Last time I took a look at how the start and middle game of a single player oriented MMO would look. This time I´ll cut to the very core why the creation of a MSORPG would counter some of the current weaknesses of the classic MMORPG.
- It is impossible to take a shot at ALL the content without an organized guild.
- It is very hard to start playing a game that has been released over 2 years ago. Especially if you want to accomplish number 1.
- The classic endgame is often simply boring for a player with irregular and shorter periods of time on his hands.
I want to clear up one important argument that could be used in favor of the classic MMORPG. Often people will claim that even in today´s MMORPG it possible for individuals to tackle high end content and in succeeding so gain a great sense of achievement and respect. I agree with this, but it´s quite clear that the content they manage to vanquish was never designed to be beaten by a single player. Often the content being solo'd has been surpassed by new expansions and can hardly be claimed to be the 'current' end game, or the player uses skills or faults in the game in clever or tricky way to gain an unforeseen advantage.
When I speak of Soloable endgame, I speak specifically about content designed for an individual player, independent of his class or skill set. In the current MMORPG landscape these types of encounters are far and in between and rarely provide rewards comparable to guild efforts.
Imagine a endgame where managing to overcome difficult and hard challenges on your own reap great rewards, titles and respect. They give you reputation benefits and access to unique items. Exchanging information about how to conquer encounters and trading items, found during your adventures, drives the interaction between different players. Guilds are formed based on personal merit and crafting communities buy and sell rare tradeskill items from individual adventurers. People can be loners or active members of guilds where you are judged on your personal skills and contributions. Now this is the type of game I would want to play, even if the game is a couple years old, because I know that if 'm playing alone during those opening stages of the game, I will catch up with the rest and join an active community of players. Nowadays if you start on an old server you are either alone or surrounded by twinks... neither of which appeal to me.
I took a look at the new batch of MMORPGs in store for 2010... as to gameplay and in particularly to the way the end game is handled, I'm not seeing to many innovations. And it is exactly in this stage where I think the key lies to retaining your player-and subscriptionbase.
What tweeks would you make to the current endgame scenario, being highly organized guilds tackling multigroup content, to make the game more attractive for the casual gamer?