Is It Time To Shoot “Levels” In The Head?

Veteran MMO designer and blogger Richard Bartle is back making waves in the MMORPG community again this week – this time, with a vitriolic rant against the concept of a “level” in MMORPGs.

He’s arguing that “levels” make no in-game sense, that they separate friends from playing together, and that it would be trivial to come up with a better solution:

“Example: suppose you have some kind of secret agent game. Player characters have gone through training in their backstory and are now ready for the field. They’re all just as good as each other. You don’t have to have completed a thousand quests to be able to figure out how to use some over-powered sniper rifle: it’s the same as any other sniper rifle, you just aim and pull the trigger. You don’t get to use the heat-seeking drone bomb only when you’ve killed a hundred enemy agents, it’s not rocket science, you can use it straight away if you can get hold of one. The only difference between you and the experienced player is that you’re not yet trusted by your agency yet your colleague is. Your colleague has completed five hundred missions in places like Oslo and Vienna and Rome and Algiers, and is now trusted to go to Moscow and Warsaw and Prague and Shanghai. ”

And The Ancient Gaming Noob responds to his post in turn, with a discussion of both why levels eventually fail so badly, and why developers keep implementing them in the first place:

“Except, of course, people keep making level based games like this. Are they mad? Do they hate us?

The thing with levels is that they are simple. They are easy to create and explain. They are usually visible to other players, so everybody knows about where you stand in the game. While there are many ways to gate content… factions, quests, or currency could all be implemented quite easily as gates… nothing is quite as simple or as visible as that level number attached to your character.”

What do you think? Are levels disastrous?

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Love And Hate In Guild Wars 2

Jumping Puzzles? AAARGH! Dynamic Events with world consequences? Woohoo!

Yes, in the same day as Blizzard’s latest content meets what can only be described as “a sound kicking”, Guild Wars 2 continues to provoke debates, love, rage, and much more:

  • Aly, the Mistress of Illusions, has some strong words for players who have nothing better to do than insult other GW2 players for no reason“The other day in map chat, a player who silently went about their business was ridiculed for sporting a commander title that other players said their mother just bought for them so they could feel important. The truth was they were a leader in a WvW guild, and the guild as a whole purchased the title.”
  • Stubborn praises GW2 as the ultimate game to play in micro-sessions“Since anywhere you’ve been is only seconds from wherever you are and since you don’t have to run around picking up quests to get things done, I feel comfortable hopping into GW2 for 15 minutes and running to the nearest heart to start and finish it. “
  • MMO Juggler just about breaks their keyboard telling the tale of GW2’s unskippable jumping puzzles“This is just stupid in every possible way to evaluate providing challenging content.”
  • Slurms is amazed by the potential demonstrated by some of GW2’s dynamic events“It just amazed me that ArenaNet came up with a landscape altering event that chained off of a failure. It made me want more”
  • And Occho asks why on earth Guild Wars 2 even bothers to have levels“With the majority of zones and dungeons just down-leveling you, and levels coming at such a fast and furious pace that most people don’t even notice them, the fact that the game puts a number to your development seems counter-productive.”

Love it or hate it, you really can’t ignore the ways in which GW2’s trying new things.

Is there something in GW2 that you’re loving or hating right now?

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