Powerleveling in PFO (yes / no question for devs after the break)


Pathfinder Online

Goblin Squad Member

EVE's skill system is the analogy for skilling up in PFO (even though The Secret World has a classless and leveless character development system we could look at too).

In EVE you have attributes like Intelligence, Wisdom, Perception, Charisma, etc. and each skill you might want to train is linked to two of those attributes- a major and a minor that affect training time in proportions you might expect. The higher the attributes linked to the skill the faster it trains. I had a pure science character with beefed up Int and Wis that was born 5 million skill points behind a more attribute-balanced character who trained so much faster the gap was closed then passed because of sped up skill point input.

Using 2 highly beefed attributes on a cluster of tied skills is the EVE version of powerleveling. There are ways to remap attributes so you can do a set of brainy skills, remap to action atttributes, powerlevel action skills for a few months, etc.

I know what's been revealed so far about the PFO xp system I'm just seeking explicit confirmation about analogous powerleveling.

---------

I haven't heard about anything in mechanics that would change the rate xp comes in, so is every xp-eligible character going to be accruing xp at exactly the same rate no matter what?

CEO, Goblinworks

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Avoiding ability remaps would be good.

Goblin Squad Member

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Absolutely in this game. I was wondering if there is a definite-for-now answer about the rate of xp gain, anything players can do to get the xp for their skill plan faster than other players get theirs.

And what are you doing up you have work in the morning!

Goblin Squad Member

Proxima Sin wrote:
... is every xp-eligible character going to be accruing xp at exactly the same rate no matter what?

I believe that's the case. I'm surprised Ryan didn't confirm it, though.

Goblin Squad Member

Nihimon wrote:
I believe that's the case. I'm surprised Ryan didn't confirm it, though.

Ryan's writings so far on the topic aren't explicit, but my reading of the subtext makes me believe that there'll be only one rate of earning XP. The only exception he's mentioned so far is giving "game credit" in terms of XP grants; I'd guess those might be block grants, as those'd be much easier to handle.

Perhaps this is a question still in design at GW.

Goblin Squad Member

I'm hoping the answer to Proxima's question is no. I see no reason to allow anyone the ability to gain exp/skill any faster than anyone else.

Goblin Squad Member

I'd also hope that the answer is no. Ability scores are good for gating, and getting character to spread out a little bit instead of just going straight to HP Level 20. But I would hate to see attributes affecting training speed.

Goblin Squad Member

Hobs the Short wrote:
I'm hoping the answer to Proxima's question is no. I see no reason to allow anyone the ability to gain exp/skill any faster than anyone else.

Say a character was around since day one and that account has had a paid subscription for 5 years. Another player came in two years later, but has also been a valuable member since. Should the second one be allowed to buy faster skill training (say 10-20% faster) for a while until they're able to catch up? If the cost of this more intensive training was such that both players ended up paying the same or the latecomer paid just slightly more, then GW still gets their end covered but no one can surpass what would've been possible if they'd discovered the game and subscribed earlier. If being able to catch up to the first day seems too far to go, what about a point 6 months or a year after day one?

I wonder about this mostly because of my experience with CoH/V 'veteran' rewards. I got into the game late and couldn't keep the subscription active all the time, so by the point veteran rewards were implemented, I was a couple years behind. There were things coming out which inspired new character ideas, but which I'd have to wait years to get access to, getting stuff I didn't care about in the meantime. For me, the system ended up as a barrier to retention rather than the intended barrier to departure. Eventually, I only subscribed for Halloween events and occasionally when I just had the urge to fly around, but I felt it was pointless to stay subbed year-round when I was always going to be behind and had no way to catch up.

Now with PFO, we're not talking about costume pieces, but the skills which define the actions you have available. If someone feels they'll always be behind the curve, wouldn't it be good to have the possibility of catching up? Maybe the difference is so minor after a year or two that it becomes inconsequential, but that argument works just as well for allowing catch-up training as it does for disallowing it. Maybe it's just a matter of perception, but that's still a factor playing into whether one is willing to pay, and retaining a sustainable population is a need we all share.

Goblin Squad Member

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Keovar,

First off, as you acknowledge, your example has to do with gaining rewards earned by one's amount of time spent in a particular game. Game perks/rewards seems to me a much different issue than accelerated skill gain. The type of perks/rewards you mention, if available in PFO, would not contribute to how competitive you are in your chosen PFO profession, whereas accelerated skill gain certainly would.

Here's my personal view on the subject. I'm not trying to debate whether it would be the best path for PFO, whether it would be a better profit model, etc. - just my personal feeling. If I haven't been in a game as long as the next person, I don't expect to catch up to them unless they drop out for a period of time. The veteran player has every right to be further ahead, and I would not expect to gain the ability to "catch up" to them. I think there are things we shouldn't be able to buy, things you have to earn with commitment and time investment, though it seems a far less popular point of view these days with immediate gratification junkies who are used to getting whatever they want simply because they have cash to throw at it. In the case of time-based experience and skill gain, time seems to be the key word...you have to have been there, in the game, to get the gain. I don't see any difference between this and having to actually earn the levels in a level-based game. I wouldn't expect to walk in on day one and have a means to buy my way to level fifty.

*** Before finishing, let me make the point that I'm not suggesting Keovar or Proxima are "immediate gratification junkies" simply for providing arguments for skill gain acceleration. Providing ideas for community consideration is one of the primary functions of this forum, so I welcome their suggestions (even if I don't agree with them). ***

Besides my pseudo-ethical disagreement with providing a "catch up" option, I also have a very practical objection, and one that Ryan has already promised will not be the case in the discussion of cashshop items. Some players who began six months behind the vets may have the means to buy their way to veteran status via purchased skill gain acceleration, but other newcomers might not have the cash to do so. If such a system was provided, this would strike me as a clear example of pay to win. Personal reasons aside, I think this alone is reason enough not to allow purchased accelerated skill gain.

Goblin Squad Member

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I believe the idea is that veteran players will plateau their focused skill progressions and will then need to spread their skills around. A veteran is not always going to better than you at everything, they are just going to have more options they can swap out. If you both put on your fighter hats, you'll be about the same. But the veteran could also swap out for his wizard hat instead.

Goblin Squad Member

Lifedragn wrote:
I believe the idea is that veteran players will plateau their focused skill progressions and will then need to spread their skills around. A veteran is not always going to better than you at everything, they are just going to have more options they can swap out. If you both put on your fighter hats, you'll be about the same. But the veteran could also swap out for his wizard hat instead.

That is the way I understand it also. You can keep getting skills and abilities, but they might not actually make you tougher - they just give you more options.

Goblin Squad Member

I think such a thing shouldn't be allowed, because of the reasons stated by Hobs and one of my own: characters are supposed to start out levelling quickly and get exponentially slower levels until cap. This means a character who's 6 months behind is going to feel it in any fight within those 6 months, but as the game progresses the gap closes naturally due to the nature of the curve. After 3 years, two characters separated by 6 months would be pretty evenly matched, I'd think; the extra training time would definitely be an edge, but the fight would probably be close, all other things equal. For this reason I don't think the option to 'accelerate training' should be included; just having it as an option will make people think it's a pay2win scheme, when in reality it's not a massive difference.

That being said, It wouldn't be the end of the world if it were in, in my opinion. The very fact that it isn't a huge difference can also be used as an argument for adding it.

Goblin Squad Member

Even if everyone is getting the same xp over time, if there is anything that decreases the amount of xp required to acquire a skill then that will be stacked by the majority of players to do just that.

Goblin Squad Member

The point was more about raising the topic for discussion rather than pushing for a particular position too much.

I'll be in from the start so it won't affect me too much, except that I feel an unwelcome pressure to decide how many characters I might eventually want in the long term because putting the decision off until I actually feel like using them means time lost. I tend to be a completist; I've gone back and listened to the entire 5-7 years long backlogs of podcasts I like. Not being able to do the 'make-up work' ends up feeling like a splinter to me. It's not a serious issue, but it's a nagging one because it seems small and like it should be repairable.

Then there's the concern that if the game becomes too cliquish, it could have a harder time retaining new players, and that means we all lose. We don't yet know how the culture of the game will shape up, whether raw numbers will be so important that 'newbies' will become a highly-contested resource (of sorts), or whether a lean team of old guard vets will be able to accomplish plenty without 'noobs' in their way. I would guess GW will skew towards the "warm bodies" end of the spectrum, since that's probably better for business.

Still, it occurs to me that accelerated catch-up training would make it easier to replace a banned account, and that's a downside I consider more significant than the usual "but I got here first!" sense of entitlement that's the typical sentiment driving arguments against equalization systems.

Goblin Squad Member

Having the option to speed up XP gains for newcomers, even if totally optional, can create pressure on the noobs to do so (either from themselves or from the group they are playing with). This might prove harmful to the game. I know I would hate it if I joined a game and was told: "you are two years behind the rest of the players. If you pay 350 euro you will catch up to them. Everyone else is doing it.".

So long as the power curve is flat(ish) and there is a constant influx of new players, I wouldn't mind starting behind "the old timers".

If I was the only noob on the server however because everyone else paid for the equivalent of a 2 y.o. character, I might feel that the game is not worth it.

Also, providing XP-rate boosts to low level players encourages creating a lot of alts instead of horizontally progressing your main character.

Goblin Squad Member

I hate metagaming.

Goblin Squad Member

Aeioun Plainsweed wrote:
I hate metagaming.

We're on a forum that regularly discusses game design elements and doesn't actually have a game to play yet. Everything is meta- at this point.

Goblin Squad Member

Keovar wrote:
Aeioun Plainsweed wrote:
I hate metagaming.
We're on a forum that regularly discusses game design elements and doesn't actually have a game to play yet. Everything is meta- at this point.

Are you saying I hate everything? Just kidding...

We are discussing gamemechanics, but probably that wasn't my best comment. But it describes my attitude or opinion towards min/maxing / gaming a game compared to what rp(thinking more about the character instead of the player) is. If I would create a game, I would create it based on a system you can only play, not metaplay. It might just be ideal, but that's where I draw my ideas from: from idealism.

Goblin Squad Member

Keovar wrote:


Then there's the concern that if the game becomes too cliquish, it could have a harder time retaining new players, and that means we all lose. We don't yet know how the culture of the game will shape up, whether raw numbers will be so important that 'newbies' will become a highly-contested resource (of sorts), or whether a lean team of old guard vets will be able to accomplish plenty without 'noobs' in their way. I would guess GW will skew towards the "warm bodies" end of the spectrum, since that's probably better for business.

As I think you can tell from much of what I plan to do in PFO and the topic of my blog on Gobbocast, I am very much concerned with valuing new players and helping them to make good in any game I play. I too worry that veteran players may be me at such an advantage that they do not need new players. There were times in Ultima Online where it seemed the maxed out, 7-time grandmaster players had no use for hardly anything the new player was capable of doing. I also see in games like Darkfall, clans that will not even consider recruiting people below a certain amount of prowess. However, I see overcoming these hurdles as both our job as a community and GW's task to design a game where settlements, to be successful and competitive, will always be starving for new blood. I do not think buying your way to equal is the proper course for dealing with these potential problems.

Keovar wrote:


Still, it occurs to me that accelerated catch-up training would make it easier to replace a banned account, and that's a downside I consider more significant than the usual "but I got here first!" sense of entitlement that's the typical sentiment driving arguments against equalization systems.

I teach in an upper-middle class district where I deal far too much with students coming in with an over-inflated sense of entitlement, so I can assure you, entitlement was not the sentiment driving my argument against equalization systems. Rather, I believe in not devaluing time spent, commitment, and hard work (though, granted, with a time based skill gain system, it might not be all that hard...not like "X" hours of actually grinding exp). I just tend to chafe at the idea of allowing the ability to buy your way to success. It's the same reason I am adamantly opposed to selling anything in a cash shop that provides an actual mechanical advantage in game.

Perhaps I'm just being old and grumpy...I grew up with the idea of you get what you work for, you have to put in your time to earn the perks, and you wait your turn. As you can imagine, watching someone pay the doorman to take cuts in front of the people who were in line first sits about as well with me as would watching newly arrived player "A" sprint ahead in experience of month old player "B" simply because he has the cash to buy his way forward and "B" does not.

Again, I am not characterizing you as a person who would wish to see any of these things happen. I'm merely stating my position (and potential grumpiness).

Goblin Squad Member

Good topic to think about, and it draws on elements from at least 3 other active treads.

My ( short) views:

1 - anything that let's you accelerate training time from the "gain XP over time" model, regardless of intention, will be abused and is definitely pay to win.

2 - there is a link (somewhere) that details how GW is aware of the power curve between new and veteran players, and how they will make acquiring and retaining new players a vital part of an settlements development.

3 - unlike theme parks you don't have a fixed amount of classes that you take from level one to max, move on, and start again with leveling a new class. As a classes system, PFO doesn't force you to need multiple alts, mains and accounts to experience what the game has to offer.

4- there are many valid concerns from many new to MMO players and played every MMO under the sun players which have yet to be addressed by GW, just give them some time as this game is still in early stages of development.

5 - more to say, but really can't type well on an iPad. :)

Goblin Squad Member

George Velez wrote:

2 - there is a link (somewhere) that details how GW is aware of the power curve between new and veteran players, and how they will make acquiring and retaining new players a vital part of an settlements development.

We have been told, multiple times, that settlements will be 1000s of characters. Heck, a settlement might have as many member as some MMOs have players. The veterans may get there first, but settlements are going to need to recruit and retain new members (often a company at a time). Once they're inside the settlement, I think that time, interest, and capability will matter - those that prove able will get promoted inside a settlement. Or they'll go to a settlement that values them.

Goblin Squad Member

For the record I'm hoping the answer is no as well for this game I was just curious for confirmation of that impression.

And faster xp gain is NOT okay to sell in the cash shop.

Goblin Squad Member

I suppose GW can't and shouldn't completely close the door.

If, in two years time, GW could make good business selling 'starting packages' allowing us to start new characters with a few months of xp, - would that really be so bad? (for example if the game is seen as great for veterans but hard for new players to get into)

Selling option to jump ahead of the crowd should be a no-no. The option to start out slightly less long behind might not be an abomination unto mankind, but is in any case not relevant in the next 12 months or so.

but xp potions in the cash shop: no thanks!

Goblin Squad Member

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Aeioun Plainsweed wrote:
But it describes my attitude or opinion towards min/maxing / gaming a game compared to what rp(thinking more about the character instead of the player) is. If I would create a game, I would create it based on a system you can only play, not metaplay. It might just be ideal, but that's where I draw my ideas from: from idealism.

I think metagaming and min-maxing are different things.

Metagaming would be like deciding to stock up on silver arrows because the module has "moon" in the title. A cash shop or even subscriptions are metagame elements because out-of-game resources are being used to affect something in-game, but MMOs are a business with a constant overhead.

Min-maxing is often just a natural result of the GM not spending equal time on different sorts of challenges. If everything ends up as a fight, you can expect to get characters who are combat specialists. Worse yet, if you use the mechanics to resolve physical stuff, but ignore them when there's an intellectual or social challenge (like judging the results of diplomacy on what the player says rather than the character's skill), players can safely make their characters mentally disabled without consequence, for the sake of a small advantage in hitting things.

In a game which includes modifiers for everything, players are going to stack them. If it's a matter of life & death, it even makes sense from the characters' perspective to do whatever they can to be more effective at surviving. There are games like Fiasco which step away from stats to focus completely on narrative, but you're swimming against the tide to expect that in a game which traces its lineage back to miniature wargaming.

Goblin Squad Member

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randomwalker wrote:

I suppose GW can't and shouldn't completely close the door.

If, in two years time, GW could make good business selling 'starting packages' allowing us to start new characters with a few months of xp, - would that really be so bad?...

Yes, yes it would. First off a person that joined the first day of EE couldn't buy that package according to your post so that is treating players unequally for access to items from the cash shop.

Second, if you start playing later, were "born" later in rp terms I guess, you don't know as much and can't do as much as people who have been around longer. Everywhere you go in any times there are people that have been around longer and can do more than you, and eventually there are people that haven't been around less and can't do as much as you. That's an important game feature in a pvp mmo.

Selling make-up time packages devalues the time put in by other players in a game centered around inter-character activity and would tick off many people even more than overpriced monocles, I think.

Goblin Squad Member

Proxima Sin wrote:
Yes, yes it would...

But making a character and then not playing it for the first two months (paying cash and getting xp without playing the game) is ok?

Disclaimer: This is a highly hypothetical situtation, so I'm just trying on some ideas. I'm not in favor of xp-for-cash.

Goblin Squad Member

randomwalker wrote:
Proxima Sin wrote:
Yes, yes it would...

But making a character and then not playing it for the first two months (paying cash and getting xp without playing the game) is ok?

Disclaimer: This is a highly hypothetical situtation, so I'm just trying on some ideas. I'm not in favor of xp-for-cash.

Yes, in a time based skill game it is required. You cannot grind up your xp, it comes through time... and in some cases at the high end you may need a months worth of xp for a skill.

Goblin Squad Member

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Aeioun Plainsweed wrote:
... it describes my attitude or opinion towards min/maxing / gaming a game compared to what rp(thinking more about the character instead of the player) is...

Reminds me of all the times I had my character just the way I liked 'em, with skills, talents or whatever tool was in place to pick your abilities. Then someone looks you over and says "You need to change this or that...you are not set up right."

"Like hell! I'm set up the way I want to be set up and if you don't like it, go play with yourself!"

Always hated that. Some tool telling me my talent tree wasn't optimized. If that is something that must be done to be competitive, the games mechanics have failed to provide that player with a value.

randomwalker wrote:
Proxima Sin wrote:
Yes, yes it would...

But making a character and then not playing it for the first two months (paying cash and getting xp without playing the game) is ok?

Disclaimer: This is a highly hypothetical situtation, so I'm just trying on some ideas. I'm not in favor of xp-for-cash.

XP rush potions, or XP boosters should not be used in a game like PFO where the XP system is designed to reward long term loyalty. If you want to earn XPs, pay the rate and be patient. I CAN see a reason to allow a player to stop paying for XP gains and they could continue to play for a nominal fee in order to keep the game populated and provide ongoing content, but even that will have issues, as longterm players could get a good set up in 5 years and never pay another penny. Not a win for GW.

Goblin Squad Member

There is a worthy argument in favor of independence that should be right, yet in many game systems is not. It is a very sad state that players are compelled to invariably depend on others.

Urging that the viability of solo play should be designed for is not anti-social it is pro-individual.

Would you rather relate to an independent, self-sufficient equal or a dependent social slave?

Goblin Squad Member

No man is an island.

I Am a Rock. I am an island.

Goblin Squad Member

Hardin Steele wrote:
Aeioun Plainsweed wrote:
... it describes my attitude or opinion towards min/maxing / gaming a game compared to what rp(thinking more about the character instead of the player) is...

Reminds me of all the times I had my character just the way I liked 'em, with skills, talents or whatever tool was in place to pick your abilities. Then someone looks you over and says "You need to change this or that...you are not set up right."

"Like hell! I'm set up the way I want to be set up and if you don't like it, go play with yourself!"

Always hated that. Some tool telling me my talent tree wasn't optimized. If that is something that must be done to be competitive, the games mechanics have failed to provide that player with a value.

I feel you here. I was playing WOW for a good two years before someone asked me "what build are you using?" and proceeded to rattle off a handful of named builds from min-max websites as my options. When I told them I didn't have any and that I just went naturally based on how I feel they suited the character, they acted like I was an idiot.

And then the game's design gradually morphed to expect the optimized builds and basically ruined the point of even having talent trees because everyone had to be cookie cutter or no groups would except them for raiding, which they finally realized with the last expansion I think and completely retooled the talent system.

I expect some min-maxing to occur in PFO, but hopefully the power curve is gradual enough that 50% of the population doesn't use the same build.

Goblin Squad Member

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I honestly think that you are going to be disappointed, then. A lot of players play games to win. They don't really care about the means through which they get that win, they just care that at the end of the day they are the better player. As such, optimised builds will always become the most prevelent. Combined with the fact that the developers have said that balance isn't their number one priority (a mistake, in my mind), the chances of cookie cutter builds for PvP not appearing are slim.

This is the nature of competitive gaming. You don't play the game you want to play, you play the game that you are given. People who embrace that attitude tend to dominate. You can feel free to ignore the metagame, but you probably won't be competitive. The cookie cutters builds tend to exist for a reason. They tend to be the most effective at what they aim to do.

It doesn't matter how gradual the power curve is. Even at the very start of the game, if polearms are perceived to do 5% more damage than daggers, the majority of competitive players will use polearms.

Goblin Squad Member

Lifedragn wrote:
Hardin Steele wrote:
Reminds me of all the times I had my character just the way I liked 'em... Then someone looks you over and says "You need to change this or that...you are not set up right."
... someone asked me "what build are you using?"... When I told them I didn't have any and that I just went naturally based on how I feel they suited the character, they acted like I was an idiot.

I really liked that quote from Hardin Steele as well. To my mind, that problem is the inevitable result of any system where there is any kind of maximum number of points that can be applied to a character build. The openness of character advancement is one of my very favorite things about PFO, for this very reason.

Goblin Squad Member

Nihimon wrote:
To my mind, that problem is the inevitable result of any system where there is any kind of maximum number of points that can be applied to a character build. The openness of character advancement is one of my very favorite things about PFO, for this very reason.

Even with an open system, there will still be some builds that are better suited for PVP than other builds. Once those "better builds" are discovered, the min maxers will shift to them without any regard for anything else in the game. They will play the game to "win", period!

You should read Morbis' post, everything he says is not only true, it will come to pass in OE.

Goblin Squad Member

Morbis wrote:
... the chances of cookie cutter builds for PvP not appearing are slim.

This is really only a problem "end game". Most sites dedicated to "best builds" don't even bother posting mid-level builds.

CEO, Goblinworks

You might find yourself compelled to master certain abilities to gain admission to some social group. Those will always be "and" choices, not "either/or" choices. That should take the sting out.

Goblin Squad Member

Ryan Dancey wrote:
You might find yourself compelled to master certain abilities to gain admission to some social group. Those will always be "and" choices, not "either/or" choices. That should take the sting out.

I certainly expect some pressure to Specialize first and then Generalize. The Fighter 12 is usually going to bring more to the table than the Fighter 2/Wizard 2/Cleric 2/Rogue 2/Bard 2/Druid 2. My hope is more that there is enough flexibility to splash into other roles and stay competitive such as the Fighter 12 is not so clear-cut a choice over the Fighter 10/Cleric 2.

And yes, I know traditional class levels aren't necessarily a thing, but they serve as a good abstraction.

Goblin Squad Member

Actually power leveling in EVE involves building up enough ISK and then checking the character bazaar for a more advanced character then your current one at a suitable price.

Good characters with advanced skills can sell for tens of billions of ISK (hundreds or even thousands of real world dollars if you funded the purchase by buying PLEX for real cash)

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