Addicted to the ding

“Look sharp, boys!” the dark iron dwarf medic snickered.
Zavannah let them get the first punch. There was “bink!” as a hefty axe struck her midriff. There was a “clonk!” as something else struck her helm. She didn’t stop, pulling more and more attention to herself. Surrounded by hundreds of dark ironers she let a howling blast of ice cold air rip the flesh from their bones. Then she went to work, swirling, dancing, stepping. Slicing. Less than a minute later silence fell. Then:
“Oi! Not fair, lass!” the medic choked on his own blood. He tried to crawl away but his limbs were frozen to the ground. “Yer ruined me cape too!”
“Mister clergyman … ” Zavannah smiled and lowered her voice to a dramatic whisper. “Prepa-aare yourself!” There had to be flair, after all. She walked up to him and scissored her swords across his throat. “I will RAVAGE this land!”
She cut his head off.
“Huh.” Zavannah sighed, whiped the blood of her swords and muttered as she headed towards the Grim Guzzler: “I thought you people were levelheaded … “

– – – – –


This image does not reflect the contents of this post.

Once again I trailed off up there. Ahem, sorry about that. To quote the goblin: “Anyway!” WoW Insiders Community Blog Topic of the week is pretty straight forward: Do we need more levels? I don’t know about you but I need them. You see, my brain – and I imagine yours as well – loves tangible rewards. Let’s break it down a bit:

The Ding Drug
It’s chemistry of course. Endorphins, stuff like that. That rush of accomplishment and completion you feel whenever you’ve suceeded in doing something, be it land a new job, finish the script for a novel – or reach level X. We all are simple beings no matter how complex we think ourselves to be. The ever so tiny fraction of our bodys own happiness drugs sends our minds into exhiliration. Even if it just last a few seconds it’s enough.

Just like anything else we enjoy – sugar, nicotine, tea, Hubigs Pies or whatever – there’s also a risk involved. The thing with addiction (even harmless ones like wanting the next “ding!”) is the threshold of tolerance. It gets higher, and higher, and higher. Eventually one spoon of sugar isn’t enough. A new player will probably feel overjoyed when “You have reached level 10” lights up. A seasoned veteran wether it’s the tenth alt or not just push past the explosion of golden light. You know, cool players don’t look at the ding. On the other hand, even a hardcore altoholic will undoubtedly feel a sense of relief akin to happiness when yet another character dings final level. We’re all addicted to levels, wether we accept it or not.

Other “Ding Drugs” can be whatever goals we set. I get the feeling we constantly fool our brains into accepting whatever gives the same sensation as the “ding”. Sometimes we scream and shout out of happiness. Sometimes we just smile, ever so slight, then check wich guildies are online. Spreading the joy is half the fun, you now (even if a barrage of “gratz!” can get annoying when you’ve gone through 25 levels in 30 minutes).

This, in my awkward laymans words, is part of the psychology behind rewards. World of Warcraft is just like any other game a reward driven game. Each new level is a reward. Just like each new set of gear or anything else that turns us into happyraging guinea pigs. Everyone loves rewards, right? Right!

In a way we’re still children. The new shiny toys might be different, the “parent” might be a company in the US – but we still laugh at the new shinies. Be it levels or gear. Mayhap I’m stepping on some sore toes here (I doubt grizzled old raiders who has gnawed teeths through heroic progression would appreciate me liking them to children). No matter – the amount of tantrums whenever the game changes is like watching a supermarket run out of icecream. Imagine the roar if we didn’t get more levels.

We need our dings. How else are we going to
(get our fix)
have fun?

Level alternatives
If we don’t get new levels, steps must be taken to ensure a living and exiting world. This could be solved in a number of ways. From the top of my head we could see the following in old zones:

Unchanged:  Just something to slog past as fast as possible. This would be easier with more XP boost items, both as drops, buffs and purchaseable in the In Game Store.

Old quests are changed to daily quests: Likely some old quests would be removed … with all the trouble that will bring.

Hero classes: Apart from death knights, who effectively can skip an entire expansions worth of quests, we would see new hero classes. Perhaps starting at level 65 (getting to level 68 in a starter zone enabling the player to go straight to Northrend) or even level 75 (getting to level 80 in a starter zone enabling the player to go straight to Cataclysm zones such as Hyjal). This actually feels rather appealing.

All of the game is End Game: Imagine if everything became end game through a scaling system. No matter what level you are the world would change accordingly to your level: You could go to Pandaria as level 1, or go to level 1 zones as a level 100 – and still find it challenging. I think this would require extensive use of phasing and other inventions but it feels like a good idea. It could bring challenge back to a game that is often berated as “too easy”.

Instant 100: Imagine you pay an NPC X thousand gold and in an instant is promoted to “champion”. It might not be especially fun for those who like leveling alts though … because a system like this would become “mandatory” in a split second. It would also be unfair to completely new players who want nothing more than end game participation but can’t afford it. On the top side it would speed up the leveling process, especially for bored altoholics. With an NPC it would still be a “choice”.

Tailormade Timeless Isle zones available for low level characters: Imagine having the choice between open world exploration and open-ended quest lines, or the traditional quests and leveling. Tailormade Timeless Isle zones could reward 10 times more XP than usual quests, making leveling in these zones faster and possibly more fun. Both systems would coexist. The fast and the furious could speed through levels in a couple of hours and start end game within a day. The sloths of World of Warcraft could trudge along wellknown quest paths for their own enjoyment. Nifty, no? Sure it is!

I don’t think we could do without levels completely. I do think we will see the mechanism of leveling to change. Hopefully for the better. Hopefully with more choices. Hopefully even more fun than it is now. PErsonally I love levels and leveling.

I’m addicted to the ding.

– – – – –

Other blogs on the topic: Working TitleFantastical MadnessDeletrixDead Gnomes SocietyToonacious, Sportsbard


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