Monday, October 22, 2007

Admiral-Level Gameplay in a Star Trek MMORPG +

Still more discussion about Admiral-level gameplay:

Originally Posted by Random Redshirt:
Make it possible for anyone to hit the upper ranks, but make them pretty hard to achieve if that makes sense, so that 4 months down the road after launch we don't have 1 million Captains running around and no lower ranks. Kind of destroys the immersion factor in a way.
My feeling is that trying to limit the number of high-ranked players by making higher ranks harder to achieve will just turn it into a grindfest. You'll still have bunches of Admirals; they'll just be the people who spent all their time grinding their way to that rank instead of the gamers who are good leaders and strategists.

So instead, I'd still rather see rank define different kinds of gameplay. That way ST:O won't be filled with Admirals because not everybody will want to be an Admiral -- they'll be happy enjoying the content typically available to them at some other rank. In this design, players would level up to the kind of gameplay they like, then spend the rest of their play time getting better at it.

In other words, rather than the game being structured so that gamers feel like they must be lazy if they don't grind their way up to Admiral to get to "the good stuff," I'd hope that Star Trek Online is designed so that there are different kinds of fun content at different ranks. For example, I like the idea of Ensigns, Lieutenants, and Lt. Commanders typically getting lots of opportunities for exciting tactical (action) gameplay, Commanders and Captains having operational (leadership) gameplay, and Admirals having strategic (logistics and planning) gameplay.

This approach, I think, would keep the number of high-rank players low by persuading players themselves to limit their rank -- that feels to me like a more satisfying approach than imposing an arbitrary degree of difficulty on higher-rank content. Players would voluntarily level up in rank to get to the kind of content they enjoy, and then they could stop gaining more rank in order to focus on getting better at their current rank.

Better to let players become legendary Lieutenants and Commanders than to make everyone feel forced to become mediocre Admirals.