The End Game Woes
So..What do we do Now?
Hitting the level cap in any game is a mixed bag of blessings and curses. Along with the sense of accomplishment
and excitement that you finally have made it, comes the question of "So..What now?". When I hit my adventure level cap
and exclaimed into guild chat "Yay! I won at EverQuest!" a very helpful guildmate said to me "Unless you've maxed a trade
and your achievements points as well, then no you haven't.
This is probably true, and while I'm not a tradeskill sort of person, I did get to work on those APs right away like the good lil gamer that I am.
But what does one do when they truly have reached the highest peak of their character's career? Is the repeatable and
instanced high end content, that is currently available, enough?
The Hamster Wheel of Gaming
Instanced and repeatable epic and group encounters have become the norm for the new generation of MMOs. This is by far the most effective way of giving a certain amount of content, in less space, that is more accessible, and it has been thought of
as the answer to keeping the end game crowd happy. You can run the same raids and clear the same instances,
night after night, and weekend after weekend, as much as you'd like (barring lock out timers). Big quests need to get done, decent raiding
gear needs to be collected, and this stuff takes time. But eventually, all the gear is earned, and all the quests are done,
(especially if you are talking about a guild that raids nearly daily) and you are left with covering the same content repeatedly just because
there is nothing else left to do. And some might be happy with doing the same thing over and over again for the
sole purpose of having something to do and making a little bit more coin, but for most
gamers, we need a bit more than that. I personally get very tired of looking at the same content all of the time, and
thus have played my level-capped character less and am turning to my alts for more interesting game play. But that isn't
an option for all players, and with an expansion that offers no level raise at this time, and high end players desperately needing
SOMETHING to do, are developers doing enough to cater to the steadily growing population of the end game EQ2 players?
Stop This Ride, I Wanna Get Off!
What to do with end game content is a subject that gets brought up all the time, and I believe this to be a quandary, that
if solved, will make someone a very wealthy person, because as of yet, end game content has not been all that satisfying in
MMOs at all.
Should we expect it? After all, every game has a shelf life. With platform games, we play it so many times,
beat it so many times, then shelve it out of boredom. Why should MMOs be any different?
I've heard great things about EverQuest I end content, but keep in mind that this game has had nearly a decade of
expansions added to it that make the world massive, along with the fact that it simply was not a game for the casual player,
it was made for serious gamers that spent plenty of time in game, and players that loved a good challenge. Games like EQ1
are actually intimidating for casual gamers because it simply takes so long to advance (even longer if you are a casual
soloer), that they have little hope of even seeing the end game unless they take it up seriously. In this case, developers (in my opinion) had more resources to give end game and more time to cater to the level-capped raiders.
But with new generation MMOs, I have seen
nothing but complaints regarding end game. Both World of Warcraft and EQ2, for example, do quite a bit to cater to the
casual player, making hitting the level cap and end game something that is easily achieved by nearly anyone. It's
possible to solo your way to level 70 in a reasonable amount of time, and even someone that only logs in to group a couple
nights a week can easily hit the level cap long before an expansion comes out to raise it again. This produces a very interesting
catch 22. Developers are spending so much time making life better for the casual gamer to gain their subscriptions,
and ignoring the hardcore gamers, that they haven't enough content at cap, and they are also putting far more players at cap,
We Want Content! (When Do We Want It?) Now!
I hold out little hope that Echoes of Faydwer has enough content to keep the rapidly growing capped community happy.
I'm sure that a lot of the players that temporarily retired from the game out of boredom will come back to sample all that
EoF has to offer, but I doubt it's gonna be enough to keep players occupied until the next expansion likely 6 months away.
So we end up being on this interesting roller coaster of being back in game and excited, then quickly growing weary, and then
we take another "break", either by leaving the game completely or by moving on to alts. Either way, do developers care
enough to spend some much needed time on this aspect of the game? Are there enough hardcore end game raiders out there
that it's even worth spending time on? I'm gonna give that one a big fat "duh". As important as it is to harvest the casual
gamers, quite honestly, people that only play with limited time are far more easy to keep happy than those that are logged
in for 5 hours every day. There may be less that play with that degree of dedication, but these players are an MMOs
walking advertisement! These players are the bread and butter for gaming companies, you cannot just turn your back on them!
So what's the answer? Capped players grow tired of the hamster wheel of epic and group instanced gameplay, and content is
expiring far too quickly. To be honest, I really don't think that game makers have the desire or resources to keep up with
the typical hardcore raider, but that doesn't mean that they should stop trying.
If I had the answer to this issue, I
swear, I'd open up a gaming company right now and utilize it in the coolest ever MMO. Until then, please share your own
ideas. The official EQ2 forums might not always welcome this debate and criticism of our beloved game, but you can feel free to speak
your mind on the Ten Ton Hammer forums.
Comments? Questions? My virtual door is always open! Contact me via e-mail.
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