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Horizontal scaling, a new type of progression.

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > General Discussion > Suggestion Box
Horizontal scaling, a new type of progression.

Majspuffen's Avatar

06.02.2012 , 07:25 AM | #1
What is horizontal scaling?

I am basing this thread and suggestion on Taugrim's idea and he explains the concept thouroughly in this video;

However, if you do not want to watch it, then I'll give you a quick explanation and a more lenghty one explaining why I think SWTOR has already gotten a good foundation for a system like this in the post below.

Currently, SWTOR is scaling vertically. What this means is that your character becomes stronger through progressing, be it through levelling or raiding/pvping at end game. It could be dumbed down this; when you get stronger gear you see bigger numbers.

Horizontal scaling is based around the idea that everyone is equally strong and that it is skill (and of course class balance) that decides whether player A kills player B or the other way around. That in itself means that there won't be any gear grinding in this game for any other purpose than customizing the way your character looks.

This also means that raiding will take a different turn. Rather than gearing up in order to beat a tier and progress into the next, old content will never be trivialized. In the long run, that means that there will be more than one active attraction in this themepark at a time. Incentive to raid could be items with bragging rights as well as a scoreboard on the fleet where players can see which guild has downed which encounter fastest. This would give raiding a more competitive scene that goes beyond "Server First".

I explain my thoughts about this much more thoroughly in the post below, but this is the basic idea of the system.

Majspuffen's Avatar

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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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!

venomlash's Avatar

06.03.2012 , 05:13 AM | #3
So basically you want to do away with gear progression? Instead of raiding for better gear, you'd raid for different kinds of gear to expand your library of playstyles?
That idea, if implemented, would bowb the game up beyond repair.
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Majspuffen's Avatar

06.03.2012 , 06:32 AM | #4
Quote: Originally Posted by venomlash View Post
That idea, if implemented, would bowb the game up beyond repair.
Elaborate. Why do you think so? Is gear progression -that- important?

I've already covered a lot of cons with gear progression. Content is trivialized, pvp balance is upset, game is turned into farming. Those being the major issues in my opinion.

The pros with horizontal scaling, however, is the contrary. Content isn't trivialized. Just because Denova is released, that doesn't mean Eternity vault will become less difficult. You can still go back to eternity vault and polish your performance on certain boss fights in order to beat old records, or simply play through the instance for fun. Perhaps we have different opinions but raiding ceases to be fun when it's turned into farming.

Gearing up in pvp is never fun. If everyone had equal gear from scratch, we'd see much more balanced games that are reliant on skill.

Did you watch the video? If not, you really should. Taugrim explains the concept in great detail.

Majspuffen's Avatar

06.04.2012 , 04:35 AM | #5
Giving this another bump.

Majspuffen's Avatar

06.05.2012 , 03:49 AM | #6
Moved my wall of text and put a TL;DR of sorts as my opening post. Hoping this will encourage more people to comment in this thread! Because, as it looks now SWTOR is kind of going the opposite direction of horizontal scaling by adding more levels which I think is a very bad idea.

Kid_Gloves's Avatar

06.05.2012 , 04:20 AM | #7
TL;DR: Good idea, but needs some work or it could have unwanted consequences.


I like where you're going, but if you strip gear progression entirely then you need to have a strong and viable alternative. Achievements, etc. might do this - but what gear progression does give you is:

* A reason to run the content multiple times
* A regular sense of achievement as you earn the next piece of gear or whatever, combined with a change in performance
* A progression system aimed not at individuals, but at guilds.

These are strong motivators, and if you remove them entirely it is in danger of costing subscriptions from the late-game players.

That said... I still think the concept is a good one. It needs more thought to what can be done to ensure the points above are not lost.

For PvP in particular I am ALL OVER this. Like a rash. I hate gear progression in a PvP environment - in the past in WoW PvP was a great endgame option for people who didn't have time to grind: you could compete effectively in level 60 blues against someone in AQ20 gear. With the introduction of the PvP-specific gear and (worse) the PvP-skewing stats (resilience, etc). that destroyed that - and once again you needed to grind like crazy to play.

Anything that lets people who are friends but have different play habits still play together is a Good Thing(tm), so while I'm not giving this a '+1', I still think there is food for thought in here.

kirorx's Avatar

06.05.2012 , 04:28 AM | #8
Just throwing this out there:

Because SWG had player housing there were alot of vanity items that people did "instances/heroics" to obtain to better their homes. So rather then offering gear as incentive giving vanity items and neat little things is often a great idea

Nyla's Avatar

06.05.2012 , 06:30 AM | #9
First, it's not new, already been done.

2nd, BW already chose to do vertical scaling in TOR, not sure what's the point.

3rd, horizontal scaling has pros and cons and its own set of problems.
“When 900 years old, you reach… Look as good, you will not.”

Majspuffen's Avatar

06.05.2012 , 10:41 AM | #10
Heya, thanks. I realize that having a wall of text as your suggestion won't catch many eyes ^^ on the contrary, it drives them away.

And as you say, there needs to be some incentive. Time attacks with a scoreboard on the fleet would be a great thing to have for server competition. Maybe have a top 3 or even top 5 or top 10 list accessible for everyone to see. Special gear for beating the hardest challenges will serve as bragging rights and that alone is enough reason for most to go raid nightmare modes, I would imagine. And let's not forget that it's supposed to be fun to raid ;p that should be the biggest incentive.

In the end, it's up to bioware to implement these incentives for us. Kirorx hints at something that may be an incentive in the future and that is furniture. I doubt we'll see player housing anytime soon but.. I'm kinda hoping we'll be able to pimp out our ships! Both exterior and interior.

Also, I'm with you on the pvp part. Gear progression has nothing to do in a pvp environment, but it's a requirement in MMORPGs because of PvE. That's another flaw with vertical scaling! I want balanced teams.

Can you give us an example of an MMORPG that has done a game with horizontal scaling? I'm not that knowledgable about other MMORPGs, I spent most of my time in WoW and SWG prior to SWTOR, never bothering with any other games.

Also, does it matter if it has been done before? In theory it sounds like a great concept. Sure, bioware may have chosen to do vertical scaling... but they also chose to do a suggestions forum where nobodies like me can post their thoughts and ideas. I doubt I'll have any effect on anything but I can hope! Because I think that this concept is brilliant, and I actually took a lot of time and effort into making this thread (thus the wall of text that no one ended up reading ^^...)...

SWTOR is a themepark, and with this forumla it's only going to have one attraction up at a time. That's not a particularly fun themepark in the long run. How many enjoyed grinding ICC back in WLK? It was the only raid for more than half a year, at least... aah the memories... *ties a noose around the neck*