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Member Since 02 Dec 2012
Offline Last Active Dec 19 2012 06:34 AM

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In Topic: Anet on why there is vertical progression

17 December 2012 - 04:52 PM

View Postraspberry jam, on 17 December 2012 - 03:01 PM, said:

To add to Arquenya's post, one important thing about horizontal games is that they are kept balanced by limiting the number of choices available at any one time. For example, GW1 had an 8-slot skill bar. In MtG, this is done in another way: your deck needs to be at least 60 cards and have at most 4 cards of each kind (except certain cards). You are however allowed to have as big of a deck as you want... But you don't want to go far above 60, because that makes your deck less predictable and that in turn makes it harder to control it and play your strategy.

GW1 spun out of control in a way, because of power creep and because the number of combinations were too many to balance. The MtG method is in a way self-balancing, and that is a very important concept to horizontal design. Another example of self-balancing mechanics would be some of the most well balanced skills in GW1:

Frenzy: Probably the best general IAS in the game, but one that viciously punished you it if you use it at the wrong moment. Not only does this self-balance against the user, but also against the opponents, who are (doubly) rewarded for keeping a lookout for people using Frenzy.

Reversal of Fortune: Like any prot, this one is wasted if cast on a character that doesn't come under attack. But even more so in this case, because the skill has a potentially massive heal that triggers only if you cast it well.

Diversion: The skill that pretty much defines much of what mesmers were in GW1, it yields a massive reward if used right and is just a waste of its quite long casting time if used wrong.

In all of these cases, the actual numbers were not what kept these skills balanced, it was the mechanics behind them that did it. Of course, a 100% IAS in Frenzy instead of 33% would be unbalanced, but removing the double damage would be a much worse hit against the skill.

Why am I blabbing on about skill balancing when the question was how much horizontal progression there should be? Aha, because it's intimately connected. There must be self-balancing mechanics involved. There must be tradeoffs. Tradeoffs that feed back into the use of the skill, the construction of the deck, etc. If you run out of tradeoffs, or if they don't work, you should stop putting out mechanics. In other words, there can be as much horizontal progression as the mechanics allow, and there can be as much mechanics as the tradeoffs allow.

Very good post. And what you describe in your last paragraph is one of the main Problems of horizontal Progression: Every new Option requires meticulous balancing, something that takes a lot of time and often requires innovative thinking. There is a sharp limit on how much horizontal content you can make, and that directly conflicts with the design philosophy of current MMORPGs, which revolves around providing as much content as possible to keep people playing.

Maybe a major design shift away from the "Theme-Park-MMO" towards a user-created-content mentality could help (read about that recently).

Nevertheless, I think a pure horizontal focus will not work in games with a PVE focus. The appeal of PVE is often based around being able to beat tougher foes, the method is not terribly important. Horizontal Progression works in player-player Interaction, be it PVP or showing off skins or titles. MOBA's have purely horizontal progression systems, and if other genre's focus more on player interaction instead of PVE, we might see more of it.

In Topic: Anet on why there is vertical progression

17 December 2012 - 01:08 PM

View PostZippor, on 17 December 2012 - 09:41 AM, said:

I'm not quite sure. Can we say that when I'm getting better at the game, that it's horizontal progression? Or does horizontal progression only entail the progression of my character and it's capabilities? Regardless of my capabilities in the gameplay itself?

I did try to pose some definitions, I think it was even in this thread, but it probably got buried under a lot of argument of what my definition of an RPG is.

The way I understand it, horizontal progression is:
Giving your character new tools/Options to handle a given Situation that do not reduce the effort/time required to handle the Situation. Or, to put it differently, horizontal progression gives you new, different solutions to a given problem, but all solutions are equally effective.

Vertical progression, by compairison, would be improving your ability to solve a task while keeping the manner in which you solve it the same. You do not get a new solution to the problem, but your existing solution becomes more effective.

The advantage of vertical progression is that it does not need any outside motivation: Getting better at a given task has it's own reward by virtue of a feeling of accomplishment.

Horizontal Progression needs some other "incentive" in order to make it rewarding. That is where I think GW2 is lacking. The skills feel gimmicky because you are equally effective with just using any 3 tier one Utilities. That makes the progression seem dull, in addition to it being very short and arguably a bit shallow. Dusk Wolf brought up something I would call "coolness-factor", which could motivate. Other than that, I think combining horizontal and vertical progression into some kind of "diagonal progression" would make for good gameplay: New options make you better by giving you more effective skill combinations.

In Topic: the mistakes Anet admitted

13 December 2012 - 05:09 PM

That is an intriguing concept, Dusk Wolf.
Two problems I see that might be surfacing with this:

- Content: every different skill combo needs to be programmed, so the maximum number of attainable combos is finite and limited by the development time. Focussing solely on the combat aspect of the game might lead to a bland story or uninteresting world. As a secondary problem, progression would necessarily be relatively short,

- Skill and information ceiling: involving player skill puts a limit on how much you can do if you want to keep the game accessible. Similarily, giving the player an encyclopedia worth of skills and combo options to memorize is probably not going to be much fun for anyone but the most die-hard fans of fighting games.

All in all, basing progression on coolness rather than pure effectiveness surely is an interesting idea. Adding a slight increase in power level by virtue of being able to deal with more situations (like several enemies) will probably be inevitable, but that doesn't hurt the concept. I'd try that game out ;).

In Topic: Magic Find on gear - a problem

13 December 2012 - 03:52 PM

It seems the solution to this problem would be some kind of communication between the players, like a chat or something. Treating them as human beings might help ;).

In Topic: the mistakes Anet admitted

13 December 2012 - 08:13 AM

View PostSinful01, on 12 December 2012 - 06:57 PM, said:

So that is why those middle bits about it being unpleasant are there, because people seem to want to define grind as being unpleasant.  Well, more apt, many people wouldn't recognize a grind as a grind if they're having 'fun'.

No offense, but this sounds a lot like you want to tell other people when they are having fun and when they aren't.
This whole VP debate has the tendency to devalue players that enjoy VP progressing by characterising them as mindless and claiming they aren't actually having fun, but are unable to recognize it (not that I am saying that you think like that or try to make that point, just that I feel there is a subtext like that to the general debate).

But when I think about it, I had a lot of fun farming areas back in Diablo 2, which was at that point purely "grinding". Was it smart to spend hours clicking away in a videogame? probably not. But does it follow it wasn't "really" fun?