I’m going to confess something, I’m writing this post a day early and scheduling it to post tomorrow morning. I’m not sure when or if I’ll be online long enough tomorrow to type out thoughts on any subject. I’m going to confess something else, I’ll probably do this for Saturday and Sundays posts as well. I am on vacation after all. Speaking of which I’m currently sitting in my hotel room with nice view of the apartment complex on the other side of the parking lot. Not that the other side would have a great view either, it would just be a view of the interstate.
So my friend Belghast has mentioned the subject of player mentoring several times in both his blog and on his podcast so I thought I’d post some of my own thoughts about this. I’ll start off with saying that I think this is a great idea if this is done done correctly and I think that every game would benefit from having this in some form.
The only game that I’ve played that I feel has done this right is Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn. In this game you unlock dungeons as your level progresses, most of which are required to progress the story. You can always go back and do these dungeons again but it scales your level if you have passed the level of the dungeon. This allowed you to go back and play them again with friends who were the appropriate level without being over powered. So, for example, you have a group of 4 friends (including yourself) 2 of which are level 40 and 2 of which are level 15 and need help doing the first story dungeon. When your group goes in to the dungeon the 2 players that are level 40 would be scaled down to around level 18 (the max of that dungeon). You’re gear stays the same, but your abilities revert to what was available to you at that level.
A game with a similar setup is Guild Wars 2. I never did dungeons in this game, but I know that your level would scale down to the area that you were in. So if you were a high level player and you wanted to play with a lower level friend then as soon as you entered that area you were scaled down in level to match that areas level range.
Currently I am playing Elder Scrolls Online, and I think that this game could benefit from this type of system. Preferably the system from Final Fantasy 14. The reason I say this is because I am not the type of person to ask for help in guild chat, but all the people I like to do dungeons with have very much outleveled me. If I were to ask them to run a lower level dungeon with me then it would not be a challenge as they would be over the level of the dungeon (up to a point anyways). This does not provide them any incentive as you stop getting rewards for dungeons once you have out leveled it.
For me this means that I have not done any dungeons, and probably won’t until I’m max level and can go back and solo the lower level ones. If there was a system in place to scale my friends down to the appropriate level then it wouldn’t be boring for them to come help me out. The way that I say that makes it seem a bit selfish, but this also allows the game to remain challenging.
I think my ideal system would be a combination of both Guild Wars 2 and Final Fantasy 14. What I refer to here is level scaling based on the level range for the area that you are in from Guild Wars 2 and dungeon scaling from Final Fantasy 14. However, I would modify the dungeon scaling to be optional. If you were in a group with someone of appropriate level it would scale the group down to the appropriate level, but if you were wanting to go back to see it as a higher level player by yourself you could do that and it wouldn’t scale you down. The reason for that modification is from one of my favorite things to do in World Of Warcraft, namely going through old content that I missed just to have fun without worrying about having a problem or needing to find people to play with.