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Reader Comments (58)

Posted: Jan 4th 2012 8:35AM Ehra said

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Experimentation alone doesn't make something "better" on that virtue alone for the same reason that experimental music isn't automatically the best.

DAoC will always have a tiny place in my cold heart if only because it was my first, but there's absolutely NO way anyone could convince me that sparse quests that generally gave crap rewards (and there were no quest markers, so you had to talk to every NPC every few levels or look up the locations of the quest givers online if you wanted to even do them), downtimes that could last a minute or longer between fights, having to rely on the generosity of veterans or be EXTREMELY lucky with random drops to just to have decent statless gear for your level, "content" that consisted of finding a camp of lifeless, stationary mobs to farm for hours on end, and a XP bar that might have budged 5% after that hour long farming session are better than what we have now.

About the only things it has that stands up today is how each side had unique classes and the RvR system.

Posted: Jan 4th 2012 8:37AM (Unverified) said

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Older games focused on creation of place... of separate reality more than current games. The mechanics of fun easy gameplay have become the central driving force in the creation of MMOs. Most times those two design goals are at odds. What is easy and fun is unreal and unimmersive (I know not a word). You cannot get large numbers of subs without the instafun sugar pop WoW type gameplay.

Posted: Jan 4th 2012 8:44AM SwarlesBarkley said

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lol... kid licking a pig... err, what was this article about?

Posted: Jan 4th 2012 8:47AM Deliverator said

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Wow hit at the right time and we have a bunch of copies now, which is getting really, really old. It started by simplifying itself and then fine-tuned itself to the masses over the years.
If MMOs were restaurants, WoW would be McDonalds. You're not going to get a nice steak there, but if you have a car full of people its a pretty safe bet for lunch and the kids adore the place with its cheap toys that end up in the bottom of toyboxes. Since WoW we've gotten Burger King, Wendy's, KFC and a slew of noodle carts. Nicer places with better service and food open and fail all the time.

The thing the MMO industry hasn't realized yet is that if you open a steakhouse you're not competing with McDonalds and even if you're successful you're not going to be making McDonalds Corp money. I'm hungry and want me a steak.

Posted: Jan 4th 2012 8:48AM dudes said

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You didn't get suspended for opening a container.

Posted: Jan 4th 2012 8:53AM Feydakin said

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Personally I think that the mainstreaming of gaming in general is killing this genre of entertainment. I honestly pine for the days when I was ridiculed and shunned for being a gamer, and most games were made for gamers... Yes I think the mainstreaming of MMOGs has had an almost universally negative effect on the genre.

Posted: Jan 4th 2012 8:56AM Jef Reahard said

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Like I said in the linked article, when you put a newer MMO next to an older MMO and simply compare the number of features and variations on gameplay, the older title usually wins out. That's not nostalgia so much as it is recognizing reality.

Today combat is king, crafting is an afterthought if it's there at all, and aside from graphics and perhaps story, I'm hard-pressed to see the innovation some folks speak of.

Posted: Jan 4th 2012 9:03AM KvanCetre said

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Personally, I think its a mix of nostalgia and it being a relatively new genre. Nothing will ever have the same feeling as going into your first mmo, clueless and wide eyed.

Posted: Jan 4th 2012 9:06AM (Unverified) said

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I feel the older games actually pushed the envelope more than games today. The games had the audacity to challenge the players, rather than lead then along to "greatness".

Other than advances in graphics, I don't see any obvious advances in the genre. Making things easier, more obvious, less committing; these are not advances in the genre, they are huge steps back.

Ocho above speaks of McDonalds, but what he is missing is that McDonalds is the WoW and later generation of MMO's. It's the wonderful greasy spoon/mom and pop/roadhouse burger joint that is more representative of the older MMO's. The original is far better than the current McDonalds. Sure the hot new MMO's may have some gimmicks, just like the hipster boutique burger places, but eventually what used to be a great burger, has become a train wreck of conflicting flavors, and a lack of soul.

Developers should continue to experiment, and push boundaries, but first they need to get back to the basics. MMO's are not about end game, not about winning, not about rushing through anything. End game is what happens when the developers drop the ball. EQ had an end game because it was so small. If EQ released with the Original Content + Kunark + Velious all at the same time, we may have never truly seen "end game", because new content would have been released before anyone had a chance to farm the hardest content. Take away the concept of endgame, and everyone slows down a bit; the race is over if there is no finish line.

How nice would it be if developers focused on content, rather than how to make sure we get through content as fast as possible?

Well my arthritis is making standing on this soapbox difficult, so I'll get off of it...now where did I pull that cane?

Posted: Jan 4th 2012 9:31AM Utakata said

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...after getting that bad taste out of my mouth from observing this article's picture, I have to somewhat agree.

City of Heroes and Guild Wars are still a unique snowflakes in comparison to after post WoW games. I will also argue too, WoW is also was once a unique snowflake before post WoW games where released. And unique in all good ways. All 3 games just have their own individual bent on how MMO's done, with strengths and weakness with each. You don't find that anymore.

Games now seem to copy and paste the mechanics most successful game of the lot...for obviouse reasons of playing safe. I call that lazy designing. And you think now with the all supposed relative success of going Freemium to fall back on...that devs would have a little more flexibility to take risks and experiment outside of the WoW clone box once again. /shrug

Posted: Jan 4th 2012 9:59AM (Unverified) said

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"Then again, this might be a case of rose-colored glasses looking upon the past with faulty nostalgia instead of accurate realism, and it discredits the actual innovation and evolution of the industry since then. "-- this is clearly still happening today, just look at the SWTOR players, they tend to look at only the minor tiny changes to the overall mmo gameplay much like RIFT players did at launch and not at whether or not these changes 1: overall will be a lasting funfilled experience 2: deserves their money despite the IP for innovation's sake or 3: were these changes just a gimmick to get players interested in a game that will fail later in it's lifespan. Looking at it objectively, already we are seeing players at level 50 screaming for content end game, SWTOR devs being caught of off guard not giving a time frame for new content and speculation is at six months before new release, and despite the companion - gathering - voice-over systems players are describing this game as being just more of the same previous TOR games with few added features. Then there are the numbers, 350k subscriptions? After all the advertising online and in stores, with all the money Lucas Arts has to back something like this, and this is the best innovation they can do on a game like this?

Posted: Jan 4th 2012 10:02AM DarkWalker said

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Big budget projects in general, including MMOs, want to play safe. They prefer to copy some model they are sure works. True innovation happens in smaller projects, where the dev/publisher is risking way less money on the project.

After WoW's success, though, the most visible success model is WoW itself. Little wonder most big budget MMOs copy it.

Posted: Jan 4th 2012 10:19AM Bladerunner83 said

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I just have to say the only reason I was attracted to this article was because of the picture, "Mmm tastes like bacon."

But then I started reading and I decided to comment.

Older game back before 2004 all felt unique in their presentation and content. They had at least one defining key feature that set them apart from one another, like SWG's sandbox style to DAoC's three realm PvP. I guess they felt unique because the amount of games in the genre was so limited. There is variety nowadays, but I personally feel that the MMO genre is oversaturated with copied content. Experimentation seems to be limited to the indie developers right now; take a look at all the indie games on Steam, the diverse content is inspiring. I guess what I'm getting at is yes, older games were/are better than newer games, because they started from nothing and made a genre.

Posted: Jan 4th 2012 10:20AM smartstep said

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Yeah , I take experimentation with more bugs (as long as there are good team getting them fixed in 'sane' timeframe) than stagnate - boring carbon copies.

Also genre severely lacks 'world creating' and got streamlined into "queue and teleport into isntance grind" WAY too much....

Posted: Jan 4th 2012 11:01AM ryandbc said

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Earlier games like Everquest, Ultima, Anarchy Online, etc - came at a wonderful time in gaming when experimentation was still possible. Before companies realized they could make money churning out the same stuff in slightly different packages. They were happy to just break even. This allowed for a real relationship between community and developers to develop. Guild power struggles, all sorts of fun nerd stuff ;)

I certainly feel the games had more depth because of this. They also didn't have to worry about the player base leaving after every patch they didn't like. There were changes in EQ history that would royally screw a class, then the next month you were a god, then in the middle, etc. It was exciting to have them play around with things and not be worried every x class would quit.

Up till raiding became the only end game there was so much to do in a variety of games. Eq was my main game and more formulaic. But I have yet to encounter anything close in terms of play options. It was long and hard to level but also friendly to all play types. You could gear up many different way's, and had many different options... not just a suit of raid gear. You could jump on a raid and hope to survive even if you weren't a raider with great gear, no long flagging process or other barriers of entry... other than maybe a hard dungeon crawl to the dragon or whatever. Geared great - bring less people... geared with garbage - bring a lot of people and fight over the loot. It was an experimental mess, but a rewarding one.

Vanguard was the last real attempt on a wide audience and the launch debacle might have zapped any hope for a more sandboxy type game, for a very long time at least.

I would love to see some more experimentation in the future. I think anyone hoping for that will have to rely on the rise of indie studios and their ability to fund projects and bring them to fruition with a mid sized developer who won't hammer away the depth to widen the net for folks that just want to play a game and be done with it.

Posted: Jan 4th 2012 11:06AM Ceridith said

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Old MMOs tried to create worlds to immerse players in. There were several gameplay mechanics that gave players several options of how to participate in said virtual world.

New MMOs are about combat and quests leading to more mindless combat. The game world is merely a backdrop to give vague context to players as to why they're killing 10 dire rats for the dozenth time, in order to get better gear to then be able to kill 10 plagued dire rats to get better gear...

Sure new MMOs have flashier graphics and are generally more polished, but they severely lack the depth and breadth of gameplay that existed in oldschool MMOs.

Posted: Jan 4th 2012 11:28AM DaveJaVu said

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@Ceridith

This.
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Posted: Jan 4th 2012 11:18AM demonlife said

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Back in the early days of video games, a single developer could create a game on his Apple II, make a few hundred copies on floppy disks (I'll explain later, kids), Xerox the manuals, stick them in Zip-Lock baggies and sell them himself.

This resulted in a huge amount of variety and original ideas. Yes, many of those games were crap but many were fun, odd little works of genius.

Those days are long gone as a game, MMO or otherwise, requires hundreds of employees, millions of dollars to develop and no one's going to make that kind of investment on something quirky, odd and original. Well, thank goodness we do have the indies, but indie MMO? Eh, I'll keep my hopes up.

Posted: Jan 4th 2012 12:34PM Joaquin Crowe said

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@demonlife I dunno, I picked up several (too many) indie titles from Steam from their winter sale. Several were surprisingly fun. One was really good, detailed and was only built by 2 people.
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Posted: Jan 4th 2012 2:26PM Space Cobra said

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@demonlife @Joaquin Crowe

I'd have to agree with Crowe.

Actually, that same spirit of "make your own game and sell it" is out there. It may not be as evident and you'd have to search for indie titles, but people can and do self-publish on the net. (But it wasn't easy finding independent guys selling particular games in the old days, either. At least we have google now.)

There is this bit of "disconnect" in this regard, but really, small-time individuals or small groups can make games, publish books, and many more things. And it's even easier now than it used to be.

I mean, heck, look at Minecraft! That was a small, recent start-up!
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