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Majspuffen
06.03.2012 , 04:35 AM | #2
Obviously the levelling system cannot be removed, that would be a too big of a change. However, just because the levelling scales vertically that doesn't mean that the endgame has to. As Taugrim says, the vertical scaling has fundamental problems. The major problem, in my opinion, is that when new content is released, old content becomes trivial. That is a very bad game design, and it makes it harder for new players to adapt at end game. Another major problem is that it upsets pvp balance, which should be explained throughout this post.

Take world of warcraft as an example. If you play from the beginning of an expansion, you're golden. You don't have to grind instances because the segue from 5 man heroics into raids is relatively smooth. It's the same for pvp, the earlier you start gearing up in pvp the less painful your pvp experience will be. Because you'll be gearing up at the same time as others.

Now, if you start playing world of warcraft today and hit endgame, what do you have to do? You'll have to farm instances like crazy in order to buy "badge gear" (for those who did not play wow; whenever you defeated a boss in a heroic dungeon you received a currency that you could use to buy gear, and a new boosted set of gear would be available every time a new raid tier was released. The gear that dropped in the dungeons was utterly meaningless because it was only useful for the first raid in the expansion). I don't think anyone thinks that is a fun experience. It's grindy as heck and you'll be scolded at for having bad gear in the beginning, maybe even outright kicked from the group. As for pvp? Enjoy being utterly useless to your team for about a week or so until you gather enough pvp gear to survive for more than 5 seconds (forgive the exaggeration, but you get the point).

The reason I'm mentioning these things is because SWTOR is suffering from similiar problems. Not quite as bad yet, I might add, but the more content that is released the worse it will get. Horizontal scaling would fix all those problems. It would also give players at max level more variety in their activities and, the best part, no grinding for gear. I understand that some people like to see their characters become more powerful, as part of character progression but just consider this idea for a moment. No gear grind. That means, no farm raids. You know that fresh level 50 who joined your guild? No reason to drag him through old content so that he can play with you, because the moment he joins your guild he can play with you! That makes things easier for EVERYONE involved.

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Now to the second part of my thread; why I think that SWTOR has a good foundation for a system like this. As Taugrim says in his video, rather than getting gear upgrades you can get achievements, titles and vanity items such as pets and mounts. We do not have achievements in ToR, not yet, but it's something that Bioware is considering. However, we do have titles, pets and mounts. We even have ships that, perhaps someday in the future, can be pimped out. And best of all, SWTOR has got moddable gear.

SWTOR's moddable gear was a stroke of genius. In the scenario of having horizontal scaling, moddable gear could still serve as gear progression (of sorts). It could also help the player economy and I'll elaborate on that in a moment, since it's almost a topic in the topic. Anyway, different stats are good for different specs, and because of soft caps you can't just boost one stat because that would most likely result in a loss of dps. No doubt some mathematical wizard will find the best possible combination for each and every spec eventually, but that always happens.

Moddable items, even without stats, are still attractive to people. More often than not, it's not getting more stats that keeps people raiding. It's defeating difficult encounters and having something to show for it (of course this is not a fact but, considering myself and my friends, we're all pretty much in a consensus about this). When people enter a new instance it's the progression they look forward to, not the farm that it is eventually turned into due to powerful gear.

As for pvp, I imagine there are some people who love to have better gear than others. I certainly don't (rank 87 operative here), I prefer balanced teams. It's not as much fun winning huttbal 6-0 as it is winning huttball 3-2. It's certainly not fun losing a game because my team had more fresh level 50s than the opponents. It isn't fun being a fresh level 50 either, even with a full set of recruit gear. Kudos to bioware for implementing it, but paying 350-400k in order to be suboptimal isn't very fun. It certainly doesn't promote the game either, making the endgame experience harder on new players simply because of gear. That is bad!

Horizontal scaling in a pvp environment would assure that it's only skill that separates good players from bad. It would probably be much easier for bioware to balance pvp as well, since they'll have more control over the damage and healing output. Stats like expertise was their solution to separate pve from pvp (which could be considered both good and bad). They shouldn't remove expertise as a stat, in my opinion. It's good to have a pvp stat to tweak in order to adjust balance.

Now, to elaborate on how mods could be beneficial for the player economy and community interaction. First of all, since the game would scale horizontally, craftable items wouldn't become outdated. That could have a positive effect on the economy. Also, consider this; if it is the players that creates the strongest mods in the game, then that promotes community interaction like nothing else. Why did Star Wars Galaxies have such a healthy player economy? Because players needed each others. I personally think that concept is much better than loot. I have some more thoughts on this matter that I may share later, should people support this thread.

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Endwords:
If you've read this far then I thank you for having taken your time. I love this game, but it's based on some very outdated and flawed mechanics that could be rectified. The raiding guild I was in recently fell apart due to people getting tired of the grind. We were open to new players but it became too much of a chore to do all those farm raids. We could blitz through both EV and KP in one night, but blitzing through content isn't fun. It's a chore, why couldn't we just take our new recruits into the newest instance from scratch?

There's also a risk with horizontal scaling, that could probably scare the developers. And that risk is that people will defeat the content and leave. Let's be honest, one of the things that takes up most time in this game is to gather gear, and I don't think there's a lot of people who enjoy that endeavour anymore. In the long run, having an end game with more than one active attraction at a time will be better for the playerbase. That's what I believe. Especially if they can throw in competition of sorts, have a databank on the fleet that players can access in order to see which guild have defeated which encounter fastest etc. Then progression is turned into progression, not farm!

Please post your thoughts to your heart's desire. Do you believe that horizontal scaling would be a worse concept that vertical scaling, and if so, why? Or do you believe that horizontal scaling would be an awesome concept for SWTOR? If so, please post your support to keep this thread going!