What in the hell is "End" Game?
Supposedly it is the "End" content of an MMO that a player proceeds to grind/complete as they have reached max level/progression in the game. Usually instituted by endless raiding for low percentage rare drops, endless faction/rep grinding, and where many players say the "Fun" is at.
Why the hell does an MMO have "End" Game?
Good question! Why does an MMO have an "End" Game? If an MMO is a perpertual, persistant, never ending world....then how can it have "End" Game content...? Isn't that considered an oxymoron of sorts? I mean...how can something that shouldn't end have anything to end with?
So? What's the big deal?
The big deal is it breaks the immersion, the feel of the game. The big deal is that 90% of the MMO playerbase bases their opinion of MMO's on what is at the "End". They say that is where the "Fun" is at. So if that is where the "Fun" is at, why not just skip to the "End" and get right to the fun? Instead of wasting precious time grinding for days, weeks, and months on end with mindless, boring, and monotonous tasks to get there? I mean...doesn't that boggle your mind?
An MMO shouldn't be judged solely on it's "End". Hell, an MMO shouldn't have an "End". An MMO should be judged on the fun one has at the beginning, the middle, and the "End" of the game. It should be judged on the fun you had using the game's mechanics, it's content DURING the game, not just at it's end. An MMO should be judged on it's presentation, it's stability, it's community, and it's customer support. "End" Game should be not be the end all be all of if the game will be good or not.
The game is all about the journey, not the destination. If that were true, all games should just skip to the end and be done with it. Would save the developers money and save us time for more important things, like feeding out pet rocks. Single player games have an end. They should, obviously. As it is the telling of a story, much like a book, but instead of reading it, you are in it. An MMO should not have an end, as they are considered persistant, perpetual worlds that provide a dynamic setting and story for players to interact with while interacting with one another.
Now I understand SOME of the reasoning for it, but really, the fault for needing "End" Game is with the character progression system. Level based progression is the number one culprit of this side effect. Due to there being a "Level Cap" until the next expansion, we need to give those players hit it something to do till we add more "High Level" content. With skill progression, this side effect only appears if their is a relative lack in skill options and diversity. With skill progression, the developers have the added weight of making sure that the players have more options than they need, with enough diversity and utility that all are useful. This way it hampers and slows the player's progression until uiltmately learning every skill. Which should be nigh to impossible.
The best system, in my opinion, to avoid this debacle called "End" Game is a skill based progression system interspersed with tanks. What do I mean? Well, similar to EVE, they have TONS of skills for every situation, role, and utility, and each one has 5 levels to train in, with each new level making that skill stronger/better. This effectively makes the skill system seem larger, with longer prgression the higher level of each skill you train.
So say I'm just starting, and I get to choose five skills from the Apprentice Skill Pool to start.
I choose the following:
Long Sword Profeciency - 1
Light Armor Profeciency - 1
Herbalism - 1
Survival - 1
Intimidate - 1
And the Aprentice Skill Pool has somewhere around 200 skills to choose from. Sure it sounds daunting, but it's diverse and numerous enough that progression will not be so quick. Then, as I use these skills, I slowly gain Skill Points until they go to Rank 2. With each progressive rank requireing more and more Skill Points to Rank up.
Now, I know this is the basis of "Sandbox" type MMO's, but really, sanbox is open to interpretation and opinion. I look at such a system more true to the last three letters of our hobby, in which I discussed in my last blog post, Roleplaying Game. It's a Roleplaying System, where the player gets to make his choices without restriction.
This would effectively end the debacle known as "End" Game, at least for a long time, until one runs out of skills to add to the game.