April 21st, 2005

portrait

Reflections on game features involving experience points

As is traditional in role playing games, game experiences are unlocked serially. Only after you have proven your mastery of the basics are you allowed to have a larger selection of powers, travel to new places and fight new types of villains. There are also other features, such as alternate costumes and auras, not available to the beginner. This appeals to the human desire to grow and advance, to become better and accomplish more, and (in most people at least) to compare oneself with others.

The numeric measure of this process is the "xp". For this reason, many players are greatly focused on the xp. They wish to take part in activities that give maximal XP, such as teaming with higher-ranking heroes to fight dangerous opponents. On the other hand, they want to avoid defeat, which causes xp debt and so slows their progress. Sadly, these two goals are often incompatible, unless you are consciously leeching by staying out of danger and letting others fight the high-level opponents. Leeching tends to get you expelled and ignored, so is not a viable strategy either, unless perhaps you are exceedingly cute.

At times I will recommend to meditate briefly on the difference between experience and xp. While xp eventually unlocks new game experiences, it would be a loss to not experience the game as it currently is, in the hast to reach the end of it. While there are such spectacular features as the Hamidon for those who reach the highest levels, there are also many interesting things to see along the road. There is for instance the island of Striga, arguably one of the best engineered zones in the entire game, aimed at the security levels 20 to 30. There are unique task forces and trials, and story arcs. Not to mention the different flavors of enemies.

In order to maximize the player's experience (not necessarily the hero's!) the game has such features as sidekicking and exemplaring, which makes it possible to go where you would not otherwise be welcome. (Although some zones are locked to sidekicks.) It worries me when people occasionally treat these features as if they were simply xp engines. The same goes for teaming in general. My main hero almost exclusively teams with those of lower levels. This generally gives less xp, that is true. But it also makes for more relaxed and enjoyable missions with less risk of defeat, while still providing nice xp to my teammates. To me, this is a much better "experience" than standing on the tram while some high-level character feeds me "xp".

In short, I fear that if we focus too narrowly on xp, we may never really experience the game at all.


PS: Despite my name, I have been around since last summer. My use of the name Winterlord precedes Cryptic's. Please don't tell Library Girl about all the winderlordbabies. Can I help that I'm popular? ^_^
Puck (silly)

My First Tanker

Last night, I succumbed to a case of alt-itis and decided to try out the one archetype that I've yet to experiment with. And so the bottle was uncorked, and the hot little genie now known as Original Cinder was released onto the streets of Paragon City. She's a magic, fire/fire tanker, and I got her up to Level 6 in about two and a half hours of play. And that includes the extra time spent in Outbreak getting the Isolator badge, as well as about half hour of standing around looking cute for a couple of costume contests.

Things started out a little slow, because when she first got to Atlas Park as a Level 2, some dumbass Level 12 scrapper kept tailing her around, stealing her kills. Once she got a door mission, however, things picked up. I blew through the missions for Azuria, and then it was off to King's Row. At Level 5, I was soloing groups of Skulls containing an orange and three to four yellows... and I was very much enjoying the fact that most of the time the minions were dropping dead around me from the effects of Fiery Aura before I could even get done pounding on the leader and actually target them.

Of course, I'd forgotten what a pain it is to hunt CoTs on the rooftops at Level 5 when you have no travel powers. But my desire to avoid the Hollows paid off in an unexpected way, as otherwise I wouldn't have dinged Level 6 in KR and been standing at Blue Steel when a Level 12 warshade came along and started giving me gifts of Level 12 training enhancements. He sk'ed me to finish the CoT hunt, and then he followed me to Atlas Park, where he continued to unload enhancements on me as I sold off my own inventory. Then he said "wait here," logged, and came back with his Level 50 scrapper, and proceeded to give me about 750k in influence.

"Whoa! Thanks! You rock!" said I.
"I'm Level 50. It's what I do." he replied.

So now my Level 6 tanker has more influence in the bank than either my Level 29 defender or my Level 31 scrapper. And I still have no clue why he chose me to play Santa Claus with. Maybe it's because I wasn't begging for power leveling... or maybe he just liked my mini-skirt. ;)
vagina

(no subject)

I did my good deed for the day.

I held another of my "Worst Costume Ever" contests. A horribly garbed level 5 kid ends up winning. The prize? 150,000 influence and personal escorting to the icon store! Of course I can't teleport, so I pretty much have to walk the kid there, and two of his similarly leveled friends decide to tag along. It took us quite some time to walk all the way across Steel Canyon, but it brought back fond memories of the good ol' days. I ended up giving the other two kids 50k influence each, and when we were done, they had much better looking costumes. Then the all died as the exited the Icon store. Oh well. Whats that, 25 points of debt? Anyways. Now I have fans. And now the eyes of the citizens of paragon city won't bleed as much as they're being rescued! Everybody wins!
P Dog

Yay!

Just had to be all cheery. Tonight Hot Trigger and Major Detonation hit level 20. Only the second toon for each of us to hit 20 yet. After much hunting of fake nems with glorious members of the death squad. . .I mean, sg we managed to hit 20 before bedtime. Not bad for a pair of blasters who share more than their share of debt. Now on to the actual cape mission and the aquiring of inf to purchase.

Or, as Hot Trigger would say when using her battle cry, "Inf plz!!!" :)
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