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Teala's Wickedly Cool Blog For The Masses

Just my thoughts on MMO's, roleplaying, game companies, and the people that play these games.

Author: Teala

End Game - It's just a raid?

Posted by Teala Wednesday April 20 2011 at 11:05AM
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Sorry for being so late on my updates!  Been a busy girl.   Well kinda sorta,  work and writing my book.   Yea!  I've almost completed a novel that I hope does well.   So I am excited about that.   Haven't had much time to game, though, I have been staying up with the gaming community as much as I can.   Enough chit chat.   On with the latest entry!

So last time I opined I wrote about gear and how it seemed to be one the biggest driving factors in games coming out lately.   They all seem to be gear-centric games, and looking at the upcoming titles I see no difference in what they will be bringing to the table.   Just more of the same - grinding for gear.   Oh well, what is a gamer to do?

That brings me to another aspect of gaming that seems to be in this never ending loop of regurgitation regarding the end games of MMORPG's and the stagnation of their designs.   I mean, if we just take them for what they are, they are nothing but shallow filler that actually does nothing but keep that player chasing that proverbial dangling carrot that is nothing more than an illusion --- yes an illusion.

It's an illusion because when you look at these so called end games of some of the latest releases(not all, but some - especially those that follow the EQ/WoW paradigm) we see that all that is left for players to do once they hit max level is to get better gear (two and sometimes three sets of gear) so they can run PvP instances(battlegrounds/warfronts/battle zones) and static, end game dungeons.    What else is there to do?

Sure, some games allow you to grind for faction rep(reputation with different factions that live in the games virtual world) that allows players to do things or receive items from these factions that they normally would not have access to.   Unfortunately for many gamers, especially those that play in the US and EU, this just adds to the grind that most of these games all ready have built into them - whether that be grinding quest, MOB's, or one of the many trade or crafting skills these games offer, and it tends to burn players out after a time.   We see new titles launch, and the game looks promising, and then we discover that we end up with the same end game as we had in the previous game --- just a different coat of paint.   The basic game design has not really changed or progressed.   This is a sad commentary on the games that are all ready out and those that will soon be out.

So where is this end game that we're promised in many of these MMORPG's?  Killing the one-off elite boss mob?  Is that really it?  All we have to look forward to is raiding maybe a half-a-dozen dungeons and killing the main boss --- over and over again.    What comes after that?  No really...what comes after that?

I am sorry, but that old formula is just old and worn out, and it is time for a change.

So I put it to the readers.   You can leave a comment on what types of things you would like to see put into these games that would enhance your ability to enjoy these games a lot more --- especially the end game.  What kind of end game design elements do you think needs to be added(themepark based games I feel need this the most) that not only enhance your enjoyment of a game but will incite you to actually wish to participate in the end game and keep you playing?

Example:  What about having world wonders added to the end game?   Players can help collect resources to help build a “Wonder of the World".  As they build this wonder, all the people that belong to that faction will get bonuses or rewards, whether it is more exp, more loots, or whatever - just make it worth the players time to participate.   This will allow all players to take part(no matter what their level) and enjoy watching the building of say a massive pyramid, or a huge light house...something to get the whole player base excited about.   Have simple rules for this, like if you do not contribute anything to the building of the wonder, you’ll not receive any benefits from it.  Just keep it simple, and easy to participate in, and players will take part.  

So...let’s hear "your" ideals.   You are the players of these games.   Do you wish the end games were deeper, have more meaning, and impact on the virtual world your character plays in?

Would you like to see in game territorial control?  More meaningful open world PvP?   What about a political system(I understand one game coming out soon will have this - sounds interesting, but will it be implemented properly?  Only time will tell).

Leave a comment or suggestion below!  I know we have some people that visit this website that have some great ideals.  So let’s hear them.   Let the game designers hear them!  Tell them the sort of stuff you’d love to see added to the end game of MMORPG’s that will make them better, more enjoyable, and keep you playing!  I know I like hearing ideals of what others would like to see added to their games to make them better and more fun.   ^_^

Meltdown writes:

I don't know if I agree that the mechanic itself is flawed, or rather it has been regurgitated too many times. I will use EQ as the example, they were in my mind the first ones to come into the scene of endgame  and they did it so well. There are so many reasons...

1. Non-instanced raid zones, means sharing with other guilds and not running the same crap every week.

2. "Unlocking" content, whether its the current progression servers, or getting a limited number of keys from killing Boss X to gain access to a certain zone or area, nowadays raiding is just show up and collect loot and you can skip a lot of content just by having your hand held through it.

3. "feeling epic" - hard to explain this one and maybe it comes down to more that I've done it too many times by now, but the newer raids hardly ever have an epic feel to them, I wonder if its because of instancing and reduction of raid size to a measly minimum of 10 nowadays. And encounters that are tailored to be done by 10 people I would hardly consider "epic"

Also the idea of "epic quests" taking weeks to complete. WoW originally had "epic weapons", now epic is just a generic term used to describe items of a certain color... purple is not epic... a group of 80 people fighting tooth and nail to kill a giant dragon who are slaughtering people 5 per swipe is epic.

4 Alternate-Advancement!!! Amazing no one else has done this really... but the old EQ system of alternate advancement and spending points to better improve your character. Make the actual leveling easier and add "extras" to your character by continuing to hone you skills. 

People play certain games because they want to fight the giant, the dragon, the witch or the dwarf king, not because they want to play patty-cake diplomacy... there are other games for that, and they do that well (EVE for one).


I think the end-game system WAS working fine, but the quality of endgame content has severly suffered over time. 

Wed Apr 20 2011 2:02PM Report
Ambre writes:

I was about to write something about endgame too those last days, I was happy to see I'm not alone thinking along those lines.

The concept of "end-game" is a flawed concept in my book, at least most of the time, the way it's applied nowadays. It's been primarly aimed for level based game to answer the question "What do I do when my character is level max ?". One answer could be "good job, you've finished the game", but it wouldn't be satisfying for a MMO company with a sub based model because they want you to keep paying.

Blizzard pretty much if not invented the very concept of endgame, at least has put all this emphasis on it. By keeping players in a repetitive loop of instanced content leading to gear and stat inflation. Before WoW, noone was asking "what's the endgame ?" before starting a MMO. They would have asked "what's the game about ?".

And I feel we've lost a bit our way when we need to ask about endgame before even starting the game. What does that mean ? Have MMOs become so repetitive, monotonous, identical, that we're already bored with grinding quests to the max level before even starting ?

I wish new MMOs would come out with new mechanics, and a better emphasis on the game itself, the interactions between players. Like in EVE where the endgame is the game itself.

Thu Apr 21 2011 7:17AM Report
Rommie10-284 writes:

I think it's all tied to new content, and the lack of it.  Waiting months for something "new" leaves you doing the same few things over and over and over and over.  Everyone's threshold is different, but at some point it's reached and the questioning of the time spent begins.

tl:dr version at the bottom

Once a month new stuff is the outer limit of keeping the game fresh at the high end, but it has to work, and it has to have more than "fluff" behind it.  It's almost more demoralizing to get a new update and it ends up a whole lotta nothing.

Realistically, new stuff should be every two weeks minimum, and weekly is ideal.  You can then get away with fluff and broken stuff if the players know it's just a short wait for the next carrot.  Obviously, you can't release broken and fluff time after time, but you do get a mulligan or two.

Also realistically, the game developers haven't come anywhere close to that level of production, and it's starting to burn them hard as their customer base is "leveling" and hitting the endgame wall.  Mass abandonment of new games after a short period is a real possibility now, not because a game "fails" but because the customer base consumes the content, reaches the endgame wall, and moves on like a locust plague to the next feeding ground.

I'm not sure if a Sandbox design fares any better in this case. If the developer can't put enough new sand in the box, they are in the same position as the developer who can't put enough new rides in the themepark.

tl:dr version: Developers are good at creating pre-endgame content now.  They need to get good at creating endgame content and creating it quickly, or the playerbase will hop from game to new game and leave the old ones empty, no matter the quality of the pre-endgame content.

Thu Apr 21 2011 9:37AM Report
cirdane writes:

I think thats why I played DAOC so long the "end game" was defend the realm. there was very little I'm going to log in and do "x"

you logged in and you might take a keep or defend a keep or try to get darkness falls back, or see how long you could keep the other side out when they took df back.

the end game was a realm wide goal, somthing they pretty much killed with toa. after which 8 people had no problem killing 100.

The WOW killer if there ever is one will be the game that realizes end game needs to be about the realm not an endless gear grind.

Sat Apr 23 2011 5:12PM Report
Nichodeamus writes:

Just a thought here, but whatever happened to the whole idea of a "live events" team which exists within any given game's dev group, who are there simply to log into the game and play the roles of protagonists or monsters or invaders or whatever, and play out some live (dynamic, or unscripted, or only partially scripted) events against the game's players periodically?

I know a LOT of MMORPG games have either mentioned early on that they would have this as a feature, or (in a few cases) have actually DONE this a handfull of times. But to my knowledge, no MMO has ever actually had this as a regular feature.  And to be honest, I don't see why, other than maybe the devs didn't enjoy doing it the one or two times they tried it out.

Anyway, I think something like this could actually be made into a pretty enjoyable thing to keep players logging in, even if it were only for say one evening a week or something. The idea of having an actual intelegent human being or team of dev people log into the game live and get a really dynamic event going, is to me, a VERY interesting idea.

Tue Apr 26 2011 6:40PM Report
Sinkro writes:

It's easy to trivialize the current end-game model - gear progression. But why do we play MMOs? You and many others might want something new, but I along with a lot of other people are happy with the current model. Why do you think we flock to the standard MMORPGs? If I want quick blood, skill based, and twitch action, then I'll play an FPS or MMORTS. If I want to play for the sake of "progressing" my "character," then I'll play an MMORPG. At least for me, the main attraction of MMORPGs is the progression. The feeling that your character is getting better and stronger. Level plays a big part. So does gear. Would I not want a different progression route? No, I'd  love a new progression route for my character. But that ties back to my original point - at least I play to progress my character and that is fine with me. You can say "so what" to gear progression because you're tired of it, but that doesn't mean the rest of us are. It's not "so what," it's "ohh shiny new item!"

Wed Apr 27 2011 3:38AM Report
Wizardry writes:

I must be the oddball out,i don't care about gear grinding and i most definitley do not care about end game or anything past the level i am curerently at.

When i game it is to have some fun with a good class design utilizing it within a fun combat system.I like the MMO facet of the genre because it brings different ,unique types of people together and makes for some interesting times.

I want gear items that get the job done,i do not care what the opther players are wearing,but i do care abotu what they are thinking.If they  think gaming is some race to a new level number i VERYquickly lose interest in that type of player.When i see people using  parsers,i want to strangle them,when i see peopel constnatly begging or pleading for that l33t piece of gear ,it is a total turn off.

I keep hearing the term FUn been thrown around time after time,i beg to differ,i do not see people playing for FUN at all.

Sat May 14 2011 9:55AM Report
Palebane writes:

I don't mind getting levels and gear or doing raids. It's been a standard of RPGs since before pen and paper Dungeons and Dragons. What I don't like is when a game is not engaging enough to make me forget about gear and levels while I'm playing.  Progression should be icing on the cake, in my opinion, not the main focus of the player during their playtime. To me, it seems like developers are streamlining everything so much that pretty much everything but blatant progression is largely lost in translation. I used to think that the social aspects of these games were the biggest metagame feature they had going for them. However in many modern MMOGs, players only come together for progression. One of the more prevalant attitudes this creates is "What's in it for me?" If there is no tangible reward, there is no reason to participate. An attitude that is directly counter to the premise of an online RPG, in my opinion.

Thu Jun 02 2011 2:04PM Report
xanadin writes:

I think you make a lot of good points.  The problem, I see, is the way we have defined MMORPGs as games.  For thousands of years humans have been creating and playing games – some solitary, some competitive, some involve physical prowess, some mental acuity, some require skill, and other rely on luck.  But what all of them have in common is that they have an end – at some point there is a winner and/or loser.  Even single player RPGs usually have an ending.  In fact, I believe the reason we call MMORPGs games is because their content mimics that of single RPGs that we were familiar with.  However, I do not think MMORPGs are games at all, they are simulations.  Yes, it is true that simulations can have game like systems in them, feedback loops and the like, but they lack the fundamental aspect of being a game that is having a discrete point in which one knows the game is over.  And why would the game studios/publishers want something like that?  It goes against the business model – if there was a discrete ending to the game, there goes the subscription fee.

I have played dozens of MMOs through the years.  I cut my teeth on The Realm back in ‘97-‘98.  I then switched over to playing MUDs for a few years (even developed content and game systems for one for 5 years).  Then a buddy of mine got me to try out EQ.  Shortly thereafter EQ2 came out and my social life disappeared entirely for a couple of years – if it didn’t have anything to do with EQ2, class, or the D&D games I was in, it wasn’t on my radar.  Over time I started to realize the same things you pointed out – they’re all the same: level to max, get the best gear possible, and, if you want, participate in competition with other players.  But there was no end, save when I decided I couldn’t function with only 4 hours of sleep and decided to go to bed.  Burn out occurred.  What did I do?  I branched out, tried new games, like the free to play Korean ones, and EVE.  I was looking for that feeling that I used to get when I played these games.  Every time, and with each different one it took subsequently less time, I started feeling like, yeah, I’ve done this before (many, many, MANY times before).  Recently I picked up RIFT and enjoyed it at lower levels as things were a bit different (never played Warhammer), but once I got to high level and realized it was nothing but an equipment grind, it took me two days to drop it like a bad habit.  Ralph Koster put it well in his book a Theory of Fun for Game Design – games are supposed to be fun, and MMOs just weren’t fun for me anymore.

Around the time you wrote this I was thinking about the same thing – why aren’t these games fun for me anymore.  I basically came up with the same thing you did.  There is nothing but level and gear grinding when you really boil one of these games down.  Now don’t get me wrong, the community is just as much of a reason to continue playing MMOs as any, and that works for some people, but for me the game systems were tiring me out and/or boring me to tears.  So I was thinking to myself what could be done about this.  I thought of games like MMOs on a smaller scale.  If you think about it, Diablo was basically like MMOs, just not so massive, persistent and less content (assuming you played on Battle.Net).  But games like Diablo really ingrained this sense of gear as accomplishment into video gamers of our era.  I’ve played Diablo, Diablo 2, and many of the Diablo-esque clones out there, and I attribute Diablo’s success to two factors: instant gratification, and randomized terrains giving a sense of novelty on each play through.  While Diablo had a discrete ending, you kept playing it for months or even years (a friend of mine had a Diablo post that had a quote saying “I had an easier time quitting smoking than putting this game down”).  In the end, you get tired of them and play something else – you know when you’re sick of these games when you’re frustrated that getting your character to the next area with the _potential_ for “phat lewtz” takes too long (I mean seriously, after putting in 100+ hours on a single character just give any character a teleport spell/skill). 

So I liked those things about Diablo, and thought about many other types of games as well.  Here are a list of game mechanics and systems that aren’t necessarily novel, but if were incorporated into MMOs I think would help evolve the genre:
• More instant gratification – it doesn’t necessarily have to be something that offers a ton of rewards, but just the fact that you have to do very little and get some feedback would be nice.
• Randomization/dynamicity of content – that doesn’t mean you have to create randomized terrains, but it would be nice if the game world could respond to actions of the players and offer them content dynamically.
• Allow for player skill – about the only place player skill comes into effect in MMOs is PvP.  A player’s skill with their character can never be used to compensate for “statistical disadvantages” in PvE content (i.e. the mob is 5 levels higher than you).  Games like Tera are touting they’re going to offer this kind mechanic into their game systems, and I’m interested to see how well they accomplish it.
• Allow players to run the economy – allow players to phase out NPC vendors and let them run the economy themselves.  I think this was the thing I liked most about EVE.  Although, this would require designers to actually put thought into the world’s resources.
• Make non-adventuring systems a worthwhile endeavor in and of themselves – systems like crafting or politics should offer rewards to players at the same levels that adventuring does.  You cannot undermine crafting by making difficult to produce in-game items obsolete by adventuring gear.
• Paradigm shift away from “new content” as upgrade/bigger numbers – just because you’re adding something new doesn’t mean it has to obsolete what came before it.  You can diversify the game world without having to add “bigger numbers”.
• Intertwine game systems more – most systems in MMOs apply their effects in a vacuum, but if you think of them as simulations of worlds, it would make more sense for the systems to affect each other and not just the digital avatar and/or player.

That is my list.  My ideas are generalized, as I didn’t want to make them too specific to any sub-genre.  Will any of this happen?  Unfortunately, I doubt it.  Ultimately MMOs are run by businesses.  So one of two things needs happen: a new player that has these new ideas and the financial backing steps to the plate, or one of the existing players is presented with a business justification to change the model that “already works”.  Because let’s face it – those of us complaining about it have already spent a few grand on MMOs over the years; they have already got their monies worth out of us.  The gamers introduced to MMOs with WoW are just now starting to understand what we’ve known for years, but there are new suckers born every day and that's their focus.  While the studios/publishers can keep getting away with the same old game with a new polish, they will keep on doing it.

Sat Jun 18 2011 3:11AM Report
Gondlyr writes:

cirdane writes:

I think thats why I played DAOC so long the "end game" was defend the realm. there was very little I'm going to log in and do "x"

you logged in and you might take a keep or defend a keep or try to get darkness falls back, or see how long you could keep the other side out when they took df back.

the end game was a realm wide goal, somthing they pretty much killed with toa. after which 8 people had no problem killing 100.

The WOW killer if there ever is one will be the game that realizes end game needs to be about the realm not an endless gear grind."

^^ This.  And i still play daoc but on an old frontiers pre-toa free shard where my friends still fight for the realm.  If we are not taking back Darkness Falls, then we go fight the group in the other realm frontier that we see taking back keeps. 

I'm going to try out Prime when it comes out. 3 faction game where the gear comes from crafters, not prescripted pve raid dungeons, yawn. 

Mon Aug 29 2011 1:47PM Report writes:
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