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Jan 02, 2006



There is a similar effect when you are the one powerleveling your own alternate character, but in games where this is possible and more acceptable there emerge distinct social castes where those who 'know how to play' their toon deride those who don't (the recently powerleveled).


In an odd way I understand how you feel, but from the other side. At a time I built up a charactor/account in UO so that I could sell it. I made a point to tell my friends who I told about it that the charactor was being going to be sold & not to "friend" the charactor to houses (etc).

It was bit odd seeing the charactor after that for a while after first selling & know it wasn't me playing it.


I think the degree to which you get attached to a character, or feel disoriented due to not having that attachment varies from individual to individual. I know I could *never* sell an MMORPG account I had created even for a game I have no intention of playing ever again, because I end up with a close sense of attachment/association with any characters I create and it wouldn't feel right to have someone else running around in my shoes. I usually spend considerable time deciding what and how I want to play, and I have learned through many mistakes that if I don't like the name of a character, I will end up deleting it sooner or later (Thus the demise of at least 30 different alts in City of Heroes for example, and probably the same or more in Dark Age of Camelot). If the concept is wrong but I like the name then I retain it for the next alt, if the name is wrong but the concept is interesting then I can end up rerolling the same type of character many, many times.

Yet, I have met a number of people for whom the name, class/profession/skillset etc means absolutely nothing and who can acquire and part with characters without any hesitation as a result. They accept the random name generated by the game, or pick a name like "Monosodium Glutamate" (because it was on the empty chip bag in front of them (true story)) or something like "urDeadAlready RevolutionRevolution", and they are willing to switch playing to whatever is the latest FOTM class/template/profession/skillset without a second's hestitation because they have *no* association or attachment to the character. Its just a tool, to be tossed out like toiletpaper.

Personally, I think its mostly this latter catagory who are the primary recipients of powerleveling because the evolution of the character, or its previous associations are utterly meaningless to them. Many seem to view the PvE gameplay involved in getting to the max level as a complete waste of time and just want to get focused on the PvP aspect of a game because thats the only type of gameplay they can accept as valid (Obviously they must score high on the Killer side of the MMORPG profile).

If you felt disoriented by the sudden acquisition of a powerleveled character, its simply because you are not one of these types of people and *do* feel the attachment process is important.


This calls into question the very essence of what the genre is at risk of becoming. It's not like this is anything new of course, but with the explosive growth of 2005 has come even more questions about what an MMORPG is and why players should bother.

Where else is there an entire service industry for avoiding a game?

I often why wonder someone would play an MMORPG if all they really want to do is kill other players with a maxxed out character or get the best loot there is without bothering with the increments.

Is it that the players don't want to re-learn the game multiple times? Maybe. Players do stick around a mastered game for the social ties and maybe their own standing in the hierarchy.

But that should be *rewarded by the game*, not penalized by it to the point where a player would rather spend money to have someone else play the game for them. The CoH unlockable Hero classes were a good first step towards an equitable solution. But like so many interesting concepts in that game, the game itself is a limiter to the proliferation of them. If the game was more successful, I suspect we'd see more emulation of its concepts.


I feeled something similar when I builded one of my old Ultima Online characters.

I did a "just build it without socialization", macroing for some time without talking to anybody. I did it in record time, yes, but then when I looked at it, all I had was a "rogue asassin" not only unknown by it's future enemies... but a complete ghost, without soul, personality... just some maxed skills & stats.
No-one knew it, and I really hadn't played with it... so it was really empty.

For me a MMORPG is as you say, the "walk along the path of life" of the character. The rest is just numbers, it's like cheating for the first time in a game (without having ended the game at least once)... you became bored fast because you miss the point, the fun of the game.



Darniaq> I often why wonder someone would play an MMORPG if all they really want to do is kill other players with a maxxed out character or get the best loot there is without bothering with the increments.

I've known many people- particularly PvP'ers, who find the level "grind" a prerequisite to "serious competetive PvP." To them, the fight starts long before the battle- and no good strategist would give any advantage to a foe. That's why "maxed out" is so important- it gives away nothing.

Many of these people are the same ones that prefer to play multiplayer games on the X-box, where there are no levels and there are no drastic ability differences between foes. These same people love the "auto-maxing" of characters in Guild Wars.


Hmmm, I get very attached to my characters and would not want to part with any of them after I move on, however....that said, I still wouldn't have any problem jumping into a fully leveled toon.

Note - I'd never PAY to do that - but I wouldn't miss much if MMOs started - or gave the option to start 'at the end' - which I consider the beginning.

I suppose the primary reason for this is that no matter what game I play, no matter what the toons class or skills are - they are all pretty much the same - they are all pretty much me. I've had a LOT of experience being me...I don't necessarily have to spend hours reestablishing that inside a particular game world. Learning the mechanics yes, but that curve is also typically shorter for the experienced player.

The socialization aspect would be different, but it wouldn't necessarily be missing if everyone started the same way. In this example cited - I could see a considerable adjustment period trying to 'break-in' to the community that had grown up together. By the high-end level of MMO play in what we have today - you aren't going to do a lot without cooperating with a group that know each other fairly well.

I'd be more worried about skills, but even that should be able to be picked up with a few solo sessions testing things out and experimenting for the experienced player.

There definately seems to be at least two camps of players. One considers 'the game' to be leveling - the other considers 'the game' to be what you do with what you've built after you've built it.

In my experience - the more MMOs a player has under their belt the more they tend to shift to the latter category and the leveling just becomes something you have to get through to get on with the program.


And that's what I find so interesting :)

What about an MMORPG is giving these players something they're not already getting in other games? Is it simply about being able to fight different people all the time in unscheduled matches? Does the persistent world front end of global chat and economics provide them a much better experience than the chat and player-matching services of a console game?

This sort of goes back to an old discussion about Diablo 2 versus Everquest. Both allowed people to get together to hunt or trade by first meeting in a public environment. The big differences were:

  • How the public environment was structured. D2 used a public chat interface, facilitating trade by having people load into the same instanced zone.
  • How adventuring happened: Same thing: Grab group, load zone. Like Guild Wars.
  • The lack of ability for people to randomly bump into each other. There was no way to do so in D2. Of course, given how compartmentalized games have been getting, I often wonder if the whole randomness thing is something many don't want in the first place. It limits their ability to control.

It also touches back upon Advancement as the core of a game though. I assume those who use leveling services are fine paying the fees for them. They consider the fee a "price of entry" like others consider time, going so far as to consider the non-endgame as little more than a tutorial, or an annoyance.

But given how much content is given over to the advancement portion of the game, I'm wondering just what sort of experience these sorts of players are getting. And, if this trends upward, whether the advancement portion of the game is really as compelling as it once was. There's two distinct ways this could go:

  1. Keep making MMORPGs more RPGy, with more engaging quests and story arcs.
  2. Toss levels and quests and just go for a fun persistent combat experience.

Or, MMORPG vs MMOFPS maybe :)

I don't think one will replace the other. There's enough fun for everyone! But I do wonder if the folks using leveling services are simply accepting this need because MMORPGs are all they have available right now. If MMOFPSes do take off (Huxley will be only the second one after PS), how many will migrate that way, eskewing the tutorial and levels and way expensive hand-crafted content in favor of pure fun.


I felt the same way when IGE offered to PL my original EQ character all the way to 65 for free, as a comp. I let them do it, just to see if it was for real (this was back in 2003 mind you - still a lot of skepticism). But then I couldn't play the character any more. Comolan was a 39 cleric in a 65 cleric's body.

Makes me think that most of the demand in account markets is not this sort of frustrated demand, people who try to get to the end game with a character, only to find that it isn't as much fun as they thought. There are always some people doing that, but rather, I bet most of the demand is from guilds that need a cleric account, or mules or bots, people who know what they are getting and have a specific use in mind. Or, server switches, things like that. Or research!


I knew it! You researchers are destroying our games! Paying macroer types to powerlevel your characters so you can "test" endgames! Buying game currencies so you can explore the higher-end items! Buying said items off eBay and other auction sites for real money for similar reasons!

I knew there had to be a demand driving this! It's YOU! You, you...

On a serious note, I agree that there is a diverse community with diverse values. I have bought and sold accounts. When I buy, I strip the character of assets and create my own. I have bought accounts for the non-character assests when I bought them, or for the convenience of just getting an alt account without having to buy a silly box/code. I can turn an online transaction in less time than it takes me to go to the mall. (Which is one reason I love the game companies that allow online account purchases.)

I too become attached to my characters, but I guess I can be pretty ruthless. Once I decide I am done with a game, I can sell even characters of whom I have fond memories... unless they were very social. I prefer not to create confusion among people who I consider real friends, even if I never knew their real names.

Those people who want end-game content NOW perpetuate the market by reselling their characters, I suspect. Easy come, easy go sort of thing. A commodity remains a commodity.


If MMOFPSes do take off (Huxley will be only the second one after PS)

You forgot Neocron.


you also forget endless ages.


I'd describe myself as a casual gamer and WoW has been my only MMORPG experience, so levelling up was kinda fun for me. As I was getting closer to 60 however, I heard more and more about the amount of time I'd probably have to dedicate to the higher end instances, and decided to cancel my subscription. I was pretty happy with the experience of getting to 60 though (though I can imagine it being tedious if you've already travelled similar routes in the past).

What kept me coming back to the game however were the interactions with other players, helping out others, and being helped (often by strangers). There's something to be said for growing up with someone in levels so that you know their little quirks and mannerisms.. returning to your hometown and looking at landmarks that remind you of quests that seemed so foreboding at the time to your level 5 tyke, but that you could probably finish now in the blink of an eye.

Personally, I'd find it uncomfortable to play a character that someone else has brought up because I'd worry about the reputation that's attached to it. What if the person (or persons) playing the toon was just an ass clown making life hell for other players, I'd say to myself.. what if he or she was leech who kept begging for help from everyone but wouldn't go out of his\her way to help others just because powerlevelling was the objective.. I didn't want to be associated to that.

Although, I suppose my concern could be alleviated considerably if I were allowed to change the name of the toon ;)



I think that powerleveing has a different effect depending on what characters you've played before. For instance, I have 2 level 60 chars on horde side already. Were I to try and get a third and needed it quickly (say to help my guild) I would seriously consider getting that third character powerleveled. I know the horde quests, I know the zones, I don't NEED to see them again, I just need to practice being a different class in an instance. However, I would never do the same thing were I to start an allince toon. I haven't seen those quests or zones, I'd need to experience them myself before feeling like I knew them. No abandoned quest on the horde side would be new to me, but on the allince side, I'd feel as disoriented and confused as you did if i didn't level my own character.


I had a character powerlevelled a few months ago and felt exactly the same when I got the character.

I had become dissatisfied with my "main" -- a level 60 rogue -- due to his inability to find consistant groups. I was going on vacation for a week, so I figured what the hell? may as well get a priest power levelled to 50 while I was away and I could get those last 10 levels myself.

but when I came back and logged in with the character, it just felt increadibly uncomfortable. I forced myself to play it for a few days and got to level 51, but it was just too weird. I felt totally disconnected with the character, which in turn, made me lose any desire to play it. the priest has been sitting at level 51 since September.

You forgot Neocron (and Endless Ages)
I didn't realize Neocron was considered an FPS experience though. It has some of the trappings, but I didn't think it analogous to PS. And I honestly did discount Endless Ages because I wasn't sure it was actually a Live game at this point. In any case, thank you both Raph and Hikaru for the clarification. Not sure I'd say these two titles will help MMOFPSes "take off" like I think Huxley may, but it's better to be accurate historically and leave the "EQ was the first MMORPG" comments to other places :)

Not all virtual worlds have to be about avatars, or personal achievement. An avatarless mmog would be pretty interesting actually..

In the game you have mentioned, the product the developers have sold is the narrative experience of avatar creation. Isn't what you're experiencing disconnect from the narrative, rather than from the avatar?

What I have often mused when I first began my "career" in EVE Online, was that I always felt like I couldn't leave a signature of my passage through that environment. The fact that I couldn't turn on a big laser and carve crude sentiments into the face of the nearest moon made the universe seem a bleak and hopeless place. The crux of the problem is the disconnect of ego from its environment or media of choice.

My opinions on this changed after awhile. As we speak, out in the vastness of simulated vacuum, a bit of pixels cobbled together from the effort of many players (very little of my own actually) silently sits waiting. If another group decided it had to go, it could disappear in the next 3 hours. For all I know, it is halfway destroyed even as I type this. In fact, there are some agitated rivals, proto-nationalists if you will (that are or were connected with the recently covered Marginis IPO sponsored by the ISS corporation), that would be quite content with this scenario and who are encamped not far from its current location. This is kindof a new set of tools offered by the game company, but all the same, the most important aspect of it is intangible. It is a product of collaboration.

Every day I log in and the whole place is moved about. My avatar, my skills, my virtual net worth is pretty irrelevant although I generally prefer it not be blown to smithereens if possible. This dynamic environment is engaging. Far moreso than my own welfare. In fact, I suspect it is just enough to allow me to succumb to the Stockholm syndrome that grips everyone else on such a mass scale.

Before such tools were enabled, I had still had a change of heart, and the focus of where ego can impact has not changed. It's the player created environment. Attempting to guess what other players are up to and who their friends are is constantly engaging. People who I would normally categorize as friendly neutrals I realize become threats as they are also sympathetic to other newcomers in a region that happen to be rivals with us. Conflict is very easy to avoid for individual particants in EVE. All your traps are for naught with one tip off from a neutral that wants to keep everyone alive. How then does one go about applying the screws to your wayward friends in order to inform that they are either "with us or against us" without sending creating allies for your enemy by polarizing their presence? We call it NBSI (not blue, shoot it) polity. It's directly a product of fear of establishing more complex and nuanced institutions for defining relationships between groups of players and organizations in the game. Of course, it's also a bit of fun until it gets too successful.

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