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The Lunch Break Blog

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

Author: cmagoun

In Search of a New Endgame

Posted by cmagoun Friday June 8 2007 at 8:46AM
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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...

dascuda writes: Yah I totally agree with you. I hit a certain level in games and I'm like "oh that was fun, what now?" I think WoW had the worst endgame experience for me. I watched many of my good friends turn into maniacs and lose touch with what made WoW a fun experience. I think it happens with too many games. Wed Jun 20 2007 8:57AM Report
Vrazule writes: God I hate raiding, but I hate developers who can't seem to get beyond their raiding retardation. Wed Jun 20 2007 10:34PM Report
FireflyFan writes:

Some developer concluded that "if six people in a group is fun, then 36 in a group of groups (a raid) must be more fun!" and lo, raiding was born.  I've done the raiding thing in EQ, WoW, and finally in EQ2 once I hit max level.  It's never been fun for me, it's more like a job.  But what choice do I have once I reach level/AA/whatever cap?  PvP - no thanks, never saw the point.  Factioning - die, whoever came up with that idea.  Tradeskilling - tedious, repetitious.  Alts - I'm the type who finds once class to play and doesn't like any others, so no, that's not an option either.  Group with guildies in a family-style or non-raiding guild - the skill level is usually significantly lower here, and inevitably leads to frustration.  I admit it, the most fun I've had in any of those MMOs was when I was in a group where half the group is mid- or high-end, the result of raiding.  Apparently I can't have my cake (a desire to regularly playing with talented players) and eat it too (without having to raid).  Is this my fault, or that of the game having raids in the first place?

Wed Aug 08 2007 12:55AM Report
Bopper writes:

Thanks again for another good post. I agree with a lot of the points you made and have wondered some of the same things. I will try my best to address your points in order and give my goes!

1) The Raid-Grind

While many boss fights in games become spam-fests where strategy doesn't play too much of a key, some games have presented bosses in such a way that they are fun. I of course haven't experienced everything fully and thus I am only sharing what I have experienced during the time I played that particular game so this may not hold true anymore.

I raided during Everquest 2 and Lord of the Rings Online during their early days and the raid fights were pretty much as you described. In Lotro only two of the raid bosses required any real "tactics" in order to kill (when they were first released, I am sure it is different now). In Everquest 2 things were not as bad but they were still rather generic.

To this date the most dynamic and interesting raid bosses I have encountered are still in World of Warcraft. I am sure I will be flamed for this one :) I would still love to make lots of changes to the raiding system itself but on this one Blizzard has done a pretty good job, especially with the earlier raids and their difficulty curves. All in all I had a great time raiding pre-Burning Crusade and a reasonably good time raiding after the expansion.

You might be pleasantly surprised if you tried high-end raiding at this point now that all of the raids have been conquered and more people know what they were doing. I hated the beginning raids in the expansion though. The difficulty curve was pretty much a brick wall and the rewards weren't on par with the time and effort required to reap them.

So in response to your comment, "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 think WoW does offer this but it does come with its own set of problems and pitfalls.

2) PVP

While many games offer pvp, the incentive to take part in it isn't really there. Sometimes the pvp in itself can be fun even though there are no real rewards (Age of Conan in its current state), while at other times it can be numbing and a chore but you do it anyway just to reap the rewards (WoW arenas anyone?)

It would be nice to see a game where pvp comes naturally and is an integral part of the game. You do it without even realising it because you enjoy it, giving you instant satisfaction, then you realise that you have been rewarded for achieving something through it and are compelled to keep going during the times that it does feel a little mundane. Warhammer Online has promised this but it remains to be seen what will happen. If I had to judge by DaoC, though, then I would be (and consequently am) quite optimistic.

Give me world pvp where I am achieving something other than racking kills and am getting rewarded for it and I am sold. Some of my best pvp moments have been: defending a clan's towers in Anarchy Online, assaulting another faction in DaoC and taking part in the world pvp in World of Warcraft (when it actually happens, which is once in a blue moon).

So yes, I generally agree with your statement about pvp. My advice to you, however, is to force yourself to try out these things and you may suddenly find yourself caught up in them. For me this is mostly dependant on who I play with (another point you also mentioned). If playing with a tight-knit group of friends with the same level of skill and the same goals, the sense of achieving something together and in essence "beating the game" outweighs the sense of "work", at least for me. Then again, everyone is different :)

Now, onto your other points, for which I will make a seperate post :D



Fri Aug 08 2008 1:45PM Report writes:
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