Thursday, February 16, 2012

The End Game

I wonder if I'm the only one who suffers from the syndrome I'm about to describe; follow me here:

I generally tend to enjoy games up until maximum level (or skill cap, whichever applies), and I then get bored rather quickly.  I've never been a big raider - and honestly, the PVP achievements/gear to acquire in most games can be done rather quickly with little effort (or risk) involved.  Afterward, I struggle to find something new to do.

I recently started playing Everquest (EQ) again.  As I was leveling, I was (as I always am) focused on the next level, where I'll get it, if there's someplace better, and is this group good enough or should I drop and solo for awhile?  Once I didn't have another level to look forward to, I hit a wall again, just like I described above.  Then I remembered about the alternate advancement (AA) system EQ has in place, which is available to every character at level 51, and which I had neglected up until that point.

The AA system lets you divert experience away from your character level and into a pool, which will eventually reach 100% and give you one AA 'point' and then reset to zero - allowing you to do it again and get more points.  The points can be spent on a myriad of things from damage mitigation to mana regeneration, enhanced critical strike chance, or a number of abilities that can be used at your discretion once purchased. 

This guy has way too much time on his hands.

The limits are nearly endless - most hardcore players will have between 3500 and 4500 AA points.  Some guilds require an entry barrier - or a certain amount of AA's you need before you can join them.  But regardless of how you earn them, or what you do with them once earned, it's something I don't think I've run across in many other games.

I wonder why EQ (and EQ2) were the only games to implement something like this in a mainstream way?  Full Disclosure:  I've played just about every 'major' MMORPG release in the past 12 years, and I'm sure I've run across alternate advancement systems before - but I honestly can't remember any being as paramount as the one in EQ.  Or honestly - really any at all that offered this much character customization and building after the level cap was reached.

Am I crazy?  Maybe I'm the only one who suffers from the staleness of end game raiding.  But honestly - why can't I have a way of bettering my character other then fighting for a spot on a raid and hoping something I can actually use something that drops from a boss that we kill after hours of preparation?

Maybe this is a solid reason why Everquest is still around.  Developers, take note. 


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