An Everquest 2 developer recently fielded an idea to its community about creating a system for giving players a max level character.
I sort of feel bad for the guy, as I'm sure this was a harsh lesson in how useful community feedback can be at times.
Still, the idea remains something of worth. We all know of an MMORPG or two where players commonly use the phrase "The game doesn't really start until max level." Raiding, dungeons, PvP, all of that only really starts at max level, and the rest of it is just practice for using your character. Because we all know that only max level characters know how to play their classes, right?
Massively fielded the same question to their readers, and while browsing through the comments I found one that stuck out for me. Bramen writes "When a game offers me a chance to go strait to max level; what I hear is "start here, the rest of the game is not fun.""
So that is my question then. Do most MMORPG players find the leveling process fun? Or is it simply a traditional chore that we have all become used to as a way of proving ourselves worthy of playing at the same playground as the other kids? There is undoubtedly a gap between the content available for leveling and end-game characters, and only a few systems allow players of vastly different levels to play together, and those that do trivialize the efforts of lower level characters in comparison.
Are we simply stuck in the idea that we should level in an MMORPG? Does it serve as a barrier of entry for end-game content? Is it a way for companies to stretch out subscriptions while only having a small amount of meaningful content?