“Age of Offline Leveling” or “Innovation Appreciation”
Age of Conan’s patch 1.07.2 went live yesterday, introducing what Funcom calls ‘offline leveling‘. The system starts off by awarding anyone and everyone with an active subscription a totals of four levels. Another level is added to these ‘free levels’ every four days. The player is then free to distribute these levels to any of their characters.
The only catch is that the character has to be level 30 or above, and no assigned level can be reverted.
In other words, if you have a level 30 collecting dust, and you just don’t have the patience or the constitution to level him any longer, you could get him to level 80, the current level cap, by doing absolutely nothing, as long as your subscription is active.
Some simple calculation, assuming your character is level 30, and you got 4 levels to start off:
- Day 0: Level 34
- Day 4: Level 34 + 1
- Day 8: Level 34 + 2
- Day 184: Level 34 + 46 = Level 80
Every 6 months or so, you could have a brand spankin’ new level 80, as long as you started with a character which you managed to get to level 30 on your own.
This got me to thinking about World of Warcraft. WoW has had programs in the past which facilitate fast level gains, such as the Recruit-A-Buddy program, where you essentially just get free levels and an insanely buffed experience gain rate to help level your recruited buddy. In fact, they even introduced the X-53 Touring Rocket flying mount, a flying mount that, for the first time in the history of WoW, seats two people. D’awwwww!
However, the concept of level reward for continued investment in the IP simply does not exist.
Looking at my WoW characters, I have a level 47, a level 36, a level 27, and a level 12. Let us assume for a second, that I bring the level 12 and the level 27 toon up to 30. Using the ‘offline leveling’ formula, all four of these characters will be level 80 in just under two years. Since I have been playing for 5+ years, I would still have 3+ years, or approximately 180+ levels to give out to other characters. This realization makes the lack of such a program in WoW all the more painful. In fact, there have been times when I have let my subscription roll on for months on end, planning on returning to the game soon. I gained nothing in that time. But with incentives such as these, at least I wouldn’t feel like I have completely wasted that money.
This has one further implication. Funcom, under the supervision and guidance of Rangar Tornquist, is developing an MMO that I am most excited about: The Secret World. With game-altering changes such as these which reward the player for being invested in the game, even passively, bodes well for the future of The Secret World.