Monday, April 25, 2011

Only the Devil Gives out Max Level Characters

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?


  1. "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.'"

    Sums it up. Leveling up in a themepark almost always means going through a questline which tends to be repetitive and pointless.

    I really don't know why quality content can't be given to leveling players. Advancing through the world is supposed to be the central part of the game.

  2. I think some developers are sticking with the sort of mindset that, well, the best content is at end-game so let's just expand on that. That's why the hype about Cataclysm changing the game was so big: It was never really heard of.

    I'm not saying Cataclysm changed that mindset, seeing as leveling was just made better, but not the focal point. It's still a chore. Personally, I think the world should be the focus of the MMORPG, rather than a few big baddies in caves somewhere.