Level 1-90 Grind Thoughts

  • Easier to balance. Sorry, Raph, it’s still true – classes and levels are much easier to balance than freeform systems.
  • The assumption in that statement shows exactly the difference between a “game” and a “virtual world”.  A game is almost entirely defined by the devs.  A virtual world is far more defined by what behaviors develop- as such, “balancing a virtual world” is a much different task than balancing a game.

    A virtual world is in its simplest form simply a collection of tools available for players to mess with.  When you design a virtual world, you are not concerned quite so much with balance as you are with ensuring all the tools you made are realistically useable.  So “balancing a virtual world” only needs to go so far as to make sure that 1. no one tool trumps an other, and 2. no one tool is broken to the point of impracticality.

    The “tools” of a virtual world are one step more “primitive” than what I think they are currently conceived as in existing MMOs of the “game persuasion”.  In the MMO “game”, each skill, ability, and item must be actively tuned to ensure it is “balanced”.  In the MMO “virtual world”, it’s not each skill, ability, and item that must be actively “balanced” by the dev team- all that happens on its own simply in the player base playing.  We are balancing the systems that the players use to create the skills, abilities, and items.  And even then, the word “balance” does not really capture what needs to happen- we need to allow for enough possible variability in those systems that the natural desire of the player to get a competitive advantage is something he can actually develop (read “balance” from the view of the dev).

    As long as the dev. team maintain their focus on keeping the skill, ability, and item creation systems balanced I think things will be fine.  This entails, mind you, a lower threshold of player complaint at which the dev. response is “Figure it out”.  The problems arise when the dev team starts trying to “balance” the way traditional MMO “games” are balanced – work on things at the individual item level