Level Cap

I sometimes listen to a gaming podcasts while driving. Recently I heard one  about MMORPG. They were saying that in Wildstar currently once you reach max level you really have to change your style of play. You need to find new things to do, because the leveling as game purpose is hard to replace.

I was wondering why modern role playing games do not handle things like it was done in the 80s. Old games like The Bards Tale didn’t even have a level cap or it was ridiculously high and therefore for all but the most dedicated players way out of reach. How so? It’s the old Wheat and Chessboard problem.

If you simply double the experience required for gaining a level, they will quickly get out of reach (unless of course you also increase the experience gained by killing monsters). In Bard’s Tale this had the effect that when you switched schools of magic and your spell caster’s experience was reset, just by letting him walk along with the rest of the party he would very quickly catch up in levels.

Why don’t they do this in modern RPG? I suppose the designers plan ahead for future expansions. But I don’t see why they couldn’t use such a system. In the old days you would just get a stat increase if you leveled beyond the normal scope of the game. New spells (and nowadays class abilities) would obviously only be available in the normal design space say on level 1 through 50. With an expansion the designers could add the abilities and spells for higher levels and some high level mobs that provide enough experience.

The other issue with that is that players who spend a lot of time with the game gain a high advantage over those who don’t. But that is a general problem of any MMO anyway. Somehow the “end game content” leads to better items and such. But if on the other hands there would be no more increase in power, players would quickly lose interest in the game once they had reached the end content (like in an offline single player RPG once it is completed), so that’s it.