ID:153435
 
Y'know, I was just reading through that big Seika thread in Off-Topic, skimming through some of the more recent replies, and there's a major trend in there about work--"Seika is good cuz you have to work to get what you want, like in real life" and things along those lines. Now, this is not to pick on Seika--in fact, it is very emphatically not to pick on Seika, because this seems to be a common trend among online RPGs of all varieties. It seems that what defines RPGs as a genre is gameplay that consists of jumping through hoops: "Well, slaying Dragonoth the Generally Unpleasant takes a lot of work, so players naturally deserve a big reward for that. Playing for 2000 hours to reach Super Arch Mega Ultimate Master status is a tremendous amount of effort, so of course players should get awarded with lots of awesome powers for it. Running around in circles nonstop for 48 realtime hours is a huge accomplishment, so obviously we should make a special award for players who put that much energy into the game just to do that, too."

Now everyone just stop for one second and consider what an incredibly twisted world we live in where players have to be explicitly rewarded--bribed, not to mince words--to play games. Just reflect on the absurdity of that. I mean, call me crazy, but I always had this insane theory that maybe playing games was supposed to be fun. Sure, there's always that sense of accomplishment there. When you see your scores at the end of a round of deathmatch, or when you beat a single-player game and see the credits, or enter your initials on the high score list... these are all rewards the game gives you, but they're temporary and external to the game; they merely exist to acknowledge an accomplishment. A good analogy here is getting a certificate of merit from your boss, vs. getting a big fat bonus check; both are rewards for good work, but the difference between them is plain. Of course we'd all prefer to get a bonus from our employer... but when you're playing a game, you don't work for the game's designer, owner, or manager. Why should you accept wages--even imaginary wages--from them?

So, I'm taking a vow. If I ever create a game in the traditional online RPG mold--and I'm getting quite a hankering to--it will not have 1000 character levels, or 100, or 10. It will have 1 level. Depending on my whims, it may or may not have character classes, and there may be a few skills, or many, or none--but past character creation there will be no further skill levels. Equipment will be largely interchangeable; while the game will feature a basically capitalist economy that allows for players to get ahead financially within the game, it will be a deliberately uncertain and unstable economy that will be designed to prevent any static accumulations of wealth. The game may be simple, or it may be complex; in either case, while there will always be some form of learning curve to the game, there will be no lasting "secrets" or deliberately obscured fixtures in the game, so much as I can help it. In short, there will be as little character advancement as I can possibly get away with. Therefore, players will have no choice but to do things which they find genuinely interesting (well, they could always choose to deliberately bore themselves, but this would take even more dedication than even the most determined RPG'er can generally muster). Players who seek achievement must find success through being competent, intelligent, and creative, not by killing a bajillion generic monsters or putting hundreds of hours into the game.

If I ever create two or more such games, then after the first one, they may very well have relatively normal advancement patterns. A system of character building which is interesting and complements gameplay rather than co-opts it is fine. However, I think an example needs to be made, and very desperately so, of an RPG that does not rely on character advancement for meaningful gameplay.
I read half of the first paragraph, but I wanted the first reply.

People like to work in order to advance in RPGs because it allows them to be better than other players without actually being more skilled.
In response to Garthor (#1)
Garthor wrote:
I read half of the first paragraph,

Good, because judging by the timestamp of your post, you replied before I had finished tweaking the last half.
Heh, you're right these games aren't entertaining for anyone except those strong enough to socialize and not worry about strength anymore, so it would make sense to just skip the stat growth stuff so everyone can do the social stuff.
Although, like Garthor mentioned, then we wouldn't be able to tell how much better we were then everyone else.
In response to Garthor (#1)
Garthor wrote:
People like to work in order to advance in RPGs because it allows them to be better than other players without actually being more skilled.

Designers like the players working in order to advance in RPGs because it allows them to not have to add more ways for the real person to be better at the game, and more skilled. It's easier to just throw in multiple monsters that are basically the same, and a level treadmill, than many other strategies and tactics to play the game, and more, interesting and fun secret things to find.
In response to DarkView (#3)
DarkView wrote:
Heh, you're right these games aren't entertaining for anyone except those strong enough to socialize and not worry about strength anymore, so it would make sense to just skip the stat growth stuff so everyone can do the social stuff.
Although, like Garthor mentioned, then we wouldn't be able to tell how much better we were then everyone else.

That is true, but we need to remeber most people on the internet know how to socialize nicely, so just being able to go off on your own, and do your own thing is also very nice.
Leftley wrote:
Now everyone just stop for one second and consider what an incredibly twisted world we live in where players have to be explicitly rewarded--bribed, not to mince words--to play games. Just reflect on the absurdity of that. I mean, call me crazy, but I always had this insane theory that maybe playing games was supposed to be fun.

You're crazy!

But seriously, I think you're seeing the game genre wrong. The whole point of 'RPGs' is to kill stuff and get stronger, and rewards. You aren't playing the game because you don't really enjoy it, but you want the rewards, it's because you enjoy the process of getting to the top. I see programming games as a similar experience: it's always hard starting off, but you eventually start to get into it. There's always that long middle stretch of writing the engine and glitz here and there, but you know that if you work long and hard enough you'll get a reward: a nice polished complete game. Am I making the game just so I get that final reward? Definately! Does that mean I don't have fun in the process? Heck no!

Sure, there's always that sense of accomplishment there. When you see your scores at the end of a round of deathmatch, or when you beat a single-player game and see the credits, or enter your initials on the high score list... these are all rewards the game gives you, but they're temporary and external to the game; they merely exist to acknowledge an accomplishment.

That's the exact same thing as an 'RPG'. Those highscore tables usually save when you leave the game, and so does your RPG character. I see no difference, just because your RPG character's accomplishments are a bit more solid than an initial and a number on a highscore table. What you're doing is comparing apples and oranges; two different game genres. Obviously a space shooter rewards the player differently than an RPG. In the end, we are playing for a final reward in almost every game. But, we're also trying to have fun while we play it. I'm pretty sure that people who play RPGs have fun playing it too, not soley the reward. If that was the case, then nobody would play RPGs! It's impossible for a game that is dead-boring to play but gives lots of rewards to get people to play for a long time.

So, I'm taking a vow. If I ever create a game in the traditional online RPG mold--and I'm getting quite a hankering to--it will not have 1000 character levels, or 100, or 10. It will have 1 level. Depending on my whims, it may or may not have character classes, and there may be a few skills, or many, or none--but past character creation there will be no further skill levels. Equipment will be largely interchangeable; while the game will feature a basically capitalist economy that allows for players to get ahead financially within the game, it will be a deliberately uncertain and unstable economy that will be designed to prevent any static accumulations of wealth. The game may be simple, or it may be complex; in either case, while there will always be some form of learning curve to the game, there will be no lasting "secrets" or deliberately obscured fixtures in the game, so much as I can help it. In short, there will be as little character advancement as I can possibly get away with.

You've managed to define another genre of RPG. It's still advancement (exploring/interacting/a few skills), but it just isn't in the form of levels and magical equipment. You're focusing on economy rather than monster slaying. You still have the same concept there, but it just looks a bit different.

Therefore, players will have no choice but to do things which they find genuinely interesting

Which is exactly what RPG players do. They tend to find exploring and killing monsters fun. It's a matter of taste. Just because you don't think it's interesting doesn't mean that nobody else does.

(well, they could always choose to deliberately bore themselves, but this would take even more dedication than even the most determined RPG'er can generally muster)

Don't get too ambitious. If you ever manage to make a game that is hard to get bored in, let me know!

Players who seek achievement must find success through being competent, intelligent, and creative, not by killing a bajillion generic monsters or putting hundreds of hours into the game.

Some people don't find thinking games to be fun, or at least not all the time. I admit that a good challenging puzzle game involving thinking can be quite fun at times, but hacking away at kobolds in a roguelike (or RPG) equally fun.

Don't take this reply the wrong way. I'm just tired of most people's conceptions on today's RPGs. :P
One thing that makes a big difference in determining whether something is work or play is how interesting it is.

For example, in Eternal World, mining consisted of buying a pick axe, going to the mine, and holding the "mine" macro until the pick axe broke, then equiping a new one and repeating until you have enough ore objects to smelt them into ingots and make something.

That's called work.

In Lode Wars mining is the entire focus of the game, so it has to be interesting in order to be fun. So you've got digging, searching for ore, high explosives, fighting off other miners, carts and tracks and all that other stuff that makes it interesting. If Lode Wars was a big game of stand by a wall holding a macro until you got enough ore to return to base and get more money so you can buy a better pick, go back and hold the macro some more, no one would play it.

If combat in a game is the same thing over and over, its work. If every gave is filled with dozens of insignificant slimes that have to be killed in order to get through the cave, that's work. That's not fun. If combat is made interesting, then it becomes fun.

Same applies to pretty much everything...
In response to Malver (#6)
Malver wrote:
But seriously, I think you're seeing the game genre wrong. The whole point of 'RPGs' is to kill stuff and get stronger, and rewards. You aren't playing the game because you don't really enjoy it, but you want the rewards, it's because you enjoy the process of getting to the top.

Yet the vast majority of players in any online RPG, or even an online game with RPG-like elements, dedicate their time to circumventing as much of that process as they can get away with.

That's the exact same thing as an 'RPG'. Those highscore tables usually save when you leave the game, and so does your RPG character. I see no difference, just because your RPG character's accomplishments are a bit more solid than an initial and a number on a highscore table.

OK, there's this arcade, see, with a Tetris machine in it. A local kid who hangs out in the arcade is really good at Tetris, he has all 5 of the top scores. He's playing on afternoon and some guy passes through and offers to play him head-to-head 2 player, and the local champ accepts. And because the local kid has put so much more time into playing on that Tetris machine, he has a higher level character and wins automatically. Oh wait, that's not how it works, because Tetris isn't stupid. You get no advantage within the game from being on the high score list; sure, there's the talent that it took to get there in the first place, but for one thing, that's true even in RPGs that insist on stratifying players based on how long they've played, and for another, that talent is independent of and separable from the placing on the high score list. If the kid went to a different arcade, he'd still have just as much advantage as on the one Tetris machine he's put all that playing time into, and would even still enjoy a considerable edge if he started playing any other Tetris-like puzzle game.

What you're doing is comparing apples and oranges; two different game genres. Obviously a space shooter rewards the player differently than an RPG. In the end, we are playing for a final reward in almost every game.

But the final reward common to RPGs is inherently unfair. When someone beats a space shooter and sees the cool explosion-filled ending cinematic, they've earned it for themselves, and as soon as the cinematic ends they're just another player as far as the game is concerned. When someone reaches max level in an RPG, they have done nothing to prove themselves over to any random newbie who logs in for the first time, they game proceeds to give them huge advantages over said newbies. They have earned it for themselves, but not against anyone else.

But, we're also trying to have fun while we play it. I'm pretty sure that people who play RPGs have fun playing it too, not soley the reward. If that was the case, then nobody would play RPGs!

Sure, some people do play RPGs in the genuine spirit of fun gaming; I imagine that most of these are very big masochists. And, sure, even outside of that rather small group, there is a much wider base of players who play RPGs for "fun": people who play RPGs because they enjoy the feeling of power over other people. As Garthor said, they want to be quantifiably better than other players without requiring any more brains or skill than them. This approach treats "fun" as a zero-sum concept: it's fun for high-level players at the expense of low-level players.

It's impossible for a game that is dead-boring to play but gives lots of rewards to get people to play for a long time.

www.mudconnector.com. Do a search for "MUD". You won't get a 100% accurate listing of games matching this description, but yeah, you'll get quite a few. You'll notice that most of them that do are small MUDs; I'll come back to this point later.

You've managed to define another genre of RPG. It's still advancement (exploring/interacting/a few skills), but it just isn't in the form of levels and magical equipment.

These are the same forms of advancement found in any game. They are the forms of character advancement found in the original Super Mario Bros.: as you play the game, you, the player, get better at playing it. But regardless of how much you play, the laws of the game world do not adjust themselves to make things easier for you, unlike conventional RPGs which do just that.

You're focusing on economy rather than monster slaying. You still have the same concept there, but it just looks a bit different.

You're focusing on slaying giant green elephants rather than collecting weasels. The proceeding statement has as much relevance to your post as your statement quoted above has to mine; I said nothing whatsoever about being pro-economy or anti-monster slaying, I merely said that in either case there would be as little concrete reward as could be managed. In specific game idea I've been envisioning, the focus would be on more of the traditional heroic paradigm: you go out and slay the Orc King not because he has a longsword +3 or because you get lots of XP for vanquishing his orcish hordes or because you get anything at all within the context of the game engine--you do it because that's what you do. Yes, you would get rewards: you get the feeling of accomplishment of having overcome a superior foe through your own wits, you get recognition from your fellow adventurers, and there would be some form of game effect simply because that's unavoidable (if nothing else, there would be one less Orc King in the world for the time being)--but none of this would stop a fast-learning newbie from matching or topping your accomplishment, regardless of how much time you had spent adventuring in the game in preparation.

Which is exactly what RPG players do. They tend to find exploring and killing monsters fun. It's a matter of taste. Just because you don't think it's interesting doesn't mean that nobody else does.

Just because someone plays an RPG doesn't mean that they find all its activities (or even core activities) interesting. Odd thing is, every online RPG with a conventional bash things/repeat skills to advance I've ever logged into, 90% of the players display a severe aversion to actually going out and bashing things or repeatedly using skills.

Now, yes, you do have a point in that games which have completely boring gameplay are never going to succeed; RPGs where leveling up is really the only thing to do tend to stay quite small and the ones that succeed are the ones that have more dynamic and interesting gameplay on the side. This only goes to reaffirm my assertion that the overwhelming majority of players, even RPG players, do not play because they like leveling-up activities for their own sake; otherwise they'd stick around longer in games where they are the sole [non-chat] activities.

Yet inevitably, even where an RPG provides alternative forms of gameplay, all these side aspects of gameplay are all tightly linked to levels and accumulated game power; a big online RPG might have gameplay equivalent to half a dozen seperate games, all of which are pretty fun and interesting, but in order to play any of these games fully you have to put in hundreds of hours leveling. So, hmm, let me see: I can kill orcs in an online RPG for 100 hours in order to build a character that's powerful enough to make participate effectively in PK, or explore in the more complicated and interesting areas of the game, or do whatever activites the developers have thoughtfully put in for higher-level characters; or, I could get a minimum-wage job, work for 10 hours, and buy a game that's less stupid. Decisions, decisions.

Levels are a game developer's trick to artificially inflate a game's playing time without having to actually develop new gameplay. If players enjoy leveling so much, then how come there aren't more players who will, upon reaching max level, immediately create a new character so that they can "enjoy" the process of getting to max level all over again?

(well, they could always choose to deliberately bore themselves, but this would take even more dedication than even the most determined RPG'er can generally muster)

Don't get too ambitious. If you ever manage to make a game that is hard to get bored in, let me know!

My point is that if a player is bored, they will in fact find something else to do (which makes it very hard to be bored on purpose), which happens to be the same point you've been hammering over and over. Ever notice how very, very many players in any good-sized online RPG--or even smaller ones--are logged in but not actually participating in leveling-up activities? That's because they've found something else to do.

Some people don't find thinking games to be fun, or at least not all the time. I admit that a good challenging puzzle game involving thinking can be quite fun at times, but hacking away at kobolds in a roguelike (or RPG) equally fun.

Oh, sure, it's fun for a while. Any RPG does have some element of interest in its combat, if it's a halfway decent RPG--but inevitably, no matter how good it is, it will eventually get boring. At that point, the only reason to continue repeatedly typing "cast fireball at kobold" is so you can aspire to one day be repeatedly typing "cast really big fireball at kobold".

Unless you genuinely enjoy repeatedly typing "cast fireball at kobold" for its own sake, in which case I will overturn my vow and take a minute and a half to make the world's first MMORPG tailored to your exact tastes.

Don't take this reply the wrong way. I'm just tired of most people's conceptions on today's RPGs. :P

So am I. That's why I posted this thread.
In response to Leftley (#8)
Leftley wrote:
OK, there's this arcade, see, with a Tetris machine in it. A local kid who hangs out in the arcade is really good at Tetris, he has all 5 of the top scores. He's playing on afternoon and some guy passes through and offers to play him head-to-head 2 player, and the local champ accepts. And because the local kid has put so much more time into playing on that Tetris machine, he has a higher level character and wins automatically. Oh wait, that's not how it works, because Tetris isn't stupid. You get no advantage within the game from being on the high score list; sure, there's the talent that it took to get there in the first place, but for one thing, that's true even in RPGs that insist on stratifying players based on how long they've played, and for another, that talent is independent of and separable from the placing on the high score list. If the kid went to a different arcade, he'd still have just as much advantage as on the one Tetris machine he's put all that playing time into, and would even still enjoy a considerable edge if he started playing any other Tetris-like puzzle game.

Your comparison is illogical. Both RPGs and Tetris games give rewards, and players gain advantages through playing the game (skill), right? Tetris' reward is a name on the highscore table, and RPGs' reward is a juicy level and a small fortune of equipment. If you play Tetris a lot, you'll get better at it, which is a skill that you can transfer over to any Tetris game. If you play RPGs a lot, you'll learn certain things and gain skill in RPGs, like how certain systems work that are usually the same in most RPGs. Of course they will differ always, but you'll have a advantage in any RPG over someone who has never played one, which is the same thing as your Tetris example.

But the final reward common to RPGs is inherently unfair. When someone beats a space shooter and sees the cool explosion-filled ending cinematic, they've earned it for themselves, and as soon as the cinematic ends they're just another player as far as the game is concerned.

Exactly why space shooters and RPGs are completely different genres. Who says that all games should give the same rewards?

This approach treats "fun" as a zero-sum concept: it's fun for high-level players at the expense of low-level players.

This isn't always true, but it can be depending on the RPG. I also really dislike this, but it's not true that all high-level players get their fun from the weaker players.

It's impossible for a game that is dead-boring to play but gives lots of rewards to get people to play for a long time.
www.mudconnector.com. Do a search for "MUD". You won't get a 100% accurate listing of games matching this description, but yeah, you'll get quite a few. You'll notice that most of them that do are small MUDs; I'll come back to this point later.

Can you elaborate on this? Are you saying all MUDs are boring? If so, you've seriously mistaken. ;)

These are the same forms of advancement found in any game. They are the forms of character advancement found in the original Super Mario Bros.: as you play the game, you, the player, get better at playing it. But regardless of how much you play, the laws of the game world do not adjust themselves to make things easier for you, unlike conventional RPGs which do just that.

Wrongo. In Super Mario, you get stronger as you progress, like getting Mushrooms or Flowers. These give you an advantage, and 'change the laws of the game wold', which does make things easier. Just because you can lose these 'stats' by getting wonked by a koopa or restarting the game doesn't make it differ from an RPG.

Just because someone plays an RPG doesn't mean that they find all its activities (or even core activities) interesting. Odd thing is, every online RPG with a conventional bash things/repeat skills to advance I've ever logged into, 90% of the players display a severe aversion to actually going out and bashing things or repeatedly using skills.

I haven't.

I can kill orcs in an online RPG for 100 hours in order to build a character that's powerful enough to make participate effectively in PK, or explore in the more complicated and interesting areas of the game, or do whatever activites the developers have thoughtfully put in for higher-level characters; or, I could get a minimum-wage job, work for 10 hours, and buy a game that's less stupid. Decisions, decisions.

What's the difference in playing Tetris for 100 hours to get on the top of the highscore listing, or killing monsters for 100 hours to have a strong character? In both examples you're working hard to get a reward.

Oh, sure, it's fun for a while. Any RPG does have some element of interest in its combat, if it's a halfway decent RPG--but inevitably, no matter how good it is, it will eventually get boring.

Well, duh. If you play any game for long enough you'll get bored of it. That's doesn't only apply to RPGs.

Unless you genuinely enjoy repeatedly typing "cast fireball at kobold" for its own sake, in which case I will overturn my vow and take a minute and a half to make the world's first MMORPG tailored to your exact tastes.

I don't enjoy it, and I don't play RPGs with systems like that.

So am I. That's why I posted this thread.

I'd say "So am I", but I'd be repeating what you said to what I already said. :/
In response to Malver (#9)
Malver wrote:
Your comparison is illogical. Both RPGs and Tetris games give rewards, and players gain advantages through playing the game (skill), right? Tetris' reward is a name on the highscore table, and RPGs' reward is a juicy level and a small fortune of equipment. If you play Tetris a lot, you'll get better at it, which is a skill that you can transfer over to any Tetris game. If you play RPGs a lot, you'll learn certain things and gain skill in RPGs, like how certain systems work that are usually the same in most RPGs. Of course they will differ always, but you'll have a advantage in any RPG over someone who has never played one, which is the same thing as your Tetris example.

Hear that? That's the sound of you missing the point entirely.

As you play Tetris, you get better (more skilled). Thus, person A is better than person B because person A played longer. But, if person B is inherently good at Tetris games, person B might be better than person A.

In an RPG, person B is inherently better than person A. However, person A has played twice as long. Person B is still more skilled at the game, but person A will mop the floor with person B, simply because he played longer

What's the difference in playing Tetris for 100 hours to get on the top of the highscore listing, or killing monsters for 100 hours to have a strong character? In both examples you're working hard to get a reward.

Tetris isn't work. It's fun. It's a game. You play it because it's fun, and getting a high score is simply icing on the cake. RPGs are the other way around. Actually, no, they're simply work so that you may get a reward. That's what we sane people like to call a job.
In response to Garthor (#10)
Garthor wrote:
That's what we sane people like to call a job.

What's this, "job" you speak of? =D
In response to Garthor (#10)
Garthor wrote:
Hear that? That's the sound of you missing the point entirely.

As you play Tetris, you get better (more skilled). Thus, person A is better than person B because person A played longer. But, if person B is inherently good at Tetris games, person B might be better than person A.

Don't go writing rude remarks like that when you've missed what I wrote. Leftley compared someone playing Tetris on two different machines being able to play just as well, which is entirely true. This is because you gain knowledge of how the game works. The same applies to an RPG. If you play the same RPG on two different accounts, you'll still have that wisdom of how the game works. You might not have your high level and equipment, but you'll still have the same type of wisdom: knowing item locations, monsters to avoid, etc. I'm talking about knowledge gained through playing the game, not rewards vs. said knowledge.

Tetris isn't work. It's fun. It's a game.

I never said that an RPG is work. I play (certain) RPGs because I find them fun. If any game begins to become 'work' to me, I don't play it. If you find RPGs as work, then I can see why you wouldn't like them.

RPGs are the other way around. Actually, no, they're simply work so that you may get a reward. That's what we sane people like to call a job.

That makes no sense. If RPGs were as boring and pure-work as you say, then nobody would play them. Yet the numbers say you're wrong.
In response to Malver (#12)
As I've said, people find RPG games "fun" because they can be better than people just by investing time, and not actually having skill. Also, they like them because you get a consistant reward (a number goes up, a little sound plays, and there's a flashy graphic). The combat itself isn't fun, it's simply work you have to get through to get a reward.

The fact that it doubles as a chatroom keeps people slightly entertained.
In response to Garthor (#13)
Garthor wrote:
Also, they like them because you get a consistant reward (a number goes up, a little sound plays, and there's a flashy graphic).

Yea. I like those flashy graphics. :)

The combat itself isn't fun, it's simply work you have to get through to get a reward.

I think it's unfair to say that "all RPGs have boring combat". No two RPGs are the same, -- excluding a few of BYOND's :P -- so some do have more interesting combat than others. I do agree that clicking or using a verb repeatedly is quite boring.
In response to Malver (#14)
I'm a little lost as to where this is/was going. The only point I picked up was that someone thinks RPGs would be better if they relied on player skill rather than character stats. I don't know what that has to do with games being all work and no play, or not being fun... What are you guys trying to stress?
In response to Foomer (#15)
I don't know, but if you don't know what your post has to do with the topic, then why did you post it?
In response to Garthor (#16)
Because I wanted to know what the topic was. Like I said in my post.
In response to Foomer (#15)
Foomer wrote:
I'm a little lost as to where this is/was going. The only point I picked up was that someone thinks RPGs would be better if they relied on player skill rather than character stats. I don't know what that has to do with games being all work and no play, or not being fun... What are you guys trying to stress?

Man, this conversation is muddled (not sarcasm; I'm well aware of this fact, and it's at least partly my fault); the one point you picked up on is quite a ways from the actual point I'm trying to make. Allow me to clarify:

-Player skill vs. character stats: Not quite. To a certain extent, character stats are part of character skill; if there's a fairly open-ended leveling system and I pick a more useful set of stats or skills than someone else who had an identical pool to draw from, I've played the game with more skill than they have. If there's a rigid leveling system where the only difference between players is their level, and I'm 20 levels higher than someone else and therefore have better stats, then that might be because I've played that aspect of the game with more skill (i.e. I can level myself more efficiently) or it might simply be because I started playing the game earlier and have been playing it for longer than they have. To sum up: insofar as stats do factor into the game, quality of stats should have more weight than quantity of stats.

-Work vs. play: Most online RPGs suffer from a common design fallacy: they may have interesting combat and expansive worlds, detailed economies, thrilling PK, perplexing puzzles and dynamic quests... but inevitably, the only road to character advancement is through monotonous monster-bashing, repetitive skill use, or something equally uninteresting. Players have a choice: they can go out and experience the more interesting aspects of the game for their own sake (play), in which case they face stagnation--their characters will grow at only a snail's pace and they will only ever be able to experience a tiny fraction of the game's activities, since they'll take forever to accumulate enough stats to compete with other players and simply the game itself. Or they can forego the more interesting gameplay that the game provides--which is generally put there with the explicit intention of "providing something to do for the people who are done leveling"--and concentrate on killing as many XP-fodder enemies as they can/skill macroing as rapidly as the game allows (work), completely wasting hours of their lives in activites that will garner them no material benefits or personal enrichment, and aren't even likely to yield many fond memories of good times well spent. In the long run they will reap their reward in access to all the higher-level gameplay which they couldn't participate in before, gameplay which designers typically put much more thought and effort into than the leveling activities newbies are expected to put the bulk of their playing time into--but there are a great number of high-quality games which offer players such compelling gameplay right from the start. Insofar as building character stats features in the game, the actions which build them should feature as little repetition as possible; if players have to kill an average of 100,000 monsters to reach max level, that's way too many, because no designer is good enough to make those 100,000 kills each be unique enough to be interesting in and of itself. The best strategy games in the world are hard pressed to come up with more than a couple dozen genuinely unique scenarios; if you can't come up with new scenarios to require players to go through in order to advance, then you shouldn't require players to go through any more advancement effort at all.