Tobold's Blog
Saturday, April 23, 2011
EQ2 thinks about skipping right to the endgame

In news very relevant to the recent discussion here, EverQuest II Producer Dave “Smokejumper” Georgeson floated an idea for debate about a "return to EQ2 and buy Destiny of Velious, and you'll get a free level 90 character of your choice" winback campaign. I think that is a very good idea. If the leveling game has very little to do with preparing you for the endgame, and thus ends just as being an obstacle with very different gameplay from what you actually want to do, then why not just skip that part?
Ordinarily, I would say it's because the levelling game is where you learn how to properly play your character.

However, I think by now there is plenty of evidence that this is not the case.

So I can't really see any reason why not.
I gave up EQ2 when I was stuck around level 60 and found playing on my own all the time to be boring.

Thumbs up from me, the game really is too spread out now to be much fun between levels 35 (when you outlevel the ROV groups) and 90.
Sad, but reasonable.
As someone who's played EQ2 since beta and is still playing, I firmly believe that almost all the meat of the game is below the level cap.

If people want to parachute in to the top, where the boring stuff begins, and miss out on the actual entertainment, good luck to them. I wouldn't take a pre-made Level 90 on a bet, personally.

What this really suggest to me, however, is that Destiny of Velious should have been released as a separate game, not an expansion for EQ2. Most MMO expansions might just as well come out as stand-alones, really, since almost all the content they include tends to stand above and beyond the existing game.

Maybe rather than keep nailing new storeys on to the top of the MMO building they could just release the expansions as separate worlds. You could either start afresh in them, creating a character of appropriate level, or copy your existing character across. The global changes (the more bank spaces, appearance slots sort of all-levels utility deals that sometimes get put into expansions as a sweetener to get people without high level characters to buy them) could be kept for free global updates.

Whatever happens, and much though I love SOE MMOs, long experience tells me that they'll manage to find the most convoluted, reputation-damaging, customer-infuriating way to implement this potentially workable idea.
I didn't played EQ and I don't play EQ2, but I am against the idea of skipping the level up process.Even if you are not forced to do it, it is still there for others to use and that will result to more empty low level zones I suppose..

The most fun, relaxing and awesome think in an MMO is the level up and exploring..I have constantly complain on wow forums about how ridiculous fast is the level up process now

At least the game should not allow you to use this feature unless you have already one player at max level
As someone firmly in the 'Game ends at the level cap' camp who is currently playing EQ2x rather than Rift precisely because in EQ2 I can turn the xp gain off and in Rift I can't; My reaction to that was somewhere between Bhagpuss's 'Sure you knock yourselves out if you're that kind of crazy, but you ain't making ME do it' and one of those old timey Star Trek computers that Captain Kirk defeated by spouting a bunch of logical contradictions whilst acting extra weird.

Does...not...compute. Does...not...compute. *smoke billows from circuits*.
Reminds me a bit of the Guild Wars model where they gave you a level 20 just for PvP. Except in this case, they are giving you one to raid with.

I think it makes perfect sense, in a bit of a twisted way. Given that leveling and raiding are in some ways isolated and two different styles of gameplay rolled into one package, I can see why people who enjoy raiding wouldn't enjoy leveling, and vice versa. By making people pay for it, the company also hops over the hurdle of getting money from people while they level so that they can raid.
The genre of MMOs have changed enough, where it's perfectly reasonable to just hop to level cap since there really isn't much to learn.

We aren't talking about players learning to tank just by the feel of combat, or support players learning to CC almost on instinct like we have in older MMOs. Addons have nullified all those skills players used to have to be required to learn while leveling up in EQ1, FFXI, ect.

Tanks have threat meters to tell them exactly where everyone stands, addons to let you know when bosses are preparing a special move. Not saying add-ons, in and of themselves, are bad. They just have to much free reign and have bred a largely 'lazy' newer generation of player in regards to learning the class skills.
I have mixed feelings about this because the leveling up journey is part of the learning process. However, I think the gaming community has reached a level of skill and competence that many experienced players could probably handle this kind of shortcut and still be successful and productive even if they have not fully leveled up a toon in EQ. Those who would look at this option as a "gimmie" probably would not survive in the raiding scene anyways.

Still, what brings me back to WOW from time to time is the nostalgia that I feel about my personal leveling up experience. Right now I am back in WOW and enjoying the slow solo quest experience. Probably wont raid at all when I reach level cap. So while I think the "bypass option" is a good thing to offer the community, I don't know that I would engage it myself.

I think it is only a matter of time before we see an MMO that does this right from the start. Guild Wars sort of did by allowing you to create a max level character for PvP purposes only. But someday soon we're going to see a mainstream MMO that does it for PvE as well. There is so much anecdotal evidence out there about what MMO players "want," but the only way we'll know for sure is when some developer actually tries it. And you know what, it would not surprise me at all if this was something we see in Blizzard's "Titan" project.
My first thoughts mirror Glyph, the Architect's. Isn't leveling supposed to be an experience in and of itself, not just a means to an end?

It seems they don't like that some players miss some end-game content maybe? Why is it OK for players to skip leveling content (that probably took thousands of hours of developer time) just so they can play end-game content (that also took thousands of hours of dev time)? What difference does it make if players are effectively missing a large portion of your game.

Also, the discussion in question started regarding a player wanting a flying mount starting at level 1 before he would consider returning to the game. This is a seperate idea than starting at the level cap (as one nullifies the other).
As has been stated in other blogs, and in other comments here, some players feel that flying mounts actually remove from the game, and not add to it.

The next logical step seems to be instant teleport to where ever you want to go, only using mounts while in cities.
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