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Old 11-21-2011, 04:27 PM   #1
ww_crimson
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"End game" content?

What kind of end-game content do you all typically see on your favorite MUD(s)? In theory lets say your MUD had thousands of levels and multiple remorts, lots of areas to explore, etc.. but people who had been playing for 15 years had done most of those things.

What direction do you go from there? How do you retain those players?
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Old 11-21-2011, 05:42 PM   #2
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Re: "End game" content?

On DBE, I use a series of quests to be able to access the end-game boss MOBs. There's multiple tiers of end-game bosses that each reward better equipment. These boss fights are usually done with 3-10 players and each have a different set of fight triggers. I've also added in PK Wars that are used to keep the high levels busy by rewarding them with Battle Tokens that they can use to purchase new equipment that rivals that from some of the bosses. When I says bosses, I mean over major 50 boss MOBs that all spawn at different times and have different requirements to access.

Most of this has helped retain a player's interest in DBE over the years. With new zones and bosses being added often, it takes a while to get stale. Players are always wanting better equipment and they love the group fights. Yea DBE has remorting and a lot of zones to explore but I think in the end, it's the in-depth quests and boss fights that make up DBE's end-game.
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Old 11-21-2011, 08:57 PM   #3
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Re: "End game" content?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkOzma View Post
On DBE, I use a series of quests to be able to access the end-game boss MOBs. There's multiple tiers of end-game bosses that each reward better equipment. These boss fights are usually done with 3-10 players and each have a different set of fight triggers. I've also added in PK Wars that are used to keep the high levels busy by rewarding them with Battle Tokens that they can use to purchase new equipment that rivals that from some of the bosses. When I says bosses, I mean over major 50 boss MOBs that all spawn at different times and have different requirements to access.

Most of this has helped retain a player's interest in DBE over the years. With new zones and bosses being added often, it takes a while to get stale. Players are always wanting better equipment and they love the group fights. Yea DBE has remorting and a lot of zones to explore but I think in the end, it's the in-depth quests and boss fights that make up DBE's end-game.
I see.. We (Aarchon) have some similar things like what you mentioned, I just feel like we're approaching a point where the EQ is constantly getting better and better and that's really all there is to aim for. I'd like to implement an achievement system one day but we've got some other projects lined up first. Do you know of any MUDs that have something similar?
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Old 11-22-2011, 09:52 AM   #4
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Re: "End game" content?

We (Alter Aeon) have:

- about 200 endgame/extreme high level areas
- enough levels that noone has reached the max yet
- fame points
- combat points
- explorer points
- achievements
- random/unique items

Between these and a few other minor things (like clan wars, pk arenas, boats, and skeletal dragons), we've managed to keep a lot of the extreme high level players busy and reduce boredom. I think the key is to have a lot of different things to do, instead of relying on any one thing in particular.

Regarding equipment power inflation, ours is machine checked for inflation control. If a piece of equipment exceeds its allowed constraints, it simply won't load, no matter how hard the zoneloader or builder tries. Changes to the checking algorithm can make existing equipment stop loading until it's fixed, which means things get fixed in a hurry when a problem is noticed. We also have the ability to retroactively dent or update equipment on character login.

-dentin

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Old 11-22-2011, 05:20 PM   #5
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Re: "End game" content?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dentin View Post
We (Alter Aeon) have:

- about 200 endgame/extreme high level areas
- enough levels that noone has reached the max yet
- fame points
- combat points
- explorer points
- achievements
- random/unique items

Between these and a few other minor things (like clan wars, pk arenas, boats, and skeletal dragons), we've managed to keep a lot of the extreme high level players busy and reduce boredom. I think the key is to have a lot of different things to do, instead of relying on any one thing in particular.

Regarding equipment power inflation, ours is machine checked for inflation control. If a piece of equipment exceeds its allowed constraints, it simply won't load, no matter how hard the zoneloader or builder tries. Changes to the checking algorithm can make existing equipment stop loading until it's fixed, which means things get fixed in a hurry when a problem is noticed. We also have the ability to retroactively dent or update equipment on character login.

-dentin

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Definitely sounds like an interesting MUD I've thought about checking out, but been too consumed with RL and keeping Aarchon up to date We have quite a few similar features that you mentioned, although probably not as complex.

I guess what I meant in regards to the better equipment comment was that if things keep getting "better" you eventually just make god-like characters. We have a strict quality control system so that no equipment can be too powerful as well.

Maybe the root of the problem here is our player base is a bunch of addicts *grin*

Can you elaborate a bit on your achievements system? That's something I'm pretty interested in us implementing.
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Old 11-23-2011, 11:27 AM   #6
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Re: "End game" content?

I'm not really sure what you're looking for in terms of information on achievements; we just have a global list of achievements, and as players complete them they get some experience and a send indicating they completed it. It's not particularly complex, and mostly just involves tossing some extra memory entries on players for tracking achievement counters or other information.

What exactly did you have in mind?

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Old 11-30-2011, 10:43 AM   #7
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Re: "End game" content?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dentin View Post
I'm not really sure what you're looking for in terms of information on achievements; we just have a global list of achievements, and as players complete them they get some experience and a send indicating they completed it. It's not particularly complex, and mostly just involves tossing some extra memory entries on players for tracking achievement counters or other information.

What exactly did you have in mind?

-dentin

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I guess exactly what you said is all I needed to hear. I'm not much of a coder, however I handle most of the administration/building/mprogs for Aarchon. I just needed to know how complex/difficult it was so that I could figure out how high of priority an item it should be for us. I assumed it was pretty simple, so thanks for the confirmation

-ww_crimson (astark)
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Old 11-30-2011, 12:41 PM   #8
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Re: "End game" content?

Thanks to the OP for starting an interesting topic and giving people opportunity to showcase their work. I believe the endgame is hugely important given than the average MUD has about 1000x better retention than any other online RPG game that ever followed in history, and this is as true now as it was in the mid-90's.

In my game, I introduced home ownership with multiple upgrade options, including the purchase of storage rooms and permanent charmees that dwell in your home (dragons are severely marked up). These upgrades cost a great deal, but you can get a discount if you spend some quest points. The way to collect quest points is to become facile with all in-game quests, and eventually to venture into experiencing them with multiple classes. (The reality is that most players have 2-3 favorite classes and need to be pushed to try others - and they usually end up being pleasantly surprised)

I've recently introduced reputation points, which are similar to achievements, and are gained by toppling one of about a dozen very high-end bosses. Reputation can be used to "pray" for an otherwise impossible corpse recovery, or can be converted to quest points, or can be accumulated to make your way up one of our leaderboard charts.

The leaderboard itself is designed to provide people with various longer-term goals. We show many rankings by class, including PvP, to encourage people to experience all classes eventually. We also show rankings by clan, which is a good way to keep teams of players competing with each other endlessly.

Our crafting system is still on paper, but I've conceived of several ways in which it can extend the endgame. The main one is that quality of products will be directly proportional to a character's lifetime experience. This should make even "ancient" characters, with all their aches and pains, very useful.

Finally, one not so often credited endgame extender is simply adding more content. I try to cultivate prospective builders and equip them with easy-to-use tools so they can help grow the world faster. With the introduction of a new higher-end zone, we usually see some oldies return.

As a sidenote, I have always resisted what I see as slippery slopes in the approach to endgame development. These include raising the level cap, re-morting, or gradually adding ever more powerful items/spells/skills etc. Each of these approaches carries different pitfalls, and once embarked upon, the game will fall inevitably into them. That's just my opinion and it is in no way meant to diminish the efforts of those who have chosen to implement these.
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Old 11-30-2011, 01:26 PM   #9
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Re: "End game" content?

Huge quests with automated and live RP parts that require high character skill and lots of thought to solve.
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Old 11-30-2011, 06:05 PM   #10
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Re: "End game" content?

Quote:
Originally Posted by plamzi View Post
Thanks to the OP for starting an interesting topic and giving people opportunity to showcase their work. I believe the endgame is hugely important given than the average MUD has about 1000x better retention than any other online RPG game that ever followed in history, and this is as true now as it was in the mid-90's.

In my game, I introduced home ownership with multiple upgrade options, including the purchase of storage rooms and permanent charmees that dwell in your home (dragons are severely marked up). These upgrades cost a great deal, but you can get a discount if you spend some quest points. The way to collect quest points is to become facile with all in-game quests, and eventually to venture into experiencing them with multiple classes. (The reality is that most players have 2-3 favorite classes and need to be pushed to try others - and they usually end up being pleasantly surprised)

I've recently introduced reputation points, which are similar to achievements, and are gained by toppling one of about a dozen very high-end bosses. Reputation can be used to "pray" for an otherwise impossible corpse recovery, or can be converted to quest points, or can be accumulated to make your way up one of our leaderboard charts.

The leaderboard itself is designed to provide people with various longer-term goals. We show many rankings by class, including PvP, to encourage people to experience all classes eventually. We also show rankings by clan, which is a good way to keep teams of players competing with each other endlessly.

Our crafting system is still on paper, but I've conceived of several ways in which it can extend the endgame. The main one is that quality of products will be directly proportional to a character's lifetime experience. This should make even "ancient" characters, with all their aches and pains, very useful.

Finally, one not so often credited endgame extender is simply adding more content. I try to cultivate prospective builders and equip them with easy-to-use tools so they can help grow the world faster. With the introduction of a new higher-end zone, we usually see some oldies return.

As a sidenote, I have always resisted what I see as slippery slopes in the approach to endgame development. These include raising the level cap, re-morting, or gradually adding ever more powerful items/spells/skills etc. Each of these approaches carries different pitfalls, and once embarked upon, the game will fall inevitably into them. That's just my opinion and it is in no way meant to diminish the efforts of those who have chosen to implement these.
Thanks for the reply We have a handful of the things you mentioned already.. but I'd like to further refine and develop them.

We have offered in-game homes for a while now, but it seems only a few players are interested in purchasing them. They're fun, but don't serve a major purpose.

We're setup to do rankings through a php database, however our playerbase is only averaging about 10-15 people online and so competition seems to have died. I'm diligently working on restoring that.

I really like your idea for crafting where older players have a bit more benefit. Gives a purpose to player age.

What kind of tools are your builders using? We have a small tight-knit group of builders right now.. mostly due to the fact that mprogs require a bit of time/work to write and only a few of us have that knowledge.


We're finally introducing storage lockers within the next week or so and have a few new zones being released today. I'm hoping to old the attention of current players while we try to attract new ones. I think the most important part of your post is that MUDs have a very high retention rate -- once someone gets involved. I've admittedly been playing Aarchon for 13 years and in that time I've only tried maybe 10 other MUDs.. none of which I invested more than a few hours on. I know others have done the same.
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Old 12-01-2011, 08:13 AM   #11
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Re: "End game" content?

As an RPI without levels, we don't tend to find the need to have endgame content. Then again, we've only been around for a couple of years.

Most often when things get stale in a setting for RPI's, there is a major change in venue as far as what story is told. I know that SOI and ARM are more simulationist, so might have more of an upper tier, but Atonement is more narratavist, so there is a coherent story that is moving forward in that sense of things.
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Old 12-03-2011, 11:17 PM   #12
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Re: "End game" content?

New Worlds Ateraan has no "end game" per se. Being a roleplay enforced game of numerous players where you have massive invasions and huge groups that go out to combat, the real goal is in roleplay and interaction while learning to do difficult things with a mixed group of adventurers.
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Old 12-05-2011, 09:19 AM   #13
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Re: "End game" content?

This discussion rather reminds me of an observation I noted on MudLab, about the way many players will burn through game content as fast as humanly possible to reach the maximum level (or equivalent), using bots and exploits if possible. Even if the real meat of the game is along the way, and there's little to do at the end, many players seem to focus on reaching the maximum level rather than enjoying the journey to get there. And as I mentioned on that thread, "I've heard players complain about muds that leave all the exciting stuff to the end game. But if most people are going to ignore everything that comes before it anyway, maybe those muds have got the right idea after all."

However end-game content really needs to be open ended, which generally means it's more of a system, tool or sandbox. PK and roleplaying are often mentioned - but what are those really? They're simply ways of allowing the players to entertain each other. Likewise, scoreboards and achievement lists are ways for players to compete with each other, while the more advanced crafting systems start moving in the direction of player-generated content.

Consumable content (such as traditional staff-written areas and quests) is fine for decorating the rungs of the levelling ladder, but it's poorly suited for end game, because your players will eat through it like a frenzied school of piranha - far faster than staff can produce it. And if most of your players are only really interested in reaching maximum level as fast as humanly possible, it does raise the question of how much time and effort the staff should spend on consumable content.

That's not to say you shouldn't have any consumable content, and of course the motivations of players will vary from mud to mud, but I find myself increasingly favouring tools over traditional content. Spending 10 hours developing content that players complete in 10 minutes is not sustainable, I'd far rather spend that time developing a tool that can keep players entertained for years - giving players fishing rods rather than fish, so to speak.
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Old 12-05-2011, 12:14 PM   #14
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Re: "End game" content?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KaVir View Post
Spending 10 hours developing content that players complete in 10 minutes is not sustainable, I'd far rather spend that time developing a tool that can keep players entertained for years - giving players fishing rods rather than fish, so to speak.
You need fish for the fishing rods to have any meaning. And the more different kinds of fish you add, the more avenues you open for various goals and strategies. In the most beneficial cases, tools and content multiply each other, and in the most efficient approaches to expanding a game, they get developed in parallel.

If you think about it, all tools are content-based and can't exist in a vacuum. Even the ones that are easy to add (such as e. g. PvP, or inter-player emotes for RP) rely on OOB stuff that we've forgotten is content. Granted, there is an infinite amount of tools you can build to have players re-visit even a small amount of content. But sooner or later, this 'vertical development' will begin to seem too elaborate and artificial--you will find yourself wanting to expand your canvas before painting more.
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Old 12-05-2011, 12:20 PM   #15
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Re: "End game" content?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KaVir View Post
This discussion rather reminds me of an observation I noted on MudLab, about the way many players will burn through game content as fast as humanly possible to reach the maximum level (or equivalent), using bots and exploits if possible. Even if the real meat of the game is along the way, and there's little to do at the end, many players seem to focus on reaching the maximum level rather than enjoying the journey to get there. And as I mentioned on that thread, "I've heard players complain about muds that leave all the exciting stuff to the end game. But if most people are going to ignore everything that comes before it anyway, maybe those muds have got the right idea after all."

However end-game content really needs to be open ended, which generally means it's more of a system, tool or sandbox. PK and roleplaying are often mentioned - but what are those really? They're simply ways of allowing the players to entertain each other. Likewise, scoreboards and achievement lists are ways for players to compete with each other, while the more advanced crafting systems start moving in the direction of player-generated content.

Consumable content (such as traditional staff-written areas and quests) is fine for decorating the rungs of the levelling ladder, but it's poorly suited for end game, because your players will eat through it like a frenzied school of piranha - far faster than staff can produce it. And if most of your players are only really interested in reaching maximum level as fast as humanly possible, it does raise the question of how much time and effort the staff should spend on consumable content.

That's not to say you shouldn't have any consumable content, and of course the motivations of players will vary from mud to mud, but I find myself increasingly favouring tools over traditional content. Spending 10 hours developing content that players complete in 10 minutes is not sustainable, I'd far rather spend that time developing a tool that can keep players entertained for years - giving players fishing rods rather than fish, so to speak.
Definitely some good points made here. I guess my question is what kind of tools do you develop/offer, and what is their purpose/benefit? Breaking down your metaphor in a literal sense, what's the purpose of fishing? You get exp from the fish? I'm already hero. You get QPs from fishing? I've already bought everything I can possibly buy with QP.

So you introduce more levels and more things to buy with QP, and the players decide it's better to grind/quest than it is to fish. I realize that it's almost impossible to really satisfy every player, but I feel like I'm hitting a roadblock here.

We've got alchemy to craft potions, equipment with random stats, mobs that have randomly-dropped items to add replayability to a zone, warfare, pk, mudwide quests, a housing system, lockers that will be implemented very soon, etc.

Maybe the problem isn't so much that we don't have enough to offer as it is we have players who've been around for over a decade. Anyway - I appreciate all the input from this thread so far. A few things I've been able to take away from it.
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Old 12-05-2011, 01:12 PM   #16
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Re: "End game" content?

One point here that I seem to be noticing is that this is a symptom of characters who live for multiple years. You have to create game content that will be fun and enjoyable for a much longer time than other games, simply because of the nature of MMOs and MUDs. I think that there are some things from RPI muds such as Atonement, SOI, and Armageddon that might be useful in this regard for more traditional muds, as far as extending the ladder toward the top.

1. Permanent Death - Obviously you can't implement systems like this on a traditional MUD, but it is the ultimate end-game preventer for RPIs. You can die, you will die. You create a world that is harsh and varied, and a single character will experience a fraction of it before that character is done, and they are forced to either re-create that character or create a new one. As Kavir has said, you create a new zone, your upper level players will burn through it. You create different experiences of the game, however, that you simply can't explore with a single character, that perhaps keeps things fresher?

2. Spheres, Spheres that Evolve - Having different zones for different types of characters is an interesting concept that is perhaps more tuned to the traditional MUD. At a simple level, this is having the "good city" vs the "bad city," and having characters be limited to areas around one or the other. This of course presents problems, in that you basically have to run 2 games in one, but I've seen it done well in certain RPIs. A player will spend a year in one sphere, do everything there is to do, and then move on to the next sphere. By the time they go back to the old sphere, if you are doing constant expansions, they will have a much more varied game. Having constant plot to change old areas up as well works wonders, and I think we see this in modern MMOs, such as EVE Online's "invasion" plotline, and WOW's Cataclysm expansion.

3. "Invisible" or "Vague" levels - Make the top of the ladder vague. You are a level 99 Knight? Well, then you know you are at the top and there is nothing left to do. Perhaps don't let them know they are level 99. Give them skills that raise to certain levels, without telling them the specific one. Don't tell them the exact amount of experience they got from killing MOB X. That way, you make the ladder a little more vague and dynamic, where the content in between is more important than getting all the way to the top, because the top is concealed.

I know many of these things aren't possible in the traditional MUD, but hopefully our experience with these concepts is at least helpful for you as you look to make things more dynamic.

As for Tools: The most "content creating" tools I could imagine are things like inflation managers, dynamic area builders, etc.
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Old 12-05-2011, 01:41 PM   #17
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Re: "End game" content?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ww_crimson View Post
Breaking down your metaphor in a literal sense, what's the purpose of fishing? You get exp from the fish? I'm already hero. You get QPs from fishing? I've already bought everything I can possibly buy with QP.
There is really no way to take on the "been there, done that" syndrome by simply adding more stuff. Most players develop it long before they actually burn through the content (the more they grind...) so adding new content is not going to change their subjective impression that they've seen it all before.

One thing I've found is certain top-level mortals naturally mature into mentors of newer players and enjoy that role. Any tools or in-game incentives you can offer to help them mentor more effectively will not only extend their end game, but have the potential to build your community (since knowledge transfer is essential).

When I was designing our custom quest system, the main goal was to enable mortals who have grown extremely familiar with the world to easily create quests for the enjoyment of others without having to take up formal staff positions. This falls into the user content category KaVir mentioned earlier. Every published user-contributed quest is signed with its author's name, which makes it part of this player's legacy.
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Old 12-05-2011, 02:53 PM   #18
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Re: "End game" content?

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You need fish for the fishing rods to have any meaning.
That's not the point I was trying to make with my analogy. Consumable content is like a fish in that you give it to someone, they eat it, then they're hungry again afterwards (and you have to go catch a new fish). Open-ended content is like a fishing rod in that you give it to someone, and after that they can catch their own fish.

If the fish/fishing analogy is confusing then ignore it, it's not important. The point I'm making is that end-game content really needs to be open-ended, because consumable content isn't sustainable when created by staff - you simply can't produce it as fast as the players consume it, so they'll inevitably run out of things to do.

For normal character advancement this isn't a big deal, it's not as if players are going to be hanging around level X for a long period of time - you just need enough to keep them entertained until they progress to level X+1. But once they reach the top they're going to stay there until they quit, so the content needs to be something that'll keep them coming back.

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If you think about it, all tools are content-based and can't exist in a vacuum.
The distinction I'm making is between creating content directly, and providing players with the tools to entertain themselves. A good example of the latter would be TinyMUD, which allows players to build and create their own rooms, objects, and puzzles. Lars Pensjö also tried to incorperate that same flexibility when he created LPMud (although in LPMud such tools are typically limited to wizards).

Even the big graphical muds seem to be catching on. City of Heroes had some initial teething problems when it first introduced player-generated content, yet within 24 hours their players had created more content than the entire development team had created during the game's five year existence.

While such content is still technically consumable, the advantage is that the players are creating it as well as consuming it - and the creation can provide just as much entertainment as the consumption. It's sustainable, and therefore suitable as end-game content.

And of course you can also make similar arguments about things like roleplaying and PK - they're open-ended activities which, when supported with appropriate tools, allow the players to create their own sustainable entertainment. You might still run special events, but on a good RP mud the players will arrange their own activities as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ww_crimson View Post
Breaking down your metaphor in a literal sense, what's the purpose of fishing?
Entertainment, the same as every feature designed for player consumption. A static hand-written quest that rewards you upon completion will provide little entertainment relative to the amount of effort required to create it. On the other hand, a well-designed minigame could keep players entertained for many hours.

And while my analogy wasn't intended literally, I guess the quest reward could be a fish, and the minigame could be a fishing game.

Quote:
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Maybe the problem isn't so much that we don't have enough to offer as it is we have players who've been around for over a decade.
Most players won't stay forever, no matter what you offer. But giving them a decade (or even just a few years) of entertainment is pretty cool when you think about it, particularly when it's free - compare that with how long most people spend playing a typical video game that they've spent hard cash on.
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Old 12-05-2011, 04:00 PM   #19
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Re: "End game" content?

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Originally Posted by KaVir View Post
That's not the point I was trying to make with my analogy. Consumable content is like a fish in that you give it to someone, they eat it, then they're hungry again afterwards (and you have to go catch a new fish). Open-ended content is like a fishing rod in that you give it to someone, and after that they can catch their own fish.

If the fish/fishing analogy is confusing then ignore it, it's not important. The point I'm making is that end-game content really needs to be open-ended, because consumable content isn't sustainable when created by staff - you simply can't produce it as fast as the players consume it, so they'll inevitably run out of things to do.

For normal character advancement this isn't a big deal, it's not as if players are going to be hanging around level X for a long period of time - you just need enough to keep them entertained until they progress to level X+1. But once they reach the top they're going to stay there until they quit, so the content needs to be something that'll keep them coming back.


The distinction I'm making is between creating content directly, and providing players with the tools to entertain themselves. A good example of the latter would be TinyMUD, which allows players to build and create their own rooms, objects, and puzzles. Lars Pensjö also tried to incorperate that same flexibility when he created LPMud (although in LPMud such tools are typically limited to wizards).

Even the big graphical muds seem to be catching on. City of Heroes had some initial teething problems when it first introduced player-generated content, yet within 24 hours their players had created more content than the entire development team had created during the game's five year existence.

While such content is still technically consumable, the advantage is that the players are creating it as well as consuming it - and the creation can provide just as much entertainment as the consumption. It's sustainable, and therefore suitable as end-game content.

And of course you can also make similar arguments about things like roleplaying and PK - they're open-ended activities which, when supported with appropriate tools, allow the players to create their own sustainable entertainment. You might still run special events, but on a good RP mud the players will arrange their own activities as well.


Entertainment, the same as every feature designed for player consumption. A static hand-written quest that rewards you upon completion will provide little entertainment relative to the amount of effort required to create it. On the other hand, a well-designed minigame could keep players entertained for many hours.

And while my analogy wasn't intended literally, I guess the quest reward could be a fish, and the minigame could be a fishing game.


Most players won't stay forever, no matter what you offer. But giving them a decade (or even just a few years) of entertainment is pretty cool when you think about it, particularly when it's free - compare that with how long most people spend playing a typical video game that they've spent hard cash on.

Thanks for all the input Kavir (and everyone else too). I definitely see your points. I'll see what we can come up with
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Old 12-05-2011, 04:01 PM   #20
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Re: "End game" content?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KaVir View Post
That's not the point I was trying to make with my analogy. Consumable content is like a fish in that you give it to someone, they eat it, then they're hungry again afterwards (and you have to go catch a new fish). Open-ended content is like a fishing rod in that you give it to someone, and after that they can catch their own fish.
Yes, that makes more sense, and like you, I've weighed time invested in creating "ready-to-eat" consumables vs. time invested in creating tools/systems etc. that add different entertainment aspects to gameplay. Usually, the latter wins in terms of bang for your buck. An additional benefit of developing unique tools/twists is that they are more likely to appeal to veteran mudders than e. g. a 100% custom world.

That said, I still think that you need a healthy dose of consumable content acting as the foundation on which you and your players can build. I've seen games that rely too heavily on user-generated content/entertainment, and unless they take off in a huge way (unlikely to happen to any new text-based game these days), they seem to always end up either desolated or filled with a complete hotch-potch of ideas, structures, etc. If you put the burden of success/failure too much on the shoulders of your players, then you should be prepared for the worst, with little means to prevent it.

Also, in my estimate about 70% of our current player base will always prefer to consume rather than create. If the game didn't have years of content that is ready to consume, I would imagine all these people would move on rather than labor to create their own fun. Nowadays, lazy people have a lot of consumable game content at their fingertips, and would readily spend money on it just so they don't have to think.

And a final point. While it is true that you can never create content fast enough to satisfy the hunger of your current power players, over time you can cultivate / accumulate enough of it up to a point where people will be quitting for reasons other than lack of content. Like you said, if you entertain anyone for several years for free, that's already pretty huge.
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