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Do we need Character Levels?

McShaveMcShave Member
edited March 2021 in General Discussion
I had an idea that I would like your thoughts on.

With so many ways to play this game and level your character, do we really need some arbitrary character level? If someone levels a character to 50 through combat, and another character to 50 by professions, then their level 50 really doesn't mean much.

An idea I had was to allow your character to level in many different areaa, like combat, professions, trade, etc. Let's say you can level to 50 in each of these categories, and then your "character level" would be the combination of all these different levels.

Is there another game out there that does this? Is this a good idea or bad idea?
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Comments

  • Levelling has traditionally been the best way to introduce a character's abilities to them. Even games that haven't included general combat levels have typically still had a levelling system - just for abilities/builds, instead.

    Same difference.



  • Levels are a staple of most, if not all, RPG. People like being able to track their progression. They often like to look back at how easy past challenges have become.

    The best alternative I've seen was to divide/replace levels by skills. The Elder Scrolls games are like that. In the MMO genre, Star Wars Galaxies was like that too, but the total skill points available was restricted for balance. I think some fps shooters are like that too.

    I would like very much that the game would completely forgo levels and track progression through a skill points system. No HP augmentation. Hits, accuracy, defence, evasion, all progressing with the use of their related skills. The more proficient you are with a skill/spell, the higher the damage or crit chance. Heck, classes could also be ditched, replaced with a limited number of skill points available or some sort of skill decaying system so that no one can master every skills. But that's just my, probably unpopular, dream.
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  • @Percimes I like the way you think, my friend. Unfortunately, one of the top selling features of Ashes is the "64 classe" so I don't think it's going anywhere. I like the idea of skills getting better the more you use them, sort of like what ESO did, but I think Intrepid is gonna stick with the talent tree type system they have.

    @Tyranthraxus The system I proposed still has the leveling system, it's just altering what the definition of "character level" is.
  • Wandering MistWandering Mist Moderator, Member, Founder, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    The closest that I can think of to that is Old School Runescape, which splits up every activity into its own skill that needs to be levelled. Cutting down a tree will level up your woodcutting but nothing else. Your "character level" is just the sum of all your skills and really doesn't matter at all. What does matter is your combat level, which is calculated from all your different combat skills (magic, ranged, melee, defence, etc).

    So in OSRS you could be combat level 50 with a melee skill of 1 and a magic skill of 50, and vice versa.
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  • My opinion is worth no more than yours.

    Roleplaying systems that don't have levels (WFRP and Runequest for example) feel nice because you have to judge a character by their actions, clothing and what they say, instead of just looking at their profession and level. It feels healthier from a roleplaying perspective. However, I've not heard of any online RPGs doing things that way before. It would be extremely brave of any developer to go that route.

    So many are happy and familiar with the selected format of Archetype and level with a skill tree point allocation system that has tiers which unlock as your character level increases. I think it is too late in the development for the Devs to change their current approach.

    The artisan progression in some ways ticks that box for me, because you could max an artisan class and still be relatively low level, trading on your artisan reputation irrespective of your character level.

    In Ashes, I believe that hovering your mouse over someone will just give a vague relative power level assessment based on their archetype / class level and gear. You won't get to know artisan skill levels, hit points, or any of the other things you we see by spying on a D&D character sheet when the player sat next to you isn't watching.

    Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, I would hate to spread mis-information.
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  • @McMackMuck very well said. Someone would need to fact check this, but I'm pretty sure Steven said you could level your character through non-combat options. I went to assume that you could level to max using this method. This is why I brought up my post, I think it would be silly to have a max level character and then scaring a low level person, even tho your a crafter or something lol.

    Also about mousing over a character to gague their power levels, I think this is mostly to get around the cosmetics in the game. You won't be able to look at a character's gear to see how strong they are, so this is a good work around.
  • VhaeyneVhaeyne Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    I have though about this in the past. From some games I would agree that levels are just arbitrary numbers that are not really worth much. For a game like WOW/FFXIV with character boosts and que systems. No leveling makes some sense.

    In games like Ashes I feel that a long leveling grind is required as a barrier to entry to access all of the content a game has to offer for a class/profession. If there is little work or effort required to make alts than everyone will have a alt for everything. It is worst in a game like Ashes because you could just make characters for specific tasks and then transfer things around since nearly no items are character bound. This would hurt the economy and reduce some of the social aspects of the game.

    Another issue is that if you can just create max level characters all day, your name means nothing. If you piss off the wrong people that is fine. Just roll another toon and all is forgotten. This destroys some social dynamics that come from your character having to establish a name for themselves. Remember name changes will never be a thing in Ashes.

    I strongly feel that leveling as a barrier to entry is necessary to prevent people from being able to quickly get to a point where they can do everything for themselves and keep player name identity important. This is a Risk Vs Reward Open World Focused game. People need to be able to recognize other players names in the world and react accordingly. You should not easily be able to just abandon all of the work you have put into making a name for yourself when you act up.
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  • KusaijshiKusaijshi Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Its a Bad idea Because then you dont know how strong Person xy is for some dungeon.
    dungeon level is 45 combat and you only want people with a Combat level from minimum 44 to dont make it a pain in the a** so then you will get many players who are 1 or 2 levels behind that 44 but are hiding it behind some useless (for dungeon) crafting levels.
    FF14 has a system where your charakter can reach levels in each profession like
    Class
    Smithing
    Mining
    etc. etc. etc

    Thats totally fine because you still see his real combat level whats the only important thing is if you want to go into a dungeon.
  • mobtekmobtek Member, Founder, Kickstarter
    As much as I like the idea of not having levels but experience tying into different skills maybe I have no idea how that would work.
  • NoaaniNoaani Member, Intrepid Pack
    To me, no levels makes sense in a game that puts the story first. Not requiring levels means players can access any part of the world to experience the story first hand.

    For games that put the content first, levels make sense.
  • SaeduSaedu Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    edited March 2021
    Vhaeyne wrote: »
    In games like Ashes I feel that a long leveling grind is required as a barrier to entry to access all of the content a game has to offer for a class/profession. If there is little work or effort required to make alts than everyone will have a alt for everything. It is worst in a game like Ashes because you could just make characters for specific tasks and then transfer things around since nearly no items are character bound. This would hurt the economy and reduce some of the social aspects of the game.

    Another issue is that if you can just create max level characters all day, your name means nothing. If you piss off the wrong people that is fine. Just roll another toon and all is forgotten. This destroys some social dynamics that come from your character having to establish a name for themselves. Remember name changes will never be a thing in Ashes.

    I strongly feel that leveling as a barrier to entry is necessary to prevent people from being able to quickly get to a point where they can do everything for themselves and keep player name identity important. This is a Risk Vs Reward Open World Focused game. People need to be able to recognize other players names in the world and react accordingly. You should not easily be able to just abandon all of the work you have put into making a name for yourself when you act up.

    Just shift the grind from the leveling to the actual end game content (professions, gear, etc). Leveling feels antiquated. perhaps a quick 1 - 20 levels that can be done in ~5 hours to help you get used to your classes abilities, but you don't really need more than that.

    If the leveling has to be there to be a gate for end game systems, then it sounds like the end game systems are not strong.

    Also, a leveling curve, even if steep, will not stop alts. Alts are a good thing for a game as well. It gives people variety in gameplay. For PvP it also helps you better understand how the classes you are going up against work.
  • WarthWarth Member
    I don''t think there is much difference either way. What would be the advantages of forgoing a character level system?

    Also, refering to it as character level seems somewhat wrong. Neither profession nor social activities/societies affect your "character level" Its much more akin to a combat level.

    Considering, that your change would suggest maintaining a combat level, nothing would change at all except, that you'd wanna create another type of level, which would be the sum of all the level progress you have made across different activities.

    Which would be completely and entirely useless. If you look someone for your party, you don't give a shit what his level is in any activity but combat. If you look for a crafter, you don't care about anything other than the level of their profession. A character level as you suggest it serves no purpose at all.
  • WarthWarth Member
    Saedu wrote: »
    Vhaeyne wrote: »
    In games like Ashes I feel that a long leveling grind is required as a barrier to entry to access all of the content a game has to offer for a class/profession. If there is little work or effort required to make alts than everyone will have a alt for everything. It is worst in a game like Ashes because you could just make characters for specific tasks and then transfer things around since nearly no items are character bound. This would hurt the economy and reduce some of the social aspects of the game.

    Another issue is that if you can just create max level characters all day, your name means nothing. If you piss off the wrong people that is fine. Just roll another toon and all is forgotten. This destroys some social dynamics that come from your character having to establish a name for themselves. Remember name changes will never be a thing in Ashes.

    I strongly feel that leveling as a barrier to entry is necessary to prevent people from being able to quickly get to a point where they can do everything for themselves and keep player name identity important. This is a Risk Vs Reward Open World Focused game. People need to be able to recognize other players names in the world and react accordingly. You should not easily be able to just abandon all of the work you have put into making a name for yourself when you act up.

    Just shift the grind from the leveling to the actual end game content (professions, gear, etc). Leveling feels antiquated. perhaps a quick 1 - 20 levels that can be done in ~5 hours to help you get used to your classes abilities, but you don't really need more than that.

    If the leveling has to be there to be a gate for end game systems, then it sounds like the end game systems are not strong.

    Also, a leveling curve, even if steep, will not stop alts. Alts are a good thing for a game as well. It gives people variety in gameplay. For PvP it also helps you better understand how the classes you are going up against work.

    soudns like themepark mentality to me, where the game starts when you hit max level. Which is allegedly not going to be the case here. Systems don't unlock with your character/combat level at all here. Your character gets stronger though level ups, nothing else. You can do the exact same content whether you are level 20 or 50. Just that you'll probably have an easier time doing it as 50.
  • VhaeyneVhaeyne Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    edited March 2021
    Saedu wrote: »
    Just shift the grind from the leveling to the actual end game content (professions, gear, etc). Leveling feels antiquated. perhaps a quick 1 - 20 levels that can be done in ~5 hours to help you get used to your classes abilities, but you don't really need more than that.

    If the leveling has to be there to be a gate for end game systems, then it sounds like the end game systems are not strong.

    Also, a leveling curve, even if steep, will not stop alts. Alts are a good thing for a game as well. It gives people variety in gameplay. For PvP it also helps you better understand how the classes you are going up against work.

    Make the grind 225-250 hours, and we got a deal... (which is what it is for AoC btw)

    Remember we are getting into a Open world MMORPG not a WOW clone, things are different. There is a living breathing economy with a dynamic world. You are not going to be able to even rush to cap day one. There might not be a node with high level mobs for a while.

    TBH I feel like the intended grind is not enough. It needs to be demoralizing.

    You can understand other classes in PvP by reading there ability's and experience fighting them. You don't need to play every class to better understand how to deal with other classes in PvP. .
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  • MaezrielMaezriel Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    If it's not levels (whether character or skill) then progress would have to be locked behind specific points.

    Ocarina of Time would be an excellent example of a game where your progression is locked behind certain story points and you cannot complete the game w/o first completing each temple

    Then you have BOTW where there's nothing stopping you (after the tutorial) from heading straight to Gannon...and whereas that might sound fun it would severely undermine the reward of "time invested" that so many AoC fans are looking for.
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  • KhronusKhronus Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Even shooting games evolved to a leveling system. Yes, some form of a leveling system is a requirement for a popular game.
  • McShave wrote: »
    With so many ways to play this game and level your character, do we really need some arbitrary character level? If someone levels a character to 50 through combat, and another character to 50 by professions, then their level 50 really doesn't mean much.

    Why does it not mean much?
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  • daveywavey wrote: »
    Why does it not mean much?

    I'm just thinking of the scenario that someone leveled to max level using professions, then wanted to run a max level dungeon. A party takes this person because they are max level, but they don't even know what they're abilities do.
  • Warth wrote: »
    Also, refering to it as character level seems somewhat wrong. Neither profession nor social activities/societies affect your "character level" Its much more akin to a combat level.

    I may be wrong, but i remember Steven saying you gain xp with professions. But this is a good work around. Just have combat related xp contribute to your character level and this fixes my issue.

  • SaeduSaedu Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    McShave wrote: »
    Warth wrote: »
    Also, refering to it as character level seems somewhat wrong. Neither profession nor social activities/societies affect your "character level" Its much more akin to a combat level.

    I may be wrong, but i remember Steven saying you gain xp with professions. But this is a good work around. Just have combat related xp contribute to your character level and this fixes my issue.

    Gotta have some way for the pacifist to hit max level by only picking flowers for 3 years! :p
  • I tend to disagree with most takes about leveling. Until recently, most games content was developed to play while leveling. Only in the past five years have companies basically opted for a way to skip or rush it because most of their development time is spent for endgame. IF the majority of the games content is designed around the core leveling experience like older MMO's were, then I think a slow leveling and getting those levels are part of the games reward system. And are actually worth achieving. A perfect example i can think of is FFXI where the leveling was slow and a grind but getting that level was an event, and it opened more of the game up to you. Sure there were things to do at the end of the game but the core of that game was getting there in the first place.

    What gamers today don't seem to understand is that the endgame for them is all they want to get to because its where all the 'good stuff' is. But they forget that some games just weren't initially designed that way, they were designed for you to more slowly experience the world and feel a sense of growth on the way like a good RPG does. That feeling has been lost because of players rushing, which pushes developers towards simply making endgame content for them to consume instead of playing the game as it was built. Thus the current Meta and the feeling of the open world really being left behind, is being replaced with instances and segregation of the core gameplay loop people played the game for in the first place.

    Ashes interests me because it feels like they are developing the game for you to play its core concept while leveling and feeling a sense of growth and not a mad dash to have to be the best at max level. And levels are the best way to do that in this type of setting. Slow down people and learn to enjoy your video games again. Leveling is fun, you just forgot why it was fun because recent games treat it as a barrier to entry instead of a core mechanic. If you level 1-50 in 40 hours, of course leveling is stupid and each level has no weight to it. But if it takes 15 hours just to get 1 level, getting that level is a milestone and it feels good.
  • SaeduSaedu Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    I like the idea of core content being available while leveling and leveling not being a barrier to getting to that content. It still feels a bit like you are doing it suboptimal though (especially since while leveling you often don't have your full set if spells, you can feel like your playing an incomplete class). I just want to get to the core aspects of the game as quickly as I can so I can them master them. 15 hours/level sounds like it would be a terrible grind.

    I'm all for ongoing progression in various ways that make my max level character more powerful or that reward cosmetics (but be sure to have appropriate catch up mechanisms for users who start late, alts, or users who change their main. Without those the game will have too high if a barrier to entry long term and eventually die off due to atrophy).

    I also wouldn't consider this theme park mentality. I'm not looking to skip the open world/sandbox experience. I just want to spend my time doing these activites max level with all of my classes skills instead of sub-par level grinding.
  • Starcry wrote: »
    Ashes interests me because it feels like they are developing the game for you to play its core concept while leveling and feeling a sense of growth and not a mad dash to have to be the best at max level.

    I find this statement to be the most important for what Ashes is trying to do to revolutionize the genre, and what I personally find one of the more inspirational things about the game is that it seeks to redefine what is "end game." Certainly some folks think that "the real game" does not start until max level. I would like to see a game where "max level" is not as important and that the leveling process of contributing to your node is just as important at lower levels than the high ones.

    I really hope Ashes gets this right. Their introductory videos they did on this point were awesome and I hope we get a polished result on this.

  • MaezrielMaezriel Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    would like to see a game where "max level" is not as important and that the leveling process of contributing to your node is just as important at lower levels than the high ones.

    I know a lot of people are excited for the return of "getting to max level will take months of time" but honestly I would be okay if Intrepid flipped it and made max level fairly easy to get to while providing a ton of ancillary skills we can take our time grinding so that it better focused the game on the nodes and growth of the world rather than just grinding boars simply to unlock your next spell.
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  • SaeduSaedu Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    edited March 2021
    "Max level" could best be defined to me as when you have all of your spells/abilities (maybe not all augments)... if that happens at level 20 or 30, and there are still another 30 or 20 levels where you get to use your full toolkit, but you just get more powerful over time, then that would work for me.

    There would need to not be major power gaps between levels if course. These extra levels would be somewhat like extra power from better gear.
  • bloodprophetbloodprophet Member, Braver of Worlds, Kickstarter, Alpha One
    More people need to learn how to enjoy the journey.
    The game will start at character creation and end when you decide it ends. The whole point of the game is to have fun why maximize the fun out of it. Just make your Tulnar go into Verra and have fun.
    Kind of like when you where a small child just go out and explore and find your fun. Or have you always needed some one to script your fun for you?
    Levels provide away to give feedback to the players of lessons learned and abilities gained.
    Most people never listen. They are just waiting on you to quit making noise so they can.
  • MaezrielMaezriel Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    More people need to learn how to enjoy the journey.
    The game will start at character creation and end when you decide it ends. The whole point of the game is to have fun why maximize the fun out of it. Just make your Tulnar go into Verra and have fun.
    Kind of like when you where a small child just go out and explore and find your fun. Or have you always needed some one to script your fun for you?
    Levels provide away to give feedback to the players of lessons learned and abilities gained.

    I don't think this is fair. For as long as there's been RPGs there's been munchkins that enjoy the optimization of their characters. Nerds enjoy crunching into their characters and any gamer w/ a hint of competitiveness likes to know that they can do better.

    Even in games as on the rails as Retail WoW no one is stopping you from taking your time and just enjoying the ride and I don't think a long leveling time is in any way relevant to your personal progress...it's just a timegate between abilities.
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  • SaeduSaedu Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    edited March 2021
    Maezriel wrote: »
    I don't think a long leveling time is in any way relevant to your personal progress...it's just a timegate between abilities.

    This is spot on and the core problem with leveling in MMOs! I don't need 3 to 4 hours between each ability added to my core toolkit to learn the new ability. Its more like 10 minutes. For example, it feels bad when your a new tank trying to "experience" tanking for a group at low level and you don't have your taunt because you don't get that till level 20, or your main defensive CD until your level 40... these are core things for your toolkit to fulfill your role and your handicapped until you have them. I get you don't want to overwhelm a new player with 40 skills right at the start, but you also don't want to take multiple hours/days to give the character these abilities.

    If anything you want to get the core abilities to players faster. This way they can see of the flow of combat and associated combos/strengths/weaknesses align with the players style, or if the player should reroll. (I loved that WoW added clas trial with a almost max level toon so you could try out the list of abilities before actually committing to the toon. Sure the actual boost is debatable and probably not good for AoC, but the idea of trying out the abilities at max level, then going and creating the level 1 toon can certainly help avoid poor class selection decisions. Reading about classes isn't as good as actual hands on experience).
  • SaeduSaedu Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    edited March 2021
    The original DK intro experience in WoW was a good example of pace for adding skills (not levels). A few hours of questing and you had all of your skills.
  • In old games, another aspect of the leveling grind, of making it slow, hard, and punitive when a player failed, had a lot to do on making sure the players didn't blast through the content, got bored with nothing to do and cancelled their subscription. Content takes time to make. Some cultures even value the time dedication into a task.

    I wonder how much of the socialization resulting from a slow grind was by design originally or if it was simply a nice side effect to fill the repetitive boredom of the slow progression pace.

    In sand box games, the players are, in large part, the content. A slow progression is not as needed as in a theme park.

    First person shooters rely almost completely on the players for the gameplay: they will plays hours upon hours with no new content from the developers, a new map or game mode keeps them active for months. Many modern ones have some sort of leveling in them, but the old ones didn't.
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