Monday, June 18, 2012

Endgame Incentives For the Solo Player

My last post gave one reader the incorrect impression that SWTOR did not have an endgame - in fact, it has solo daily quests, 4-player "flashpoints", and "operation" raids that come in 8 and 16 player size options.  These things did not really enter into my thinking for my immediate reaction post upon reaching the end of my class story. 

I spend a fair number of hours playing MMO's, but I don't do so on any fixed schedule, which rules out traditional raiding. The things that do motivate me to continue playing are new experiences, such as:
  • Story, if presented in a non-scheduled format (like WoW's EZ-mode PUG raid finder)
  • Alternate advancement or similar (including more regular advancement in the case of my SWTOR character, who is still two levels shy of the game's cap)
  • Perks and bonuses for future characters
What utterly fails to motivate me is gear for the sake of gear.  If I needed gear because it would let me carry my weight in a group of my friends, or anything else I cared about, I would care about gear.  For better or worse, the days when I would go out and farm daily quests just to say that I had obtained "raid quality" gear are behind me.  I've been there, done that, and - especially important - currently have access to numerous other games where I could go and do that if I wanted to. 

I maintain that Bioware has not done a bad job in SWTOR.  Many MMO's try to sell the player on multiple characters using additional leveling content the devs needed to build anyway, but SWTOR is the first game where I'm not only working on my second character before finishing my first, but even have plans out to what order I would tackle all eight of the class stories in.  The catch, as Bioware completes their server merges (123 US servers will trans-merge down to 12, while 88 European Servers condense to 11 according to Darth Hater - nearly the worst case of the scenarios I examined last week), is that this continues to be a recipe for a nomadic population which is less well suited to longterm MMO communities. 


Anonymous said...

In LOTRO, I think of virtues and legendary items as a type of alternate advancement system, and enjoy working on in much the same way.

Anonymous said...

I also think Bioware has done a decent job with SWTOR, and I wonder with retrospect whether the community will ever be able to admit this.

Bhagpuss said...

What motivates me to keep playing an MMO is being in a world that feels comfortable. Give me that and I'll replay the same content over and over and over. I must have drunk a million cups of tea in my life, but another cup of tea is always good. Indeed, the next cup of tea is always as good as the first cup of tea or any cup of tea.

I don't need new things to do, just good things to do. A nice, big open world with plenty to explore and a wide range of races and classes that all feel significantly different works for me every time.

AA is my favorite "keep me playing at max level" mechanic and I completely agree with you about gear grind as a means for keeping a "finished" character rolling. Getting better gear as you're growing up is one thing; that's like growing out of clothes. Gearing up to do the same thing you just did only with a "harder" label stuck on the front? I don't think so.