Epic End-Game Quests

I recently got good enough at this game to survive for 15+ days, and although I did visit mines, labs, most building types in town and a few military outposts, I did get to the point where I found myself expecting something more. Something that would provide a measure of closure for this survivor, which I’ve cautiously kept alive through tears and sweat. I love the fact that Cataclysm is an open world in which I’m left to my own devices about how to ensure my survival, but I really would like to see some epic quest above and beyond the mundane survival that would give it some grander meaning. Let me explain myself.

Most roguelikes do have an end-game boss, but then again they have a very different format from Cataclysm. “Crawl deeper and deeper through the dungeon until you find the biggest baddie and kill him” just doesn’t work for Cataclysm, and don’t get me wrong, that’s not what I would like to see for Cataclysm. Rather, what I’d like to see is maybe a series of extremely difficult end-game accomplishments that actually end the game with either your success or your failure. The areas in which you find these end-game quests would be very remote (i.e. far from the spawning area), and each map would only really have one of these, which would add a level of randomization and replay value to the game. You would learn about them through some pieces of evidence that you find scattered through the world, and when you get strong/prepared/crazy enough, you would take the plunge and try to accomplish your final task. Here’s an example of what I think could be an epic end-game quest:

The Fence - While scouring the labs and military outposts that have been left behind after the Cataclysm, the survivor finds evidence that this was all just some crazy experiment by mad scientists who blocked off this part of the world and who are currently measuring the effects of a bunch of different cataclysmic events on civilization. Discovering this, the survivor prepares his vehicle for the long trek to go find the 500 meter high fence that’s currently keeping him locked in here. When he reaches the only gatehouse for this giant fence, he finds it heavily guarded and extremely dangerous. However, if he manages to fight off the guardians of the gate, he has a chance to return to some measure of normality, and in addition get justice for his captors’ sadism.

Other cool endgame ideas could be:

-Finding some sort of uber-lab - obviously protected by hordes of robots - in which you know there’s an experimental time-machine that you could maybe, just maybe, help you stop this from ever happening (à la Samurai Jack).
-Finding a cure that could theoretically cure all zombies if it could be distributed throughout the atmosphere. All that’s needed is to reach the top of a weather control tower in the heart of a heavily populated area and disperse it throughout the world.
-Finding an NPC faction and becoming its leader through bloodshed and guile.

Now, I know a lot of people enjoy the fact that there’s no end-game other than when you choose to stop, but I really think that these would add a significant measure of replayability and value to the game. There’s nothing quite like having a nigh-impossible task that you want to accomplish to keep you interested in a game.

If this interests anyone I could definitely write up some more in greater detail and maybe get this stuff done. What do you guys think?

I’m all up for it. There comes a point in the game where the goal turns from “What the fuck do I to survive?” to “What the fuck am I going to do now?”. Exploring the whole world, looting, building stuff, and mindless killing comes to mind, but at times these activities become a bit stale. especially if you’ve encountered a lot of stuff.

My only caveat though is that these End Game quests shouldn’t actually end the game itself. I’d like to think or imagine that the only true way to end the game is through death.

Tankra, I think the Subprime Temples are generally considered end-game. Did you take out a couple of those?

It certainly doesn’t seem to be a small task to do so, anyway.

They’re hard if you obey them. Bring a jackhammer and drill through the walls to the end chambers and it’s completely free loot, just as it should be.

I confess to never having managed to go through one of those temples. I’ll try to get on that with my latest character ASAP then.

That’s exactly the proposition I’m bringing to the table: ending the game in a way that is more rewarding than a mere death. I think even the best game needs to have an end, otherwise you just get to a point where you either keep doing useless things with your character until you die, or you stop playing it altogether. Also, it gives you a way of being able to say ‘‘I beat the game,’’ which is not a small accomplishment in most roguelikes. With multiple different endings too, you could get bragging rights from finding more than one ending.

What do you guys think?

Just want to get this out: Artifacts are a b****. Useful, but very risky. I still love em though.

Bragging rights could be provided in the form of ultra-rare things, like equipment maybe, or a trait or some token. That would be cool actually.

If you would agree to disagree, I believe that not all games have to have an “end”, so to speak. Most, probably, but not all. Cataclysm would be one of those games, especially considering that it’s in the Zombie genre, albeit a more futuristic, demented, and just plain absurd version. One of the more appealing aspects of the Zombie genre for me is that sense of inevitability: here you are, innumerably outnumbered by monsters everywhere you go. There is no escape, no solution, as you try to eke out a “normal” life until the day you succumb to your inevitable death, whether it be by the hands of monsters, of others like you, or yourself. This aspect is addressed completely by Cataclysm as it is made now.

Not all deaths are mere deaths. There are stupid deaths, inevitable deaths, and completely awesome deaths, among other things. The death that I would ideally achieve, if I was at the point of boredom, would be the latter one. The problem is that if I reach a certain threshold, awesome deaths -without resorting to suicide or something similar- would be difficult to achieve. Still, there are stupid awesome deaths tantamount to suicide, but it probably won’t appeal to everybody. Heck, even the prospect of dying probably won’t appeal to everybody, no matter what form.

Which reminds me: what about an end game scenario that is practically unwinnable? Like, say, a massive horde passes by your base and you have no choice but to hold out as long as you can. Basically, it enables you to go out in a blaze of glory (literally too, if you want). Defense mode, is that you? But I digress. My imagination is running wild again.

In any case, if ever end game content is applied that actually ends the game, I would probably embrace it, provided that it was executed well.

In fact, If it were to be applied, I would suggest creating an epilogue screen. It would ideally include a description of the consequences of your actions (Say, what happens to the world after you discover a cure or something), in addition to a description of your kills, equipment, and what not, as well a variety of feats that you’ve achieved throughout your lifetime. A timeline even, for those who are really ambitious.

Yeeeahhh, that’s kinda long. So…
TL;DR: I prefer dying as a game ender, but I’m fine with end game content ending the game.

There’s certainly an inevitability to it, but if it were purely inevitable to die a horrible death alone clutching your gun, there’s less of a reason to keep going. The way I see it, one of the more appealing themes in the Zombie apocalypse genre is the undying hope of its protagonists. There’s always this sense that if you try hard enough to escape the zombies, you can succeed and maybe get to rebuild. Find some more survivors, get together and rebuild a society that might actually be even better than what was destroyed. Obviously there are other very important themes in the genre, but what keeps a survivor going is the idea that he’ll eventually find a sanctuary filled with other survivors and they’ll live happily ever after.

Having some final task that’s bigger than just survival is essentially like giving the survivor a glimpse of hope. Whether or not there’s a happy ending is completely up to the designers and both decisions are defensible, but the fact remains that this goal gives hope to the player, and overall a more immersive experience.

Basically, the end-game content I’m conceiving would have these characteristics:

-Multiple different ending scenarios, of which only a single one spawns at random each time the world map is reset
-Each end-game scenario would have its own overland map area in a remote location (i.e. hard to find)
-Hard to find clues would be scattered around the world that would give the player the fluff of the scenario as well as the location of the area they have to find (possibly even involving some small puzzles)
-The end-game area’s battle would itself be harder even than the challenges present now in the game, nearing the level of being practically impossible
-(Optional) The end-game scenario would present a dilemma or a choice to the player about how he wants to act (e.g. good v. evil, order v. chaos, traditionalist v. progressive, etc…)

Now, I know this is quite a task and it also is a somewhat new direction for the game to take, but I really do think that end-game content would enhance the experience for most players. Keep in mind, it’s entirely possible to disagree with me and I respect that; if the devs prefer the game to be more like a Dwarf Fortress type of deal then so be it, but I can’t help but feel that Cataclysm is begging for this type of end-game content.

Definitely. I think at least a text epilogue would work quite well, and it’s not that difficult to produce.

I like the idea of having an overarching goal. The obvious one would be to find the cure for zombification. But it could be as well escaping or any of the proposed ones by the OP.

But I’d prefer it to stick to the original premise of this game, and what I think has lured most of us here: survival and zombies. So, the cure.

According to the lab notes a “cure” was found, but involved opening “the gates of hell” (well, opening the gate to “subplane life forms”). Maybe the end could involve that. The player learns of the process and decides this is something he’s willing to do, whatever the consequences. I think the procedure should involve self-sacrifice (the “normal” solution) while also offering a chance of processing the cure while not unleashing hell on earth (the “hard” solution).

It could probably be started by finding some lab notes in the corpse of one of the scientist corpses spawns. That would set the premise (a note to one of the dead scientists urging them to transfer <important item/info> -USB drive?- to Lab X).

From then on the player would be fed both hints about what to do/where to go next and background information. Something that would complement the lab notes and maybe personal emails/recordings/etc like in the Shock series, which would mainly be used to set the tone and involve the player more personally with the world.

Ideally, this would be a long and progressively difficult quest/mission. Each new hint would direct the player to a new setting (mines, military outposts, cities, etc). Maybe require an item only found in each of those locations (piece of triffid heart, fungal spire, etc). This would give a good reason to visit those places other than scavenging, and also reinforce the exploring aspect of the game even further. Just the trip to get to your next destination, or finding your destination, could become an adventure itself.

If NPCs are ever properly implemented they could be used as temporary companions to help you in combat, or to bypass certain obstacles (find a survivor with high computers skill to bypass a door, etc), or as elements of the quest itself (the uncle/daughter/friend of scientist X holds the information you need to reach the next point of the quest).

And if you’d like to complicate your coding lives even further, minor missions could be interlaced with the main one. Maybe someone asks you to rescue somebody else (a lover, a relative, someone he hates but has something important for him…) trapped in a bee hive/triffid lair/etc, or wants you to hunt down somebody, or help build a shelter, or whatever.

Whatever is decided, I think this game would benefit by some kind of global aim. I also agree that the sandbox aspect should be preserved, so whatever is decided this should be totally optional, being able to not start the quest at all or stop at any point without any negative consequence (like Morrowind main quest, etc, -well, except the corprus part, if you left there you were fucked).

What would people think about being able to simply “import” your character into defense mode at any time? Obviously, once you’ve done so you can never bring them back into the normal mode, but it might make for an effective way to “retire” your character. Bring them over, with all skills, a full inventory, etc. and so on.

Besides the issue of plot/lore, since I’m a stickler for stories, I’d love to have this option intact. Or, to put things further, why not integrate both modes in the [size=5pt]far[/size] future? Say, you build a base with companions (or not) then there are times when defense mode (or something similar) will occur at specific circumstances. It’d probably be very hard to do though.

Although I think one of Tankra’s suggestions takes this into account: maybe an end game defense mode where the goal is to kill everything/survive for a set number of days?

Too sleepy to post more detailed reactions, but I would agree (and agree to disagree) with pretty much everything discussed so far. I especially like the details involved, as well as the notion of a global aim being implemented. Kind of reminds me of Elona: there’s a main quest, but you’re free to say “fuck it” and just do whatever you want.

I liked the idea, but I prefer a “copy import”: You’ll just copy your char to Def Mode, still being able to play with it on Normal Mode.

Concur with DeepBlueMax; sending a Story character to Defense can be interesting, but I’d hate to have that perma-delete the character from Story.

Oppose the idea of a Defense happening within the context of Story. The point of Defense is that it’s a guaranteed swarm-the-player-to-death, and if Story did that (especially if the trigger conditions aren’t player-controllable) I wouldn’t bother playing. Story means being able to avoid swarms altogether.

KA101, it is meant and was proposed as a way to retire your character and give him a worthwhile final standing.

Making it a copy ruins that completely, and turns it into a game of “you can always play defense with the most powerful character you ever had, FOREVER”.

That’s… kind of silly. It negates the original point of the idea, and basically renders the mode less valuable.

I think this is a pretty good, low-effort solution to the problem of not having an end-game. To spice it up, you can make it an option that you have access to only when you’re in a “Cabin” area. For example, if you trigger a button that is inside the Cabin, your character will be retired and it’ll transfer him to a defense scenario that occurs in that very same cabin (albeit without all of the rest of the surroundings), which means that a smart player can prepare the house with as many resources as he can fit into it, as well as being able to have some fences, pits, traps and even turrets all around the Cabin. Sounds fun and should take less effort to implement than any of my end-game suggestions.

I still maintain that end-game quests would be quite awesome, but this is a good in-between point.

It appears that our perspectives differ, GlyphGryph. I rather like the idea of being able to take a character into a testbed situation, rather than making a multiday trip and potentially endanger several weeks’ worth of game sessions…just to see what fighting Triffids/Ants/what-have-you is like.

But then I was never a proper roguelike player: I care about my characters, and want their deaths–if they happen at all–to be more meaningful than simply shoving them into a meatgrinder because I’m tired of that particular map/character build.

And as for the Cabin idea: that button had better bloody well be marked as a permanent, one-way action. Cf. disbanding in LCS: you get a briefing on the ramifications and have to type out a passphrase to actually disband.

You seem to misunderstanding. It doesn’t matter what you like, it doesn’t matter if it would be fun, it doesn’t even matter if it would be a better idea to do it your way.

The original purpose, the reason the solution was proposed, as completely invalidated by your suggestion, leaving it… still unsolved. That’s the complaint. The suggestion is anti-productive at actually accomplishing what the OP wanted.

IIRC the OP wanted a way to end the game on a positive note, too.

But it’s 2AM in US Eastern, and IIRC you’re in US Eastern too, GlyphGryph. I don’t know your schedule but I do know that arguing at this point isn’t likely to accomplish anything positive. Motion to table this.

They also indicated that going out in a blaze of glory while trying to accomplish an impossible challenge was a valid form of “positive note”. Hence the suggestion to be able to move their character over to defense mode as a way to “permanently retire them in an epic fashion.”

By allowing them to just COPY the character over, it no longer ends the game and then no longer serves the purpose they wanted!

OK, fine. It’s about as easy for me to copy the file as it is for them to delete it.

I like the idea of epic late game missions or goals. The reason I like roguelike games is because they are never ending. It’s sad to die with a great character because you got bored and wanted to start a fist fight with a hulk. I’m still new at this game so it still takes me hours just to set up a decent character let alone get bored. But, if I ever do finish scouring labs and mines successfully, install a load of bionics, and gain super human strength mutations, I want the ability to head on a quest that will still kill me.

The key to roguelikes is their randomly generated nature. It’s all about how the goals you set for yourself and how you die reaching that goal. If I spent a week on a character and died in the middle of a tough mission, I would be upset. That’s just human nature and an unfortunate problem with this type of game. That doesn’t make playing any less satisfying. The key is the satisfaction you get from reaching a new level of accomplishing a goal.

Being new to the game I’ve yet to install any bionics. I just haven’t had the chance to get into a lab without dying. I have goals set that include learning computer skills, finding dead lab geeks, and getting weapons. The challenges I face to reach the goal are great. I have to fight the horde to collect food, books and weapons without dying.

I suppose after I finally install some bionics I would have to look for a new goal. This is the OPs concern. Raiding a temple sounds like a difficult task. I’d try my hand at one of those for now.

This game is still in development and the potential is really amazing. NPCs could offer tougher missions. Faction dynamics could be implemented with a reputation system like in dwarf fortress. Doing a job for one could offend the other. Random events like wars, disasters, or new zombie insurgences could all be problems that would need a good strong character to intervene. All of this could offer nearly unlimited replay value and keep a skilled player coming back again and again after each death.

In the mean time, being able to retire a character to fight one big battle royal would be a terrific idea. Half the time most skilled players probably get bored and head straight into a zombie horde anyway.