Pantheon AMA Responses

Muligan

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#21
I want a timeline.... They have to hold some dates internally for the sake of progress monitoring and development so I want some generic thoughts on when they expect this game to hit Alpha, Beta, and an anticipated release date. That's probably a lot to ask..

Anyway... I liked the AMA. They answered a lot of great questions and i'm excited to see what actually comes out of the gate. Leveling time doesn't matter to me but i'll be honest, I hate waking up 3 days in to the game and seeing people at max level and then a month complaining about having nothing to do. People really need to sit back and enjoy. I get people want world and server firsts but surely that can be tapered a bit.
 

Jimbolini

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#22
Thank you for posting.

Many of the answers were very informative.
 

Zaide

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#23
What do you think about hard locks on xp gain or severe diminishing returns? Theoretically, as long as there is plenty of horizontal progression for power gamers to sink their time into to improve their characters, it would give them enough to do while capping the ability to rush to max level in a few weeks.

In my view, that's the only way to guarantee a lengthy time to reach end game. If you need max level plus gear (camps, factions, keys, etc...) to effectively have a prayer at raiding, a power gamer that still plays 24/7 and can do all those grinds and camps will still be far ahead of the average crowd, even if they are closer in level range due to a hard daily cap or severe diminishing returns. However, capping max xp gains per day or week (however they would do it) would guarantee nobody hitting level 50 until around the 10 week mark.

I see potential here, but a lot depends on the depth and horizontal progression of the game.
I hate to sound rude, but I think it's a bad idea.

It's an artificial system that will limit and thus frustrate players. Your hardcores (read: your most dedicated demographic) will have incentive to stop playing, which is exactly what you don't want. The idea behind slow EXP isn't to compensate for limited content (the problem your system would address), it's about emphasizing the adventure and making it feel like an accomplishment to hit max level. The system you propose also makes max or high level players "common" which is exactly what people who play MMO's all day don't want to be.

It also creates an inorganic system where the majority of your players will be hitting each progression benchmark (and thus fighting over the limited resources available at each) in unison. In the end this would exacerbate the issues encountered in an open world (non instanced) game.
 

Tauntworth

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#24
That right there I respect but it puts me into the no category no matter how great the game might be.

I don't have the time, no that's not right, I don't have the patience for a 10 week grind for anything.
Part of me feels like they're likely underestimating the poopsock abilities of their community. With that estimate wouldn't levels 1-50 basically be all hell levels? I dunno. Maybe, but I doubt it will end up being that difficult at release. If anything they'll tune it down a bit. I guess it all comes down to what Joppa considers "aggressive".
 

Mat'hir Uth Gan

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#25
I hate to sound rude, but I think it's a bad idea.

It's an artificial system that will limit and thus frustrate players. Your hardcores (read: your most dedicated demographic) will have incentive to stop playing, which is exactly what you don't want. The idea behind slow EXP isn't to compensate for limited content (the problem your system would address), it's about emphasizing the adventure and making it feel like an accomplishment to hit max level. The system you propose also makes max or high level players "common" which is exactly what people who play MMO's all day don't want to be.

It also creates an inorganic system where the majority of your players will be hitting each progression benchmark (and thus fighting over the limited resources available at each) in unison. In the end this would exacerbate the issues encountered in an open world (non instanced) game.
You're probably right, especially about the clusterfuck which would occur if the majority of the playerbase stayed roughly the same level and tried to hunt in the same areas. I'm just trying to think of ways to make an MMO that maintains some mystery and keeps hardcore players from smashing all the content in the first few weeks. It seems like the only possible way is to put in some hard barriers because nothing will slow down a team of dedicated poopsockers, but it's definitely tricky. I do feel that if the horizontal progression is deep enough and important enough, especially to progression, that the hardcore crowd, which I count myself as one, would be willing to invest their time searching out spells, abilities, acclimations, keys, and just fleshing out their character as they progress instead of simply AoE'ing to hit 50 asap.

I guess in the end though, if end game is going to require X, Y, Z, it doesn't really matter whether the player races to max level, they're still going to have to jump through the hoops to be raid capable. I'm hoping the horizontal stuff in this game is what is going to make a player elite though. In the end, everyone will be the same level, so it will have to. I do enjoy the initial race to be the first max level on the server, but I don't feel that makes me elite, it's when I have gear and abilities that other people of my class don't have, but desperately want, that I feel a sense of achievement. I'm hoping it takes a long time to flesh out all your ability upgrades, and I hope you have to do all of that before you can be an effective raider. If that's the case, than maybe people hit max level in a week, but won't be raid capable for 10 weeks due to all the horizontal progression and requirements needed. I just want it to be more difficult than racing to max level and then being able to destroy everything. I also want the game to challenge me and hold my attention for longer than a month. I enjoy getting to BiS, but I tend not to last long in these games if getting to that point is easy.

Anyway, appreciate you sharing your thoughts.
 

Flaw

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#26
I'm a huge fan of horizontal progression such as Levi items, jboots, invis clicky, etc. Heritage type quests from eq2. A collector mentality I guess.

If there is enough of that then I wouldn't mind a longer grind to max level. Getting max level with a fleshed out character makes it much more enjoyable. Especially if some of those items evolve and stay useful long term.
 

Hekotat

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#27
If they lower the time to max level you poopsockers will be complaining about nothing to do after.
 

Vinjin

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#28
That right there I respect but it puts me into the no category no matter how great the game might be.

I don't have the time, no that's not right, I don't have the patience for a 10 week grind for anything.
Simply ignoring anything and everything the game might offer and focusing solely on the grind to reach max level as quickly as possible?

I get that this is your personal opinion of what appeals to you or maybe what you have time for in your life these days, but I can't help but read this statement and think this is exactly what's wrong with the MMO genre today - instant gratification. And I for one am absolutely sick of it.

What is so wrong with waking up in week 10 of this game at level 30 instead of 50? What's so wrong with investing time in other features and facets of the game that may delay leveling as fast as possible? What will it take for players to move past the tired old notion that the game doesn't start until max level??

I know some of you are already typing "when a game comes out that's worth a shit before then?" Yet the quote above says that doesn't even matter. It's simply a matter of having patience to grind XP for 10 weeks straight.

I understand there will always be a percentage of players that want to race to level, capture world firsts, etc. Maybe that's you and that's fine. But this is the first MMO I've seen in a long while that has design tenants around something more than just the same old unremarkable shit we've been seeing. I hope they stick to them and don't cave towards the masses that simply want more of the same.
 

suineg

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#29
but I can't help but read this statement and think this is exactly what's wrong with the MMO genre today
You have played what MMO's up to this point?

There isn't really a single one, old or new, that doesn't "start" at the end.

Now let's work through the scenarios and see if you agree or disagree.

Levels are an indicator of game power and a mechanism to hand out abilities in a game. They are benchmarks for you to know a few things about where you are in the game. There can be limits where you aren't allowed into a zone unless you are a minimum level. There can be statistics that don't cap out unless you are a certain level. I am going to use Everquest to draw parallels from since that is probably what you have played that would be old school. The planes required level 46 and your stat caps and skill caps were dependent on level. Later on equipment was level dependent as well.

Now there is always two aspects to an MMO and that is the journey to the end and then the end. What you do on the path to max level is going to be pretty different from what you do at the end game. It's not a completely different game but there are different goals in mind. Leveling your goal is, well, levels. The end game there can be some variance but the game itself usually shows you what you might want to do. That might be raids, grinding faction, quest chains, or maybe grinding currency to buy better equipment. Some people then switch to a PvP aspect once they hit max level.

That level journey could be one year long or take one hour but the reason for it is usually one of these few options. To create a sense of accomplishment and so give you a stronger desire to keep that character because it took some effort. The other reason is to slow the influx of characters to the end game. There are other reasons of course but those are the two major ones. There is a balance to be had here deciding on how long you want the journey to be. You make it too long and people only make one character and then don't understand how other classes work because they never played them. You make it too long and people give it up because the stick is bigger than the carrot.

Now I see that they want a lot of horizontal movement along with the vertical. That is a lofty goal and I hope they acheive it but what is the difference if you reach level 100 in 4 weeks and then go get your horizontal skills and items for 6 weeks or if it takes 10 weeks to get to the end both horizontally and vertically? Well it really depends a lot on your end game and the culture of the market you are trying to reach. One game that did this well was Anarchy Online with the Shadowlands and also with their Clan/Neutral/Omni faction quests. You weren't just racing to max level even if you were focused on that but you were doing access quests at the same time for zones you needed and you were also getting some equipment upgrades through the process.

Why do I not want to do a 10 week grind? I have played every major MMO out there. I could list probably somewhere between 50 and 75 that I have played to max level at launch and also did every raid or piece of content (that isn't pvp) that they shipped with. I have seen gimmicks that hold people back and ones to take advantage of for speeding up to max. I have played games that had no real levels, unlimited levels, and ones where you could click create and max a character instantly. Games with zero end game and ones where the leveling was 5 minutes compared to the years of end game. I don't like leveling for leveling sake and making it take a long time just so that you can say it took a long time. This decision feels like that is the reason. It is artificial to me. There is a middle ground between buying a max character from a cash shop and taking 10 weeks of 4+ hours a night. I am too old and played too many games to go through that. I will play a game for 8 hours a day if it's the end game or even leveling other classes for alts. I won't play a game for more than 2-4 hours a day if it's just to grind out so that I can play the "real" game at the end. I just refuse to.
 

DickTrickle

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#30
Soybucks, vicodin and fallen gifs. They were way more game than I thought they'd be with that kind of stuff. Kudos to them.
 

McFly

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#31
VR have actively stated that players like us are their primary target; the "old school" MMORPG'ers. If that's the case, players know the priority when playing games like this: get max level ASAP. Nothing else matters. It's a fundamental flaw with ALL games that have traditional "leveling" (and I hate it).

I don't care if I see pretty environments along the way, have to get achievements, be involved in story lines or have an AI so sophisticated it can cyb0r me convincingly; KNOWING that max level is the most important thing to making your character "better" is all players will focus on. Taking 10 weeks to max your toon is too long.

Having said all that, I still am eagerly anticipating the success of this of project. :p
 

Mat'hir Uth Gan

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#32
suineg suineg I think the answer to when you do the horizontal leveling stuff could be in making the vertical leveling inefficient without current spells and skills. Since you can't just train/buy abilities on level up in this game, it could be almost impossible to continue leveling at a satisfying rate if you don't take a break from the grind and go hunt down your upgrades. I mean, if you think back to EQ and a class defining spell such as Complete Heal or Feign Death, but made those rare drops or the result of a long quest chain, I feel like you would have had a ton of Clerics, Monks, SKs, and Necros shifting their focus to the horizontal improvement once those abilities were in reach. I also see some potential with the acclimation system/gear in that if the better high end dungeons require full acclimation to multiple environs, then that could force players to take a break from the level grind and go work on filling out their resist sets so they can level more efficiently. EQ1 did something like this successfully with their level 30ish Sol Ro armor quests. Maybe Pantheon can take that concept and make it much more necessary to progress.

But regardless, the only way to make people do horizontal progression prior to max level is to make getting to max level highly inefficient without doing that horizontal stuff along the way. I agree with your sentiment in that I hope they can pull this off. I'm all for something that forces me to play the game instead of just parking somewhere and AoE'ing to max.
 

suineg

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#33
Maybe Pantheon can take that concept and make it much more necessary to progress.
I am sure that is what they will be doing.

Then what is really left for the "end game" when you did all your upgrades leveling? You also turn everyone into identical cookie cutters of their classes. Do you rely on equipment or spells for this horizontal leveling?

I might be a minority maybe when I say that this is too long of a level time for me. It just seems so false and contrived like they are worried there isn't an end game for you to make it to.

This is all way way before they are even ready to launch so it's all conjecture. I think I have outlined quite well the pros, cons, and why I think that leveling even exists. For those reasons I currently would not desire to play this game as the stated design.
 

Vinjin

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#34
I understand all too well what you're saying. My MMO experience started with UO back in '97 when I was in my late 20s and continued on through EQ (the game I identify with the most), EQ2, WoW, DAoC, and so on and so on. I get it. All of those games have led you to this point - that nothing in the game really matters until the end game. It's become your expectation now.

But as it was stated above, that's a fundamental flaw of the genre. And if we all agree that it's a flaw, then some company needs to change that design philosophy by giving us a worthwhile reason to take our time to level. To not focus entirely on the length of time it takes to reach the end game. Because that's NOT the only way to max out your toon.

So in comes VR and touts a game design that promotes horizontal leveling along the way. And not just achievement bullshit either. MEANINGFUL horizontal leveling that will have influence and impact down the road on your character. Potentially just as, if not more important, than the traditional stat caps in every other MMO to date.

Which leads me back to your original statement - that you simply don't care what it is or how good these systems are. That if it takes 10 weeks to grind to max level then you'd rather not even play at all. In other words, they're trying to design the game correctly....one where the journey matters, a staple of every RPG in the history of RPGs...yet the player base only cares about how long it takes to max out.

If that's true, then that accurately sums up the apathetic, instant gratification attitude and design of everything made in the last 10 years, which is disappointing for the rest of us who want something different.
 

suineg

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#35
that you simply don't care what it is or how good these systems are
No, I outlined how I think that it won't work. It's artificial and not at all natural.

You are taking statements of "it's gonna rock" as a guarantee. You are stating that the game is already perfect in every way and we all know it and the only thing that I am quibbling on is the level timeframe.

You can not want a FORCED grind of 10 weeks and yet not want instant gratification. You are simplifying to a level of absurdity to score some kind of points when nobody is keeping score.

I stated a myriad of reasons why I think that the leveling shouldn't be the focus in the game. They are making it a focus. I don't like that game design so as of right now if they stick to that being an important aspect then I don't want to play that design.
 

Arbitrary

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#36
Q. What is your vision for typical time played to reach max level?
Chris (Joppa): At a highly aggressive/competitive pace, I’d like to see it take around 2.5 months, ~10 weeks. At a normal pace, around 4 months, ~16-18 weeks.
This is not a game that I am going to be able to get anyone I know to play.
 

Mat'hir Uth Gan

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#37
I guess I'm struggling with the concept of a game taking too long to reach max level, or even play in general. If it's fun, that should be all that matters.

What is the difference between playing 5 different games over six months or playing just one game over six months? The time investment is still there, hopefully the entertainment value is still there, and I would actually argue that the payoff is probably better in the single game since you are continuing to make your character more and more powerful. I know, personally, that I am hoping for a single game I can play for many years. That would be my ideal. EQ or WoW were excellent. I just need a new version of those games and for gaming companies to quit dumbing down their games over time when they actually have a hit.

But yeah, you guys that are saying you or your friends have no interest in a game that takes several months to hit max level do confuse me. Do you guys actually prefer to change games every month or two and move onto something different? If so, there's nothing an MMO can do to keep you committed due to its long term nature.
 

Tiggles

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#38
Don't listen to Zaide, hardcore players may be your most "dedicated" but they are the smallest and most toxic.

Even back in '99 for every one furor who payed $10 there where 100 normal people who payed $10.

Hardcore raiders have never once ever in the history of MMOs been the dominating source if revenue for gamers.

Not advocating you go full wow or "new" MMO because that's bad on a whole other spectrum. But taking anything that comes out of the mouth or people who have obvious mental illness and using it as constructive criticism is foolish.

That being said leveling could take 2 years to hit Max level if the leveling process is fun and you have ways to level with friends. The length doesn't matter if you make it enjoyable and 90% of games don't make it enjoyable because people blow past the content to hit the cap. It's a catch 22.
 

Muligan

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#39
I'm going to sound old and i'm sure repetitive but I want community.... community in a sense where I run from Freeport to Qeynos to pick up some banded and meet up with people in BlackBurrow. I want to see a Soulfire (or an epic) hanging around in front of a zone and thinking, "i've got to find out how to get that...". I want to see a raid mobilize and run passed my group or all sitting on a platform waiting to be ported up. I want to ask for a port, trade with fellow players, ask for rez, etc. These are just a few examples of parts of the game that have been automated or tucked away because they create time sinks but it's part of the game that force players to interact and rely on each other. Some of these examples also require a hardcore playerbase. While some of them have been complete turds, they also advertise the carrot on the end of the stick. There may be only 1 Furor for every 100 people but that 1 Furor revealed either in game or on forums parts of the game that made you keep playing. Something you also have to consider, Everquest was really about recording what you uncovered through adventures. We didn't have anything... literally. Players like Furor created communities and information sources that fueled the playerbase to discover to eventually we have tools and resources over a decade in the making.

I say all this because this is a big challenge for any game. You have to create a part of a game that appeases the appetite of your hardcore community and hardcore comes in different forms. People who want to read every piece of lore, be the first to knock off a dragon, to max every tradeskill, etc. because they advertise your game to the other 10 to every 1 like them. Thus is the circle of life. :)

Pantheon will have to figure out to capture that part of EQ but at the same time make it work within this generation of players.
 

RobXIII

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#40
Thanks for posting this! I'm encouraged by the twinking thing. That was a huge driver of the economy. But if it takes 10 weeks real time to level up, alts may not be as much of a thing. Time and money will tell though. At least they can laugh at themselves a bit. I'm all for the /fallen emote