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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Elite System

Playing through the Legacy quests of SWG today, and I got to one where you must kill 5 elites. This simultaneously made me nostalgic and frustrated, and I realize now that so many games have taken on the regular/elite/boss model that WoW uses (if it has a source before that, I do not know of it; if you do please mention the game that used it). Off of the top of my head; Aion, SWG, CoX, Warhammer Online, DDO, and so forth.

For those of you not familiar with the terminology, a regular mob is one that you should be able to kill solo at the same level (or +-2 usually) with little difficulty. An Elite mob has more health, deals more damage, and is hard to solo at the same level (though usually 5 or more levels above it you can solo it). WoW used a 3x health and damage modifier for elite mobs in vanilla, so they were roughly as hard to kill as 3 mobs attacking you at once (without the benefit of less dps as you kill one or two of the three mobs). Boss mobs are even more powerful, and usually their power varied greatly. These were meant to be final encounters, or chapter encounters that ended a wing, hallway, or instance in a climactic battle. They almost always required a full group, using good tactics and sometimes luck to beat.

Why does this make me nostalgic? SWG pre-CU had a system where level was effectively hidden. There was a level mechanic, but it was pretty involved, changing based on your group size, equipped weapon, pets, and dozens of other mechanics. Mobs would be tagged with a color on their nameplate that indicated if the game thought you could handle it. It was simple, and worked. Xp was based on the toughness of the mob, not the relative level, and since xp scaled with your class advancement, it worked out similarly to the tougher mobs for higher level players concept (and facilitated grouping as they gave more xp, but it was divided by damage done). What mobs did have was a HAM bar, health, action, and mind. If any of them reached 0, the mob died. Now some mobs had very high HAM totals for their level, they were effectively elites but you didn't know unless you moused over and saw their totals or had experience with that kind of mob.

I'm starting to blather on, so I will wrap it up here. I'm looking for games without boss and elite mobs, but wikth simkilar challenges. Please let me know if you play any.
-vg

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