A better progression system instead of constant resets for MMOs

As you know, I’ve left WoW because I realized that not playing is the optimal way of progression. If I’d log in today, I could get a character in 2 days that is nearly as powerful as one who raided on the highest level all the time. But I won’t, because if I wait one more year, I get a much-much more powerful character in 2 days. So I keep waiting till eternity.

Of course I realize that players want new rewards every new content addition. I also realize that players love frequent content addition. Finally I grudgingly accept that video game designers must cater to bad players too who want to progress their characters despite being horrible.

I finally cooked something that solves the reward reset problem without taking away any of the three reasons it was created. The idea is every content rewards one type of gear. The player would start with leveling to max and during leveling he gets ilvl 100 items in every slot.

The first “content” (dailies, factions, dungeons, raid) and get helmets. Only helmets. The dailies get him reputation with the faction that sells ilvl 105 helmet on friendly, 110 on honored, 115 on revered and 120 on exalted. The “heroic” dungeon gives 110, the mythic 120, the mythic+ up to 125. The LFR raid gives 105, the normal gives 115, the heroic gives 125, the mythic raid gives 130.

The second content does the exact same thing with necklaces, except the content is tuned a bit harder, because it assumes that the player has the appropriate level helmet. So the heroic dungeons are tuned to 110 helmet wearers while mythic raids are tuned to 130 helmet wearers.

The third content does the same for shoulder items, tuned to players both having the proper helmet and necklace.

The best players would finish the content in every turn, picking up a mythic item to every slot. The lesser players on the other hand would jump around between tiers. I mean a baddy can’t get better helmet than the ilvl 120 by farming exalted with the faction. He can’t do heroic raids or mythic+ dungeons since he sucks. But after he also got the ilvl 120 necklace, he can go back and do the first mythic+ dungeons for his helm, since those are tuned for players with a 120 helm only and not 120 helm + necklace.

This way practically all content is relevant, give rewards and have tasks to do for all players. But more importantly, everyone would have to do the same content for the rewards, the ilvl 130 helmet only comes from first content mythic raid and one has to go there for it. Sure the best players got it with ilvl 102 characters and some player would do it with ilvl 120, but still he had to do it.

During one expansion (about 2 years) all slots would be filled. Of course if there aren’t enough content patches (1 in 3 months mean 8 per expansion), the scheme can be changed to 2 slots per content.

What will happen with the new expansion? Only partial reset. The quests of leveling would give ilvl 115 into every slot and the first content would be about helms, giving 15 ilvl above the old helms. So old mythic raid helm is still as good as new normal raid helm. So new players could start to catch up, but old good players would have a head start, rewarding them for past playing.

Author: Gevlon

My blog: https://greedygoblinblog.wordpress.com/

15 thoughts on “A better progression system instead of constant resets for MMOs”

  1. There is the idea that players need constant gear upgrade to feel powerful, and staying to much on the same gear will feel like stagnation. I don’t necessarily agree, but at least Blizz strongly believes that.

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  2. Item slots have different power – a character with crappy necklace and awesome weapon will have bigger dps than a character with awesome necklace and crappy weapon. So maybe this system could be made of use, item slot budget was made equal or items would be released in pairs so sum of budget of items would be approximately equal(for example, weapon + necklace, ring + trinket). Other concern is relative power scaling. Ilvl to dps relation should be well-thought – relative increase when coming from all ilvl 100 to having one ilvl 120 item is 1.25%, while relative increase when coming from all (but one ilvl 100 item) ilvl 120 to having all ilvl 120 item is approximately 1.01%.
    But overall pretty interesting idea.
    When ilvl-based world scaling was introduced, players found that unequipping, for example, necklace made the fight shorter.

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  3. I still think the whole idea of MMOs for most people are “numbers getting higher”. The dopamine high of “oooh, my numbers got twice as big”. Mind it, not for everyone, but for most people. That is exactly what they want to feel from the game. That’s why if your numbers after the new addon do not grow fast enough, but rather stay where they were previously (and only going up at the end of expansion and slightly), nobody would get a dopamine high and the whole point of the game would be lost. There is a reason why asian RPGs were doing the whole 9999 (many times) damage in higher levels. It feels great to have higher numbers. Sure, it does not help if your idea of playing the game is “playing it most efficiently”, but it helps other people.

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  4. Personally, i think WOW uses same mechanic, not in the best way but rough idea is the same. Difference is in expansion. And expansion is bit defferent. Its not only content change, it changes gameplay mechanics. What means gear and items and synergy with the characters will change. Its alot easier to do a clean reset, by increasing lvl cap by 5 and do completely new gearset. Testing a new game and methods is way easier when you dont have a big baggage what you need to drag along.

    Second thing is content demand. If you have like 5 item slots and 5 raids, you will get players for every one of them. If you got 5 item slots and 500 raids, you will lack people to fill them. You can give out gear with reputation and dungeons and just random luck, but that still makes 450+ raids basicly useless to ever to raid again. Not much difference as in current WOW system.

    I really like the idea, that progression is only gear limited, not experience on lvl limited. Having a new gear gives options and ways to challenge next tier content. What i like to see, is reason to do any content again. Simple solution is to make random daily or weekly quests on any content, so every content stays relevant. Problem is, there is no such reward what gives enoughmotivation to do, its either too powerful or not important.

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  5. I am more of the opinion that an MMOs should be structured as series of separate worlds, all complete with completely separate reward sets. Then every x-pac basically means adding another world with a complete experience.
    The trick i haven’t figured out yet is how to tie all of this together into a coherent global progression system. The current train of thought is something like clearing an entire world gives you +1 lvl in main hub as well as access to gear transmogs from that world.

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  6. @Maxim:
    WoW does exactly that. Every expansion is a self contained, separate worlds with completely separate reward set. You get a last expansion max level boost with every new expansion (so Legion’s max. lvl was 110, when you buy BfA you gets a lvl110 boost), so you can “fresh start” with a new character if you want a really fresh experience in every expansion.

    The global progression is only done by vanity rewards, like pets (not usable in combat), mounts, achievement points and transmogrification (~change your appearance).

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  7. @Gevlon

    “Finally I grudgingly accept that video game designers must cater to bad players too who want to progress their characters despite being horrible.”

    So, with this statement in mind, do your proposed changes mean to make gear acquisition more “fair” based on skill alone? Because at the end of the day, those will higher skill or ability to raid/dungeon “mythic” versions will always have the advantage from a “power curve” perspective with higher tiered gear, especially when you consider other design choices like mitigation or inability to “not stand in the fire”. So if you plan on making dungeon or raid content “faceroll” easy based on mode(LFR<Normal<Heroic<Mythic), the social ramifications of "failure" will still affect the long term view of how the power curve is implemented versus rewards and status, especially between expansions or new content.

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  8. If you wait long enough you’ll be dead.
    if you really need to hedge your entertainment learn to absorb (not just read really absorb) books and learn Braille (it is faster than audio books). you most likely will be able to this as 190yo cyborg grandidiot that didn’t know when to stop.

    I really like the “survival” trend and hope some more singleplayer come, with (not really necessary) dedicated server functionality or LAN. install, never update and be happy with what you got. sure it isn’t MMO. but MMOs are crap.

    I am more of the opinion that an MMOs should be structured as series of separate worlds, all complete with completely separate reward sets.
    exactly this. if you have to addon the living shit out of your game make them unique to that addon. out of all the games that did this right was LEGO Universe, too bad they discontinued.

    dopamine on item grind and higher numbers
    And this is THE problem! luckily some people are not madly addicts otherwise tanks and healers wouldn’t be a thing … oh wait.

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  9. @Noguff: I propose no difficulty change. So exalted and LFR and “heroic” dungeons are available for everyone with a pulse, they can always progress in gear, but always behind the good players.

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  10. @Gevlon

    “they can always progress in gear, but always behind the good players.”

    But at this point you relegate the entire reason for your changes to nothing more than a social mechanism…aka “a carry”. In the absence of a “group finder” mechanism to forcefully make players “carry” those with lesser skill, you end up with the same thing WoW was plagued with prior to forced grouping – players wanting to attempt more difficult content, but can’t due to slowly developed(and embraced) social mechanisms(leetness, e-peen superiority)…etc. You simply cannot gate progress behind an I-Level check without increases in difficulty that award higher I-Level rewards. There is always a cutoff point where players will just simply refuse to carry those with lesser skill.

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  11. @cathfaern
    In WoW previous content quickly becomes useless for everyone progression-wise. What i’m thinking of is a way to make all content relevant for all new players forever. Also, I was never quite comfortable with achievements being a progression metric.

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  12. I do not understand the problem you are trying to solve. I think you are trying to optimise your gearing-up efficiency, but the only reason to improve your gear is to enter more challenging content and if your strategy to getting gear is to wait until said content is trivialised then there is no point in getting that gear.

    MMOs have churn so new players always need to be able to fill in for leavers. Gear-checks are a gatekeeper which prevents that from happening, hence the need for resets and other catch-up mechanics.
    Gear is a harmful power-creep. It has no place in a modern MMO but we are stuck with it for legacy reasons. It would be far better to to design an open ended MMO with rewards that do not boost player power.

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  13. @Dobablo: any competition involves players who succeed and players who don’t. Trying to make everyone equal makes everyone leave. A game where “I” can’t be “l33t” looking down on the “n00bz” is not a game at all. WoW has huge playerbase. You can find a team for a lowbie dungeon in a minute. Having gates isn’t a problem population-wise.

    The constant resets remove what makes MMOs unique: a living world. It changes them to short session games like League of Legends where every game stars from zero. The thing is LoL is better at being LoL than WoW. The unique selling point of MMOs is “the same game for decades” and resets kill it.

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