Acceleration of Speed

These always remind me of my childhood.

Leveling speed.

This one facet of any game is probably something mulled over and over as the design process goes on. With good reason, it’s an integral facet of any MMO. How fast do you want players to move through each area? How quickly do you want people to reach the end? If you make it too fast, will it loose consequence? If it’s too slow, will players become frustrated, especially in today’s market of instant gratification? Is the focus of your game supposed to be on the journey, or the destination, and how do you create the curve appropriately?

WAR is an interesting beast in regards to how it approached level-progression. On the one hand, there is the 1-40 career levels you have to progress through. I remember before release, Jeff Hickman saying in an interview that it was a very time-friendly 10-days gameplay to reach cap. Yes, you read that correctly, 10 days of play time to reach level 40. The rampage system sped this up insanely well for highly coordinated individuals. However, for most of us, and eerily-so for me, he was pretty darn accurate. My very first character, my DoK hit 40 after 10 days, and some hours. My second character (my Shadow Warrior) did it in about 8. My Knight: in about 5. My Blackguard: in about 2 or 3. On the other hand, there are the 80 renown ranks, the amount of time needed for this achievement is considerable, I’ve only done it once so far, and I’m getting close on my second. 

This highly-compartamentalized approach to the two aspects of advancement in the game created an interesting duality of experiences. With the career-levels, you had a relatively fast experience, quests where plentiful, activity was constant, and the route was pretty linear, and honestly, not very engaging. The journey was not nearly as important as just reaching the end, as that’s where the game really starts, by Jeff’s own words. This rapidity of design is why such a simple and vanilla experience was in place. When you reached that finish line, you realized that it was really just a warm-up to the marathon.

Renown rank 80. I remember when the first person on my server hit 80, it was a Shadow Warrior who played ALL the time. Many of us on Ironfist where fairly sure that multiple people played the account, because the sleep deprivation alone from his 36-hour marathons would have driven anyone insane. He hit 80 well after the game had been out for a year.

Think about that for a moment: a game, after being released for over a year, FINALLY had one of it’s uber-hardcore reach the cap.

Completionists will infuse games everywhere, and all MMOs will have at least one person who wants to get to the end before everyone else, and it took WAR over a year for that to happen on my server (I’m sure there was a world-wide first before him, but I don’t remember the date). Getting there was hard. Those of us around from launch don’t have to think too hard to remember a time where zone locks gave no reward (currency or renown), multipliers were non-existent, no one had the ranks to get the bonuses, double-weekends where a wispy thing of creative imagination, solo player kills netted a whopping 1 renown at times, and something as monumental as AAO was not even dreamed of. The achievement of RR80 was monumental, and something I doubt I would have ever reached, or maybe would have been just reaching now if I had stuck to my original character, and never played any alts.

In thinking about this, I take stock of where I am right now with my characters. My Knight sits at 80, with full defensive sovereign, some of the offensive, his royal shield, and close to his royal sword. He sits mostly unplayed, because I’m enjoying my Shadow Warrior so much more. That character is more than half way through RR75, and is working on her first royal weapon, and easily has enough crests to finish one suit of sovereign gear when she hits 80. I think back to just a few months ago, when I laid out my plans for reaching 80 on my Knight (RR75 end of June, RR80 on August 24th). I hat set a course for a quarter of a rank each week, now when I look at my Shadow Warrior, I can easily see myself getting double that. Half a rank a week? That should put me at RR80 by mid-December, and I won’t be surprised if it happens before then.

The selfish part of me is happy about this. People like progression, we like to advance and reach goals/benchmarks. As a whole, patience and the ability to accept pleasure delay are not common traits, and it’s a clear presence in the gaming community. The game-focused part of me, is thinking that maybe it’s at a place where advancement is too fast. That same part of me is hoping that the new 20 ranks coming down the pipe take a LONG time to get. People like to see big numbers on their renown gain, so let them keep that, but make getting from 80-81 take as long as going from 77-80, and going from 81-82 exponentially longer, and so-on. I want to see real commitment and devotion out of people who get those high ranks. I’ve said it before here, but I like the idea of horizontal expansions more than vertical, and these RvR packs are a vertical one (though not nearly as extreme as other genres). I think it’s necessary in some ways to use the extra ceiling room to help even things out a bit, but I don’t want that to be the mantra of the game in times to come. Let it take me 2 more years to get to RR100, I’m okay with that. I just don’t want to see everyone driving down the renown-super highway with their foot pushing the accelerator through the floor-board.

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About Shadow
Making serious business out of internet spaceships.

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