Brief, but heartfelt

I would like, sweetly and with all due respect, to curse EQ and WoW to the bottom-most pit of MMO hell for creating, perpetuating and cementing the myth that “The game starts at {maxLevel}.”

Do I need to list, seriously, how stupid, inane, wasteful and downright enraging the attitude that engenders is? All right then.

  • People now treat all <max content as trivial. When the developers start doing it too, you’re really onto a winner!
  • People start expecting something akin to holy revelation at max level. In WoW, your holy revelation is a future of raiding and faction point farming. WTF did you expect? It’s what they advertise. If you don’t like it, you shouldn’t have freaking rushed to 60 70 80 now should you? Idiot.
  • It encourages content vultures. Since < max level is trivial, it should be devoured as fast as possible on the road up while at the same time bitching and moaning that nobody makes meaningful content anymore. Et tu, Eejit.
  • It encourages levelling vultures. Fortunately those usually leave the game for greener pastures once they max out in the first two weeks, then spend two weeks a) bragging about how they were the first to wipe their max-level backside and b) complaining how bored they are and how they have nobody to play with. Idiots. (At least they move on.)
  • And finally, it breeds contempt for the entirety of a game and its population. Not max level? Then you don’t matter. Something interesting somewhere that isn’t a max-level area? Can’t be important. What, you want to enjoy the journey as much as the destination? You stupid, deluded idiot. Oh wait, that would be me.

I am beyond tired of hearing that any real MMO only starts at the level cap. Scuse me, what the fuck have I been doing these last few years then, if not playing? The next time someone tells me nothing is meaningful until max, I am SERIOUSLY going to hunt them down and bite them on the leg until they get rabies. Then I’ll shoot them for having rabies.

19 thoughts on “Brief, but heartfelt

  1. That was a rant that warmed the cockles of my heart, whatever the hell a cockle is.

    I don’t understand that attitude particularly when its coming from devs. If 1-MAX doesn’t matter, why go to the expense of putting it in? Let everyone roll a max level character, give ‘em a bunch of Whatever Points to distribute, and throw the rest away.

    I wouldn’t play such a game, but if that’s what you think matters, then build it that way.

    EQ2 just added “faster leveling” from 20-70 or something like that. This has the effect on me of being less interested in renewing my sub over there, because it devalues those levels. If the devs think they have no value, why should I?

  2. LMAO! Just what the doctor described. Thanks for the heart warming post and the comment on mine… wait… was it the comment or this post that was commenting…

    Nevermind! Lovely post.

  3. I ask because the only people I’ve ever heard complain about these issues are people who have never hit the level cap. You’re the only level-capped person I’ve ever heard complain about <max content being trivial.

  4. Honestly, I got to max level in WoW, looked at the options available to me and stopped playing – admittedly after farming some faction for items. I wasn’t going to get into raiding, faction farming wasn’t really of interest, BGs were bleh, open PVP was bleh, Arena stuff is not my thing and I felt little motivation to run dailies until I could afford a mount that would only be usable in Outlands.

    However, I do (sort of) subscribe to the thought that the game really starts at max level. The base most premise to that is that everything I have at the lower level is a stepping stone and it all gets replaced.

    I actually blame EQ2 and games that have tiers of gear for this. That’s about when it all started, IMO.

    EQ1? I loved it. I had no desire or urge to hit max level (I did, and I raided). I have to say I enjoyed the dungeons from the original release and Kunark the most. All the ones after that (I stopped around Gates of Discord and Omens of War) had moments of awe which quickly passed when I realized how small they were.

    Oddly enough, I don’t feel “game starts at max level” so much in WAR even though it does have tiered items. I actually find I enjoy the content and I’m taking more time through it. I’ve been having fun with scenarios, PQs and open RVR. Really, having Open RVR available at all levels is pretty sweet. This is a change from DAoC where the game really did sort of start at 50 because that was where the playing field was (sort of) leveled out.

    Heh. You can say I’ve got mixed feelings about it more recently.

  5. To a certain extent WAR avoids some of this by effectively starting you over again each time you step up a tier. Being rank 12 in T2 is pretty much the same in terms of character capability as being rank 1 in T1. It also helps that as well as the “go here, do this” section of the quest text, there’s a whole bunch of flavour text to read, along with the Tome entries that you unlock along the way. I have a terrible Collect The Set mentality, so I’m happy wobbling round the landscape seeing if there’s something I missed the first time around. Plus I’m seeing scenery that I haven’t seen before and meeting strange and interesting creatures along the way.

    I think perhaps the fact that I have six, yup, count ‘em, six level 70 characters over on WoW attests a) to the fact I don’t really enjoy the max level content beyond general bimbling around and b) I’m an rampant alt-a-holicaltophile (sorry Ysh!). Raiding? Meh. Battlegrounds? Meh. Daily quests? Fun for a while but once you’ve got your fifth character exalted with the Shattered Sun Offensive you’d be more inclined to chew your own feet off than run another through the daily grind.

  6. Expopp: I haven’t capped, but I have seen what that so much famed ‘end game’ does to communities and tightly knit guilds who gladly plunged through the content and were torn by the fame and fortune.

    Sadly so. Still miss some of the guys.

    And still resent some.

  7. As someone who believes long car rides to destinations can be just as much fun as being there, I, too, am completely opposed to the ‘game starts at max level’ conspiracy. I’m always behind the curve (not because of alts but because of limited game time) and it just seems silly to see leveling as an obstacle. It is a game, it is supposed to enjoyed, not conquered (sigh).

  8. @ Expopp — I think you misunderstood what I meant. I’m not saying max level and higher content is trivial (though I don’t enjoy WoW’s end-game content of choice, which is my prerogative), I’m saying anything *under* max level is starting to be trivialised, either by players or (in some cases) by developers/designers themselves.

    I object to the idea that getting to level X is unimportant. If it’s that unimportant, why have it in there? Take the next logical step and remove it — otherwise, do something fun with it.

  9. I have only hit max level in two games, Star Wars Galaxies and WoW.

    Part of my problem is that I am an MMO addict and I jump from game to game at times, but I also like to enjoy the content. Racing to max level to me just seems like too much work, and I already have a job.

  10. I’m a solid EASK, and the “endgame” treadmill just doesn’t interest me all that much. It has nothing to do with ego or the dark variations of such, but everything to do with the actual game design itself at that “phase” of play.

    Guild Wars did it partly right; let the PvP nuts jump in at max level to start with, and let the PvE explorers wander about.

    Well-stated rant, Ysh. I’ve said much the same more than once. ;)

  11. Expopp: FWIW I hit cap in WoW too, and I’m with Ysh on this one. I did do some end game instancing and small raids (10-man – can you even call that a raid?) in WoW but I was unemployed at the time so could fit it in. I can’t imagine devoting such a large percentage of my limited free time to an MMO now that I’m back to doing the 9-5 grind. Not on any kind of long term basis anyway, which is what the raiding guilds expect.

    When I go back to WoW now (which I do every so often) I just start a new character and level it up…

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