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The Casual Life by Wintyre Fraust

An older, casual player's perspective on MMOG's in general and GW2 in particular.

Author: Meleagar

The Character Development System

Posted by Meleagar Saturday July 18 2009 at 4:03PM
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In my last entry, we introduced the 24/7 experience advancement character development system.  The tmajor attractions of 24/7 advancement are:  it levels the playing field between all kinds of players, no matter how casual; it gives even the most casual player a sense of getting as much for their money as anyone else; since one can gain experience even while offline, the game doesn't promote unhealthy gaming habits nor does it compete with other games for the player's time; and one one plays when they want to, and does what they want to in game. The game changes from "need" to play, to "want" to play.

The concept of this game is strategic character development. As the character accrues experience, the player can spend that experience on character development.  let's say that the character gains 10xp for every minute in the game. After 10 minutes, they have 100xp.  They can open up their development menu and decide where to start applying their experience.

The thing to understand here is that nothing about the character - no trait, no skill, no ability. no talent - goes up on its own; the player is the one that makes all the decisions. 

Let's say that it takes 10 exp to move your health from the current value of 25 to 30 and 10 xp to move your strength up from 10 to 11. Let's say that for 10 exp you can gain basic training in edged blades (or other types of weapons), and for 10 exp you can gain basic training in mysticism (one branch of spellcasting).

Now let's say it takes 20 exp to move from 30 to 35 health. amd 30 to move from 35 to 50.  Also, it takes 10 exp to gain basic instruction in swimming, or jumping, or climbing, or safe falling. It also takes 10 exp to get basic instruction in any of the crafting skills. Or you can gain basic training in one of many employment skills which earn you money (and other rewards) over time.

10 exp to open up any one of the four element spellcasting lines, or necromancy, or utility spells, or clerical spells, druidism, etc. Perhaps the next step down any particular line is 20 exp, or maybe somthing like increased agility costs 50 exp to move it one point.  Moving from a simple bow to compound bows might require 200 exp on down the road. 

When the player opens up their development interface, they can see the entire tree and exp cost (both individually and accumulatively) for any talent, skill, ability, or specialization in the entire tree, plus a complete descrption of what each does, so they can strategically develop their character and make plans on how to distribute their exp purchases.

The player can pick and choose any combination of skills, abilities, talents and professions, stat increases and character trait developments they wish to buy with their available experience, able to forge an entirely customized character.   You can see the incredible diversity and potential for lateral development of completely unique characters in this kind of system.  Also, there is no distinct level system here; the player is free to advance any particular aspect of their character however far they wish.

Yes, this will result in a game that does not have class or character balance, and cannot be tuned for any "end game" combat scenario; that's because this game is not class balanced, it is not character balanced, and it has no 'end game" combat scenario.  It isn't balanced for PvP or any particular battle scenario.  Players will be able to individually solo anything in the game eventually, because the longer one subscribes, the more powerful their character will become.

Similarly, developers will be free to add any game content they wish, including very powerful foes, without worrying about fine-tuning the combat scenarios, because there will be no way to account for how players might have developed their characters and then may be teaming up. 

In an end-game oriented MMOG, characters "advance" towards class and power positions that are carefully limited in order to be balanced and tuned for end game battle instances. This results in boring, cookie-cutter characters that must fufill certain pre-defined roles and certain ranges of power. In this game, all battle considerations are secondary to the main goal of unlimited 24/7 character development and letting the players strategically build their characters however they wish over time - even into charcters with god-like powers.

 Next: Why Spend Time Online If The Character Advances 24/7 Anyway?

ghstwolf writes:

So you always advance, with an XP gain designed to "level the field" making a 3yr old player = a freshly minted player in a shortish period of time (in total XP).  It could be interesting or a nightmare loaded with issues.  I'd rather not guess at where the issues will appear just yet, maybe after the next entry.

Sat Jul 18 2009 7:25PM Report
Meleagar writes:

No, the new player won't gain up the 3 year difference "shortly", becaues while the new player might be gaining at 115% or 120%, the 3yr player is still moving along.  It will take quite a while for the new player to catch up.

If popular, there is always the potential for new servers to open up to create a "from scratch" level playing field. However, one must keep in mind that there is no "end game" as we currently understand the term; it's a development game, so the motivations are different.  Since there is no real "linear" advancement, there's no meaningful way to claim a specific "better than" in comparison to other players, because each player is - over time - creating exactly the unique character they want.

I imagine characters standing around talking about their specific builds and in-game interests, what they're trying to accomplish, what their particular avenues of development have revealed or the opportunities they've discovered. Instead of just a few powergamers finding everything out and posting it all on websites or guild forums, everyone - even the casual players - will be making all sorts of discoveries about the hidden potentials down each particular development path.

Sat Jul 18 2009 9:56PM Report
biofellis writes:

I don't understand- All this seems to do is reward early adopters and discourage the need to actually 'play' (quality of MMO notwithstanding)- it still sends a negative message about the 'importance' of interaction.

This is- (in a sense) built-in 'botting'- and though it obviously isn't really, it is likely to elicit some of the same 'disdain'- "Look at that guy- he's named Markkill- he played a month a year ago and hasn't played since- and logged back on to get 14,000,000 xp! We've been at it for four months straight & he's way higher!" (or whatever).

Whether P2P or F2P, I dunno if this 'feature' is additionally anything less than a 'conflict of interest' as well. But it's an interesting idea in any case- Take care!

 

Tue Jan 26 2010 5:46PM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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