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Reader Comments (15)

Posted: Jun 19th 2008 9:08AM Nadril said

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The biggest thing to remember is that, in MMOs these days, the average playtime a person will have at the max level is much higher than that leveling up.

Think about it. MMO's now usually tout around a 5-7 days leveling time if a person would straight shot it from level 1-max. However for most players they will probably end up playing past that for a while, easily going above that leveling time in end game content.

On my rogue in WoW it took me about 8 days played probably to get to 70. However I probably had 20 days (idk) or so spent at 70 just with purely endgame content. Developers need to make sure that players have plenty to do when the inevitable happens.


I understand what you're saying about making the leveling experience more interesting. I'm a large PvPer so, for me, the fact that I can play on a PvP server (age of conan) is good enough for me to keep me busy.


However, gone are the days where getting to the max level is an acomplishment. I remember back in the olden MMO days that when you saw someone max level you were amazed, and thats if it had levels at all (Ultima Online -- skill based).

Posted: Jun 19th 2008 9:17AM (Unverified) said

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The theory that most people don't do high-end activities really has nothing to do with the reason why developers create the content. The fact is that for every high-end raider/PvPer, there are probably 20 that say to themselves "That looks interesting".

While they will never participate, lots of people like having that option "if their RL ever permits". If the content doesn't exist, there's less attraction to the game.

As a raider in a raiding guild, I've known plenty of social players that are also members who say "wow, I'd really like to do that" over and over. Each time, the excuse puts them back another week or three. We all know they'll never level faster but we continue with the fiction because they enjoy thinking that some day they can join us in top-end content.

Posted: Jun 19th 2008 12:16PM (Unverified) said

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I think you're hitting on a great point. Knowing there's a luau at the end of the marathon is a great reason to finish it, even if you're not hungry when you get there.

I think I fall under that category. I don't do much end-game content, but I like the idea of getting there to see it.
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Posted: Jun 19th 2008 9:20AM heartlessgamer said

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I think that is the old way of thinking. It has been very interesting to have watched Blizzard adapt in development of WoW over the last 4+ years. There was definitely a very stringent Everquest mentality around the development team at launch. Almost all the early raid dungeons expressed this.

As WoW grew, and Blizzard found themselves spending enormous amounts of time and energy on raid dungeons, the rest of the game suffered. At some point, Blizzard woke up and figured out that the majority of their players were not getting even remotely close to stuff like Naxx or BWL.

I think that happened somewhere near the early stages of development starting on The Burning Crusade. TBC was a breath of fresh air to the game, not only for being an expansion, but for being an expansion that embraced the majority of the playerbase. Tons of TBC changes directly increased the average players activity scope at max level, and yes the majority of players were max level at TBC launch.

Even with the change in mentality, Blizzard did not take a big enough leap in breaking the old Everquest hardcore elitist mentality. It was still evident the hardcore influence was holding on.

However, I think that is changing. It started with Arena gear, which really blew open the doors to casual players for great gear. Personally, I don't like the Arena gear progression, or Arenas themselves, but it is evident Blizzard was filling a need that a LARGE PORTION of their player base wanted.

Still I think Blizzard realized their hand is not in PvP and they needed to transfer that accessibility to gear to their very well-done PvE game. Badges of Justice and patch 2.4 was the start of that.

To conclude. The sense of adventure and exploration is part of it for most players, but I think many players feel that it needs to occur at max level. As MMOs grow, the more casual their player bases will get, and it is only logical that the development cater to the majority. That means rewarding players for the majority of activities they do in game, not rewarding a few players for the minority of in-game activities.


Posted: Jun 19th 2008 10:11AM (Unverified) said

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The MMOG landscape is evolving, to the perceived detriment of the "hardcore" player. Large MMOG titles have budgets larger than Hollywood productions, and they must have mass appeal in order to gain subscribers. Catering to the "hardcore" simply does not work in this model.

Yes, it is true that the "hardcore" may probably be some of best subscribers. They'll subscribe for long amounts of time if you cater to them, they'll even purchase and subscribe to multiple accounts. However, the focus of your game cannot be on this group because they are usually not a growth sector and are probably one of the smaller demographic groups in a large MMOG.

You aren't going to bring in people that have families and children and other real life responsibilities to pay to subscribe to your game if all that awaits them are 4-5 hour nightly raids that they don't have time for. At least some part of your game needs to offer them rewarding game play.

Any MMOG developer trying to compete at a high level in the MMOG PC gaming market must realize this to succeed. There is a definite balance that must be struck to catering to multiple demographic groups, not just the "hardcore" (aka "People with little too much time on their hands").

Posted: Jun 19th 2008 10:26AM (Unverified) said

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I think the danger comes in the likes of City of Heroes.

Add more high level! Done. Awesome.

Add more mid range! Done. Awesome.

Make it easier to level! Done. ....everyone then misses the middle content.

Plus casual or not. Sooner or later, you reach the high levels and want things to do. Yes the low and middle game should be kept fresh to constantly draw in customers, but you still need high end content for those people you previously recruited to stick around for.

Posted: Jun 19th 2008 11:50AM Jeromai said

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I don't know, I don't really see the stress on epic loot these days in most games' patch notes. The one's I'm reading anyway. Even the ones I just hear about, like WoW's Wrath of the Lich King seem to be bending back to be a little more inclusive of the player who can't make a 25 man raid, but perhaps a 10 man one + more 5 man dungeons.

I think MMO devs are realizing that they have to at least pay some lip service to the solo/casual cohort, or risk having a good part of their subscribers up and quit on them.

Obviously, they don't want to lose the hardcore raiders or PvPers either, so a clever new updates note will also include a few things to hold their interest as well.

I'm seeing a "a little something for everyone" stance in most updates these days. That keeps everyone's hopes up, and draws out their subscriptions a little longer.

Posted: Jun 19th 2008 11:50AM Jeromai said

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I don't know, I don't really see the stress on epic loot these days in most games' patch notes. The one's I'm reading anyway. Even the ones I just hear about, like WoW's Wrath of the Lich King seem to be bending back to be a little more inclusive of the player who can't make a 25 man raid, but perhaps a 10 man one + more 5 man dungeons.

I think MMO devs are realizing that they have to at least pay some lip service to the solo/casual cohort, or risk having a good part of their subscribers up and quit on them.

Obviously, they don't want to lose the hardcore raiders or PvPers either, so a clever new updates note will also include a few things to hold their interest as well.

I'm seeing a "a little something for everyone" stance in most updates these days. That keeps everyone's hopes up, and draws out their subscriptions a little longer.

Posted: Jun 19th 2008 12:33PM (Unverified) said

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Having played a couple of characters to 50 in City of Heroes, one to 70 in WoW, and one to 185 in Anarchy online I'll add my 1 cent worth.

The Endgame content in AO just isn't accessable unless you're in a well oiled raid guild. At least it wasn't when I was playing.

City of Heroes has no end game content, other than a big green Jello Ball. Once you hit 50, well, there's little interest in doing anything.

WoW does a nice job of covering the casual player and the hardcore player. Hit 70 and there's still plenty to do that's fun, without ever having to set foot in a raid.

I may never set foot in a 25 or 40 man raid, but I'm enjoying the battlegrounds PvP, which is very accessable (if sometimes frustrating) to the casual player.

But you're right. Some people don't want to raid or PvP and any game that can cater to them AND the hardcore types, with fun content, should do well.

Posted: Jun 19th 2008 12:55PM Arkanaloth said

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honestly.. I enjoy WoW's leveling game.. I hate WoW's endgame: Raid, PVP, or.. umm.. I guess do dailies a lot or level Alts. I like the thought of seeing more of WoW's story content, but I know it'll never happen.. so I can't say I feel all that motivated. I've played every class to at least 40+ level, most to 50/60+.. and all the level cap is to me is "the end", so I admit I don't play WoW like I did when I first got it.. in fact I don't think I've logged in since March.

Posted: Jun 19th 2008 1:57PM (Unverified) said

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The correct solution to this question is a balance between hardcore and casual content. Hardcore has to remain as the ultimate frontier of gaming, something for people to aspire to when they have an opportunity to enjoy it. But at the same time, it should be easily accessible to those who can put forth the game focus to attain it.

But the vast unwashed masses of casual players pay the same amount per player per month as the hardcore players, and there are many many many more of them. So the lion's share of your development dollars should go to making their game time more enjoyable. To do otherwise is to cut your own throat. You want money, so you have to cater to the average player - the hardcore players consume more bandwidth and server time, but contribute much much less money overall than the casual players.

Posted: Jun 19th 2008 2:24PM (Unverified) said

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The Casual is the one who in a long standing relationship such as an MMO, the developers want in their corner though.
So many devs take it upon themselves to cater to the Casual because they know the market is there.
Take LOTRO which released a mass of solo content. Look at EQ2 which in it's current state can be played to max solo.

But, so many games are getting slammed now for no end game or broken on launch (LOTRO, TR, AoC), that this causes a reverse a huge loss of customers.
That is due to the hardcore being the loudest and most vocal. Now, games which are good, in a casual playstyle, will eventually fail due to the volume of hate (a perfect example being AoC dying not only from their mistakes, but from the hardcore who pushed the game to it's limits that the casual may not have noticed for month..)

Each of the above games are actually good...but mostly to the Casual only.

Keep driving content in for that particular audience, and you could have a longtime winner on your hands. But, some middle ground needs to be met for this "extreme" gamer who whizzes through content like water.

That I have no answer for.

Posted: Jun 19th 2008 2:28PM (Unverified) said

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Why not do away with the concept of levels altogether? Why not a classless, levelless, open customization skill and ability based system that allows your character to advance indefinitely, outwards as well as upwards?

Why not make all content in the game soloable, groupable, and doable by characters of a wide range of power levels?

Scaling. Why not develop an amazingly sophisticated system of scaling, that makes it possible to go where you want, when you want, alone or with however many others you want, and have the content in that area scale to match your strength, and provide appropriate rewards?

New areas, dungeons, quests, and bosses can then be released, and EVERY player can go explore and tackle them, without it being "too low" or "too high" for them.

Want to solve the conundrum of the boredom or inflation of "endgame"? Don't HAVE an endgame. Let the characters advance and develop endlessly, but increasingly slowly. Let them diversify. Let the guy who has been playing one character for 10 hours a day for three years have every skill, every spell, every ability in the game. Why not?

There could still be SOME tiered nature to the content, in that you could have story arcs which make certain areas, certain quests, certain boss encounters relatively tougher. But no hard "level" requirements.

Give players the freedom. Remove all of the artificial barriers that prevent players from enjoying certain content, or enjoying the game according to their particular playstyle, at any given time.

Why can't we do that?

Posted: Jun 26th 2008 4:50PM (Unverified) said

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All that used to exist. It was called Star Wars Galaxies. Before the NGE.
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Posted: Jun 19th 2008 3:05PM Ergonomic Cat said

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Here's another facet:

Casual players don't really run out of content. There's the entire game.

End game ones do.

So, assuming your game itself is good, you don't need to focus so much on improving the low to mid level stuff. Because casual players haven't exhausted it, and end gamers don't care.

Not to say you shouldn't, but I think a 90/10 balance of end-game to game is fine.

Now *fixes* should be even across all. But new content, not so much.

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