I touched briefly on the idea of character advancement in yesterday’s post, and I think it warrants further discussion. Right now MMOs seem to have one common theme: Pick a class, quest to level, unlock all abilities, then do end-game activities to get loot to make your abilities better. That’s the gist of character advancement. If I were responsible for looking at how characters would advance, level up, improve, etc., in a MMO here’s what I would do.
Play-style should radically change based upon one’s chosen profession. I use the word profession in its truest sense. Wizards being blacksmiths, blacksmiths being thieves, everyone being everything, it just doesn’t make much sense to me. Professions require extensive training, prolonged study, and practice. I like when players need to specialize and choose a path. Be one thing, and have the game be capable of supporting whatever choice you make by providing a unique and 100% fulfilling experience.
Blacksmiths should become better blacksmiths by making weapons. Thieves should become better at stealing and moving about undetected by actually trying to do so. Warriors wanting to increase their strength and skill with a blade should have to go out and slay beasts. I like when I see that my character has become better at using swords because I have actually used a sword. I’m not a believer in universal advancement or “choose where your point goes” systems. If you use a sword and gain a level, why should you be able to increase your armor value? I’m not saying that everything should make perfect and realistic sense — it’s a game after all — but these things are capable of being great gameplay mechanics. [Read more…]