Applying for more powerful characters

Imagine an MMO where instead of starting at low level and working your way up slowly to godkiller levels, there was provision for character types with very different tiers of power. (Maybe peasants and crafters just have a wildly different endgame to landowning nobles or successful adventurers.) Instead of always progressing the same character from low level to godkiller, you would just apply for a higher level character slot if you wanted to play one.

And maybe requirements for getting a powerful character might include some or all of these:

  • brief interview with a GM or staffer
  • showing that you play a minimum number of hours a week to prove that the character would be active
  • showing that you can afford to spend more money on the game
  • show that you are competent at playing the game
  • experience at playing similar types of character/ role in the past
  • show that you have connections in the community (maybe that you’ve been in a guild for awhile or run some kind of social network in the game)
  • show that you know your way around the gameworld, even the obscure parts
  • show that you are able and interested in organising the community (maybe you’ve been a raid leader, organised successful RP events, or PUGs)
  • show intimate knowledge of game mechanics
  • show that you know the lore
  • show that you can speak good english (or whatever the server language is)
  • show that you can write good english (ditto)

Would you end up with very different games to the types we have now? What qualities would you ask for? Do hardcore players ‘deserve’ more powerful characters if they fulfil some or all of these criteria?

22 thoughts on “Applying for more powerful characters

  1. I think you’d have to make more of a pvp realm/realm style game for it to work. I don’t think you could do this if weaker and powerful players were just grinding advancement tracks, but if they had roles that forced interaction and cooperation, it could really be cool.

    You’d also have to balance the perks for being a godslayer with those for being a grunt, otherwise you’ll lose all the grunts. It would be cool, but need a very radical revisioning of the current style of game.

  2. Note that this is exactly how real-world companies work! Whether you are hired as a director or as the guy who empties the garbage cans depends on you being able to demonstrate your qualifications and passing a job interview. Not sure I would want my games to work like my job. 😉

    • They already do at raid level anyways, it’s funny how similar it can be to applying to a real-life job if you want to get into one of the better guilds.

  3. Tobold: Good point, although there is an argument that MMOs already do reward certain qualities more than others (ie. what type of play actually gets the most long term rewards?)

    Funnily enough, in MUSHes we did actually let players apply for ‘feature’ roles which would be like city/town/class leaders in WoW, or maybe even faction leaders. So their characters would be way more powerful than a starting char but also more restricted — maybe they had more responsibility to RP, to act in accordance with lore, and to organise fun activities for their faction. It definitely had drawbacks but it was a different approach.

  4. This sort of thing could get round the issue of how do you have events that genuinely interact with players. Thrall is played by a real person!!!
    Or you know more realisticaly various Warleaders etc can give out blue ! and ? for PvP style missions that THEY lead.

    Sounds a bit like LoTR’s pvp system a bit mind…

  5. This is how elitist guilds work, with almost the identical checklist of requirements.

    Gold buying is not specifically stated but it could be inferred from a requirement to be able to raid 6 nights a week with full consumables. If you get home from work, log on, raid all night, then get up and go straight to work you have to gold buy to keep up.

    Regarding officer/social involvement the Tard Factor blog mentioned in passing that pretty well all of their members had been officers in previous guilds. They collect high profile high status players.

    It’s possibly even more true these days since you can’t recruit on gear and reliably get top people.

  6. I should add I like the idea provided being a lowbie is still fun.

    If I have an awesome sniper character who is Private in the army it’s great that some other player is supporting the games company by paying $200 per month to be King.

    If I am a grunt in leather armour and a rusty spork I don’t want to be mown down by the guy who paid £200 to be elite DeathMaster Kensai.

    Although even there I guess that’s a bit how Eve works and I like that.

  7. I don’t like the idea very much in its current form. It breaks immersion and the pay-more part is just… bleh. I would like it much more if we could see more of your points integrated into game advancement paths. Successfully lead groups? Advance on the leadership path. Slain a dragon all by yourself? Advance on the swordmaster (or dragonslayer or whatever) path. Some paths could involve community decisions (elections) while others are evaluated by the game itself.

    @stabs: I’m sorry, but hardcore raiding by no means implies gold buying. I made some money on the gem market right after the lich king release and it easily paid for all my raiding, consumable and equipment needs over 6 months without ever having to set aside time to make money. (And that is full-blow with flasks, pots, re-glyphing for fights, re-speccing for fights, repairs, buying runed orbs etc.)

    • Well there’s hardcore and hardcore.

      If you get home from work, log straight into a raid and raid until you go to bed you can’t fund that with in-game activities on a day to day basis. Possibly someone could do that and grind enough gold at weekends.

      Put it another way. RMT is a huge business worth hundreds of millions of pounds. Who’s buying all that gold?

      • In the 6 months I mentioned above I needed zero external income to keep myself afloat. Admittedly I didn’t raid 6 nights a week (more like 4) but that shouldn’t make a huge differences. If you care you can make enough gold to fund your raiding with very little effort. I’m not saying that you need to buy gold to raid hardcore, but I am very sure it’s doable without – even if you have a dayjob and a life.

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  9. You’d end up with very niche games full of small cliques, prone to internal drama and implosion.

    What you mention above remind me of the requirements MUSHes used to have – I never got past attempting an application form, before deciding I just couldn’t be arsed enough to spend that much time in a game developing social relationships with people who demanded so much of their counterparts.

    That, and Skotos’ Castle Marrach, which eventually toppled in on itself too.

    Put a human in charge of decision-making regarding raising social status/game progression of others, and you’re asking for major-level politics. Few games survive that.

    Eve does. Maybe because it’s so huge and left to evolve based on economics rather than an elite group’s approval. Any other game with only a few social circles to run in is asking for impending implosion.

  10. I don’t agree that one should need to pay more to be king. But I would like to see more lowbie paths to end game. For example, I would like to see professions in WoW fleshed out to the point where one could play the whole game successfully as a “professional” rather than as a godkiller, to use your term.

    I do think that both in games and and outside of games there is a myth that only the rich and powerful have fun. I don’t think it’s true at all.

  11. I think it’s a terrible idea. Encouraging the concept of deserving something in a game is one of the problems in WoW. Everyone seems to think that because they spent more time or played longer or played in bigger groups that they deserve something for that.

    If people are better at the game, they’re better at the game. Good for them. In any decent multi-player game the more skilled player wins more often and that is their reward.

    I would like to see something more for Loremasters. I don’t mean people with the title, but people who really know the lore. But what? Any sort of standard ‘test’ could be read up on and beaten regardless of knowledge.

  12. I pray to the gods I never see the day where your list becomes a reality. Being from Quebec, french canadian and no easy acces to french speaking servers and the fact I love playing on EST time, I need to play on english speaking server.

    I get that your post is intended to draw a strong reaction so I’ll play along but this is one of the most racist/elitist things I’ve heard. I can write and speak good english(with accent of course) but I know some people would be stupid enough to dismiss me because I don’t sound “normal”. Or just because I’m from somewhere else.

    As for the rest of the requirements… if you care at all about other people enjoying themselves then you don’t dictate to them how they should play. Of course if your selfish enough to only think about your own enjoyment then by all mean be as elistist as you want.

    • Iono, I think spinks means you shouldn’t talk like a 12 year old with no grammar skills in ALL CAPS. It’s not meant as a slam against non-native speakers.

      The rest of the qualifications seem to me to be more for like auditioning for a NPC or special guest role, with getting extra power to shape the game world requiring some show that you are mature enough to be entrusted with that power.

      I think people are looking at this more in the traditional sense of level grinding and advancement. To me I see this more as being pseudo-NPCs.

    • I am influenced by my experiences playing on Euro servers, where we often do have different language servers available. Wasn’t intended to be a slight against non-native english speakers, I’ve raided with many non-native speakers and we managed just fine.

      And you’re right, I meant this as a thought experiment rather than a proposal.

  13. Most non native speakers type better english than the english/american natives in my experience.

    I raid with mostly English/Irish/Scots but the Finns, Italians and Dutch in my raid are prefectly understandable and clear despite typing or speaking in second or third languages. And thats what Spinks is after I’m sure and in fact this is more aimed at ‘L2P NooB FFS!!!! Tank suckzors /ragequit’ brigade

  14. Do hardcore players deserve more? No.

    Do guilds reward this way? Some, and I think that’s the best solution. Keep it a social ladder to climb, not a game design element.

  15. Very thought provoking! I think potential problems would be that many of the criteria might be too subjective. The challenge would be to find some way to program a system that objectively looks at a players skills, achievements (no not the bogus current Achievement system), social skills, helpfulness to other players, etc. and find a way to create an advancement system.

    Currently a MMO like WoW only rewards your ability to kill mobs as the sole criteria for advancement. Of course leveling itself is comprised of many meta-games below it such as collecting the best gear, the best stat food, learning how to play your class, learning how to be social to join a guild, etc.

    What if we started rewarded good role-players, good Samaritans, good guildleaders, good officers, good even organizers, good chat conduct, etc. with tangible pathways of progression?

    MMOs could be so much more interesting and fun if developers just had a scintilla of imagination to offer more avenues of progression to complement the current “kill mobs and take their stuff” formula.

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  17. There is one portion of this concept that I like, it’s the different origins.

    If the dice were rolled at the character creation screen and you were “born into” the peasant class, merchant class, nobility etc, it would add some background to your toon.

    If you beat that level of playing, then the option to become a level one adventurer opens up.

    Sure some people would reroll until they got the start they wanted, but many people would dabble in the alternate starting games, and once they became adventurers be more inclined to play in line with their upbringing

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