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The Casual Life by Wintyre Fraust

An older, casual player's perspective on MMOG's in general and GW2 in particular.

Author: Meleagar

Why The Stat Cap Concept Is So Important To Many Players

Posted by Meleagar Thursday November 22 2012 at 8:07AM
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For many players, vertical progression of stats, however it is achieved, is a commodity that is necessary for them to enjoy playing an MMOG. I don’t believe vertical progression is an inherently bad thing (although some make that case), or evil; that’s just what a lot of players like, and IMO there is nothing wrong with that. There are literally scores of successful MMOGs that are predicated upon that philosophy, including the 800 lb gorilla known as WoW.

Indeed, in the weeks immediately after launch, we saw quite a few posts in these forums from players that had maxed out vertical progression and complained that they had “nothing to do”. They loved the game graphics, the DE’s, WvW, the lore, the map checklist, but unless there was vertical progression in the game, the entire rest of the game became boring and not worth playing; that is because, for those players, vertical progression is the ingredient that makes all those other features of the game ultimately enjoyable in the long run. It’s like taking the necessary, special ingredient out of a recipe; without it, the product is edible and visually appealing, but not worth going out of your way for.

Now, flip that concept over. For many of us, permanently capped vertical progression is that special ingredient. No, it is not how most MMOGs have been baking their cake over the last decade, but there is a number of us who have been looking for, and waiting for, just such a game. Some of us are casuals who are tired of playing games we have no hope of ever maxing out characters in. Others are more hardcore players who are sick of the gear-progression treadmills and want a more relaxed, less time-consuming MMOG experience. Still others are those who want an MMOG where competition between players is not permanently skewed by never-ending gear score differentials. Many others are frustrated with gear or stat-gated content that prevents them from experiencing areas or events because they don’t have the best, or specific kinds of gear. Whatever their individual reasons, many players either stopped playing MMOGs entirely or were tolerating their current MMOG, waiting for some AAAMMOG title to come out that baked the cake their way and capped vertical stat progression entirely.

Stat-progression players may not understand why stat-cap players would want to play in a stat-capped game, but the least they can do is accept and respect that a permanent stat-cap is what we need to enjoy an MMOG. In the same sense that without ongoing stat progression many players lose interest in a game, many of us have no interest in playing a game without a permanent stat cap regardless of what else there is to do, regardless of how gorgeous the graphics and regardless of how interesting the lore may be. We were willing to tolerate an endless list of game issues because, frankly, we have no place else to go. This is the only modern, full-featured AAA MMOG that had promised a permanent stat cap.

When you attempt to make the case that GW2, up until level 80, was always a stat-progression game, you miss the entire point. We were willing to tolerate a relatively easy (or at least realistically attainable) effort to get to max stats as long as that was the end of it. Many of us would just prefer zero leveling and stat progress whatsoever. I’d personally rather just be able to log in, dress up a max character from the get-go, and then go have fun pursuing horizontal content (cosmetics, non-comparable skills, lore, titles, event leaderboards, sideral progression systems, PvP, WvW, etc.). However, I and many others were willing to tolerate vertical progression up to a point because we knew that it would end and we would eventually have maxed out characters to dress out in various costumes, gears, weapons and builds and enjoy Tyria in a leisurely manner. That was the whole thing for us. That GW2 also had amazing graphics and a variety of other revolutionary and evolutionary concepts baked in was icing on the cake – but the most important ingredient by far was the stat cap.

This system of easy progression to a permanent stat cap to pursue horizontal content is a monstrous success in League of Legends. Games like Oblivion and Skyrim and the massive mod industry that sprang up around them show that players are very interested in exploring horizontal content even after vertical progression ends or becomes meaningless. GW1 showed that such an MMOG could be viable. To argue that MMOG’s should have endless vertical progression, or always have had vertical progression, is to address the very same fundamental perspective that GW2 was supposed to break free from and be a radical departure from.

A permanent stat cap is as important to us as ongoing stat progression is to many others; without it, there’s no reason to play the game and no significant enjoyment to be derived from it, regardless of what else might be in the game to do or enjoy.