A Brief History of Leveling Systems

Level Up

Dungeon Master: “On your way out of town, you catch sight of a strange flying ship, held aloft by propellers, making its way across the sky,”

Frye: “Woah, cool! We totally follow it!”

DM: “It was flying out past the bay inlet, and as you reach the water’s edge, you can only just see the airship as it heads for the horizon.”

Mary: “I wonder what that was all about. Maybe there’s more of them!”

DM: “As you wait on the beach for another ship, you hear a squishing noise behind you. You turn and see three disgusting slime creatures with faces creeping toward you.”

Greg: “Slimes? Whatever, we got this! Everyone roll initiative!”

DM: “Okay, looks like you go first. What do you do?”

Frye: “I roll a critical hit is what I do! Check it! Booyah!”

DM: “You do zero damage to the slime.”

Frye: “…what?” Continue reading

World of Warcraft: A Case Study in Design Focus

WarcraftLogoFinal

With a peak subscriber rate of twelve million players and a rotating, on-and-off player base, it’s hard to imagine that there are many video gamers left who haven’t at least tried Blizzard’s magnum opus, World of Warcraft. After all, it’s got so many games in it, so much content! It’s got something for everyone, so how can you go wrong?

Turns out a lot can go wrong.

Turns out that when you try to make the omni-game, when you try to have “a little of everything,” you end up with a lot half-baked ideas and broken systems; that when you try to please everyone, you don’t really satisfy anyone. Turns out that you can’t just mix everything together at the WoW All-U-Can-Eat buffet and still expect to have something good in the end. Continue reading