Time to Cap

Commenter Alucian states:

unlike other MMOs, Blizzard actually scales xp needed to level and gained from quests with the current number of levels to max. They ensure it takes the same amount of time to get from 1-endgame whatever the max level may be.

This is an interesting notion to me, one I have not considered because I have been through only one level cap increase (CoX does not count) in my ten MMO years (old old old). Every time you increase the level cap, you can change the rate of experience accumulation so that time to cap is unchanged.

Would you wait a few months after the new expansion to do so? On one hand, you don’t want existing players to feel like their “work” has been “cheapened.” On the other hand, the expansion will not be terribly helpful in recruiting new players if they see months between them and that shiny new expansion. There is also the scaling o, that. Many games seem to want the last ten levels to take as long as all the levels before them, or the expansion to take as long as the old “late levels.” You would need to halve the old late levels’ leveling time to make the new time-to-cap fit, with the new late levels taking as long as the old late levels did.

If you keep re-scaling experience, and your level cap keeps rising, you eventually will have players leveling by walking near the newbie zones. Alternately, your time to level through later expansions would be increasingly short, although that might not be an entirely bad thing. If you do not keep re-scaling experience, you start seeing a dizzying distance from level 1 to the cap, particularly if you obey that principle of how long the last 10 levels should take. You could keep that time constant, so 1-40 takes 120 hours, 40-50 takes 120 hours, 50-60 takes 120 hours, etc. I think it would quickly become insane with the “50-60 takes 240 hours, 60-70 takes 480 hours…” interpretation.

: Zubon

12 thoughts on “Time to Cap”

  1. I’ve written about this before: Time to Max Level

    I think there’s a sweet spot of about 8 months for a new player to take their first character to the level cap, playing a few hours a week. Max level is the first major milestone for a new player, and I think it is important to keep that goal within reach.

  2. WoW definitely makes the expansion levels take a long time. With recruit a friend, earlier mounts, increasing question exp, reducing exp to level, 1-60 is super fast now, though.

    I rerolled a new character and took advantage of recruit a friend. Playing Alliance for the first time, I took two characters dual boxed to level 60 in two days /played.

    It took an additional 1 and a half days to get one of the characters to level 68 so he could see WoTLK.

    It took an insane amount of time after that to get him to the cap.

  3. I don’t think the original quote is true, as far as I can tell, most MMORPGs rescale their exp after the cap is moved, usually after the expansion / patch has settled in for a bit. It’s hardly exclusive to WoW.

    It’s been a complaint of mine, especially in WoW and LOTRO that they trivialize much of their older / leveling content this way. =(

    Personally, I’d rather see them give players more options to leapfrog rather than to scale content that wasn’t originally designed to scale.

    Let players with a max-level character create new characters at higher levels. That way the people who get bored leveling get what they want and the folks who love rolling alts can experience the content the way it was originally intended.

  4. It depends on the game. In WoW, you have seen roughly 90% of what your character will ever be able to do by 20 (maybe 30 or 40 for some classes). At that point encouraging players to savor the leveling game seems best. If the designers really want everyone in their end game as soon as possible, provide a way to skip the rest of the game you have no intention of updating.

    However, there are many other games that gradually ramp up the skill needed to play over the entire course of your career.

  5. It really doesn’t matter to me how long it takes to get to the level cap. The problem I keep running into is that I’m doing the same thing at level 20 as I am all the way to level 80. How is that ever supposed to be fun?

  6. Point 1: I don’t remember if Wrath of the Lich King was this way, but I remember that, when they re-scaled old-world xp for Burning Crusade, they left 1-20 alone, since that takes a trivial amount of time anyway. I think a good solution might be, eventually, that every so often (say, 21, 41, 61, or some pattern like that), time to level drops back down from the previous level. It wouldn’t drop back to the time to go from 1 to 2, but there’s a certain feeling of cresting a hill that they could roughly overlap with moving to a new area or set of areas. I know that, when a WoW character hits 58 and I move to Outland, I feel that rush of quick leveling renewed, plus the excitement of moving on, and I can get 3-4 levels on that momentum alone.
    Point 2: LotRO changed their xp scaling with their MoM expansion, and they actually backdated xp, so that each character earned significant (and I mean significant) xp by walking out of the city and killing anything that would give them xp normally. This was a fun novelty, as an altaholic with all server slots filled. I don’t know if I think all games should do this.
    Point 3: As someone whose main characters have hit every level cap of every expansion of every game, my WoW character, for instance, has therefore taken the longest time possible to level. Do I care? No. I don’t let my friends forget it when they’re groaning about trying to get past a certain area, so I’m probably insufferable, but I also like being able to take a long time with one character and see everything, and then whoosh past certain places (or not, as I feel like it) with my alts. Yeah, some people complain about effort being trivialized, but that’s where I think Blizz did something right–they eliminated the possibility of earning certain titles and achievements once the expansion hit. It’s controversial, since some people would like to actually go through and accomplish those difficult tasks, but they introduced new ones for the new cap, and in the meantime, anybody who went through the insanely long quest chain to earn the title of “Hand of A’dal”, or fought battleground after battleground to earn an old-world pvp rank, that achievement will not be cheapened, and when they walk by wearing that title, you have a little respect.

  7. EQ has a tough exp scaling system. I remember it being claimed that it took the same amount of time to get from 51 – 60 as it did to get from 1 – 50. That’s hard work! It’s been reduced no doubt in recent years.

  8. WoW actually reduced the 60->70 XP needed when the 3.0 patch hit, about 4-6 weeks before they raised the level cap. I had a character at 61 at the time, and the difference was significant.

    Another notable WotLK change is that there’s less difference in XP required per level. The difference between 61->62 and 69->70 in TBC was a lot bigger than the difference between 71->72 and 79->80 in WotLK, in terms of XP.

  9. There should always be a way to turn off gaining xp, if you don’t want to level out of content that you want to enjoy to the max. EQ2 is very good in this respect, being launched with a switch to turn off combat xp, and in recent times allowing you to turn off quest xp also.

    CoH/V also allows you to do that. Not sure what other games have a similar system.

    given that newbie areas are frequently the best designed parts of an MMO, it’s a shame to be rushed through them due to the xp boosts older games tend to have received.

  10. I’d love to hear a reason why you would not want to allow players to be able to stop advancement temporarily. I can think of many reasons why players would like to be able to do that. Any smart dev-types out there? Brian?

  11. The reason I usually hear is to prevent farming, though I find it unpersuasive, and in any case would only ever be true in games with trivial loot code.

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