The Daily Grind: How can MMOs better guide you through endgame activities?

    
20
This isn't it.

One of my constant frustrations with MMOs is that they are generally good at explaining the game, its systems, and means of progression early on, but come endgame, it’s almost like the devs toss in these complex, multi-step systems, shrug, and figure that the players will come up with their own resources to explain it to each other. Personally, I think that’s a cop-out that relinquishes responsibility when a studio needs to hew to it the most.

So I need to do 16 things to unlock flying in World of Warcraft? Why not make a special UI screen to clearly outline those steps instead of forcing me to go over to Wowhead for a third-party solution? I want to access a certain new class in FFXIV? Don’t make me hunt on the wiki for the requirements and starter quest location, show me in the game instead!

How can MMOs better guide us through endgame activities and progression? What tools would be helpful in outlining steps through these systems and features?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Reader
mpandu.nky

Refrain from overwhelming us with too many in-game currencies

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Vunak

BDO – Letting people actually get to endgame without serious amounts of RNG god luck

Reader
Axetwin .

I could swear FF14 DOES have an in game tool that helps you locate specific NPC quest givers, even those for that unlock new classes. I mean, aside from them being labeled on the map.

Reader
Anstalt

My first thought is: “ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!”

A lot of the fun of playing an MMO is not knowing things, then learning them yourself. It also encourages community interaction when you have to ask people who have done things, how they did it.

Also, I personally have never really experienced what you’re talking about. Endgame tends to just mean challenging group content, and yes that is a big difference from the primarily solo leveling content and so can feel like a slap in the face so casual gamers.

But tough shit! Ultimately, you’re still playing the exact same class at endgame as you did leveling up, so if you bothered to learn how to play then endgame shouldn’t be difficult for you.

What I do think needs to change is the concept of endgame.

Endgame is a necessary outcome of a themepark based around vertical progression. It is where the highest concentration of players will be, so it’s pretty much the only place you can put group content. Its the only place where you can guarantee what powers and gear your players will have, so its the only place where you can properly tune content to be difficult. There is generally no on-ramp either.

If they made the switch to horizontal progression, then there is no endgame, just the game. You could have raids right at the start of the game, and because everyone would be at the same power level, everyone can enjoy it. You could have tons of group content, ranging from very easy to very hard, and finding a group wouldn’t be a problem because 100% of your playerbase would be able to participate.

Basically, introduce your playerbase to the mechanics of endgame right from day 1, and many issues disappear. This is what LotRO did at launch – have tons of group content starting from level 2 or 3. Some was easy, some was hard, some was open world, some was instanced. What happened is the entire community got used to grouping up, experimenting with tactics etc so that when we got to endgame, there was a massive pool of players who were interested. There was actually a very big casual raiding scene at launch, with many successful PUG raids (aided, it must be said, by ingame voice chat). After Turbine started revamping leveling zones to remove group content, it all changed for the worse.

Reader
Dug From The Earth

The biggest problem many mmorpgs make is simply doing nothing for the player when they hit endgame

Guildwars 2 is a perfect example of this.

GW2 has a TON of endgame depth, but its mostly stuff you have to research via the wiki, guides, and experienced players if you want to take part in any of it. I cant recall the number of times I see players in chat asking about all these various materials they get from events and chests that they have no idea what its for, if they should keep it, or even how to use it.

Mmorpgs do a great job teaching you the base game stuff starting out, they just need to do a similar process at end game.

Why dont they?

My guess is that the base game is in development for 3+ years, where some of that is spent on the new player experience. Often, end game isnt even developed when the game launches, and is added later. Time probably isnt allocated to a “late game experience” to ease new max level players into all the new gameplay and mechanics.

Reader
Ironwu

Perhaps MMOs should give some thought to getting new players to the point where they can actually participate in end-game activities?

For instance, I pity the poor person who just starts out in FFXIV now. What a massive task to actually do the early content in order to be even able to do the content at the current expansion. Ouch.

MMO companies would be well advised to give players free character boosts and gear for all their characters to get them to the current expansion. Quit trying to sell a single character boost for 1.5 times the cost of a full expansion.

Reader
Axetwin .

I was playing FF14 for the first time a few months back. It wasn’t that bad to be honest. I mean, I eventually started leveling a secondary healing job so I didn’t have to wait on 45 minute que times as the Damage Dealer when I came across the mandatory dungeons. So, I’m curious to know why you pity new players.

Reader
3dom

Just give me a valuable loot in the end or a really fun gameplay – I’ll figure the rest myself or from reading user comments in chat or instructions on reddit, as always.

Reader
Minimalistway

As you said, make a UI for it, it’s not hand holding to tell the players what they should do to get that thing they want, it does not need to be detailed.

I like what SWTOR is doing here, they have activities interface which shows you what you can do, and the help system explain a lot of the game features, i rarely need to look outside for information.

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

My issue with end-game activities isn’t that they are opaque, but that they typically are no fun to engage with.

Basically, for me to engage in end-game activities, they need to be enjoyable enough that I would still do them even if there was absolutely no reward for doing so. If that is not the case, if the activity is something so lacking in fun that the only reason to engage with it is the reward, then I will refuse to play through it regardless of the reward, and if this blocks me from progressing or otherwise engaging in further content then I will leave the game.

As for guiding, I rarely, if ever, need that. I’ve been playing games literally since Pong, meaning I’ve had decades to get used to all the conventions of every genre I care to play. If a game manages to stump me then either the devs are overcomplicating it while being terribly bad at guiding their players — in which case chances are good the game is also sub-par in other aspects and not worth wasting time with — or being truly innovative — in which case getting lost in the game’s mechanics as I explore what makes it innovative is a core part of the fun.

Reader
Utakata

They could start with designing to be more intuitive…

For example, avoid layer caking your content. Or if you do, make sure we have access to 3D maps or something.

…we shouldn’t have to access 3rd party guides to figure out where some thing is or how something should work. The hints and tools ingame should be enough for us to figure it out in the end without the /head desking. >.<