Yep, its possible for an mmo to keep casuals at level cap provided they have something meaningful and challenging to do. That’s a fairly intuitive requirement. There should be a blending of the two (casual and raider), but it’s a line that can be easily crossed, mostly at the expense of raiding difficulty and reward. I don’t claim mastery of this topic, it’s just a few thoughts that were triggered by game play and forum rants.
Disclaimer: I started out my mmo career as a wanna be, occasionally Hardcore raider. I’m writing this article now as a firmly established casual player. I have no bone to pick with with either type of player or style and my only “beef” is with douche-bag players that try to troll one side against the other.
A place to call home.
Building and setting up a house is a fulfilling activity, maybe not for everyone but a lot certainly feel that way and keep asking for this. Take a look at what Rift has done and what Wildstar is planning and it’s really incredible. I like that idea that you can start off with just a shack and as you acquire loot/gold, you can build up or enhance what you have, much like in RL. You can also create a niche for Crafters to build housing slots/items. For example, Raiders will collect trophies that will need crafters to build the items to display these trophies. All this takes is time and money which a casual play style can adapt to.
Guild/Kinship centered Missions
Casual players have ingame friends too and it’s fun to do stuff with your friends, especially something that requires a coordinated group effort. GW2’s Guild missions goes a long way in scratching this group itch without having the raiding time requirement.
Challenging Solo Content
Jumping Puzzles: Ok, jumping puzzles can and do cause rage in some, I get it and I’ve been there. However, take a look at GW2’s Mad King Clock Tower jumping puzzle. Now, that is challenging but not quite impossible content. It’s not level dependent so it’s highly assessable with the promise of some nice goodies at the end. I could also see the value in a Spectator mode here for the lawls.
Casuals experiencing Endgame Raids
Check out Rift’s Chronicles, also here . I really like how Trion presented these solo versions of it’s raiding content. Without these Chronicles in place, many players would never see this amazing content and it doesn’t take anything away from the actual Raid because it doesn’t award Raid level loot.
Gear and Trading
Make the best raid/endgame gear tradeable so that casuals have something meaningful to spend gold on. Yeah, allow casuals to gear up with the best stuff by using the Auction House. Those casuals buying this gear will be paying a premium price and they will have had to work hard for that currency. They are no less deserving that the raiders who won the drop, especially considering that Casuals put in lots of time, just like everyone else and often don’t have the same resources as raiders to make efficient farming.