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The Dilemma of Level vs. Skill In MMOs

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the one-does-not-imply-the-other dept.

Games 463

Karen Hertzberg writes "Since MMORPGs became a mainstream medium, players have debated the two primary methods of advancement. Which is better? Is it the level-based system that is so dominant in today's MMORPGs, or the lesser-used skill-based system? This has been a strong subject of debate on many forums, blogs, and gaming sites for as long as the genre has existed. Ten Ton Hammer's Cody 'Micajah' Bye investigates the two concepts and gathers input from some of the brightest minds in the gaming industry about their thoughts on the two systems of advancement." Relatedly, I've seen a growing trend of players saying that such games don't really take much skill at all. The standard argument is that it just boils down to "knowing how to move" or "knowing when to hit your buttons." In the MMO community, people often make references to FPS or RTS games, saying they have a higher skill cap. However, the same complaints also come from within those communities, with comments like "you just need to know the map," or "it's all about a good build order." At what point does intimate knowledge of a game's mechanics make a player skilled?

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What about the third option? (3, Insightful)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610359)

3. It's all about how much money you fork over for premium content.

Dear idiot Slashdot editor (5, Informative)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610691)

The article is talking about skill-based character progression systems in RPGs (e.g., Elder Scrolls), not player skill in the general sense. There's a goddamn paragraph on the first page that clarifies this, but apparently that wasn't enough.

l33t h4x (0)

AtomicDevice (926814) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610389)

It's all about how many leet hax you have.

Re:l33t h4x (1)

prozaker (1261190) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610609)

how many "autohotkey macros" do you have.

Um, that's why they are games, not sports (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28610403)

They are games for a reason. They're entertaining. They do not require a great deal of skill, or they would be a sport. While I am sure there are plenty of us who like to tease ourselves into believing we have "l337 sk1lz", the truth of the matter is that we are still involved in low base entertainment designed to appeal to as many people as possible. Successful games are the ones that sell the most, thus they have to be designed for the lowest common denominator.

There are plenty of other past times that do involve skill.

Re:Um, that's why they are games, not sports (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610577)

Try to 1cc [urbandictionary.com] any Cave shoot-em-up and tell me that doesn't require skill. Some of these games are as hard as any sport.

Re:Um, that's why they are games, not sports (1)

FlopEJoe (784551) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610779)

Personally, I consider sports to be games as well.

and baking is just knowing the recipe (1, Insightful)

Speare (84249) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610429)

How is this different from any skill? Skill is the knowledge and execution of when/what/how to do things. I can bake a great loaf of bread if I follow a recipe exactly, but I'm not a savant who can stray from the recipe and make novel things taste good. Is following a recipe skill? Some would say yes, some would say no. Same with the "skill" of grinding your elf warrior to high scores or levels.

I was hoping from the title that this would be a discussion of "advancement through earned level rankings, or advancement through earned skill attributes," you know, actual game design theory.

Re:and baking is just knowing the recipe (4, Insightful)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610597)

Along those lines... chess is just about knowing how to move pieces around the board.

Re:and baking is just knowing the recipe (2, Insightful)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610751)

Depends if you mean that chess is simply knowing where each piece can legally move or if skill in chess is knowing when and where to move those pieces around the board.

Re:and baking is just knowing the recipe (2, Interesting)

WillyWanker (1502057) | more than 5 years ago | (#28611033)

Playing a game well is definitely a skill. But you also need to define "well". Just about anyone can pick up an MMO and play reasonably well, with limited skills and knowledge. Those that go the extra mile, who learn to use every aspect of the game to their advantage, who strive to always have the best stats and gear; these are the "skilled" players.

Of course it's a somewhat limited skill set. But it's still a skill set nonetheless.

Re:and baking is just knowing the recipe (5, Insightful)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610651)

If you are able to do something you have a skill in it. If you can pump gas into your car then you have a skill - pumping gas. Some skills are easier then others (pumping gas vs replacing your breaks). But everything that is not automatically done for you (e.g. your heart pumping) requires a skill.

Now going a step beyond that there is a difference between a person who is skilled at something and a person who is skilled and innovative. A skilled player can go online and read/watch tutorials on how to beat the hardest monsters in a game and then execute those (we call that person a cook). They have a skill - they know the game, they know their characters and the know how to follow instructions. Just like the cook who knows their kitchen (the game setting), knows their tools (there characters), and knows their recipie (the tutorial). Great let them back us a cake. The skilled innovator is the person who goes into an unknown situation, say a boss that nobody has ever encountered, and figures out a way to beat it (we call that the master chef). They have a skill - they know the game, they know their character, and they know how to solve puzzles.

I would rather be the skilled innovator but both types have skill.

The original article is just a way for someone to get posted on /. :)

Re:and baking is just knowing the recipe (2, Funny)

Jstlook (1193309) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610885)

Oh c'mon. The cake is a lie.

Re:and baking is just knowing the recipe (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28611011)

...knows their tools (there characters), and knows their recipie (the tutorial). Great let them back us a cake.

Let me guess... Not a native speaker?

Re:and baking is just knowing the recipe (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610985)

I can bake a great loaf of bread if I follow a recipe exactly, but I'm not a savant who can stray from the recipe and make novel things taste good.

That's because you haven't. Take some time to understand why the recipe tells you to do certain things and experiment with changes and you will.

skill? (2, Insightful)

markringen (1501853) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610433)

it's more about gaining levels, skill has nothing to do with it. it's a game.

Editor didn't read the article (5, Informative)

Sowelu (713889) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610439)

From the article itself:

"To ensure that we're being absolutely crystal clear, this article isn't focused on the discussion concerning the differences between the pure RPG leveling system versus "player skill-based" games. That's a completely different conversation altogether, and - unfortunately - some of our paneled public and developers thought that was where the discussion was leading, and thus some answers from particular teams won't be printable...at least in this article."

Re:Editor didn't read the article (3, Funny)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610585)

His name is Soulskill. He has been waiting his whole life for this moment. Don't ruin it for him.

Re:Editor didn't read the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28611123)

Absolutely correct.

A skill-based training system refers to a character schema without levels, but with skills that have a proficiency rating. Players receive skill points to allocate towards proficiency, or use-based increases in proficiency. Skills in this context are also occassionally taught by PCs or learned from NPCs, without level restrictions or the abstraction of experience points.

In many games, levels and experience points never actually factor into game logic other than to establish skill and gear hierarchies. It's an unnecessary abstraction, and I think skill-less systems allow for much more interesting character development. Non-combatant characters become feasible (and sensible, in a roleplaying setting) without the experience abstraction, as they can advance directly from the use of their skills without the need to participate in a party as dead weight.

Coordinated, group activities can be more complex and span several rooms without the experience abstraction. Unlimited remote experience sharing would generally lead to abuse such as power-levelling, whereas restricting experience sharing to a locality limits the scope of party activities. As characters achieve their individual advancement simply by participating in many skill-based designs, there is no need to formally declare to the game intent to share points.

The Breakdown (5, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610445)

FPS: Knowing where the power weapons are on the map. (Halo 3: Shotgun whore wins)

MMORPG: Its knowing which class is overpowered. (Vanilla WoW: Nerf Warlocks)

RTS: Its all about who is Korean. (I'm new to SC, want to play? I'm a nub go easy)

Re:The Breakdown (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28610599)

no, to all of the above.

Re:The Breakdown (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28610857)

Skill is how much of a head start you can give an opponent without allowing him to win against you, in all types of games. There are things you need to do right against a skilled player, like getting the right weapons and power-ups in a first person shooter, choosing the right build order in a real-time strategy game or an advantageous class in a massive multiplayer role playing game. How much can you deviate from these ideals and still win? That is skill. Good karma is to play against lesser-skilled players without going tactical on them. It's more fun too.

Re:The Breakdown (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28611339)

Locks have seen enough nerfs, let's nerf everyone else for once.

ASS! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28610459)

great ass! greater ass!! greatest ass!!! Hooray and ppppdwpdpwwppdwppdpoqpdppopwp!!!!!!! (acrobat?)

Playing the map (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28610463)

I'm rather good at FPS, but I find it quite boring when, well, you know the map well enough that you don't play the game but the map.

Likewise optimal RTS strategies can be plotted down to seconds making it pretty predictable. Boring.

And then, in MMOs, its either who brings the best equipment (ie, who spent their lives grinding for gear) or who has the biggest zerg.

skill? (3, Insightful)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610475)

At what point does intimate knowledge of a game's mechanics make a player skilled?

I'd say that this is the definition of skill for an online game.

Re:skill? (2, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610501)

I'd say thats the definition of skill for any game, online, offline, PC, board game, card game, drinking gaaaaaa well maybe not drinking games.

Re:skill? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610591)

Not necessarily though, there are a lot of people who understand (American) football. However, not everyone is going to make it to the NFL. I'm sure there are some people who simply can't play football well even though they know everything about the game, perhaps even more than the actual players, yet simply is not good at football.

Re:skill? (1)

Fred IV (587429) | more than 5 years ago | (#28611109)

Some combination of knowledge + ability to execute + ability to adapt is probably a better definition. Your armchair quarterback isn't skilled at American football because he is unable to execute. An amateur with both knowledge and ability may not reach pro levels of play because of an inability to think on his feet and adapt to changes on the field. In the same way, someone in an MMO may know what all of their abilities do, but their level of comparative skill may suffer because they aren't able to link skills together quickly enough or aren't able to think tactically and make adjustments in the middle of play.

Re:skill? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28611341)

The unspoken part of "understanding a game's mechanics" is being able to perform excellently within those mechanics, in the context of MMOs knowing when and how to move and or roll your face across the keyboard. In terms of football that would be knowing when how to make the hail mary pass for the touch done, and executing it.

Re:skill? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28610707)

Intimate knowledge of the (relatively simple) mechanics of chess, poker, or go, is more or less required to play. However is in now way sufficient to make you skilled at these games.

Re:skill? (1)

CoccoBill (1569533) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610715)

I concur. As in, what is "skill" in for example chess or any other "skill-based" game, if not the knowledge of the game's mechanics? ESP? Force?

Main Entry: skill
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English skil, from Old Norse, distinction, knowledge; probably akin to Old English scylian to separate, sciell shell â" more at shell
Date: 13th century

1 (obsolete): cause, reason
2 a: the ability to use one's knowledge effectively and readily in execution or performance b: dexterity or coordination especially in the execution of learned physical tasks
3: a learned power of doing something competently : a developed aptitude or ability

Re:skill? (1)

I.M.O.G. (811163) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610743)

At what point does intimate knowledge of a game's mechanics make a player skilled?

I'd say that this is the definition of skill for an online game.

I'd mostly agree, although it takes a combination of intimate knowledge of ingame mechanics as well as ingame coordination. Accuracy and efficiency are attributes of ingame skill which could be reasonably considered ingame coordination and often take time to develop, hone, and ulimately perfect.

So the intimate knowledge alone isn't enough to excel, and the combination of ingame coordination is often what differentiates a good player from a great one, imo.

Re:skill? (1)

clegrand (1082829) | more than 5 years ago | (#28611093)

I'd have to agree. In the end, general familiarity with a given genre leads to uniform gaming experiences where the only differentiators are the relative coding skills of the programmer responsible for the module your are currently playing. A couple of examples might be: an out of place poly in an FPS can catch your toon or give an unfair advantage; aggro range on mobs in MMORPGs can directly affect the difficulty of an encounter. As skill, or

... intimate knowledge of a game's mechanics ...

increases, you are in effect, playing against the programmer directly. A programmer who is hobbled by the required script.

Re:skill? (4, Insightful)

relguj9 (1313593) | more than 5 years ago | (#28611165)

At what point does intimate knowledge of a game's mechanics make a player skilled?
I'd say that this is the definition of skill for an online game.

Oblig. Bruce Lee quote:
Knowing is not enough, you must apply.

Re:skill? (1)

citizenr (871508) | more than 5 years ago | (#28611377)

Not for twitch games. Take Cod4 hardcore mode for example. Im brilliant when it comes to game mechanics. I know maps well, have memorized every nade spot, all gun stats, every single game timer. I use good headphones and almost always know where the enemy is ... yet I still get shot plenty times in the face by 12 year old 0.00001s reflex kid.

Character vs. Player skill (4, Insightful)

Experiment 626 (698257) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610479)

It sounds like the article is talking about character advancement mechanics being based on skills (you use a sword, your guy gets better with a sword) instead of levels (you character suddenly gets better at everything). The editor writeup, however, is a commentary on player skill.

Re:Character vs. Player skill (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610837)

This had me confused too, but I figured it was because I only skimmed the first page of the Article...

mix, non-additive (1)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610483)

My take on the situation:

Mix the two. I'd just love a game where I have both approaches available. Where I could bring my personal skills to the game, but where I don't have any or find it too exhausting (i.e. not fun) to use them, compensate with points, levels, whatever.

The main problem of game design is to make sure it's a complementary, but not additive system. You should be able to offset lack of skill by points, but not have it add up. Someone with the maximum level but no skill should be equal to someone with the highest skill but no level, should be equal to someone with both the skill and the level. If you make it any other way, the game will simply change into one where you need both instead of either.

Most of today's FPS games have such a design in one aspect: You can fire single shots or short bursts and aim them well, or you can fire more or less blindly in long bursts. Due to the random spread increasing with fire rate, you can't do both. It's not the perfect example, but serves to illustrate what I mean.

Adapting that to some MMORPG concepts is, of course, non-trivial. The combat, weapon, magic and other systems of these games are very strongly geared towards level-based playing.

WoW works! (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610493)

Hey, i think we can all agree that WoW seems to have the best of all the worlds.
12 million can't be wrong....and on top of that there is still 2 expansions left before they defunct the game.
Although i am sure they will keep servers rolling, or offer server solutions to those who want to host their own gaming server.
I am not talking the hacked kind either...!

WoW...no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28610797)

Are you serious?

WoW is considered the MMO for the masses. It is boiled down to cater to the casual or unskilled gamer. My 5 year old was able to level a hunter into the later game with only occasional input from me. It largely has very little to do with character skill, let alone player skill. Admittedly, some of the instances and raids require both....but for the most part the game caters to simple enjoyment. It's like CSI on television....formulaic and boring on the outside, but somehow enjoyable while you're doing it.

To address the remainder of your post.... They will not defunct the game as long as it is profitable. Considering tha SOE still has EverQuest up and running, I think we can all rest assured that you will see WoW servers up and running for another 5-10 years easily. And unless you're new here or to gaming in general, you cannot be serious about thinking that Blizzard will allow for your own gaming server. After their bloodthirsty legal pursuit of Bnetd and the recently reported lack of LAN play for Starcraft?

Blizzard has become the cliche evil moneygrubbing corporation....having evolved from a hip, community loving game shop. It reminds me of Games Workshop on the tabletop..... Kind of ironic that Blizzard stole all of GW's IP to create the original Warcraft....now they've stolen their outlook on milking their now enamored gaming community.

Re:WoW works! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28610847)

That this post has not yet been flamed astounds me.

I'd have to say I agree, though - they're doing something right, it would seem.

Re:WoW works! (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610929)

Hey, i think we can all agree that WoW seems to have the best of all the worlds. 12 million can't be wrong

No, we can't. I could use your same logic to claim that all games must have ambulatory cows in them.

You would make a great film executive through. "Hey, that movie with Will Smith and explosions that came out on July 4th weekend sold great. Let's do that every year!"

Re:WoW works! (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 5 years ago | (#28611049)

That movie would probably make enough on opening weekend every year to turn a profit too.

Re:WoW works! (1)

zarzu (1581721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610967)

yes 12 million can be wrong, in fact several billions can be wrong. that said, mmorpgs have been stagnating after wow released and most developers are simply trying to get something very similar to wow, in the hope that people will get tired of the wow world and then hop onto another mmorpg that is essentially the same in a different wrap. the few games that have really deviated from wow were all failures (tabula rasa, darkfall). that said, wow wasn't much different from the first generation mmorpgs and simply picked the best elements of each of them and mixed it up, they didn't reinvent the wheel, but arguable made the last "big" successfull step. the actual reason why wow is as popular as it is, has mostly to do with blizzards name in the gaming industry, the popularity of previous warcraft titles and the suction generated by many people playing, sucking in more etc.

also: there are f2p mmorpgs with far higher populations than wow (as far as those are correct) like maplestory and stuff like that, they still suck though.

Re:WoW works! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28611331)

I can't tell if this is a troll, someone who has been smoking Blizzard's wacky weed, or someone too clueless to have played other MMOs.

WoW caters to the lowest common denominator. Almost all classes, you can make a one button macro to target a mob, either walk up to it, or pull it, mash a couple abilities, loot, then move to the next. Pretty much, if you can do that, you can hit 80 in a reasonable amount of time.

Once 80, you can go into PvP where the class balance (especially compared to other PvP games like Guild Wars) absolutely stinks. You have two classes who take no skill to play, and the rest of them are their honorable kills. Sometimes one of the hind teat classes ends up actually not being a prison bitch in BGs and arenas for a couple months until its nerfed back into oblivion because of how the devs like their own pet classes. Faction-wise, Horde or Alliance are just the left and right side of the short school bus.

Or you can raid, and compared to Everquest or EQ2, WoW's raiding experience is miserable. You can go to the same two large raid zones each week, perhaps visit the three smaller ones, and that is it. Raiding in WoW has been made so brain dead easy is mainly about trying to score numbers on recount, everything else be damned. In fact, it doesn't even matter if you die during a boss fight, as long as you can pull 4k to 4500 DPS.

Blizzard barely puts out any content between their two year expansion cycles. In the time BC was out, EQ1 and EQ2 had three expansions each, each one being almost the size of Northrend.

WoW isn't the only fantasy MMO out there. It does serve a good purpose though. It and a certain MMO which is still in beta in the US keep the real bad players away from real MMOs (LOTRO, EQ1, EQ2, Vanguard, even DDO.)

Skills - yes please (1)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610513)

No it doesn't take skill, in these games, to go from level 1 to whatever. Even in warhammer online where you have ranks (level) and renown ranks (primarly, but not always, levels from pvp) it doesn't really take skill. Even a computer nub can hang out in pvp areas (in the warhammer example) and lose every single game and eventually get a high level. It will take him a long time but he will have it. So no these are not measurements skill but are measurements of level. Yes the game is button pressing and doing it in the correct order and when to do it - but isn't that the basis of EVERY SINGLE video game? Pacman...when to move left, when to move right....Counter-strike...when to jump, when to crawl, when to duck, when to shoot.

The only way to truely measure someone's skill in these games comes in two area's 1) pve and 2) pvp

1) PVE - Skill...if you can accomplish the quests, missions, raids, etc then you have skill in pve. In the long run (once a mob is on farm status) it is easy. The tactics are the same...just follow the formula and you should win each time (obviously bad electronic rolls can kill you). But to get to that forumla you have to play and in a lot of games (world of warcraft) you have to play well and you have to play well with others. Meaning - you could be the best fighter in the game, but without a good healer you are screwed....same goes the other way....you could be the best healer in the game but if the fighter doesn't know what equipment to use, abilities to purchase, and buttons to press (and when to press them) then you are screwed. A skill player in this category is one who can successfully beat the monsters over and over. Once a monster is on FARM status that player mastered the skull of beating it. From then on it should be easy (as long as the formula is followed)

2) PVP - Skill is a bit trickier here because it not only requires knowledge of your enemies you get a lot of randomness. Even if you play the same opponents every single time (most likely NOT the case) and you realize you are playing that opponent (most likely NOT the case) people are random. They may learn a new trick, or hell even learn YOUR tricks (most likely not the case). They may have a new mod to help them or new gear. Things fluctuate. You obviously will learn that when you, a fighter, encounter a mage there are certain things you can do which help you vs that mage. The mage will try and counter based on the things they learned (e.g. mage should probably not go toe-to-toe with the fighter). Once you have mastered the basic knowledge you have gained a lot of skill - then it is just your ability to act react. The only way to really quantify how good you are is to record your win/loss ratio, kills/death ratio, etc. There are all kinds of meters. A player who just goes into a pvp area and is totally skill-less will probably have way more deaths then kills while a good player will have a better ratio.

These games require a lot of knowledge and a lot of skill...as you play them you gain both until they are second nature. Remember when people look at their playtime for these games it generally is really high (e.g. many players can say they have played over 100 days of their character...that is 2,400 hours of game play).

Both are bad. (4, Interesting)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610523)

The problem with too many RPGs is that easy encounters are easy, and hard encounters are impossible until you level up, at which point they are easy. It FEELS like you are gaining skill at the game, which is enjoyable, but in fact your character is just tougher. You didn't learn shit.

It makes sense for your character to change over time: that makes the game keep feeling new. But the best system of all is one where your new characteristics are a tradeoff, and every player's capabilities remain somewhat balanced. Success should be from solving a problem in novel ways, not grinding. Like TF2, StarCraft. It is of course very hard to build games like this.

This has come up for me playing crap iPhone games. Since there isn't enough development time for them to put in real challenge, every goddamned thing has a level up mechanic. And certain things are just unbeatable until you level up, and then they are beatable through button mashing. It is lame as hell and apparently the customers don't care.

Re:Both are bad. (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610835)

I really have to agree. There is no real skill in a game if a complete noob can pick up someone else's character and do pretty well. Compare that with an RTS or an RPG, where using somebody else's character doesn't really help you at all. Character is just the way you look on the screen, and has no bearing on how high you can jump, or how accurately you can shoot. I think games like this are much better for online play, because when you win, you know you are actually better than the other guy. Whereas, with a game that has leveling, you have only really proved that you spent more time playing the game and therefore your character is more powerful.

Re:Both are bad. (4, Insightful)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610923)

Compare that with an RTS or an [FPS] (that's what you meant, right?), where using somebody else's character doesn't really help you at all.

Iduno. TF2 has done this very very well. Character determines many things, including how high you can jump. If you spend a lot of time at the game, you get new capabilities. But every new capability is a tradeoff, and a beginning player using your items wouldn't necessarily do any better than without. If there were RPGs where time spent provided you more very well balanced tradeoffs to choose between, that would be perhaps interesting. And hard to develop.

Re:Both are bad. (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610877)

Success should be from solving a problem in novel ways, not grinding.

Wish someone had told the lads at Mythic this. Every time someone came up with a clever solution to a really hard quest, Mythic would change the quest so that solution no longer worked...

Re:Both are bad. (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610925)

The problem with too many RPGs is that easy encounters are easy, and hard encounters are impossible until you level up, at which point they are easy. It FEELS like you are gaining skill at the game, which is enjoyable, but in fact your character is just tougher. You didn't learn shit.

Half true, half false. Usually you have more attacks, more skills, more HP and mana management at higher levels. You just don't notice it because you're getting pretty good at it. Of course every MMORPG includes one click-the-button class (usually warrior) for those that just want to be part of the group and not manage anything like that.

Re:Both are bad. (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 5 years ago | (#28611077)

It FEELS like you are gaining skill at the game, which is enjoyable, but in fact your character is just tougher. You didn't learn shit.

Using WOW as an example, you the player learn skills when you can go kill orange or red mobs without dying. You also gain skill when you learn how to leverage each class in a small group and which roles your character can fill. Anyone who's been in a dungeon knows how easily Leroy Jenkins can get the whole group killed, so yes, there is some skill involved.

comments about the additional editor added summary (3, Informative)

uncledrax (112438) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610531)

Just a quip about it. The editor is thinking about 'Skill as in I twitch faster or know the map', whereby rather I believe they are referring to a Skill Point mechanic instead of a Leveling Up mechanic... that is, I have a "46.5% skill in Swordmanship" instead of "I'm a level 20 Swordsman". Usually a Level based mechanic has some aspects of a Skill Based system as well (but usually it's relegated to Crafting in online games like WoW or DAoC); but to me the main difference was rather looked at as a "Class Based System" vs a "Skill Based System", which has been a debate in gaming long before computers came to the genre with things like "DnD" being a CBS and "Star Frontiers" being a Skill based system. Personally, I generally perfer a Skill based system for a variety of small reasons.

Won't be used... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610537)

The goal of MMORPGs are to make money. Because of that they need to reward those who have kept paying their fees and keep buying the expansion packs. As long as the subscription and expansion pack models stick around, you will see that the only methods that get used are those that reward play time with the best characters. Really, Blizzard wants you to have a better character if you are a person terrible at WoW but have been playing for the past 3 years, then the person who is amazing at RPGs and has only been playing for ~3 months.

in game "skill" versus real life "skill" (1)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610565)

Asheron's Call was probably the best known MMO with PVP in terms of balancing in game skills with real life player hand/eye coordination skills.

Think in terms of FPS skill... In Asheron's, your player's abilities grew as you spent the experience points on your "skills," but that meant nothing if you "sucked" at the game. In this case "sucking" at the game meant that your control over your avatar's movements were insufficient to "win" regardless of your avatar's level or in game skill level.

usage based (4, Interesting)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610589)

One simple change could be to make progression depend on skill, not trivial success and grinding.

Or, in simpler terms, something that every dofus could do should give no XP at all. And yes, that includes the death of a monster. Instead, why not give XP for successful attacks, combos, or whatever defines your class? Balancing would be a lot more difficult than the current "monster is worth 123 XP, share between party members" system, but it could be more fair and more rewarding, and eliminate grinding.

What if combat would not give you XP for killing monsters, but for how well you fought? You get XP for every attack, depending on your skill of execution. Of course, that would require replacing the simple "click here for an attack, you'll automatically hit" system. But it would allow you to gain your XP slowly by very low XP per boring standard attack, or more rapidly if you know how to fight. Healers, mages, etc. would get XP for their successes, i.e. healing wounded party members, etc. - again, not on a flat system, healing someone who really needed it would give more XP than the standard "I'm throwing a group heal around, just in case anyone needs it".

Absolutely non-trivial to implement and balance, so it's probably not the end of the idea. But it might be a start.

Basically, imagine Oblivion where your athletics skill doesn't increase just because you bunny-hop through the world, but only if you actually use it for something useful.

Reward not use, but useful use.

Re:usage based (1, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610721)

....Because its trivial to use a macro to gain combos on monsters? For example if all you needed to do is do the "great laser of death combo" that you need to do skill 2 then 3 seconds later press skill 1 then 5 seconds later click skill 3 and defend. While that isn't going to work for bating a live person, on monster attacks this would be trivial to do and reduce your idea of "skill" down to pressing a button, waiting and pressing another button when the monster had died.

Re:usage based (2, Insightful)

Trebawa (1461025) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610939)

....Because its trivial to use a macro to gain combos on monsters?

Tom is saying that there would have to be mechanisms for actual skill in defeating enemies, which calls for an overhaul of the traditional button-mashing system altogether:

Of course, that would require replacing the simple "click here for an attack, you'll automatically hit" system.

Re:usage based (2, Informative)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28611029)

Yes, that's why anything that can be scripted, etc. should not be rewarded.

Now I can't say how exactly such a system would look like (if I could, I'd try to sell it to someone). It's a bit like obscenity: Can't define it, but I know it when I see it.

As humans, we usually know skill from level. Someone who can shoot straight will be more successful in an FPS than someone who can't. So rewarding hitting more than shooting rewards skill. That's the basic idea.

Re:usage based (1)

Lunatrik (1136121) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610773)

I think Star Wars Galaxies tried something like this - e.g., healers got XP for healing ect., but it made different classes *far* easier to level and thus they ended up with a dramatic shortage of some classes. Its no fun LFG for two hours!

Re:usage based (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28610881)

Retarded, please don't make any more suggestions k thnx.

Re:usage based (3, Insightful)

1WingedAngel (575467) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610887)

Your solution here doesn't really offer anything better than the current grinding systems. In fact, it makes it even more frustrating.

You move the end-of-battle award to mid-battle and for some classes, you would reward them based on the play of others?

To take one of your examples: A healer gaining XP based on the party members health. So, the goal here would be to consistently let your party get as low on health as possible before healing them? And you would penalize them for keeping everyone full up? I can't think of a single worse reward mechanism for healers.

Re:usage based (2, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610975)

No, you misunderstood me. That would be rote playing which I specifically do not want to reward.

It's hard to come up with a good system along this line of thought. The basic idea is that anything that's trivial to do should give trivial (or no) XP. Simply waiting until the others are low on health is trivial to do.

Re:usage based (1)

Riddler Sensei (979333) | more than 5 years ago | (#28611207)

Actually, waiting until everyone is nearly dead would make it LESS trivial, wouldn't it?

Re:usage based (1)

clegrand (1082829) | more than 5 years ago | (#28611259)

One simple change could be to make progression depend on skill, not trivial success and grinding.

.....

Absolutely non-trivial to implement and balance, so it's probably not the end of the idea. But it might be a start.

The Trouble With Trivials ....ummm.. which end are we starting at?

Re:usage based (1)

NotJesus (1592299) | more than 5 years ago | (#28611317)

What I really want to see is a skill based leveling game. I'm thinking of something like an online Way of the Samurai game where you have to react to your opponents attack by blocking and or throwing in a push to your attack making attacks rely more on precise timing and not just level. Then if you were more skill based you would be able to kill more guys and level faster still. I agree that they need to do away with the just click to attack and and click to do a certain spell type of grinding. Another random thought would be for spells to require you to do random things like those Olympic games for the consoles. Nothing too hard but would reward you if you were good at it.

Re:usage based (1)

castironpigeon (1056188) | more than 5 years ago | (#28611381)

How about eliminating the grind altogether by making XP the measure of your highest achieved level of proficiency at something rather than the accumulation of points for doing X thing Y times? So if I can kill a level 10 monster that makes me level 10. Then I have to gear up, learn some tactics, whatever before I can beat a level 11 monster. But if you already know or have that stuff you can just jump ahead. Oh wait there goes the "Over 50 hours of gameplay!" tag...

It's a game. (1)

Mashhaster (1396287) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610593)

A game is a game, even a grandmaster at Chess isn't necessarily going to be good at anything else. I would argue that anything that beats the other player (short of cheating/exploting/etc) comprises skill at that game. Of course, that doesn't do you any good outside of the game, so I hesitate to call it a skill. Unless you're one of the few who makes money as a professional gamer, being good at CS/WoW/SC/whatever is just being good at killing time.

Oldschool Ultima Online = Skilled (1)

HerculesMO (693085) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610595)

Skill systems can work, so can level systems... it depends a lot of game mechanics.

UO back in the day had a system that incorporated twitch skill, combo skill (ie, street fighter), tactics, teamwork, etc to make the game interesting. Everybody would max out eventually and then the game would have balance amongst EVERYBODY.

The thing in level based games, there are also 'classes', so one class may not be well balanced against another class. For example in WOW, a rogue generally can own a mage pretty fast, while a mage can own large swaths of players too. It's balanced overall, but not balanced for 1v1. UO was balanced for 1v1 as well as team fighting for tactics.

Either way though, I am looking forward to Mortal Online which is supposed to have balance for individuals like UO did, but we'll see how that works out.

Over-Simplification (1)

Spike15 (1023769) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610607)

That it boils down to "knowing how to move" and/or "knowing when to hit your buttons" is a vast over-simplification of finesse in video games, and can really be applied to anything. I mean, if you say that these two are not examples of "skill", then what is an example of skill? I am an IT professional, you could simplify my job to "knowing where to click the mouse" or "knowing where to plug in the cables" and say that my job is not therefore "skilled".

Level-based advancement is fine-and-dandy -- it's a heuristic thrown in your way for several reasons -- but the fact-of-the-matter is, is that most MMORPGs have a level cap. Once you've leveled so far you cannot level any further and therefore this level-based advantage you once had over other players becomes moot, and it's all about skill (or gear). To say that games like FPSes and RTSes have a higher "skill cap" is largely inaccurate, they just rely on different skills and, in many [read: most] cases, are divorced from RPG-exclusive concepts such as "gear".

Faced the same issue on the tabletop (1)

Cogneato (600584) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610619)

Years ago, at the release of D&D 3.0, my friends and I got fed up with the class/level approach in the tabletop games to the point where we decided to develop our own system. To us, it just didn't seem to make sense that you picked a class and then that class defined all that you could do. In real life, it would seem that your individual skills would come together to form your class (job), not the other way around. So, we took that model and developed a system from it. Our original goal was just to have a system that we could play ourselves that treated us like intelligent adults. Now, eight years and hundreds, or perhaps thousands of hours, later, the system has become pretty solid. We took a big cue from the old Fallout games, which did a good job of having the skill drive the character. The book-in-progress can be downloaded at pinwheels.org. We'd love to get some feedback on it.

We've found that skills driven system are significantly more pleasing to play because they give the player flexibility to be an individual and not solely defined on what items they are carrying.

Guild Wars (4, Interesting)

bhsx (458600) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610631)

Once again I think this is an area where Guild Wars does well. There is a lvl20 cap on all players. The game mechanics become very important, it's all basically rock, paper, scissors. Everything has a counter. It makes for a much "tighter" pvp game if that makes any sense. Basically all you have is what's on your bar, and it's only eight skills max, and in pvp you want one of those skills to be resurrection signet. It becomes a game of how much power you can pack into those by "chaining" them together. There's no changing armor in pvp, no potions or elixers to boost your health; those have to be fit into your skillbar as well. I think it's a fine balance that takes so much of the grind out of the game, at that point it's all up to how you like to play, and GW gives you tons of options there through different ways to pvp, pve, and in some circumstances pva(all).

Re:Guild Wars (1)

popo (107611) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610789)

Mod parent up. Guild Wars PVP is pure skill, but it's not a twitchy shooter. There are dozens of play styles -- from reflex driven Mesmers, to infinitely more strategic builds. For those who like the grind, there is always PVE, and rare armor sets, rare weapons, etc.

Re:Guild Wars (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610969)

This was the first game I thought of, too. It was designed from the ground up to depend on the 'skill' of the player, rather than stats, for competitions. Everyone has access to everything (with a little effort) and the level cap is low and easy to reach within a few hours.

I think it's a great game, and I still play it occasionally... I can't say that about any level-based games.

Re:Guild Wars (1)

PieSquared (867490) | more than 5 years ago | (#28611085)

Yar, I prefer the GW model of skill. You take a week or two to level up, pretty much an extended tutorial and gradual easing into the real game. By that time you also have the best armor and weapons you're going to get. After that to get better you have to... get better. Picking a good personal and team build for what you're doing is certainly a big help and you could argue that the next way to "level up" is just to learn all the skills and mechanics...

But then you get into PvP and you realize that two teams with the exact same weapons, armor, skills, and attributes can still be horribly unequal.

Mod parent up (2, Informative)

Prien715 (251944) | more than 5 years ago | (#28611325)

I really think Guild Wars is the only MMO where something like skill, as opposed to bunny hopping, loot gathering, and spending 3 weeks of your life getting a character up to 80, only to discover the class categorically sucks at PvP. I also think the class definitions are more complex than the traditional tank/healer/dps.

I also really really love the multiclass aspect which yields a much larger amount of viable and interesting builds, combined with the free skill rebalancing, makes tweaking your character/skill setup part of the game. Unlike other MMOs where you essentially go to a website and download the build for your class based on the most recent patch.

knowledge of game mechanics and skill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28610675)

Lurk through any competitive community and you'll see a trend. Those who spend countless hours dissecting the game to understand its mechanics tend to be the ones who never really develop any skill in the game. Much like playing an instrument: You can spend your lifetime studying theory, scales, and progressions, but if you never pick up the instrument and play it you'll never be worth a damn.

levels (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28610681)

You guys notice they are talking about skill 'levels' in games and not skill in the sense of a twitch gamer, right?

MMOs with Leveling are inherently broken (3, Interesting)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610697)

The problem is that levels themselves are throw back to a system where it would be very difficult to measure success another way on pen and paper.

Since the first MUDs and CRPGs just emulated the pen and paper systems, they never considered that there might be better ways.

Ultima Pagan [wikipedia.org] and Ultima Online (and plenty others that it would take too long to mention) tried other system, but it developers unfamiliar with anything else kept with the old model in future MMOs because the formula worked.

Now the key problem with leveling in MMOs is that it first and for most segregates your gaming populace with what content they can share and interact with.

Warhammer Online resolves this simply by making it easy to grind to level 40 so everyone really just play the games at that point. The games go other problems but player segregation isn't one of them.

Now this is nothing to be said about skill at this point, but there other ways a game can have progression rather than arbitrary levels.

Personally if a publisher handed me a bunch of cash and said "Go make a game" I would opt for something along the lines of giving out 1000 skill points to a player at the character creation and that would be it. They could design him anyway they choose (and go back and redesign later) and let them go with that instead of level grind. There would need to be something else that involves them to keep playing so you would have to create player made content and politics at the same time finding a way to prevent over greifing with said content.

People are getting bored of the level grinding for sake of leveling... I mean I'm bored it of it. I don't want to play those games anymore. Give me a breathing world without mob killing to level.

Maybe Ultima Online spoiled but its been 10 years and no developer has done better.

Who wants Real Skill in an MMO? (1)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610711)

I'm asking because really I can't imagine any MMO getting popular if players had to do something repeatedly based on actual skills earned through playing the game itself.

Imagine a lush fantasy setting with all the higher level players as thoroughly addicted CounterStrike players.

Re:Who wants Real Skill in an MMO? (1)

orkybash (1013349) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610945)

As opposed to all the higher level players being thoroughly addicted WoW players?

Re:Who wants Real Skill in an MMO? (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28611289)

You are absolutely right, a popular MMO would never have players who spend massive amounts of time playing the game.

Sorry guys, I don't have time to eat, I've got a raid in ten minutes and I have to get two more motes of shadow. Then I have to farm more honor with that other faction.

You are absolutely right

Fix Summary! (3, Insightful)

Jartan (219704) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610777)

Please fix the summary. Nobody is going to RTFA and now we'll never have an interesting discussion. Stats vs Twitch is an old convo that happens every time games are even discussed on slashdot. Ultima Online skill system vs Everquest leveling is something that would be interesting though.

Re:Fix Summary! (1)

Lunoria (1496339) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610915)

IMO there isn't a big difference between Ultima Online skill system and Everquest Leveling. Or between EVE Online and WoW. They all take time to get to the part where you can finally enjoy the game. They use a different system, but in the end they are the same; a time sink.

Rule of Megaman 2 (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610791)

Fixing it is easy, just compare it to winning Megaman 2 without cheating. That game is so hard, there is no way to win just on getting items alone. It will take you multiple tries, and there is not a video game expert in the world that could sit down cold and beat even the last "level" of that game without having to try at least twice.

Button-mashing won't do it, knowing the timing of things won't do it, you still can easily slip and miss a jump, select the wrong weapon, or any number of other things, and then bam, dead.

However, if you actually beat the thing, you really feel like you did something that not everyone can do just by dumb luck or gold farming or whatever gameplay your choice of modern games has.

Neither (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610809)

If I were doing a system of ranking and the like, I would create some sort of standardized testing that would include areas of knowledge and different types of skills. It would be only through testing that players could advance themselves to different tiers.

This would nearly eliminate the need to "build and grow" characters and bring it back to the player himself. This would be rather like the martial arts ranking system of belt color ranking in a way. So you could still have achievements and stuff, but people could classify themselves through testing and train themselves more to achieve those higher ranks. This way a user who wants to create a new character in WoW, for example, could immediately bring him up to "black belt" (or whatever equivalent) by running through some tests that he had passed before using an older character. The age and experience of a character might still be factored in there somehow as well, but it would really go a long way to eliminate some of the tedious aspects of the games that lead to gold farming and the like.

I still favor Asheron's Call. (4, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610873)

You had levels which gave you experience points which you used to buy up skills with. The levels gave you points in which to buy skills. At first the points to buy skills come quickly but quickly tapered off to 1 skill point per 5 levels, the highest priced skill was 16. Since not all skills shared the same attributes you could not be totally reckless with your points. Also, buying up the skill also slowed as each point cost more and more experience.

What did it lead to that was negative. Well since both stats and skills cost experience to raise people would have absurd starting stats. You initially were given 270 points to spend across six stats (or was it seven?) which meant that 10/100/10/10/100/100 combos appeared. (think strength endurance quickness coordination intel and self:wisdom) . It was easy to over come the low stats with just a few levels worth of experience to bring them up to comfort levels. The reasoning behind this was that there was a cap to what you could spend experience wise in any stat - once it was hit no more could be bought so you started it as high as possible. Stats contributed to the base rating of each skill you bought - which again had a cap on how much they could go up.

Overall it was a great classless system. It however was placed in a world of great lore but the mobs were different enough to keep people from readily connecting to it. Tradeskills worked just like any other skill so it was not uncommon to have trade only characters who got experience by pass up through allegiances. Initially allegiances acted like the worst MLM, the guy at the top got a portion of everyone below, at different ranks in the chain you got percentages of everyone below you. They tweaked it later to prevent the huge trees people built out of allegiances to exploit experience pass up.

By giving people distinct classes and levels it does provide an ease of entry for new players. They know their role and how to progress. It does make for a simpler game - which hopefully has complexities elsewhere to make up for it . Think WOW. While many begrudge the ease of play they ignore the complexity of raiding.

Asheron's Call? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28610919)

It's quite possible that I don't understand the problem put forth. Some people seem to be speaking of skills as in player skills, while other are speaking of skills as in character skills.

Either way, I think it's important to realize that some games play better using one form or another. Likewise, most games can benefit from a leveling up type feature. For two examples, consider:

1. Legend of Zelda: Adventures of Link. This game could be completed (theoretically) without leveling up, but a leveling system is included in the game to help the player overcome difficult challenges, speed up gameplay, and provide the user with a sense of satisfaction as Link becomes stronger.
2. Asheron's Call (1): This game uses both a character level and a character skill. Much like an above poster suggested, player skills are increased when the player uses that skill (for some skills). At the same time, when the player kills an enemy, that player gains experience to increase his level, which provides basic status boosts (more health, more strength, etc), but that experience can also be used to increase a character's skills or attributes. This allows players to customize their skills and create a niche for playing. Certainly this still follows the level-up notion to an extent, but the levels transition from your character level to your skill levels, so it feels more rewarding that way.

I think it's pretty clear that both systems have a market, and a dual system can work as well, so long as the player skill can be executed within a latent environment.

The lack of skill is why I stopped playing DAOC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28610933)

Dark Age of Camelot is too this day the most PVP intense MMO. I had a level 50 Scout in DAOC, one of the hardest classes to level up because NOBODY wanted you in a group with them ever.

Anyway, it came down to click on enemy, load a crit shot, fire, repeat, stealth, run away.

Skill amounted to almost nothing. The only "skill" I saw was knowing how to exploit the engine, such as having certain items you can use even when stunned/mezzed even tho you are not supposed to be able to do ANYTHING when Stunned/mezzed.

Battles also came down to this:
A group of 20 runs into a group of 14, guess who wins 95% of the time unless the group of 14 don't press their hotkeys fast enough.

Now compare that to a 5 vs 5 counter-strike matches where you actually have to know how to aim and such.

MMO PVP is not a skill based game.

Doesn't matter (1)

pnumoman (1348217) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610937)

What it really comes down to is an awareness that these games are all about playing with other people. Human interaction is rich and nuanced; yes, there must be a minimum level of game mechanics to play effectively. However, there have been numerous times when I, as a lower character level/skill level player, will go out and beat higher level players in resource collection/pvp/what have you, simply because I try to figure out how they will approach this challenge, and act accordingly. To make a WoW analogy, just like the game of WoW really begins at max level, a player's skill in a multiplayer game merely starts with an understanding of game mechanics.

As such, future mmo's looking at skill or level based character development should really look at the context in which this system operates. What system will be more fun for the player?

I've never had to use skill to level a character. (1)

N1tr0u5 (819066) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610953)

It seems to me that there are very few games that award advancement based on skill, as the summary seems to indicate. To do so would imply that there is a test of some sort before the character advances (after having proved said skill is possessed). I actually can't come up with any. The skill needed to play a game comes from knowing what you can do, and how to use those abilities to most effectively achieve an end. It's not used to literally advance a character as much as it is used to simply play the game and gain experience (not the level up kind, the life's lessons kind). To remain on pseudo topic, a skill based advancement, such as in UO, would be great if it could be combing with the vision of the WoW dev team in that 'every character should feel powerful'. Imagine taking each of the talent trees in WoW and turning them into a set of skills. Now take another, more basic, set of skills that would determine the type of armor you could wear, the schools of spells you could cast (if any), the weapons you could use, and combine it with the talent 'skills' to give you a mesh of player class creation that provides a wide berth of possiblity and customization. Of course, you'd have min-maxer combos, but properly balanced you'd only have a few real powerhouses (and that would be expected). Still, the devs would be able to nerf or buff abilities to taste. The players would be able to drop the abilities they didn't like or didn't want, and take the abilities that were needed for the actions they wanted to perform (pvp, pve, whatever). I picture a balance concept in this case similar to the way the colors are set up in magic: the gathering. You'd probably get 3-7 top performing 'builds' with counter-talent/skills for the other top builds, and still have others sacrificing 'top 5 power' for their preference. Who knows, maybe player SKILL (as in the ability to play a game) would allow one who played a style that fit them to triumph over one who picked a build purely because it was one of the 'top 5'.

Re:I've never had to use skill to level a characte (1)

N1tr0u5 (819066) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610993)

Damn.. wall of text... It's kind of entertaining to read, honest. I'm just not good with /. posting. Sorry. :(

EVE Online's approach (3, Interesting)

DrXym (126579) | more than 5 years ago | (#28610997)

In EVE there are no levels in the conventional MMO sense. Instead you learn skills, of which there are hundreds in a skill tree. Want to mine? Then you need to learn the mining skill? Want to fly a frigate? Then you need piloting skills and then frigate skills for the class of ship you want to fly. Want to trade on the stock market? Learn trading, day trading etc. Some skills obviously have pre-requisites on others.

Training all the skills to their maximum level is impossible so most people get a core and then begin to specialise. One nice thing about them is they train up in the background, even offline. Most skills are easy enough to get to level 3 or 4 but level 5 can take days. So if a skill took 10 days to learn you could plan it to coincide with a real life holiday, or just have it going while you do something else.

So there is no levelling. There is no class system either although there are factions and you can put points into attributes that make a character for certain roles over others.

Difficulty VS Market (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 5 years ago | (#28611009)

I see this as a question of Difficulty vs Market. Blizzard had done a very good job positioning here.

Skill you can define in any "game" by using knowlege correctly.

Leveling is progression of Avatar to "harder" portions of a game or sometimes just "different"
portions of a game.

Basically in WOW you have two types of people (there are more I know, but in a very high level general sense only two).

One are those players Leveling. The other are those players who are finished leveling and are now raiding.

They are two significantly different portions of the game and really have little to do with each other, other than one must do one before the other (wow three "others" just like that!, that's gotta be bad English).

Leveling is pretty easy and really doesn't take much skill. It is more about learning the controls and spending time. Raiding is about knowing what to do, teamwork and social networking, and does take some skill.

Not everyone is all that serious about it. So you keep you high level players happy by having content that rewards skill, while at the same time have some non-skill related game play for those that just want to play a bit.

If you think about it, the skilled players are going to storm through the leveling to get at the end game raiding part of the game, while those that are not really into that will likely take some time just to finish leveling. So you keep both segments of your market busy and playing, and paying until you come out with your next expansion. Then you raise the level bar by 10 and repeat.

Its more about knowing your market and keeping players happy than skill vs leveling. Blizzard is interested in making money, and keeping people happy to come back for more so they can make more money. Its not really an academic discussion on game type, it really is moot.

Skill in MMOS (1)

Azaril (1046456) | more than 5 years ago | (#28611037)

There is a reason a system based upon actual skill by a player is not implemented in MMOs. The appeal of an MMO stems largely from the fact that the ability to succeed in the games comes from the time and hard work put in, not from the level of natural skill a player possesses. This puts it at odds to almost every other activity we partake in - from real life where the most naturally gifted (and fortunate) succeed, to an fps, where those with a naturally lower reaction time flourish. MMOs, on the other hand, level the playing field - beating the hardest bosses is just a matter of grinding and learning strategies. This approach appeals highly to a world in which perhaps 1% of people are naturally gifted, and the other 99% of the population can toil endlessly without any great success.

first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28611061)

I remember the old days .. (1)

koutbo6 (1134545) | more than 5 years ago | (#28611069)

I don't think anything out there requires skill besides quake
I would have said kaboom from the Atari days, but I dont think many gamers would remember that
ahhhh, those were the good ol' days
now get off my lawn!

The end all solution!! (2, Informative)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 5 years ago | (#28611091)

Don't play MMO's. Seriously - I don't know what else to say... Being a FPS guy from when id first released wolfenstien, I never could understand the point of a chat room with graphics where you are rated on your popularity by how long you've played the game.

If you like to see how a "system of play time vs skill" is done properly, look at Battlefield : Heroes.

No - I don't particularly care for the game, but when it starts up it matches you up against people of similar level and skill so you aren't getting pummeled by a level 20, and you are a lowly level 3 or 4.

The summary is describing skill (1)

somenickname (1270442) | more than 5 years ago | (#28611203)

'The standard argument is that it just boils down to "knowing how to move" or "knowing when to hit your buttons."'

That sounds like the very definition of skill to me.

The real metric is adaptation. I remember being a rogue in WoW back in the day and evasion tanking MC bosses. Not because that was part of the game plan but because the tank would die and the raid needed to adapt to the situation. When the tank got back up and was healed, I'd vanish and let him start tanking again. Raids are saved by peoples ability to adapt to the situation as it unfolds. It doesn't matter how fast you can click your buttons if you don't understand the situation you are in and how you should act during that situation. Although, I suppose you could actually qualify that as skill.

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