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Endgame Smendgame

Adam Tingle Posted:
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I have a particular pole to bear today. A rant that has been boiling somewhere in the pit of my stomach, kept at bay by only the most attentive jabs at trying to counterbalance my mood. But today is the day for meltdown.

I hate the endgame of all MMORPGs. I hate the people that go on about it. I hate the people that make forum posts about it. I hate the people that dismiss games simply because of it. While it may sound like I’m currently scratching a million-strong hit list, I’m actually being direct: this is addressed to a friend. And us British do hate our friends.

Playing with my buddies has always been difficult. For one, none of them possess enough patience to really get into PC gaming. Everything we play must smell vaguely of Super Smash Bros or FIFA, otherwise they just aren’t having it. Punching or kicking is what cuts the metaphorical mustard. Which is why it came as a surprise as to why they chose to play World of Warcraft.

But this was five years ago, and there is only so much Azeroth one can stomach without crying out for salvation. Recently, as time has passed and individual geography changed, myself and said group of friends have decided to go in for another bite of the MMORPG apple. Free to play firmly on the mind, half-way decent laptops clutched to our chests, we set about the grand debate: which game?

A week later, I can only splutter with rage. Rift? Definitely not. The Old Republic? Nadda. EverQuest 2? Are you kidding me? Lord of the Rings Online? Do I look like a hobbit? The argument raged and raged and raged. The real reason for contempt for other MMOs was because, as one friend put it, “the end game is rubbish”.

If there is one particular element of MMORPGs that I cannot stand it is the endgame. The mushy, floaty, bubblewrap content to keep you engaged long enough to extract a few more monthly subscription fees before boredom washes in like a tidal wave. This is the gameplay equivalent of a line to the exit. Nothing to see here, nothing really to do, but we’re just not ready to let you leave yet.

My problem with the endgame is that it has become all encompassing. Nobody plays online games anymore for the journey. Nobody stops to look around, take a breath, and experience the digital flowers. Everybody is too quick to judge, too quick to /dance their character to the furthest reaches of content and proclaim it all “just not enough”.

A particular bugbear is those that see a new MMORPG as a sprint to the finish. Like a virtual Usain Bolt, they limber up, work out a few shortcuts, and scuttle out of the traps like a demented goat. Getting to the level cap boringly early holds no appeal to me; standing around, chest out, shouting “FIN-ESSHEDD” while everyone goes about their day, enjoying themselves, seems like an utter waste.

Nobody is sat in a restaurant, shoveling mouthful, after sloppy mouthful, into their mush cave desperately trying to be the first one that night to complete Chef’s steak. Nobody is stood in the cinema, nose pressed up against the screen, nervously awaiting the time when they can shout out “I’VE SEEN IT FIRST YOU BASTARDS, I SEEN IT FIRST”.

So why do people do it with MMORPGs? Why must we rush through these wonderful creations, and ultimately make it all seem like a series of ones and zeros? We get a small handful of online adventures each year, with a development cycle of almost half a decade each - and yet there is a community of players who want to whip through it all faster than it takes to pass a bowel movement.

And it is this core group that have warped development. The naughty children in school that take up all teacher’s time. Content, content, content. This is what they crave, and the studio must provide. But as soon as it is available, it is consumed, and the hunger pangs start again.

What about the rest of us? Those of us that would like to see new mechanics, rather than bits of string gaffered taped on so certain players can continually tug until they eventually see the end again and can proclaim “NOT ENOUGH TO DO HERE!”.

So if you are one those people, one of those that enjoy to race through one of life’s simple joys, why don’t you just take a step back, enjoy the view, and take in the vistas. You never know, you might find something you like, and it’s gotta’ be better than standing around waiting for people to catch up, whilst writing forum posts complaining that the hard working developers haven’t catered to your speed-freak needs.

As ever, comments in the section below.

/Rant off

Adam Tingle / Adam Tingle is a columnist and general man-about-town for MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and FPSGuru.com. He enjoys toilet humour, EverQuest-themed nostalgia, and pointing out he's British: bother him at @adamtingle

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Adam Tingle