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News & Features Discussion  » [Column] General: Levels

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56 posts found

Elite Member

Joined: 5/14/09
Posts: 795

5/14/13 11:51:52 AM#21
The days of Themeparks that are based on Level is coming to a time where they are only played for short periods of time.  People want something new or well an older idea; UO type of Skills which will allow players to mix and match what they want.

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Novice Member

Joined: 1/23/13
Posts: 45

5/14/13 11:52:40 AM#22
I like levels for many of the same reasons others who like levels have stated.  I also got excited when I read the words "City of heroes 2" in the article.  If people (correctly or incorrectly) use level cap as a metric of the amount of content a game has, I think one solution is to run with that and set up your level cap in such a way as to make it indicative of the amount of content the game has, at least at the start.  In other words, go into the design process with that in mind and make the levels reflect the amount of content.  It may not be a straight simple formula to get from one to the other, (e.g. "e.g. f a game has X levels, then it has f(x) = ### amount of content to play", but I bet it could still be a reasonable figure of merit, if the game is set up with that in mind a priori.  One could argue that DnD online made a mistake in setting up their level structure in such a way as to give themselves an image problem if people are interpreting their level cap as being indicative of their amount of content.  If market research tells you that people are apt to make that correlation (which is a mistake on their part, but one you should know they're going to make) then you either have to combat the image in some way or redo the level numbers to get with the times.  At the very least you could advertise something like "1 of our levels is like 5 levels in GAME X" or some such.  The fact is, no two games are going to be that comparable, and content get's added over time, while levels don't necessarily keep pace.   Age is a better indicator of content than levels in my opinion.  I never played WoW and I don't intend to, but I'm sure it has more quests, raid dungeons, etc now that it had in 2005.

"Well sure, the FrinkiacVII looks impressive - DON'T TOUCH IT - but I predict that within 100 years computers will be TWICE as powerful, ten THOUSAND times larger, and so expensive that only the five richest kings of Europe will own them." -Prof. Frink


Novice Member

Joined: 8/20/05
Posts: 30

5/14/13 12:10:08 PM#23
I absolutely hate new gear grinding, i'd much prefer levels. But I think there could be a better way to do them. I'm gonna have to agree with some of the other posters that new games need to take a lesson from older games and games like Xsyon where you have multiple skill and stats and level them up with points gotten from a level or have those skills level through their use.

Hard Core Member

Joined: 5/04/07
Posts: 762

5/14/13 12:36:33 PM#24
I am alright with levels as long as the levels don't divide the community (ie are flexible). EVE, Anarchy Online or Runescape have flexible levels (Ao only to some degree admittedly). WoW and Rift do not.

Originally posted by nethaniah

Seriously Farmville? Yeah I think it's great. In a World where half our population is dying of hunger the more fortunate half is spending their time harvesting food that doesn't exist.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/28/05
Posts: 675

5/14/13 1:13:14 PM#25

Levels are good and bad.

Having a goal and feeling that you are making progress is good.

No being able to play with your friends/guild because of a difference in level is bad.


Advanced Member

Joined: 9/09/07
Posts: 31

5/14/13 2:39:40 PM#26

Levels are great! I personally hate power-leveling. I like taking strolls through the countryside. I enjoy questing if the zone and story are interesting. I absolutely HATE doing 10 quests in a zone, only to find out that I have just out-leveled it and the quests will no longer bring me A) XP and B) relative quest rewards.

I like playing with friends too, and I don't like outleveling them. However, I do like the feeling of being a god when I visit a n00b area to pwn the level 11 elite that absolutely destroyed me when I was level 10. I played GW2 and found the "down-leveling" more of an annoyance than fun. I admit, I am talking out both ends (I want to complete zones without outleveling and I also want n00bs zones to quest in as a slightly higher leveled GOD!)

I want levels. I want skills that I earn with levels. I want points to customize other skills when I level to make me somewhat unique from other Wizards, Warlocks, or Warriors, but I think the OP misses the mark a little when focusing on levels vs. skill based systems.

Let me explain. Minecraft is not level-based, is a sandbox 8-bit adventure,  and has tons of people run around creating worlds for other to play in. WoW is arguably one of tthe best theme-park P2P with levels and character customization (maybe not so much now that the classes and talent system has been so homogenized).  Both games have had grand success. Both games have had customers from the same player base, but neither game does both skills/crafting or character development/story simultaneously. the first company to do both and you have found your cash-cow.

Oh...just don't instance every-fucking-thing. Keep the world alive, malleable and full of surprises, with seemless maps, surprise developer intervention (I just dropped a level 9000 Ogre on your city), and have a sense of humor. Last thing...let us kite world bosses into n00bville. Everyone likes those spontaneous griefing events.



Novice Member

Joined: 1/23/13
Posts: 45

5/14/13 3:00:59 PM#27

I would like to amend my earlier statement about levels.  As my only real experience has been with CoX.  I like levels because CoX had the whole sidekick/exemplar thing which made teaming up with people way above or below your own level really great.  Also, I might be the only person thinking this way but, I was just a little crestfallen to discover that this installment of Matt's column didn't have any math problems for me.  Is it just me?


"Well sure, the FrinkiacVII looks impressive - DON'T TOUCH IT - but I predict that within 100 years computers will be TWICE as powerful, ten THOUSAND times larger, and so expensive that only the five richest kings of Europe will own them." -Prof. Frink


Advanced Member

Joined: 9/17/07
Posts: 57

5/14/13 3:52:55 PM#28

I don't pay that much attention to levels, I like to take my time taking everything in, reading the lore, crafting etc and if I happen to level up on the way it's a nice little bonus. For some players it's the be all and end all it seems, reaching level cap on day 1. 

I've recently played Neverwinter and in the first dungeon all the players were off, you couldn't see them for dust.

I can't be the only 'take my time player' can I?



Hard Core Member

Joined: 7/19/11
Posts: 774

5/14/13 4:27:51 PM#29

Levels have no meaning. It's just numbers. There's no difference between being level 2 if you get 100 hp and 5 str per level or being level 10 if you get 20 hp and 1 str.  You don't need to add one to the number on a character sheet to give a player a new ability or a new talent point to spend.   You can give people skill points for doing quests and tune it so you have 3 skill quests in each of your 10 zones and it's no different from giving 1 every other level up to 60.

As you stated in your article you can give progression without giving levels. I understand that people like to see character progression, but the trade-offs you make with levels isn't worth the illusion of progression they grant. 

With most games, don't think about attacking another player who's just 5 levels higher than you, what are you stupid? You can't do that.

With level caps and expansions which raise them, you literally chuck every previous raid out the door when you up that cap. How many raids and dungeons does wow have that are tuned to a level below the current cap compared to what they currently have for max level players. Why on earth would you want to trivialize all of that content by leveling players above it? Seriously, what is the benefit from throwing out all of those raids?




Hard Core Member

Joined: 2/01/12
Posts: 226

5/14/13 6:57:12 PM#30
Individual progression is important; it is what gets us attached to out toons..It doesn't have to be the way we are used to , BUT it doers need to exist.

Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/06/08
Posts: 2365

5/14/13 7:40:05 PM#31

Amazing to me how many people here that agree with the author have also complained that a game like GW2 needs more progression/higher level cap.


I for one would rather ditch the 'level' system entirely and simply introduce new skills into the game that need to be worked on. It's possible to ditch the numbers entirely, but by focusing less on an overall player level and more on leveling facets of the character through gameplay, you prolong the reward and enjoyment you get from playing with the same avatar. Further, it's far easier to introduce new skills, new crafts, new spells to a game than it is to constantly raise a singular level cap and create new content for it. That's not to say skill-based systems don't have their own problems, one has to find the proper balance between grind and longetivity, but its still the better option. Ideally we have a combination of both systems, but with character level being only an overall indication of a person's strength (i.e., Elder Scrolls, Demons Souls, etc) rather than the basis for it.


"Forums aren't for intelligent discussion; they're for blow-hards with unwavering opinions."


Advanced Member

Joined: 10/10/07
Posts: 907

5/15/13 12:42:50 AM#32
Originally posted by Eivi
[edited] I would love it to be entirely free roam gear based.

again, nice write up :)

AKA “skip the leveling and jump straight to endgame”  remember endgame is where “Stats become fixed and you level hit points and damage via gear bonuses.”  I say no.  Leveling must stay.  When people complain about MMORPGs being dumbed down, they are referring to games with minimal leveling and quick jumps to max level.

Yes, a nice write up.

Pardon any spelling errors
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Novice Member

Joined: 5/15/13
Posts: 1

5/15/13 1:27:21 AM#33

I always dreamed of a game that was nothing but raiding or dungeons. Where you can only unlock the next dungeon if you can complete the previous or until your gear is good enough to unlock it. I think it would be an awesome idea for game. It would work for PvP too where you face people around your gear level, if you want to get to the bigger or better maps you need to get your gear up to join them.


Get rid of the levels.


Novice Member

Joined: 12/10/08
Posts: 3109

5/15/13 3:25:23 AM#34

I would argue that in the WoW archetype, character level is already fading away.  It's gear level, not character level which is most important measure of power and as a character levels, it's the new tiers of gear that are contributing the bulk of the power-up.   Gear has always been a part of character progression in RPGs, but with computers handling all the bookkeeping, gear is now much, much more complex than it ever was in the pencil and paper days.


The hole that any leveling game digs itself (whether character or gear) is that as soon as you introduce a new tier of gear, you've instantly made all the old content obsolete.  A little of this is good because it lets people find their preferred level of difficulty, but it also tends to leave players frustrated because you have powergamers feeling like the progression curve has decayed into a grind while casual players feel like the game is relentlessly advancing faster than they can keep up.


To me, the solution is horizontal plot-specific (or minigame-specific) progression paths.  Get rid of any global level for character or gear.  Your character is your character, a sword is a sword - you don't radically change who you are over the course of your travels.. Instead, treat each plotline or minigame as its own progression path ( experience that only buffs the character within that gameplay ).  This gives you the best of both worlds: progression curves galore for that hit of feeling your power expand, but doing one zone/story doesn't render all other previous content obsolete.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/21/12
Posts: 3

5/15/13 5:05:07 AM#35

the problem with mmo's today is choice.  there are so many mmo's  both good and bad.

people will form their opinions on a few key things :

level - content - Character design (COH / CO did this verry well)

Armour models / weapon models.

pvp content , pve content.

Raids easy to get into or gearscore gated E.A Wow like.

Also the creation of player made things? (Foundry anyone, best invention ever, UO aside)

Though also players look for : time spent / rewards earned.

Noone wants to sit through a 2 hour long dungeon or raid only to leave empty handed and this is where alot of mmo's cock up, either make a boss drop a chest everyone can loot for different stuff ( DDO anyone?) or at the verry least make the last boss drop something everyone will be able to use.. and I dont mean crappy currency tokens.)


now for myself.. as a roleplayer I look for key things like :

Gear looks , character looks , game lore.

Pve content ofcourse. being max level only interests me for cosmetic dress up purposes.

usually higher level equals better looking clothing wich is a shame.

anyway that is my two cents on how some players view mmo's of these days.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/17/13
Posts: 825

5/15/13 5:16:51 AM#36
Very nicely written column as usual sir. i agree with what you said about leveling. i also feel that people get over the idea "leveling = content". even when i was playing single player rpg i hated the level system, it always felt like that this system was trying to halt my pace with bunch of bigger numbers. what you said about DDO is what i experienced when i 1st heard about DDO, i heard that : "DDO "only" has 20 level". i thought "what?? 20 FREAKING LEVEL IN DnD game?", i knew a little bit about DnD rpg benchmark and rpg books, i was thinking "hold on, how many levels i will have to gain as warrior and priest before i can level my paladin to level 2? 20 level is way too much for DnD games!!!'" but people who had no idea about DnD was like "20 level? what a tiny piss poor game!!" . and i agree with your analysis on cataclysm, i liked this approach of solo leveling but group based content progression. another game that does it right is DCUO, DCUO simply told me "level is just a number, think of it as a tutorial as to how to play the game, real game begins after you get to 30", Cataclysm was also the same design. too bad people who think "leveling=content" outnumber us.

i want an open world, no phasing, no instancing.i want meaningful owpvp.i want player driven economy.i want meaningful crafting.i want awesome exploration, a sense of thrill.i want ow housing with a meaningful effect on my entire gameplay experience, not just some instanced crap.i want all of these free of cost, i don't wanna pay you a cent, game devs can eat grass and continue developing game for me.
Seems like that is the current consensus of western mmo players.


Elite Member

Joined: 10/29/07
Posts: 17432

5/15/13 5:50:42 AM#37

I think leveling is mainly popular because it is simple and you easily can compare newer characters with eachother.

I am somewhat puzzled though that so many players like the current "endgame" which basically is taking the last 20 or so levels from the old MMOs and making them item based instead of stat based. They are just as grindy but becomes worthless effort after the next expansion unlike levels.

I would like something closer to Shadowruns P&P system though instead of levels, it makes customizing your character more fun and you can make an almost unique character instead of the close to cardboard copies we have in most levelbased MMOs.

Interesting article anyways, I feel that leveling is something that can either be removed or be remodeled to make MMOs more fun and long lasting.


Advanced Member

Joined: 1/25/07
Posts: 3573

5/15/13 6:10:14 AM#38

I don't mind levels as character progression. But I do mind gated content because of levels. If there are features/content that are lvl restricted, then levels become an annoyance to me. This is the case in many MMO's where levels mainly introduce silly restrictions.


I like how Skyrim uses leveling and experience. I can focus on exploring, story and combat without having the immersion destroying mechanics where the world is divided areas with their own lvl brackets. Gear/mounts have no lvl requirements. Quests do, but they simply won't show up if you are not high enough lvl.


Now this same system can't be used in a MMO of course. But some MMO's have some nice mechanics to deal with lvl differences for multiple players. GW2 for example, where your character is always scaled down to the lvl of the area. There are other MMO's with decent solutions to this.


But most of the time, MMO devs come up with ridiculous ideas for character progression. Like lvl requirements for learning to use a mount.


Imo, the moment players are only focused on getting to max level as fast as possible because that is where the 'fun' starts in their eyes, it means you created a boring game.

Edited: creating paragraphs (Why do they need 2 whitelines? )

Elite Member

Joined: 2/27/07
Posts: 7123

5/15/13 7:13:20 AM#39
The biggest problem with leveling, you basically kill the content as you level.  Once through a low level area you are done with it, unless of course you make alts.  That in itself is the number one reason having levels in a game is dumb.  It restricts the end game to small portion of the game.  Never had that problem in UO, nor SWG, nor AC1.  You have to wonder why anyone would spend time developing content that people only go through once in development of their avatar.  

Novice Member

Joined: 1/31/11
Posts: 108

5/15/13 8:56:14 AM#40

"So this begs the question. If getting gear and increasing stats can replace leveling in a game, why bother with levels at all?"


In the first place, in tabletop RPGs, which is what MMORPGs are SUPPOSED to be based on, your gear rarely changes, except for improving in ability to hit.  It's your skills, talents, knacks, and abilities that change.  I'm going to use Earthdawn as the example for what I would like to see in MMOs.  In most all MMOs, you gain a certain number of experience points and you go up a level, which AUTOMATICALLY gives you all the bonuses for that level, and then you gain more experience and, at your next level, like clockwork, you automatically gain the all the bonuses for that level.  You can play five of the very same type of character, and you're going to have five very similar, if not absolutely exact characters, at the same level.  EVERYONE on the server has the very same character when they reach the end-game content, it's all the same garbage all the time.  This is especially true when you have only 5 classes, or so.


Now, Earthdawn... 15 Disciplines (Classes) to begin with, 15 Circles (Levels) each.  You begin at 1st Circle and you choose up to 8 Talents (Magical Skills) -more to the point you have eight points to split among a group of Talents, with a maximum of 3 in any one Talent- that you like for your character.  You have to have a certain minimum number of those Talents raised to 2nd Circle -and this is true for all other Circles-, and a certain amount of Legend (Experience) Points (LPs) before the 2nd Circle can be opened up to your character.  But, instead of automatically gaining all of your bonuses, it simply opens those bonuses to you, and you have to purchase them, through the use of these accrued Legend Points, before you can use them.  This includes increasing Ranks on your Talents, increasing your Attribute Values so you can increase your Death Rating (Hit Points) and Unconsciousness Rating, and purchasing non-magical Skills in the game.  This is added to increasing Ranks on Legendary (Magic) items, activating Group powers, and a few other things in the game.


A system like this is a bit more difficult to deal with, but it allows each person to customize their character, by Ranks and by Talents chosen, and thus by abilities available overall, so players can have unique characters.


The technology is here, and it should be used.  The much vaunted TESO is not going to correct this, though they'll have skills that will automatically increase individually, as they're used; however, this does not allow a player the ability to build their character as they see fit.  Secret World did about the same thing, only they somehow came up with 700 active and passive skills for players to mix and match in small doses to be used in the game.  No levels, but no real direction to go, either.  The perfect mix has to be somewhere in-between.


To answer the original question: levels are heavily passe, and there are better ways to deal with advancement for player's characters.


For anyone who will decide to respond to me, I am unable to receive -I've worked with the admins here multiple times to try and resolve this- notifications on returning comments.  All of my settings are right, so that's not the problem.

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