Can the End Game be the Game?
MMO gamers seem to be lamenting the fact that everything starts at the “endgame” in current mmo-land. The grind/level mechanics exist mostly to slow you down to getting to a point where you can start having fun. While that sounds back-ass-wards, the common argument in support is traditionally “Developers can’t create enough content to keep up with the players”.
I don’t disagree entirely. Developers can’t create the current type of content to keep up – or can they? I am not going to get into alternate schemes (where players are the content) or anything crazy or off the wall – I’m just going to look at our good friend WoW and understand where all their content – and developer hours – went into their game. After the break of course.
World Building: End Game in WoW, to narrow it down to the final two instances, are indicated in the map below.
If you are generous, you can expand around those dots a bit, but honestly the entire game is funneled into those two spots (which are really just entrances into instances, anyway). That is an awful big waste of programming dollars, don’t you think? Especially for a game whose 95% of “end game” content exist in instances anyway? (Depending if you count Wintergrasp as “end game”, or the Argent Tournament).
Quests: The WoW quest system, while mired in mediocrity (typical escort/kill/collect) is a HUGE part of their development costs. WoW currently has 8027 Quests (searchable at wowhead.com, at least). How many of those are “endgame”? 223. WoW has 7804 planned obsolescence quests. While you could argue the quest system is just a means to an end to GET to the endgame – how many 5/10/25 man instances could you build in place of the 7804 one off quests?
Instances: WoW has ~80 pre-cap instances, (when you count instance wings and heroic modes) and only 22 targeted for max level. Isn’t that split in reverse? Shouldn’t there be 20 instances before the cap, and have 80 instances when you hit the cap – wouldn’t that make it harder for players to “run out of content” fast when the game truly begins?
Arenas/BG’s: Pretty much all instanced except for a few world ones – but think about how many we could have if resources were allocated to play the game for fun from the outset, not just burn 5 days /played to get to (slim) endgame.
I could link to various posts of mine and others who believe the level and time to level gap needs to close, keep the relative power closer from first level to final (so everyone can play together, regardless of how long each have been playing) and there are still plenty of carrots to dangle if you like grinding through achievements, etc. I just can’t help but wonder of developers focused their time and resources at the true “endgame” how much content would we really have there – especially if the majority of content that we just use once per character and throw away, was spent on end game materials.
Just a thought.