Brand Loyalty (was Re: [MUD-Dev] Requirements forMM(wasComplexities of MMOG Servers))

Paul Schwanz pschwanz at comcast.net
Mon Jan 27 13:18:52 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


"Freeman, Jeff" wrote:

> But if you start with:

>   1. You gain xp over time at a certain rate, no matter what.

> Now you've got everything the first case provided, except for
> character advancement as a reward for skill usage.  And you don't
> have to worry about 2. and 3. from above, because that aspect is
> built-in from the git-go.

> You could certainly add to the second approach:

>   2. You gain xp faster for being a winner

> To get back to rewarding success with character advancement - and
> I think it'd still be easier to track and maintain than trying to
> keep usage-based skillgain off the sidewalk.

Yes, and this is exactly where I'd like to go with character
advancement for two reasons.  1) As you mention, I believe that it
would be easier for the developer to keep a handle on character
advancement, making it easier to support casual as well as hard core
play.  And 2) the accumulation of xp calls players back to the game.
Being away for an extended period of time simply means there is more
xp calling them back.

The biggest drawback with this approach should be obvious.  It
heavily favors those who get a head start in earning xp.  All other
things being equal, and with no other mechanism in place, the player
who starts the game earlier always "beats" the late comer.  Of
course, even in the current systems of advancement the late comer is
at a disadvantage and must put in additional effort and time to
catch up.

I think there are a number of things that can address this problem.
Perhaps the most obvious is some sort of hard or soft skill cap.
This will ensure that, eventually, even those who start playing a
year after the game opens will catch up.  Of course, if the amount
of time needed to do this is too long, some players may become
discouraged.  If it is too short, then some sort of interesting end
game becomes even more essential.

I also like the idea of having characters age.  Perhaps this comes
from my preference for story and immersion over pure game-ness.  As
a character ages, its skill knowledge would increase, however, its
stats, and thus its skill proficiency, would eventually begin to
decrease.  An aged character could still be valued for its knowledge
and wisdom, but pure power and proficiency would wane.  Because of
this, a late comer could actually be more powerful than a very old
character, even though it would not possess the same level of wisdom
and knowledge.

Player reluctance to see an older character become less powerful
might be mitigated by a number of things.  First, the character
could still possess valuable arcane knowledge concerning languages,
spells, etc.  that could be useful.  Second, depending upon the end
game, the character may have attained a different kind of power, say
as an important political figure.  Third, I'd really like to see
characters who were able to leave behind a legacy that was felt and
remembered even after the character was old, feeble, or even dead.
And fourth, I'd like to see characters who were able to maintain
progeny who could inherit a portion of their wealth and even be
enrolled in various schools, etc. to begin developing some early
skills.  At any point in time, the original character could be
retired and the player could actively take control of the developing
progeny, or the player could pay a higher subscription in order to
play both characters on the same server.  (The fact that both
characters would share the same last name and similar reputation
would help avoid a lot of possible MCS exploits.)

--Phin


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