Aur, I nearly always agree with you in other topics; in fact I'm pretty sure this is one of the few times I've disagreed with you at such length, and I do appreciate your attempts to keep the mud slinging out of your posts to me, despite the simultaneous disagreements you're having with Karl.
With that said, he does have (what I feel to be) a valid point:
Your effort to keep this constructive and non confrontational is much admired, but I literally don't think this is a conversation that can happen with Aurelius because the only possible outcomes are that you are in favor of vertical progression (AKA real progression) or horizontal progression (AKA stagnation). The idea that simply getting unlocking more options counts as progression is basically not even on the table.
At least that's my perception after however many pages of back and forth we've seen so far. It's inexplicable, like like trying to tell some one that you really like strawberry ice cream and being told that it doesn't really have any flavor because it's not chocolate. How can you you discuss different flavors when some one has decided that chocolate is the only valid flavor in existence?
It seems, and correct me if I'm wrong, that your opinion is that the only system that is one that "works" is one of "vertical progression" and that the -only- other system, "horizontal progression" is an invalid one because in your opinion "It's not 'real' progression". It also seems, and again, correct me if I misunderstand, that you use a "sample size of 11 million people" to indicate that this model of progression is the "preferred" one by "most" people and that because it is the model that the most popular game uses, it is therefore proof that this model "Is the only real option".
Assuming I'm understanding you correctly with the last paragraph's brief summation (And if I misunderstand, again, correct me), my logical counter would be to return to the Walmart analogy. That is to say that based on Walmart's success, shifting a similar viewpoint would indicate that, while not necessarily claiming Walmart to be "The best store", one would assume that aspects of Walmart (Employees in vests, elderly/handicapped people greeting you at the door, most stores include a grocery and automotive department, etc) are "preferred by most people" based on teh sample size of the Walmart customer base.
To take this analogy a step further, this would, by the same reasoning, mean that if I wanted to open a new store, in order to be successful, I should have employees in vests, elderly/handicapped people greeting my customers, groceries, and the ability to perform minor vehicle maintenance and repairs. The basis for this statement being that there is an extremely large sample size of people who shot at a store with these qualities, and because they shop there, they must therefore prefer that.
Now, I'm not going to claim that your form of progression is an invalid or an ineffective one. It clearly works for other games that have been successful. However, I don't feel it's reasonable to say that the entire population of the game can be used as a sample because not only have not all of them done endgame (sidenote: Remember that more than half are in China, which has not gotten LK; they've been doing the same exact BC raids for YEARS now and they're still playing), but the fact that they're playing does not mean they all prefr that method.
e.g.: Myself. WoW is a very PvP based game. I used to play WoW, but I do not like PvP. It would be inaccurate to say that I like PvP because I play WoW, despite the fact that WoW is PvP based. Similarly, I played WoW for years. I did not enjoy the progression system, but I continued to play, despite not enjoying it. I'm not going to make some wild (and almost certainly incorrect) claim that "Most WoW players don't like it) since statistically, most people are not going to keep playing a game they like; I'm sure MOST of them do like that system and it works for them.
But for this reason, I don't feel it's accurate to claim WoW's entire player base (Including the Chinese half who have never touched level 71+) as an accurate sample size to prove that this model is the only acceptable one.
Meanwhile, back to what I quoted, as I said, I feel he has a point, which I've belabored, because I ramble too much.
And that point is, it seems that, from my perspective, your opinion is that: (And again, if I misstate your opinion in a summation, please correct me since I can't explain why I disagree with something if I'm misunderstanding what I'm disagreeing with)
1) There can only possibly be two progression options, and
2) Because one is more popular to most, yourself included, it is therefore the only "Real" option, and that the other less popular option is "stagnation" due to the fact that alternative models of progression that differ from your preferred model do not "progress properly".
In such a case, I feel that his ice cream analogy is a valid one; that you don't acknowledge strawberry as having a flavor, strictly on the basis that "More people prefer chocolate", and therefore chocolate is the only valid flavor.
Also, to go back to my DoH/DoL comment:
If half of the game's classes are noncombat classes, then half of the endgame content needs to be noncombat content. To be honest, I'm not sure how one would go about creating endgame content for miners, loggers, culinarians, and blacksmiths without it turning into some medieval version of Diner Dash or something. I realize that that comment may rub people who prefer DoH/DoL classes the wrong way, but it's just because I have a different opinion. But that brings me to the point I was trying to make:
I keep emphasizing the word "options". Just as combat classes need to have something to do when they max out, so too do non-combat classes. It's unfair to people who want to focus on being a harvester or a tanner to tell them when they have maxed out all of their class skills "Sorry, but we have nothing left for you to do anymore".
It's not uncommon for games to have their black sheep who are looked unfavorably upon in endgame scenarios, where players will tell you "Sorry, (your job) sucks, level something else or you can't do Dynamis/Sky/Salvage/etc with us." That's bad enough; but even worse than that is when the GAME tells you that it has no content for you because you "Picked the wrong class".
So let's say, and I'm going to use FFXI as an example, I'm a miner.
You know what I found fun in XI? Mining in Ifrit's Cauldron and Oldton Movalpolos. True story, I really did like mining there, honestly. But I digress. Anyway, when ToAU came out, I was faced with a problem: mining was no longer "worth it" in Ifrit's or Oldton because there were other, better places to mine. So the vertical progression of FFXI's "endgame content" for miners (Yeah, I'm stretching it here to make a point, I know) forced me out of somewhere I liked and into somewhere I disliked. At this point, doing the "endgame content" I enjoyed meant not getting "viable gear" (expensive ore), which made mining less enjoyable to me.
I realize the whole story, while true, is a bit of a stretch since I'm trying to use a non combat example of endgame content, but the point I'm using it to make is that by forcing me out of content I liked and into content I disliked, I was hit with a double whammy: Not only did I dislike the new content, but I've mentioned before that I inherently dislike a game forcing me to do things I don't want to do "in order to progress". e.g.: FFXIII but I digress there as well.
To take WoW as an example and move back into the more familiar "combat endgame" setting, ToCr was about the point that I made my decision that I was quitting WoW. I was already tired of having played the "Replace your purples with blues and greens" game -again-, and then going through Naxx, then Ulduar... I liked Naxxramas. I liked Ulduar. In my ideal world, I should have been able to do both every week. In my ideal world, I'd still be playing WoW, doing Naxxramas, Ulduar, and IC every week. Anyway, I -loathe- small area encounters. I don't care for Ony much, disliked Mag, Gruul, and ToCr was just that. One room (Okay, two technically if you count Anub), 5 fights.
Now I get that while I like dungeon crawl content (Salvage, Dynamis), some people prefer quicker content. And that's fine. But my big gripe was that I was being forced into content I didn't like, and I had no option but to do it if I wanted to progress.
Conversely, in FFXI, if you really don't want to do Dynamis, or Sky, or Sea... for the most part, you aren't going to get **** on by anyone but the 1337est of the 1337 for not having this piece or that. I leveled MNK long after I was sick of sky and never went back. Very rarely did people honestly give me crap about not having Haidate when I said that I was tired of sky LS drama. My Pahluwan legs worked fine, and the rest of my gear gave enough of an indication that I clearly cared about the class, just not one specific aspect of endgame.
In WoW, saying "Oh, I really don't want to do the newest raid, I want to keep doing the old ones" isn't an option at all. At best, you won't get many groups. More likely, you'll get laughed at and/or told to stfu. That, in my mind, is another problem with linear/"vertical" progression: If new content comes out and you don't like the new content, tough ****, because you have NO other options.
Take the example from content and shift it to classes. Let's say that, upon introducing the RoZ jobs of DRG, SMN, SAM, NIN, SE said "At this point, we will no longer be adding any additional spells or job abilities to WAR/WHM/BLM/RDM/THF". And from then on, whenever new JOBS were introduced to FFXI, an equal number of old jobs would, from that point forward, no longer receive gear or JAs/JTs or anything...
It's the same concept that would be applied to the events: Make the old stuff invalid when introducing new stuff. But how many people would complain about it? Maybe I don't like the new jobs you're adding, but I like the old ones better. Maybe I like the new ones AND the old ones and want to play both? Some people will see a new job and abandon their old "main" for it, but not everyone wanted to do that. Why should new content -force- you to -abandon- the way you play, if you're happy with it?
I won't disagree that 18 jobs is A LOT of jobs, but is it really fair to say that with the advent of BLU/PUP/COR or DNC/SCH, that older jobs were "bloat" and should just have been removed or forgotten? If not, then why should that logic apply to events? People enjoy playing their jobs/classes in MMOs (and in fact, some will get quite fervent if you attack their job/class choice), why can't they enjoy the events too? And why should their preferred content now be pointless because "there is new content to replace it with"?
And that has been my point this whole time: Options. If you balance the options properly, it will let the players pick the content they want to do and skip the content they don't want to do. Whenever you introduce new content, it will let people do it, and let the people that don't like it go back to old content they DO like. I think we can both agree that a developer should ideally want their players to enjoy the game (even if we disagree on how to accomplish this).
I just feel that MORE players will enjoy the game if they have multiple valid options of what to accomplish.
Up to this point, questions have pretty much been rhetorical for the purpose of explaining a point, but I would like to get an answer on these two questions, just to see what you would say (@Aurelius):
1) If you prefer a "vertical progression" system, such as one that exists in WoW, how would you personally go about including it in a game while -ALSO- catering to players who want valid alternatives to whatever the newest thing is, or would you not do anything for those players who dislike the new content?
2) Furthermore, what do you feel is the primary advantage of forcing someone -out- of content they -do- enjoy, and making that content's rewards not worth their effort to continue doing?