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Posted: Oct 11th 2010 11:45AM (Unverified) said

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I am also not a 'big group' guy anymore. So endgame depends on this too. Vanilla WOW I was in a guild clearing BWL and AQ--- 40 man content. FAR too many people. I know for some this was epic, but to me I couldn't remember the last time the hero and his 39 friends went to kill the dragon in any books.

They got wise and moved it to 25 and eventually a 10 and 25 option. 6-10 is plenty big for me these days, with the exception of PVP. I like large world pvp. :)

Posted: Oct 11th 2010 12:05PM joemarra052075 said

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Endgame in WoW felt too much like a job. However I am looking forward to cataclysm, I plan on making a new level 1 with my daughter and we will experiance the new world together.

Posted: Oct 11th 2010 12:25PM Vrazule said

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I rarely ever get any character to the higher levels, let alone max level, specifically because I despise the raiding paradigm. There are very few games, if any, that offer anything but the hamster wheel, raid or die end game content. The only notable exceptions being Wizard 101 and City of Heroes, the rest either make me leave 10 to 20 levels before max or re-roll for the much more enjoyable low end content.

Posted: Oct 11th 2010 12:56PM Heraclea said

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Endgames have issues. I play them until I lose patience with them, which can come fairly quickly.

In my experience, endgame raiding is a sequence of progressively more difficult raids and dungeons. Some require you to finish one to get a key for another. Most assume that you will have geared up in the low endgame dungeons to be able to complete the next ones.

Every MMO endgame I've played has had several issues.

They demand too much of your attention span. Most endgames I've seen feature complicated and choreographed encounters, where doing the wrong thing, or the right thing a second too late, gets you killed and may wipe the raid. So most gamers have dedicated observers calling shots over Ventrilo, or use timers and similar game modifications and add ons, to keep track of the various phases and encourage everyone to do the right thing at the right time, because it's too hard to do that just by playing your character. I find this immersion breaking, but it seems to be needed because of the way these encounters tend to be designed.

They demand too much of your character spec. Endgame raiding leads to endgame raid specs. If you are a tank, you are expected to devote your spec to tanking. If you heal, you are expected to spec your character for healing. If you are DPS, you are replaceable, and you are expected to spec in a way that leaves your mark on the parser. (I despise parsers. Who needs an employee performance review in a video game?) But at any rate, a hybrid or individual spec that you find enjoyable to play will eventually be squeezed out by progression raiding.

They demand too much of your particular character. Sooner or later, you'll end up at an encounter that was designed specifically to make your chosen character or class a liability. If you get past the bottleneck, it will be due to the charity of your teammates, because your character doesn't bring a lot to that fight.

I notice this A LOT, since my main will usually be an armored melee DPS character, built for DPS and light offtanking. Disfavoring melee DPS in various ways --- big damage auras, immunity to physical damage --- is perhaps the most frequently encountered gimmick in a raid boss fight. If you rolled an armored class, you're expected to spec and gear up as a tank, and like it.

I enjoy the camaraderie of raiding, up to a point: that point is where the choreography becomes so demanding and the possibility of failure due to a misstep increases to the point that the entire encounter becomes frustrating.

Posted: Oct 11th 2010 2:25PM (Unverified) said

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Best article yet! Cosmic has my favorite comment, "I couldn't remember the last time the hero and his 39 friends went to kill the dragon in any books."

To give you a little perspective let me take you back to my childhood. Born 1984, gamed on the NES after learning to walk. Mario, Zelda, Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior. I didn’t know how to read yet and didn’t understand the game beyond mashing the A button, but I would sit and kill Imps or Slimes depending on the game while my mother praised me for getting her characters strong enough to walk through the next boss. I got my mom rubies a plenty and became such a wiz are Mario that the older kids at the bowling alley my grandparents managed (till the late nineties) would ask my family if they could borrow me to watch me play and I’d Rain Man my little magic fingers through the levels on a few quarters that they gave me of their own allowances. I’d later brag to my friends about hitting stupidly high levels in Final Fantasy before the first boss.

Teenage years, had myself a few surgeries and as a time spender my grandmother allowed me to buy an subscription based MMORPG, I didn’t know anything about them but I ended up at bestbuy and Lineage 2 had literally just arrived. I played that for 18+ hours a day, started over on a new server when one opened (since the beta players weren’t wiped) and was, if not the highest level prophet and first 40 that wasn’t botting or account sharing gold selling farmers, then I was one of a very small handful and was a constantly sought after healer for Cruma tower and castle raids. I’d later find myself jaded when during a run through a tough area I saved my group, died and dropped a rare set of armor which was then picked up by a foreign farmer who refused to give it up and didn’t understand enough English to be persuaded to wait for my guild leader to get more than its value in Adena (gold). So I quit and never felt so sick of anything in my life, my guild offered to replace it, which was worth hundreds of American dollars on Ebay but it was the end for me. I showed up when Chronicle 2 dropped and was immediately accepted in a high level Camelot Alliance Guild called Lionheart, based out of Germany but couldn’t get back into it even after I gave the borrowed gear back and had earned my own armor as a very lucky drop.

Now, when I kill a monster I need to gain experience and gold. All my life I’ve killed monster and gotten stronger and was praised for it by my family, my peers and the gamer designer by way of new skills and statistic points. When a game moves laterally, like Guildwars (which I do love but quit), I feel my time wasted and start an alternate character. Faction grinding in Warcraft doesn’t feel the same, what I gain doesn’t compare to a level up when I fill that particular colored bar over and over again.

Some people just can’t be bribed with access and storyline content. I read now a novel or two in a week or two depending on sizes, so if I want a story I’ll find something worth it, game storylines never interested me.

Posted: Oct 11th 2010 11:30PM (Unverified) said

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My 50 character slots in World of Warcraft are full. What is this "endgame" of which you speak?

Posted: Oct 12th 2010 3:46AM Haldurson said

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I was in a raiding guild way back in the days of EQ, and there was always pressure to level up then so that you could actually participate in the raids. It was even worse, being a cleric, in that we were considered essential.

I slowly grew tired of the pressure of raiding and created some alts that I could just have fun with, without feeling like I had to be perfect all the time. After I left EQ, I decided that I did not want to ever be in that type of guild again, and became a dedicated casual gamer. I've never regretted that decision.

Part of that means putting a greater emphasis on the journey than on the destination. It means doing something not for the loot, or because it's essential, but because it's fun, and you are doing it with friends. It means not feeling like a cog in a machine, or like a soldier in a war. It means that your game feels like an actual game, and not like work. It means that if you don't get any enjoyment out of grinding or farming or power leveling, or raiding the same raid target again and again, that you don't, and there's no pressure on you to do so.

Games should not feel like a treadmill. And I realized that I was the one who had turned the game into one. All I had to do was to stop doing what I didn't enjoy, and not treat the game like a race or a competition or an obligation.

Posted: Oct 12th 2010 12:36PM Valdamar said

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Most PvE MMO endgames are grindy - repeat the same content, hope the RNG is feeling generous - that bores me. So no, nowadays I'm a devotee of "the journey" not "the endgame".

I was a devotee of the raiding endgame in EverQuest for several years, leading 36/54/72-person raids up to 7 times a week, until killing dragons became mundane and getting pinnacle items for my class was more of a relief than satisfying. I always swear I'm not going to put myself in that situation again, but when I hit level cap in an MMO I always sample the endgame, hoping for something fresh with replay value, but my tolerance for grind and boredom are much lower than they used to be so I never stick at it for long - games are supposed to be fun, not a chore.

With my first character in a PvE MMO I still push hard to reach level cap - I like having the option to participate in higher level events with friends if I decide to - but once I get there with one character it's like the pressure is off and I can enjoy the game, playing multiple alts (not necessarily at a slower pace - I like to be efficient). Even with alts I'm quite focused - I'll stick with 2-3 alts at a time until they also hit the level cap before starting other alts. My altoholism is under control.

Unfortunately with many MMOs I find that playing the content once is enough - I have zero desire to repeat all that content again just to level alts. So if MMOs don't have the breadth of content to let me do mostly fresh/new content on an alt then chances are I won't stick around long (e.g. in EverQuest 2 I got a Qeynosian to a level cap, played a Freeportian to L20 just to experience their different newbie content and betrayed them to Qeynos to experience betrayal once, but then I couldn't face repeating all that EQ2 content I'd already done just to level more alts). The problem with most MMOs of the past 5 years is that they launch with barely enough content to get one character to the level cap, so there's never any fresh content to do with alts.

That's why I can't wait for more dynamic content like Guild Wars 2 is offering - if every journey through an area can be a fresh unpredictable experience then there's plenty of replay value there for alts. Having played the Left4Dead games for the first time recently I can't help wishing that MMOs had a dynamic "AI Director" controlling what spawns and where, because that would vastly improve replayability and immersion in MMOs.

Most importantly if MMOs absolutely must have an endgame then I want an endgame that actually matches the playstyle of the journey to the level cap - don't make me do PvE for 50 levels with a character then expect me to PvP in the endgame, or encourage me to solo/duo for 50 levels then expect me to join huge raids, or have a PvP game that requires me to gear up by doing PvE - the builds/gear and player skills usually aren't transferrable between playstyles - that's just shoddy design. I like PvP and I like PvE, but I'd rather play 2 different MMOs - one dedicated solely to PvE (e.g. EQ2 at launch), the other solely to PvP (e.g. Planetside) - than play a half-hearted compromise that doesn't satisfy either playstyle. Speaking of Planetside, what made it so great was that it needed no endgame - everyone participated in the entire game all the time, with no grind, and still had fun.

My dream is an MMO that gets rid of levels and thus gets rid of any need for an "endgame" - just have enjoyable gameplay, deep build customisation, dynamic spawns/quests, horizontal (rather than vertical) progression, and just keep rolling out new zone/event content for it on a regular basis (paid for by microtransaction perhaps, if the MMO had no sub). Yeah, I can dream...

Posted: Oct 12th 2010 2:18PM aboutblank77 said

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"Screw that" is a motto I frequently employ in all aspects of my life

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