Just decided to go on a rant about MMORPGs....
I define linear progression as you move from area A to area B.... from level 10 to level 11 to level 12...
I define radial progression as you can start in area A, B, or C and can then go to area D, E, or F... and you can level from 10 to 11 to 12 in combat, or 5 to 6 to 7 in crafting, or social etc.
The biggest problem in many MMORPG games is that they force players onto a rail system. Saying that you WILL go from point A to point B. The biggest culprit is World of Warcraft.
"If you are a Night Elf you start in this zone. Then you go to this zone. By the way you can only be this class, or that class."
I want freedom! And the only way to give that freedom is through radial progression.
Imagine a WoW where you could start any race in any of the starting zones (split by faction still ok, no Alliance starting in Horde areas etc that's just silly.) Now also imagine you can choose from whatever of the nine classes you want to.
True, an Undead Druid starting off in the Blood Elf home lands is kind of wierd... and it doesn't really mesh with the principles of the IP... but what does it really matter?
You end up going to the same zones doing the same content anyways, you just hate your character more because you couldn't:
A)pick the race you wanted or
B)pick the class you wanted.
C) You hate the starter zone and joining zone for that race because you've been through it 99,000 times.
True, you can make the long trek from one side of the world to the other to adventure in the different noob zones, but what's the point? You end up in the SAME zones doing the SAME content anyway.
I want choice! I want more options!
Why not have 3-4 zones for every level range? Why does every 30-40 and 40-50 have to adventure through the same quests in the same zones?
See THAT is the kind of expansions I want to see. Add new mid and low level zones and content. Don't force everything to the end game. If players knew that companies cared about the journey as much as they cared about the end, it'd probably just the fundamental nature of the game so much it'd be far better then anything we've seen on the market so far.
I also love the idea of different "types" of levels. Let me say first, that level system are generally a good thing because they make it easier to balance content. I think games go too far in the fact that the ONLY factor in PVP in many games is level, and if at even levels then it's gear.... but that's another story...
Give me alternate paths of advancement. I like how Everquest 2 had crafting levels that were completely separate from the combat or adventuring level or whatever they called it. I think Vanguard went further by also adding gathering levels and diplomacy levels.
Give me options! Don't force people down a linear roller coaster. Let them branch out and try different things. Let them make the character that they want to make, not bound by any rules or stipulations.
That's one really positive thing about Warhammer Online that I am looking forward to.
They have level 1-40 zones for each racial pairing. So, in essence, you could play one character of each race and have 8 completely different game play experiences. That's the kind of choice and freedom I like to see.
So combine the natural balancing effect of linear progression system with the freedom and flexibility to define your own game style in a radial progression.... don't follow stigmas and hard coded rules about this 'having' to be here and that 'having' to be there... offer different advancement paths for expanded re-play value...
and you just may have yourself a winner.