So my last entry was a musing over what kinds of endgame would be appealing to me and hopefully to other semi-casual gamers. Now, I would like to throw out some ideas:
Let's start with the requirement that The endgame must advance the character (or player) in some fashion. In some ways, this is easy since you can always provide high-level gear as rewards for endgame content. Still, this is the road taken in many current MMOs and it isn't enough. Raiding to get gear to go raiding to get more gear... So gear isn't enough. I want a compelling reason to play and grind on my max level character.
I propose a "Legends System" in which a max level character earns Legend Points for questing, raiding and killing nasties. In addition, throughout his career, the character is eligible for Legend Titles which would be tied to specific accomplishments. You might earn the title "Spider Slayer" for having killed the Spider Queen when you were level 15, or you might earn the title "Intrepid Explorer" for having discovered 100 locations. A "Merchant Prince" might have earned five million gold in the Auction House. You get the idea.
What do Legend Points and Titles get you? Well frankly, they get the max level character nothing. However, when the player makes a new character on that account, they have the choice of making that character a descendant of one of their Legendary characters. Your new descendant has access to the max level character's Legend Points and can spend them on a variety of cool traits and powers based on the Titles the old character has earned.
So, your new character might have access to the Fleet of Foot trait (+5% movement speed bonus) for 100 LP because his predecessor was an "Intrepid Explorer". He might be a Shrewd Negotiator (Auction House tax is reduced by half) or have the Midas Touch (+3% money drops) because he is the progeny of a "Merchant Prince". Each trait chosen would deplete the Legendary character's LPs, hopefully driving him to earn more by participating in more endgame content.
You could take this a couple steps further by allowing even more powerful versions of these traits tied to 2nd and 3rd generation characters. Thus, if you make a descendant of a Legendary character and he becomes Legendary, his descendants will have access to more powerful traits. What if your Legend could pass down one of his artifacts to one of his descendants. The item would level down to be appropriate to the new character, but would level up with him. Also, some locations, items, powers and character classes might only be accessable once they have been unlocked by one of your Legends. You get the idea.
One big flaw here... this is not an endgame. It is a reason to participate in an endgame, but we haven't really started talking about what that endgame might look like. Let's start thinking about that next.