See You At End-Game

Last year when I got back to school one of my friends Joey told me that he’d starting playing WoW over the summer.  I hadn’t played in a few months by that time, and I was ready to dive back in, so I made a new character (because he was on a different server, of course.)  We each had different play times, and in general I played more than he did (as well as another friend, Jake, who’d also started playing.)  In fact, all three of us ended up playing different amounts and usually at different times, so by the time I quite playing my character, I was 43 (having played many more hours than them also helped because I knew what some quicker ways to level,) Joey was about 28, and Jake was about 18.  I had a 58 warlock sitting on another server, which I seemed to enjoy playing more than my hunter anyways, so I simply gave up on my hunter, Joey went to his warrior on another server, and Jake simply quit because he felt like it was taking too much of his time.  Eventually Joey transferred his warrior to my server because he couldn’t find a guild that he liked (though he quit shortly after BC anyways.)

I’m sure many of you have gone through frustrations similar to my situation.  Either you realize that a friend of yours plays the MMO that you play and are on a different server, or you choose to start one and you each have different play times or one of you simply out-levels the other.  Finding friends online to play with just seems to be all around easier.  In general, you can find players or guilds who have the same play schedule as you, and if they don’t, you find someone or some other guild that does, and you always have people to play with (if you want.)

As you know there are a few ways to help with this problem.  One is of course server transfers.  While this is an option, it more often doesn’t work out than it does.  There are restrictions on which server you can transfer from or to due to PvP/PvE issues, or servers might already be full.  That aside, it’s expensive.  In WoW, it costs $25 to transfer a character, and that’s just for one.  If you have two characters you play equally and want to play with a friend on another server, you either have to split them up or throw down $50 on top of your monthly subscription.  This usually results in friends saying “well, that sucks,” and sticking to their respective servers. 

If you do end up being on the same server for whatever reason, this still leaves several issues.  If you have more play time than your friend or vice versa, odds are you will level faster (or slower) than them and in effect make playing with them worthless, and you’ll simply chat with them while doing your respective questing/crafting/instancing/grinding.  You can make an alt that you play while your friend is not online, but everyone knows this is harder than it sounds.  There will always be that quest that you just want to get out of the way or that new zone that you just got to last night that you want to explore.  EQ2 has tried to help with this through the mentoring program they’ve implemented,  which means you can play with your friend, dropping the higher level down to meet the lower level, reducing the effectiveness of gear and spells.  While this is cool, the higher level player gets very limited xp (or so I’ve heard.)  Good friends might say that doesn’t matter as long as they can play together, but a lot of people will still have problems with this. 

Getting back to the topic, this means that a lot of RL friends will effectively say “see you at end-game” because that is the simplest way to eventually start playing together.  How ironic is that?  Even once you both reach end game, there are still problems.  If you end up raiding and your friend can’t invest that much time, again, you’re still split by barriers.  You can PvP, but not everyone enjoyes it.  So what are some solutions?  Well, I think TR has found one way to remedy this problem with their clone system.  You can create a number of clones of yourself at different levels and even switch classes.  So if you create a clone every 10 levels or so, you will constantly have characters to play at whatever level your friend may be.  While this still suffers from the problem of wanting to continue progressing your main character and server transferring, it’s a step in the right direction.  Perhaps one free transfer per character might be a way to go?  I’m not sure, but it’s a possibility.

As far as I know, you have the ability to talk to players on different servers in EQ2.  Shouldn’t this be good enough then?  After all, as long as you can still talk to friends while you play, that’s all we can really ask for, right?  Some might take this mentality, but I don’t buy it.  After all, MMO’s are all about social interaction, not just talking to people (if you want that, go to a chat room,) so why should you be penalized because your real-life friends don’t always have the same play schedule as you or you don’t want to take a monetary or experience hit to play with them?  I’m not sure, but this idea of being penalized for playing with RL friends needs to change.

~Kanthalos

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4 comments so far

  1. Bildo on

    Mentoring/Exemplaring/Tutoring/Whatevering.

    As long as there are level-based games like the ones mentioned in the post, the need for some sort of mentoring system, letting players degrade or upgrade to a friend’s level, will be apparent.

    What’s not apparent is why so few games have such a system? I’d likely still be playing WoW if this could happen there.

  2. damianov on

    A couple of things…

    1) Is the cloning in TR really all that different from Mentoring/Exemplaring? You temporarily reduce the effectiveness of your character to play with your friend, and receive no reward (on your “primary” clone, at least) for the accomplishments. Not sure it really changes the value equation much, I guess.

    2) I’d suggest it’s not about “levels” per se, but rather about the difference in raw power between levels. A game with smaller power differentials might not have quite the same problem. The big question there might be, instead, how to make people feel like they are being sufficiently rewarded for their efforts… i.e. the “I cast the Ring of Power into the fires of Mount Doom, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt” syndrome…

  3. kanthalos on

    From what I understand they are effectively different characters, you can even become a different class with your clones. After they are cloned, I don’t think they are attached to your main character at all. No, this isn’t the be-all end-all of solutions, but it’s a step in the right direction.

  4. Bildo on

    Still with cloning, you can’t really guarantee you’ll be able to play with a friend. When you clone them, at whatever level, say 20, they’re level 20. You’d have to have some very good foresight to predict what level yuor guy would need to be.

    With mentoring, you can simply always go down to the right level with a simple few clicks.


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