Jonathan Steinhauer's MMO ColumnSteinhauer's Opinion: Breaking the Level Barrier, Part 2Jonathan Steinhauer's MMO Column - RSS 2.0
The second step is to determine what skills should be slope learning and which should be stair-step. This again will be largely determined by the specifics of the particular game, but in general I would expect physical and martial skills to be sloped. In the old days of pen-and-paper, a round of combat was broken in to periods of 6 seconds or some such figure. A character was allowed 1 attack per round, which might increase as level thresholds were achieved to 1 Ĺ per round, then 2 and so on. But in the days of modern MMOs, this stair method is unnecessary because the round concept is obsolete. Instead, attacks can simply be reduced from 6 seconds apiece to 5, then 4, and so on through the use of a slope. The same can be applied to the capacity to inflict damage, the ability to parry and dodge, or run.
Some aspects of learning still would likely retain the stair method, however. Magic generally would fall into this category since experience represents the unlocking of secret knowledge. Much like the Wright Brothers and their plane, in most magic systems, a wizard doesn't gradually start to make a fireball. He either can or he can't. Once he does learn, however, the slope method reasserts itself in determining how fast the fireball can be made, how large it is, and what range it has. But ultimately, this too should be removed from the level definition. A wizard shouldn't gain access to the fireball knowledge because he made Level 5 or he earned 10,000 experience from killing rabbits. Instead, it should be based solely around the use of a skill or skills associated with the learned ability such as "fire lore" in this example.
The need for the simplistic method of levels determining character growth has become obsolete.
The age old methodology of Level defining Skill should be removed in favor of Skills defining the Level. This allows for character growth to be gradual and more natural rather than affixed to threshold causing steps.