Friday, 31 January 2014

Levels part 3

MMOs and levels....

Anyone remember Vanilla WoW? By no means will I go into 'it twas teh best eva!' mode. But I have to say, I do miss some things from back then. I could say the level cap was 'only 60', but that's a useless statement without context. I will say that levels mattered less. If a level 60 tried to gank two level 40's who are playing together, there was a fair chance the level 40's could scare the 60 off. Compare that to today where a geared 90 vs a fresh 90 is a black and white event. The geared 90 wins, hands down.

That's still not quite fair as a statement though, as times have changed. In vanilla WoW, gear was a bit more special. Few had it, epics were epics. To get epics, you would have to have been in a 40man raid guild. I was never in such a guild, I got my first epic item during WoW's 2nd expansion, Wrath of the Lich King.

So levels mattered less AND gear was harder to come by. That's still not the whole picture.

Linear vs Exponential growth.

Back in the day, power gain was linear. That means going from level 10-11 and from 59-60 was roughly the same gain in power. Item progression followed this as well, level 60s wore armour with an ilevel of 60, and that increased slowly through raid content. Today, we have exponential growth. Going from level 59-60 is no where near as big a gain as 84-85 or 89-90. Gear too, is now exponential. A level 60 wore ilevel 60 gear, a fresh level 90 starts in roughly ilevel 450 items. The first teir of raid content gives ilevel 496 gear. 2nd teir gives roughly ilevel 522. An early boss in tier 3 gives ilevel 553 on normal difficulty. Within 3 tiers of Mists of Pandaria end game, we have had more progression then all of Vanilla WoW from a fresh character, to the final raid boss of the whole game before it's first expansion. Kel'thuzard, who incredibly few saw, let alone managed to beat, dropped ilevel 92 gear at it's peak.

So in Vanilla, levels mattered less, gear mattered less, and gear was harder to get. People of wide level spreads could play together! Their amount of power was similar in a way that helping a friend through a lower level dungeon was still a challenge! Today, levels matter more, gear matters more and gear so much easier to obtain. A level 90 in normal raid gear can solo level 90 heroic dungeons.

The point to all this is the division of players. In vanilla, a raid geared player was better then you, but you were not useless in comparison. Today, the spread of power is so large that even at max level, fresh level 90 is useless compared to a casually geared 90. He can catch up for sure, gearing doesn't take long. But a friend new to the game is months away from that. You can roll a new character to level with him, but that's the issue of maintaining multiple characters. If he plays on his own and out levels the character you made to be with him, well.... what do you do? Keep playing this alt that only exists to be with him solely to catch up? Do you drop it and tell the fried 'well, see you at max level!'? Do you make him maintain a second character, one he plays solo and one to play with your alt, dividing his play time and elongating the time it takes him to get to max level at all?

Just let us scale our power already! Let me take my level 90 rogue and power him down to level 40 to play with my friends! Rift does it, Champions Online does it, and while I still mourn it's loss, City of Heroes did it.

That will a post for another day, but City of Heroes my favourite MMO. The sandbox of the theme park. Selectable difficulties, level and power scaling in both directions, that was the game where no matter what character anyone was on. Everyone could play together!

If MMOs are about playing together, LET US!

Am I crazy? Wrong? Right? Leave a comment!

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