Category Archives: Design Deliberations

Notes and ideas for new games or game systems.

Grinding Levels

I think it all started a couple of weeks back with Tom Chick explaining why MMO’s are Broken which was basically a re-hash of every “Why this game suxors” post on every MMO forum out there. The next day Trembling Hand jumped on the bandwagon. Scott Jennings over on Broken Toys tried to explain to both of them that first, MMO <> WoW, and secondly, while most MMO’s are fantasy based, they’re not developed in Fantasy Land.

As I said earlier, all of this is stuff that those of us that have been playing these games awhile have heard thousands of times and Scott pretty much nailed the response that we’ve all hashed out over the years. However, yesterday a friend of mine, Pentane, linked this Scientific American article on the Expert Mind. I highly recommend it for all you armchair game designers – even you real world designers will find it interesting but I’m guessing quite a few of you have already read it or some of the books that have been written from those studies. Also yesterday, Psychochild, posted the first in a series of articles on How to Replace Levels.

These two articles combined got me thinking about the whole levels in MMO’s debate again but in a slightly different way and I came up with a kind of challenge – design a multiplayer that doesn’t have levels of some sort.

The trick here is to think of a “level” as a game mechanic that meets the criteria in Psychochild’s post. In other words anything that is used to mark Achievement, provide others Information or help with Pacing through your game world is considered a level. So far I’ve only come up with one way that it can be done and while I think the game might have some interest it would be a decidedly niche game and I wouldn’t want to propose it in today’s market.

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MMO Crafting and Me

The recent articles by each of the three members of the MMO Round Table, Moorgard, Nerfbat and Aggro Me, got me thinking about my experiences with crafting in MMO’s.

As anyone that knows me can tell you I’ve never been a huge fan of crafting in most MMO’s. EQ1 crafting was so tedious that I’d find myself nodding off after only 5 minutes. WoW wasn’t that much more exciting but at least I didn’t risk carpal tunnel from all the clicking and dragging. At launch the actual act of crafting in EQ2 was entertaining but having to spend hours doing sub-combines to make the components that you could then use for the final object you wanted to make was annoying to say the least. About the only system that I was able to tolerate for any length of time was the one in DAoC and that was only because I just had to have my components, go to the proper crafting station and click on the button to start it. I could then walk away and do something else while the crafting process completed. If I didn’t have anything else I wanted to do though it was boring as heck watching that little bar fill up.

The recent changes to EQ2’s crafting system have actually made that system entertaining for me, I have a couple of characters that have a higher tradeskill level than adventure level even, so thinking about the new system and reading those posts got me thinking about a perfect – for me – crafting system.

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