What if we had a more social endgame?

One of the things I’ve been reading this week is Too Damn Epic’s discussion of different types of MMO endgame, where he wonders why things have gotten so repetitive.

He discusses raiding (PvE) endgame, PvP endgames and territory wars, and having the game actually end (eg. Tale in the Desert). Go check it out.

Aside from giving props to anyone who can quote Spinoza in a gaming blog post, I have played games with social endgames and whilst they had their ups and downs (and probably created more drama than any AAA MMO put together), there was definitely a powerful emotional connection between players and the game world, of the type which is bleeding away from the current crop of endgame design.

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7 thoughts on “What if we had a more social endgame?

    • Oi! I resemble that remark! :)

      Seriously thouigh – while there are a lot of ideas in the TDE post I like, many of them aren’t practical on grounds of cost (enough GMs to run live events for everyone) or susceptibility to abuse (player reputation systems are going to get gamed and abused to death, especially if there asre concrete rewards for good rep). The trend in MMOs has been to get LESS social – arenas instead of RvR, smaller and smaller “raids”, LFD tools instead of mainitaining a friends list of people to group with. It seems that the majority of players WANT games which minimise the whole, horrible talking to people bit, and developers are catering to that wish.

      While I’d love to see a more social design, it’s probably going to be a niche game – if the majority rule is anti-social, don’t expect see a lot of funding for the exact opposite. I had hopes that Rift with its dynamic invasions and world events would push the game community into a more social direction – but unless the 1.3 world event is a spectacular success, that doesn’t seem to be happening.

  1. Holas! @Spinks, thanks for the link! PS – Site is “toodamnepic.com” – no need for the spaces. I’m a total turd for being nitpicky but I can’ t help myself.

    @Treymane: I think you’re right, unfortunately. I would ask though, “do the games’ themselves push people in this direction?” The effort/reward calculus in a lot of MMOs doesn’t lend itself well to fostering the kind of activity I’d love to see, and people – inevitably – drift into the easiest mode of gameplay possible. That doesn’t mean that MMO designers can’t design things differently, and create gameplay mechanisms that make interacting with other players less difficult – and more rewarding. It just means that they don’t. I almost wonder if the MMO community has become … brainwashed … by certain games, in terms of knowing what to expect along these lines when they start playing.

  2. SWG was awesome in this regard, as a bit of a sandbox there really was very little endgame content other than some of the themeparks and running missions on some of the bigger planets. If you wanted end-game content you kind of almost had to make it yourself so in terms of RP stuff was always going on. At first there were no levels either so money was the only factor to what you could build. Sure the game had its issues and drama was a huge part of that, but the community, like you mentioned, was commited to itself and that was some of the best times I’ve ever had in an MMO. I do miss it but the game just isn’t the same anymore.

  3. This is something that I didn’t realize about how zones in EQ made the game what it was. I was so happy for instanced content and no ‘rushing to get the boss down’ drama that I couldn’t see the Forrest for the trees. I’m not sure MMO designers even still understand what they have given up with the instancing.

    Back in EQ when a dungeon was a massive place that everyone had to share your higher end would gather there and huddle at the entrance – looking for a group that needed an extra person – you setup camp at established ‘spots’ and farmed an area – both activities exposed you to the other players on the server – opened you to grouping with people who’d never have looked for you in a dungeon finder – and lead to guild memberships based on friendship that surpassed ‘what can this guild do for me’.

    Mind you some of the guild hopping still happened – but the interaction was always there and the chat channels were always going – because forced ‘rest/med/heal/regain mana before next encounter’ mechanics along with the ‘sit and wait at the entrance’ mechanics encouraged you to chat during downtime.

    These days the only real chat you get is in cities and outdoors where there is no incentive to be nice – at least in OS if someone was being a tool they’d get ignored or never find a group – which caused them to behave.

    I think there is a pace for a ‘slowed’ playstyle that isn’t all about the twich (but instead more about using a limited set of abilities out of many you *could* use) and more ‘social’ non-instanced content that brought people back together. EQ was a bit on the extreme side with the downtime – but the current crop of games show me the diametric opposite – where it’s too fast – too furious – and the social strings don’t hold because of it.

    /two cents

  4. More social endgame would suggest a complete change of direction of how things are currently going in our beloved genre; the need for cooperation is dwindling, not increasing.

  5. I believe “social” is more varied than “working together towards a common goal”. Otherwise, social networks as we know them are hardly social at all.

    MMOs have been building their endgame around group activities, while at the same time ignoring the community as a whole. Best example, the people saying that the Dungeon Finder in WoW dissolved server communities.

    I think that tools like the Foundry from Star Trek Online need to be become more mainstream. I find that experiencing a story that a fellow player has made, is as much social as reading a blog post or exchanging fan-fiction in a community site. While these activities are not necessarily done with other people, the really good UGC one can find is (for me) more social than hearing a raid leader screaming orders in voice chat.

    Hope this makes sense.

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