Brand Loyalty (was Re: [MUD-Dev] Requirements for MM (wasComplexities of MMOG Servers))

Rayzam rayzam at
Sun Jan 12 09:33:44 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

From: <szii at>
> From: "Koster, Raph" <rkoster at>

>> That said, many of our treadmills are boring. That's not a flaw
>> with treadmills. It's a flaw with their implementation. We also
>> tend to encourage focusing on one treadmill, and that's also a
>> mistake because it undoes a large part of the point, reinforcing
>> the monopolization of fun by those with skill (because even with
>> handicaps, skill tends to win out, particularly if skilled
>> players can get the "handicaps" too).


> The single most heard reason for people not moving on to the next
> generation of MMORPG: "I don't want to spend the time levelling up
> a character."  It's not because they're not interested.  It's not
> that they dislike anything about the games.  They dislike
> treadmills.  They may run them, but they dislike them.  People
> have spent SO much time in GameX building their persona/avatar, to
> even consider "starting over" and running more treadmills turns
> them off.

> Treadmills are driving players AWAY from the games.

As Raph pointed out above, many of our treadmills are boring, and
it's an implementation issue. Yes, players don't want to spend the
time levelling up a character. But that doesn't mean levelling up to
the max level in a game. That means levelling up to a point where
the character has a wider range of abilities, and where the content
is more interesting.

Why does that happen? For the content, there seems to be a belief in
area/world designers that lower level areas must be simpler. I will
argue as a law even, that any good area concept can be implemented
at any level.  Even bad area concepts can :) Ex: A diabolist is
terrorizing a village with demonic sendings, and the Elders want
your help in eradicating him in his forest stronghold. This can be a
starting diabolist sending the most minor of demons up to someone so
powerful it requires a grouping the size of a planes raid.

For characters, it's more complicated. It is possible to give them
similar depth of play at lower levels [or skill-based gains] vs
higher.  However, that just results in advancement meaning Spell I
going up to Spell VII, which gets repetitive. Part of the fun of
advancement is gaining new abilities. Thus by a fun definition, a
more advanced character should hav emore abilities than a less
advanced character.

If the journey is fun and interesting, those players won't mind
starting up in that game. But, from practical experiences so far, it
hasn't been in most cases. Thus, they 'know' what to 'expect'. A
game that breaks that expectation will have its adopters spread the
word back to those players you mention not wanting to spend the time
levelling. They will then join the game and enjoy.

As a note, on Retro we try hard for the point about good content at
all levels. There are older areas that need revamping of course. But
as a mark of progress, we have some players who have played for
years and never made it past level 30 [level 20 is ending what we'd
call newbiedom]. These players play different characters, different
race/class combinations. And they enjoy it. They have fun with that
content and want to experience it all and in different ways.  We
also have players who come on and just want to speed up to level 30
as fast as they can. It would be interesting to see if of those
latter players, the ones that are workign from the assumption that
only the higher levels are fun would enjoy the lower level content
if asked to play it...


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