There have been a few posts in various places over the past couple weeks that have brought up the role of “equipment” in MMOs.  The actual main topics of discussion were quite diverse: in one case, it was a discussion of why players get so few choices in how their character’s look in some games (at, link), in another, a back-and-forth related to microtransactions ( Metaverse forums, link). 

Obviously, there have been multiple times the MMO blogosphere has touched on the topic in various ways as well… the recent EQ2 update being just the latest impetus. (sorry, a little lazy on the links this morning… post em if you got em…)

What I continue to wonder, and that I bring up as a result of the above commentary, is whether a game with equipment (ie CoH doesn’t really count) that did not scale “heroically” in power would be accepted, particularly one in a fantasy setting.

Now, I’ve never been all that enamored of the typical implementation of equipment in MMOs, anyway.  I just find it slightly jarring that a newbie sword does 1-10 points, while a blade of apparently similar size and weight but tagged as “high level” does 10000-11000 points instead.  I know it’s “magic” and all that… but you could make the same argument related to being able to walk through walls due to poor collision checking, and people would get all up in arms about _that_…

My own idea is to have equipment which empowered and enhanced the use of a character’s abilities, but did not grant anything of it’s own.  A simple example might be a sword which enabled the character to use certain special types of attack if known, and perhaps even gave bonus damage on a subset of them, but could be used as a basic weapon by anyone, specially skilled or no.  In short, the character’s skill is the primary determinant of success… equipment just defines what specific techniques they can use of the ones they know.

Does that fly too heavily in the face of the current model of choice, where equipment literally _becomes_ the primary advancement mechanism at some point?  I go back and forth on that question when I read forums and the like… some people seem likely to be open to the idea, others have so much pride invested in their character’s equipment it seems unlikely they would embrace games using an alternative system that didn’t offer precisely the same opportunity/goal.

Anyone have additional insight?