I received the inspiration to finally sit down and write my opinion on this yesterday afternoon as I was browsing various websites. The topic kept coming up over and over again and not until I was watching Paul Barnett’s famous “what Warhammer Online is about” did it finally sink in that I needed to speak my mind. Discussions abound on MMORPG End-game and what it’s “supposed to be like”. There are polls, reviews, articles, assumptions, presumptions, and all forms of “tions” about what this content is “supposed to be”. Why aren’t more people stepping up and asking themselves why?
Since World of Warcraft more players than ever have been obsessed with finding the “end-game” content. No I don’t credit WoW with creating raiding or battlegrounds pvp – in fact I really don’t credit WoW for making much more than an in-game mailbox for the masses. But enough of WoW and back to my point. There are games that focus(ed) on end-game. The original Everquest focused mainly on the raiding and titled that their “end-game”. Dark Age of Camelot had RVR with a twist of PVE. Star Wars Galaxies… nevermind. My point is these games steer you toward one goal and that goal alone – finding the end. With our genre now as big as it is things are only going to get worse.
In the words of Paul Barnett the most important thing if you’re going to have a subscription based MMO is to have an unending war and perpetual struggle. If you’re reading this article I am going to assume you play MMO’s. You all know the feeling then when you reach level 50 and ask yourself “now what?” The journey to the top was fun and it gave you a sense of purpose and adventure but why did it stop? The answer is “end-game”. With the current leading MMORPG’s on our market we have definitive stopping points. If you’ve done all the instances and somehow managed to get all your gear congratulations. But then what? Wait for the developers to add another instance that you can do over and over again for more gear? To do what… do it all again? Well you’ve found your end-game and if you enjoy it then more power to you. But I say no thank you.
I want to play a MMORPG where my character is only restricted by my imagination. I want to level or progress my character through a world and feel like my adventure never for a moment stops. I don’t want to reach, for example, level 25 and say “I’m half way to the last level.” That’s complete rubbish. I want to look at my character and see the reflection of my efforts. I want to see his armor or his abilities and say “look how far I have come”. When I log into the game I don’t want to feel like I am just another level 50 with the same gear as the guy who did the same instance as me. I want to log into a world where the developers have done their darnedest to make me feel like I am part of their living and breathing world.
There are a few games coming out that just might have what I am talking about. Warhammer Online is promising the unending war that Paul Barnett spoke about. Right from the start you’re going to be part of something big and you’re going to have purpose. There are thousands of pages written with story and concepts just waiting to be implemented. The wars and battles, if delivered as promised, will be never ending struggles for dominance. Characters will evolve and become stronger as you spend more time with them in battle. There’s not going to be someone who one day shows up to the battle wearing “all purples” with absolutely no skill or renown who can out perform everyone simply because of the luck of his drops or the size of his guild. Aside from the direction the game is going the mechanics behind it are simply amazing. Read more on my blog post about Paul Barnett and bears.
The other game coming out is Pirates of the Burning Sea. Sailing the open seas with your crew and worrying about nothing but yourself (if that’s what you wish as a Pirate) is possible. If you want to be part of the English Royal Navy and hunt other players who have decided to live a life as a Pirate then you can do it! The economy is completely player driven and this is the key to the whole thing. With a completely driven player economy supported by PVP the players will decide the direction of the game. Will Pirates be shunned in ports or will the players choose to have dealings with them? With a letter of Marque from the queen will you put a stop to it? It reminds me of SWG (good thing or bad.. hmm) when the features section of their website says you will be able to set up workshops in ports. Perhaps even set up shops? There’s not going to be raids or “end-game” in PotBS because it’s simply not possible! You’re not going to one day say “okay I have nothing left to do” because the game is perpetual and there is no designed end! It’s a living breathing world that limits you only based on your own imagination.
My message to developers out there is simple. Design games the way they should be made. More so, please develop MMORPG’s as they were intended. These games should be ever-evolving and changing immersive Worlds. Do away with the treadmills of levels and raids for gear. MMO’s should challenge both imagination and skill while still providing you the never ending opportunities for adventure.