End-game content is not the ONLY content.

Tobold, MMOCrunch and Random Battle are three blogs which have recently talked about solo vs group play in an MMO, and everyone brings some good points to the table. One major issue during the leveling process is that far too often, grouping actually slows progress down, and hence players solo instead.

The quick fix to this would be to make grouping more rewarding than soloing, while not going as far as EQ1 with forced groups. Players avoid groups in WoW because they know they can accomplish more solo, and hit the level cap faster.

What stuck me however is not the group vs solo aspect, but the whole ‘rush to cap’ notion. Why do we just assume everyone want to hit the level cap as fast as possible?

The easy answer is, ‘Blizzard said so’. It’s no secret the ‘good’ stuff in WoW is at the level cap, at least according to Blizzard, which is in sharp contrast to what most people really like about WoW; the questing and fast paced progression.

Before WoW (yes, people played MMO’s before WoW), rushing head first to the level cap was not how most people played. No one rushed to 7x GM in UO. You blatantly could not rush to cap in EQ due to how long that whole process use to be. In Asheron’s Call, after a certain point, level gains were insignificant due to diminishing returns. DAoC had plenty of PvP pre-cap. The list goes on.

Yet today, in WoW/LoTRO/AoC (and I’m sure others), you have the ‘leveling game’ and the ‘end game’, and the two are usually night and day. Will that be the case with Warhammer Online as well? The reason I ask is because for months now, we have been reading about all these great Public Quests and PvP areas, which are zone/level specific. What if I really love doing a certain Public Quest, or enjoy how PvP works at a certain level? Will I still need to rush and hit cap, just so I can join the ‘official’ endgame of city sieges?

Unlike questing, PvP is almost endless content, and since WAR is built around PvP, who is to say people won’t slow down and enjoy each tier of PvP, instead of always looking at their XP bar and grinding out another level. Perhaps the whole ‘group vs solo’ issue will be a non-factor, as players instead focus on their current tier and battling the enemy, enjoying what is currently in front of them, instead of rushing towards the end-game carrot. One can hope, right?

12 Responses to End-game content is not the ONLY content.

  1. Tipa says:

    Oh, what the heck, I’ll be the devil’s advocate.

    If you aren’t at the level cap, those parts of the game above your level are closed to you.

    If you have reached the level cap, then likely you’re in a better position to twink alts, who will have no pressure to level and can enjoy where they are. Plus, the entire game is open to you. High level stuff happening? You’re covered. Low level stuff a lot of fun? Your lower level alt is right there, and they’ll have decent gear, too.

    It has nothing to do with WoW-likes. It’s a natural product of a leveling-based game. Having a high level character available makes it possible to enjoy the lower level game with alts without worrying so much about gear and progression.

    Take away the ability to have alts, and you might eliminate the pressure to level. Because you couldn’t tell yourself you’d ever come back to a place to experience it at leisure.

  2. Talyn says:

    Back in UO was there even a concept of “end-game” or did that mainly come into being with the advent of levels-based games where there was an “end” to the leveling game once you capped, but still needed stuff to do? Just wondering, because I never hear “end-game” mentioned in any EVE conversation, either…

  3. spinks says:

    For me the main deal with the level cap is that your friends don’t outlevel you any more. You can kick back and play with them without stressing about having to keep up.

    In a game like CoH which has a robust way to let players of different levels hang out together, the pressure is almost completely off (apart from wanting to get new powers, etc.)

    If it was just me alone, I’d slow down on the levelling. But knowing I have friends I want to play with, I know I want to try to keep up. That’s what makes it so frenetic, for me at least.

  4. syncaine says:

    Tipa that assumes people want to play alts. I for one hate them most of the time. I’m not a fan of repeating PvE content, and twinking has little appeal to me. I play most MMO’s with the idea that my main is how I view the world, so when I’m level 10, I see it that way, and when I’m at the cap, that’s my point of view.

    But then again, that explains why I prefer a UO/EVE setup over something level-based. I like setting up my own view of a world, rather than being told how to view it each time I ding.

  5. Tipa says:

    End-game content is content that can not be trivialized by progression alone. So in EVE Online, level 4 missions might be considered endgame, or the entire 0.0 game, perhaps. Or being a builder of Titans. I think there’s plenty of content in EVE that could be (and likely is) considered “end game”.

    I never played UO, but I would imagine building, furnishing and protecting large houses and collecting those weird unique items could be considered “end game”.

  6. syncaine says:

    EVE really has no end-game since it has no real ‘progression’. More skill points don’t mean much beyond more options in most cases, and everything eventually comes down to having ISK, which come and go depending on what you do. Players from day 1 can head out to 0.0, or into a lvl 4 with others. Building modules/ships gets a bit tricky, because it not only requires skills, but also infrastructure and materials, two things that are almost entirely Corp/alliance based.

    UO, originally anyway (no idea what the game is like now), really had no end-game. Like EVE, it came down to have more ‘stuff’, but it was just less defined than in EVE with ISK. Housing was somewhat random because of space rather than cost. The ‘rare items’ collecting was always a side project rather than a specific goal, and after only a bit of time (relative to MMO games back then) the whole world was basically open to you.

  7. I think the majority of players have at least an alt or two they dust off for some variety every now and then… some people, like me, have tons.

    But that point aside, I think she’s right with her larger point about the leveling game. At max level, you can see it all and do it all. That’s attractive, especially for players that enjoy exploring. I love exploring, but I don’t like getting killed by monsters that aggro me from 50 feet away and one-shot me.

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  9. Wilhelm2451 says:

    The inherent problem with levels is that the next level up from where you are usually confers some benefit on you. That is the baggage you get to carry when you make a game that has levels. You are better when you level up. Of course, when a level does not give you any sort of benefit, people wonder why you bother. (See Kendricke’s discussion from last year about guild levels in EQ2).

    Levels make you better, we all want to be better, so we all go after levels. Or most people do in any case. And so, you arrive at the level cap and you have to change your focus and, hey presto, there is this who different game at the level cap.

    Does it have to be that way? Guild Wars manages with just 20 levels and then a whole series of PvE adventures geared towards those who have hit level 20. You might view that as a ratcheted back version of the whole level cycle, including raiding however.

  10. Bonedead says:

    Good read.

    I think Warhammer will pan out as you wish. If you were to play DAoC for a month, you would see how probably 30-40% of the PvPers ONLY play in battlegrounds. There are people dedicated to the level 5-9 BG, it is nuts to someone like me who gave in to the “I’ve got to hit 50″ pressure.

    A lot of questions for Warhammer can be answered by looking at the current state of DAoC, for instance: The new Origins server is coming out very soon and it has ideas implemented that are slated to be in Warhammer. You may want to check that out, budday!

  11. Oakstout says:

    In the public quest system, I believe it’s designed so that people of all levels can participate if I remember correctly. So in this aspect, I think they are working on keeping people together in general rather than separating them out in the more traditional level vs level sense, meaning, if your this level you should be questing here or this is the newbie zone kind of thing.

    I also thought there was going to be a support system so that everyone of any level could help against the other side. This would be great so the casual player will be helping with the Hard core, instead of them being separate like they are in WoW. I think this is what will make a difference between the two games.

  12. Jute says:

    I have to disagree here a bit about your assertion that before WoW people didn’t rush to the level cap. The group of people I played EQ with, then DAoC before WoW came out DID rush. Hardcore players have always pushed to get there as fast as possible. My friends numbered among some of the first of the original level 50 players in Everquest on my server and they did it in what was a phenomenally short time for that game back then.

    Everyone wants their character to be powerful and have cool stuff. But somewhere along the line it became the only reason for most people to play. I stepped away from the Hardcore group for a number of reasons, but primarily because I really do enjoy the journey and when you are rushing, you miss so much.

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