Content Bereft of Purpose

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Why would content lack purpose? A number of reasons. Perhaps the rewards aren't appropriate for the time necessary to undertake the content. Perhaps the content has no impact on the player or the world around them. Or perhaps the content simply is outdated. It's the latter I want to bring up as a discussion, pointing to a Kill Ten Rats post from today (barely).

Suzina brings up the fact that the level 50 end game content from Shadows of Angmar is no longer relevant to the current cap. First, I'd like to mention this has been a problem since the inception of a level-based MMO. Not even the 800 pound gorilla and most popular MMO in the world, WoW, has done anything to fix it. What's nice about LOTRO is that there seems to be a continual influx of new characters into the game. Visiting Bree on a weekend will usual greet me with a host of pre-40 players. This to me says that the level 50 content is still somewhat relevant to a certain set of players. At least potentially. I certainly can't say one way or another what their playstyle is like and if it will take them to Carn Dum, The Rift, Annuminas, etc when the reach 50. What is certain is they don't have to play that content to advance, whereas when the level cap was at 50, the advancement did come from instance "grinds" and raid runs for better gear and deed improvements. Add into the mix the content revamp currently in progress and I think LOTRO does offer better incentives to play and replay the older content. Just not for level 60s.

And there's the rub. I like the idea of getting more level 60 relevant rewards for the older content. But not rewards comparable to reward for level 60 end game content. It just wouldn't be fair, if the older content is easier. That leads to the idea of scaling the level 50 instances, raids, etc to the level 60 players. Here's why that's a problem: At some point, there will be so many options for end game instance runs and raids that the player base becomes diluted amongst the choices. It will make grouping for content harder in the long run. Secondly, many of the level 50 end game content is within a larger content progression starting before level 50, making it a challenge to scale the content unless it is completely revamped to stand on it's own. I prefer scaling of rewards rather than the content itself, but with some tweaks to make it fair.

First, do it with the existing barter system. We see something similar with the repleted epic storyline instances and reflecting pools. Add repeatable quests available only to players at 55+ (a reasonable overleveled point) that are exact duplicates of the level 50 quests in these instances and raids, but use this barter item as the reward. The turn in rewards for these barter items could be level 60 barter items like the Lothlorien leaves, crafting recipes, not-quite-uber armor (i.e. not the radiance gear, but perhaps something similar to the crafted gear), etc. These are just random things I've come up with at the spur of the moment. I'll leave more creative and adept minds to really ponder it... like the devs should they chose to go that rout. Require multiple barter items for the rewards because the level 50 content is relatively easy compared to the level 60 content - in other words, ensure the reward matches the effort for fairness. Never should the reward be equal to what could be gained through current end-game activities or that would render that content purposeless, ending us back where we started, only in reverse.

In the mean time, if you haven't experienced the level 50 end-game content and you're a level 60, do so anyway. It's fun stuff, and it doesn't take nearly as long with the extra 10 levels. Who cares if the tangible rewards aren't worth it - the experience is. Do it with buddies, people you like to hang out with. Friends make or break a game. And that's a topic for a future post...

6 Responses to "Content Bereft of Purpose"

Yeebo Says:

We had a deep and varied end game pre-MoM. Right now we have a bunch of 6 man instances and two boss fights. In book 8 we will get a new multi boss 12 man raid. However the raid won't be accessible unless you have spent enough time doing 6 mans, or some combination of 6 mans and the new three mans.

I other words, if you want to see the final raid...you have to run instances. We don't care how much energy you have put into crafting or PvMP, you aren't allowed to run the final raid at all.

I never complained that the Rift gear was better than what i could craft. It's harder to earn, it should be a bit better. However, I really liked that I could see the Rift and help my KS with it in my crafted gear. I get my end game gear doing what In enjoy, and dabble in the rest of the endgame. If the hardcore folks in my KS need me to fill out a group on the weekend...I'm not a total gimptard. As I know my class well, I am pretty damn close to someone of the same class that has Rift gear. They can invite me because of my skill rather than my gear.

That simply isn't true now. If you don't enjoy running instances repeatedly you are locked out of content. End of story.

Yeebo Says:

More on topic...I agree that it isn't all that fair to single out LoTRO for having useless pre cap "endgame" content. Possible ways to deal with it...

1. Update the areas so that they are useful to toons that are leveling. Make it so that you can get all the relevant gear in two or three runs instead of dozens.

2. Make the gear you can get useful to folks at the cap.

3. Add screaming hot shit cosmetics items and mounts to the loot tables.

4. Make it so that you can trade boss drops for either 50 armor, or consumables folks at the cap will want. Potions, consumable that add radiance, or consumables that give a temporary XP bonus would all work.

Of my suggested (and pretty damn obvious) solutions,I have seen exactly zero implemented for outdated raid content in MMOs I've played.

Thallian Says:

I'm with you on most of this post though I disagree on player base dilution. More options = happier player base, and so what if only one group is in CD and one in Uru and one in Dark Delvings etc... ? Happier player base = more word of mouth advertising and more subs and a larger player base eventually. I say give us all the high quality options you can, rather than worry about channeling players somewhere.

Jaxom92 Says:

It's a balancing act with options on one side and channeling players on the other. I think we can go quite a ways towards options without worrying about dilution, but it will come, at some point.

Green Armadillo Says:

The only catch is that players will always find the sweet spot in the time/reward curve. If you look at WoW, there are a dozen level 80 heroic 5-mans, and maybe 3-4 that are far and away the most popular due to favorable effort/reward returns.

I suspect that this would make it very difficult to balance level 50 content rewards for level 60 players. Players might be more inclined to help their guildies through the level 50 class quests with a small added bonus, but the content would still be very unpopular (unless the rewards were good enough to push the level 60 stuff off the top of the hill).

Merigold Says:

Well, after Warhammer Online and Lord of the Rings Online I think that is time to say goodbye to PvE and say hello to total PvP. MMORPG future is PvP, online friends and all kind of PvP content. Amen :-)