In order to see where I'm going, let's take a quick dive in the history of cinema...
17th century ... Magic Lanterns becomes a new form of entertainment.
1827 ... First picture ever taken using a glass plate.
1832 ... The Phenakistoscope appears and for the first time, we can see a very brief animation. (aka a horse running)
1834 ... The Zoetrope is invented
1839 ... first modern technique of photography is invented.
---- ok let's skip a few dates here... :)
1894 ... The cinema Era truly begins.
Basically, from that point on, Cinema never really stopped to evolve. At first, the evolution was a jump from 16 frames per second to 24... later on, color, linear editing to none linear editing, sound... From westerns to dramas, to dramas to musicals, to musicals to Sci-fi and fantasy worlds that were made to look realistic for their time. Each time, we thought cinema couldn't go further, a movie like Star Wars, The matrix, Lord of the Ring, Blade Runner, Le violon Rouge, Run Lola Run, 300 and The Godfather came out. Each of them pushing the limit one step higher and breaking new rules. Why did I say The Godfather and Le Violon rouge? Because these movies brought a new dimension of film making that wasn't only based on special effects but more on style and cinematography as a core.
Cinema has also influenced the lives of many and today, we all have a little movie theme in us. I remember back in the 90s when The Crow came out, I said to my girlfriend; "Check it out honey, you're a now witnessing the birth of a new Era of goths and one day, long trench coats with killer boots will become a standard in everything." 1999; The Matrix comes out and let's just say it was quite an interesting year. The first thing that came in mind was, The Crow is part of everyone's culture.
Alright, so let's compare this to gaming.
From Pong to Pac-Man, from Pac-man to Donkey Kong, Kong to Mario, they were all a small step on a smaller scale. Obviously, it took cinema almost 2 centuries to become what it is today while gaming, it only took around 40 years.
Slowly, video games made an important evolution in technology thanks to companies such as ID software incredible Doom engine that eventually mutated into the amazing Quake engine. Meanwhile, you had the Unreal engine coming in hard and offering a completely different set of tools for your imagination. Like in Cinema, all these new tools offered more options and freedom for your imagination. When I look at final fantasy 1, then FF7 and today's FF13, the word evolution comes in mind.
So let's open this discussion and take a look at the MMO industry.
The first MMOs were MUDS. Simple features, lots of people and good gameplay. MUDs eventually evolved to games like Neverwinter Nights. Not quite an MMO but a huge step beyond in the early 90s. Then one day, Ultima Online came out and everything changed. A new vision, unlimited freedom and alot of unique features. Not too long after, a game known as Mankind came out and I while not that popular in America, it still had around 50K subscribers. What made MK so unique is that the gameworld itself had over 9 billion planets all on one mega server. (MMORTS)
Everquest later came with some incredible lore, roleplay elements and a whole new level of complexity. Meanwhile, DAOC arrived and brought in a whole new element of gameplay known as RVR. Each of these games had a very unique feature that no other games could have. SWG had the sandbox, ENB had a true player driven storyline, EQ had the raids, DAOC the RVR and the list goes on. The tools to make these games became better and easier to use, eventually the powerful Unreal technology was even able to make MMOs such as RF.
Just when we thought that the next generation was going to be even more amazing, we started to see some toned down MMOs with less features, linear gameplay, less class, less freedom, virtually no long term community. The graphics, the sound are better but the core gameplay?
I compare World of Warcraft with runescape and I wonder at times. How come runescape which is really a low grade production has at least 5 times the amount of features?
Incredible crafting system
Played owned houses
interesting dungeons and zones
lots of quests
skill based game that allows everyone to play how they want too. Some people are just cooks.
Alot of players considering the game.
A player driven economie
World of Warcraft
Solid quests and dungeons
Crafting is a joke
No player houses
PVP is fun
no player driven economie
no sandbox gameplay
lots of quests
well designed dungeons (except MC)
Now I could have choose any other games to compared Runescape with... (Which is sad!)
Where are we going? Are all MMOs taking this step backwards? INstead of pushing the limits and making a sandbox with some good storyline and a true persistent world, they are all making new clones out of each other. Is it because of the money? Is it because of WOW itself or the lack of imagination?
Am I wrong to think that we are now regressing instead of moving forward?
Then again, is it just me and a few others that are too nostalgic to open our eyes? I don't consider myself a game designer but I sure have a lot of ideas to make an MMO unique and I bet I'm not the only one. Then again, maybe it's not the designers and it's simply that people prefer simplicity?
What do you think?