Too many people, it seems, view MMOs as a long path to the actual game. “What is the End Game like?” posts plague beta forums. Some of you know I play Anarchy Online. My main on there, Emallson, is only level 78 (out of 220). I have spent two years getting him there. When I tell people that, they ask why. “Is it hard to level? Is it slow? Why don’t you quit?” The point of an MMO is not the End Game, but the journey.
This idea struck home to me as I was looking through WoW private servers. The I80 (Instant 80, you login, and create a new level 80) servers have the highest turnover rate. On those servers there is no journey! On hi-rate servers, the turnover rate is not nearly as high, but still far higher than lo-rate servers. Why? Because there is less of a journey.
I have a problem grinding. I really hate it. So when I play MMOs, I generally don’t grind, I explore. I travel around, seeing the sights and slaying anything that tries to prevent me. In this way, I end up leveling (albeit more slowly) and gain an appreciation for the fantastic world which the developers of whatever MMO I happen to be playing have created.