Since the inception of the role-playing game characters have had character levels. It was use as a measurement for character power and progression. In the modern era of the role-playing game you may get a cheery sound and an explosion of light around your character to ensure the milestone hits just right to produce that shot of Dopamine. I feel this is an outdated metric and we need to redefine character progression. I want to layout a few alternatives just to give everyone something to think about.
The main issue I have with the character level as utilized in most role-playing games is that it splits its player base. Most games if I’m level 30 and my buddy just started and is level 10, by playing with him I end up creating a watered down experience where they learn nothing and I just blow up and quests they have until they catch up. Usually, I’d get nothing out of it and my buddy would get watered down experience due to the level discrepancy. So to fix this I’d remove character levels altogether and exchange it for a skill or spell leveling system. They will ensure that even if I’ve been playing for years I may still need to level up another spell or skill that I can do that alongside by friends. You can continually expand on all players capabilities always giving them some other neat style of pixel explosions.
Not a big fan of that? Maybe you opt solely for gear gated content. Hell, World of Warcraft players only care about your item level anyways. This might give you the opportunity to give characters an additional carrot to chase in the way of crafting and gathering. Create multiple gear sets within the game based on character class, crafting profession or player vs player. There seems to be plenty of people willing to turn on some music and go about mindless gameplay for hours on end. To me this option feels like it could still bring in that group of elite hardcore crowd hell bent on letting you know you aren’t using the meta. Still an option that would at least make the leveling journey different than most games on the market.
One last idea is to combine gear and item drops like City of Heroes and City of Villains used years ago. All the gear is simply visual, however you power up gear by getting certain tokens that go in certain slots. Defense tokens, Support tokens, Healing tokens, etc could make for more interesting gameplay. Say I want to be a tank and while my gear isn’t entirely what I’m going for I can still power it up using more and more powerful tokens. If you wanted to add in crafting you could have people be able to build their own tokens or armor or even combining tokens or armor to create something entirely new.
Obviously, all of this are just thoughts rolling around in my brain dungeon. I’m not a game developer, but I am a paying customer. I can’t and won’t demand things of developers because at the end of the day they are the artist and they have a vision. I simply want to get them to think outside the box that most games have been in for years .