There are a number of fundamental arguments that you'll run into if you
spend enough time in the massively multiplayer online gaming industry,
and most of them began at the very beginning of the modern MMO era when
and Ultima Online
dominated the market. These were two games that were similar in their
massive nature but completely divergent in a number of areas including
artistic style, social structuring, and character progression.
It's the last difference that has continued to pester gamers and
developers alike for the past ten years. Although MUDs and MOOs had
been around for ages, using a variety of different systems derived from
popular pen-and-paper RPG systems of their day, Ultima Online
really started the modern massive gaming craze. Unlike the persistently
popular Dungeons and
already had roots in a usage based skill progression system, which many
gamers grew to know and love. But when EverQuest
released, it used a level-based character advancement system that
focused the majority of a players power on their overall level rather
than their skills. This dichotomy has caused quite the stir in MMORPG
gamers, and blogs posts in every corner of the internet have brought
the argument to their readers.
But at Ten Ton Hammer we like to do things with a bit more discussion
in mind. As we've done in the majority of our premium articles to date,
we went straight to the game developers and to you - the gaming public
- to hear what you had to say on the age old dilemma. Specifically, we
asked the gaming developers six questions specifically pointing at the
future of skill-based games, the sudden resurgence in games focused on
individual skill advancement, and their thoughts on whether skill-based
games could ever overtake titles with level-based progression systems.
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.
Without any further rhetoric on my part, let's open up our ears and see
what our developers and players thought about the skill vs. level
dilemma. Throughout this article we'll be hearing from individuals from
the Fallen Earth, Guild Wars, Jumpgate Evolution, Earthrise
, and EVE
development teams along with Ten Ton Hammer's own premium
members. So strap yourselves in, it's going to be an entertaining ride!