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The Broken R0m

The testimony,angry rantings, and randomness of a hardcore gamer, geek, nerd, and dork. And taking over the world, too.

Author: JKnight1

The Debacle that is End game

Posted by JKnight1 Saturday January 17 2009 at 3:51AM
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What in the hell is "End" Game?

Supposedly it is the "End" content of an MMO that a player proceeds to grind/complete as they have reached max level/progression in the game. Usually instituted by endless raiding for low percentage rare drops, endless faction/rep grinding, and where many players say the "Fun" is at.

Why the hell does an MMO have "End" Game?

Good question! Why does an MMO have an "End" Game? If an MMO is a perpertual, persistant, never ending world....then how can it have "End" Game content...? Isn't that considered an oxymoron of sorts? I can something that shouldn't end have anything to end with?

So? What's the big deal?

The big deal is it breaks the immersion, the feel of the game. The big deal is that 90% of the MMO playerbase bases their opinion of MMO's on what is at the "End". They say that is where the "Fun" is at. So if that is where the "Fun" is at, why not just skip to the "End" and get right to the fun? Instead of wasting precious time grinding for days, weeks, and months on end with mindless, boring, and monotonous tasks to get there? I mean...doesn't that boggle your mind?

An MMO shouldn't be judged solely on it's "End". Hell, an MMO shouldn't have an "End". An MMO should be judged on the fun one has at the beginning, the middle, and the "End" of the game. It should be judged on the fun you had using the game's mechanics, it's content DURING the game, not just at it's end. An MMO should be judged on it's presentation, it's stability, it's community, and it's customer support. "End" Game should be not be the end all be all of if the game will be good or not.

The game is all about the journey, not the destination. If that were true, all games should just skip to the end and be done with it. Would save the developers money and save us time for more important things, like feeding out pet rocks. Single player games have an end. They should, obviously. As it is the telling of a story, much like a book, but instead of reading it, you are in it. An MMO should not have an end, as they are considered persistant, perpetual worlds that provide a dynamic setting and story for players to interact with while interacting with one another.

Now I understand SOME of the reasoning for it, but really, the fault for needing "End" Game is with the character progression system. Level based progression is the number one culprit of this side effect. Due to there being a "Level Cap" until the next expansion, we need to give those players hit it something to do till we add more "High Level" content. With skill progression, this side effect only appears if their is a relative lack in skill options and diversity. With skill progression, the developers have the added weight of making sure that the players have more options than they need, with enough diversity and utility that all are useful. This way it hampers and slows the player's progression until uiltmately learning every skill. Which should be nigh to impossible.

The best system, in my opinion, to avoid this debacle called "End" Game is a skill based progression system interspersed with tanks. What do I mean? Well, similar to EVE, they have TONS of skills for every situation, role, and utility, and each one has 5 levels to train in, with each new level making that skill stronger/better. This effectively makes the skill system seem larger, with longer prgression the higher level of each skill you train.

So say I'm just starting, and I get to choose five skills from the Apprentice Skill Pool to start.

I choose the following:

Long Sword Profeciency - 1

Light Armor Profeciency - 1

Herbalism - 1

Survival - 1

Intimidate - 1

And the Aprentice Skill Pool has somewhere around 200 skills to choose from. Sure it sounds daunting, but it's diverse and numerous enough that progression will not be so quick. Then, as I use these skills, I slowly gain Skill Points until they go to Rank 2. With each progressive rank requireing more and more Skill Points to Rank up.

Now, I know this is the basis of "Sandbox" type MMO's, but really, sanbox is open to interpretation and opinion. I look at such a system more true to the last three letters of our hobby, in which I discussed in my last blog post, Roleplaying Game. It's a Roleplaying System, where the player gets to make his choices without restriction.

This would effectively end the debacle known as "End" Game, at least for a long time, until one runs out of skills to add to the game.

fansede writes:

 The reason it is the end game because that is where the current development project of the MMO has been left at. It is deemed the ultimate challange or test of the avatar by design. The End game could be level 10 and a place like Crushbone (EQ1 reference) if the developers stopped making content there. 

The reason there is no real "end" in a dynamic persistent world is because you can do other things than a linear progression of levels and skill sets. The problem is, players compare accomplishments by levels or participating in the games biggest challenges. I raided Godhome x  times, so I know what I am talking about..

So the devs make up for the rapid consumption of their content with lateral progression methods. Alternative experience, badges/ titles, cosmetic rewards, mounts, housing, etc. All these to keep the players from shelving their game

Sat Jan 17 2009 10:53AM Report
objeff writes:

I'm going back to EQ times on this one. EQ is definitely more of my preference in game style. The leveling goes slow enough that during play I didn’t think about leveling. (Yes redundant at times but that’s another topic. ? )

I personally think the leveling process is much easier which in turn drives people to use levels as rewards and not the actual game content.

I think a lot of this is driven by the casual gamer – someone who can login and keep up with the people that play countless hours. From a business standpoint that makes sense. The more people playing monthly turns into a lot of money to continue to change and add content. (WoW is a great example)

In my eyes the MMO’s are designed formulaically with personalized twists from the developers. One thing we must all remember these games are huge investments that the developers don’t want to risk low subscriber rates for a ‘different’ kind of game.

This ties me into the end game topic – it seems that this fits into the formula by design. When players hit the ‘end game’ the developers don’t want to lose the subscribers so more and more is added to the ‘end game’ content to keep people playing. With more content being added to the end game to keep subscribers it makes the end game more appealing and eventually the focus of the game.

The big question is what can be done to make all levels just as enjoyable as the ‘end game’.

Sat Jan 17 2009 11:47AM Report
Quizzical writes:

The endgame is what game companies give players to do after they've done everything else worth doing.  It's not an attempt at providing interesting content.  It's an attempt at getting them to keep paying the monthly fee, rather than cancelling their account as they ought to.  The defining feature of an endgame is something that takes players a long time to get through, relative to the amount of development time it took to create.

To spread it out as, you can keep grinding levels for longer, as you propose, doesn't make the endgame interesting.  It just makes it longer.

As for why companies don't have players skip to the endgame, if they did, players would catch on that it is stupid and quit the game immediately.  That the endgame doesn't have any interesting content doesn't mean that the rest of the game doesn't.  Players who feel like they've invested a lot of time in a game and have enjoyed it so far are a lot more hesitant to quit.  That is, they're more likely to keep paying the monthly fee to grind through the endgame, which is the entire point of it. 

Sat Jan 17 2009 11:58AM Report
maveric007 writes:

I think most people do judge it on the start/middle/end. I guess it really depends on what game your actually blogging about. Some like the mid content some like the raiding "end game content". Game makers have to provide all of this content to ensure they get each style of player. I personally enjoy "end game" and without it mmorpgs would be lost.

Sat Jan 17 2009 12:06PM Report
JKnight1 writes:

I already know all about they why, and even stated it in my blog post. But as you have pointed out, Quizzical, and which is my main annoyance factor for this, is: The defining feature of an endgame is something that takes players a long time to get through, relative to the amount of development time it took to create.

If that's what it is, then shouldn't the ENTIRE game be that? Shouldn't the character progression take a VERY long time, as to prevent having to to provide this oxymoron of services? That's the main problem with level based progression, because sooner or later, one hits the peak. With a diverse and deep skill based system, the "end" game would non-existant.

I understand why it's there, and that's the problem. And the other problem is the casual gamer. WoW has changed the face of MMO's into a casual hobby, not the hardcore hobby it started out as with Ultima. And no, raiding endlesslessly for hours is NOT hardcore, it's boring.

Sat Jan 17 2009 12:09PM Report
JKnight1 writes:

If developers make it so that a game takes a long while to progress, with a journey and experiance that is both meaningful and fulfilling, then the need for "end" game content would be extremely low.

My other main beef with it is the fact most of the playerbase today tells me that the fun is in the "end" game. And as I said, if that's true, then why are we wasting time getting there, instead of just starting at that point?

Sat Jan 17 2009 12:14PM Report
Quizzical writes:

If the real game is fun and the endgame is boring, then to only have the endgame would be to have an awful game.  Players would quickly pick up that the game is awful and quit.  That's why companies usually don't do that.

The real game can't go on forever.  Companies can't create infinite content without it being ill-designed garbage.  A company creates as much content as it can, and then the question is what to give players after they've run out of content.  If the answer is nothing, then they quit.  If an endgame, then some will quit, but you get some to hang around a while and pay the monthly fee a few more times before they quit.

The endgame is never the funnest part of the game.  To have an endgame that isn't much worse than the rest of the game is quite an accomplishment.

There are, I suppose, some games that just go pvp from the start, so that there isn't really a concept of an endgame.  Those games often aren't classified as MMORPGs, though.

Sat Jan 17 2009 1:44PM Report
JKnight1 writes:

Really? EVE doesn't have any End Game that I'm aware of, yet it's 220,000 players strong, with a strong community, endless, FREE content updates, and an ever evolving story. It's a niche market, but a successful one.

I havn't heard of players in EVE looking for groups to raid so and so asterpid, etc. It is an open ended game with so many possibilities and content that end game is pointless, as the entire game is fun, without end.

All i'm saying is, that most games now focus only on what's at the end. No longer is the journey important. Like Lineage 2, WoW, and such. The journey is meh in comparison to what one can do at the end, but first you have to endure endless monotony to get to the "fun".

If developers were smart, they would develop the game in such a way that "End" game should be a last resort. Not a feature on the box. I play my games to enjoy the story, the journey i'm taking. The destination is my reward, but the greatest fun was in the journey to it.

Sat Jan 17 2009 1:55PM Report
JKnight1 writes:

It's the same idea with movies and books. We aoften rewatch and reread them, why? Because of the journey. We don't just skip to the end. We enjoy the beginning, and the path to the end.

I go and see Dark Knight in theatres. I wanna know what happens and why. Then it comes out on DvD, I go and buy it for my collection, but also to rewatch it, because the journey was enjoyable, exciting, and full of adventure.

If just the ending had the good part, movies, games, and books should just skip to it and get it over with, as the rest is just a waste of time for us to endure. Sure it would suck then, but that's my point! The ENTIRE game should be fun, deep, and enjoyable, and end game, epsecially on an MMO, should be a last resort, if a game is developed with such a mindset.

Sat Jan 17 2009 2:03PM Report
Quizzical writes:

Doesn't EVE fit my description of "some games that just go pvp from the start, so that there isn't really a concept of an endgame"?

That can't really be done with pve, however. 

Sat Jan 17 2009 2:09PM Report
JKnight1 writes:

No, it doesn't just go pvp from the start. You can mission, mine, develop, invent, explore, etc. And they keep adding more content every update. PvP is not a central part of EVE, and it IS an MMORPG.

Sat Jan 17 2009 2:21PM Report
Quizzical writes:

I'll concede that I haven't played EVE.  My understanding of it is that mostly it's either shooting at other players or participating in the game economy.  Both of those are intrinsically pvp activities.  Is there a lot of pve content, too, such as mobs that you can go kill without interference from other players? 

Sat Jan 17 2009 2:25PM Report
JKnight1 writes:

There are no instances, and there is risk of other players interfering, but in the High security areas, lower skilled players are protected by the AI faction called Concord.

There is plenty of PvE, such as ratting, missions, crafting, and just exploring the great unknown that is space.

Sat Jan 17 2009 2:39PM Report
JKnight1 writes:

Ratting is the term for killing npc mobs.

Sat Jan 17 2009 2:49PM Report
objeff writes:

I think what JKnight1 is saying is that if there are 'levels' numbers there has to be a cap somewhere which creates the 'end game' issue. Eliminating a rank (level) system and replacing it with something more broad you could have all the content doable at any time in the game. Not just the end game. So not only would the usually questing, grinding, crafting be done at any level so would the raiding, PvPing and whatever other catches are out there..

To Quizzical's point... when you've played for a while what would be the draw and the motivation to keep playing if there wasn't something special to keep working for.

I like the ride personally and would like to be able to create new characters and start over and never have to redo any content that I already have with a previous Character. I know thats a bit far fetched but hey, that's what I enjoy. When I hit whatever max level there is and I am forced to go on raids or PvP as the only thing to do then I always quit playing. Starting a new character and enoying a different view on the same game wins out for me everytime..


To each their own! 

Sat Jan 17 2009 4:07PM Report
amimia writes:

Sony did what you are talking about with SWG. There were not levels it was all on grinding for abilities which I would like. I think they should create a game that has no level but ability driven. Have instances of all kinds so basicly like WOW is with all the instances but each instance is going to give you the gear to make it t othe next and you have to do quest lines to get keys to others along with the right gear to be able to be in there. So I guess it would be kinda like a level system but it would be built into the gear and abilities instead of having a number in the top left hand corner. Also make the game very large with player cities/ player housing anywhere on the map and have it as a player driven crafting system with player gathering resources. I just think they need to bring back the community in these games. I just feel that the communities are not there anymore.

Sun Jan 18 2009 6:02PM Report writes:
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