I read an excellent post by Lonegun about the free level cap character viral that roams some MMOs. It was a little rant about how they dislike this feature and it was so excellent because it started me thinking about what this thing is that we call "MMO".
Lonegun in The Rant: Leveling is a Grind over at Away From Game:
"In my opinion people who are, “bored with the slog of leveling” are not true MMO gamers."Ouch, well, that hurt. (Okay, maybe not all that much.)
In an MMO, I usually enjoy the 'leveling' part on my first character. But to be honest, I'm not actually enjoying the leveling itself (I care very little for that aspect and an inaudible groan escapes me each time a guildie/kinnie exclaims "DING!" in chat), I enjoy the exploration, learning how to play my character and the lore (if it interests me). If a game is designed well, I incidentally reach level cap when I've seen everything (or a bit before, so there's a bit left to explore for other characters). After I've seen what the world has to offer, then it loses its appeal when I level more alts.
What I truly love about MMOs is endgame. The challenge of getting a group together and get the best out of yourself, combined with the comradeship that emerges in a group when doing things together. This is what makes me log in with enthusiasm and keeps me interested in an MMO. I know this is not for everyone, in fact, this sort of gameplay is found in the more traditional MMOs (WoW, LotrO, SWTOR) and most new MMOs try to step away from it. However, this is what I like in MMOs, and if that makes a non-true MMO gamer (whatever that means), then so be it.
I would never buy a level capped character, though, that obliterates the whole idea of a 'game' for me. Playing my character makes me feel connected to it. It may sound strange, but my character gains worth to me with the time invested. If it is a terribly boring grind to level a character, I will just not play the game at all. Maybe this is the light in which we should see the recent get-a-level-capped-character offers: a desperate attempt to keep players interested.
I do not believe we have found the 'true MMO gamer' in Lonegun's leveler, though. In fact, I do not believe either the leveler or the hardcore end gamer necessarily represents the 'true MMO gamer'. The search continues this week in part two.