Something else that happened when I was away which I think's worth mentioning: City of Heroes hit double-figures in its updates, with Issue 10 going live. This time the Rikti, the perennial Big Bads of the series are back. And this time, they're shinier. Shiny-shiney-shine.
It kicked off with a world-wide invasion event, with the aliens in question causing trouble, as well as setting up new Rikti-centred zones and task forces - which, cutely, allow high-level (35+) heroes and villains to team up and fight the greater foe. Which is about as superhero comic-book perfect as wearing spandex, gleeful homoeroticism having your arch-enemy cut up your girlfriend and store them in the fridge. In other words, compared to Issue 9 which introduced the new invention system, it's a lot more about Biffing people in the face.
But that's not what particularly has got me thinking about it. While a Civ4 relapse has been eating into my gaming time, I haven't played it yet, but apparently in the world event stuff - that is, the Rikti appearing all over the place to fuck shit up - the Rikti are "levelless". Only their class (whether they're a lieutenant, elite or boss or whatever) determines how difficult they are to hit and kill. In other words, without sidekicking (City of Heroes' feature where a player is artificially raised to a higher hero's level so they can play together) a Level 5 and a level 50 character could stand side-by-side against the same foe and FIGHT.
While there's obviously enormous difficulties facing a developer to actually design a whole MMO like this, I can't but help think it could lead to an interesting - and accessible - game. High level heroes are better - due to them having much more selection of powers, etc - which if properly balanced could keep people interested in stomping up the treadmill... but the game-limitation of meaningful interactions between players would be gone.
Yes - as I said, enormous difficulties in making it work, but - as far as I can make out - the reason we'll never see it in a classical MMO is that spreading the content for a specific game across as much time as possible (i.e. As much as a playerbase will stand) means people will keep playing and paying for longer.
Which is no good reason at all, for us.
And, as an aside, the game which actually comes close to doing this is the non-monthly fee Guild Wars.
Wednesday is Cynical Day here at Rock-Paper-Shotgun