Commentary on Grouping

While I was grouping in EverQuest in Unrest tonight (an activity I’ve spent more time doing than I’ve played most MMORPGs all combined), I thought about grouping and the nature of group etiquette. These days, that idea of forming a group of people by requesting certain classes in a chat channel is gone. The days of having to find replacement members, whether for yourself or the healer leaving, are gone. Gone too are the days of group etiquette, or having etiquette or social play really mean anything.

Our tank just randomly had to leave tonight. That meant the group was essentially hindered — even paralyzed — until we could find a replacement. That action ultimately lead to the group breaking up. That person essentially hurt a lot of people’s evening plans. Many would say that it’s no wonder such a practice has been done away with, in favor of automatic group queues. (more…)

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Pantheon Devs on Armor & Gear Progression

I really get into gear progression and items, especially armor, in a fantasy MMORPG. Itemization can make or break a game for me, and I believe it can also make or break a game in general given how items are tied into so many other systems. From quests to loot drops, items dictate gameplay direction. How devs choose to provide loot, and in what form loot progression takes shape, truly is a core design decision.

One of (these days, maybe the only) traditional fantasy MMORPG I’m looking forward to trying out is Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen. The developers recently published a Q&A on their website about “Armor 101.
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Time to End the Concept of Levels?

Yesterday’s discussion about level/world scaling and a comment from one of our readers really got me thinking more and more about levels in MMORPGs. Do we really need them? Are they still a core tenet of MMORPG design?

More and more the answer is becoming, “No.”

World of Warcraft has long been without need for levels. Today the patch basically took 120 levels and condensed them into 7. For years online games, MMO, MMORPG, or otherwise, have tried to implement ways in which players of disparate levels can come together. ESO scaled their entire world. EQ2 has had mentoring (and scaling?) for years. The list goes on.

Many of these games are about simply playing and having fun doing something when you log in instead of playing in the one or two zones prescribed. There are positives and negatives with that statement.

In general, progression can still be had without the official institution of levels. We can use skill points, achievements, and alternate advancement in their place. Games can be made where the world isn’t broken up by level requirements, rather progression requirements. This post won’t specify the best route, rather propose there are other routes which may work well, even for people who enjoy the “ding.”

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