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Reader Comments (114)

Posted: Jun 7th 2011 12:14PM Alluvian EstEndrati said

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IMO the 'endgame' should be where the 'real game' opens up. Leveling up ones character should really be seen as the tutorial sections of the game; where you learn how to play.

The problem with current endgame scenarios in most MMOs is that they are progression based, rather than content/fun based. Once you get your character (mostly) tweaked out in gear or whatever, the game is pretty much over in most MMOs.

What we need are MMOs in which, once you reach the top, a lot of interesting things are opened up for you to do. RvR & dynamic world types of content are what the focus needs to be IMO. Ways for players to get involved in the world (and have fun while doing so) and to invest themselves in the gameplay, rather than the gear grind.

MMO developers really need to look back at the roots of gaming I think in order to advance anymore.

Posted: Jun 7th 2011 12:20PM Space Cobra said

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I agree with your article, Jef. Just some of my personal observations and caveats:

I know you touched on this before (and I have, too), but games need to be all-encompassing beasts. If you want to have current systems of gear grind, fine, but there should be more sandbox elements. Basically, there should be a wide enough variety to keep the majority of players entertained and in different ways. Crafting and Player Housing is one such (big) way as is customizing an avatar. I also feel a wide variety of mini-games are valid; if you have to steal from Sims Online or the selection at Yahoo games, do so and don't look back!

People come to an MMO to be entertained. It is amazing that I'll be in one and over the global-chat channel, someone will start typing how bored they are...in a game....that I am in. It's like they are whining and wanting someone to entertain them. I've been there a bit, logging into a new favorite and wanting to feel the pavlovian pleasures of enjoying myself but not getting such enjoyment at 2am. Really, I am fortunate to have the ability to either go to another MMO or game (be it PC or console) or just watch a DvD or what-not. Now, if I could push myself to be more creative on a regular basis and clean my place on a more regular schedule, that'd be great. At least I try and go out, but I need to do more.

Really, variety is the spice of life and "oddly enough", that applies to video game playing. There are more creative ways to dream things into an MMO world that are not really happening. I hate to pander to certain player's addictions, but I would do so: provide reasons for a player never to log-off on your world. Just be creative.

But video games can only do so much: I'd like to think, even a "perfect life" in a virtual setting can get boring. Even a set theme ("I am SICK of fantasy!") can get stale. I dare, that even the most ardent chocolate fanatic, would get sick and tired of chocolate if they had too much of it. At least, for a period of time, before a craving kicks in.

Posted: Jun 7th 2011 12:26PM FrostPaw said

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I never play for end game content, I might do things when I reach max level but my objective is to get to max level not start playing when I arrive. When I reach max level I'm more interested in helping others, messing about since I can die and waste money on whatever I want.

I'm also more inclined to spend time leveling alts which is repeating the content not repeating the end game.

When I hit the level cap in EQ2 with my Wizard I spent my time helping my friends catch up, exploring all the "not as good" dungeons that I had skipped and I started decorating my house with expensive furniture, roleplaying with random strangers. I went back to zones I was above the level for just for kill scores, collection quests, discoveries or some clothing outfit I once had but sold off when I needed the money, I bought different coloured mounts and pets and carried around outits purely to look good when I felt like a change.

Posted: Dec 14th 2011 1:08AM (Unverified) said

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@FrostPaw

Honestly, I wish more people were like that. Nowadays, it seems like people are doing the end game in an attempt to be better than everyone else, that sense of elitism.

In my case, I don't aim for end game or max level.....I just happen to get to it. Its simple: if i like a game, I keep playing it and eventually hit max level. If i don't like a game or reach a point where I stop enjoying it, I stop playing. As a result, the only games I've ever reached max level has been WoW and CoH. I have gotten very far in SWG back before NGE, maxing out one of the combat skill trees (Tera Kasi master >:D ) but I could never decide what to do with the rest of my skill points. Eventually, i got tired and took a break and gave WoW a shot.

The rest, is history.
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Posted: Jun 7th 2011 12:27PM Chambers said

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why didn't you just title this piece "People who play theme park mmo's; they are stupid a should play sandbox style games".

Seriously although you talk about lack of content in theme park games and a repetition of content, sandbox games are identicle. Do you consider an economic arms race in eve to be a non repeating endgame? Or how about player housing, do you seriously think that getting a new lamp for your house is any different from getting a new piece of armour from a boss? MMO's are repetative sandbox or otherwise.

Posted: Jun 7th 2011 12:33PM Jef Reahard said

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@Chambers

Yeah, they're both repetitive, but getting a new lamp doesn't require a month of grinding, thereby freeing you up to do something else that might be enjoyable.
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Posted: Jun 7th 2011 12:47PM Daverator said

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@Chambers

Thanks.

Also the PvP argument is completely inaccurate. Any competition with even an occasional addition of component will have a thriving meta game. Combinations, abilities, makeups, all are only good and powerful based on their competition. So while this is the hip coolness today, once the pool adjusts for it, it becomes less powerful.
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Posted: Jun 7th 2011 12:57PM Popplewell said

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@Jef Reahard

If you truly want to refute Chambers then back up your arguments with something other than vague assertions.

If you're talking SWG (assuming it's not busy being hacked for your unencrypted personal information) then, as a combat toon, what activities does it have that are unique to a sandbox?

I stress combat toon because most MMO's don't force you to choose between combat and crafting so you should compare like with like.
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Posted: Jun 7th 2011 1:22PM Jef Reahard said

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@Popplewell

I'm not really interested in refuting his opinion, but the lamp/armor example was a poor one (or vague, to borrow your terminology).

Also, my definition of sandbox is probably a lot different than yours. Combat bores the hell out of me, and for a game to be a true sandbox (imo), it must offer extensive gameplay options other than combat.

These options can include a real economy (EVE), involved crafting (SWG, VG, EQ2), and also mechanics that players like yourself probably consider fluff (housing, socialization games like SWG's entertainer class or LotRO's music system, and player-generated content like all those tools I linked in the last part of the piece).
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Posted: Jun 7th 2011 1:37PM Chambers said

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@Jef Reahard

Although with this being soapbox your entitled to your opinion and all, i do think its a pretty narrow minded one when you look at the way your defining "a-typical" mmo games. The addition of a new player into a raid group, the intricacies of planning a raid, the farming different potions for a particular encounter, as well as the addition of a new arena, a rebalance of various classes and in rare cases the inclusions of new moves changes the games dramatically.

If you look even at WoW (which you are obviously refering too) compare the way the "endgame has evolves over the course of its lifetime, compare that to the endgame of eve (i want to say SWG but i have spent no time in game and im under the impression its development is almost at a stand still) i think you will find that in both games there are people who only concentrate on the economic side of things such as playing the auction house in wow, the cosmetic side of things getting as many mounts and pets as possible, the achievement side of things, the raid side of things, the pp side of things. WoW does not have the espionage side that eve has in place but in the same sense eve does not have any kind of structured endgame. Content is generated by players on both sides, all you have to do is browse your sister site to see the amount of naked runs and weddings and other such things that are being held.

In closing i understand where you are coming from jef, clearly you prefer sandbox games to more structured ones, but don't mistake the lack of a hand rail for a plethora of options, more often than not the exact opposite is the case.
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Posted: Jun 7th 2011 2:19PM Jef Reahard said

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@Chambers

We'll just have to agree to disagree on the more/less options bit. I don't consider the addition of a new player or a class mechanics change to be an additional gameplay option. It's more of another arbitrary obstacle to be overcome on the race to the top of the treadmill.

I get that some people like that, no problem. I don't buy that it makes for emergent gameplay of the kind you get in a game where static goals (like "kill the raid boss") aren't set for you ahead of time. The "choices" in a themepark title are much more illusory than they are in a sandbox title, generally speaking.

It's interesting you brought up WoW's AH as well. I had a whole section on that in my original draft (comparing it to EVE's economy) that I had to cut for length reasons. In a nutshell, comparing the two is like comparing the playing of a song on a real guitar vs. a Rock Band guitar.

One is tightly controlled and basically guaranteed to give you a good result provided you're literate and spend a few minutes learning the basics. The other is vastly more complex, and in my opinion of course, vastly more engaging/rewarding.
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Posted: Jun 7th 2011 12:28PM (Unverified) said

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Einstein never said that. I don't care what "brainyquotes.com" says.

Posted: Jun 7th 2011 12:56PM SolitudeZero said

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@(Unverified)

So, what was he like?
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Posted: Jun 7th 2011 1:23PM (Unverified) said

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Posted: Jun 7th 2011 12:28PM aurickle said

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I agree with the article. I think the next real generation in MMO's will be when a game is designed that makes all content available to all characters from day one. It would essentially be without levels, meaning that it would have to be skill-based instead.

Naturally there would be enemies and objectives that require high skill and/or large numbers of players to beat.

Combine that with dynamic content so that the world is always changing and you get a situation where the fun is always where you are, no matter who you are.

It's a tall order, but some studios (like Arena Net) seem to be thinking along the same lines and trying to move in this direction.

Posted: Jun 7th 2011 1:03PM Irem said

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@aurickle
I'm hopeful, but the funny thing about GW2 is that even though people are curious about it because it promises something different, I've seen a LOT of those same people lately balking at the lack of traditional endgame content. It's interesting to see, because they ostensibly -don't- want the same old thing, and yet some of them assume that lack of raids = nothing to do at max level.
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Posted: Jun 7th 2011 1:25PM (Unverified) said

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@aurickle I have my hopes HIGH for what Anet is trying to do.
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Posted: Jun 8th 2011 4:01AM Space Cobra said

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@Irem

I chalk that up to many people not really thinking such things thoroughly. The want of "something different" with the calls for lots of End-Game raiding.

Truth of the matter is, there are other things to do at endgame that don't need raiding, but these people have to be shown because many don't have any idea.

So it is a question of bringing creativity and being creative or doing something old in a new way. This just reinfoces my view that there are not that many creative folks in the world, especially those willing to market/make things and it is a "rare" commodity, even if all your friends are creative/artistic types and it sometimes seems different.

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Posted: Jun 7th 2011 12:31PM Mynsc said

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And this is exactly why I get mad when I see people treating RIFT like it's the 2nd coming of Jesus himself.

If we accept all this endgame recycling (start and middlegame too for that matter) and even place it on a pedestal... this is all we're ever going to get. Why would the devs change a model that's still bringing in money, fame and succes ?

Posted: Jun 7th 2011 12:48PM lizardbones said

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I pretty much agree with the article. Everything except this:
"They're unpopular with many gamers, though, because they require time and effort to play."

They are unpopular with many gamers because they are godawful BORING with a capital BORE. A game needs to challenge much more than patience to be considered interesting or fun to play.

Something new is needed, but if the current crop of sandbox games were all that great, they'd be doing great. Something new is needed. Perhaps it just needs to be a sandbox game with themepark elements. And zombies.


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