WOO II An Exploration in Design - July 2012 - By Stoneghost: Dalaran

 

Woo II - level

Level is a character attribute. Characters begin at level 1 and play through to level 2 in the tutorial zone and then higher as they gain various achievements in their Life Path. Leveling depends entirely on achievements, which vary depending on a character's Life Path. Each time a character levels, it receives an award of level points which may be used to purchase new skills and/or talents from the applicable trees.

Leveling

New levels are awarded for achievements during play in one's Life Path. Opportunities for raising level depend choices made during play; thus, Fighters, Raiders, and Crafters each have unique activities that give achievements. Each path has a wide variety of activities available, and many of these offer opportunities for achievements. Players need not seek out achievements in order to level ... the accomplishment of normal play will provide for a steady progression upwards.

No leveling is available from Questing. (This is done to keep Questing apart from the Life Paths as an experience dedicated to exploration and story telling.)

Some of the achievements that give level points are repeatable, in the manner of current "daily quests". Others are singular events. Other rewards are available for accomplishing the tasks involved, so players will also gain currency, gear, enhancements and titles as they proceed.

Level achievements accomplished at any level always apply to the character's current maximum level. In other words, a character whose top level is 30 can complete an achievement (while releveled) at level 10 and gain progress towards level 31. This allows for flexibility in the design of achievements, and it gives players access to a wide variety of activities for leveling their characters. The goal is that leveling should be a normal part of regular play and not a "grind" of its own.

"releveling": Resetting a Character's Level

An characteristic of "leveled" games is the tendency for the majority of the players to congregate at the highest level - the so called "level cap". Since additional leveling is impossible at that point, various unique experiences need to be added to the game to provide activities that maintain player interest.

Since a mature game will have the majority of the game space zoned for lower levels, a side effect of the level cap is the relative emptiness of these lower level zones. Furthermore, gear and enhancements must continually be upgraded to adjust for growth at the highest level.

WOO II deals with this situation by introducing "releveling" ... the notion that, once a character has reached a given level, a player may reset the character's level to any lower level (and back) at any time. Releveling" has many advantages, one of which is that enjoyable activities at any level can be replayed many times.

Releveling:

The problem of gear and enhancements is handled by normalized scaling. This means that all character attribute gains derived from gear or enhancements are expressed as a percentage of the character's basic attribute values. When a character relevels, his or her gear scales to fit the new level. Potions, gems, enchantments and other enhancements also scale to level.

As an example, suppose a character is currently at level 20, and has a frost damage attribute of 100 dps. Further, suppose the character has an enhancement that increases damage by 1%, bringing the frost dps up to 101. Now suppose that the character enters a dungeon at level 15. Releveling would first reset the character's basic frost damage to the value appropriate for that level ... say, 80 dps ... and then it would apply any gear and/or enhancement adjustments. Those percentages would not change, so in this example, the frost dps at level 15 would be 80.8.

For more details on the releveling process, see the notes at the end of this section.

ACHIEVEMENTS FOR LEVELING

Achievements are gained through game play in a character's Life Path. There are various types:

Available achievements are listed for the players to see, and an ongoing score is kept in each characters "level" screen. Totals are kept for each level, along with an overall summary. There are many more achievements available than are needed to fully level a character. The goal is to make the leveling process visible and easy to follow, but also to reduce the need to pursue leveling as the main focus of a character's activities.

Achievements and Releveling

A problem with the current game is the deprecation of activities performed at levels much lower than the character's top level. Quests, for example, go green, and then grey, indicating that they are worth less as the character levels up. In WOOII, because a player must relevel to undertake the activities offered at a given level, the rewards offered by those activities will remain valid. This is possible because the releveled character is now no longer overpowered for the activity.

Because an activity done at level 10 by a character with level 10 abilities and gear has the same difficulty as an activity done at level 40 with level 40 attributes and gear, all activities can contribute to leveling on a par basis. The same is generally true of other game accouterments. (For example, currency does not need to inflate as level rises, because higher level gear and enhancements have no additional value at lower levels ... they relevel when the character who possesses them relevels.)

These two structures: releveling and leveling by achievements, create a gameplay that encourages players to pick and choose from a wide variety of activities. But, since most of those activities would need to be created in any case - to support the normal kind of leveling - this increase in variety does not require an increase in coding or graphics. Players simply make a lot more use of the game play that is already available.

Notes for level

• There are likely to be numerous ways of handling releveling.

One approach might be to save a state for the character at each level. As players return to a level and make changes in gear, skills, enhancements and so on, the state would be updated and saved. When the character leaves the level, the state would remain, and when the character re-entered the level, the state would be restored.

Active enhancements (those that affect the player's combat skills), including gear effects, will have to relevel with the character. This is handled by having gear and other enhancements apply as percentage modifications to traits that the character already possesses.

• Although Questing does not give level points ... it has a separate reward system ... quests are generally available within particular levels. Thus, the player will usually need to relevel in order to take on a lower level quest.

• A tutorial zone (or zones) is set aside at the lowest levels for new characters, but most zones accommodate all levels. There may be some problems, but these should be amenable to solution. For example, if high level characters will come in contact with low level NPCs, then non-honorable kills (e.g., "grey"s in the current game) might result in a loss of level points or some other penalty. The greater the level difference, the more points lost. PvP might also be a consideration ... for that, see this commentary.