Tuesday, August 12, 2008

one skill, ever expanding

Cameron brings up the question of whether or not RPGs, particularly MMOs, must have such a prolonged learning curve. It's great to not overwhelm players with too much at a game's beginning, but not so great to drag advanced gamers through slow and tedious skill-building before they can really let loose and fully enjoy the game.

One idea is that the skills a player starts with can have an increasing variety of uses as gameplay progresses. This way, you can start a player off with a full repertoire, yet the gameplay still begins simply and becomes increasingly complex.

For example: Start a player with a fireball spell, but nothing to burn besides enemies. Next, provide flammable objects. Then provide flammable + collapsable objects (i.e., start a fire to cause something to collapse on the enemy). Then, provide enemies with AI that causes them to run into their allies when aflame. It's just one skill (fireball), but that skill has an ever-expanding number of possibilities.


  1. Even if you can use your fireball on an increasing number of targets, you still only have one skill, which typically means just a single button press in MMOs.

    There is a symmetry in a level-based game to expose new skills at a regular pace, but symmetry does not equal fun.

    At least initially games would be better off if they let the player decide the pace to pick up skills.

  2. Well, if you want to use this approach though, the solution is pretty easy, albeit radical: Don't make your MMO a level based game!


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