A few months ago, MOP’s Justin was gently teasing me about playing on a Star Wars Galaxies emulator, and he asked me about my goals there. I sheepishly admitted I’d done what I initially set out to do, which was rebuild a replica of my teahouse from SOE’s old servers. What now though? he wondered. What do you do next?
I suspect the vast majority of MMORPG players brought up on themeparks think about MMOs exactly this way. They train us to do this. You do a thing the game offers up, and then you do the next thing, and the next. Eventually, you’ll run out of levels to grind, raids to beat, quests to do, whatever, and then you either start over on an alt, farm, or quit, even temporarily. But either way, you’re playing for chiefly extrinsic goals.
To me, the beauty of a sandbox is that I’m never done and all of my goals are intrinsic. It means you have to rely on yourself to decide what to do, but you also get to rely on yourself to decide what to do. That’s the tradeoff. And so I have a list of crafting and exploring stuff I’d like to do in SWG now that my teahouse – or at least one floor of it – is looking badass.
How do you decide what to do “next” in your MMOs? How open-ended do you want your MMORPGs to be?