Players Naturally Seek Out Shortcuts

foundry exp grinding
Utilizing a kill box exp map/quest in Neverwinter’s Foundry

I just dinged level 40 in Neverwinter.  That might not be anything special, except a few hours ago I was level 16. How did I jumped 24 levels in one evening of playing? I used the Foundry.

Players can make their own content using the Foundry.  I wrote before how much I love this feature, and I really do.  In a game all about getting out and doing content, letting players make something worth doing (since the normal quest grind sucks) is, in theory, invaluable. Except for the fact that players can’t be trusted to make games better.

When given the opportunity, players will seek out and take shortcuts and employ exploits to gain an advantage.  Imem commented in my previous post that if players could have created content  in EQ that expedited the leveling process they would.  I agree. Despite loving the leveling more than any other part of EQ, a lot of players wanted to reach end-game because there’s something alluring about being at the top.

I remember in Dark Age of Camelot I loved leveling up.  But after reaching level 50 three times, I started to wish my alts could just get into RvR quicker.  I sought out faster exp groups — none were exploiting, but it was all about power-leveling.  The same happened in EQ; Druid friends would damage shield me and we’d level up alts to a point where they were more fun to play.

In Neverwinter I’m utilizing these experience maps because I hate the quest grind and I don’t find the leveling up to be fun at all.  I’m interested in what Cryptic has done for the dungeons, and I want to play in some of the competitive PvP, but the rest of the game is just in my way and leveling in Neverwinter is truly unnecessary.

Should Cryptic nerf the Foundry? On one hand the players are doing what I said Cryptic should have done during development: Remove the leveling.  On the other hand, much of the game is now being skipped and the entire game is being damaged.  I’m curious if Cryptic will punish creators of these maps and the players who use them.  If so, I’ll probably be banned because I plan to be level 60 tomorrow.

  • I find it very hard to believe that Cryptic didn’t see this coming. How incapable and naive you have to be to not think this would happen?

  • Not only naive but also completely oblivious to recent developments in your industry and directly relevant actions taken by your competitors. This exact same problem recently came to a head in EQ2, where the Dungeon Maker system was being heavily abused to facilitate extreme powerleveling. The methodology used by players abusing the system was virtually identical too.

    What do you do as an MMO designer? It appears that even if you provide quest/leveling content of quality well above industry norms a large portion of your playerbase will take every opportunity to avoid it. At the same time another large portion of your playerbase will complain bitterly that avoiding said content in any way is exploiting and will demand all loopholes be closed.

    A few years back, when Dave Georgeson had just taken over EQ2, he floated the idea that at some point EQ2 players might be able o skip the leveling process on Alts and just make characters of the maximum level. The EQ2 playerbase pretty much en masse went out and bought tar and feathers and began marching on the SOE offices with pitchforks held high. MMO players routinely say they want one thing then act as though they want the exact opposite.

    The question I have to ask is this: if you remove the process of leveling up over time from MMOs and allow players to access to all content immediately after character creation, is that game still going to be something we would still be able to categorize alongside Everquest, DAOC or WoW? It sounds like a different genre altogether to me.

  • The same players who say they want levelling removed usually insist that they want gear progression at max level – which is just more levelling in a slightly different form. If someone handed out max level characters in any current MMO then those characters still couldn’t leap into every bit of content in the game (apart from possibly GW2, where what little gear progression there is is mostly irrelevant).

    I can imagine a game with absolutely no rewards other than the purely cosmetic, where the only reason to run a dungeon is for the pleasure of doing so and not in the hope of getting slightly more powerful pants… however, I can’t imagine that a lot of MMO players would be happy with such a game, given the whining you see any time something is added to a game and they deem “the rewards aren’t worth it”.

  • I actually think the Foundry represents a dream come true for altoholics. If players make entire alternate leveling paths then that would finally solve the problems of burnout for the players for whom end-game is not raiding or PVP, but repeating the leveling journey (yes, I’m one of these).

  • I think they have already shut these down. I too used these last night to get from 35 to 40 in about 20 minutes. Now, you get the following error when trying to get to any of the ones that i used last night: “Couldn’t get map names from map manager”


  • A question for those that are using the foundry to jump to max level… what will you do when you reach that point?

    I see people talking about skipping the leveling process and getting to ‘the real game’ but what is that? I assume NW has more complex involved dungeons similar to raids and such but really at their core that is just story content on a grand scale. So players choose to skip over all the content that is laid out along a linear progression path in order to get to… more story content?

    To be clear I am not criticizing those players, in The Secret World I have been known to farm AP in Kingsmouth quickly by replaying stories I have already cleared but I have also gone out of my way to play every available story line in that game.

  • @Keen Nice follow up article demonstrating people want to skip the leveling.

    I agree People just want fun content and if that content is at the end they want to rush it.
    Which makes a lot of us do simple math and wonder… Games should be fun beginning to end.

    Vanilla Wow, when it where still new, was a pretty fun experience all the way to 60.
    It was the experience that mattered. Not the leveling.

    Also I would like to see something fresh. No way I am playing the same old lvl up, do boring quests and grind all day long.
    Where did the fun go? and the exploration? and the danger? and the feeling your playing in a alternate world with its unique inhabitants and experiences?

    Meh… To tell the truth I have little hope for any mmorpg these days. I do not even get hyped any more. I just expect nothing and hope for positive feedback in forums from people that play the game.

    off topic: on massively there is one blogger that is sharing his experiences on playing KOTOR free. It is an interesting read and I expect part 3 of his post to get released today or so. Basicly its like how far can he go without getting to annoyed by restrictions.

  • I suppose leveling can enhance exposure to different mob types, as different mob are more appropriate for different character levels, plus one can enhance previously encountered mob for higher levels (a shark versus a shark with a head mounted laser).

  • So whats the point of playing this game if you’re just going to skip the entire process of getting to max level?

    My only character right now is a level 42 GWF and I’ve just been doing the missions the developers have made. This is including doing each skirmish and dungeon at least once. Currently I’m having a blast with it. But for my next character I feel like doing just foundry missions to spice up the game a bit.

    MMO’s in my opinion shouldn’t be about the rush to max. It should be about the experience getting there.

  • This is such a great follow up to your previous post. You (and probably the rest of the players in that MMO) all went up 24 levels in one night. Yeah leveling is pointless in that type of environment.

  • Personally, I’m enjoying the leveling experience in Neverwinter and that’s generally not the case anymore. For instance, TSW, SWToR, TERA, WOW ( could get a second character to 90) and a bunch of other more recent mmorpgs I would have loved a quicker way to let xp. I just didnt really enjoy the combat. Each game I either quit before cap or soon after

    So far in Neverwinter I really enjoy the combat and the steady progress through playing “normally”. That will change of course but I’m not at burnout the first week in like you seem to be. I’m not sure what’s so exciting at level cap that you want to rush to get there. Maybe I’m missing something.

    There’s no harm in not liking a game and moving on. If you’re trying to farm quick levels on your first character in you probably aren’t going to enjoy the experience at 60 either.

  • When you’re done with the game in a week, I hope you acknowledge you trivialized the content by exploiting the foundry. Not against any rules, but you don’t have much of a place to criticize the game when you skip everything from 16-60. You can speak to 16 levels of experience and, if we’re being honest, that’s enough time to get an impression. But doing what you are, you have no place to make lofty statements about design when, for all but those early levels and you have no experience with what they actually did. I wouldn’t anticipate you enjoying much of the endgame when your experience this far has been skip-worthy. It begs the question of why you’re bothering playing a game whose bulk is just “in your way.” Boredom? If so, I hope you reflect your honest motivations in your posts.

  • @Seriah: If people rush through the game and skip content, it could be for several reasons. For one, a lot of times it is a race to become the most powerful – stay ahead of the curve…I see this most of the time in PVP environments as being first helps you dominate the other players. I don’t think this is happening here though.

    Another reason to rush through content may be because the content is just boring/bad/stale/been-there-done-that and you dont get any enjoyment out of it. You still get enjoyment out of getting new abilities and seeing your character grow but the actual content is pure weaksauce. Shouldnt it be alarming if people skip the “meat and potatoes” of the game because it is just boring? Sometimes it is hard to judge if it is a race for power or boredom but if it IS bordeom…that should be a red flag for the DEVS. I think people like to rush through this game because they have the strong suspicion that this game is going to be a waste of their time but getting a characer to full level without much time investment is a good idea because maybe there is something fun later on or maybe the game will become more fun eventually.

    The truth is…someone will enjoy it…not everyone has gone through this type of leveling over and over…and maybe some things just click with certain players.

    Your point is certainly vlaid if someone rushes through the game and then says “well, i have accomplished everything and there is not more to accomplish”…

  • Seriah has a valid point.

    I rushed through content in SWTOR and GW2 to be at the top of my guild roster to make us more competitive, but I also realized that I likely missed out on a bunch of content.

    Keen has an initial impression, but if he blasts past levels 17-60 in 48 hours then it is reasonable to contend that he isn’t in a good position to critique the content in those levels.

    Not all levels are equal. The first 20 levels of AoC were fantastic, the last 20, not so much…

  • Players most definitely do trivialize content. Leveling guides, mods that play the game for you, bots, abusing systems, powerleveling, etc.

  • I’ll never critique a game I haven’t played. On my cleric I blew through 16-40 in a couple hours. I can’t possibly give an impression of 16-40 on my cleric, but the content I do play I can definitely critique.

    I plan to take my Great Weapon Fighter to the mid-levels and see how the content plays. 90% of what I’ve done 1-25 without Foundry questing has been dull, generic, and not worth playing which is why on my Cleric I blew through it. I didn’t find it fun, and I don’t think Neverwinter needs levels to be enjoyed.

    @Seriah: My motivations are simple: try the game and see if I like it. Thankfully Neverwinter’s Foundry lets me get past the part I don’t like to maybe see something I do. If I can participate in competitive PvP and some dungeons (the level 20 dungeon wasn’t bad) then skipping all of that content saved me from quitting outright. If it turns out I can have -any- fun later, then I’m grateful I could trivialize the content.

  • I feel like GW2 didn’t really need levels. The simple fact that they had the 100% map complete system, and it was required to obtain an ingredient require for a legendary weapon made it where most folks would play through the world to an extent even the leveling curve didn’t require.

    All they needed was some system whereby you acquired new skill trait points similar to the WvW skills. Stats and gear needed not to bother with some increasing curve. To a degree, the whole game is the endgame in GW2 now, but it’d be even better if the starter zone mobs were just as challenging as the level 80 mobs to level 80 players. Heck, it’d cut way down on development when you consider all the extra unnecessary gear generated for all those previous levels.

  • To be honest I have always found short cuts kind of a strange necessary game mechanic. When developers try and stop them i feel they ruin the game. When they let them live within a nice fine point where they aren’t extremely popular but are known to people who spend some time and seek them out they help the game a lot.

    One reason I played a UO freeshard for a year is the fact they did not try and crush power leveling and let you macro as long as you were present at the keyboard.

  • This feature got NW uninstalled. After using it for 4 levels I realized I would be playing with a bunch of people who never learned how to play. I liked in DAOC once you have a max level character you could start another at a high level, but skipping the game removes the learning needed to be successful (I don’t mean traditional power leveling I mean the foundry insta level). I like leveling, if I don’t make it to max level then the game wasn’t worth it. MMORPG’s or RPG’s don’t seem to be the best spot for insta gratification.

  • @Tuxas I don’t think you have to worry about playing with people abusing the system at cap. Most of those people will have moved on in a week or so anyway.

    Given a choice between having a Foundry where people are going to exploit or not having one I’ll take the former. For all the abuse there are multiples more good coming from it. You just need to have self control.

    Let’s be honest though, there are exploiters in every online game. Whether it’s botters, hackers, people who buy gold, etc. If you are going to quit over it you’ll never play another mmo.

  • I only heard about Neverwinter via an earlier post.

    It’s OK but the questing is a bit dull and certainly antiquated.

    I like seeing a system that attempts to bring 4E to the PC and does so reasonably well from what I’ve seen. Don’t think I’ve hit L10 yet though and already feeling that it’s a grind rather than a game.

    The Foundry would certainly tempt me to enable me to see how the characters/abilities work at higher levels.