As much as players and designers have lauded the Massively Multiplayer genre for being the social future of gaming, allowing players from disparate geographic and sociological backgrounds to come together in a virtual space to accomplish goals together, they're often still very anti-social experiences. As Van Hemlock explored in a blog post recently, the City of Heroes series is really one of the few games out there that let players of disparate levels play together in a meaningful experience.
In some ways, its strange that more games don't offer the same kind of Sidekick/Exemplar system, where players can have their attributes raised or lowered to an appropriate level to be able to play with friend. As Van Hemlock discusses, part of it has to do with the way the CoX battle systems work. By working with relative percentages instead of absolute values, it's easier to tweak content difficulty by level. But some of it also just seems like willful disregard for how much more difficult keeping up in-game friendships is when you level at different rates. In any case, we were delighted to see that Age of Conan has its own sort of apprentice system already in place, and we hope it becomes the trend in the future.