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MMO Money Magazine

Writings on the business of fun: Virtual Worlds and Real Money Makes Online Gaming a Big Business. My economic view on the world of online games - without the hype.

Author: Inktomi

Why don't we just remove the leveling aspect from MMORPG's altogether?

Posted by Inktomi Sunday January 8 2012 at 9:22PM
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Let's talk concepts here.

I have experienced many different types of leveling systems spanning across an unimaginable array of online and offline role=playing games. I have felt the grind of some of the newer MMO's as Darkfall Online and Mortal Online who have diverged from a traditional blanket leveling system to leveling up specific skills through usage. We all know that the leveling system is one of the tools that MMO developers will build into a game so that you play longer. Oh, if you didn't know that, well now you do.

One cannot mention innovative leveling systems without speaking about EVE Online time based skill system that required players to insert specific skills to learn so they can progress into learning other skills that have a certain skill dependency. This was one of the most innovative skill based systems, yet again, built so you will play longer. This system also allows you to have to train different characters because you can only train one character at a time. So if you are going for the classic miner-hauler combo, you have to train one for the hauling ships and one for the mining skills. This system is not as grind intensive as time intensive process. Time just...takes its time.

As I am experiencing within my latest and greatest WoW adventure, that leveling has become increasingly and incredibly easy. So easy to the point as it has made it commonplace for a player to have a variety of raid ready level 85 characters in order to fill specific roles that are lacking in order to have the raid or party progress. 

This is exactly the type of meta-gaming that developed within Final Fantasy XI that leveling had become so easy, that it was expected  that a player had a choice of characters to bring to the raids. This bothered me as I was constantly bombarded with requests to have a healer on the ready. This would mean that my favorite character wouldn't have the benefit of being in the party or raid.

The nerve.

Why don't we just do away with all types of numbered levels and just have players create a specific type of character being healer, support and crowd control, tanking and different types of created -ranged, melee and magic. Have the gear determine their level of skill that can be applied to the specific function they are looking to use. 

A tanking shield for better tanking skills created by a legendary shield maker that has been living for the past decade in the depths of a brutal dungeon and will only give the recipe to certain crafting classes after they complete a succession of quests.

A specific weapon for dps classes found in the belly of an enormous fish that can only be found under certain conditions when time of year and certain weather conditions permit.

A specific wand or some type of held item for magic based classes from a demon/deity that can only be summoned through a certain ritual that can be performed by specific classes with special items found only on the most dangerous of monsters.

A holy relic or holy symbol for better healing only acquired after performing a specific number of heroic acts under certain conditions. Such like no one in your party dying during a specific raid or encounter. They have this in WoW, it just gives you a title. Big deal.

Intertwine these things with the crafting portion of the game, making crafting based character as useful and desirable as combat characters. Make these items take time and preparation to make, or the quests and dungeons leading up to them take the same time and effort.

I feel that this would create a better sense of cohesion between players because now a specific craft would be just as valuable as a combat skill or style. Making the traditional number based levels and progressive skill bar obsolete. It seems that the modern MO is going there anyway.

Just some ideas I wanted to kick around with you.

I have read that Funcom's new MMO The Secret World is offering something of that sort. Making gear and armor just for aesthetic purposes and everything be skill based.

Can someone confirm or deny this?

Because my friends that play SWTOR are already at endgame level and the game has been live for what...2-3 weeks, not even. Leveling is a joke. Let's just do away with it and use those aspects and budget to something that would create a more beneficial social system. 

More reason for players to interact, not less.

Play safe


Maelkor writes:

I would say that I agree leveling has become a joke but that does not equate to leveling is a bad mechanic. What you ask for has allready been done to a degree in Guild Wars 1. The "end game" for GW1 was the arena pvp fights. As such from day one you were allowed to create a max level character (level 20) and participate directly in the end game of arena pvp on an equal footing. Instead of level progression you had skill progression - IE you had to find and locate skills throughout the pve world and eventually mechanics were put in to make the pve side unnecessary.

It is possible for a game to go this route and something that I would argue many hand holding type games would do much better if they did go this route.

This does not mean a compelling experience can not be made through a game that is designed to actually advance a character through the leveling process and where real difficult exists with the possibility of failure (IE exp loss with level loss if you "lose" or die).

In chasing the millions from the cheat code generation developers have lost sight in the other half of the MMO players who really do want a challenge - that can handle the loss of several hours of gameplay achievements upon death - etc. A well designed game made to appeal to that portion of the MMO audience would likely draw a much larger crowd than many would anticipate.

Sun Jan 08 2012 11:40PM Report
Lordjay writes:

REALLY?The Secret world has no lvls or classes,look it up.launchs this April.


Mon Jan 09 2012 3:17AM Report
reploidx writes:

We are not at endgame yet, but swim and the others got their a week after launch. SWTOR fills everything up by using the dialog, which i don't burn through unless it's an alt doing the same quest.

But yes, they[Secret World] are doing away with levels, but also not doing away with them. You still level up, but its more leveling your faction or "faction levels" to get better stuff with them.

Sun Feb 19 2012 4:50PM Report
meilirs writes:

Hmm not sure I am on board with this idea. If there is no leveling then everyone will be the same level which takes away the reward for being an older/veteran player, something which long-time fans value. I guess there could be other rewards for players but I personally am fine with levels.

Wed Apr 04 2012 1:57AM Report
Roybe writes:

I hope someday that people realize that leveling is unimportant, but most see it as a way to keep score.  In games, score counts for something...some people keep score with gold accumulation. When people realize levels mean nothing, then levels will be removed.

Tue Jul 03 2012 12:16PM Report writes:
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