So all this talk about the new Free to Play announcement for LOTRO has me thinking, which in certain cases can be a bad thing 🙂  I also listened to the All Things Geek podcast where they were quite unhappy with the announcement, check out the comments on my F2P forum wrap up post for the link and my thoughts on that.  However, one thing they harped on that got me thinking was the issue of power leveling and I wanted to expand on that a bit more.

Part of what got me on this topic was thinking about what kinds of things would I want to buy from a cash shop.  There are some nice ideas already posted (wardrobe, storage, char slots, etc.) but what if I run out of cool things to buy?  I’m not sure this is a logical thought but it is useful for discussion.  I also was trying to think of things to buy that wouldn’t cheapen in-game accomplishments.  While it might be nice to buy radiance or my uber legendary weapon, I don’t think that would be good for the game.

To back up a step or two, power leveling is the process where you leverage a higher level character to “pull” you through the content in a quicker fashion.  Sometimes this is a paid service (legality is quite questionable) and other times it is just a friend.  I will admit I used to do this quite frequently when I had 2 accounts back in the Dark Ages of Camelot days.  I used my second account to quickly level characters on my main account and vice versa.  In DAOC you could get someone to the cap pretty darn quickly depending on how dedicated you were to it.  This is a little tougher in LOTRO as so much of the experience gain is based on completing quests and they also have a pretty good system for splitting up mob experience.

But the other option that could become possible is allowing power leveling as purchasable from the cash shop.  When I first thought about it I was 100% against this idea as it could allow someone to zoom to the level cap and get there much easier then I did.  But as I thought more, I actually would like the concept to level up my alts, and only alts.  And even then, I’m not talking about an insta-65 I would just like something to shorten the road a bit, or increase the speed limit.

How could a system like this be implemented to help me out, but yet not ruin the game entirely?  I would propose a gated system such that you have to do certain things in the game before power leveling became an option.  For instance, you must have two characters at the level cap before the option even opens up – I’m using two as that’s what I currently have 😉  Then perhaps a tiered system where based on how much you do in game, you’re granted a certain number of power “levels.”  And maybe those levels scale as well such that it is cheaper and easier to jump from 10 to 20 then 55 to 65.

Another idea that came from my days in DAOC was the weekly free level you could get.  Essentially if you leveled at least once during the week you could auto-level up on the given day (Monday for example) but this system was disabled somewhere around level 47 (cap at the time was 50).  Perhaps an option to “buy” into this kind of leveling system that’s only available when you get a character to the level cap.  Or the ability to buy these level-ups individually from the store based on some limited availability based on in-game accomplishments.

The other service I’d love to see in this same manner is a deed “transfer” or maybe just the ability to unlock traits for your account and not just the individual character.  So once you complete the requirements to activate this system you can earn a certain number of deed transfers from your character to your account or transfer said deed to another character.  I know this concept has been proposed lots of times before, but maybe the cash shop will provide an option to not only implement it but gate it appropriately.

I don’t want to trivialize the game or the content but I’d like to make it such that I can maximize my enjoyment of the game.  I’d like to be able to tailor my experience in game to match what I like best such that I continue to play 🙂  Maybe deeds is a little less game-breaking but if done properly I could live with some manner of quickened leveling available through the cash shop.  I’d love to hear what you think and I’ll be very curious to see how the store looks and evolves in the future.