The Daily Grind: Do secret classes and hidden content belong in MMOs?

    
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If you ask old-school Star Wars Galaxies fans about the original implementation of Jedi in the classic version of the game, you’re likely to get an earful back. And for every person who insists that Jedi turned the entire game on its head by making everyone grind holocrons and change their skill sets to skills they didn’t actually want to play, you’ll find another person who says, “But damn, the mystery and subterfuge of being a hunted class was kinda fun!”

I’m both. I gave up my holo grind three grinds in — mid-Rifleman, actually, because eff that noise — but the drama of sheltering a player Jedi within our city walls, keeping him secret and safe from player Bounty Hunters? That was a truly unique experience.

I’m hard-pressed to think of more examples of mystery classes and content that were quite like the Jedi, probably because studios learned from that mistake (knock on wood?). But I’d love to see something like it done again, and it certainly seems as doable now as it was then to make a game mechanic impermeable to internet oversharing and game guide strategery (all that stuff existed in 2004, too!). So would you want to see secret classes and unlocks in modern MMOs, and how would you make it work?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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AGx
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AGx

I liked the way FFXI did it with their expansion classes. They weren’t exactly “hidden” because you knew they were in the game, you just had virtually no clue how to get them and in many cases, even when you got the appropriate quest, it wasn’t always 100% clear you were on the line to unlock a class and so it was possible to ignore it as just another side-quest. Oh and they weren’t short or easy. Give me something like that. Give me a reason to explore your world beyond where quests literally take me.

shaw sbst
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shaw sbst

DahkohtLewin shaw sbst Everytime you buy an expansion or the original game…yes, you already PAID for that content, since that content comes with buying the game or its expansions. The sub you pay, is to have access to all that content you already paid.
You are inventing stuff man. Nobody is asking for an easy game. What we want is for all the “ball and chain” hurdles that devs put in games removed, so we can get into content at our own pace and time availability.
Again, inventing more stuff. “Stupid nonsense” is to not be able to get that epic weapon (that I paid for when I bought the game/ expansion) because I cannot put X amount of hours weekly on the game. The ideal is that I will EVENTUALLY get that epic weapon, after I clear the content, at my own time availability thus, not being “ball and chained” to guilds/ raids/ activities that requires us to be at a precise time and day in front of our PC.
People do not want the goddamned trophy for free. We want the damned trophy after we put our X amount of time on said content, at our own time availability, and we get to clear it.
The elite douche-baggery of some today is sad, it sucks “fun” out of games, and slaps “work” all over them.

shaw sbst
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shaw sbst

Samizdat shaw sbst Dawnlord Ed DahkohtLewin And again, all you pointed out only means that EVERYONE should be able to attain the same rewards. The only difference is that those that play more should, by virtue of playing the game for more time, being able to clear its contents faster, and getting those rewards first. Those that can’t log in everyday will get to those same rewards but, obviously, at the time they are able to complete their tasks. What I will never advocate for, is for some people to attain some rewards, or better rewards, just because they play everyday, and deny those same rewards to players that are willing to do the same content, but on their own time.

dorn2
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dorn2

jjwells0402 
I remember EQ1 at the start.  A lot of us who were high level weren’t posting stuff.  When my group found the location for the mana stone we didn’t have any competition.  It was a huge advantage to not tell others.  In the end though this sort of thing became a huge pita.
I’d love to see a modern take on it though.  Have the game pick a location via RNG and spawn important gear there for a few days.  Then move it again.

dorn2
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dorn2

The “secret” of the Jedi wasn’t really a secret though.  It was an process created by RNG that was different for each player.  Even worse it was something you just wouldn’t do normally.  Plus we have the fact that it was the main class most desired to play.  Then add in the nonsense about imbalance, losing the class on death, etc, etc.
If developers learned “secret classes are bad” from all that then they’re morons.

Miserymachine
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Miserymachine

SWG did so many things right at first before the devs borked it up. 
I loved their crafting and harvesting. Exploration was fun and useful. I’ll never forget the time a tera kasi fighter from the rebellion holed up in a structure outside of an imperial outpost and spent hours ganking people that tried to get him out of there. We finally did it but my god that was a blast. 
The economy was great, finding a master weaponsmith selling top of the line composite armor or a krayt scatter pistol was a game changer and a lot of those top tier guys were in far off places that were hard to find. I haven’t had so much fun in any game since.

Kaloth
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Kaloth

Dawnlord Ed Dope_Danny DahkohtLewin A lot of folks also don’t realise that it’s the gamers with obligations that typically have a lot more spending money. That 40+ hr a week job puts a lot of value in your pockets.
Studios frankly don’t give a shit about poor gamers; F2P players are really only there as content for the paying crowd. Studios want to hook in the players that have capital to spend on fluff and keep the game afloat and making MMOs more accessible to this crowd is how they manage to do this.
There’s nothing wrong with being a poor gamer, but just don’t expect a successful* game to make you its target market.

* Plenty of smaller MMOs target the “hardcore” crowd, but typically they wash out and are shut down in not much time unless they can somehow lure in the big fish (see: Wildstar and the gradual casualification of it).

Samizdat
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Samizdat

Craywulf Samizdat That’s a neat system for social progression. I’d love to see a game that does that, though it sounds rather complicated from an engineering perspective to keep it from being repetitive and predictable. Many players don’t like codependency either, which is another challenge.

As for leveling, I think it’s best to treat leveling as a tutorial. You advance from 1 to 50 (or whatever) and the game gradually rolls out mechanics over time — new abilities, talent points, different stances, utility skills — to gradually familiarize yourself with them. By 50, you should be familiar with every aspect of your class or skill archetype, and ready to take on progressively more challenging scenario given the toolkit you just unlocked.

Like you, I believe the current system of repetition is flawed. The game gives you a new ability and then gives you one hundred rats to kill until it gives you the next ability. It assumes you learned how to use the new ability in the process, but doesn’t guarantee it. I’d rather the game introduce an ability followed by a series of encounters where you must use that ability successfully to progress (think of the special sword techniques in Zelda games like Twilight Princess). Imagine if at certain milestone levels, say 29-30, you actually had to beat one of a couple of world bosses or story episodes to progress. What if the boss became available at level 22, and you could skip from 22-30 if you should demonstrate proficiency by killing that boss early? These are the mechanics I’m far more interested in, and I think the players that overcome these challenges deserve the best rewards.

jjwells0402
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jjwells0402

In the early days of online gaming, it was great to have secrets.

wontgrowup
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wontgrowup

Yes, I think it is awesome when there are secrets to unravel in a game that have a significant effects on the world. Though the Jedi grind in SWG was poorly implemented I loved watching my friend progress through it.