I apologize for a long post and if some of this is off point – bear with me though I think this post will have meaning.
Hello, I am a long time gamer and long time MMO player and I just wanted to give some input on features that are not used much in MMOs but I think would benefit games very much: Actually meaningful ranks and titles as well as other mechanics that give true meaning to players.
My thoughts from this stem from a Chinese sandbox MMO called Age of Wushu – A game that in its prime (2013-1015) was in my opinion one of the best MMOs on the market (It is actually still around but it is not what it used to be).
I played this game A LOT.
This game had MANY features that are not in most modern MMOs that still to this day put other games to shame.
-No classes: Instead you had 8 martial arts schools, different weapon types, and skill sets that were assigned to different weapon types. Each school had three martial art skills sets and then there were many skillsets not assigned to schools.
-Complete customization of skill: Just because you joined one of the schools didn't mean you could not learn skills from the other schools. Every night was an event called "Script Stealing". Two schools were chosen at random and players could attempt to break in and steal skills from other schools. A FANTASTIC concept. If you wanted to switch to a different skillset you simply just switched weapons.
-Internal skills and titled levels: Instead of having a raw "level" players had "internal skills" that had their own levels. Each of the eight schools had its own internal skills, multiple of them, which gave different stats. Think of these like skill trees that are you're overall level. They could be switched and leveled whenever. Not all we're created equal though and some were much harder to obtain. Instead of saying a players internal skill and then they're level the game would instead assign a title to a player when moused over to let you know they're "general strength". For example – You started at "Weak body and mind" then progressed to "lacking understanding", then "First understanding" and so on.
-Open world PVP with very few safepoints (Only safe areas were spawn points. Cities were NOT safe).
But the feature I specifically want to talk about is rankings that were immersive and meaningful.
So we had the eight martial art schools.
As you progressed through the game you could unlock various outfits and titles by getting to certain power levels within the schools.
There was a feature in the game known as the school rankings.
Each week on Sunday there was a school tournament. Members of EACH school who had grinded tokens could compete in their school tournament.
The school tournaments had 7 rankings: Three Deacons (Lower leaders), three Elders (Upper leaders) and a Headmaster (True leader).
It consisted of four rounds: Round one was a free for all – The top three players via kill count would progress at the end of a timer. Then came round two. Round two would be the three winners of round one and the three current deacons in a FREE FOR ALL with ONE LIFE. The last three standing were promoted to deacon or got to maintain their positions. Round three would be the same but with the surviving deacons Vs the elders. Top three got either demoted to deacon, promoted to elder, or kept their respective position. Then was round four, a free for all between the three elders.
The winner of this free for all would then go into an election vs the current headmaster that would be determined by the votes of members of their school. If the current headmaster lost the election then he/she was demoted to elder.
This happened EVERY WEEK in ALL EIGHT martial arts schools. That's FIFTY SIX titled positions that were contested for weekly.
The deacons and elders were given unique cosmetics that differed by rank as well as individual titles for each person – no two deacons or elders had the same title in one week. The headmaster was granted a large flashing title above their head and an outfit only they could wear while they were headmaster. The headmaster was also in charge of declaring war during the two weekly school war events (a whole different but cool experience).
If you will, let me back up this feature with a little bit of personal story from 2013 (this is anecdotal) . I started playing AoW day one, my in game name was xRurouni.
I joined one of the eight schools (the evil school known as Wanderer's Valley). As soon as I saw the seven titles of power my first thought was "I HAVE to be headmaster".
Every day I found myself pushing myself in PVP as hard as I could, leveling as much as I could, playing as much as I could.
I competed in the school tournaments every single week without fail. Every week I would lose. Every week I would look at the winners and say" That WILL be me one day". I would beg the elders and deacons to duel me when they weren't busy.
Four months. It took me four months to earn my FIRST title within my school. I entered into the school tournament round one with some friends I had made in the school, I had told them my plans, I had asked them to back me up. We made it past round one, I was in the lead in kills. It wasn't the first time I had made it out of round one so I was still extremely nervous. I remember physically shaking at this point – Something NO OTHER mmo has EVER done to me.
Somehow I managed to survive the second round – I had made it to deacon. I was ecstatic. To my surprise though I would go from nobody to elder in one week, I also survived the next round. I lost in the final free for all though.
I had never been so excited. I showed off my title all week, I was dueling my friends and having strangers come up to me in game to congratulate me. It was incomparable to any other feeling an MMO had ever given me, even to this day.
It wasn't enough though – I still wasn't headmaster.
I competed to keep my elder spot every week. For many weeks I would keep it, sometimes I would lose it only to get it back the week after. Some weeks were full of relief, some full of frustration at failure and a need to improve.
A few months later I would win the final free for all for the first time – Only to lose the headmaster election by 1 vote (I'll never forget it). I was devastated. I wasn't ready to give up though. I started to almost "campaign" in the game. I made all sorts of new friends within the school, I started being more social, I started helping lower levels through instances I could solo, I participated in school chat more.
A few weeks later the election came up again – I won.
The. Single. Best. Video game. Moment. Of. My. Life.
And I've placed in fighting game tournaments and won money before.
I won't drag the story on anymore but I kept the title for the next 27 weeks straight – I won every election. I busted my ass every week to keep my social appeal up, to keep getting stronger. I "Retired" when our server merged with another and all the positions reset. I was the "last" Headmaster of my school for my server.
Something loomed on the horizon though in an expansion pack that released late 2013..The Mount Hua tournament. A tournament of the top 32 players to give titles, ranks, and outfits to the top 5 players each month.
A new hurdle (One that I never got over sadly haha. Didn't stop me from trying though!).
As a note there were other titles, ranks and outfits people could compete for, such as #1 in each respective life skill. Combat was not the only option to greatness. There was also guild wars and territory to compete for for those who preferred group competition.
The point of the story is that no new games have any sort of feature that actually incentivizes players to excel other than to beat other players or clear things faster. I thought about it a lot today while playing BDO (Steam says I have 1700 hours, which isn't a whole ton but still a good amount). What do players do in BDO? Grind. Why? To…Pvp? I guess? Castle Sieges? Node wars? These are all fine and dandy but they don't incentivize the individual.
I NEVER find myself talking to people in BDO. Only time I ever chat with someone is when they runup and say "Get out of my spot or I'll kill you", then we fight.
I also play FF14, which I occasionally chat with randoms in dungeons. Aside from that and story though, I find myself doing very little in terms of striving for anything.
MMOs just dont scratch that itch anymore since AoW. Not since I had a game that actually gave me reasons to want to be better. Games like BDO or FF14 don't make me WANT to improve, I just do it.
I feel like MMOs moving forward, ESPECIALLY sandbox ones, should have features like some portrayed in AoW.
Thanks for reading. Sorry for huge post. Hope it made sense.
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