|17 posts found|
OP 11/24/09 4:08:08 AM#1
One of the trends I see in many ideas here (and in my notebooks of rough ideas for games) is that they often seem to require a low power creep. There are a lot of appealing aspects to such an ideal: it reduces obsolescence, diminishes one of the barriers to a community, and levels the playing field for competitive aspects. The big drawback however is the lack of apparent progression.
Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself a bit though. Some form of progress is vital to any game (thanks Captain Obvious), anything can count from: the score in Pac-Man, the levels in Super Mario Bros, leader boards, to (most relevant) a stronger character. I would go so far to say that the list there is also in an ascending order for their audience holding power. If that assumption is true it sets any low power creep system at a disadvantage. Or does it?
I guess that sets something of a challenge, how can you progress a character without making them stronger with the added constraint that you not divide the community using roadblocks like a skill or acquiring an item? Or is there some other way to motivate players to keep playing?
11/24/09 8:44:00 AM#2
Most of my designs are set up so individual/greater abilities statistically don't make you more powerful. But as you advance you unlock more abilities that can combo with each other making you more powerful.
This means that combat is about killing, but your first goal in combat is building up your momentum/combos OR keeping your enemy from doing so. A large part of most my designs are setting up buffs/debuffs and maintaining them.
also means that two people of any level can kill one person under most conditions because one person can only buff/debuff/mangle(destroy enemy buffs/debuffs). while two people even with basic skills do so twice as often. However someone with the best skills will be able to stand for a long time maybe take out one person.
11/24/09 8:59:11 AM#3
I think that refers to a skill up system again though. Which generally seems to be the acceptable approach if you're not going to take the gear and level grind aspect. As far as how to do this? That's the 50 million dollar question.
I guess theres a few outlandish approaches I personally would probably implement something along the lines of a non trinity based class system with all the spells and combat abilities unlocked from the get go. You wouldn't necessarily be able to improve those skills rather you would quest and dungean run for them? And perhaps if skillups for the already in place skills were put into play they could only be granted via the whole server progressing on a one time GM event that ushers you forward on the lore timeline.
11/24/09 2:09:50 PM#4
This is also one of my major complaints with games, yet I don't see something that will captivate an audience and generally reward a player if there is not such a structure. There is a big, bold line between casual players and hardcore players, then another one between lower levels and higher levels. I want to smear that line all over the page, but find a way to do so that still rewards people who invest more time in your game.
The most obvious way is to level the playing field, give players additional tools as they progress, opposed to directly giving the skills that they do have, more strength.
I had spent a good deal on this concept, and making an entire world that revolved around it. But then I began to realise that something that in theory seems so liberating, is in fact very restricting not only to the characters themselves, but the foes or world they will have to face.
Achievements are another way to hold a player's interest, but how long can you chew on that until it loses its flavor. Examples being the recently released Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Players are fully capable of combat from the first rank, yet, you unlock more weapons with different useage at higher ranks, and more (or less importantly,) you also earn titles and rewards for completing challenges all throughout the game. This is a fantastic and rewarding method of gaming. Not only do you differentiate the harder players from the softer ones, but you are also able to 'choose' which challenges you are trying to complete. This is in opposition to an RPG's nature of linear progression.
The topic is wishy-washy at best, but I look forward to any ideas and input that others may have.
OP 11/24/09 7:30:15 PM#5
Originally posted by Repulsion.
I'd agree it's not the most exciting topic, but I think that if we are able to crack this issue there is a major payoff in new design options.
One of the options I have toyed with is offering non-gameplay growth. That is combat and crafting remain largely unchanged, instead focusing on social standing and influence as the form of progression. The challenge here is to make very strong factions that can adapt to the player base's wishes without too much exclusion and frustration.
The idea is to give the players a measure of control over their environment, something often considered very rewarding. As a bonus, several quests could be unavailable at times making content seem a bit more varied (spawns being tied somewhat to the active front). Remember we are talking a game where nothing goes obsolete so this isn't a problem. IMO it could create quite the illusion of a living world, without all the world simulation effort.
As for the restricting factors inherent to low power creep systems, that is another problem. My solution is to cap the power on balance, forcing specialization. To gain durability, you'd have to sacrifice some other aspect of the character. I often use a similar concept for gear, rarely using a single damage type system. On paper at least this allows for a load of customization and overall balance, even as it allows for huge disparity within a given encounter.
There's a formula for everything, even famous quotes.
11/24/09 9:10:28 PM#6
I try to design my games around an intrinsic value, rather than an imposed extrinsic one.
So instead of levels, coins, gear, etc. being the focus of the game, the focus is to work with people and experiment. This doesn't mean there can't be some form of linear advancement or competition, as I often include many of those (even in classic form), but I always make sure that there's something "bigger than the player" that is far more important intrinsically than the little carrots strewn about.
The levels / gear / stuff are just a means to an end, not the end itself.
11/24/09 10:42:20 PM#7
While skillset ascension is a common way to do these things, I feel it's usually counter-intuitive to "difficulty curve". In most games, even as you level, the later encounters in combat somehow get more difficult - even with how powerful you have become. In a game with skillsets there is usually an open environment that has the player gauge what he can and can't kill, but by endgame skillpoints the player has little to fear of anything. I think there are ways to have level up grant generic points for placement that gives each level up a feeling of worth beyond how much good those points actually do, just min/maxing itself is enough for some, but it creates awkward systems and balance seen in games like AO, to the common Korean MMO where min/maxing is God. Crit-builds being a strange byproduct of this kind of thing, and impossible to level out against others.
Now as for "unconventional progression", I have tons of examples from many of my GDDs.
1. Platforming = Exploration Progression.
Free Realms had an interesting enough class where the common "Adventurer" has to scour maps for items and such to level up... that would be no problem if maps where more suiting to platforming action, being wide-open means hunting down hidden things instead of "reaching" ones that have a puzzle environment, or such, to it. My concept has no classes involved, but a wide number of skills that aid in travel; jumping, sprinting, climbing, etc. In the maps, which are very much taking the Mario 64 approach to platforming (tall and perplexing), there would be tons of hidden items for crafting or progression that require certain skills to reach, and lack of the proper skill is what creates a pacing element in returning for them. One item may require a long series of timed jumps, but without proper skill from easier targets, you wouldn't reach that far to begin with. All the skills have similar puzzles in place when it comes to reaching progression pick-ups, as well as high-tier craftables.
2. Roles giving more XP for certain tasks.
I got a good Sci-Fi Horror setting I was going to write a book about, and instead took the setting into an MMO format, have to say it's fairly decent, but totes only 3 classes; Soldier, Scavenger, Speaker. Basically you go into the game knowing what you are about, if you just want FPS action (and lots of it) go Soldier, if you are a die-hard looter go Scav, Speakers are about being in politics and social environments and handling player-to-player mediation and contracting (for quests/trades). Basically all three classes need each other; Soldiers as the brunt offensive, Scavs for getting more/better loot from nodes and drops, and Speakies for lining up quests and presiding over things. All classes can do what the other does, but each class is made to do a certain aspect better, and get groups of mixed types, of various specs. A big reason to allow this is because XP trades off to all group members in minute amounts, and for various reasons, but having the right role handle it means everyone gets more. Soldier kills net the team more, Scavvers looting gets everyone small (but nominal) amounts of XP and the better loot, and the mission rewards are better in general with a Speaker assigning and helping clear it (they are a like a magic/command class in combat too).
I guess it's best to explain how any kind of balance would work for this concept I guess. In this concept there are 30 levels to gain, each one gives a choice of 10 points in a health/stamina/mind pool (flat 10, no more or less in any given pool), as well as one ability point to place on a ladder similar to the average "talent tree". With limits on maximum HAM, by lvl 30 a player can max two of the most useful bars to his class (or mix), and will have enough ability points to spread between any number of weapons, or to specialize in melee or ranged only (an entire side) while having enough to reach the end of the group ability tree between them. The difficulty shift from lvl 1 to 30 will see roughly 2x as much health and ability usage pools, while weapons stay the same static outputs across the board. It would be a bit harder to take a seasoned player down as a noob, but with fast-paced FPS action it's all about seeing it coming or not.
Because of the XP differences in this game, the roles are sorted out in difficulty to maxout in, since Soldiers can pick up action grind anywhere, and loot is not far behind, the social class would be the hardest to advance in because it means meeting people and convincing them to run missions with you, as well as being a go-t0 guy for trade contracts between players, all net XP, but typical combat grinds will not prove as helpful as it does soldiers and scavvers.
3. Story Choices = Spec.
This is something I experimented with twice, and both ways are similar, yet off on separate tangents.
3a. I have a heavily "psycology" themed MMO that has key dialogue choices in story instances affect your character's expression and specs. This game also has three combat classes, but they stem from Fruedian/Jungian archetypes of the Self, Anima/Animus and Personae - which are respectively a shapechanging class, single-pet class, and multi-pet class in that order. The choices made in dialog will give indication to what will happen when the options are there, and if you are a pet-class you may have it chime in and shed light on things. These dialogue choices fall upon emotional aspects such as compassion, fear, greed, etc and fill hidden pools that weigh out over each other to give your character a posture and expression suiting your choices, as well as changing the appearance and spec of your combat form (pet or otherwise). People who show stubborness will lean towards tanking, and the over-compassionate will be better at healing, though there are drain/swap type heals for the jealous as well. I'm still figuring out a lot of it, but there remains the issue of people wanting to view different story arcs based on these decisions without it forcing them down a spec. Needs more thought.
3b. In a concept I call a "humanized/sensory fantasy/sci-fi" MMO (this one's prolly my fav setting) where karma is a key factor to many things, most of it aesthetic though. In the one case where it affects spec, it's from the way storyline mission rewards grant you new abilities instead of any kind of leveling or "raising though use" system. Every major storyline quests has cutscenes and scripted events in dungeons that require a decision that changes events and rewards you with one of two possible abilities, that in most cases are polar to each other. As an example; while in an eroded cave, you and your group will be chasing down what I would call a "slugbaby", and as you search for it you collectively come across information as to it's origins and make a choice. Much like SW:toR's voting system, you will vote as a group (or solely handle it) and the majority outcome is taken, but your choice still reflects as to what karmic end you meet - and in most situations the choices fall on the good "feeling mercy, or in another's shoes", or the bad "thinking of one's self, striving for power". The end of this example mission might give a related power to the theme of the quest, in this case something involving worms and "rotting", so the good end might give a skill to remove pestilence DoTs, while the bad placing them. This mentality is applied to every story-quest, and every ability that can be used has a polar end, and your end character might end up somewhere on the edge or middle of the karmic ladder based on those choices, and all that really does beyond the aforementioned is purely aesthetic (like posture/expression).
I have a feeling both of these styles may fall short based on choices in events and choices in skill advancement best being kept separate... but I'll keep at it until it's palatable.
4. Hidden Progression
In a concept I consider one of my most diabolical... a "social" MMO, I took a hint from games like DOMO that had the heartbeat and other awkward things go on when near a random person the game *thinks* (putting this lightly) you are best suited to hang with. The first time I had it happen and some dude wanted to talk to my sexy cat-biotch I had to flee the scene, every concurrent time it became a major annoyance - but definitely showed me how well it works on other people. I took this one step further, ditching lame hook-up mechanics, in favor of a system that charts who you hang out with, how often/long, and even takes note of certain words spoken to them in tells or while locked on, as well as emoticons. From this information, the game will know you you like the most and give hidden boosts in combat with them - in essence leveling up the relationship with people. I even tied in a heartbeat love gimmick too, but it takes a mixture of many appearances in person and some sexy clothes to even start, and it can be turned off for certain people, or entirely. Either way, the genius aspect in having *no* visual indications of these figures means that there is *no way to grind it*. ^_^ (<3 +1)
Figure that into the progression in a character's advancement in a way and I believe you may be onto something. Trying to do so as I type, heh.
Allow me to momentarily bastardize my beloved Silent Hill for a moment.
I believe the game's roots lie in the main characters being average, and not incredible fighters, but I said to myself long ago that they should adapt a kind of "learning/XP" scheme hidden from the player that makes every successful bashing of something hideous into getting closer to bashing it with gusto. If a character goes in swinging a board wildly, he is going to be losing a bit of himself by the end and be found somewhere mercilessly hacking up a pair of mannequin legs with a hatchet. My end point being that SH5 played like a dream, but that's what people are bitching about (the main char can't be superman). If the combat gradually progressed from crappy traditional SH to complex moves like SH5 - then problem solved with a side of epicsauce.
That kind of mentality should apply to an MMO somehow, but I thin the genre has bred to many window-chasers to be able to look away from stat lineups as rewarding progression.
Writer / Musician / Game Designer
Now Playing: Skyrim, Wurm Online, Tropico 4
11/30/09 1:55:53 PM#8
Very good topic.
My main complaint against games nowadays is the combat oriented vertical progression.
In essence, its Power vs Balance. If I have power, I have progression. If I have balance, I dont have progression.
Balance being an impossibility due to players time and effort spent being different.
One player plays all day, while another one just one hour per day.
This is a natural limit to balance.
To counter that, developers create artificial power limits, and since power is the essence of progression, or its most strong facet in combat oriented vertical progression games, we end up with progression caps to artificially limit a naturally unexistant balance.
Its impossible to have both power and balance. And if you make the balance a core element in your design, you will have to limit power progression. Some players consider the power over others rate in MMORPGs a vital element of their entertainment/satisfaction/needs. In games where such power progression is awarded with time and effort spent, those players who invest more time and effort will evaluate it more than those who dont do it. In free to play games, where the companies main profit comes from cash shop, selling power progression shortcuts is their way to go, therefore their designs focus tend to shift more on power than in balance. In games where power progression shortcuts are not sold in cash shops, the design decisions not necessarily weight heavier on the power progression. There seems to be an feeling that in subscription based games, the balance is the core element in the design, even though there is power progression, it is artificially limited with "classes", "levels", "requisites", so eventually the power progression stops, in detriment to a chronological balance bootleneck.
This goes against the essence of MMORPGs, wich are persistant worlds where multiple characters live and progress, and the world never stops for those who logged off, the world and the other characters doesnt wait/stop.
So a chronological balance bottleneck, such as a power progression level cap, like in WOW, for example, is a aberration mechanic to the genre.
Eventually the comunities will realize the power vs balance design of games yet in development and see them for what they are and be able to choose their games based on their preferences for either power or balance.
In another note, your public audience might never not know if your game is structured on balance or power, for example, WOW.
The power progression in WOW dont come from levels, the balance come from levels, wich are reachable very easily, with the chronological balance bootleneck, the power progression from WOW, comes from a different concept: gear.
While some are led to believe the game is structured in balance based on some hypocrital and mainly marketing gimicks, the real factors of power progression comes from gear, wich is not chronologically balanced artificially like the levels. The player power is the consecution of their time and effort spent in the acquisition of power derived from gear. Those who spent proportionally less time and effort (the paradigm of impossible balance) acquire less power derived from gear.
So, with the example of WOW, a solution/alternative should be fool your player base that prefers balance (casual players) into believing your game is structured into balance, while in reality satisfying your player base that prefers power (hardcore players) with a system in place that only show its true face after the period of time only that player base will spent on the game to discover.
Off course, some people might try to spoil your strategy on the communications nets, but that wont come close to preventing your game market strategy from causing the desired effects.
We dont see in interviews questions being asked or answered regarding "power progression, balance and the ammount of time where power progression is chronologically artificially limited or not" Thats the core question developers dont talk about that takes weeks or months for players to discover from first hand experiences.
"How many hours of power progression do I have untill I reach artificial caps?"
If people knew the answer for this, be they casual or hardcore players, they wouldnt bother playing.
Casual players want a power progression cap at maximum of lets say... 200 hours or less. Hardcore players want no power progression caps, or a power progression cap that lasts for 500-1000 hours.
MMORPGs, by their original concepts and definition, never stop. So those games games where power progression caps are reached in less than 200 hours... wich means... 2-3 weeks are not living up to the genre. In MMORPGs you are supposed to live in the living breathing organic persistant world where characters progress/evolve regardless of your presence and the whole experience lasts for months or years, definatelly not 2-3 weeks.
Those 2-3 weeks of time and effort spent required to reach the artificially (chronological balance bootleneck, to the point where others can start catching up) created power progression cap are just there for the sake of balancing up the players who spent less time and effort: the players who were logged off from the virtual persistant world that supposedly never stops/waits for them.
As long as the games remain being linear with strict focus on combat for progression PLAYERS WONT ADDAPT TO A DIFFERENT CONCEPT THAN
The concept of vertical progression: power progression... wich means "power over others"
For we to start discussing horizontal progression of characters in the "living breathing virtual organic persistant world", the MMORPGs have to start being more of that and less of "linear combat oriented games".
Once we restart making MMORPGs as they were meant to be, we will be able to surpass this "balance vs vertical progression" paradigm. Untill them, its just games of mindless rushing of "content" in a repetitive grind to for more vertical power (or reach "level cap" in those games with a cap) and be able to play "end game" or "pvp".
Noone wants to PVP untill they are sure they have the maximum possible power over others, because they can. Noone cares about the journey, because there is no journey, when you only have combat combat for more power, more power, it doesnt matter what you are doing now, it matters once you reach the cap.
My short term solution would be to remove the cap, or make it extenuatingly unreachable (over 1000 hours), then people would calm the fuck down. If you make it so everyone can reach it in 100 hours, everyone will rush those 100 hours, but if you make a thousand... people will addapt to it. That is what Free to Play games present, they have this design, but offer shortcuts in their cash shops. People dont quit because they reach level cap and get bored, they never get satisfied in F2P games (unless they spend a lot of money), but they do rage quit offended by the cash shop practices. In subscription based games, people reach the power progression cap in their first subscription month, then they quit, bored.
I prefer the time when "balance" didnt existed. Like when there wasnt levels, classes, races. Everyone could do everything whenever they wanted, so we didnt had to have progression caps, people could reach a cap in one branch of power, but there was dozens of branches, everything you learned would help and be usefull and people wouldnt get bored after one month, because in one month they barelly reached a fraction of their maximum power progression. Thats was the golden age of MMORPGs.
12/01/09 8:03:17 AM#9
I loved the Hidden/Relationship progression idea... but people will Grind it, unfortunately. Darned Min/Maxers... but most won't, and most will get frustrated trying to grind it. Still, the idea is utterly awesome.
I think the platforming idea here is close to another very potent leveling mechanic, one hearkening to platforms, but could/should be expanded for MMO game design. "Collection" as advancement. By partitioning advancement all over the world and making prerequisites physical instead of conceptual in some kind of tree, players are encourage to explore the world. It is to the explorer what the levels and loot are to the achiever. The obstacles to traverse could be barriers, long distances, as yet untraversable substances (seas, skies, dimensions), as well as the traditional doors and locks and chests and platforms of, say, Zelda.
Expanding that a different direction, a game may choose to ask players to collect 'people', contacts or relationships, completing missions earning favors that can be turned in and generally causing players to expand their network, trade connections with others and have a sort of NPC/summon-economy. It's not what you know, it's who you know.
I also would seriously consider a number of persistent capture the flag games as an advancment system surrounding PvP, where the possessors of certain items would gain abilities in keeping with those items, which are returned to their original resting place if a player logs off (or exits the PvP area) for more than 10-30 minutes. With other stipulations (some items are useful for finding other items, some items open up PvP in diverse areas, other tactics-changing properties), collecting these items could be an advancement of its own, though one that must be fought for, a zero sum game of sorts. Could be interesting.
I also toyed with a purely social advancement, much like the relationship idea given, where players who emote together, and in certain areas ("stages"), against an algorithm sorting for repetition and continuity (subjectivish, I know), allow players to earn RP points, which can be spent to gain access to more powerful NPCs, in a collection-like advancement mentioned above.
Just my thoughts...
The Illusion of Choice
OP 12/01/09 2:11:24 PM#10
Originally posted by Hype
I'm really liking the "social" ideas. The "hidden" stuff (a compatibility level between 2 players) could work nicely, even if it is a very weak combat bonus (if at all). NPCs as actual assets with a purpose beyond "go deliver/kill this for me" would be nice too. I can picture that becoming very complex in a large game, even "worse" (mad scientist laugh) if they could be combined.
Somehow the idea of secret societies (with learnable hand shakes or code words) seems like it would add something to these games. NPCs with personal agendas (a coup for example) that you could take part in or work to thwart, could easily be a part of this. Sure there could still be the typical quest-dispensers, vend-bots, and space-filling NPCs (just there to make a place look busy or for a bit of comic relief) if just to keep the work manageable.
Sorry about the jumble of thoughts here, I see a lot of interesting pieces (to me anyways) that almost fit together.
12/02/09 11:59:57 AM#11
I just thought up this one, so it probably isn't well thought out.
This is just for combat, because I don't think combat should be leveled the same as noncombat abilities.
Progression is temporary and is done jointly as the effort of the entire faction. I am really thinking this would work in a PvP type setting bett then anything, though PvE still makes sense.
The idea is that by your faction controling points or doing objectives everyone gets points.
By earning points your faction can "level up" which means that players can select from more options on how they want to spec their character at the moment. The options just give you a wider array of options that can be selected by anyone regardless of base class or whatever, they do not make you stronger, just different.
Small stat boosts are given to players that survive for a period of time and for doing objectives, this is to cut down on freeloaders.
Your faction can lose points when their capture points are taken by the enemy/mobs, if your faction falls below the threshold needed to use the upgrade you are using, the next time you die you will lose the upgrade until your faction gains the points back.
For a PvP situation a third NPC faction could come and take territory from one of the sides if they are getting too powerful.
There's a formula for everything, even famous quotes.
12/02/09 9:24:16 PM#12
So we're still on the subject of applying meaningless variables to players in order to signify some form of progression? It's kind of fake, and more and more people are beginning to taste that.
Think: how do people progress in real life? They get better at what they do through practice, but they never truly master it. This is why games run out of content while there is so much to discover about everything else.
If you designed a game as more of a hobby than a story, your players wouldn't be worried about what level they are or what they have to unlock next, they'd concentrate instead on how they can improve their ability to perform their chosen activity.
Abductive: A talented artist always seeks to improve his skill. There's no cap because there's always room for improvement. Players simply run out of things to do in games, so we're trying to get people interested in skills they can improve in real life - skills they can never master.
The trend here, I think, is that we're trying to get players to be artists or designers of their interests. Once we get players interested in something they can never master, they'll never want to leave the game. Buying an MMORPG of that caliber would be the same as buying tools for a hobby - except you pay each month to keep them.
12/02/09 10:22:44 PM#13
Empire building games have an interesting form of advancement. Take the most simple form where you just have resource gather, and unit production. No research or similar. And you have some interesting advancement without any levels.
OP 12/03/09 4:45:07 PM#14
That does describe it well. Building an entertaining game that utilizes and refines a huge set of real life skills should be very long lived. IMO that is key to the longevity of chess, even if it works on a limited number skills.
Personally I do find vertical combat growth to work against that objective. Likewise, I prefer horizontal growth be tied to specialization. This places more emphasis on matching a character to your playstyle. Heavy groupers would find themselves rather gimped for solo combat, and heavy solo players would likely be to generalized for grouping (only extremes given). Nothing permanent, but it would take a fair amount of effort to change.
Outside of combat, there could be millions of ways to improve yourself. Maybe you "learn" to pick locks, draw maps, or translate some ancient text. With out the "stress" of ever really falling behind (obsolescence created by levels, skills and/or gear), it could easily become more hobby like and inspire people to do more of what they find interesting.
12/13/09 7:57:29 AM#15
This is exactly what I was hoping someone would mention in this thread. It would be very interesting to see this concept applied in an MMORPG environment and scale.
12/16/09 10:32:34 AM#16
I was not quite sure where to post this but as you seem to be someone that appreciates ideas i thought i would just tack it on here. Apologies if i and putting this in the wrong place.
i have noticed that in many mmo's people tend to farm the mobs in small areas from place to place. i was wondering if a person was to construct a game where the mob's themselves do the same in an attempt to become the biggest mob in the game, i.e. killing the smaller mobs in order to become richer and stronger. taking the things of what ever it might kill including player characters. while also moving in a steadily upward direction in relation to fields where the mobs would still provide a challenge and exp to the ascending mob seeking power.
in doing this i must wonder that as a player character became higher in lvl it would very much benefit him to leave the lower lvl ascending mobs alone. this would also keep people from farming the big namers due to the fact that once one of them was killed he would not just respon but would rather need to ascend to the position again.
this would have many benefits for the players as well as the mobs. the lower lvl a mob started out and the higher he got the more gold ect. he would have. while at the same time the realy high lvl player charicters would feel motivated to drag grps of smaller mobs into one of the ascending mobs in order to make him stronger or leave him a more powerfull weapon aiding his ascention.
i have never seen a game designed like this. anyone think it would be a good idea?
12/16/09 10:48:08 AM#17
I know many people dislike (hate) it with passion but... what about EVE online type of approach of skill progression? I personally love it although being power gamer in other games. You can't really speed it up no matter what you do. Just log in and enjoy playing.
Skill progression is not giving you constant power gain. It gives you more choices at some point, more variety at what you could do. It's way better than levels and skills that increase with use (macro grind).
I know many players don't like this due to popular 'you can't catch vets!' which is only partially true. Vets will have more options, but when fighting in same ship the are equal.
Dunno, I find it best progression so far. Mainly because I usually have sleepless nights in other games because I just want that one more level! In EVE you just go sleep and effect is same... :P