Monday, July 2, 2012

[Design] My Ideal MMO: Part 2 - Leveling and Skills (and Combat)

The Profession System: Skills, Combat and Leveling:  (get ready this is a long post)

Doing whatever you want:
  Runescape, believe it or not, has pretty much what I would like to see in an MMO.  A true combat oriented MMO mind you.  What I have in mind is a system where ANY type of character you want, you can make.  Want a swordsman that uses elemental magic?  Level up magic and sword arts.  Want a plate wearing healer?  Level up heavy armor and restoration magic.  Want a fist fighting necromancer?  Level up Bare handed fighting and necromancy.  Sure it would lead to overpowered combinations, but that's why you'd make counter classes, and of course scaling levels (which I'll explain in a bit).

  Crafting would use a similar skill system, but we'll wait to go into that and focus on the combat skills.  So for combat skills, I figured three main categories would work:  Physical, Magical, and Armor.

  Under each of these categories would be multiple professions to choose from.  At any time you can choose to use these skills to level them up.  First we'll take a quick look at each skill, then we'll go into how to level up and the level system.

  Physical Professions:
  - Ranged (Bows, Guns, Throwing Weapons):  The ranged profession would encompass skills that revolve around using ranged weapons.  Skills would include things like:  Empowered Shot, Ice Arrow, Attack Speed Boosts, and retreats.  Starting out in the ranged profession would start you out with very weapon specific skills to use.  For example, you would learn Ice Arrow at a low level, which could only be used while having a bow equipped.  Then once you begin to reach the Ranged Level Cap, you would start to learn other skills that synergize well with other professions such as Attack Speed Increase or some sort of disengage maneuver.

  - Swords (1h and 2h):  The sword profession would use, as the name implies, skills with both 1 and 2 handed swords.  Skills would include:  Double Slash, Heavy Blow, Lunge, and rushing and melee related skills.  Like all combat professions, the Sword profession would start you with weapon specific skills and branch out to more general and powerful skills later.  The Sword profession would be a very high damage output profession relying on quick strikes and effective movement.

  - Axes (Axes 1h and 2h and Poleaxes)  The axe profession would encompass both axes (1 and 2h) and poleaxes (polearms, lances).  Skills would include:  Hamstring, Ripping Strike, and other cleaving type abilities.  The axe profession would rely more on sweeping AOE strikes, bleed damage and slowing effects to keep the enemy weak and immobilized.

  - Hammers (Maces, Hammers (1h and 2h) and Clubs)  The hammer profession would encompass all blunt attacking objects both 1 and 2h.  Skills would include:  Crushing Strike, Spinning Force, Stunning Blow and other smashing type abilities.  The hammer profession would utilize stuns, armor reducing attacks, and slow heavy blows to crush down on opponents.

  - Daggers (Daggers, knives, shivs) The dagger profession utilizes daggers, knives and other shank type weapons.  Skills would include:  Backstab, Kidney Rupture, Shadow Dash, and other quick, mobile, and high burst skills. The dagger profession revolves heavily around quick movement and high burst skills.  It lacks sustained damage and relies on the player getting in and out of combat quickly.

  - Bare handed:  The bare handed profession is leveled by using no weapons when fighting enemies.  Skills would include:  Double hit, Jump Kick, and other martial arts style moves.  The bare handed profession is low damage in comparison to other weapon skills, but gives the player mobility and rapid sustained attacking in exchange.  Movement and control become the players assets in the bare handed profession.

  - Staves (Staves, wands and other magic items): The staves profession uses staves, wands and other magical items such as books, relics and charms.  Skills would include: Wand Shot (a ranged type attack), Empower Spell and other magic supportive skills.  The staff profession is more of a supportive profession to magic spells than a heavily combat oriented profession.  Most of the skills would include things that either buff spells, return mana on melee or ranged hit, or give you defensive buffs.  The melee and ranged attacks by the player would be usable when out of mana, but weak compared to other melee skills.

  Magical Professions:
  -Elemental Magic:  Elemental Magic includes fire, water and ice, earth, wind and lightning magic.  The player uses the elements to cast damaging spells.  Spells would include:  Fireball, Frost Wave, Quake, Lightning Shock and other elemental spells.  The elemental magic profession is the main magical profession encompassing most mage-like spells.  Elemental magic relies on heavy burst and slowing spells to nuke down enemies.

  - Restoration Magic: Restoration Magic includes healing, supportive and resurrection spells.  Skills would include:  Heal, Recover, Revive, and other restorative spells.  The restoration profession would be the main cleansing and healing profession relying on both heal over time spells, direct heal spells and shielding spells to help allies.

  - Necromancy:  Necromancy includes death resurrection spells and black magic.  Skills include:  Raise Zombie, Zombify Ally (turn an ally into a zombie when they die), and crippling / debuff type magics.  The necromancy profession uses dark magic to raise undead creatures to fight for you as well as putting crippling hexes and damage over time spells on your enemies.

  - Arcane Magic:  Arcane magic utilizes time warping magic and other gravitational type magics.  Skills would include:  Slowing Field, Gravity Well, Arcane Blast and other heavy damage gravitation type attacks.  The arcane profession would be different from elemental magic in that it alters the fabric of time around the player to bring massive damage to enemies and would be a more AoE style magic.

  - Illusion Magic:  Illusion magic takes and alters an enemies perception using alteration and illusion magic.  Skills would include:  Invisibility, Mind Attack, Magic Reflect, and other skills that alter what an enemies sees and does.  The profession would rely on reflecting back attacks and diverting attention to false images or other enemies.  Players using illusion magic wouldn't rely heavily on damage so much as avoiding damage and would be best used as a lesser skill in conjunction with another damage skill.

  Armor Professions:
  - Cloth Armor:  Cloth armor would include all soft type armors.  As you level armor skills, you both increase the effectiveness of armor in battle as well as allowing you to equip higher levels of that type of armor.  Higher levels of armor skills would also give you bonuses for wearing all cloth armor and sets of cloth armor.  Cloth armor in the game would generally have magic enhancing stats and low armor values giving the player better magical aptitude but not much physical defense.  Armor skills would be leveled by taking damage while wearing that armor.

  - Leather/Light Armor:  Leather armor would increase mobility while giving moderate physical and magical protection.  Leather armor would be a good balance for players who want to rely on mobility during combat. Leather armor would give stats increasing physical damage rather than magical.

  - Heavy Armor:  Heavy armor would include both plate and chain mail type armors.  Heavy armor would give massive physical defense with reduced mobility and be susceptible to magic type attacks.  Heavy armor would best be suited for heavy melee characters wanting to get in peoples faces and stay in the thick of battle.

  -Shields:  The shield profession would include all types of shields.  The shield profession would be leveled by blocking with a shield during battle and would allow you to equip better shields, block easier and for more damage, and gain certain shield skills as you level the profession up.  The shield profession is for those players who want to be a tank type character able to absorb lots of damage while staying in battle.

  Well that sums it up for the professions, let's take a look at the leveling system and how all that relates to the game.

  First of all, you can level any profession at any time, just by swapping to weapons, armors of that type or using a spell of that type.  Each time you fight using a weapon (for physical combat spells) you would gain a small portion of experience toward that profession.  As you level up, you are able to use better items and abilities under that profession.  These would be learned automatically and there wouldn't be any skill trainers in the game to learn them.  Leveling would be slow.  You would not gain many levels a day.  This isn't the type of game where you hit max level within a week, in fact, there really wouldn't be a max level as it would be fairly impossible to reach it.

  Like Runescape, the game would have a meta-level that would be your overall level.  Each time you level any profession, your meta level would adjust accordingly.  This would require some thought and detailed algorithms to get it balanced, but basically you would have a combat level that would be used for PvP and enemy comparison purposes.

  Each time you gain a level of any profession, the experience for the next level of any profession would increase.  So if it takes 100 experience to get your very first level in swords, it would take say 110 experience to get your next level in heavy armor.  This would increase dramatically as you gain many levels making it very difficult to level up more than 3-4 professions at once.  This would be balanced to keep players from swapping their professions around and leveling all of them together.  Your meta level would be much higher for one, and you wouldn't have the high skills or items that you can get with those skills that others of the same meta level would have.  This keeps players focused on a few skills that they want.  Think of Skyrim in this regard.  You can't level everything at once, you are forced to make decisions.

  Also, as you gain meta levels, your character is able to choose the type of stats they want to specialize in.  For instance, you level up swords to level 2, heavy armor to level 2 and restoration magic to level 2.  Your meta level has now reached level 2 since you have obtained enough skills to level it up and you are given the option to choose:  Intellect, Agility, Strength, Endurance.  Selecting one of those stats will increase that stat by a small amount more than the others.  In this way you have a portion of customization over the stat increases of your character as you level up.

  The meta level is the displayed level to other players as well.  It takes into consideration every combat profession you have leveled and gives you a level to associate with your character.

  Now let's take a look at combat and how you would use these skills.  I think some games are coming out with much better action based combat and that is what I would like to see.

  Combat System:
  The combat system would be an action style combat system.  It would very skill based and rely on player skill rather than levels or powerful armor gained.  Abilities, level and armaments would all help, but skill would play a very important part.

  For example:  Ranged skills and attacks would be similar to a first or third person shooter.  The player would manually have to aim their attacks and target enemies manually.  Skills would include this kind of targeting as well.  Melee skills would rely on the player clicking for each attack with a global cool down on auto attacking.  The direction the player faces would be very important as well as good positioning and knowing your striking range.  Magical attacks would be similar to ranged attacks in that you have to aim them at enemies or choose locations for AoE based attacks to land.

  In this way the player is actively engaged in every fight.  I believe TERA uses a system to the one I would like to see, but I have yet to play TERA.  The game would revolve heavily around the action based combat as there would be very little convenience in both combat and crafting.  In my opinion most modern MMORPGs make everything so simple that the game is simply boring.

  Well that about sums up combat, leveling and the skills.  If you have any questions or ideas, flaws in my ideas or suggestions please e-mail me at or simply reply to this blog.

  These are all my rough ideas and it just feels good to get them down.  I will probably come back and edit the blogs later and revise my ideas, but for now this is just throwing out there what I would like to see.

  Next, probably tomorrow or sometime this week, I'll release my views on crafting and the item system in the game as well as talking about player owned property and how questing would work.

Stay tuned for part 3!  Cheers,


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