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Character development done right? How to do it.Follow

#1 Jun 25 2009 at 6:06 PM Rating: Decent
46 posts
This is a long read. Don't say I didn't warn you!

MMO design has always held a fascination for me, primarily because so many games do this so horribly wrong. The most interesting thing I like to dwell on is character development, and certain releases from S-E on FFXIV have me very hopeful that they might be the first developer that manages to do this particularly thing "mostly right".

My dream setup is one that eliminates XP and grinding 100%. While grinding, either solo, through thinly veiled grind quests (i.e. bring me 12 bear paws), or in a party can have some occasional appeal to a player, I doubt that any of us here logs on looking forward to a four hour grindathon be it in a party or just solo. Lets face it: grinding isn't "fun". While the party mechanics in FFXI made this better or worse for different players depending on their point of view, it still sucked.

FFXI was utterly genius in letting its players use one character for multiple jobs. This binds a player to the character and knits a tighter community than the throwaway alt cultures of certain other games. Not only did it make everything that your one character do more meaningful, but let you alter your play style almost at will depending on what you felt like doing or how you want to play that day (or hour, for that matter). The place where this breaks down is that each job that you take on forces you to start over at square one and repeat the exact same horrific grind that you did on previous jobs and taking you to the same xp camps for hours of mindless grinding.

How it could work:

My dream system is one that allows you to keep this job flexibility while making for meaningful character development without any experience grinding whatsoever. How could this be done? A combination of quest based skill gain, weapon/shield AP based skills, job trainers, and an open skill allocation system similar to that used in FFIX (or blue mages in FFXI, if you're familiar with that).

Imagine starting the game. You are a nothing: no job, no skills, no anything. You do your little intro cut scene stuff and at the end you are given an adventurer's coupon that you can turn in at a storyline NPC to receive an onion weapon for free (others would be sold at a cheap cost should you wish another). So, you find the guy and select an Onion Axe that has an AP skill on it [15] Axe. Outside of town you kill a couple crabs (c'mon, you know there will be crabs everywhere!) and in 8 kills you learned Axe skill. Yay you!

Now that you have a weapon skill learned, your job changes to that of the weapon you chose (staff might be BLM, club maybe WHM, sword RDM, knuckles MNK, etc) so you are now a warrior! NPCs in town now offer you quests based on this choice. One injured warrior might want you to kill the skeleton in his basement and offers you a shield if you kill it. The shield might have an AP skill [100] Defender on it. A barbarian might offer one on one combat to all comers, offering to teach Warcry to those who can best him, but charging a "teaching fee" of a farmable item to those that fail. A weapon merchant might offer to teach you a weapon skill for your axe if you bring him the broken weapons of certain beastmen that live beyond the next valley. Through this kind of organic system a character could develop many of their early skills for their job.

Once they've learned most of the basics and gone far enough in the storyline of the game they would get a quest to go to the next town. This would be akin to the starter city to Jeuno march. In this city they would meet a trainer that would teach them free of charge a couple things simply for arriving and offer other skills in return for favors. Additional NPCs would offer other skills or quest rewards that have AP learned skills as well. Most importantly, though, is a quest would be offered to teach the player how to "crosstrain" their skills. I imagine you'd probably need to go collect an apron, a worm, and a skull from somewhere or other. While at any time you could swap jobs at your house, you wouldn't be able to unlock the abilities of other jobs until this time.

Once this quest is completed, you'd be able to spend skill points on the abilities of other jobs similar to how blue mages set their spells or abilities are equipped in FFIX, except that the number of points you have to buy those skills is based on the total number of skills you have on all jobs combined (and naturally, the skills of your current job are free). So, lets say you have 30 skills learned across three jobs: this might net you 20 points to spend. You could choose to spend 10 points on White Magic 1 (Cure and Regen) and maybe 10 points on Evasion 1 from THF. Maybe you've been more adventurous and have done more jobs so you have 100 skills learned ... you might have 50 points to spend. As the number of learned skills goes up, the conversion ratio goes down, so maybe the difference between having half of all skills learned and every skill in the game learned is maybe a 5% difference in total skill points available to spend.

A setup like that described above would allow for a number of things:

1) Character customization while retaining a cohesive core of abilites so that there are recognizable jobs.
2) A grind free story driven character advancement process. Each job would have its own quest series and goals, though it would be helpful if many in each skill range took you to places frequented by those of other classes simply to encourage grouping to achieve these goals without resorting to "three mage doors".
3) AP skills would be naturally gained while doing the above quests in most circumstances and would mostly encompass weapon based actions or direct actions (like defender on a shield, etc). Most AP skill weapons would be given as quests, or the AP skill would be on multiple weapons of a weapon tier (think level 30-35 swords as a weapon tier, for example), though certain spectacular weapon skills might only be learned off of impossibly difficult to acquire weapons (relic weapons and relic weapon skills come to mind ... not gamebreaking, but an improvement for those who put in the time and effort).
4) Mage spells could be learned through quested reward scrolls, 100% dropped scrolls from certain "questline bosses" (think the rank 3 dragon, for example, who might also be a kill goal for other class quests as well), farmable scrolls for certain specialty spells (erase scroll anyone?) from special events, or from the weapons themselves as AP abilities for "tier" spells (ref. White Magic 1 being Cure/Regen, White Magic 2 being Cure2/Regen2, etc) or class defining spells such as Raise or Refresh. Bards would learn the majority of their songs from the instruments suited for them that would give bonuses to the song along with teaching it to them, these instruments being gained through similar means to mage scrolls.
5) Skills could be grouped as "ranks" so that you couldn't learn skills from a higher tier rank until a certain number of skills from your current rank are learned, and weapons and armor could require certain skill ranks to equip preventing starting players from learning Axe skill from their onion weapon and being tossed an endgame axe by a friend to trivialize content. This would also allow characters to recognize another character's development (i.e. "LF1M R4 Healer").
6) Progress toward any job (which also pushes you deeper into the story) would invariably help all jobs since your total number of learned skills and abilities enhances all jobs.
7) Some skills could be learned simply through exploration. Take sky in ffxi for example: an area such as this may have a few reclusive hermits in it willing to teach some neat high end skills for a nominal cost. This would further incentivize people to get access to this area that might not otherwise bother since they aren't interested in sky god events. A peppering of quest based skill NPCs and direct trainers could assist in pushing the playerbase to explore the world.
8) New jobs or skills could be introduced easily, and balance could be easily achieved simply by adjusting the skill point cost of a given skill/ability rather than overhauling the skill itself. For example, if it is found that everyone is taking refresh as a skill and it is trivializing content, then boost the skill point cost of it upwards dramatically so that it is a more costly sacrifice to take it as a cross-job skill rather than nerfing the spell itself and hurting the job it belongs to.

How this makes a better game:

When players are freed from the drudgery of the grind it allows them to do other events. How often do you wish you could do BCNMs, NM fights, or other game events but can't because you're stuck in a multi-hour XP party? This kind of setup would free the developers to push more things such as a less-sucky version of Dynamis, Nyzul Isle, Assaults, maybe a few large scale dungeon crawls with commonly rewpawning "boss mobs" that drop decent crafting items (think blackrock depths scale or larger from WoW if you're familiar, but not instanced) or Salvage. If the developer is freed from making massive tracts of space for the sole purpose of grinding (be it quests or just simply mobs), it frees up resources for team events.

The key to this kind of system is this would not be an afterthought, but would be mandatory: forced grind is most simply put a way to give a player something to do and stretch the amount of time they will invest in your game without consuming other content. Without that grind, you'll need content for them to participate in to stay interested. This could be done through crafting or guild mechanics.

Where do you go from here?

This kind of organic mechanic could be stretched into the "endgame" play of the game itself. My favorite example would be a linkshell would have the option to rent a guild hall for a set price a week depending on their fame. Each NM would have a certain amount of fame attached to them, and when a member (or group of members) kills said NM while that shell is equipped the LS's fame would be raised up to the fame level of that NM if it is greater than the current fame of the LS. As the LS gets more fame certain of these NMs might give temporary trophies to the LS that would be displayed in the guild hall (a crab statue for Bubbly Bernie that gives +2 water resist for 48 hours to all members or a dragon statue for Fafnir that gives +15 attack for a week, for example ... think super kupowers for how this would work). As this fame rises you will receive letters periodically from various groups requesting you to take out other NMs. [Note: FFXI examples used ahoy!]

"The Archduke of Jeuno requests you exterminate a Behemoth that has taken up residence near Qufim Isle! You will be richly rewarded for your trouble, should you eliminate this threat! (Expires in 48 hours)"

Once your LS gathers up a group of people and moves into the zone, if nobody is doing the same event a kickin' rad cut scene would play and a Behemoth would spawn claimed to your party (and non-aggro to others). Aside from drops on the mob, you would also be rewarded from a pool of items by the NPC quest giver (slightly lower tier than the rare drop items, but still desirable, and all would be R/E ... a LS might be given 2 choices that the shellholder could assign to two of those that participated, or maybe could opt out of this for rare crafting materials instead in case none of the items are useful). As the LS's fame goes up, the frequency of these requests would go up as well as the quality of NM/HNM battles they are offered.

Note: the above system would allow for non-instanced HNM play for all interested without spamming spawns, bot camping, or drama while rewarding progression of the linkshell as a whole. I loved watching other people do these fights, and I imagine others did to given the amount of low levels that would sneak from Qufim in to watch whenever they'd hear a King Behemoth fight was underway. The reward/trophy system would also allow more casual players to contribute however slightly to the progress of the whole by regaining those low level trophies from fights that the hardcore players may not have the time or inclination to do giving relative newbies an immediate place in endgame. At the same time, a limited rate of repop on these mobs and a slight scarcity of rewards to any one LS would prevent the entire server from forming one massive zerg LS. My thoughts on improved LS mechanics are here: linky. Allowing everyone to participate? What a novel concept ....

At any rate, given that development resources aren't spent on building grinds for the players, more creative things such as that could be done that would be more enjoyable and more productive for them (in the end making you subscribe longer and making S-E some bucks in the process). Further, from a development standpoint, it wouldn't be too difficult to add new event mobs to a system like that described above making game enhancements and content expansion outside of major overhauls (the assault system, salvage, etc) relatively trivial should multiple organic systems be added.

Parting thoughts:

I'm sure some people would hate this type of system for various reasons. That's okay. For me it would be a dream, allowing me to do whatever the heck I wanted and always participate in a storyline or adventure rather than falling asleep between pulls (I've actually fallen asleep pulling as a merit party bard before due to the tedium of it, but that's another story altogether). What are your thoughts if something like that kind of character development was implemented?
#2 Jun 25 2009 at 6:33 PM Rating: Decent
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It is very similar to what I am wishing for out of FFXIV.
#3 Jun 25 2009 at 6:52 PM Rating: Decent
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I'm not sure I fully understand your idea, so if I make a mistake in my comments about how your idea functions please correct me.

1. With "crosstraining," you want to allow characters to pull individual abilities from a variety of sources, from any archetype.While yours is a different implementation, there have been games with freeform leveling. That is, instead of being limited to a specific set of abilities from your "class/job" you are allowed access to a very wide set of abilities beyond what would normally be limited to a single archetype. The problems these games often encounter is that certain combination of abilities are broken compared to others. A WAR Bright Wizard who could heal himself would be overpowered. A WoW druid using bear form with plate would have ridiculous damage mitigation. A FFXI RDM who chain casts ancient magic. It hard to design a game where a character can choose from a pool of all abilities in the game and have every combination be balanced.

2. Be careful with linking abilities to specific actions reward to botain them. It's not necessarily a bad idea to have to fight a barbarian to learn warcry, but that could potentially become the very grind you're trying to avoid. The benefit of system where players basically earn their abilities automatically as they level is that they have a choice in how to go about earning that exp. They aren't forced to pursue that ability in any one specific way, so long as the game provides a variety of ways to earn exp. The drawback of those systems is that there is a weaker sense of accomplishment in earning those abilities. When you fight a barbarian to get warcray you'll feel a greater attachment because you had to complete a specific task to receive it instead of it being naturally given to you. But if the player lacks options in obtaining abilities then you change the exp grind into a quest grind. The player is forced to go form npc to npc completing their tasks to earn abilities, and it's no less of a grind than going from mob to mob slaying them for exp.

Nothing here is a bad idea, but there are several precarious ideas that could become bad systems if not implemented properly.
#4 Jun 25 2009 at 9:44 PM Rating: Decent
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Quote:
The player is forced to go form npc to npc completing their tasks to earn abilities, and it's no less of a grind than going from mob to mob slaying them for exp.

Kinda sounds like Guild wars. I found that quite boring to be honest. At least when you are in a party there's other real people there with you that can make your time enjoyable. If I have to quest everything that means it's basically a solo game and I see no point in making it an MMO. I can see this being good to pop some HNM but other then that I find solo questing boring.

FF XI actually did make some of the items in the game story driven just not everything like you are suggesting.

Edited, Jun 26th 2009 1:46am by jakarai
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#5 Jun 25 2009 at 11:19 PM Rating: Decent
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I liked the FF9 system of equipping weapon, learn ability, and then equipping ability with ability points. You would gain more ability points as your progress through the story and maybe some abilities require you to pass certain points in the story before you obtain them. I really hope this is how they do it and I know it's just speculation but I really feel this is the route they will be taking.
#6 Jun 25 2009 at 11:22 PM Rating: Decent
Quote:
your job changes to that of the weapon you chose (staff might be BLM, club maybe WHM, sword RDM, knuckles MNK, etc)


Could it be true, I wonder?
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#7 Jun 25 2009 at 11:39 PM Rating: Decent
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As Tryujin would tell you, many of the elements you're suggesting, I've been harping on for years. I didn't read your OP in entirety, but skimming over it, I liked some of the examples you gave. And you've given me a couple more ideas.

I'll try to respond in greater detail later.

Also, zomg, Michael Jackson is dead.
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Ok, now we're going to get slash fiction of Wint x Kachi somehere... rule 34 and all...

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#8 Jun 26 2009 at 1:05 AM Rating: Default
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LetThemEatCake wrote:

Once this quest is completed, you'd be able to spend skill points on the abilities of other jobs similar to how blue mages set their spells or abilities are equipped in FFIX, except that the number of points you have to buy those skills is based on the total number of skills you have on all jobs combined (and naturally, the skills of your current job are free). So, lets say you have 30 skills learned across three jobs: this might net you 20 points to spend. You could choose to spend 10 points on White Magic 1 (Cure and Regen) and maybe 10 points on Evasion 1 from THF. Maybe you've been more adventurous and have done more jobs so you have 100 skills learned ... you might have 50 points to spend. As the number of learned skills goes up, the conversion ratio goes down, so maybe the difference between having half of all skills learned and every skill in the game learned is maybe a 5% difference in total skill points available to spend.


The problem I see here is _overpowered_ characters.

Quote:
A setup like that described above would allow for a number of things:

1) Character customization while retaining a cohesive core of abilites so that there are recognizable jobs.


You simply have _to much_ character customization, not sure if that is such a good idea.

Quote:
2) A grind free story driven character advancement process. Each job would have its own quest series and goals, though it would be helpful if many in each skill range took you to places frequented by those of other classes simply to encourage grouping to achieve these goals without resorting to "three mage doors".


As said before a story driven MMO will finish before you can say "Hello". The amount of content the developers have to make for each class will be enormous and this will never work in reality. Just take a glimpse at FFXI. Even though that game had a massive non story/mission content, they always released mission at a very slow pace since there is no way to make so much story to keep MMO players busy. Also keep in mind that those stories/missions were usually universal and didn’t require you to have a specific class to run threw them. Imagine that now SE needs to do several types of storylines/mission for different jobs,,, I think you would be sitting on your as* in Jeuno waiting 99% of your playtime for SE to release new stories/mission for your character, unless of course you only play 30min/day max, that would probably work.


Quote:
3) AP skills would be naturally gained while doing the above quests in most circumstances and would mostly encompass weapon based actions or direct actions (like defender on a shield, etc). Most AP skill weapons would be given as quests, or the AP skill would be on multiple weapons of a weapon tier (think level 30-35 swords as a weapon tier, for example), though certain spectacular weapon skills might only be learned off of impossibly difficult to acquire weapons (relic weapons and relic weapon skills come to mind ... not gamebreaking, but an improvement for those who put in the time and effort).
4) Mage spells could be learned through quested reward scrolls, 100% dropped scrolls from certain "questline bosses" (think the rank 3 dragon, for example, who might also be a kill goal for other class quests as well), farmable scrolls for certain specialty spells (erase scroll anyone?) from special events, or from the weapons themselves as AP abilities for "tier" spells (ref. White Magic 1 being Cure/Regen, White Magic 2 being Cure2/Regen2, etc) or class defining spells such as Raise or Refresh. Bards would learn the majority of their songs from the instruments suited for them that would give bonuses to the song along with teaching it to them, these instruments being gained through similar means to mage scrolls.
5) Skills could be grouped as "ranks" so that you couldn't learn skills from a higher tier rank until a certain number of skills from your current rank are learned, and weapons and armor could require certain skill ranks to equip preventing starting players from learning Axe skill from their onion weapon and being tossed an endgame axe by a friend to trivialize content. This would also allow characters to recognize another character's development (i.e. "LF1M R4 Healer").
6) Progress toward any job (which also pushes you deeper into the story) would invariably help all jobs since your total number of learned skills and abilities enhances all jobs.
7) Some skills could be learned simply through exploration. Take sky in ffxi for example: an area such as this may have a few reclusive hermits in it willing to teach some neat high end skills for a nominal cost. This would further incentivize people to get access to this area that might not otherwise bother since they aren't interested in sky god events. A peppering of quest based skill NPCs and direct trainers could assist in pushing the playerbase to explore the world.
8) New jobs or skills could be introduced easily, and balance could be easily achieved simply by adjusting the skill point cost of a given skill/ability rather than overhauling the skill itself. For example, if it is found that everyone is taking refresh as a skill and it is trivializing content, then boost the skill point cost of it upwards dramatically so that it is a more costly sacrifice to take it as a cross-job skill rather than nerfing the spell itself and hurting the job it belongs to.


Again making questlines/missions for every single job that needs to level from 1-75 and will gain their abilities/skills/spells/everything threw tailored quest/missions... can you even imagine how much work this is for the developers ? They always coc*blocked the little missions they had in FFXI for people _not_ to finish it too fast, luckily you had so many other things to-do in FFXI that this was not a problem (call it grind if you want). You have to have a balance for mission/quest content and non mission/quest content.


Quote:
How this makes a better game:

When players are freed from the drudgery of the grind it allows them to do other events. How often do you wish you could do BCNMs, NM fights, or other game events but can't because you're stuck in a multi-hour XP party?


I could do BCNM, NM fight 24/7 after I was level 75.. so I don’t see your point ? And why would I do NM fights when I'm low level?

Quote:
This kind of setup would free the developers to push more things such as a less-sucky version of Dynamis, Nyzul Isle, Assaults, maybe a few large scale dungeon crawls with commonly rewpawning "boss mobs" that drop decent crafting items (think blackrock depths scale or larger from WoW if you're familiar, but not instanced) or Salvage. If the developer is freed from making massive tracts of space for the sole purpose of grinding (be it quests or just simply mobs), it frees up resources for team events.


You contradict yourself here. The developers are going to be busy up to their as*es making those questlines/missions for all the classes.

Quote:
The key to this kind of system is this would not be an afterthought, but would be mandatory: forced grind is most simply put a way to give a player something to do and stretch the amount of time they will invest in your game without consuming other content. Without that grind, you'll need content for them to participate in to stay interested. This could be done through crafting or guild mechanics.


Now were getting to the real point^^

Quote:

Where do you go from here?

This kind of organic mechanic could be stretched into the "endgame" play of the game itself. My favorite example would be a linkshell would have the option to rent a guild hall for a set price a week depending on their fame.
Each NM would have a certain amount of fame attached to them, and when a member (or group of members) kills said NM while that shell is equipped the LS's fame would be raised up to the fame level of that NM if it is greater than the current fame of the LS. As the LS gets more fame certain of these NMs might give temporary trophies to the LS that would be displayed in the guild hall (a crab statue for Bubbly Bernie that gives +2 water resist for 48 hours to all members or a dragon statue for Fafnir that gives +15 attack for a week, for example ... think super kupowers for how this would work). As this fame rises you will receive letters periodically from various groups requesting you to take out other NMs. [Note: FFXI examples used ahoy!]

"The Archduke of Jeuno requests you exterminate a Behemoth that has taken up residence near Qufim Isle! You will be richly rewarded for your trouble, should you eliminate this threat! (Expires in 48 hours)"


Basically you have to kill outdoor NM's to get access to good high end HNM ? We all know how much pain in as* the outdoor NM’s are in numerous post made and now you want to make them mandatory to access the good stuff? I don’t think this will ever work sorry.

Quote:
Once your LS gathers up a group of people and moves into the zone, if nobody is doing the same event a kickin' rad cut scene would play and a Behemoth would spawn claimed to your party (and non-aggro to others). Aside from drops on the mob, you would also be rewarded from a pool of items by the NPC quest giver (slightly lower tier than the rare drop items, but still desirable, and all would be R/E ... a LS might be given 2 choices that the shellholder could assign to two of those that participated, or maybe could opt out of this for rare crafting materials instead in case none of the items are useful). As the LS's fame goes up, the frequency of these requests would go up as well as the quality of NM/HNM battles they are offered.

Note: the above system would allow for non-instanced HNM play for all interested without spamming spawns, bot camping, or drama while rewarding progression of the linkshell as a whole. I loved watching other people do these fights, and I imagine others did to given the amount of low levels that would sneak from Qufim in to watch whenever they'd hear a King Behemoth fight was underway. The reward/trophy system would also allow more casual players to contribute however slightly to the progress of the whole by regaining those low level trophies from fights that the hardcore players may not have the time or inclination to do giving relative newbies an immediate place in endgame. At the same time, a limited rate of repop on these mobs and a slight scarcity of rewards to any one LS would prevent the entire server from forming one massive zerg LS. My thoughts on improved LS mechanics are here: linky. Allowing everyone to participate? What a novel concept ....


You will still have the spamming spawns, bot camping, and drama for the NM's that will be a stepping stone to access the HNM intrance/recomendation versions.

Quote:
At any rate, given that development resources aren't spent on building grinds for the players, more creative things such as that could be done that would be more enjoyable and more productive for them (in the end making you subscribe longer and making S-E some bucks in the process). Further, from a development standpoint, it wouldn't be too difficult to add new event mobs to a system like that described above making game enhancements and content expansion outside of major overhauls (the assault system, salvage, etc) relatively trivial should multiple organic systems be added.


The point here is to make a diverse game, not just having it progress one way.

Quote:
Parting thoughts:

I'm sure some people would hate this type of system for various reasons. That's okay. For me it would be a dream, allowing me to do whatever the heck I wanted and always participate in a storyline or adventure rather than falling asleep between pulls (I've actually fallen asleep pulling as a merit party bard before due to the tedium of it, but that's another story altogether). What are your thoughts if something like that kind of character development was implemented?


You idea's are good but, to make a MMO mainly story bases is not going to work. It resembles more an offline FF game then MMO.
#9 Jun 26 2009 at 3:27 AM Rating: Decent
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As said before a story driven MMO will finish before you can say "Hello". The amount of content the developers have to make for each class will be enormous and this will never work in reality. Just take a glimpse at FFXI. Even though that game had a massive non story/mission content, they always released mission at a very slow pace since there is no way to make so much story to keep MMO players busy. Also keep in mind that those stories/missions were usually universal and didn’t require you to have a specific class to run threw them. Imagine that now SE needs to do several types of storylines/mission for different jobs,,, I think you would be sitting on your as* in Jeuno waiting 99% of your playtime for SE to release new stories/mission for your character, unless of course you only play 30min/day max, that would probably work.


This is not necessarily so. A developer can easily release plenty of story content continually. They just need to emphasize this and pool more staffing resources into it. Traditionally this simply hasn't been the strategy developers have employed because MMOs haven't been geared towards story.

It's entirely possible that SE will embrace the success of the story aspects of FFXI and aim to focus more readily on those elements with increased production. Particularly if they kick things off with a good head start, it should be pretty easy for them to put out new story content at a pace that keeps players engaged.
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Ok, now we're going to get slash fiction of Wint x Kachi somehere... rule 34 and all...

Never confuse your inference as the listener for an implication of the speaker.

Good games are subjective like good food is subjective. You're not going to seriously tell me that there's not a psychological basis for why pizza is great and lutefisk is revolting. The thing about subjectivity is that, as subjects go, humans actually have a great deal in common.
#10 Jun 26 2009 at 4:00 AM Rating: Default
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Kachi wrote:
Quote:
As said before a story driven MMO will finish before you can say "Hello". The amount of content the developers have to make for each class will be enormous and this will never work in reality. Just take a glimpse at FFXI. Even though that game had a massive non story/mission content, they always released mission at a very slow pace since there is no way to make so much story to keep MMO players busy. Also keep in mind that those stories/missions were usually universal and didn’t require you to have a specific class to run threw them. Imagine that now SE needs to do several types of storylines/mission for different jobs,,, I think you would be sitting on your as* in Jeuno waiting 99% of your playtime for SE to release new stories/mission for your character, unless of course you only play 30min/day max, that would probably work.


This is not necessarily so. A developer can easily release plenty of story content continually. They just need to emphasize this and pool more staffing resources into it. Traditionally this simply hasn't been the strategy developers have employed because MMOs haven't been geared towards story.

It's entirely possible that SE will embrace the success of the story aspects of FFXI and aim to focus more readily on those elements with increased production. Particularly if they kick things off with a good head start, it should be pretty easy for them to put out new story content at a pace that keeps players engaged.


How many players do you need to increase your staff that works with the game to keep up adding content? With the small amount of missions that SE had and maybe 100 developers working on it you would need a lot more subscribers to make it worthwhile. Say for example that those 100 developers created that small amount of mission with massive coc*blocks inputted so that you shouldn’t finish them in one go. Now the game will evolve around only making the game based on stories/mission with no coc*blocks and a lot more deeper storylines. IMO you need 10 times more developers. So you need to have 10 times more subscribers as well to counter the development cost/service/hardware/ISP/community/GM and all other costs that will come along when you get 10 times bigger audience. In the end you have a game that has 10 times the player base but the actual "profit" will still be the same. That’s assuming you can get 10x the amount of player = 5 million, and if you fail then you don’t make any profit and the game have to shut down. It's _always_ easier to get 500k then 5 million. If I know SE they aren’t the company that likes to gamble a lot and defiantly not in the case of FF14.

If you look at it in a business perspective, the easiest way is to have grind since it extremely low cost in development and also will keep the players playing the game for long periods of time.
#11 Jun 26 2009 at 4:19 AM Rating: Good
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Uh, no.

Your vast overestimation of the difficulty of releasing story content aside...

FFXI invested a great deal of development effort into game aspects that went almost completely unused. Chocobo racing and Pankration, for example, took a great deal of development resources that could have gone into a substantial amount of story.

Further, many of the developers FROM XI were simultaneously working on development for XIV. Whether or not we can expect these same developers to then be working on the -next- MMO is unknown, but seems unlikely, at least not for a good long while.

So I'm not even explicitly talking about increasing the number of developers on staff-- just placing more emphasis on developing story content, much of which wouldn't even require development from scratch. Many of the story elements in FFXI probably didn't even involve substantial development-- they were built with the gameplay elements that had already been developed (from scratch). Building new zones, monsters, and features... those things take the brunt of the investment. Story mostly manipulates pre-existing models and game features.

But to simplify my argument, your opinion that you'd need 10 times the developers is laughable, and your assessment that needing 10 times the developers would equate to 10x greater expenses is entirely flawed. Even neverminding the fact that this kind of development would be an investment that would draw in very large numbers of customers, and could very possibly make FFXIV an MMO encroaching on the popularity of a steamroller like WOW.

Edit: To elaborate, no-- additional subscribers generate a great deal of extra revenue. I don't know why on earth you think that there's no profit in having five times the subscribers. The subscription costs yield a great deal of profit. In no way do they just barely cover the costs of providing the service. There's a reason MMOs try so hard to get more subscribers. They make a lot of money from subscription fees. After a certain number of months a player subscribes, they essentially make 100% profit on all further subscription fees from that player.

Edited, Jun 26th 2009 5:25am by Kachi
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Ok, now we're going to get slash fiction of Wint x Kachi somehere... rule 34 and all...

Never confuse your inference as the listener for an implication of the speaker.

Good games are subjective like good food is subjective. You're not going to seriously tell me that there's not a psychological basis for why pizza is great and lutefisk is revolting. The thing about subjectivity is that, as subjects go, humans actually have a great deal in common.
#12 Jun 26 2009 at 5:40 AM Rating: Good
46 posts
I suppose making gameplay more like a single player game would be the entire point: only the most OCD types of players would tolerate a game that required hundreds of hours per grind that you need to do not just once, but once for each individual job you take up.

The example I gave was just one possibility of adding in solo style game mechanics to a MMO setting and making it work. As far as quest based advancement, if done right it is simple to make the threads for different jobs mesh so that goals will take you to similar places and require complimentary goals so that grouping is encouraged and rewarded without being forced.

I reject the notion that the defining characteristic of a MMO is repetitive grind. There is no sense to it: nobody would choose to play a game that is just repeating the same action from start to finish with little variation. What keeps people going is the community. If the developers could harness the power of the community through a better implementation of the linkshell system along with encouraging grouping through entertaining and rewarding events then they would succeed in a way that no MMO ever developed has been able to to date.

Granted, the downside of a story based system is that it takes more resources to develop than to just slap a bunch of grinding areas together and dumping players into them. On the upside, though, if you look at a game like WoW, most players only go through the content once per character and the content is done. In a system like FFXI in which you can level multiple jobs, you repeat these areas. Further, by incorporating a system like I described, players would not simply be required to do the same content (like rerolling a WoW alt), but while revisiting many of the same areas would have different goals and storylines making the experience more meaningful. This type of lateral growth would allow for easier content addition down the line than what you see in a WoW style game that is linear: instead of adding all content in a new expansion through new areas, you can add content to the old areas in a much simpler way since these areas aren't "dead" for the playerbase.

I guess the short version is that a story driven game can work. My theory is that people don't pay for the grind, they pay for the people. There is no reason to believe that development of character through more enjoyable means than straight grinding would do anything other than better capture a playerbase.
#13 Jun 26 2009 at 5:50 AM Rating: Decent
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230 posts
The purpose of "leveling", or however characters advance in any game, is supposed to be a way for the player to learn how to play his character bit by bit. Ideally, I've always thought that a player should gain 1-2 abilities per level, and those levels should be long enough for the player to encorporate those abilities into his ******* properly. That's IT. Leveling shouldn't be a struggle, it should be the "tutorial" part of the game that slowly phases you into the actual start. WoW came close to this; leveling is easy and fast enough, and every character has soooo many abilities that you got 2-3 every 2nd level from 1-80. The downfall of WoW in this respect is, any smart player with a good UI set up can learn how to play any class in 2 hours. I picked up my room mates druid the one day for kicks, and I did fine in PvP and PvE. Why does it require 4 days /played to get to max if it can take even the dumbest player 10 hours to *really* get it?

edit - so what I'm saying is, I hope SE takes note and that's why there's "no levels". Not because they're putting a facsimile in its place, but because they're making a CONTENT driven game.

Edited, Jun 26th 2009 9:52am by Kharmageddon
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Future FFXIV Player
Anguish - 80 Death Knight (Retired)
Vor - 60 Warlock (pre-BC) (Retired)
#14 Jun 26 2009 at 5:56 AM Rating: Default
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Quote:
That's IT. Leveling shouldn't be a struggle, it should be the "tutorial" part of the game that slowly phases you into the actual start.


Sorry, but I completely disagree here. The game should start the moment you make your character, not when you hit the level cap. =/
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SE:
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We really want to compete against World of Warcraft and for example the new Star Wars MMO.

#15 Jun 26 2009 at 6:06 AM Rating: Good
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230 posts
Quote:
Sorry, but I completely disagree here. The game should start the moment you make your character, not when you hit the level cap. =/


I'm pretty sure you're saying the same thing I am. In an MMO *filled* with content, this is the case. I hope this is so much the case in FFXIV that they just abolished the leveling scheme all together and put in its place a CONTENT-DRIVEN way to move "forward". In most games, the leveling scheme is used to serve as a way to phase the user in to mastering his character, except developers try to make it into a mindless time-sink/grind-fest. The PURPOSE of leveling is so that you gain a few abilities/toys at a time to figure out exactly how you want to play and leave the best content for end-game. If you got a character at max level with all the abilities right off the bat, you'd suck at it. It's pretty easy to spot someone who ebayed a character they've never played before (most of the time). I agree with you -- this should not be the case.

Edited, Jun 26th 2009 10:08am by Kharmageddon
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Future FFXIV Player
Anguish - 80 Death Knight (Retired)
Vor - 60 Warlock (pre-BC) (Retired)
#16 Jun 26 2009 at 6:08 AM Rating: Decent
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3,416 posts
K, great!
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SE:
Quote:
We really want to compete against World of Warcraft and for example the new Star Wars MMO.

#17 Jun 26 2009 at 9:13 AM Rating: Good
Sage
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131 posts
I think that way is less dependent on interacting with other players and revolves around more solo play, which is what most FFXI players do not want. Unless of course it requires like 6 people to do a quest just so you can get Cure IV or whatever...
#18 Jun 27 2009 at 4:49 AM Rating: Decent
46 posts
The idea is that except for a few "personal skill" quests much of this would be in small party play, and by coordinating goals between classes it would further encourage people to work together on this. The difference would be something like that between a player shouting for help doing his AF3 fight or a player shouting for a Rank 4 mission, which is the same for all three nations though has different "flavor text". Does that help explain the idea better? Core functional skills would generally be AP driven or soloable skill test quests while the gravy and bonus skills would be party driven so that even a player that plays during bad hours still could reasonably advance on his own.
#19 Jun 27 2009 at 7:19 AM Rating: Decent
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98 posts
I'm not against grinding, I don't want traditional exp>level, as in all mmo's. If it exists its not going to bother me. But if they took all grinding away from an mmo, I wouldn't want to play it. I'm hoping for a system that allows you to allocate which stats you choose for said job and or jobs. By allocating ap, jp, and anything else to give you said abilties and stats, along with ranks which you could consider your "level".

#20 Jun 27 2009 at 8:35 AM Rating: Default
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572 posts
According to this intervju with the FF14 developer;
http://ps3.ign.com/dor/objects/823994/square-enix-ps3-mmorpg-untitled/videos/ff14_vdi_060309.html

You can hear him say the following;

"In FFXI you would just do battles to develop your character (aka grind/xp party) but in FF14, we would like to expand on that and have your character develop through stories as well, not _just_ battles."

This line here indicates pretty much that battles (aka grinding/xp party) will still be there, but now you will get experience/growth from missions and quests as well, similar to WoW for example, to advance your character.
#21 Jun 27 2009 at 8:40 AM Rating: Decent
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98 posts
I hope it isn't just like wow, but to advance via story. I'd say whatever system we have to advance like skill trees, growth trees. Hidden paths are unlocked via completing certain missions and stories. So if you wanted to advance your character you need to partake in the story right? .. right.
#22 Jun 27 2009 at 10:06 AM Rating: Decent
41 posts
My only mmo experience is Mabinogi (yeah, I know). In that you have levels (which don't matter a whole lot) and skills. To improve a skill, you need to spend a certain number of levels on it and perform qualifying actions. For example, on an attack skill, you might have to perform the attack a certain number of times, a cetain number of those on enemies more powerful than you, and kill a certain number of enemies with the skill. Whenever you do any of those, you also earn some experience towards another level. The same system applies to crafting skills.

So maybe it's something like that. I know they've said levels are out (which could mean a FF8 situation where monsters you fight are assigned a level based on yours, when square said the same thing about levels, rather I hope than, say Chrono Cross) so maybe you craft a hat and get an AP like you would for killing a monster.
#23 Jun 27 2009 at 12:16 PM Rating: Decent
41 posts
Just to add to my previous post, I think I'd be happy with something like ff9's ability system. I'm not sure I would endorse the origianl poster's anti-grind point, as that's just a question of how long any improvement takes. If it were me, based on what I've read, here's how I would fill in the blanks.

-Each piece of equipment has a group of skills. Weapons of the same type (say daggers) have the skills one would associate with a particular class (say thieves). You automatically have access to any ability on any piece of equipment that's currently equipped. Your 'class' is determined by the weapon currently equipped in your right hand.

-You automatically have access to all abilities previously earned of your current class. So, after you learn your two hour ability from an onion dagger, whenever you equip another dagger, you have access to it. In some sense 'level' is replaced by the set of abilities you have in this manner. Each ability has a weight assigned to it, say 1 for mage spells (as they already have something for every level), larger numbers for abilities in classes without spells.

-You have a number of skill points equal to the total of ability weights that you get automatically (this number is still similar to your level). Instead of a subjob, you can assign these points to any other abilities you know in order to have access to them. As a general idea, these abilities cost twice their weight when picked from a second class (this lets you have one subjob roughly), three times the weight when picked from a third class, etc.
The problem with this is clearest looking at black mage spells. You wouldn't assign both Fire1 and Fire3. One solution is to increase the weight on higher level abilities when using them as secondary abilities. Another solution is to set the weaker abilities as prerequisites so you have to assign both.

-Each ability you select improves your stats in the same manner a level would. Having Fire1 would boost everything a little, but mainly improve Int and MP. Thus you can change your stats on the fly.

-Copies of abilities are tracked by class. Having Fire1 as a black mage is better for Int and MP than having it as a red mage. Maybe there could be some special benefit to having both. Obviously players would want to pile up, say, HP UP (warrior) and HP UP (Monk).

-Like in ff5, there may be more than one piece of equipment for any given ability and some abilities may be learned faster on a piece of equipment than other abilities on it. Non-weapon equipment may have abilities from different classes (those from classes different from your weapon would earn AP at a slower rate).

-Evil alternative. Equipment gains the AP (like in Legaia2). You only gain access to an ability if you absorb it from the item, which can only happen after all the necessary AP have been accumulated, and the equipment is destroyed in the process. Eviller: You only get to absorb one ability from any piece of equipment.
For this to work, I would assign a synthesis recipe to every item in the game and make it automatically known to any character who has absorbed the item before, and has a sufficient crafting skill to use the recipe. I'd prefer it to be possible to learn every ability. This adjustment creates any automatic market for sythesized goods.

AP would be earned from every conceivable task in the game. Killed a monster? Caught a fish? Won a duel? Get an AP. Finish a quest? Won a race? Get some AP.
#24 Jun 27 2009 at 12:24 PM Rating: Decent
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456 posts
Only thing people have to remember when speculating on what type of growth system ffxiv will have, is the fact that the system will still have to have the ability to change jobs on the fly. This is very important and I think for sure ffxi will not take this out of the game. So when speculating on a growth system, it would be best to start off with "ok I have to think of a great system that still can have you change jobs on a fly", this will probally put you closer to being correct. A lot of systems sound great and would possibly be great, but probally not going to happen if this feature is not able to be in it easily.
#25 Jun 27 2009 at 12:32 PM Rating: Decent
41 posts
regarding HocusP's point
In my blind guess, I see a class change being as simple as dropping a different weapon into the right hand slot. To work in the middle of a fight, it's probably necessary to default to the ability arrangement used the last time the new weapon type was equipped. The system I described wouldn't work at all if you were forced to go through you abilities and pick and choose each one whenever you switched classes.

And obviously while maximum HP and MP values would change when flipping classes, the current values shouldn't increase without resting.
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