Friday, January 4, 2008

Endgame Content for a Star Trek MMORPG

Originally Posted by novakane:
Personally I think they should have some sort of END Game for the Science and engineering classes (professions, whatever) that allows them to be settlers on a remote planet.
Originally Posted by Falin:
OK, yet again:

IN MMOs there's no such thing as an endgame! they are open ended and have high level content, but the very nature of them, does not result in an endgame. unlike static solo games, you do not work your way though a story arc and confront the big bad evil guy at the end, you do have stpry arcs, but there is no big bad, end all boss at the end that needs to be defeated.

Please refer to high level content, not endgame content. thank you.
If MMORPG developers don't like us talking about "endgame," then they shouldn't design their character systems in terms of levels.

The gamers who think that playing an online game means racing to the character level cap as quickly as possible -- because that's clearly what the game's designers thought the core gameplay should be about -- are perfectly free to think of what happens afterwards as endgame content. For them, it is the end of the game!

And it's an ending because the game's designers chose to make gameplay all about moving a character through some arbitrary but finite number of imaginary "levels." Once you hit the level cap, you're done with the main game -- time for the endgame. Time to spend weeks doing raids and waiting for the game's pseudorandom number generator to give you some epic loot drop, or to level up another character, or maybe to get completely bored and go play some other game.

So I don't blame anyone for asking what a MMORPG's endgame is. It's an absolutely appropriate question when the game's designed to have an ending in the form of reaching the last of a finite number of character levels.

But that then raises two questions.

1. If the game has a finite number of character levels, what should the desired gameplay experience be for players whose character has reached that last level? Whether it's called "endgame" or "high-level game" or whatever, what would be a superior alternative to 40-person raids for epic drops?

2. Why not replace the old idea of grinding up through a finite number of character levels with some other way to promote action and exploration and socializing? Maybe it would be smarter to design characters to have infinite levels, where each level gets harder and harder to attain. Even better, why not think in terms of no character levels whatsoever, such as offering a large number of skills with a time cost to obtain new skills so that there's no sharply-defined "end" to the game at all?

As long as developers keep making the same kind of game, we'll continue to see the same kinds of suggestions for improving them.

So I also wonder what a completely leveled-up Science officer will do in this game. It seems like a reasonable question to ask, given what we've heard and see thus far and what we know of other MMORPGs.