The Agony of Leveling

I know how it is. You just want to get through this level. Higher level, maybe better skills, spells and equipment, access to new adventure areas — it has tremendous appeal.

And heaven help you if it’s the last level … despite volumes of mathematical evidence to the contrary, that last level takes 49 years longer than any level before. This is why raising the max level in a MMOG should be considered a gaming felony. Raising the max more than once … Class X Felony. (EverQuest, I’m looking in your direction here.)

If I can pass on one kernel of gaming wisdom to any n00bs out there, it is this: a watched experience bar never dings. I know, it’s tempting! Save yourself some grief, don’t look.

While I’m on the subject, the following mind games don’t pass the time any faster either:

– Don’t look for X number of minutes and try to guess how far you are.
– Estimate the number of mobs to kill before the ding and count the mobs instead.
– Estimate the number of minutes until the ding or per experience bar segment, then check for accuracy.
– Sketch out a graph with periodic intervals for level completion, shading in the intervals as you go.

I know, I’ve tried them all. (And more!)

Here’s my short list for finishing a particularly nasty, and elusive, level:

Stop watching. Are you even hearing me? Stop looking.

We have met the enemy and it is downtime. Load up on combat supplies. Take care of any game errands ahead of time, because you won’t be back to town until the deed is done. Death is to be avoided AT ALL COSTS, even if it means you run away from a camp with your arms flailing in the air like a dandy. Pride is a luxury you cannot afford right now.

This is no time for roleplaying winky dinks.
You could quest your way through a tough level, you could raid your way through, you could even roleplay for the crowd. (I thought you wanted to be done?) Just grind it out. Set up in a spawn-rich camp and kill. There is no substitute.

The fine line. Choose your grind area wisely. Every game, every level I’ve ever suffered through, the best grinds were ordinary, unnamed, non-elite, non-boss spawns with plenty of ’em. Named and elites hit too hard for the experience awarded. And they cheat with spells, skills and equipment beyond their level. (hackers!)

Sharing is for kids. If this wasn’t so serious, of course I’d advocate sharing, helping your fellow player, buffing the noobs that wander nearby, blah blah. This is war! There’ll be plenty of time for positive server relations later. Unless your class absolutely cannot solo, or with a reasonable degree of effectiveness, don’t bring any e-friends along — they’ll just slow you down.

Well, unless they’re willing to sit ungrouped at the grind camp (SILENTLY) and buff your ass every few minutes — if they can be tricked into that, I highly recommend it.

And what about interlopers? You’ve spent all this time finding the perfect grind area, you cleared, you timed the spawns, you have a safe pull area, then here comes Lobotomy Legolas to mess with your camp. Why should YOU move? Moving is downtime. (Downtime bad.) Sure, if you can move over 20 feet and make room, do that. Maybe try reasoning with him. (ya, that will work.) I just go straight to blunt, /t lobotomy trying to finish a level here.

When that fails (and it always does), I … how to say? … encourage the mobs to chase the intruder away (to the graveyard). Heh, au revoir, asshat.

There is no real life. Goes without saying, but get your house in order before you set up at camp. Real life distractions = downtime. (Downtime bad.) Lock the kids in their bedroom with a stack of R-rated DVD’s, load up the minifridge with refreshments, and for the love of Keeeyrist, don’t waste your time out here on the web looking at porn or reading blogs.

You get distracted, that interloping asshat returns after his graveyard visit, you alt-tab back to game … DEAD! Well that’s another 20 minutes out of your life.

Of course, WRITING in a blog would be far worse. I won’t go into it though — I still have 3 bubbles of experience before a big ding and should get back to the grind.

(Ya. I looked.)

12 thoughts on “The Agony of Leveling

  1. I dunno…I kinda like getting a few more levels. I wish the level caps were higher to begin with but over all I kinda like the ability to level beyond say 60 (WoW). It’d be nice to see a level cap of like 100 though. When will EQ1 raise the bar that high? How long before EQ1 becomes totally free?

  2. pffft, of course we all like to HAVE more levels, it’s the getting that takes work. Sometimes, too much work. Like now, one level to go to ding my alt to 60.

    (Back in Warcraft again, Kristen.)

  3. If you really wanna drive yourself crazy, check out and compare your ding times to the charts these guys have cooked up.

    Myself, I kind of prefer skilling to levelling, and so have been enjoying Eve Online lately and am looking forward to seeing what Guild Wars is like, which with any luck should show up in my mailbox this afternoon.

  4. i need a new free MMORPG, prefferably something w/graphics, sick of playing muds..

  5. Pingback: blueZhift Blog

  6. Google for “Discworld Cut Ceres” for more information about losing a couple of years of levelling..

  7. I totally know how this feels. I need a quarter of a bar to hit 47 in ROSE Online right now, just so I can catch up with a friend of mine I’ve been competing with.

    …Damnit, why am I wasting time writing this comment?

  8. In no other game are these well-stated points more evident and NEEDED than FFXI.

    Since grouping and partying is just about a requirement after level 15, unless you have a steady group of friends that are of the same mindset (I dont quite agree with the “sharing is for kids” point), you can plan on spending at least 30 minutes LFG, followed by 15 minutes waiting for other members to get to the gathering spot, followed by 15 minutes arguing over the best camp, another 10 deciding what mob is best to fight, 10 more arguing over why no one has food or the correct equipment, etc ad nauseaum, until you finally, after about 90 minutes from your original LFG time, you finally fight a mob.


  9. If it’s just a pain in the ass to play these games then why the hell play them? What is the fun in doing all those things you just mentioned? This doesn’t sound like a game aka fun thing. It sounds more like work aka not a fun thing.

    Stop spending money for frustration to morons like Verant who’s only interest is making money. Remember, these companies want you to take 8 year to level. The longer it takes, the more months you give over your money to them.

    I can think of a mess of other things I’d put the $15 or whatever it costs a month to play an average MMOG these days. Like maybe food, or bath supplies.

    BTW, if I seem strong in the wording here please don’t take personal offense. I’ve seen EQ nearly destroy a marrage and watched my sister turn into a recluse over EQ. Games like this are utterly evil in my opinion.

  10. I hear you, Brian. I did a free trial for a month about a year ago. I ended up spending about 12 hours a day on it (more on the weekends) for a month straight. It’s the most addictive thing I’ve ever tried. At the end of the month I looked at what I had to show for all that time: a little, poorly dressed figure on a screen. At the time part of me loved it but part of me was disgusted with myself. In hindsight, it’s one month of my life I’ll never see again. I’m just glad my trial was up. I don’t know if I could have broken free otherwise.

    Even 1 year later I’m still drawn to it. That’s why when I saw a link to this blog I had to follow it. Anyway, I’m not going to say you guys are all losers and should quit playing these games. But really, what’s the point of being alive if you’re not going to live?

  11. Roleplaying is for winky dinks? Personally, I like roleplaying, which is why I’m into Neverwinter nights. Sure, in NWN, a good game takes longer to find, because you’ve got to go to the forums, post, etc.. But once you find a game (I prefer a DMed one for better roleplaying, in those ones you actually get XP for posting character backstories, good roleplaying during and outside of fights, etc..), its alot of fun. If you’re not that much into roleplaying, maybe you prefer a “roleplaying lite” experience, then a good game is even easier to find. Its not nearly as convenient as an MMO, where you just log in whenever you want, find some ppl and start bashing monsters together, but what’s convenient isn’t always what’s best. In the words of Heid from that 70’s show: “If it were, this frozen pizza wouldn’t taste like monkey butt”, or Kitty: “If it were, I would just wear a moomoo and eat out of a can!”.

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