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The Lunch Break Blog

For those of us who would rather be leveling right now.

Author: cmagoun

Armchair Jeopardy (or MMOs Out the Yuengling)

Posted by cmagoun Monday June 25 2007 at 11:49AM
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Ok, I admit it. I am an armchair game-designer. In my case blogging about MMOs is a little like sitting in my easy chair, swilling beer and screaming at the top of my lungs, "It's the Treaty of Versailles you uneducated twit!!" to the episode of Jeopardy on TV. Not only is it the height of pathos to think that I have some insight about MMOs that somehow escapes professionals working in the field, but Brad McQuaid has about as much chance of hearing me as do those poor, "uneducated" twits actually playing Jeopardy.

 

Not that this epiphany will stop me. See, I love MMOs. I like computer games a lot, but something about MMOs just strikes a chord with me. Warts and all, I would play every one of them if I had infinite time and money. Heck, if I could manage, I would dual-box Goonzu and Vanguard all the while bemoaning the current state of MMOs over Teamspeak and writing up ideas to improve WoW's world PvP.

 

It's a disease... and most of you have it too, I can tell :)

 

In any case, no point here, just a quick note before heading back to work. I will post a little later today on quests.

The ultimate MMO... would take place on a roleplaying server??

Posted by cmagoun Friday June 22 2007 at 10:08AM
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When I mentioned restarting EQ2, FatGamer suggested Lucan De'Lere (did I spell that right?) as a good choice of servers. I went home that night prepared to create a character or two on that server, but stopped when I saw that it was an RP server. See, I have never rolled on an RP server in any MMO... it just seems wrong to me. Not "smack your knuckles with a ruler" wrong, just "a little strange" wrong.

 

And I am a tabletop gamer. I like pencil and paper roleplaying. Heck, I even wrote a game at one point (anyone out there remember Runebearer?). I like the concept of roleplaying. Still, something about the MMO environment shuts that part of my brain down. I don't want to worry about talking in character, or how the character fits into the world. I am playing a "toon" or an "avatar" not a character.

 

Part of it is simply the time/effort factor. When I am running a tabletop game, we usually get together once a week, or once every two weeks. There is lots of time in between games to flesh out more of the offscreen stuff. Also, the effort is worth it because it makes the actual gaming sessions seem cooler when you are closely tied to the campaign setting and have a history in mind. Tabletop rpgs are cool because they take active participation and effort on the part of the players/GM to make them good.

 

I play MMOs because they offer instant gratification for very little effort -- exactly the opposite reason I play PnP games. I can sit down in EQ2, create a new character and be level 10 in the space of a few short hours (same for CoH, though costume creation does take some time). I don't want to think too hard about how I fit into the context of the dry flavor text of a mission briefing. I want to zap stuff with my cool powers.

 

Even more damning is the fact that I can roleplay all I want in an MMO and all I will get is static NPC quest billboards and static shops where they are always buying everything I have and selling the same lame crap day after day. I can roleplay being an enemy to all orcs, but they'll still pile on the guy with the best taunt skill. I can roleplay being the greatest of heroes solving the ills of the populace, but they'll still send me to fetch pies... and then have the audacity to lose them again in time for the next guy. Roleplaying in the static world of MMOs just isn't worth the effort.

 

But what if it was worth the effort? What if your character could fit into the context of the game world and make a difference in that game world? What if the guild you joined truly made a difference in how you interacted with the game world and players? What if instead of getting quests from static NPCs, the kings and queens of the world were actual players? What if the bandits you defeated today didn't come back tomorrow in the same spot? What if the GMs of the game actually interacted with the game's guilds and between them constructed events to move the storyline forward every day instead of almost never?

 

I remember what originally drew me to MUDs and later MMOs -- the ability to live a life of adventure in a fantastic world. I didn't get hooked on these games because of "class balance", or "endgame content", or "itemization". I got hooked because when I first played, I got to be the hero, the traveling wizard, the despised thief. I got hooked because these games represented the potential to immerse myself in another world.

 

A silly, pathetic, geeky little rant, to be sure. Most of it comes down to "the novelty has worn off and you are older and a more sophisticated (read jaded) gamer."  I accept that and I still love MMOs, but that original potential has never been realized and for that reason, I will go back to reading my character guides and planning my build and I will probably never roll on an RP server.

PvP Campaign System

Posted by cmagoun Wednesday June 20 2007 at 5:00PM
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In the PvP Campaign System, a set of zones bordering two or more factions would become “contested” every two weeks. Which zones are chosen could be random or based on game events. These contested zones will be the focal point for the action over the two week campaign.
 
The goal of the PvP Campaign is to accumulate the highest War Score for your faction in one or more contested zones. At the end of the two week war period, the faction with the highest War Score in a given zone gains control of the zone and gains faction-wide bonuses to stats, xp and money gain, loot table percentages, access to more lucrative raids and dungeons, etc.
 
War Score is accrued for a wide variety of activities including:
  • Killing PvE mobs
  • Completing PvE missions
  • Resource gathering
  • Completing special war missions/events (PvE and PvP)
  • Killing rival players
  • Capturing victory point locations
 
Basic PvE activities generate the least score. Completing the special war missions generate a higher score. PvP activities generate relatively high scores based on the relative levels of the victor and vanquished players. Victory point locations generate a periodic influx of points as long as one faction holds them.
 
Special war missions can take many forms. A simple example would be a mission to escort a supply train to the location of a fort being built by your side. You would have to accompany a slow NPC group of wagons to the fort. The wagons would be relatively “loud” in that they would tend to attract nearby monsters. More importantly, if the players of the other faction manage to defeat you before you reach the safety of your guards, they will score big points for their side.
 
A war event would be the periodic spawn of wandering groups of soldier mobs based on the relative scores of the factions participating in the war. Killing enemy soldiers would provide a large (for NPC) score. Finishing off all enemy soldiers would produce a bonus score based on the number of your soldiers remaining in the zone.
 
A third example would be a mission to raze a village populated by the enemy faction’s NPCs. As the players are doing so, alert messages would go out to the opposing faction, encouraging them to defend their civilians.
 
Victory point locations might exist as static locations in a zone (mines, bridges, villages, etc.) or they might be randomized, or even player chosen depending on the game. Locations would start under the control of one of the factions, or neutral. As in any number of capture the flag style games, players would have to kill all neutral or opposing units near the location and hold it for a certain amount of time. Once a given faction captured a location, defenders might spawn.
 
Locations are special because they generate points for their faction every hour. Also, they might give bonuses to allied players while they are in the zone. A mine might increase the harvesting efficiency of its owning faction. An armory might provide a defense bonus. A bridge might provide no bonus, but have a staggering number of defenders, making life miserable for opposing faction members wanting to cross the zone.
 
The goal of this system is to allow PvE players to contribute to PvP without having to participate in combat. Just performing missions and hunting in a contested zone would provide a worthwhile War Score. Of course, in doing so, they take on a considerable risk, because it is likely that the opposing factions are forming teams to patrol the zone and sweep it clear of their enemies.
 
Certainly, this idea could be refined a bit more, but this is the gist of it. What do you think?

PvP for All

Posted by cmagoun Wednesday June 20 2007 at 9:58AM
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I have stated before, I am not a PvPer. Instead, I sortof PvP. I roll on PvP servers and enjoy the "danger" of having to fight other humans, but I don't actively seek out PvP. It just isn't compelling to me in an MMORPG. I own shooters and online competitive games. I am not that good at any of them, but I have them and occassionaly play them when I want meaningless competitive PvP action. I am playing MMOs for a different experience. I play MMOs to explore and participate in a shared, persistent, fantasy world. I don't play MMOs to compete.

 

Still, I do participate in PvP. I used to love the random outbreaks of world PvP when I played WoW. I enjoyed my relatively brief stint in Shadowbane. I don't hate or avoid PvP; I just don't seek it out. I am somewhere between a PvPer and a carebear.

 

My main gripe with most PvP systems (and in fact, I extend this complain to MMOs in general -- but that is another rant) is that they lack context. I am not fighting to protect my homeland, or to free my oppressed people, or to claim an artifact for my king. I am fighting because that guy has a red halo around him as opposed to my blue halo. I am not fighting on a battlefield with strategic objectives I have to protect and conquer... where the situation changes day-to-day based on the ebb and flow of war. I am fighting in a small tactical instance that will reset in time for the next battle. The battle means nothing and its outcome changes nothing.

 

For a player like me, PvP for the sake of PvP is not compelling. When I want that kind of action, I will find it in another game. I don't need class balance, or fair fights, or level limited battles, or anti-ganking rules, or defense against corpse-campers, or safe zones, or whatever... I just want my PvP to have a meaningful context and an impact on the game world.

 

Shadowbane almost had this concept. The main world was open PvP and players built and maintained their own towns. PvP had some world impact in that you could ultimately destroy your enemy's towns and "win" the server. The problem with this (I thought) was that it was pretty much hunt the enemy players randomly, or try to destroy their towns. Destroying towns was a pretty big step that required a great deal of effort and resources (and spite) and so it was something rarely done. If you didn't raid towns, what was left was random raiding of an arbitrary enemy... we are back to meaningless PvP.

 

Risk of loss is an interesting way to give "meaning" to PvP. If there are strict death penalties and potential loss of items, you can be sure I am going to play more carefully and find a like-minded group of friends to watch my back. A fine idea, but also one that is sure to drive many players away, leaving the hardcore PvP crowd a small and inbred community.

 

What kind of system am I looking for??

 

PvP occurs in the world -- To heck with instanced PvP. If the PvP system is going to have an impact on the world, then the battles have to occur there.

 

PvP should be about the faction/team/guild not the individual -- There should be room for individual accolades, but the focus of PvP ought to be the faction/guild.

 

PvP should include long-term goals -- Much like the Campaign System I outlined in an earlier post (not sure anyone read that one, but give it a look), I think PvP factions should have goals that last for days or even weeks, not for a 1/2 hour. When I log in each day, I want to read a report on my factions progress and then grab a team of my guildmates and help out. When there is a war going on, there should never be "nothing to do."

 

The long-term PvP goals should include PvE -- Huh??? I think I want the line between PvP and PvE to be blurred a bit. I want my faction's progress in the war to be partly determined by PvE operations in the theater. I want to include carebear players in the war by having their actions count in the overall war effort. There should be a compelling reason to get PvE-minded players to participate in the contested zones even if they never kill an enemy player.

 

PvP tasks should be varied and offer some choices -- It would be cool if PvP "missions" consisted of something more than "go to zone X and kill faction Y."  I want to escort supply trains. I want to perform mining operations. I want to gather a group of NPC soldiers and sweep the zone of enemies. I want to assault enemy strongholds. I want to capture resource points and destroy camps and villages.

 

PvP action should be directed toward points of interest -- I don't want instanced PvP, but neither do I want to wander the land for hours without seeing a battle. Fights should logically occur around areas of interest -- roads, bridges, mines, villages, etc.

 

I need to get going for now, but I have some more ideas I will share later... thanks for reading.

Goodbye CoH! Hello EQ2! And What the Heck is SotNW?

Posted by cmagoun Monday June 18 2007 at 2:35PM
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No real point to this one, but that might be a nice change

 

After long consideration, I have decided to cancel my two CoH accounts and reinstall Everquest 2. I love CoH. It is a fun game and has given me the most play time of all the MMOs I have ever owned. I like the addition of "loot" that came with Issue 9 and quickly rushed to twink out my main hero, Unluminous Man. Issue 10 looks like it will be lots of fun. In general, the game looks like it has a bright future even three years after its launch.

 

Still, when you boil it down, it is still a pretty easy and repetitive game. Mission... kill... mission... kill... ambush... kill... contact... mission... kill... etc. Don't get me wrong, most MMO gameplay could be deconstructed to sound as boring and of all the MMOs I have played, CoH takes this formula and does a great job providing flashy, fast-paced, comic-booky fun. But it does get old after a while.

 

So, I spent some time downloading and futzing with some Korean offerings. Let's just say it is hard going from a reasonably polished game like CoH to Sword of the New World. I understand that the western release of Sword is still in beta, but even so, the UI and the translations are just terrible. The gameplay is  a slog through endless hordes of monsters and at the low levels, it seems even easier and more repetitive than CoH ever was. Mind you, the character art is gorgeous and was worth the download, but I can't recommend it in its current state. Are there any fans of this game that can tell me what I am missing?

 

I did find Voyage Century Online and was pleasantly surprised. VCO is a pretty cool skill-based, Age of Sail MMO. You can take to the seas and trade, hunt pirates, and explore or you can adventure on land. I have not played it extensively, but the quick look I had interested me. I will definitely take some time to check this game out further.

 

Finally, after all the downloading... I decided it might be time to reinstall EQ2. I was lukewarm on this game when it first came out, but enjoyed the many changes that have been implemented since then. EQ2 has become a rock-solid game in my opinion... maybe the best fantasy MMO currently on the market? Anyways, if anyone has a good server suggestion, send word.

Campaign System

Posted by cmagoun Friday June 15 2007 at 12:28PM
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In the Campaign System, all high level characters have to attach themselves to an NPC faction. Factions would be cities, nations, nobles, guilds and churches in the game world. Characters could still belong to player guilds, but the guildmasters would pledge their guild and all of its members to a single NPC faction.
 
Every faction in the game would have one or more active campaigns at any given time. A campaign is a multi-part scenario available to all players in the faction. Campaigns consist of missions, gathering and crafting contracts, instances, raids and events designed to last anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks. Campaigns brought to a successful conclusion give a faction-wide bonus and various awards (gear, titles, money) to those guilds and individuals with the highest levels of contribution.
 
The first important part of a campaign is the faction's campaign NPC. Each faction has a couple NPCs scattered throughout their territory. Aside from just talking to other players, these NPCs are the main way players keep track of their faction's campaigns. Interacting with a campaign NPC gives the player a list of the faction's active campaigns. Choosing a campaign takes the player to a information screen that gives the backstory, a list of active instances, raids, events, and resource contracts for that campaign. In addition, the faction's progress through the various objectives is shown, with tallies for percent complete (for resource contracts), or tallies of successes and failures (for missions and raids). Also, each individual and guild score is shown.
 
Example Campaign Description Screen: In the campaign Goblin Uprising, a powerful goblin shaman is uniting local goblin tribes against the players' faction. When players visit their faction campaign NPC and choose this campaign, they will see the following:
 
 
Campaign Description
 
 
It has been years since our powerful Lord Vedis crushed the local goblin kingdoms and sent them scattering into the nearby hills. The defeated goblins were reduced to squabbling tribes unable to mount a credible threat to our lands.
 
 
In recent weeks disturbing news has reached my ears. A powerful goblin shaman has come to power and he is uniting the tribes under his banner. An uprising has begun that threatens the peace of this province. We must put down the goblins
once and for all.
 
 
Resource Contracts
 
 
The goblins have built crude fortifications in the hills to protect their supplies. We will need siege engines to crack these forts .To build our war machines, we will require 50,000 more wood and 50,000 more iron ingots.
 
 
Our fighters are not properly equipped for a war on this scale. We require 200 more suits of fine chain mail and 200 more masterwork swords to field our army.
 
 
Events
 
 
Currently, all is quiet in the province.
 
 
Instances and Raids
 
 
We have found no goblin leaders, monstrosities or dungeons yet.
 
 
Missions
 
 
Would you like to take a mission in defense of my Lord’s lands?
 
 
Players talking to campaign NPCs would have the option to take a mission in pursuit of the faction's objectives. Missions would be chosen randomly (and possibly generated) from a list specific to the campaign, but many missions would be tailored to the player or team taking them.
 
All campaign missions would have clear success and failure conditions. Successful missions generate a campaign score for the team and the faction. Failed missions generate a negative score and might have some consequences. For instance, if our team wipes in a goblin instance, not only do we get a negative score for our faction, bringing the campaign closer to failure and us off the leaderboard, but high level goblin spawns might pour out of the instance, making travel in the area difficult.
 
Example Campaign Missions: Choosing to accept a mission gives me a choice of two or three generated missions created with the makeup and level of my team in mind. Here are some missions that might appear in our Goblin Uprising campaign.
 
 
Spying – A goblin spawn is created nearby. The player is given a temporary ability called “Observe”. He has to use his stealth abilities to get close to the camp and use his Observe ability on the camp’s boss, or on the tent in the center of the camp. The player fails if they engage a goblin too close to the camp. (This mission would be appropriate for lone thief players.)
 
 
Single Combat – A nearby goblin spawn is turned passive and the boss of the camp is given a simple dialog. The player is tasked with traveling to the camp, talking to the boss and defeating him in single combat. If he can do so, the camp will disperse. If he is defeated, or forced to flee the area, he fails and the goblin camp is made hostile and given a larger agro radius. (This mission would be appropriate for lone warriors.)
 
 
Destroy the Goblin Camp – A large and powerful goblin camp is created nearby. The players have to enter the goblin camp and destroy it. If the players fail, the camp is sent wandering on nearby roads, making travel difficult. (This mission is appropriate for small groups of players.)
 
 
Raze the Goblin Lair – A goblin instance is created and the players have to enter it and destroy the supplies inside. Failure leads to several goblin spawns being created on the nearby roads. (This mission is appropriate for groups of players.)
 
 
Supply Train Escort – A supply train is created in the player’s town and slowly starts across the countryside. Spawns of goblin raiders are created randomly and will charge the supply train trying to do as much damage as possible to it. Players have to protect the supply train and see it to its destination. (This mission is appropriate for groups of players.)
 
 
Another way players could interact with their faction's campaigns is by fulfilling resource or crafting contracts. These aren't missions taken by individuals, but overall goals that everyone can see and contribute to at any time. Contracts might be timed, or they might need to be fulfilled before another event occurs.
 
 
Example Resource Contract: “The goblins have built crude fortifications in the hills to protect their supplies. We will need siege engines to crack these forts .To build our war machines, we will require 50,000 more wood and 50,000 more iron ingots.
 
 
Our fighters are not properly equipped for a war on this scale. We require 200 more suits of fine chain mail and 200 more masterwork swords to field our army.”
 
 
The resource contract is timed and must be finished within a week’s time. If the faction completes the contract, they gain access to the temporary power “War Machine” that allows them to summon catapults and ballistae that make destroying certain
 
 
In most campaigns, instances and raids will open up as various conditions are met. These epic encounters will require full teams, or even multiple teams acting in concert. Instances and raids are province-wide goals, meaning that once they open, any group of players can try them at any time. Raids respawn and instances stay open (though individual players might have a timer before they can reenter an instance) so that multiple groups of players can attempt them. Raids and instances are only considered completed/failed once they have been defeated/failed several times.
 
Example Instance/Raid Encounters: Once the faction’s crafters create the requisite number of swords and suits of armor, an instance opens in the province.
 
 
The Forge – “Deep under the Teeth Mountains lies the Goblin Forge Uderbluk. When the goblins ruled this land, Uderbluk supplied their generals with war machines and armor that rivaled even the most skilled Dwarven craftsmen. In the last Goblin War, Lord Vedis and his cohort invaded the fiery pit and razed it.
 
 
It seems the goblins have found a way to relight the fires of Uderbluk. Unless we can stop them, the goblin weapon and armor smiths will create powerful weapons of war. We must find heroes to enter the goblin forge and extinguish Uderbluk once and for all.”
 
 
The Forge is a short instance filled with heavily armed goblin guards and powerful weapon and armor smith bosses. At the center of the dungeon lies the magical flame that powers the forges. Players have to defeat this flame while fighting off multiple spawns of goblins and ogres.
 
 
Once the faction defeats The Forge, players can buy temporary enchantments on their weapons that give a damage bonus against goblins. If the faction fails the instance, all goblin encounters will become “armored” getting a significant boost in defense and damage.
 
 
Blunder – Blunder is a powerful ogre that activates randomly during the campaign. Blunder has tons of hit points, a dangerous club attack, an area of effect foot stomp that can damage heroes, knock them down and stun them. Blunder commands an army of goblins that randomly spawn once he has engaged his foes.
 
 
Occasionally, when a player talks to his campaign NPC, the mission engine will spawn a province-wide event instead. Events will only spawn if the system detects enough faction players online to support it. Events are special scripted scenarios that require a quick response by a large number of players.
 
 
Example of an Event: Goblin Uprising includes several scripted events.
 
 
Bandits – 24 powerful goblin spawns appear in the province. The faction’s players must gather into teams and hunt them down. This event is timed and if the faction cannot react quickly enough, the event is failed.
 
 
Raiders – News of a goblin raiding party reaches the players’ ears. In ten minutes, a huge group of goblins will spawn near a random town in the province. The players must gather a force sufficient to repel the attack. If the goblins take the town, it is destroyed and a “Razed Town” instance will be created in its place.
 
 
Two points that are important, but might not have been obvious from my somewhat haphazard example, are scripting and randomness. I think it is important that the events of the campaign flow in an interesting fashion. Thus, completing a resource contract opens an instance; failing an event causes a raid to activate; attaining a certain campaign score starts an event.
 
 
On the other hand, we don’t want the path through a campaign to be too predictable. Thus, certain points in the campaign will be driven by random chance. For instance, if Blunder spawns late in the campaign, players will likely have access to temporary powers and bonuses from completing other goals. If he spawns early, these bonuses are unavailable and the raid will be much harder. The order of events in a campaign might be random and some events might spawn randomly if at all.
 
 
 
In any case, I hope that is enough to give you the general idea. If anyone is interested, post a comment and we can discuss various aspects of the system in more detail. 

Legends System

Posted by cmagoun Friday June 8 2007 at 10:58AM
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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.

In Search of a New Endgame

Posted by cmagoun Friday June 8 2007 at 9:46AM
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Endgame raids have never appealed to me. Not sure why. I like teaming. I like cool boss battles that require more strategy than "spam your powers until the bag of hit points is depleted."  I have some respect for the amount of organization and planning it takes to coordinate and execute a successful raid -- especially those guilds that blaze the trail and form the strategies that others will copy later in the game.

 

Also, I don't like endgame PvP. As a player, I don't seek out PvP. I like PvP and think its inclusion spices up a game. I always roll on PvP servers and I participate in "world PvP" when it presents itself, but I rarely wander into special PvP zones and I don't spec my characters for PvP.

 

Add these two things together and you get a player for which the traditional MMO endgame does not work. When I play WoW, EQ2 or CoH, I play knowing that there truly is nothing to do once I hit the highest levels of a game. Now, this is not that big a deal. Tthere are a lot of games out there. But I do wonder what fraction of the MMO population feels the same way I do -- they love the low and mid-level game, but the high level game leaves them cold. Reroll or quit.

 

(BTW -- As I type this, my eyes are drawn to the ad for "Sword of the New World". You know, the one with the cute, white-haired woman decked out in skin tight scarlet and white leathers, wielding dual pistols. Does she have a freakishly long neck, or is that just me?)

 

So, I am looking for a new endgame -- something not based on massive raids for uber loot or meaningless PvP grinds. What would this endgame look like? Here are some thoughts:

 

The endgame must advance the character (or player) in some fashion -- This is a no-brainer. I am pretty sure that all endgames are desgined to do this now. Some games have raid loot. Others have alternate advancement points. Any new style of endgame would have to appeal to my drive to advance my character(s) in a meaningful way.

 

The endgame should feel epic -- I would hate to reach the upper levels of a game only to find that I am doing the same "kill, gather, fetch, deliver" quests that I was doing at level one. I want to carve out star empires, fight dragons, put the big beatdown on some nasty demonkind.

 

The endgame should feel important -- Once you reach the upper eschelons of a game, you should feel like an important character in the game world. Of course, you are but a cog, playing amongst other cogs who all have max level characters... how many heroes can this game world have? Still, I think it is important to make the endgame feel as though it has an impact on the game world.

 

Note that there is a difference in my mind between epic and important. I think today's endgames do ok on the epic part. After all, you are fighting something so nasty, it takes 40 heroes to kill. Even so, I don't think they feel very important. The difference between winning and losing is usually the difference between probably not getting a nice piece of gear and definitely not getting a nice piece of gear. Try again tomorrow night.

 

I'd rather not respec my character for the endgame -- Perhaps this is a dumb requirement, but I don't like the idea of playing a character for x number of levels and then having to totally change the character to be effective in the endgame. I am not a roleplayer, but I do get attached to my characters and their particular fighting style and set of powers. I want to play my character in the endgame, not some optimized template I read off the boards.

 

It would be nice if the endgame did not end up becoming a canned fight -- By "canned", I mean that once someone figures out a winning strategy, they publish it somewhere and everyone that follows simply repeats that single winning strategy over and over and over. I am not sure if this is possible, but it would be cool to see an endgame where the winning strategies could not be perfectly catalogued and replicated time after time.

 

I will continue this line of thought later, but I think those are my basic requirements for an endgame I would personally strive to get to. I am interested in what everyone here thinks. Look for another post in a bit describing some possible new endgame implementations...

So, I have never managed to get a 50...

Posted by cmagoun Thursday June 7 2007 at 1:02PM
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...Or 60 70, or 200, or any max level in any game for that matter. I have played a lot of MMOs, but somehow, I have never managed to cap a character in any of the games I have played. I generally only play a single MMO at one time, and can on occassion, put in quite a few hours. Still at some point in every game, something happens.

 

With my level 40-something warlock in WoW, it was a matter of simply not being able to get online for a week. With the habit broken, I found that I had lost all desire to get back online and restart the grind. In City of Heroes, it is that vague feeling that starts to creep in somewhere around the mid-40s -- the feeling that the character is mostly complete and that the game comes to an abrupt halt at 50. Alt-itis follows and I am onto the next character as quickly as I can hit the "Quit to Login" button. Honestly though, Earth and Beyond wasn't my fault -- they pulled the rug out from under me... :)

 

Yes, as MMO players go, I am a loser. I know it is pretty easy to grind to max level in WoW. I know that you can crank out 10 levels in an evening in CoH. Still, at some point in every MMO I have played so far, it just doesn't seem worth the time.

 

Am I in the minority here? What keeps you pounding away until you reach the fabled (to me at least) endgame? Is it the concept that the "game begins at 70?"  Is it that you feel you have not seen everything there is to see, or you haven't done everything that the game offers? Is it a drive to reach the top of the MMO heap? Is it just a habit to login and grind?