From time to time I look back fondly on all the MMO's I've played. Even the ones that took an unforeseen turn for the worse -- I focus on the enjoyable experiences prior to whatever patch or bug destroyed the game and/or community. It's not quite nostalgia, because I do not long to return to any of the games I've stopped playing. I stopped playing them for a reason afterall. I just like to think back to the days of old, when each MMO actually had something that set it apart from whatever other game was on the market at the time. Not things that made it necessarily better, just things that set them apart. That's difficult to find now.
Most MMO's bank all of their effort toward repeating whatever worked for
whichever game came before it based on popularity of said game. This
ultimately fails because it provides gamers with absolutely no reason to
switch from the game they're already playing to the new game. Why start
over with no gear, friends, or money in a game that's basically exactly
what you're playing anyway?
A lot of people incorrectly label this the WoW Effect. Since World of
Warcraft was for many people their first MMO experience, every game
which followed afterward that had similar features was dubbed a WOW
clone. With even just the slightest amount of actual research however,
you will realize that most of the features in WOW were actually
completely ripped off from other MMOs before it. That's right, Warcraft
was not innovative at all. For instance the beloved PVP battlegrounds
everyone thinks are token WoW material were actually alive and well in
DAoC long beforehand. Talent trees, classes specialties, and even PVE
instancing were all present in games predating WoW by years.
I find it incredibly interesting that while I liked WoW the least, it
was one of the longest games I ever played. The learning curve was
nonexistent. You could effectively do most tasks by rolling your face
back and forth across your keyboard and get by just fine. The expansions
were always just more of the same, to the point where even the models
and other art were simply copy pastas of previous content. World PVP did
not exist once BGs were introduced which reduced all player v. player
conflicts to mundane, preplanned events. The only thing WoW had was the
Don't misunderstand. The majority of the Warcraft community is akin to
some sort of special gaming Olympics. Millions of invalids who can do
nothing but regurgitate old memes at one another with the overall
combined charisma of a rancid turnip. Every once in a great while
though, you'd stumble upon a genuinely intelligent, reliable human
being. And if you were really lucky, they will have already sought out
other such individuals and combined themselves into a small tightly knit
guild, making the game worth playing where otherwise it would not be.
It's amazing how one or two great people can keep you around when all
else can't. Especially when you manage to find them in what is
essentially the Mos Eisley of gaming communities. Looking at the other
games I've played, the reasons I had for sticking around post-apocalypse
were much simpler. They were fun. Dark Age of Camelot had amazing PVP
in its youth. Anarchy Online had a truly imaginative PvE instancing
system, catering your 'dungeon' to your specific desires. To this day I
am unaware of any true MMO that allows that. Starwars Galaxies had
astounding role-play. Matrix Online had a truly immersing environment,
add in enjoyable combat and interactive locking emotes and you had the
recipe for role-player bliss. Everquest 2 was just amusing to play, the
mechanics were simple but efficient. Age of Conan had a seriously
innovative combat system and an impressively loyal community. Warhammer
Online was an entertaining foray into the living, breathing Warhammer
Ironically their short-comings were somehow related to why they had been worth playing in the first place.
DAoC tried to out-do their own PVP experience and basically ruined what
had kept people playing in the first place. Seeing the error of their
ways they reintroduced 'classic' servers. Sadly it was too little too
late for the game to make a complete recovery, resulting in the
combining of servers to combat the ghost towns they had become.
AO didn't change. Which is both good and bad. The good is that the
gameplay remained entertaining and unique. They never tried to over-do
it. This is also bad though because it made the game stagnate. The
graphics are more or less the same as they had been when the game came
out ages ago, despite all of the vast advancements in computer
capabilities. Funcom has had a graphical overhaul planned since 2007,
but there has been no change and no set date as to when this change
could be expected.
This means your playerbase is composed entirely of the especially
die-hard fans of the game and no one else. New players won't join
because they dislike the subpar graphics and many old players leave
because they've grown bored. If a new player does get over how out-dated
the entire game is, they feel lost and hopelessly too far behind as
soon as they login and realize almost everyone they meet is 200 levels
higher than they are.
You can play it for free, however, so there is no reason not to play it every once in a while.
SWG's role-play came to a grinding halt once they took a game with over
20 classes, that you could hybridize to endless possibility -- to a game
with fewer than 10 starting professions that could not stray from the
set path in any capacity whatsoever. One completely game-altering
'upgrade' was enough. The second effectively killed the game and it's
now shutting down forever come December. Despite the communities outrage
and disappointment, SOE decided not to heed them and refused to
roll-back to how the game had been, or even provide a 'classic' server
where people could get away from the NGE. This was such an enormous
marketing disaster that a member of the staff who pushed the NGE forward
actually killed himself.
It is to my knowledge one of the most devastating changes made to an MMO in history.
MxO had everything going for it, except that it was run by SOE. They
couldn't leave well-enough alone and made change after change until the
original player base had basically evaporated. It remained alive for a
little while, attracting the occasional Matrix fan, but ultimately met a
swift, timely end. The rate at which SOE is handed liscences to games
that should have 0 chance of failure, that fail, is boggling.
EQ had a very easy-to-play gaming experience. Quests were easy to
follow, combat was simply executed, and they offered an optional
graphical upgrade to those who wished it. Meaning if you had a crappy
computer, you could still play, but if you had a good computer you could
play and not look like you were molded out of Playdoh. While a simple
game is a nice get away from games that require some form of degree to
play right, it also gives you little reason to stick around. By level
20, you really had nothing to do but continue leveling up. Money was
easy to come by. Leveling was a breeze. PVP only existed on certain
servers. The most fun I had after level 20 in EQ2 was decorating my
AoC had one of the most innovative combat experiences I've ever had the
joy of playing with. Incidentally it also had the smoothest launch of
any MMO I've played -- and I've suffered through a lot of game launches.
Patch after patch however created bug after bug and Funcom was rather
disinterested in fixing them in any timely manner. This created issues
that completely broke the game. The fantastic combat system was now a
method by which you could charge up and behead someone at 10 yards;
before you'd normally even be in range to swing at them.
This bug also only effected melee characters, so before long all of the
healers and mages disappeared and the world was filled with warriors
running around trying to chop off eachother's heads. Combine that with
Funcom going back on their no graveyard camping policy, this meant that
if you beheaded someone and ran to the resurrection pad fast enough --
you could murder them repeatedly all day.
This obviously had several damaging effects on the game. Since all of
the healers and mages rerolled as melee... you could no longer
efficiently get any PVE done. Which meant your entire gameplay
experience rested on the enjoyment of PVP. Which you also couldn't do
because any time you logged on, someone would chop off your head from 10
yards away before you even loaded.
Now, before you think, "You're just upset because people were chopping
off your head!" you should know that I was usually the one doing the
head-chopping. I'm just not so much of an ass I can't admit that it was
Warhammer Online was the purist disappointment when it came to games I
had been looking forward to. It was developed by Mythic, who did magical
things with DAoC back in the day, so I was expecting more of that. It
was also set in the richly story driven Warhammer world. How could they
go wrong? Well, basically they pushed the game out much too fast,
meaning that while all of the races were present, only two of their
cities had been included in the game. They also apparently forgot that
at the essence of Warhammer is role-play... because there were
absolutely no tools implemented within the game to make this possible.
You could not walk, or sit, or write custom emotes; you could barely
even customize your character (which is forgivable provided you can do
all of those other things).
They decided to make the focus PVE and PVP, which is fine as a Mythic
game. That's basically what DAoC had been, but as a Warhammer game this
was unacceptable. You had this vast, rich world full of life... and no
way to interact with it. It was surprisingly disappointing. World PVP
was also kind of broken, which left you to do nothing but run BGs. In
which case, you may as well have been playing any other MMO already out,
like I mentioned above, and avoided starting over. Which is exactly
what happened after the first month live.
I realize this turned into more of a rant than I had originally intended
starting out. I could gripe about the cons until the cows come home, or
alternatively fawn over the pros until I convinced you to play them,
but I think I'll spare you this time.
In short, what I was getting at was this: why can't developers create
something fun anymore? Something that takes what's right about the other
games and combines it all together, leaving out the bad. I mean, that
is what made WOW successful. To copy Warcraft's success you do not need
to make a clone of WOW. You need to do as they did and steal every good idea from every other MMO currently on the market.
Then, while it would not be a completely unique idea, it would at least
be worth switching to from whatever you're playing now. I don't want
mind blowing innovation. In my experience that's always bad (Tabula
Rasa, Mortal Online, DDO, GW, etc.). Also, why is it the new trend in
MMO's that to be innovative you have to switch to first-person
perspective? That's not innovative, especially when nothing else is any
different mechanically. I swear if one more up-and-coming MMO decides
to broaden it's audience by being first-person, I'll punch them with a
I like toast and butter. I do not like toast crumbs in my butter. In that light: I like first-person shooter games and I like role-playing games. I do not however enjoy FPS games in my RPG games. If I wanted to play an FPS, that's what I would've bought. ffs.