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Ideas for next-gen games

In this blog, I'm trying to give some of my ideas to make the next generation of games innovating and fun.

Author: Drolletje

The Player's Motivation

Posted by Drolletje Saturday January 5 2008 at 11:23AM
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We all know that character progression is an integral part of today's mmorpg's. Some would go as far as saying that a game can't be an mmo without having it. But this time, I wonder what would remain if someone would make a game like an mmorpg, only without the character progression. No levels, you get access to all available gear right from the start, you can choose all the skills you want at character creation.  What would be the advantages? the disadvantages? the possibilities?

First of all, it would completely eliminate the grind. Everything the players would do,  would be because they want to do it, not because they get some nice xp or loot. I see a lot of people on this site demanding to eliminate the grind, and I think this is the only way to truly remove it.

Everyone could play together with anyone they like. There would be no more stratisfaction. No more level restrictions on grouping, no more "you must at least be level x to enter region y", no more "that guy beats me because he's higher level". It would set all players on an equal ground for both PvE and PvP.

Actual player skill and teamwork would be required to succesfully run through the hardest PvE instances and to beat the enemy in PvP. You don't win anymore because you're high leveled or have better gear. You win because you've played better or have more knowledge of the game.

But what would players do in this game if they can't improve their character? Well, virtually anything. Players would be able to pursue their own goals, not the ones the developers have set for them. Players could participate in faction vs. faction warfare. Players could gather materials and craft dispensable items like potions or bombs. Players could enter dark dungeons to kill monsters and steal their treasure to enrich themselves. Players could earn money as a trader. Players could just explore the world and look for adventure. And the list goes on. Everything that players can do in a normal mmorpg, would be possible, only the motivation would be different.

So what are the disadvantages? Many wouldn't play for a very long time, they could go very fast through all the content since it's all available from the start. Players without a goal will eventually get bored and quit. I think a solution could be to implement a system like the Ryzom Ring, where players could create their own content. We can all see how player-created content worked in Warcraft III (there was, and still is a large mapping community for Warcraft III). Take this to the world of mmo's and let the players create missions for their friends and arenas to fight their enemies.

So, do you think it is possible to remove character progression for mmo's and still create a fun and lasting game? Let me know what you think of it.


JB47394 writes:

Drolletje: "So, do you think it is possible to remove character progression for mmo's and still create a fun and lasting game?"

Oh, sure.  Character progression is only one way that people can be entertained in an MMO.

Second Life lets people entertain themselves by using their skill to create things and to sell them.  Socialize.

Eve Online lets people use their skills to make money on the financial markets and to dominate areas of the game universe.

My preference is for group cooperative goals.  All players are in a war with the non-respawning Dark King's minions.  Fortresses, cave systems, barracks, outposts, field armies - they're all defeated one after another, moving ever forward until the final showdown at the Dark King's stronghold.  There are no levels involved.  Players are entertained by the combat system, by the new situations they get into, by the friends they fight with, etc.

The most important thing is have a motivatation for the players.  Second Life tells players to build things.  That's their motivation.  Eve Online tells players to dominate 0.0 space.  That's their motivation.  My game tells players to defeat the Dark King.  That's their motivation.  Everything that players do in each of those games focuses on a single notion that motivates them.

Character progression does this in level games.  Getting to level 50 was the primary motivation for everything that people did.  Kill monsters for experience.  Quest for experience.  Get better equipment to kill monsters better.  Craft things to kill monsters better.  Get gold to buy things that people were crafting to kill monsters better.  Getting level 50 is the focus.

Note that the use of 'motivation' is not a statement of 'achievement'.  If a player is interested in going exploring, then their motivation is to find new things.  They will do things in the game that enable them to find new things.  This is why explorers in leveling games level.  It's what they have to do in order to explore.  They're not interested in level 50, but working through levels lets them see new things.  It's grating and slow, but at least they can do it.

Sat Jan 05 2008 6:46PM Report
DKKOberon writes:

So, do you think it is possible to remove character progression for mmo's and still create a fun and lasting game? Let me know what you think of it.


Yes I do think it is possible. Why no one has done it is a mystery to me. I do know of at least one game in development that is going to not have character progression in the grinding sense. They will be using a system called HERO for character generation. Not that familiar with the system but I hope to try it out one day. Game is called Force of Arms. No beta yet. Still in Alpha.

Sat Jan 05 2008 8:21PM Report
Jimmy_Scythe writes:

I still play Street Fighter 2. I still play Counter-Strike. I still play Command & Conquer. I still play Gran Tursimo 4. I still play NBA Street Volume 2.

I don't see why an MMORPG can't have the same lasting appeal as the games mentioned above.

Sat Jan 05 2008 11:00PM Report
Bustion writes:

I think a good example of a game that does not rely on character progression is shadowbane.  Although you do level up, get the gear, blah blah blah.  The system is completely  unecesary.  Getting to a high enough level to engage yourself in the actual game only takes a few days, i feel like its only there because the devs didn't relize that they didn't need it, since the system is so ingrained in the mmo genre.

The real fun comes from your nations progression.  you start out as a group of individuals, but your ultimate motivation to play the game is to become more powerfull, fighting the head nations, and defending what you worked for. It's so much more than character progression. 

Sun Jan 06 2008 12:50PM Report writes:
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