“All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work. .”
When Everquest 2 launched, it brought a relatively new concept to mainstream MMO’s: spell quality. You didn’t just upgrade a spell anymore, but actually could have different and varying degrees of a spell’s effectiveness determined by what quality of the spell was inscribed at all. Starting with Apprentice and then Adept and finally up through the Master level spells, quality matters to spells and combat arts within the Shattered Lands.
You simply buy the upgrades, for the most part. You can have them made for you, or you might get lucky and find the books necessary while out hunting or raiding, and it’s possible to acquire a Master II through specializations…but by and large, most players buy their upgrades.
A similar situation exists with most weapons or armors, especially tradeskilled weapons. You might have a pristine or a shaped version of that feysteel longsword. You might adorn it or imbue it. However, as a general rule, most players would hold on to their weapon, eventually upgrading when something better comes along.
That’s the way of things in most MMO’s, really. You pick up an item or spell, and eventually replace it with something better.
What if you didn’t replace an item? What if you didn’t buy upgrades to new spells?
What if at least some of your weapons and items and spells and arts and what have you had the ability to level right along with your character. What if you didn’t just *DING!* a new level and immediately pick up new spells, but you had to quest for them as part of your progression?
Imagine for a moment that players could find items within the game that become bound to them in such a way that it would take on their very name…
In most games, we’re taught to replace items frequently. We’re taught that items need to be upgraded from time to time in order to (1) encourage us to fight bigger and badder monsters for bigger and better loot and (2) to stimulate in-game economies.
What is specific items could be upgraded through other means than replacement. Many games toy with the idea by introducing adornments, augments, enchantments, or imbueing. All of these are good ideas, but not quite what I’m thinking of.
Like the ancient Celts, I like the idea of names having power. I also like the idea of power growing over time, not just in people but in places and objects as well.
Imagine that steel hammer I picked up a while back on the broker has an experience bar all its own. Some weaponsmith made it for me, but since then, I’ve been out hunting with it daily. One day, the hammer starts to glow and a little icon appears to tell me that my steel hammer has “levelled up”.
That’s right, my little hammer is growing up (the years pass so fast, don’t they *sniffle*). The hammer I had made for me is now giving me a choice of options which require additional tradeskilling (clicking on the item gives you the option to see what your upgrade choices are).
Ok, now HERE’s a weapon system!
The options shown are ways to enhance the hammer by acquiring rare components and gemstones and having the hammer worked over by a few different types of tradeskillers (and to make things more interesting, the original tradeskiller could get a bonus here) which would give me the option of turning my regular steel hammer into either “Kendricke’s Steel Warhammer” or “Kendricke’s Steel Ornate Hammer”. One gives the hammer a pretty solid boost to combat and the other one gives a boost to charisma and spells.
Later, I level up again and once more, the item requires some rework but also some questing (maybe it’s a simple quest to kill a certain number of your choice of creatures, which powers the hammer with a bonus against that type of creature from here on out).
Later, another level and some more rework and questing.
You get the idea, right?
The idea would be that items stay with us throughout our adventures, and become as much a part of our character’s storyline and advacement as the character’s stats. By including both tradeskilling and quests (basic ones for basic weapons and more handcrafted quests for unique items), we don’t remove many of the original reasons for replacements in the first place while retaining a great deal of the character’s mystique and power.
The character’s own name becomes attached to the item, and thus the item loses the ability to be traded, but in the process, the item becomes part of the character as well.
This leads also to additional avenues of advancement for all types of playstyles (including repeat business for tradeskillers).
The idea here isn’t to remove upgrades from the game’s design, but rather to work in the idea that gear itself isn’t altered constantly – only upgraded.
This has the added benefit of letting characters choose a look, and then keep the look over time – replacing the look later on when new gear is found (which may also have better starting statistics and upgrade potential).