In reality that turns out to not work at all. Just try to join a raid with a freshly dinged level 85 in WoW if you don't believe me. An expansion in World of Warcraft offers 2 years of continual progress. The fact that only 2 months or so of that are "leveling" is irrelevant, as people *still* progress afterwards, and thus *still* have vastly different power levels, which prevent them from playing together. People are in reality still "leveling" after hitting the level cap, only that now they increase their gear level, which is measured in iLevel or Gearscore instead with character level.

Thus a pure leveling game would work a lot better if it adopted a different solution: The ability to temporarily adopt a lower level to play with a group of lower level friends, or even to temporarily adopt a higher level to play with a group of higher level friends. That has been done in various other MMORPGs, like City of Heroes/Villains, and if you choose an intelligent implementation of it, that works extremely well. Problem solved, thus no more need for an endgame.

Having only a leveling game has some big advantages. Experience point rewards and penalties can be tuned a lot finer than loot rewards. How fast your gear progresses in the WoW raid endgame is to a major extent based on luck: If you happen to be the only leather-wearing caster in your raid and a lot of caster leather gear drops, you make huge progress, while somebody in the very same raid with the very same performance doesn't get the same reward. If you are in a game in which most progress is by experience points and leveling, then rewards for group effort will be a lot fairer.

There are already a lot of people playing World of Warcraft without participating in the heroic/raid endgame. The level cap is actually a major problem for these people, as the game basically ends at the level cap, and there isn't much left to do. To avoid that, a pure leveling game would have to have a lot longer leveling process. Instead of needing 2 years to reach the last raid boss of an expansion, players would need 2 years to level up to the level cap.

People who only ever played World of Warcraft and games produced after WoW often have problems to even imagine how leveling can be challenging. But of course the fact that leveling in WoW is so trivial is a deliberate design decision, and not inherent to all MMORPGs. A pure leveling game would work by being easy only at the lower levels, and then getting harder and harder, requiring better and better performance to advance further. But unlike the current raid endgame, a pure leveling game can tune that a lot better: A lack of performance would not mean that you get totally stuck like a guild that can't get past a certain raid boss. In a pure leveling game your performance would directly be reflected in the speed of your progress. Thus somebody playing badly would still advance, because sometimes he gets lucky and kills a mob and gains xp. But somebody playing better would advance a lot faster.

The same principle would also serve to create a flexible social game. It would be possible to solo, but the efficiency in experience points per hour would be relatively low. Group, and you advance faster. And you wouldn't need a full group for that, as a group with 2 or 3 members would simply advance faster than a solo player, but slower than a full group. Thus given the possibility to temporarily adjust your level for a group, and a flexible group size, you would always be able to form a group with whoever of your friends is online, without one of you having to sacrifice progress and the other "leeching".

Having eliminated the endgame need for instanced dungeons, the pure leveling game would take place in an open world. Part of the content would be static, as in quests and scripted events. Another part would be more dynamic, like in Rift and the upcoming Guild Wars 2, with players being able to change the world around them. Not permanently maybe, but at least to the point that as long as there are players defending a village, that village would remain in friendly hands, and as soon as the players give up on it, an invasion turns the village into an outpost of evil, which has to be taken back to get back to village status.

Of course gear would still exist in a pure leveling game, it just wouldn't be the only means to advance, like it is in an endgame. Having a slower leveling process also enables a more meaningful crafting and player economy. If you don't outlevel your gear every 5 minutes, it makes more sense to gear up during the leveling process.

There being no raid content, there would be no need for raiding guilds in which you are valued only for your performance. Instead guilds would be mostly social, a means for people to play frequently with the same bunch of other people, instead of having to look for pickup groups. But pickup groups would also be a lot nicer, as it would always make sense to group up when you see another player hunting the same monsters as you are. And as performance is measured gradually (advance faster for playing better) instead of a simple black/white success criteria of either wiping or clearing the dungeon, there would be less recriminations flying around.

Class balance would have to assure that every player can advance solo at the same pace. If some roles are more desirable for forming a group, in this pure leveling game the balance between roles would establish itself naturally. As grouping accelerates progress, it would only be natural for players to choose roles which are likely to get them invited into a group, and the extreme problems like "tank shortage" in WoW would be less likely to arise. Nevertheless nobody would be forced to play a role he absolutely hates, as there would always be enough other players choosing whatever role there is currently in demand.

Players finally reaching the level cap can either continue playing to help friends, develop their tradeskills, or just fool around. Or they can play alts, and come back to their level capped characters once an expansion raises that cap. If there is enough to do, enough challenge, and enough interest in a leveling game, the artificial raiding endgame really isn't necessary for a MMORPG.
Comments:
Interesting read. I feel, however, that this distinction misses the point somehow.

The central question should be what fun activities do you offer. The question of whether you also have character power progression and how exactly (via level or via gear) can only be answered once you know what you want players to actually do in the game.

In a WoW-stlyle exploration-driven leveling game, leveling works - obviously. In a raiding game, you don't need leveling. In PvE/PvP-conquere-the-land games, the answer might be completely different.

Fact is: WoW is a rater arbitrary mix of two games. But there are many more games possible. What defines the leveling game / end game is not levels/equip scaling. It is what the player does. And many more activites than leveling by exploration or getting equip by raiding are possible.

This comment in one sentence: The kind of character power progression doesn't define a MMORPG. The fact that this even has to be said is testament to WoW's strange influence on the genre.
 
I love this idea, as I am one of those people who doesn't raid and ran out of things to do in Cataclysm. So I've found another game to play. I come from EQ1 era where it did take a year to level so this would be fine for me, but I doubt todays players fed on WoW etc would understand the concepts you describe above.
 
I have to question the amount of content you are committing to.

WoW launched with about 200 hours of "leveling" content (they have since added more content, but sped things up to keep the same 200 hours to cap). Do you really think it is realistic to ask for 2000 hours worth of open world content?

For most of your post, you are perfectly describing City of Heroes. They had no end game, so they needed to extend the leveling game to around 500 hours. I agree that it gets very repetitive, but from a developer point of view I'm sure you can see why they turned to instancing.

How do you see this playing out with a reasonable budget?
 
I'd also like an MMO like that, but as mentioned already, how the character progress and "what you do" in the game is of vital importance.

I do not agree that wow is remotely "exploration-driven" .It's linear, it's streamlined it's candy coated.

Just making the xp per level requirement exponential but keeping a rather linear world is still going to have people drop out the second they get in a "rinse repeat" mode.


You will need a very RAW game world, one that does not have bread-crumb questing and one that does not lead you by the nose to have truly "open world open ended leveling" .

This was one of the big things in UO for me [as a PvE player]. The fact that the world felt "un-explored". This included how the crafting worked with the economy. There was always a feeling that there is something "out there" that no one has found yet. When you were out in the bushes it truly felt "remote" , kinda like Minecraft building your little castle next to the river..wondering if someone will ever pass this spot...


WoW in contrast feels like being in a Shopping Mall, some might term this "exploring" , but there's rarely anything in a mall that "does not want to be found" , it will defeat the entire purpose of a shopping mall. So you're fooling yourself if you think you are "exploring" anything in WoW .
 
"Do you really think it is realistic to ask for 2000 hours worth of open world content?"

Yes. That's what we had a decade ago.

For me, every MMO is a pure levelling game anyway, though. Even in a game with fast levelling by contemporary standards it takes months of continual play to level all the race/class combos I am interested in, and even then only one or two will actually reach the cap. In an MMO with older-style levelling speed it takes me many years to get even a significant proportion of the characters I am interested in playing up to the mid-levels.

It's not all about the world and the content, though that's important. It's about the characters, their personalities and adventures. If you don't make ourself a slave to dictated content (usually questing) then you will have radically different experiences every time you level a new character, even if it's in zones you've spent literally hundreds of hours levelling through already.
 
WoW launched with about 200 hours of "leveling" content

Sory, but that statement is simply false. First of all, when WoW launched the average time for players to hit the level cap (60) with their first character was 21 days, or 500 hours. Second, that was the content ONE character consumed, and you could level up at least 4 characters (2 Alliance, 2 Horde) without any quest twice (except for a bottleneck in Stranglethorn Vale).

Thus the correct statement is that WoW launched with 2,000 hours worth of leveling content. Of course you can today level to the cap in 200 hours, as leveling has been sped up, and there are lots of guides for fast leveling around. But the fastest path to the level cap is not equal to the totality of the leveling content of a game.
 
"Do you really think it is realistic to ask for 2000 hours worth of open world content?"

Yes. That's what we had a decade ago.


Creating content was a lot cheaper a decade ago.
 
I do not agree that wow is remotely "exploration-driven". It's linear, it's streamlined it's candy coated.

@Silvertemplar.

I profoundly disagree. For a new player the entire WoW-leveling game is an exploration game. Exploring the world, the content and the character progression. This exploration game, even if it encourages exploration on tracks, is "what you do": Exploring.

Ask new players what they like about the leveling game and they won't answer: 'Achievement' or 'socializing' or 'gaining levels'. They will answer: Exploring, learning.

The levels are just the means by which your character progresses in that exploration-game. Character power progression by levels and and the exploration game do not necessarily need to be packed together. They just happen to be so in WoW.
 
Leveling as many other things was taken from singleplayer RPGs, but it should stay there. In singleplayer your level opens new content and if you reach level cap you certainly also finished the game. But when the game has no real end, everybody will one day reach level cap and be on the same level. What reason has separating players by levels in multiplayer game ?
 
Hmm I must say the old Runescape was like that. A lot of the skills went up to level 99 but the content was only up to level 70-80s sometimes.

People mostly played the social game and the game economics - creating, selling, buying, flipping items which can be quite fun.

Meili's Runescape Blog - The Runescape Wilderness
 
@ Tobold

Your idea is just a twist on what is already being done in other games, but you seem to be forgetting the one key component of MMO's - The Social aspect of the game as it pertains to the DIKU paradigm.

I doubt that there is any argument from you regarding the DIKU aspects of progressions, in that if you place the player on one end(the beginning) of the DIKU model path, there is undoubtedly a point somewhere down the line where the player will reach a milestone as related to the existing content. Having options to level-down does nothing to negate this, all it does is increase and improve the social aspect of playing the game. Again, nothing new here, but it begs the question of how would you keep the playerbase motivated to continue playing the game if you limited the player to an existance of not being able to progress beyond a certain dynamic - such as gear acquisiton and/or stat improvements.

The DIKU model has inherent properties that cannot be overlooked from a progression standpoint. Hell, even Raph participated in a thread here a while back where he stated that the DIKU formula limited what developers could do from a progression standpoint, even with the inclusion of new technology.

Content A provides progression elements(gear/stats/skills/abilities) that is needed to reach content B. Content B provides the same elements for content C...so forth and so on. Whether it's done with a leveling treadmill, a constantly mudflated gear/ILevel schema or what have you, there will always be a point that the player reaches where they wind up asking themselves if what they are doing is fun or not.
 
there will always be a point that the player reaches where they wind up asking themselves if what they are doing is fun or not

Keyword being "always". Let's not be unrealistic in our ambitions. The point of these posts is to explore the possibility to *improve* the DIKU formula by splitting apart two very different types of games that somehow unnaturally got bound together. The question is whether these two separate games are good, and an improvement over the one combined game with its quarreling halves. I never claimed that this would solve all the inherent problems of the MMORPG genre.
 
"First of all, when WoW launched the average time for players to hit the level cap (60) with their first character was 21 days, or 500 hours. Second, that was the content ONE character consumed, and you could level up at least 4 characters (2 Alliance, 2 Horde) without any quest twice (except for a bottleneck in Stranglethorn Vale)."

You have said before you did instances extensively. I did few, mostly solo questing. While trying to do instances at launch was MUCH slower leveling than it is now, questing was more or less as fast as it is now. On the other hand, soloing obviously meant you needed more quests.

If you did mostly quests as I did at launch, past level 20 both factions required doing all zones on both continents, with a few notable spans (early 30s and early 50s) requiring actual grinding (Magram and Gelkis anyone?).

Do you not remember the arguments on the forums about how Alliance had more quests than Horde (well over a hundred if I recall), which meant Horde had to do more grinding?

Doing mostly questing, it took me about 200 hours /played. I didn't do anything special that I think most people didn't do, aside from not doing very many instances.

Look at this another way. Out of 200 hours to cap now, how many hours does it take to 60? I've got a Worgen warlock, who has never seen the inside of an instance, that I took to 58 in 56 hours.

Fundamentally, I did the same thing I did at launch (although it was obviously through much better zones). How much have they reduced the xp required that you think that used to take nearly 10 times as long?
 
As an ESAK member of the bartle test, this is the type of game I dream about like I'm some school girl fawning over an hunky male pop-star.
I've found that WoW offers almost no real exploration feeling.

It is funny how this design idea seems to match up with old school MMO's.

Asheron's Call is the one I'd like to point out here.
The level cap at launch was a seemingly unreachable 126.

The world was raw and open. Exploration meant something due to a diverse spawn table. There were possible rare mob spawns (crystals, shadows.) And all mobs had randomly generated loot from a certain quality level. This meant that, aside from special or quest mobs, you would always check the loot. Playing wow, I can choose to not loot 99% of the things I kill and be certain I'm not leaving anything useful. In AC, you never knew. It kept the shop vendors filled with ever changing wares and made me WANT to shop.

The Allegiance system with patrons/vassals was also one of the better social systems I've seen in an MMO. Sure you can go to RIFT now who let's you barge your way into some stranger's play session. But AC made you want to snatch up the noobs. If you fed them info and geared them properly, they'd grow into nice little xp making machines.
This doesn't quite equate to the level scaling. I did love that about EQ2/CoH. But at extremes in level difference it felt a little hokey and cheapened the content for me.

The talk of content length or lifetime for a game is an important one in this situation.
If you make a huge open world and never change it after release, it gets stale quick.
The monthly updates AC did (and continues to do, I think) destroyed any sense of ho-hum that crept into my mind.
Each month was a new chapter in the world storyline. New creatures, dungeons, loot, land masses. It didn't only add content though. Some of the most memorable patches are when whole towns would be destroyed forever. I felt like seeing the game world mattered because it might not be there or be the same a few months down the line.

I don't buy the "content was much cheaper" answer to why no other company has chosen to adopt such an aggressive update schedule.
We have more game designers in this day an age than we did in the past. More tools and a wider understanding of how to handle a virtual world. The reason I see is companies wanting updates to be perfect (polished) and wanting to monetize them (nickel and dime you)

Thanks, Tobold, for pointing out these two game designs and highlighting some of the difference between old hat and new hat mmo players.
You've helped me understand why these games just don't fit like they used to.
 
A pure leveling game is pretty much what City of Heroes has been for the last 6 years. It worked becuase the game had lots on content added over that time at all level ranges (not just for max level) and because the diversity of power set combinations made playing alts interesting for most people. Sidekicking and now Super Sidekicking (all players scale to the level of the teamleader/current mission holder) make teaming with anyone at any level a viable and fun choice. Got a new friend joining but don't want to roll a new alt because your enjoying the one your on? Just get them to invite you to team and your automatically thier level and can help them without being over powered.

I think STO has a similar system where level matching takes effect when teaming though I'm not 100% sure how that works.

Guild wars with its short level range worked as well. Getting to level 20 was quick but it didn't make you super powered when teamed with a lower level friend. I once had my mates level 20 warrior helping my new Monk and when on a large group doing some quests I think he still died when we over aggroed.

In order to facilitate allowing the player base to play together I think a system which scales players to similar power levels works nicely.

Another way would be to remove levels and have a skill point based system. So everyone is in effect the same level, and the only difference is the amount of points players have invested in skills and bonuses. Therefore while play A may have more skills and more variety, player B could still contribute with the few skills they have.
 
I may be missing the point, but isn't EVE a perfect example of this type of game? You never do actually reach an "endgame", and training new abilities goes on (for all I know) forever. As a new player, you can contribute to corp activities up to and including nullsec pvp. The fun (or lack thereof) starts immediately - it's all up to the individual player. What you don't have to do is wait until endgame, and you can play with a group of friends no matter how great the difference in your skillpoints.
 
How much have they reduced the xp required that you think that used to take nearly 10 times as long?

You don't understand. The fact that the *shortest* path from level 1 to the level cap is 200 hours is NOT the same as saying the game has only 200 hours of content.

Look at it that way: If you use a primitive measure of quantity of content, for example "number of quests", you will only have played through between 10% and 20% of all quests by the time you reach the level cap. Thus the overall content is 5 to 10 times bigger than the fastest path to the level cap.
 
@Ravven
I may be missing the point, but isn't EVE a perfect example of this type of game?

Actually, no its not a perfect example. Here's the problem with EvE.

In a pure leveling game your performance would directly be reflected in the speed of your progress.

You see, in EvE, your xp is time based. I cannot start an EvE account now and "progress" faster than any other player actively training skills.
I will never be able to catch a veteran player, regardless of how well I perform or how many hours I invest online.

EvE's means of performance progression is through in game wealth, items and relations. I could catch up to a veteran on these, but they would still have more skill points and be of a higher "level" than I am.
 
"Look at it that way: If you use a primitive measure of quantity of content, for example "number of quests", you will only have played through between 10% and 20% of all quests by the time you reach the level cap. Thus the overall content is 5 to 10 times bigger than the fastest path to the level cap."

This is a fair point. The Worgen spent his entire career in Kalimdor, although the only zone he missed was Theramore. On the other hand, I do not believe my first Undead character missed anything past level 30 (necessity required tracking down every quest hub).

I really think the big difference in time is due to instances, and a large part of that being due to how much more time consuming they used to be.
 
"you will only have played through between 10% and 20% of all quests by the time you reach the level cap"

True, but by reaching the level cap, you have also destroyed the challenge of 95% (or so) of the content you have not yet played through.

Once a quest opens up, if they could come up with a way of keeping the challenge level of the quest more-or-less independent of your level, then you really would have a lot more actual content even after reaching the level cap.
 
you pretty much described ffxi there.
 
I remember a book about ecommerce one time that asked a simple question.

How do you keep a falling egg from breaking?


Tobold, your readers are quite right to observe that any "leveling only" game will hit a finite content limit at some point. The game designers challenge is to make enough content so that that limit is not reached easily.

This is why wow was revolutionary at the time. They invented opposing factions where you had a different experience depending on faction (well mostly). This enhanced replayability across the board. PvP, Raids, Questing were all impacted by this other force in around your game play.

When I see online games today I am astonished about the similarities to the online ecommerce and service industries. No longer does one create a "game" that is staic can can't be expanded or changed. No a game developer now has to design the probablility of content expansions into the game to provide more features.

In essence the developer creates a technology platform from which content can be delivered.

One of the things that happens in technology AND games now is how well your platform can be expanded from the philosophical beginnings. Wow is showing it's age in it's limitation of the permutations it can support.

Rift Plug: (yes I have to have one)
In Rift the marrying of the Faction concept with Rifts(psuedo end game) is a conceptual content platform that has lots of room to evolve. In the same way that factions in wow provided content to players for "free" pvp,battlegrounds etc. Rift provides content for entertainment in a very cheap way.

So as time goes on the cost of provinding additional content gives Rift a distinct advantage over wow. [Tin foil hat time - is it possible that Path of the Titans was Blizzard's attempt to put Rift features in Wow and it proved unworkable due to exitsitng platform conflict???]

Anyway it would be my opinion that "leveling only" is a non-starter if you want subscription money. You basically are making Diablo 2 and while that was fun for 4 months, it did not keep my interest like wow.

So how do you keep the egg from breaking?

Easy - simply extend it's journey.
 
Sounds like a wonderful ... niche game. These hypotheticals, imho, are far too coloured by your personal preferences.

Going back to the tried-and-tested fastfood analogy, it's like asking McDonald's to spin off their chicken products into a separate business.

There will be purists who insist on unadulterated burgers (or unlimited exploration/leveling) and there will be those who swear by chicken (or results-oriented, business-like raiding).

And there will be folks who would gladly have both at different occasions, or even the same seating.

One of the reasons for the commercial success of WoW was its inclusiveness: there was something for everyone, in varying degrees.

But even that has its limits.

When a player finds WoW unfun, it's time to look at other *products* that may fit his or her needs better.

Good luck convincing your WoW peers that the game described here is THE game for them too.

TLDR: Different strokes for different folks. At different times.

(An aside: Thank goodness the games I choose to play aren't lifestyle choices, and don't determine who I hang out with.)
 
'it's like asking McDonald's to spin off their chicken products into a separate business'

Sounds like a sensible business model to me:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/feb/18/britains-fried-chicken-boom

--
In 2008, according to a Mintel report, fried chicken represented 4% of the country's eating-out market, a sector estimated to be worth £15bn-£20bn. Its market share looks likely only to increase; fried chicken retailers saw sales grow by 36% from 2003 to 2008, compared with just 22% in the fast-food sector as a whole.
--

Some people prefer burgers, some people chicken. A place that does one will almost always have a side-line in the other, just as McDs does do chicken burgers. But only one of them is going to be the focus of your product development and marketing push.

Lack of the kind of market segmentation you see in the fast food industry is a classic sign of an immature or monopolised market.
 
you could call it World of Grindcraft.

Or Diablo.
 
I have written about this in relation to games like Lineage 2 and Perfect World being almost pure leveling games. Perfect World in fact has no max level characters. Last I checked the highest level characters were 103 and there were only a handful of them, as in less than 25 of them across all the western servers. I am sure there are some 104s now, but I suspect they will raise the level cap after people hit 105.

Lineage 2 also does similarly though there are a good number of lvl 85s they are fairly rare and most who are there, got there by botting before ncsoft bothered to start coming down on that. I ran with a old time guild for the short while I was there. These were long time veterans who had in many cases been playing the game for 7 years or more. Nobody in the guild had a max level character. Granted many had alts but still, the highest level was 83. It lent itself to a very different perspective.

The interesting thing I noticed was that Lineage 2 still has an end game but it is not defined as this is what you do when you hit max level. In wow, the difference between an 84 and an 85 is everything. You are nothing at 84 you might as wel be level 8. In L2 the end game started about when you hit S grade or lvl 76 but even when you were in your 60s you could still participate in endgame pvp helping to defend or attack castles and forts and such. Of course getting to 80 and beyond was pretty big as there was another gear upgrade but still you were end game this whole time. It would be similar to the difference between a lvl 85 who is running heroics to gear up and a level 85 that is geared and ready for raiding.

So the idea that you MUST hit the level cap is somewhat artificial. The point is that in some way you still need a way to progress. you could do that though levels or through gear or through rep grinding or making money or what ever.

I also noticed that games that have a continuous leveling model like L2 also tend to stick with the idea of loosing exp if you die. This is how it is made hard and one it punished for performing poorly. Of course it really just means a few extra hours or days of grinding mobs but that is pretty significant when your progress is only measured by your level.

I also noticed that the game was much more social during the leveling game since that was the whole game. Grouping was essential to progress from about level 60 on. This of course matches they way in which WoW is group oriented once you get to the raiding game. Again, really only a difference of perspective.
 
Tobold, you missed the PvP endgame. But, we know why.

The wow fanboy base could not fathom no end game raiding. A great portion of the raiding community would beat down and discard any sense of a game that didn't have raiding.
 
Blizzard COO interview - Angry Commented
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/33209/Interview_Blizzard_COO_Sams_Says_Many_Years_In_Front_Of_WoW.php


World of Warcraft Business 'Effectively Protected'
(AC - We believe we have a dominant market position, suckers)

Can you beat World of Warcraft?
Blizzard plans on answering that question with its upcoming unannounced "Titan," the codenamed full MMO that will follow World of Warcraft's extraordinary success.
(AC - It's all about our new hotness)

"I believe [it's] the most ambitious thing we've ever attempted," Sams said. (AC - Boyee look at all the zeros in that Titan budget!)


"And I feel like we have set our company up to succeed on that. We have some of our most talented and most experienced developers on that team. Many of the people that built World of Warcraft are full time on that other team." (AC - Metzen is on the case yo, oh sorry we are stealing talent from Wow...)

even though key members are moving onto Titan.
"We've spent a lot of time over the last number of years transitioning those people off [of World of Warcraft], and having great people below them that were trained up by them to run World of Warcraft,"
(AC - yeah the B team is all over Wow expect great things... totally not minor league... well sorta)

Sams said. "Those people have been doing it for the last couple of years without the assistance of those people that created it."
(AC - yep we mentored up Ghostcrawler nicely! taught him to be snippy to players in forums and everything!)


"So, I think we've effectively protected that business as it relates to our development resources and capabilities," he added, "and at the same time taking some of those other folks that had all that experience and unleashed them on this new thing."
(AC - Yep we have all teh wow suckas on FARM! yee haw we gonna raid Titan with our hardcore guys now! - this is such a GEM - everyone playing WOW SHOULD CANCEL NOW AFTER THIS QUOTE)

"Many Years In Front" Of World Of Warcraft
In the coming years, World of Warcraft may lose some of the MMO spotlight to "Titan,"
(AC - your future gaming has been Adjusted courtesy of Blizzard/Actievil - BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU)


"blah blah titan blah"
(AC - it's all about new hotness WOW is old and busted now)

"So, hopefully in 10, 15 and 20 years, that [new MMO] will still be growing strong and will have set a new mark in the industry for that type of product." (AC - "Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime is death.")


AC - Why is it every market dominating company starts to sound Orwellian before the end. Ya guys should have heard things Jobs said back in the day...
 
Raiding didn't really exist until Everquest. Most specifically, pre-EQ, large scale combats did not have the "solve and execute a coordinated dance routine" quality that defines the modern raid. Pretty much all the MUDs were "pure levelling" in that sense.
 
Vims,

Are you saying raiding is for chicken?
 
Reading that I keep getting flashbacks of EQ and korean grinders (on the darker side) and AC (slightly brighter).

Tobold did you play EQ ? You ideal leveling game sounds eerily similar to what EQ was!

AC had long grinds as well (at release top levels was considered unreachable, only beaten by various mechanics and botting exploits much later), but there was a diminishing power curve and I played it to pvp at that curve

World was also large and pretty interesting
 
Sory, but that statement is simply false. First of all, when WoW launched the average time for players to hit the level cap (60) with their first character was 21 days, or 500 hours. Second, that was the content ONE character consumed, and you could level up at least 4 characters (2 Alliance, 2 Horde) without any quest twice (except for a bottleneck in Stranglethorn Vale).


I've leveled up in Vanilla to 60 twice. Average time was around 7-10 days played IIRC. But the more important point is that quests filled only a pithy amount of your XP bar per level. The majority of XP as you level comes from pure hard grinding, with not even a "kill 10 rats" quest to string you along for a little more.

Sure, you can say that it might take on average 2000 hours to encounter all the content that WoW launched with, but the majority of that is not done while experiencing actual content.
 
Interesting point skimmed over briefly:

Hands up everyone who's gone into a MMO with perhaps 1-3 friends and been forced to pick up randoms to complete content?

I'd LOVE if there were 3-4mannable options. I strongly suspect that there are a lot of folks out there who play with maybe a partner, a couple siblings or a couple coworkers who would gain so much more out of the endgame/raiding if the raid was, say... six man instead of ten.

If content could scale to match the number of players with no obvious EJ-calculated 'optimum raid size', I think you'd see an explosion in participation.
 
Add EQs alternate advancement (AA's) and even level cap doesn't stop you from progressing your character.
 
I'd LOVE if there were 3-4mannable options.
According to Gevlon and Copra, the leveling instances and normal difficulty max-level instances can be 3-manned.
 
My opinion on MMORPGs is a bit opposite to Tobold's. I would like a game where character level or gear has a low impact on performance. Instead, the fun of the game would be exploration, conquest, etc. In essence, a bit like EVE but with skills taken out of the game.
 
How about a reincarnation-system? That way reaching level cap wouldn't mean game over or having to roll a new character. The new incarnation could mean that you level the same characfer again to gain more flexibility (but not necessary more power). It would help to make your maxed character appear more meaningful.
 
Trion Worlds CEO interview - Angry Commented - And commentary about leveling games

CEO
"Having a dynamic platform and a game team that is actually super strong and listens" with a "new level of nimbleness at reacting to what people like and dislike" has "allowed the team to craft a title which perfectly fits today's landscape," Buttler said.

(AC - yep super strong teams in development make great things... and if near term experience is a guide... less strong teams yield a BIG DROP in quality and playability)


CEO - on the future of games and entertainment
"It used to be movies. It used to be stand alone video games. I think today the type of stunning, immersive, dynamic, and social worlds we create are probably the most exciting and most emotionally engaging entertainment you can find. That's really what drives us, that's really our reason for being."
(AC- Rock on)


Leveling vs Raiding Games?
Moot point, what really every gamer should be looking for is the "James Cameron of games" (Sid Meyer anyone).

In software development quality talent is scarce. In fact I would venture to say that many dev shops have only about 5-10% hardcore do anything any language any technology super-geeks. So in essence it does not matter what Blizzard does in tactical "make more expansions" farm mode. ALL of the super-geeks have left wow and we are seeing the after effects.

Concept is ALWAYS trumped by talent or lack thereof. Just look at all the movies that have great concepts but flop once seen (speed racer, How Do You Know, Cutthroat Island) . Look at all the movies that have rather low concept but are highly watchable (Star Wars, Avatar, Titanic[boat sinks right?]).


So in deciding what game type you would wish for. Why not just go experience the digital interactive media from the Michelangelo's of our era?

Most likely THEY not YOU know what makes a good game. (just saying)


It's a Rift thing... you wouldn't understand
 
@Angry Gamer: You seem to confuse the commenting section of this blog with a blogging platform. Are you aware that you could start your own blog for free if you want to post long "commented" interviews from game companies?
 
It's funny that you call the raiding game "artificial". For me the leveling game feels like the "artificial" part. To me it's a 1 month long forced break every 2 years from what I would rather be doing, raiding.
 
Many people may not understand just how fun a game like this can be. I remember early Everquest days. When you met up with a level 50 player, it was like looking into the face of God. There was a good chance they would not even speak to you. And that status was pretty permanent until the next expansion and level cap went up. Logging on and getting a level was a really good day. There was a lot of challenge, just it was more evenly distributed between the hardest dungeons and just getting around in the hardest areas without screwing up and dying. The game you are desribing I hope would be like that but with the type of polish that Blizzard has brought to us that Sony never seemed to be able to do(Please don't cite EQ2, Wow beat it hands-down). However, the Wow universe has come to a point that feels artificial and segregated. I want to be challenged and immersed from the moment I walk out of the inn instead of being summoned to a meeting stone or assigned a dungeon from the dungeon finder. I want my MMO to stop feeling fake and I want leveling to mean something again.
 
@Cam

"Hands up everyone who's gone into a MMO with perhaps 1-3 friends and been forced to pick up randoms to complete content?

I'd LOVE if there were 3-4mannable options. I strongly suspect that there are a lot of folks out there who play with maybe a partner, a couple siblings or a couple coworkers who would gain so much more out of the endgame/raiding if the raid was, say... six man instead of ten. "

Aye. Like Hirvox stated earlier, we've been three manning the normal instances since mid-WotLK and they are doable: in Cataclysm even more so. It's not about scaling, it's about taking on the challenge.

On the topic, I have no understanding on people rushing through levels trying to be the top dog. Already people are hitting the cap in Rift as if it was the meaning of the game. How many of those hitting the cap have grasped the lore, seen more than damage on the screen and so on beats me, but that is not my way of playing.

And yes, I would prefer levelling/exploratory game. Why EVE doesn't strike me as one is the simple fact: in space everything is dark and looks very similar.

C out
 
"The ability to temporarily adopt a lower level to play with a group of lower level friends"

EQ2 already has this. It also has the ability to stop gaining XP and stay at a particular level as long as you'd like. I often found myself turning off my XP gain when I found myself outleveling a quest area I was enjoying.
 
The closest to non-leveling game I ever saw was the WoW $25 Arena and Free murloc tournament. You logged in, chose your race, speced it and bought free gear, and competed. Zero grinding.
---
I see the first demarcation is "sandbox" versus "rollercoaster" games. I think a "no endgame" game, without prohibitive development cost, would work better in the sandbox world. The developers provide the "physics" (abilities, movement, items ) but how the players evolve is determined by the players. Your idea of EVE implemented by Blizzard ( the TBC team ofc, not the Cata team) is the closest sentence I could get to the game I would prefer to play. It's not Blizzard that decided Goldshire and Org front gate were for dueling; it is convention.

---

I was sad to see that even in a pleasant leveling game you were advocating if not forced grouping at least some strong nudges towards grouping. I liked the recent "10 types of solo players" article from BioWare; at least it shows there is some awareness of players who, sometimes at least, play alone.
 
I very much agree with the sentiment of the endless gear-grind in WoW. It is a sad commentary on the lvl 1-85 game as a whole when it can honestly be said that WoW doesn't start until 85. If a game has content that gives no advantage for experiencing, then that content doesn't even need to be there in the first place. Either make it meaningful, or take it out. Forcing your players to do something that is, sadly, an ultimate waste of time is stupid. If you are going to spend all of your development money on new content, then give it to players on day 1.
 
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