[MUD-Dev] Playing catch-up with levels [WAS Virtual goods--Oh, the controversy!]

Steven King steve at madrogue.com
Thu Apr 15 16:28:33 CEST 2004

bje wrote:

> Unfortunately, that leaves the other 18 or 19 bands out of luck.
> For them, the point of the game is now to reach that top band or
> two of ability, and they will optimize their means to do so: ie,
> grind.  You're no longer going on grand adventures and
> incidentally levelling, you're now specifically doing things for
> the sake of levelling.

This is the problem facing most MMOs right now, and the problem that
Ultima X and World of Warcraft are trying to skirt around by
offering a better quest system.  They will still be hard-pressed to
find a way to allow players to advance their characters without
offering some kind of leveling system (be it AD&D-style levels, or
SWG-style skills).  If the quest system, itself, is the mechanism
for advancement, they will be faced with the caveat you brought up:

> I can only see one solution: create engaging content for all
> levels of ability.  Of course, the caveat is the high cost of
> creating engaging content for many levels, which suggests that the
> concept of the level of ability as a means of tracking progression
> is not suited to MMOs.

Enter the writers and storytellers who lay out the paths for the
players to follow.  One downside to this is that gameplay could
become more of a single-player, episodic experience rather than a
free-form multiplayer game.

So what about live teams who could manipulate the world real-time?
Take the DM/IMM element from Neverwinter Nights and MUDs and apply
it to an MMO.  Each team (working in shifts) could design a series
of events that would take place several times a week.  Some of these
events could be scripted, but others would be the result of a live
person.  This would add a true element of interactivity to a genre
which is driven mostly by automation.  The live teams would
essentially be poking and prodding the players, much like
pen-and-paper games.  It would also add an element of suprise and
unpredictability to the game.

The problems with that idea are that the live teams would need to be
large, the "live encounter" events would need to constantly evolve,
and you run the risk of players thinking that the live teams are
picking on them when something bad happens to their character.

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