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buhbuhcuh

Crowfall Bluesky Design Series Part 1 - Level-less

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This is part of an on-going series of design rants. I make games for a living, and while this is not my game, I'm probably not going to work on an MMO for some time. I've been collecting thoughts for a while about the genre, and this seems like a perfect place to spew them out.

 

Part 1 - Level-less

The MMO tradition has evolved from pen and paper RPGs designed 40 years ago. A lot of the elements that make up the modern RPG are really not very modern - and prime amongst these is the idea of the character level. 

 

 

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Levels exist for two closely related reasons. First, they provide a clear progression path - if nothing else, the player knows that the number should go up, and they are taught early on that killing monsters will make that number increase. Secondly, by associating levels with character complexity, it gives a nice ramp for the player to learn how to play the game without being overwhelmed at first by too many choices.

 

The pen and paper RPG was designed to stretch a small number of levels across a huge ammount of play time. If you manage to make it to level 30 in D&D, you might have been playing that character for years, and your player is essentially godlike. MMO design breaks from this in two ways - to get that regular reward schedule working, the DING happens on a session-by-session basis. Secondly, the designers don't want to let you break the game, so you never reach that godlike power level, instead you hit..

 

Endgame

 

 

Crowfall is billing itself as a hardcore MMO. For the hardcore, there is no game but the endgame. If you are browsing this forum, you are hardcore, and you will realize that there is still plenty of ways to progress through a game even if you are Max Level. You've probably also spent way too much time leveling up characters, going through the same grind time after time even though it wasn't even that fun the first time.

 

The concept of Endgame is a failure of game design. It admits that the designers are making two different games for two different audiences. There is a huge break in how the game is played between the quest/leveling that makes up the early game, and the raid/pvp/economy/social games that make the Endgame. 

 

Endgame also separates the community. A new player has to slog through 40+ hours of content (often solo) before they can join their friends. Early game players are sitting ducks for the established level capped PvPers, who can make that leveling even more frustrating. 

 

Crowfall would do itself a great service by concentrating on a single game. The early game and the endgame are the same.

 

No Levels

A new player can participate in the same content as an elder player as soon as they start the game. Progression and complexity are handled through alternate, more modern systems (I'll flesh out this later in the series):

  • Weapon/Skill Mastery (Skyrim)
  • Social Rank (Shadow of Modor Nemesis expanded)
  • Resources held (Player owned settlements/Armies)
  • Gear
  • Crafting ability
  • Geography & Safety

Benefits

  • Everyone can play together - a more robust ecosystem for PVP and factionalized conflict.
  • Cohesion in game and content design - you don't end up with 90% of your content abandoned after your players outlevel it.
  • More fun. Seriously, level grinds are maybe interesting once.
  • No XP bars.
  • No one selling level-up services
  • Lots more, but I need to do my real job now.


 

Can always count on BBC to catch the little details  ;)

Looking for Crowfall RP? Join us at https://eatcrow.slack.com/. Details here.

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"buhbuhcuh"

 

Totally agree with everything you said but whenever someone says the newer players should be able to see endgame from beginning uhmm I kinda imagine a guy running around at "burning steps" on his donkey wearing only panties.

 

And for long time I didn't heard anything of like "Stats that require to enter a region" e.g. running around in snowy/lava/swamp places, at least not in MMO's.

Actually in Theriansaga it has all kind of that stat requirement to go or do something at specific place or thing but its more like of a browser game than MMO.

Anyway I'm just a guy *I have no idea how to make it possible for beginners to take part of endgame from start on:unsure:

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"buhbuhcuh"

 

Totally agree with everything you said but whenever someone says the newer players should be able to see endgame from beginning uhmm I kinda imagine a guy running around at "burning steps" on his donkey wearing only panties.

 

And for long time I didn't heard anything of like "Stats that require to enter a region" e.g. running around in snowy/lava/swamp places, at least not in MMO's.

Actually in Theriansaga it has all kind of that stat requirement to go or do something at specific place or thing but its more like of a browser game than MMO.

 

Anyway I'm just a guy *I have no idea how to make it possible for beginners to take part of endgame from start on:unsure:

 

I'll get into this in greater depth, but the core idea is you shouldn't be wearing "just panties" at the start, and have a small but usefull library of abilities. Progression is more about adding utility and not power. Aka, more choices - instead of just damage, I can control, or purge, or summon allies or... etc. This also contributes to the "skill" based system - if your success is a result of you making the right choice at the right time, and not about you just having higher numbers than the other guy, that is skill.

 

Something else I want to get into more later is that this means that you can explore fail conditions with more confidence - if losing everything just means getting boring instead of getting weak, then it is ok for failure (death) to result in losing everything.  If this is the case, progression can also mean safety - maybe I lose all my gear, but I have a vault in my keep where I keep my backup weapons, and I have that vault because I was high enough rank to get the brickmason to join my court and I had the mats because I controlled the claypits in the north hills....


 

Can always count on BBC to catch the little details  ;)

Looking for Crowfall RP? Join us at https://eatcrow.slack.com/. Details here.

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Can I join this circle of friends?

 

I agree with this idea. (really I do) Do I have to learn a handshake now?

 

Friendship is magic, and magic lets you defeat your enemies and hear the lamantation of their women.


 

Can always count on BBC to catch the little details  ;)

Looking for Crowfall RP? Join us at https://eatcrow.slack.com/. Details here.

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I've not been following that thread yet, but I will take a gander. Right now this entire forum is kind of a giant echo chamber with 300 people shouting into it - if we are lucky, the devs have a better filtering capability than I!


 

Can always count on BBC to catch the little details  ;)

Looking for Crowfall RP? Join us at https://eatcrow.slack.com/. Details here.

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Yea I like your thinking. I mentioned a system where instead working to "endgame" your endgame is when the character you created operates exactly as you intend them to. To switch perspective the game is just starting with you, it has to learn how you play, how you dodge, shoot, swing your sword, then it learns what will you do against multiple enemies, how do you deal with terrain? how does he like his utility? (to refer to something you said about utility vs def vs offense) the goal is to reach a point where the game can comfortably wear you and can fit your individual playstyle. Maybe I don't want to quest or dungeon. Maybe I want to kill huge monsters all day, can we spawn more? maybe some force realizes "hey this cat is taking out my monsters, let's create some more, or "maybe we can draw him into the storyline" I'm tired of games trying to make me some soldier in some nameless army. you want me to continue playing? learn how I play.

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Yea I like your thinking. I mentioned a system where instead working to "endgame" your endgame is when the character you created operates exactly as you intend them to. To switch perspective the game is just starting with you, it has to learn how you play, how you dodge, shoot, swing your sword, then it learns what will you do against multiple enemies, how do you deal with terrain? how does he like his utility? (to refer to something you said about utility vs def vs offense) the goal is to reach a point where the game can comfortably wear you and can fit your individual playstyle. Maybe I don't want to quest or dungeon. Maybe I want to kill huge monsters all day, can we spawn more? maybe some force realizes "hey this cat is taking out my monsters, let's create some more, or "maybe we can draw him into the storyline" I'm tired of games trying to make me some soldier in some nameless army. you want me to continue playing? learn how I play.

I guess crowfall will have a team of GMs working on that as you play. I mean they will be playing along with us and changing/creating stuff as we need them.

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I think they should give us the tools we need to create our gameplay by ourselves. I'm going to have my own style and then I'm going to see where it fits and how it fits on the game world. Once I'm done with this part (Big " here since my playstyle changes every single moment) I can enjoy the game at it's most.

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