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Reader Comments (24)

Posted: Jun 10th 2010 5:49PM (Unverified) said

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The blurb in this photo set doesn't do justice to how influential UO2 could have been.

EA was extremely shortsighted with the fear that it would cannibalize UO1. It definitely would have done that, but they just had no idea how big the potential market for MMOs was. They thought that between UO and EQ, the market was tapped out, when in actuality UO2 wouldn't have just replaced UO1's subscriptions, but quadrupled them by moving to 3D, shedding the PK problem, and not adopting EQ's punishing grinds.

As for how it would have affected the wider market, as it happened EQ1 was the market leader and the canonical definition of an MMO in most peoples' minds - but what if instead of the Diku model, the leading example had things like completely classless character development (basically all abilities coming through talent trees that could be combined arbitrarily), items acquired mainly through the player economy (with not even the concept of "raiding" or "epic loot"), player housing as a core feature, and pure non-combat characters with gameplay as compelling as the combat options. What if the WoW developers had played that instead of being hardcore EQ raiders?

WoW would have had the same level of success even with radically different game mechanics, because of two things: an unprecedented level of story and questing for the MMO market at the time, and Blizzard's general commitment to quality and polish. Things could have been very different if they had started with a different initial background and set of assumptions, while still being the immensely successful phenomenon that everyone else went on to clone.

Posted: Jun 13th 2010 9:05AM UnSub said

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I'm sorry, but WoW-via-UO would not have reached the same levels of success as WoW-via-EQ did. By player numbers, around half of WoW's population come out of Eastern (China, South Korea, etc) countries and they certainly wouldn't be playing the UO version at the same rate.

WoW-via-UO would have also been much more complex to understand and get into than WoW-via-EQ, which in turn would have hurt its attractiveness as well. Would WoW-via-UO still pulled good numbers? Hypothetically, sure. But they would not have been as good as WoW-via-EQ achieved.
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Posted: Jun 10th 2010 6:46PM (Unverified) said

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I watched both Ultima Online sequels pretty intently as they both dissolved into the world of vaporware, but I was especially interested in UO2 (Ultima Worlds Online: Origin before they changed the name). I was a huge UO fan back in the day, and I was looking forward to what they were planning for the sequel. it was fairly foolish of EA to can both attempted sequels. What I really liked as much as anything was UO2's storyline. An alternate Sosaria gets warped, bringing a race from the far past heavily attuned to magic and a race from the far future based around steampunk technology into the same world as the more familiar humans. Yeah, they added bits and pieces of that lore to UO proper so as not to waste the time and money they poured into UO2 initially, but in my opinion, it was done very poorly.

Funny to think what could have been with a lot of these games. What kind of MMO landscape would we have ended up with had any of them managed to make it through development?

Posted: Jun 10th 2010 6:47PM Valdamar said

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Mythica certainly - that game sounded epic from the initial information and I just love Norse mythology.

Imperator definitely - Imperial Roman sci-fi ftw! - though I think Games Workshop might have wanted to sue Mythic for some of their WH40k-inspired designs - maybe that's why Imperator was canned, so that eventually WAR could live!

Speaking of WAR, I was also very excited by the original designs for the Warhammer MMO when Climax were making it - it sounded more like the dark, gothic, renaissance Warhammer world from the original RPG and original wargame, than the kid-friendly, high fantasy, cartoony Warhammer world from the modern tabletop wargame which has since inspired EA Mythic's WAR MMO. I'd have played Climax's game, but I've never been tempted to play WAR.

I was also very excited by the original design for Horizons, back before the information blackout, during which the Dev team's ambitions were scaled down to more realistic proportions. Back then they weren't just going to have dragons and a few fantasy favourites (elves, dwarves, etc) as playable races, but also giants, mer-men, angels, demons, etc. - loads of playable races, all with their own areas.

It's because of games like those that I try not to get excited about forthcoming MMOs anymore - I've been let down too many times by false promises, over-hyping and vapourware. Too many failed indie MMOs have driven me into the arms of the big studios/publishers and now unless MMOs are "sure things" - i.e. big studio MMOs - I tend not to get too interested in them. So I'm excited about SW:TOR and GW2, but that's about it, and if they disappoint me then I might give up on MMOs as a genre altogether for a while and go back to multiplayer FPS/RTS.

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