Lyriana, my EQ2 Dirge, has been stalled out at level 70 for a while now. There are some meta-gaming concerns at work here. The coming expansion will raise the level cap, and I had a hard time getting from 60 to 70, so I'd rather save any content I don't use en route to level 80 for the expansion. But a bigger part of the delay is that I'm focusing on my level 28 Warden/44 Tailor, one of EQ2's melee healers.
Kreejak is at that sweet spot in the reward curve where he's leveling quickly, but not at the lightning fast pace of the tutorial that most level 1-10 games run at these days. He's raking in meaningful upgrades in new abilities almost every evening. By contrast, I didn't know how to spend Lyriana's most recent AA point because I was choosing between three lackluster options that I cared about only because they unlock a future upgrade (yet another passive buff ability).
The Tetris Question
Wilhelm made a post yesterday on a question from his daughter: Why does Tetris get faster?
Applying the same approach to my plight, it becomes "why does the game offer fewer and fewer rewards as you progress?"
The cynic will say that this is simple Pavlov conditioning. Player power levels cannot continue onward and upward exponentially with every level (by design, I will basically be critting with nearly every swing from here on out), so progression must have a limit. Given a limited number of total rewards, the psychology says that you're better off concentrating them early on, as you teach the behavior (in this case, grinding out increasingly time consuming levels) to reinforce it, so that the player will continue to play (and thus pay) as rewards get farther and fewer between.
That said, I wonder if there isn't something different and specific to EQ2. Obviously, I do have quite a few WoW alts, but those have been leveled over the course of five years, generally in bursts of a handful of levels at a time, and never if there was something new and interesting I had yet to do on my main.
Perhaps I merely chose the "wrong" class for my main in EQ2 - for example I got my WoW Paladin to level 50 back in 2005 before deciding that I really wanted to be a mage, and ended up leaving the Pally to languish below the level cap for over two years. But, if the Warden is the class that I was really meant for, why do I have plans for numerous alts beyond him? Collectively, I have tentative plans for all but one of my character slots: a Ratonga Bruiser/Alchemist that I plan to switch into a good-aligned Monk, a mage of some sort (probably an Erudite Wizard/Sage), a Barbarian Paladin/Armorer when their new home city debuts in February, and a Ranger/Woodworker that will probably be either a Froglok or a Wood Elf.
In some ways, it all makes sense. The transition to level 70+ content in EQ2 is pretty rocky, while the early content offers the widest variety of options and polish, along with the opportunity to really sound out the feel of each of the game's class/race options. Perhaps that contrast makes starting your next alt seem more attractive than pushing ahead on your current character, especially if you do not plan to raid.
Either way, it seems to me that the average number of active characters per EQ2 player - at least among bloggers - is quite a bit higher than the average number of active characters per WoW player. SOE must be doing something right.