Powergamers represent a highly vocal segment of the online gaming community. They are usually very active in a game's forums and interaction with developers and community managers. They usually comprise the bulk of the beta testers that can modify game structure before the game is even available to the general public, and after release can be found advocating for further changes and additions on both company and third-party fan sites. This same group, by and large, burn through content much faster than casual players and then begin demanding more higher-end content.
This presents the game developer with a very skewed perception of what a typical consumer might want or expect from their game, and what is currently desired by the majority of the actual player-base. But, what to do? How can such games not be be skewed by those that developers have come to depend on for testing their product and providing feedback?
This "Powergamer Distortion" is yet another product of the current, standard MMOG design. In Beta, besides looking for bugs and stress-testing server populations, developers are looking for class and skill imbalances; the reporting/advocating by beta-testing powergamers can lead to many serious alterations to class abilites, level advances, skill trees, and advancement structures. Obviously, any design tweaks that occur at this stage are generated in response to those who might not actually represent the largest segment of future players.
In a game such as the one advocated in this blog - a 24/7 character advancment sandbox game designed around the casual and solo player - the game cannot be distorted by the powergamer perspective or playstyle. First, players can only advance at a set amount, so how much time one has to spend at the keyboard doesn't skew any result or perspective. Second, since one's character advances at a certain rate regardless of any other considerations, and can advance in any area one chooses, there really is no such thing as an "unbalanced" skill set or talent combination, because if one talent is particularly useful, anyone and everyone can gain that talent. However, since advancment of one's character is not dependent upon such class skill or talent effectiveness in gaining experience, it would be hard to define how any particular talant would come to be considered as "imbalanced".
Another powergamer distortion is how quickly content is consumed; in a 24/7 character advancment game, content can only be consumed at a pace predetermined by the development team. If the designers need 6 months to come up with higher skill advancments, they can set the parameters so that even a narrowly-focused advance down any particular skill tree cannot acquire the current top skill for 8 months. In this manner, the development team is never "pressured" by any advancing segment of players who "burn through" content much faster than everyone else and require additional high-end content; they cannot advance any faster than anyone else.
How content is designed in the first place; how it is modified (nerfed) during testing or just after release, and how future content is configured or paced would no longer be distorted around the playstyle of powergamers, because - quite simply - powergamers only exist in any game in relationship to how they can advance faster and min-max particular categories of character traits. Since they cannot advance faster, and because no character trait can affect character advancement negatively or positively in terms of experience advancement, and since all character traits are open to all characters, how powergamers can influence and distort a game, either in favor of their playstlye or as a negative result of their playstyle, will be removed, because nobody can be a power-gamer in this game.