Cultural Difference

In World of Warcraft, the shared world is where you complete the leveling game. It is organized by and dominated by quests. The goal of the leveling game is to earn experience points and to complete it as time-efficiently as possible. The end game is the real game, and it takes place in instances. The goal is to improve your gearscore. Completing achievements and collecting pets and mounts are shared mini-games between the two levels of play.

Or at least that is how I see the majority of hardcore players. If you disagree, the question is not whether it is true for you but whether you think I have mis-assessed the majority. You could also make the case that the real majority is casually making its way through the leveling game. Those people are less likely to be engaged in MMO blogs or the meta-game, so I don’t know if they are part of the conversation.

In City of Heroes and The Lord of the Rings Online™, the leveling game is the game. There is a veneer of end game, but people who think that the game begins at the level cap are severely disappointed. There is some harder content at the cap, along with the chance to farm for best-in-slot gear, but the games are designed for the journey. If you power-level to get past the leveling game, you are just missing the game. The end game is pretty much more of the leveling game, without experience points. (Completing badges/deeds and collecting costumes/mounts are shared mini-games between the two levels of play.)

Going from the latter two to the former, I was constantly annoyed by “the game begins at 80.” Meanwhile, the population in the former is much larger and therefore is a constant source of complaints as visitors in the latter two. “I left WoW because I was bored, but this game sucks because it isn’t more like WoW. I need you to change it for me now, because I’m going back to WoW when the next expansion drops.”

: Zubon

12 thoughts on “Cultural Difference”

  1. Nailed it in one.

    My online gaming background is from a MUD structured just like WoW, so I quite understand the whole ‘game starts at max level’ schtick despite never making it there in WoW.

    If only the WoW majority can get it into their heads that not every game has to copycat WoW to be good. Some people like the leveling game just fine, thank you, or want a change of pace from the raiding/loot drop hamster wheel.

  2. Perusing stats for WoW, I see that 87.5% of the 17.4 million surveyed characters have reached level 80. 81% of all level 80 characters have fully completed the Naxxramas 10 raid (78.7% have done Naxx 25) and 42.6% have completed all of the Icecrown Citadel raid (40% have done ICC 25).

    In contrast, only 9-10% of all surveyed characters have completed the full Loremaster achievement (for completing virtually all quests in Classic, TBC and WotLK zones).

    This supports your assertion about the end-game in WoW being the game but I suspect it challenges the statement about “hardcore” players. In lowering the barriers to raids – reducing the numbers required, removing attunement – endgame content is no longer the sole domain of the “hardcore”. With heroic dungeons and the introduction of badges, even Joe Casual can experience raid content. So in a reversal of roles, it’s arguably only the hardcore will “grind” enough quests to achieve the title of Loremaster.

    I would be interested to see what the comparitive stats from CoH and LOTRO are.

  3. “I left WoW because I was bored, but this game sucks because it isn’t more like WoW. ”

    I like to call this a “wow-itude” and I think I had one too when I originally started LotRO a year ago, but I’ve learned to absolutely love the differences. With the differences in game play came a difference in players attitudes as well with most of the beta lotro people having the better one.

    I didn’t find out until level 52 that the “end-game” could be considered to start at around level 45 in LotRO when you can first do the quests for equipping legendary items. So on my main, I’m a bit behind, but on my warden, I’m making sure that I follow the epic quest line more closely.

    I do think this will weed out the WoW population that people are most afraid of. Those who think they will grind to the end-game for free and then get uber/epic gear will be very disappointed. You pretty much have to do the epic questline at a minimum.

  4. If I went back to any previously played MMO, it would probably be City of Heroes. Mostly this is because that game has come the closest to having levels not matter than any other MMO out there. With all the sidekicking, mentoring, supersidekicking and all that, you can get into the game, play with anyone at practically any time nearly anywhere. Leveling in that game really just adds to the depth of combat options available to you more than anything else.

  5. I believe WoW is large enough that it has aspects that appeal to many different types of gamers.

    Both my kids and I play WoW and we are all different in our game play. My youngest is a quester, but hates battlegrounds. My teenager loves battlegrounds and dungeons. I play all of the above, but mostly I’m working the auction house and professions. Of course, being in a large guild helps.

  6. I enjoy WoW’s leveling game, but I’m not so big on the endgame. I usually fool around while leveling to prolong the process – explore, do some crafting, fish all over the world, do newbie quests for other races so I can get different mounts. Then I generally play the endgame stuff for about three months (long enough to see all the new instances and raids and get some battleground experience) before getting bored with it. At this point I either start a new character, or quit for a few months.

    This may explain why I have seven level 80 characters.

    I’m presently going through the same process with LoTRO, and enjoying it a lot.

  7. I played a bit of Lotro earlier this year and found that whenever the topic of WoW came up it was people exclaiming “Thank God, this is so not-WoW!”

    But then I played on the unofficial RP server. WoW RP servers aren’t so much RP as “slightly fewer asshats per square yard in Dalaran.”

  8. I play both WoW and LotRO, primarily because the two games are like yin and yang to each other. One games strength is the other’s weakness, and vice versa.

    Although right now I’m liking LotRO the best, since I’ve never been much of an end-gamer and I enjoy the leveling process/crafting/fluff, and I find that style of play is encouraged more in LotRO. I’m sure that I’ll go back to WoW for Cataclysm, but how long I’ll stay is anybody’s guess.

    But yeah, celebrate the diversity! It’s all good!

  9. I hate the whole “you have to play through to get to max level before the game begins” ideaology. Why not just give me a max level character then? Why must I go through some sort of bizarre hazing experience before I get to have fun?

    While I like being max level, I like to enjoy the whole game. I guess I want the journey to be fun, but I also want the end game to be fun, and I don’t want the game to suddenly switch the way it should be played when I get to max level (a la WoW raiding). Is that too much to ask?

    And why must I have to wait until max level to get all the pretty clothes and cool looking items? Am I unworthy of them before that? This is one reason I always loved LotRO’s dressing room system. You could get some nice looking stuff and wear it pretty early on.

    Honestly, I think WAR does a pretty good job of making the entire journey fun, but I still like T3 zones the best, and it’s sad that you can’t go back and play there again after you’ve leveled past them. This another thing I really loved about UO. There was no leveling system because it was skill-based, so the world was wide open. You could go wherever you liked, whenever you liked.

    I really hope BioWare is taking this stuff into consideration for TOR and not just copying WoW. :(

    1. Are the Tier 3 zones good these days? At release, that was the point at which things fell apart for me. Grind picked up, content fell off, PvP balance became problematic, etc. If it is really good these days, hey, I have an Engineer parked there. :)

      1. Well, since they added LotD, T3 is the least populated. Just another thing that makes me sad. :(

        However, Badlands server is the place to be. I play Order side, and friends tell me that in T4 on any given night there are about 8 warbands running around.

        I am playing a new character and I’m presently in T2. Usually 3 warbands running around there, and I’m hoping it continues into T3. If not, scenarios pop very frequently, though I get really tired of grinding those.

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