[MUD-Dev] Playing catch-up with levels

Byron Ellacott bje at apnic.net
Wed Apr 21 13:37:45 CEST 2004

On Tue, 2004-04-20 at 21:04, Craig Huber wrote:

> My question is, why does the vast majority keep circling back to
> the class/level/hp paradigm in spite of the aforementioned
> obstacles?  Is it a case of "Better the devil you know..."?  Is
> there a sense that there are no other titles/paradigms that have
> merit?  Is there evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, that D+D's
> hallmarks of narrowly defined roles and geometric (if not
> exponential) power growth are "what the typical player wants"?

I think the answer is a combination of all three.

Given the cost of developing a large scale MMO, you want to be
fairly sure that there'll be an audience for it, and the best way to
be sure of an audience is "Like that game, but better!"  So, if that
game has levels and power progression, so do you.  But better.

Further, the level progression is rewarding player achievement with
increased power (levels, skills, more health, etc).  It seems fairly
obvious to me that you must reward achievement in some way, so an
alternate paradigm would need to find a replacement reward.  To me,
ideas for rewards other than increased power are where the
interesting discussion here will lie.

And finally, to decide what the typical player wants, we should
decide what a typical player is.  In the MMO audience, the typical
player is one who is comfortable with one or more of the big hit
MMOs of the past.  And all of those MMOs, to my knowledge, have had
power rewards for achievement.  Your typical player, if you're
marketing to that audience, is therefore one who likes and
presumably wants power rewards for achievement.

It seems like a feedback loop has been established.  Players of
existing MMOs want more power, future MMOs ask players of existing
MMOs what they want, and people who might prefer to play a game that
wasn't power oriented are playing online solitaire games.

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