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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » Free-Roaming vs. Linear Level Design

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58 posts found
  Kevyne-Shandris

Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/10/08
Posts: 1980

You can't † BURY † ¤¤ Holy Paladins ¤¤ As we will always __.- ASCEND -.__

1/08/14 11:15:22 AM#21
Originally posted by Jean-Luc_Picard
Originally posted by laokoko
Originally posted by Jean-Luc_Picard
Originally posted by nariusseldon
Originally posted by Jean-Luc_Picard
 

Maybe not harsh enough, since it's a true story. Today's players totally lack initiative and the ability to make their own decisions compared to players back when UO, EQ and AC1 were the 3 top contenders. Hell, even WoW during Vanilla times had a decent amount of free roaming, where players had to decide where to go next and were not force feed by the game.

 

 

May be it is boring to wandering and find content. People play games to be entertained, and entertained quickly.

I certainly *can* wander for 30 minute looking for stuff to do ... but why should i in an entertainment product?

You are confused between "unable to", and "don't want to". Just like map making. I use to make paper maps in the time of the first Might and Magic. It is trivially easy, and not fun (for me). So while i *can* do it, why should i not use the auto-map when it is more fun to me?

What's the difference between:

1) The quest text says "go find the lair of the great white Lion, north west from here between the two hills".

and

2) The quest text says "Kill the while Lion", and you have a big arrow on your map showing the area NW between the two hills.

 

Simple. Option 1 required a bit of observation, adventuring, logic and general brain usage. Not much, anyone with a normal IQ and average reading comprehension will find it very quickly. Option 2 is made so that no thinking at all is involved, no adventuring, no exploration, nothing. Dumbed down to the lowest common denominator, the most stupid player.

It's just like TV, 90% of the programs are made for brainless people.

The problem is there are literally hundred of quests in todays themepark games.  I Just don't felt like getting stuck doing this mindless quest.

If you take out those mindless quest and put in more meaniful content.  That might be better.

That's precisely the problem. The "average" player doesn't want that. He likes his dumbed down, "designed for stupid" quests, which wouldn't even have been named "quests" in past games but just mere "tasks". And the more linear the better, so he never has to even start to think about where to go next.

And why does the "average" player even does it, Jean?

  Helleri

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 5/26/08
Posts: 725

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”- Henry Ford

 
OP  1/08/14 11:21:56 AM#22
Originally posted by laokoko
Originally posted by Jean-Luc_Picard
Originally posted by nariusseldon
Originally posted by Jean-Luc_Picard
 

Maybe not harsh enough, since it's a true story. Today's players totally lack initiative and the ability to make their own decisions compared to players back when UO, EQ and AC1 were the 3 top contenders. Hell, even WoW during Vanilla times had a decent amount of free roaming, where players had to decide where to go next and were not force feed by the game.

 

 

May be it is boring to wandering and find content. People play games to be entertained, and entertained quickly.

I certainly *can* wander for 30 minute looking for stuff to do ... but why should i in an entertainment product?

You are confused between "unable to", and "don't want to". Just like map making. I use to make paper maps in the time of the first Might and Magic. It is trivially easy, and not fun (for me). So while i *can* do it, why should i not use the auto-map when it is more fun to me?

What's the difference between:

1) The quest text says "go find the lair of the great white Lion, north west from here between the two hills".

and

2) The quest text says "Kill the while Lion", and you have a big arrow on your map showing the area NW between the two hills.

 

Simple. Option 1 required a bit of observation, adventuring, logic and general brain usage. Not much, anyone with a normal IQ and average reading comprehension will find it very quickly. Option 2 is made so that no thinking at all is involved, no adventuring, no exploration, nothing. Dumbed down to the lowest common denominator, the most stupid player.

It's just like TV, 90% of the programs are made for brainless people.

The problem is there are literally hundred of quests in todays themepark games.  I Just don't felt like getting stuck doing this mindless quest.

If you take out those mindless quest and put in more meaniful content.  That might be better.

I don't consider most MMORPG these days as actually having any quests. I am one of those which has been spoiled by Runescape on the subject of what a quest looks like.

 

A typical quest in Runescape starts out with you running what should be a simple errand. But, quickly snowballs into you stealing outfits to disguise yourself so you can get into secret hideouts and pickpocket keys in order to free someone with important information. Interrogating npc's. Figuring out how seemingly unrelated physical clues left behind point to a specific secret location. Building miniature mecha-penguin suits and being magically shrunk to fit inside of it so that you can stop the flight envying foul from taking over the world through acts of espionage and sabotage. Solving intricate puzzles to unlock doors so that you can infiltrate a demon summoning ceremony, and make sure it goes wrong so he gets sent back to an hellish dimension. Tricking ogres into eating hard food, so that you extract their tooth with special secateurs, in order to have all of the ingredients for a shield diffusing spell that will help reawaken the fairy queen...It gets very involved, very quickly...and 4 hours later you get to return to that first NPC and be like:

 

Player:"HEre! here is the damn polished bronze knife that you couldn't walk 3 minutes away to get yourself!"

NPC: "Did you have any trouble getting it? It took you a while."

Player: "*sigh*...unfortunately nothing out of the ordinary."

 

...What most MMORPG call quests...In Runescape we call simple tasks.

 

Btw (and in-so-much bring it back around to the discussion at hand) Runescape is my example for a free-roaming world done right. It's open and you can explore it. But there are still many micro linear paths to take within it that expand your access to the overall world. when and where you choose to do these things is up to you though.

Qualifiers for failing to deliver on story (in a supposedly story driven MMORPG):
If my character starts out ship wrecked on a beach.
If my character has amnesia; But, is also somehow the chosen one.
If my character has a place of origin that they will likely never set foot in until mid-high level.

  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 11929

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, Wildstar, and Combat Arms

1/08/14 11:27:08 AM#23

Linear design I play up until about mid-level and then move on to the next game as that's usually around when I've seen all the skills, mobs and features the game has to offer. 

I far prefer what you call free-roaming, as it is often combined with mechanics I prefer such as skill-based advancement and sandbox-focused features. 

  User Deleted
1/08/14 11:30:38 AM#24
Originally posted by Jean-Luc_Picard
Originally posted by ZombieKen

I see the question's terminology as paralleling seamless vs zoned.  I greatly prefer seamless.  I find zoned (especially with invisiwalls) feels artificially restrictive.

Yet "zoned" doesn't automatically mean "linear", and "seamless" doesn't automatically mean "free roaming". Comparing apples and oranges here.

Using today's WoW and GW2 as examples, WoW is more "seamless" yet is way more "linear".

 

WoW is very linear in gameplay, I agree.  But I think the OP is expressing zone design options, or maybe more correctly zone building options.

 

One way I used to describe what I think the OP is referring to as linear zone design, is "Cattle Chutes".  Like the old linear SP RPGs where leaving one area took the player character on a zero choices path (aka linear path) to the destination.

 

One example of what I think the OP is talking about is the original Guild Wars.  Some of the zones in there are very close to what I'd call "Cattle Chutes".  There's one way in, one way out, and pretty much only one way to get from in to out.

 

Pardon if I'm messing up the language on this.  I don't know what the common term is for what I call "Cattle Chutes" as applied to MMORPG zone design where the zone is highly restrictive on where one can go.

 

  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 11929

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, Wildstar, and Combat Arms

1/08/14 11:37:58 AM#25
Originally posted by ZombieKen
Originally posted by Jean-Luc_Picard
Originally posted by ZombieKen

I see the question's terminology as paralleling seamless vs zoned.  I greatly prefer seamless.  I find zoned (especially with invisiwalls) feels artificially restrictive.

Yet "zoned" doesn't automatically mean "linear", and "seamless" doesn't automatically mean "free roaming". Comparing apples and oranges here.

Using today's WoW and GW2 as examples, WoW is more "seamless" yet is way more "linear".

 

WoW is very linear in gameplay, I agree.  But I think the OP is expressing zone design options, or maybe more correctly zone building options.

One way I used to describe what I think the OP is referring to as linear zone design, is "Cattle Chutes".  Like the old linear SP RPGs where leaving one area took the player character on a zero choices path (aka linear path) to the destination.

One example of what I think the OP is talking about is the original Guild Wars.  Some of the zones in there are very close to what I'd call "Cattle Chutes".  There's one way in, one way out, and pretty much only one way to get from in to out.

Pardon if I'm messing up the language on this.  I don't know what the common term is for what I call "Cattle Chutes" as applied to MMORPG zone design where the zone is highly restrictive on where one can go.

 

I think the word you are looking for is Tiered not Zoned, as tiered content is what created the "cattle chutes". Whether the game world is seamless, instanced, zoned or otherwise is relatively immaterial. You can still have a seamless world and have the content tiered within it. The WOW/GW2 example above is a great example of that. 

  User Deleted
1/08/14 11:45:01 AM#26
Originally posted by Helleri
I would only diverge at the point of calling Open-world vs. Gated content synonymous with the aforementioned.

 

I agree.  Free roaming world design does not imply non-gated content (aka free-roaming gameplay).

 

I've been rethinking the original question, and I'm sort of coming up with that I like both (either?).  If I'm walking the road from Apple-town to Bananna-town and have to fight my way through angry mobs to get there, I'm okay with the road being in a region with linear design.  It still serves the purpose, and it does fit with classic RPG design.

 

  User Deleted
1/08/14 11:46:26 AM#27
Originally posted by Loktofeit
... the zone is highly restrictive on where one can go.

 

I think the word you are looking for is Tiered not Zoned, as tiered content is what created the "cattle chutes". Whether the game world is seamless, instanced, zoned or otherwise is relatively immaterial. You can still have a seamless world and have the content tiered within it. The WOW/GW2 example above is a great example of that. 

Much appreciated.

 

 

  nariusseldon

Elite Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 19281

1/08/14 12:00:30 PM#28
Originally posted by Jean-Luc_Picard
Originally posted by nariusseldon
Originally posted by Jean-Luc_Picard
 

Maybe not harsh enough, since it's a true story. Today's players totally lack initiative and the ability to make their own decisions compared to players back when UO, EQ and AC1 were the 3 top contenders. Hell, even WoW during Vanilla times had a decent amount of free roaming, where players had to decide where to go next and were not force feed by the game.

 

 

May be it is boring to wandering and find content. People play games to be entertained, and entertained quickly.

I certainly *can* wander for 30 minute looking for stuff to do ... but why should i in an entertainment product?

You are confused between "unable to", and "don't want to". Just like map making. I use to make paper maps in the time of the first Might and Magic. It is trivially easy, and not fun (for me). So while i *can* do it, why should i not use the auto-map when it is more fun to me?

What's the difference between:

1) The quest text says "go find the lair of the great white Lion, north west from here between the two hills".

and

2) The quest text says "Kill the while Lion", and you have a big arrow on your map showing the area NW between the two hills.

 

Simple. Option 1 required a bit of observation, adventuring, logic and general brain usage. Not much, anyone with a normal IQ and average reading comprehension will find it very quickly. Option 2 is made so that no thinking at all is involved, no adventuring, no exploration, nothing. Dumbed down to the lowest common denominator, the most stupid player.

It's just like TV, 90% of the programs are made for brainless people.

No. 90% of the tv program are made for people who don't want to think. There is a difference. You are confused between the ability to think, and the desire to do so.

In your case, (1) is no challenge, but NW is so imprecise that i may take more time wandering the hill to find cave. If combat with the lion is entertaining to me, but wandering between two hills is not, why would I not choose (2) even if i can follow that simple direction of going NW?

 

  TangentPoint

Elite Member

Joined: 2/12/12
Posts: 1104

The "Real Game" begins at character creation.

1/08/14 12:01:45 PM#29
Originally posted by Jean-Luc_Picard

ArenaNET gave the players a 100% free roaming game with GW2, but during the beta, many players were confused, lost, unable to think on their own and take initiative, so they had to patch in "hearts" to please those who have never known anything other than WoW clones with linear questing.

Some people just completely lack imagination and initiative. They want to be on rails, grinding like lobotomized hamsters.

Gotta agree on the GW2 comment. I was a serious doubter/skeptic of this game for a while (the extreme hype around it largely to blame). Finally, a few friends convinced me to give it a try (one insisting it was right up my alley). I was too focused on ARR, putting all my eggs in that basked to 'scratch that itch'.

Well, in an interesting twist of irony, it's been a lesson learned. I was wrong.

ARR turned out to be exactly the kind of experience I'd hoped it wouldn't be.

GW2 turned out to be the most refreshing take on the genre I've seen in far too long. It turned out to be exactly the kind of experience I'd hoped ARR would be (not in terms of specific gameplay, but in terms of taking the familiar and finding new ways to present it, a vast world to explore, etc). The openness of it.. the "go where ever the hell you want and do whatever the hell you want, when ever you want" design of it is pure bliss for the Adventurer/Explorer in me. The world is gorgeously rendered, and screams to be explored - because there's so damn much to find (much of it not marked on the map, which is awesome).

I've found some amazing places just by wondering "hmm... wonder where that cave goes?" and wandering off to find out. The best part is, it's not a quest that guides me there. Just my own curiosity and will to explore. There was no marker. No breadcrumb trail. The places are just there as parts of the world... waiting to be found. In that aspect alone, I place GW2 head and shoulders above any other new MMO I've personally played/tried in the last 7 years. They've created a world, not just a game - and there is a difference. It doesn't put you on rails. It gives you a world, fills it with stuff to do, says "okay.. here ya go.. have fun", and sets you loose. Awesome.

Now, as for a preference for Linear versus Open. I can enjoy a linear game world, if it's well designed and the content is fun/interesting. By far, though, I prefer a more open world design. Open world means more possibilities... more options for places to go, fewer places (ideally) indicated on the map and more left there to be "discovered" by a curious adventurer such as myself.

I like to think I'm the kind of player world designers are hoping to target when they create their worlds... because I absolutely love exploring them. So, the more to explore, and the less of it that's pre-indicated on the map, the happier I am.

 

 

 

My philosophy on MMORPGs:

Leveling is what happens while you're playing the rest of the game.

Don't worry about levels. Just play.

  Arclan

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 1/29/07
Posts: 1326

"Ideas are worthless. The only currency that holds any weight is the ability and drive to execute."

1/08/14 12:28:25 PM#30

I like adventuring, not reading instructions; so I prefer Free Roam. Loathe linear games and quest-hub games; in fact the terms are synonymous.

P L A N E T S I D E 1 is up !! check PS1 forum for link to current installer.
Luckily, i don't need you to like me to enjoy video games. -nariusseldon.
In F2P I think it's more a case of the game's trying to play the player's. -laserit
video game company layoffs are twice the national average.

  Helleri

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 5/26/08
Posts: 725

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”- Henry Ford

 
OP  1/08/14 1:53:04 PM#31

I think it's funny that I can be so very specific about what I mean when I use a term in my opening post (presenting my terms and at least for the purposes of this thread how I am choosing to define them as a guide for the discussion). But, still see semantic opposition on it.

 

...can't win

Qualifiers for failing to deliver on story (in a supposedly story driven MMORPG):
If my character starts out ship wrecked on a beach.
If my character has amnesia; But, is also somehow the chosen one.
If my character has a place of origin that they will likely never set foot in until mid-high level.

  waynejr2

Hard Core Member

Joined: 4/12/11
Posts: 3714

RIP City of Heroes!

1/08/14 2:03:16 PM#32
Originally posted by Helleri

I would like to know:

 

  • If you have a heavy preference to one style or the other for MMORPG's you play; And why? Also is this a general preference (if you do have one) or conditional on what you feel like doing at the time?
 
  • If either of these is a turn-off for playing a prospective MMORPG for you; And why?
 
  • If you can think of any exemplary games that employ either style (either well done or poorly implemented); And, describe how they went about it, towards the end's of where it set them apart in this respect.

 

To start this off right, I am going to give some very clear definitions of what I am referring to in the title:

 

Free-Roaming.

You can go most any where you see. While there may be some limitations they are largely reasonable within the context of what you are capable of (such as the physics of a game not letting you climb more then so high up on a mountain, because it simply becomes too steep. Or not being able to get on a building rooftop, only because you can find a group of items that are correctly sized and heighted to allow you to jump up). When moving between areas, the transition is virtually seamless. Often even having an intergradation area between biomes for the flora and terrain present in either adjacent area. Though mostly very open there are still often some areas (such as buildings in a town, or dungeons) that may present a loading screen.

 

 

Linear.

Movement is generally free within set boundaries. You can see plenty of places in the distance. But, it is likely a backdrop that you cannot reach or a visual representation of an area you will be able to load eventually. There is a high degree of polish to objects which makes them difficult to interact with in any other way then was strictly intended (characters auto-running or glitching through a fence when you try to ranged attack something in a way that attempts to use the fence as a shield for instance). There are often many invisible barriers preventing you from going to undeveloped places or simply beyond the reveal. Movement between areas often involves loading screens, and adjacent areas tend to look very different from each other.


...So, thoughts on this?

I don't think either ultimately matters to me.  I hear your question as if it were "is a book you are reading better with a blue cover or a red cover?".  There is fun in both.  You can explore in both.  The real issue is other issues in the game such as game mechanics.

  Kevyne-Shandris

Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/10/08
Posts: 1980

You can't † BURY † ¤¤ Holy Paladins ¤¤ As we will always __.- ASCEND -.__

1/08/14 2:16:29 PM#33
Originally posted by Helleri

I think it's funny that I can be so very specific about what I mean when I use a term in my opening post (presenting my terms and at least for the purposes of this thread how I am choosing to define them as a guide for the discussion). But, still see semantic opposition on it.

 

...can't win

Maybe it's the BIG TEXT and orange type that does it! lol

  mmoguy43

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/31/09
Posts: 2300

1/08/14 2:23:12 PM#34

I'm definitely the explorer so I like the freedom to go where I please. So open ended level design suits me better. I still can enjoy more linear levels but the story has to be amazing as well as everything else to make up for it(thinking SP games here).

Most MMOs aren't so linear by level design though because the environment you play in is rather large and you usually have several options of what to do or where to go. It is more about how the quests are laid out and the developer's intent for you to follow that trail of quests. It more noticeably feels linear when everyone starts in the same spot and everyone follows the same trail of quests to get out of the starter area and the same trail for each new zone.

What I'd like to be able to do is just wander around the world and stumble upon a quest. At least that way I feel satisfied to have found it and completed it. Sure, Developers get more "use" out of feeding us quests from hub to hub but the entire experience feels underwhelming. I'm certainly no feeling like an adventurer at that point.

 

Linear and poor replayabilty: Aion, WAR, SWTOR, etc

Non linear quest hub branching and many starting locations, good replayability: Vanguard, EQ2

Let's build the ultimate MMO 1 feature at a time
http://www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/thread/398555/page/1

  Multibyte

Hard Core Member

Joined: 5/22/13
Posts: 47

1/08/14 2:26:33 PM#35
Originally posted by Jean-Luc_Picard
Originally posted by Quirhid
Originally posted by Jean-Luc_Picard

ArenaNET gave the players a 100% free roaming game with GW2, but during the beta, many players were confused, lost, unable to think on their own and take initiative, so they had to patch in "hearts" to please those who have never known anything other than WoW clones with linear questing.

Some people just completely lack imagination and initiative. They want to be on rails, grinding like lobotomized hamsters.

Rather harsh, isn't it?

Maybe not harsh enough, since it's a true story. Today's players totally lack initiative and the ability to make their own decisions compared to players back when UO, EQ and AC1 were the 3 top contenders. Hell, even WoW during Vanilla times had a decent amount of free roaming, where players had to decide where to go next and were not force feed by the game.

Exploration, figuring out what to do next, using the brain and the imagination... nah. Everything has to be obvious for even the most stupid of players, god forbid if they had to think for a minute before moving to the next content of their choice.

 

+1 for the cartoon. :)

 

  User Deleted
1/08/14 3:38:13 PM#36
Originally posted by Helleri

I think it's funny that I can be so very specific about what I mean when I use a term in my opening post (presenting my terms and at least for the purposes of this thread how I am choosing to define them as a guide for the discussion). But, still see semantic opposition on it.

 

...can't win

 

I pulled a win out of the thread.  It provided a bump to get me thinking about how much or how little world design relates to content gating and progression.

 

The concept that I've been banging on for a while is how far can typical MMORPG mechanics be stripped down and still be an MMORPG.  I've already eliminated XP entirely, driving levels based on skill training.  I'd like to see if I can remove levels completely and gate content solely on the individual's preference for easy or difficult gameplay.

 

I'm thinking linear world layout might provide structure to make this possible, as opposed to free-roaming which would appear to the player as more chaotic.

 

Sorry you can't win, but thanks for helping me. 

 

  Helleri

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 5/26/08
Posts: 725

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”- Henry Ford

 
OP  1/08/14 3:46:51 PM#37
Originally posted by UNATCOII
Originally posted by Helleri

I think it's funny that I can be so very specific about what I mean when I use a term in my opening post (presenting my terms and at least for the purposes of this thread how I am choosing to define them as a guide for the discussion). But, still see semantic opposition on it.

 

...can't win

Maybe it's the BIG TEXT and orange type that does it! lol

Your just jealous because your text is tiny and uncolored. And, it's to late to change that now and have people buy it. Because, you have established a norm...btw, it's light salmon and pale turquoise.

...If your gana rip on my swag at least get it right.

Originally posted by ZombieKen

I pulled a win out of the thread.  It provided a bump to get me thinking about how much or how little world design relates to content gating and progression.

 

The concept that I've been banging on for a while is how far can typical MMORPG mechanics be stripped down and still be an MMORPG.  I've already eliminated XP entirely, driving levels based on skill training.  I'd like to see if I can remove levels completely and gate content solely on the individual's preference for easy or difficult gameplay.

 

I'm thinking linear world layout might provide structure to make this possible, as opposed to free-roaming which would appear to the player as more chaotic.

 

Sorry you can't win, but thanks for helping me. 

 

Well, at least I didn't make it poll, huh.

Qualifiers for failing to deliver on story (in a supposedly story driven MMORPG):
If my character starts out ship wrecked on a beach.
If my character has amnesia; But, is also somehow the chosen one.
If my character has a place of origin that they will likely never set foot in until mid-high level.

  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 11929

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, Wildstar, and Combat Arms

1/08/14 3:51:25 PM#38
Originally posted by UNATCOII
Originally posted by Helleri

I think it's funny that I can be so very specific about what I mean when I use a term in my opening post (presenting my terms and at least for the purposes of this thread how I am choosing to define them as a guide for the discussion). But, still see semantic opposition on it.

 

...can't win

Maybe it's the BIG TEXT and orange type that does it! lol

The formatting does definitely get in the way of reading it. 

  User Deleted
1/08/14 3:51:34 PM#39
Originally posted by Helleri

 

Well, at least I didn't make it poll, huh.

 

1. Free-Roaming - 97%

2. Linear - 0%

3. WTF is the OP asking? - 3%

 

*grin*

 

  Helleri

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 5/26/08
Posts: 725

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”- Henry Ford

 
OP  1/08/14 3:54:34 PM#40
Originally posted by Loktofeit
Originally posted by UNATCOII
Originally posted by Helleri

I think it's funny that I can be so very specific about what I mean when I use a term in my opening post (presenting my terms and at least for the purposes of this thread how I am choosing to define them as a guide for the discussion). But, still see semantic opposition on it.

 

...can't win

Maybe it's the BIG TEXT and orange type that does it! lol

The formatting does definitely get in the way of reading it. 

Pastels in a slightly larger font is harder to read on a dark background? Are you legally blind? Color theory would hold that it should be in-fact easier on the eyes.

 

Originally posted by ZombieKen
Originally posted by Helleri

 

Well, at least I didn't make it poll, huh.

 

1. Free-Roaming - 97%

2. Linear - 0%

3. WTF is the OP asking? - 3%

 

*grin*

 

+1

Qualifiers for failing to deliver on story (in a supposedly story driven MMORPG):
If my character starts out ship wrecked on a beach.
If my character has amnesia; But, is also somehow the chosen one.
If my character has a place of origin that they will likely never set foot in until mid-high level.

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