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Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

How Should MMOs End?

Posted by BillMurphy Tuesday May 25 2010 at 4:24PM
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Like millions in America this week, I can’t stop thinking about LOST and its recent series finale.  I’ve been watching the show since it first premiered, and like so many fans and haters of the show I’m left with a weird post-finale feeling: sadness.  Let me be clear.  I’m firmly in the camp that loved the finale.  I believe there are two types of LOST viewer: those that are along for the ride and the relationships, and those that are along for the mystery and the answers.  The finale was bound to please the former and annoy the latter.

I grew really attached to the survivors of Oceanic 815, and I’m now saddened by the fact that I’ll not be seeing any more of them other than in reruns and on DVD.  Part of me wishes to see a spinoff Fantasy Island-esque take on the island as run by Hurley and Ben, but I know it’ll never happen and I know it really shouldn’t.  Just as part of me would love to watch a cop drama with Sawyer and Miles playing Starsky and Hutch.

But all the LOST-centered thinking got me wondering about how other forms of entertainment that seem to go on for years come to an end eventually, just like anything else.  And I began to wonder if MMOs shouldn’t have send-offs in the grand tradition of TV finales.  Perhaps not all of them are suited to the notion, but theme park styled MMOs are very much like seasons of our favorite TV series.

There’s a story that is delivered to us through content updates.  We follow along by playing the content, developing our characters, and taking part in different portions of the storyline.  One of the worst things about an MMO going dark is all the time we invested in our characters.  But another is the world we spent so much time playing in is being wiped from existence.

And since all MMOs will eventually not be a sustainable form of business, I think it would be nice if developers began treating their final days in the same fashion as television producers and writers.  Too often these days games don’t get to stay around long enough to get through the complex narrative their designers craft, but for those few that do a conclusion at the end of it all would be a welcome way to close down the servers.

Imagine the far off day when Blizzard’s World of Warcraft is shut down.  Setting aside the fact that the game will likely spawn a sequel (if it hasn’t already by the time the original is shuttered) and setting aside the fact that the closure of WoW is probably a decade or more away… what would that day look like?  What final events would Blizzard create for us all to gather around and say farewell to Azeroth with?

Would the Alliance and Horde have to work together one last time against a final evil?  Or would it be something like Rocky 3 with Thrall facing off against Jaina Proudmoore in a boxing ring?  I like the way we’ve seen some games go down thus far.  Currently the last day the servers are on is like one big party for the game’s loyal fans.  But what happens when LotRO’s designers eventually take us all the way to the final battle at Mordor?  The servers aren’t going to go dark after the Dark Lord is destroyed, but they’ll have to eventually.

And when they do, I wouldn’t mind it if I got to watch as Gandalf, Bilbo, and Frodo sailed off to the Grey Havens instead of just partaking in some massive mayhem with Balrogs traipsing about the Shire.

spookydom writes:

Really good blog entry. Bump from me. I'm in the same camp with you regarding lost. watched the finale yesterday, blew me away. As far as mmo's go I really don't think i've ever thought about it this way. Everything has to end, it's the natural order of things. When they do it would be great if it left you with that dazed melancoly feeling you get like when a tv series you love ends or you finnish a book you have been really into etc. And the players really should be made to feel part of that experiance, after all these games don't work without them. It's not often you get to choose how something you care about ends. If you get the chance why not do it in style. Never played the Matrix online but didn't that finnish with battle of Zion? Would like to have seen that.

Tue May 25 2010 5:48PM Report
Thanosxp writes:

Sorry for posting things from another site,but please, read this, erase it if you want later,but explain why so...close topics,in so little time. Just..weird. Or coincidence,but weird nevertheless


Tue May 25 2010 7:01PM Report
maplestone writes:

First, make sure you tell the players.  Don't be coy, don't play out mysteries.  Give them as much advance notice as you can of the end date and any milestones leading up to it.  The finales the diehard players of a long-running game need to plan for their characters and guilds are more important than any finales the publisher plans for the world they are abandoning.

Tue May 25 2010 7:19PM Report
SidheLord writes:

Tabula Rasa, the one MMO I ever played that did die went out in style.  The free month at the end gave others the bittersweet chance to see what they missed.  XP boosters and free gear upgrades were made easily available so anyone who wanted to participate in the end-game could do so.  And a fitting end-of-game scenario opened up just before the big-shutdown.  We Terrans were given the chance to take back the Earth.

I spent my final minutes of Tabula Rasa with my fellow AFS soldiers dancing beneath fireworks in the reclaimed ruins of New York city.  A fitting end to a fun little sci-fi mmo that ended all too soon.

Tue May 25 2010 7:52PM Report
Hyanmen writes:

The main game and the expansions should have their own storylines which would have proper conclusions.

However, they should be tied within the main lore and there should be some kind of hidden "factor" in there that would tie in the stories of the expansions later.

That way, if you for example have 3 seemingly independent storylines finished, the developers would release a set of missions that tie in those storylines in a grand finale type battle.

That's what I've always enjoyed.

Tue May 25 2010 10:32PM Report
lethys writes:

I think when an MMO ends there should be one of two things:

1) There is an extreme boss that would require the entire server to take down.  Characters suffer perma-deaths or the creature gets killed and the game just has like a thank you message or something.


2) The two factions or however many have a final massive battle with perma-deaths.  There would be so many lag issues that people would just quit the game anyway!

Tue May 25 2010 10:43PM Report
Alberel writes:

I really liked the way GW1 ended in Nightfall (EotN is really just the prologue to GW2).

Abaddon was explained to have had a hand in all the events of the previous campaigns and at the very end you not only fought him but also all of the previous campaign villains. It was a pretty epic finale and drew the storylines together extremely well.

Ironically that was the exact reason I didn't like the Lost finale since it never actually drew the storylines of the two parallel worlds together; they remained entirely separate and so both endings felt inconsequential.

Tue May 25 2010 11:07PM Report
Sephastus writes: Having done many beta tests, and these being mini-endings to the games, the way I see game endings happening have alot to do with the creativity of the staff and developers. They too like having fun and a sense of closure. WoW and Dragonica, for instance had a huge invasion where the evil forces had actually triumfed over good, and all the hubs were over-run by massive ammounts of end-game mobs a few minutes/hours before the servers were going down. On the other end of the apocalips scenario, is the ultimate triumf. EQ2 spends the last few days/hours ussually handing out end-game gear and levels and the dieties (devs) spend their time popping mobs for the players to kill. I see the end of the games happening with one of those 2 scenarios playing out. Either an ultimate win, or an ultimate loss depending on the lore of the game. The closure, is not only for the players, but also for those that spend countless hours of their lives making a living breathing world for other people to live in. They want, and deserve a closure just as much as all of us, the paying public. Wed May 26 2010 8:54AM Report
Tanemund writes:

Personally I would be against big planned "end of the world" events unless it fit into the lore of the game somehow.  I think the more realistic path is to give players as much warning as possible and find a way to allow as many past players return for the last days of the game as possible.

With those kinds of events you'll get participation but there are probably as many people who won't participate as would participate.  In a lot of ways it's like a wake or a funeral and I think that MMO devs would be well served to allow the players as much room as possible to say their goodbyes.

If anything these events should be celebrations of the developer's vision and the players who helped make the vision a reality.

Wed May 26 2010 1:15PM Report
BillMurphy writes:

@Thanosxp: No clue mate.  I hadn't even checked Massively when I wrote this.  But that's LOST for you... on everyone's mind the days after the finale.

Wed May 26 2010 6:14PM Report
Tardcore writes:

I was there for there for the end of Shadowbane. The dev staff threw a big free for all event. It was very nice to be able to have one last ride before the world went dark.

As to how this latest crop of dismal MMOs should end, I say they should perish by fire, sword, and a salting of the earth so nothing grows. I'm lookin at you Cryptic.

Wed May 26 2010 7:35PM Report
benwins writes:

Actually on Attack of the Show with an interview with Michael Emerson, he revealed that on the season 6 box set there will be a short 15min epilogue thing showing Hurley and Ben's time protecting the island

Thu May 27 2010 4:05AM Report
fin1983 writes: deleted Sun May 30 2010 10:38AM Report writes:
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