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General: Casual Play: Lowbies of the World Unite

StraddenStradden Managing EditorMember CommonPosts: 6,696

Steve Wilson returns today with his weekly Casual Play column. Casual Play gives a non-hardcore perspective on MMORPG gaming, and this week Steve tells us what it's like to be a "professional lowbie".

How many people have dozens of different mid to low level characters?

I've often wondered how many other players there are out there that are like me. A long running problem I have in massive online games is my inability to stick with one character. I like to try everything, sample every class and combination. See the world and surmount obstacles from every possible angle. And for the most part this has held me back in the traditional treadmill games that are most massive online roleplaying games.

Read it all here.

Jon Wood
Managing Editor



  • DartjeDartje Member Posts: 45

    /me raises his hand...

    Guilty as charged mister...

    Wow i made it to lvl48 or something and the rest below lvl20 and ALOT of diffrent chars. :)

    The only level cap i ever reached was in DAOC where i had to grind Malholm to lvl50 for a full 2 weeks.... I hated every minute of it.



  • zerofatezerofate Member Posts: 5

    Hahah, and here I was thinking I was the only one. I've filled all the character slots on my main WoW realm and then some. My highest character is L35, while the rest are around 20-29.

    I don't know why, but I can't stick with a single class for longer than a day or two either ... maybe I just like the diversity, but it's probably just my indecisiveness. ;)

  • dpdilldpdill Member Posts: 26
    Yup, I am one.  I have a lvl 41 and nothing else higher then lvl 34.  It's nice to know I'm not the only one.
  • Lazarus71Lazarus71 Member UncommonPosts: 1,081
    Wow finally my way of playing has been exposed, lol.  I have been playing WoW almost since launch and my highest toon is 53, but I have literally a ton of every class and race ranging in lvl from lvl 20-53. So to all my brethren in the professional lowbie click "shoot for the top and never give, meh just go as far as ya want!" 

    No signature, I don't have a pen

  • MrbloodworthMrbloodworth Member Posts: 5,615

    Star Wars Galaxies made a huge tactical error (among many many others) by limiting themselves to one character. The skills could be changed over time, but the investment was so long that almost nobody wanted to give up skills that had to be ground out over the course of weeks and months. Everyone wanted to dabble without having to grind through the same hoops again. Forcing the players to leave their friends on one server just try something different out was a bad move, one they eventually fixed by allowing players to have more than one toon.

    This is completely False assessment. You need to replace "The masses" with "You", because most people really enjoyed this freedom, and it was not as dire or hard as this article makes it out to be, The only time this was FRANTIC was the "Halo-times" when the path to Jedi was finally open, and understood.

    Other than that, the one player per server was one of the main strong points of the game. You had one identity on the server, so anything you did, was known by others on that server, by your name. It was one of the only games where you could be known outside of the group of people you played with or encountered daily, with one player,. and one name, servers acquired people of important historical significance they created the history of that servers evolution. From the first Jedi, to the first city, to the most diabolical mayor ETC..

    The one player preserver, also provided, was for players to become the most known player on the server for their craft.., it created celebrities if you will. It also stabilized the market (Before the global listing became available, and before the “halo-times”)…

    All in all this article attempts to apply Class based reasoning to a skill/world based game. The limitation of one player per server is one of the critical design points of the pre-cu game, in social, economic, and “World affecting” game play. Its also the reason so many other game play activities were so engaging in that game, and held meaning. Unlike class based gamey-games where everyone is not unique, has no impact on the community on that server, and whose markets are so devalued it’s a joke.

    "Anyone posting on this forum is not an average user, and there for any opinions about the game are going to be overly critical compared to an average users opinions." - Me

    "No, your wrong.." - Random user #123

    "Hello person posting on a site specifically for MMO's in a thread on a sub forum specifically for a particular game talking about meta features and making comparisons to other titles in the genre, and their meta features.

    How are you?" -Me

  • GnomigGnomig Member Posts: 48
    You are not alone, Steve :)
  • Wayfar69Wayfar69 Member Posts: 1

    Sooo many character types so little time......

    yeah I'm one.  been in COH "officially" for just over 15 months and don't have anything over 28.

    the term used for me is alt-oholic.  I do it with every game I play.

    *sigh*  glad I'm not alone.

  • okbuddhaokbuddha Member Posts: 3
    It all started in EQ...I had so many alts.  I never made it past 51 where I had two dwarves  cleric and paladin.   EQ2 I kept changing from Freeport to Qeynos .   I changed to WoW everytime my character got higher than my last one I created a new one.  After 25 or so toons my highest is 35.  IN GW I am still under lvl 10 on 2 characters.  Even on EVE I used 4 different trial accounts before settling on one.  My name is Gary and I am a professional lowbie.  I have  admitted it and finally come to terms with it...Thank you
  • DocSpectrumDocSpectrum Member CommonPosts: 26

    I think alot of the reasons behind this type of game play happening is due to solo play.

    I'd be interested in finding out how many of us players that are "afflicted" with this play style are more solo orientated players?

    just some background info...I'm 34 years old, married with 2 kids, full time job..etc.etc...I get about 2-3 hours a night to play MMO's ...more on the weekends if I'm willing to go light on the sleep..I'm definately not hardcore.

    I've also found that with myself the biggest driving factor for me sticking with a toon is having a "partner" or "steady group" to run with .  Something that I think in todays MMO market is harder to come by.  Closest I ever got to reaching the level cap was a 57th lvl Shaman in the original EverQuest when the level cap was 60...and the sole reason I got there was that I had a partner, we met at lvl 12 running around the Oasis..we had the exact same play times, goals, and our personalities matched...there was no competition, no who could get higher faster..just teamwork.  We stuck it out through all 50+ levels.  The same thing happened to me in WoW..I started a gnome rogue, and through sheer determination I pretty much solo'd him to I think 53...then left..came back to WoW..started a Tauren Shaman, met a buddie to run with and got to lvl 55 in half the time I did the 53 with the gnome.  Just because I had a similar style playing partner to run with everynight....

    So I guess my point is how much of this playstyle is caused by social interaction in game?  Or better yet, lack of social interatcion in game?



  • eruvineruvin Member Posts: 12

    Haha yet again Mr. Wilson makes me laugh. He presents himself as an authority on gaming in general throughout his editorials, and yet time and again proves just how little he knows about the games he has played. "The highest level character I had in a game previous was a thirty-something in Asheron's Call. I tend to hover around the mid-twenties in most other games."

    Now for a disclaimer. I have nothing against players who do not wish to max their toons or who enjoy playing various toons. To each their own, it is their money they can play as they want. However, don't present yourself as an authority of a game if you have played less than half of it.... That is just setting yourself up for ridicule. Do you read half a book then pretend to know the entire plot in a public speaking venue?

    I would hope not, but Mr. Wilson does this every week...And even worse, the staff at Mmorpg.com allows him to do so...In a game of 60 levels, as with WoW, a level 30 toon has experienced maybe 1/3 of the content at most, and probably much less... The same is true for most games on the market. Wilson did hit level 60 in WoW, but as he proclaims himself, that is the one and only time he ever maxed out a character in any game. However, he feels no shame in presenting himself as an authority on gaming, when he really can claim to know next to nothing. Mmogs are huge games, with vast amounts of content. How can one pretend to 'know" a game without having experienced most if not all of it? Only a fool would....yet Mr. Wilson does so weekly...

    Mr. Wilson gives the excuse that "the prospect of doing the same thing day in and day out made online roleplaying games seem more like work than fun. And so I dabbled in everything, mostly at the low end." For me, and I would hope for others, this is just a sign of laziness, as has been evidenced throughout his "editorials". It does not take a long time to reach level 30 in any game, a mere fraction of the required experience to take a toon to max level. While it may look like half of the levels, experience-wise it is far less, probably in the realm of 25% or even less than that. Each level requires more experience than the previous one, building up to the later levels that require far, far more experience than those early levels. At level 30, one still has little idea of what one's class is capable of, what skills it posesses and what spells it can cast. How then can one pretend to understand one's class, let alone an entire game? The only person I would listen to as an authority is one who has played all facets of a game; taking multiple classes to max, multiple tradeskills to max etc etc.

    Mr. Wilson can certainly make a claim, as his own friends have named him.... "professional lowbie" or as I would label him, a professional noob, with all the negative connotations associated with that second word. Why? becaus only a noob pretends to know more than they really do. A lowbie does not proclaim to the masses from their own pulpit. Rather, a lowbie learns how to play their class and the game, and learns respect for others. A 'Noob" on the other hand worsens the gaming experience for all those around via a nonsensical know-it-all attitude as well as a holier-than-thou moral highground. Mr. Wilson certainly fits in with the 'noob' mentality, as evidenced by this and previous posts.

    There is only one postive factor in his entire post this week, that at least he is not shamelessly pushing WoW as has been his habit in previous posts. I guess Blizzard did not cut him a large enough check as a Christmas bonus....

  • BuckaramaBuckarama Member Posts: 48
    Well I think it's because the higher level you get the game changes. You need to rely on other people/skills to continue. To be honest I have max'ed out a ton of characters but after about half way to cap it all becomes a grind and the game loses a lot for me. My first intro to this was level 20 in EQ. Boy was I suprised my "hero" fighter was getting his ass handed to him again and again. So I don't play games that aren't solo friendly. Not that I mind grouping, there's just not one always avalible.  Back to the point, with the way you have top play your character changes in order for you to be successful at that class, it kinda takes away all the good things I liked about playing that character to begin with.
  • TsiyaTsiya Member UncommonPosts: 280
    I too prefer the term altaholic. I've always had to try out every class/race. I usually manage to stick with one more than others, but it's usually a pretty close run.


  • DrenethDreneth Member Posts: 697

    As someone who used to be a much more hardcore gamer, and who is now more of a causal gamer, I can appreciate the article.  A rather startling amount of content is completely bypassed when one power levels themselves to the cap, more content then is usually experienced by a player who takes their time and actually visits all of the zones/areas for their levels as they progress.

    I played EQ2 from about a week after launch until the very beginning of 2006, and it took me until about a couple of weeks before I left the game to reach level 50.  I saw more of the game than most of the people I knew who raced to 50 to get to the "end game" content and wondered why they were bored. 

    Each gamer has their own play style, some are casual, some are hardcore.  There is no right or wrong style of play, the point is to have fun, not be "leet".  Do what you want (within the EULA/TOS) and have a good time.  Beyond that, what else is there?

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  • eruvineruvin Member Posts: 12

    I totally understand your point of view Buck and fully accept it. As I mentioned above, each person is free to play as they wish and enjoy the game in their own manner.

    HOWEVER, I would hope that someone who prefers the lower levels would not present oneself as an expert on the game as a whole, as Mr. Wilson vainly attempts to do. He really has not status as an expert in gaming and his weekly proselytizing is absolutely warrantless and should be stopped.

    I played DAoC for 15 levels, but you don't see me waxing loquacious about that game. Rather, I listen to those who played it fully. Same with Lineage 2 and other games. If I have not fully experienced them, I respect the opinions of those who have, and I keep my trap shut...

    Playing fully does NOT mean experiencing everything up to level 30 and stopping, as Wilson seems to believe. Rather, a dedicated gamer,  and one who wishes to fully explore a genre responsibly in order to write about it, as Wilson does, would play as many games as possible to max levels, in order to establish a basis for judgement. Wilson does not do so. Would you take the opinion of a highschool math student when building a bridge, or would you take an MIT graduate engineer? I would hope the latter. yet Wilson is most assuredly the former...

    personally, I play games as they interest me and tend to max out characters because, before I judge a game, I try to experience its many facets.

    EQ1 experience: 6 years  (retired shortly into OoW expansion) Would not speak for expansions/content since then, Raided up till then.

    70 ranger  every tradeskill 250+/300

    67 rogue EQ1

    multiple 50+ toons

    EQ2 experience: Retired shortly after DoF expansion and CU proved unsatisfactory.

    50 assassin / ranger

    multiple 40+ toons with most tradeskills near max


    50 blaster / Mastermind / Stalker

    various 40+ toons


    60 rogue / hunter / shaman  max LW/ enchanting / tinkering

    assorted toons 20-30 including warrior, priest, mage, sorcer,

    Now, I don't present myself as an expert, that is not why I list these. Rather, I ask you to judge Wilson experience, (or lack thereof) in gaming and ask yourselves how and why he could be presented as an expert.....

  • naidanaida Member Posts: 4

    This is an interesting article. I am kinda caught in the middle. I have played many games to try and see if I like them. I will stick with them till I learn as much as I can. I prefered SWG before the big class changes, I did not mind the big grind, actually I enjoyed it... long enough to make say a master armorer or tailor, make the items I would need, save them and start over again. I had no quams about all the work. Actually, having the ability to switch at as I wished made it more interesting. I played UO long long ago from the time it went live for about 5 years. I loved the freedom it provided, I still had all character slots full, but I would swap skills if needed and maxxed each toon. I played EQ, EQ2 and in EQ2 I was both and obsessive crafter on each toon I tried as well as a fanatical pve'r. I tried WoW. I even played CoH and CoV, RFonline, and many other games. Currently my game of choice is DAoC. I have been accussed of not being able to play on one toon for longer then 10 min. That is a slight exaggeration, since I have 13 50's 8 of which are ML10. 10 are champion 5 or higher and the last 3, 1 is champ 10 and 2 are champ 9. They also have various Realm Ranks most over 3 none over 5. Obviously I fail to get out and rvr enough :) . So, I do switch constantly as I have a multitude of toons, I do not level to cap as quickly as possible. I try to experience every part of the game I can. I have played in all 3 realms. However, I have a driving need to cap everything as well. As far as solo, I do both solo as well as group play. I am sure that if I was a bit more serious of a gamer I would have maxxed out my DAoC toons long ago. Although, I doubt it would have been as much fun since I love to just explore sometimes. Anyway, Just my playstyle.


  • DrenethDreneth Member Posts: 697

    I wouldn't take someone's higher level characters as indicative of experience.  Anyone can buy a toon on ebay.

    Personally, I would much rather hear about a game from someone who takes the time to try out the various aspects of gameplay, tests the mechanics, quality of the community, and write from their own experiences.  Each style of play has a voice, and simply because you may or may not follow the same style... the point of the author is not invalidated.  It simply doesn't apply to you.

    I've read some interesting articles in the past adding psychology to the question of MMORPG leveling and social anxiety in real life.  As it turns out, a higher number of high level players have more social issues and real life anxieties than those who play causally.  The games become an escape from the player's failures in life, hence the desire to excell online in a world where one's real life problems are left behind.

    The articles I read in relation to one's real life social status related to player levels may not apply to you... but that does not invalidate the point of those articles.  I know a few people they fit rather well.

    I would suggest, that those who take such issue with the articles presented by this author, should write some works of their own and submit them to the site.  Perhaps those who cast stones would like to take a turn owning the glass house?

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  • lessigsaleslessigsales Member UncommonPosts: 7
    2 different aspects are being compared here. Adventure/Fun of a mmo and Experience/End Game of an mmo. Me personally I will do both of the following. My opinion on this is to get a total idea of the game is to start with many different characters until you find one you have a vast interest in and decide thats what you like to do all the time. Me personally im pure healer. I love to heal and buff in mass battles. Back to the point. As you play all of the characters until you find that lucky lovable character that we all so much look forward to coming home from work everyday and playing, you get a feel for all the other characters skills and abilities and how they can work against your character. Learning this from playing other characters enhances your ability to play your (main) character. So while playing all the different races/classes of the game you are adventuring into everyones class and having fun. But when it comes down to it, in order to experience the whole game you have to have a high level character there is no way around it. Everyone has a favorite character and whether they want to admit it or not would take him/her to a high level if they had the time.
  • ValorusValorus Member Posts: 235

    This article was me to the T for the longest time.  I'd make a character, deck em out, play em till about level 30 and then I'd be off to do something else or make yet another character.

    It caused quite a bit of problems too.  My wife is an avid player and doesnt like to jump around.  While she was pushing level 50 in EQ2 I was starting a new character.  And to be honest I never really understood why - I just got bored I guess. But for me I actually found out it was the challenge not so much getting bored.

    About 6 months ago I put together a new PC and setup my old PC with a TV card in it as my TV for when I was playing.  At the time I was playing a melee character and being unguilded had to do the whole LFG to be able to advance with any speed.  So I got to thinking why not play 2 characters at one time - I'd always be able to kill if I did a healer as my 2nd and wouldnt have to wait for others to need yet another melee in their group.

    So I bought another copy, fired up a healer and set out to level.  I've been steady and dedicated ever since.  To date I now have 2 of the highest level characters I've ever had in an MMO.  For me playing the one toon just wasnt exciting enough, but now that I play 2 a normal fight is even more fun and those times when the fights take that turn for the worse the entertainment level only rises! 

    Heck I was leveling so fast and having so much fun that my wife shelved her 2 level 70 character's setup a 2nd pc for her and joined me.  We are now a force of a Zerker, Defiler, Necro and Dirge!  Not too much outside of raids that we cannot do - and even tak on solo raid mobs from time to time.

  • DrenethDreneth Member Posts: 697

    It is not always the case that a player will want to max out their character's level.  I personally found the last few levels to 50 (before they raised the cap) in EQ2 to be rather boring.  It took me from the last week of November 2004 to January of 2006 to hit level 50 in EQ2 because I played a large number of characters.  I only reached level 50 as a result of duo'ing with my roommate and her desire to move towards endgame.  After I hit level 50, I lost interest in the game.

    As a casual player, I don't expect the author of an article about casual play to have much... if any... knowledge of endgame content.  As a casual player, I couldn't care less about endgame, so the article was not as offensive to me as it seems to be for some.

    People are interesting animals  ;)

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  • hashdhhashdh Member Posts: 8
    while im down for players playing their character however they wish (since it's their money), i wouldnt call what is described in this article as a casual gamer, just a indecisive, possibly lazy one.

    casual gamers of mmos doesnt mean "never getting to level cap", just means they dont want to raid/group/etc every night of the week. i dont know what id call this putzing around on multiple toons and never getting to cap. probably a waste of money. not trying to be a jerk, but there are tons of single player games that dont have a pay-to-play part of it, that you can get a very etnertaining solo experience without the need to get to level cap or beat it.

    i dont get the point of mmos if your going to be a lowbie the entire time. i have a friend that does this, he has like 10 wow characters, not a single one over level 40. all he does is get frstrated he cant go on raids or pvp groups with us, and whines about it instead of, yanno, actually leveling a character to cap.

    in wow in particular its NOT hard in any way to get to the current end cap. a casual gamer playing a few hours a week can get to end cap within a few months, the more hardcore within a couple of weeks. so again, WHAT is the purpose of dinking around on a bunch of lowbie chars instead of investing that time into 1-2 and getting to 60? its an mmo, mmos are geared towards end cap, so staying with lowbies is just cutting yourself off to the good parts of the game.

    not my money so do whatever you want. but seems like a waste of a monthly fee to me. and where the hell is my paragraph breaks on these stupid posts... i swear i put them in.
  • foosnarkfoosnark Member Posts: 1
    This is how my wife and I play too.  In WOW I had a level 52 Rogue and a level 53 Warlock, and that's as close to the endgame as I've ever gotten in any RPG.  To me the endgame wasn't a very attractive goal anyway.  I had many characters in their teens and twenties, all races and classes and often multiple builds of the same class.

    Even in hack-n-slash-fests like Diablo II, and paper and pencil RPGing, I'm always wanting to try new characters.  Eventually you get sick of the same content over and over at low levels though, because the games aren't designed for our kind of play.
  • vickykolvickykol Member UncommonPosts: 106

    I always max out the number of allowable characters, but I think for many different reasons that Mr. Wilson describes.

    I agree that it is interesting to see all of the content that a game world has to offer.  I am also a "quest-er," and given the options of a pick up experience group or completing a solo quest, I will always opt for the quest, even if it doesn't give me experience or tangible benefits.  As a result, I sometimes level slowly.

    Unlike Wilson, I consider all of my characters as individual characters, and I tend to create at least simple backstories for them.  I like to immerse myself, and to see the world from different eyes (hence a preference for first person viewpoint and deep content).  As a result, I find the term "toon" grating, because it is extremely anti-immersive.

    There are three main reasons that I max out the number of alts.  First, I am incredibly indecisive.  At a buffet I take a serving of everything, just in case I miss out on the good stuff.  Multiple alts lets me do a little of everything.  Second, I create my own interconnected support network.  Because I do not level quickly, I tend to go for "family" style guilds who often don't provide a good support network.  It helps to have a stable of crafting and other support specialists that I can rely on.  Third, I am a packrat, and in many games my alts function as a large communal shared bank.

    I actually liked SWG in the beginning, even though the one alt per server thang really messed up my normal style.  I liked the original skill based system.

    I am also an MMORPG-aholic.  I am down to playing two games regularly (several times a week), another three semi-frequently (one session every other week) and a couple more infrequently (I have SOE's bundle that keeps me with too many games active).  I also renew my subscriptions for a month on two other games about twice a year.  I do get attached to the characters, and I sometimes need to go back and revisit them.

  • kspadakspada Member Posts: 22

    I must confess I am also an "Altaholic" lol.  You may call it laziness if you like, you can even call it a waste of time and money if that is what you think.  But for myself I really have alot of fun making different characters and trying them on for size.  I have leveled characters up to cap as well, but I love to try out new races and classes.  So I've always had all my character slots filled.  I don't see anything wrong with playing the game this way if that is what you enjoy.  To me it isn't about the money of a monthly fee or trying to be the highest and best player out there... its ALL about what makes the game enjoyable for me at any given time. 

    People are always entitled to think what they will.  I agree with the article and its point.  Enjoy the game by doing what YOU like to do, not what others dictate you should do.  I am also a "Casual gamer"  I am 36 years old, married, full time job and not alot of time.  On different nights I play different ways depending on my mood.  There is no "indecisiveness" involved.  Just like I'll have spagetti one night for dinner and turkey on another night, all depends on the mood of the day. 

    Aspire to Inspire before you Expire...

  • AnofalyeAnofalye Member, Newbie CommonPosts: 7,433

    Well, I see his "obsession" with the need to try and check everything, which is fine, but which is definitely different from my obession to be the best and reach the top and master what I am doing.  Yet, he is just as obsessed as I am, with a different point.  My it is refining 1 character to perfection.  His is to play everything and master everything.  Opposite way of thinking of the same spectrum.


    GW is a game I would never consider to even try (unless I am been paid to, this is that painful to even consider been stuck that way), I like to refine my action, a thousands time or more, to PROGRESS and evolves.  I am pretty sure he would love GW, while me, I would not even grant it my presence, I know I would not enjoy it.


    He seeks perfection in diversity, in doing everything.  I seek perfection by mastering 1 aspect  "eternally".  Who is right, the specialist(me) or the generalist(him)?  Prolly both, in their own way.  However, most designs are to weak to encompass both logics and usually have to stick with either.  Lately, most logics go toward the generalist, which leave me starving for a specialist minding...


    In most games I play, most of my toons are either, max level or level 10-.  I can't stick to alternates, to entirely new stuff.  I like to IMPROVE; to PROGRESS.  Would I go camp UK in EQ NOW?  I would if it was not for raiding...as long as the progression would be linked there again somehow.  To stop playing a character in mid level?  It mean I dislike that character and give it more chances than I should.  Otherwise, the character will reach MAX levels and beyond before I switch...or never bypass level 10 or so.


    Personnally, I never have enough of MY main avatar, could always take more, and more, and more, and more.  Unlimited levels?  I am already drooling.  Refining and progressing ad vitam eternam! 

    - "If I understand you well, you are telling me until next time. " - Ren

  • RyowulfRyowulf Member UncommonPosts: 664
    I am a dabbler, but that has more to do with me never really finding a class I like and a short attention span.
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