The Daily Grind: How should long-running MMOs help new players catch up?
Expansions for MMOs are really made for the veteran player. A bump of the level cap from 60 to 70 seems reasonable if you’re already at level 60, especially if you’re already there with multiple characters and/or classes. But it also means that a new player is going to have to climb even further to get to the accepted endgame. That’s not even counting the fact that veteran players probably have a certain degree of familiarity with systems that new players won’t have; making the game more complex is going to come off very differently for veterans compared to new players.
In short, your game needs to offer ways for newer players to catch up to veterans. Some games do this by just wholly resetting the game with each expansion; with a free level boost to the cap in World of Warcraft‘s expansions, a new player can jump in fresh and get an idea of what the game is like right off of the bat. Others, like Final Fantasy XIV, use a multi-tiered approach to make sure that leveling content is still populated and there are resources to help direct newer players. Even games like EVE Online do their best to help new players know how to get into the game and figure out what’s going on. So how should long-running MMOs help new players catch up? Are level boosts the right answer? Keeping the leveling process relevant for everyone at all times? What’s the best way to make sure a new player feels capable of eventually reaching the top end?