Friday, June 04, 2010
What comes after the endgame?
Verilazic recently wrote me with an interesting question about goals: "In your perfect MMORPG, what is the intended motivating factor, and does it change as you play?". I'm not so sure whether that is a question which can have just one answer, whether that is for the perfect MMORPG or any existing one. Goals *do* change with time, and a good MMORPG offers many different motivating factors and goals. Because whatever you goal is, the risk is actually reaching it and being disappointed. For example I'd like to quote (with his permission) the story Brian sent me about his career in World of Warcraft:
"I started playing WoW in 2005, not long after release. I've played on and off since then, in spurts of a few months either way, generally. I was playing alliance on Suramar server. I had friends and family who played as well.I think this is good advice. Regular readers will have heard me advocating a more casual style of MMORPG gaming. Newer readers sometimes assume that is because I don't know anything about raiding or am prevented from doing so, but that isn't true. I've been raiding on and off in every expansion, and during a time of guild drama in my regular guild even for some months was member of a hardcore raiding guild in vanilla WoW, and raided BWL up to Nefarian, which still meant something at that time. But like Brian I feel that reaching the top of the game often means spoiling other parts of it. Push too hard for the endgame, and a MMORPG stops being playing a game, and starts feeling like a job. In recent days I noticed how many people use the word "work" when describing what they are doing in a MMORPG, working on this, or working towards that, or deserving something because of all the work they put in. And I have to question whether that is healthy. Do we really want a second job, and one *we* have to pay for instead of getting paid?
On a good weekend day, you'd find myself (a good old holy/ret paladin), my brother in law (a full holy priest) and two good family friends (a frost mage and a protection warrior) doing dungeons with just the 4 of us, seeing what cool fights we could pull off without a 5th person. At the same time, you'd find my sister in law and my sister both hanging out around the AH playing dress up with their hunters and talking about which vanity pets went best with their hunter pets, the whole while letting the kids sit on their laps and point at the fun stuff. My uncle would show up online and sit at the AH trying to find good deals to buy and resell at a higher price, and jump into teamspeak with us to talk about his latest thoughts on being a warrior.
I call those the good old days, and I yearn for them now. Nowadays you'd call me a "hardcore raider." I run a 6300 GS Kingslayer Death Knight in a top end raiding guild, and spend hours running through theorycrafting, and discussing optimal raid composition for LK25 Heroic, and answering the random whispers I get from players who want to know where I got this item, and what high end raiding is like...
It's funny though, because being at the top... where so many players spend countless hours trying to get to... I realize that I've lost the part of the game I enjoyed the most. The simplicity.
I truly miss the days when I wasn't so completely absorbed in the math... and I could just take the drops as they came, and enjoy the game for what it was. I miss the times when people wouldn't get mad if I wasn't running the penultimate optimal spec for my level 22 priest, because in truth it wasn't so clear cut. I miss being able to just get on and do some quests, do a dungeon or two with my family... actually have to coordinate our skills, use crowd control, rather than just an all out nuclear war AoE style fight where the only hard part is making sure you are the one on top of the damage meter... all the things that made me fall in love with this game.
Don't get me wrong, there's a lot to love about end game raiding... I wouldn't do it if I didn't enjoy it. It's a level of teamwork and dedication that most players will never understand, or experience. It's a lot of work, responsibility, and fun. But every now and then, when I log on in the early morning or afternoon, when the guild isn't on... when I decide to dust off and level that old alt I've been neglecting... when I go back to the zones I remember loving... it all seems somewhat corrupted by the fact that nowadays, I know exactly where all the time and effort is leading to, and I know the best spec/questing/playstyle path to get there, and anything else simply feels like a waste of time.
I see so many people playing nowadays, pushing the limits and fighting tooth and nail to be the best, and get there the fastest... buying thousands of gold on the black market... being just plain rude to people who try to play the game casually...
They want to whisper me for advice? My best advice is that WoW is not just a destination to shoot for as fast as you can... its a journey, and one which you should spend every minute of every level enjoying as much as you can."
So, what are your goals in your favorite MMORPG, and are you happy with the time you spend pursuing those goals? Or do you feel as if you are working hard on unpleasant stuff just to reach some purple pixels? What do you think you will do once you reached those purple pixels? What comes after the endgame?