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My thoughts on the MMO market and current game development.

This blog is mainly my opinions of current and future mmo's, what I think dev's are doing right and wrong.

Author: Pyrostasis

Can full item loot work in a modern day MMO?

Posted by Pyrostasis Friday April 25 2008 at 12:04AM
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Recently with the upcoming release of AoC and its pvp focus many old school pvpers have been coming out of the wood work. I was rather shocked to see a lot of oldschool Asheron's Call players active on the AoC VN forums.

Many polls have been run recently on many different pvp topics on the funcom forums mainly due to funcom not publicly stating the ruleset, and one of those options is full pvp loot. There has been a lot of positive and negative feedback on those polls which leads to the question...Can modern day MMO's have full item loot?

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What do you want, shiny or good gameplay?

Posted by Pyrostasis Saturday February 23 2008 at 4:35PM
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Over the past few weeks I have been doing some research into game development and seeing how hard it is for the old school "garage" developers to be successful. Granted the industry has come a long way from Bill Gates in his garage and turning into a multi billionaire, but surprisingly enough there are still quite a few successful independent developers. To name a few...

Introversion

S2 Games

Audio Surf

These folks have great games, great ideas, and push the industry to new areas... not just the same old cut and paste wow clone type software. Now granted these guys are just normal devs not MMO devs, but I think the same type of rules apply.

There are tons of folks out there with dreams of making their own games, hell I’m one of them. All they need is support.

The three devs I listed above don’t have the best graphics, don’t have the best marketing campaigns, and their software is relatively cheap, but every one of them has a game that is different, unique, and worth the time and money to check them out.

But is that enough in this post-wow era? Are MMO players willing to look past the glitzy multimillion dollar graphic masterpieces that have horrible and uninteresting game play at the indy dev gems?

Maybe I’m just a hopeless dreamer, but I think the savior of MMO designs will be with one or more of these types of companies. Small companies that actually give a rat’s ass what you the player think and not only want your business but are willing to work for it!  Companies with dreams and ideas and the intestinal fortitude to give that radical new idea of theirs a shot. Folks who still remember what its like to be a frustrated gamer tired of the same old crap and willing to think outside the box. People who aren’t just a corporate yes man for their stockholders, people like us.

So I say do your part, support the independent developers. Give them feedback, help spread the word, and best of all if you can, give them your money. Cause I think its folks like these that are desperately needed.

What happened to customer service?

Posted by Pyrostasis Friday February 22 2008 at 3:30AM
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Recently I have been going over several issues with today’s MMO's and reminiscing about old school MMO’s such as UO and Asheron’s call.

 

However, I want to cover a different topic from game design today, but ever bit as critical to a games success, Customer Service.

 

What the hell happened to it?

 

Any other business model short of dealing drugs is heavily focused on customer service and keeping your customers happy. You do this usually by meeting their needs and desires, listening to feedback, and assisting them with issues they may have regarding your product. Yet for some reason MMO’s don’t seem to follow the same rules.

 

MMO companies today can ignore customers, flat out lie to them, and if a customer doesn’t like it, simply remove their access to your product completely, and for some reason not only is this an accepted practice, we as consumers actually sign up for more!

 

THANK YOU SIR CAN I HAVE ANOTHER!

 

Let us take a look at a few examples.

 

How about Star Wars Galaxies, one of the biggest epic customer service failures to date. SOE released a new expansion and like normal fans of the game the customer base went and purchased the new expansion. Two days after the expansion was received, SOE completely changed the game, In essence making it a totally different product. Imagine playing a spell caster in game for 2 years and then one day waking up and finding out your character is now a melee as spells have been removed. 2 years of your life and your character development / story line gone.

 

Did they lose customers? Yes. Are they still in business? Yep.

 

If any other business changed a consumers product after 2 years of service with no warning there would be hell to pay, not to mention legal action taken. Obviously with the way MMO’s work patches and changes are inevitable, but there is a difference between a change, and a complete re-write. However, I’m getting off point.

 

Another SOE issue… over the Christmas holiday I picked up Everquest2 to take a look at the Station Exchange service, basically a condoned RMT / Ebay set up where you can sell in game gold and items for Real money. Sadly sony had some major issues with the service causing it to be down for almost a month and a half with 0 notice to the players other than “We will inform you once we have more information”. Weeks went by with no contact at all. I simply don’t understand how you can ignore your customers. We aren’t talking a day or two with out an update; we are talking weeks / months with out an update. We as consumers bitch and moan, but then we resubscribe, or buy the next game by the same company…why?

 

Let us look at poorly released products! In 2007 we had the wonderful releases of Vanguard saga of Heroes, Hellgate London, Fury, and Tabula Rasa. While I will say TR was more or less complete, just a poor seller, there can not be any argument that the other three titles were complete epic failures, and why? Simply because the product wasn’t finished. However, instead of giving the product more time to mature it was pushed onto the customer base to get more income to use to fix the problems.

 

Basically, we paid for unfinished products, to finance the finishing of said product. Think of it as buying a car and paying full price, then having to continue to make small payments over a series of months to get the engine, then the wheels, and if your lucky finally some doors and a steering wheel. (Assuming those weren’t cut in the process).

 

From a business perspective I understand things cost money, and at some point in time you have to cut your losses and stop spending money on something, but that doesn’t mean you the rape the customer with it. This practice has been going on since 1997 with Ultima Online and quite frankly needs to stop.

 

Companies need to manage their finances better, and release finished products, not works in progress.

 

How about Tech support and in game support. Recently many mmo’s have started outsourcing their GM’s and tech support to third parties like Alchemic Dreams. Sadly many of these third party companies don’t speak fluent English which becomes painfully obvious the second any form of interaction is needed. Not to mention the proliferation of cut and paste answers which are 50% or more not even relevant to the question you asked or the problem you’re having.

 

Can you imagine walking into Sears to get some help with a product and being sent to India to get help from a completely different company? What happened to supporting your product with knowledgeable staff members that KNOW the product! What better way to find a pool of said people than to use your own staff… but that’s just crazy talk right?

 

Recently I worked for a major internet service provider (who will remain nameless), whose technical support for DSL is now 90% located in south America or new deli. When I asked the supervisor in charge of tech support how they got away with it when it was clear there was a rather large gap in support quality, he said well it’s simple. It saves us more money to go with a third party and upset a few people and lose their business, than it would be to pay our own people to do it and make everyone happy.

 

Gotcha… so, long as we make enough money to counter the folks we piss off it’s perfectly alright. So much for building long lasting relationships with your customers and getting return business from providing a good service and supporting it with integrity.

 

I don’t know… maybe I’m just old school and nuts, but as a business man to me keeping your customers happy is your #1 priority, your secondary priority is making money. If you keep your customers happy, you’re going to have the funds to keep doing so. If you burn your bridges, it doesn’t matter how good your product is, eventually someone is going to come along and offer a similar product with better support.

 

Hopefully in the next few years we will start to see more and more smaller companies stepping in and providing better service to their customers and take the wind out of some of these multibillion dollar companies who have little to any clue on what we as consumers and customers want.

 

Personally, as a gamedev in training, I can’t wait to provide good customer service to my customers; it makes stealing business from the cold hearted corporations so easy.

Open ended gameplay and character development (Part 3 of the fun missing in MMO's)

Posted by Pyrostasis Friday February 15 2008 at 4:26PM
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So far in this series I have talked about pvp, land control, and having a real enemy you despise to fight against. Today I’m going to talk about character development and endgame mechanics.

Back in the day (just typing that makes me feel old) with UO end game wasn’t even an idea, however today that’s one of the first things people ask. "What’s the end game like?" Why wasn’t it an issue? Well, mainly as the game started about 15 seconds after logging into the game, not 200 hours down the road and countless levels later.

People play games to accomplish something; they have set goals and aim towards getting there as fast as possible. MMO companies seem to have shifted their design from making their play mechanics fun from the get go, to prolonging getting to x for as long as humanly possible, while making you jump through as many hoops along the way. MMO gaming now a days seems more like an endurance match to the finish line rather than a game, and its not uncommon for someone to say "Just deal with it, every MMO has the boring part you just gotta grind through to get to X". My question to you is why?

Why not make a game where you can start right off the bat doing things that are fun, competing with other players who have been around a while, and generally just enjoying yourself from the beginning? The answer is quite simple. Why? Simple. Everquest changed everything.

EQ turned the genre from an open ended sandbox game to a linear progression item fest. Now granted, linear progression item based games have their appealing features, but only to folks who have the time and the intestinal fortitude to put up with the boring stuff long enough to get to the raiding or the pvp or whatever the "end game" is.

I think we need a change back to the basics. Drop the levels, the grind, the items and focus on content and game play. Hell, if you set up the right conditions players will even make their own content.

Its no longer about leveling to 50 so you can fight other 50's its about playing the game, which is a concept so alien to most MMO'ers nowadays that they just look at you funny when you bring the subject up.

But....but...but... if it’s not about leveling or getting the next biggest item... what do you do? Whatever you want is the answer. That’s where a lot of folks are going to just laugh at you and walk away, or just say you are an idiot.

When MMO's first released the game appealed to folks wanting to do anything or be anyone. Now the MMO market appeals to folks by saying you can be X or Y and that’s it.

When I worked at Gamestop back in high school I remember selling UO to people. My pitch went a whole lot like this:

"You really have to try this game. It’s different than anything else you have ever played. You can literally be anything you want. Let’s say you want to be a bow maker, well you go outside start chopping trees get some wood and start crafting.

What if you want to be a dragon tamer! Well, simple you go out and start making friends with little animals and work you way up, they will protect you and fight for you.

How about a thief, want to steal other folks hard work? Well you can do that as well, you just have to learn to be sneaky. Hiding quickly, distracting your opponents, or just simply carrying on a conversation long enough to get what you need!

You can also be a warrior or a mage or better yet a combination of any of the above!"

Usually by that time the customer was drooling and heading for the check out counter with a box in hand. However, that same line above would have people asking... why would I want to tame animals? What do you mean chop wood, what for? What’s the main goal?

When I explain the goal is what you make of it they laugh and walk away. Why? Well... somewhere along the lines folks decided it was more fun to be told what to do, than to do what they wanted to do.

Did the next generation lose its imagination? I love options and possibilities and it seems MMO's have lost that. You can’t make a Mage, Thief, Bowyer anymore... you can be a shaman or a warrior that’s it.

I think when you limit options and branches in your game, folks get bored and pound through content to fast. Give people tons of options and limitless customization and people stop rushing and enjoy what you have made, instead of what your working on next to keep them from being bored.

Make a game worth playing from the start.

 

Starting my eve journey.

Posted by Pyrostasis Friday February 15 2008 at 3:01PM
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Over the past week I have thrown up a few blog entries about what I feel is missing in most MMO's today, and what I personally want. Several of you reminded me that there is a game out there with most of the features I want, and I have to agree.

Off and on for the past year I have been resisting the urge to get into EvE Online, mainly due to the fact eve is a long term game. EvE isn't one of those games you can spend a month or two in and walk away from, it’s a long term commitment, more or less the gaming equivalent of a marriage.

The more you put into EvE the more you are going to get out of it, and I guess I have always been afraid I'd get sucked in and come out of my room in a few years resembling Golem from Lord of the rings, all be it a very obese version of Golem.

However, that all aside I have decided to make the plunge, there are too many sheep that need shearing, and plenty of sheep with fangs to run from. I reactivated both of my accounts and will be working on forming my corp over the next few days with the following goals.

#1 Empire wars

#2 Land Control

#3 Coordinated Teamwork

Not everyone here is up to speed on EvE lingo so Ill go ahead and explain what each of these mean partially for them, and partially for the others who many not quite understand my definition.

EvE has three different types of zones in the game. Empire which is any area with .5 - 1.0 security status, where you cant attack anyone with out being killed by the police force concord, Low Sec .4 - .1, where you can attack anyone you desire, but stations and stargates will engage you if your criminally flagged and you will lose standing, finally 0.0 where anything and everything is allowed, no faction standing losses, and gates and stations will sit by and cackle with you when you ignite things.

Well how can you have a war in empire if pvp isn’t allowed? Well, corporation can declare war against each other and in 24 hours pvp is open and free between the two sides, allowing fighting anywhere and everywhere.

My plan at the moment while we are building our numbers and learning the ropes is to pick on the sweet innocent mission runners. Spend a few days stalking the mission hot spots, find what corps are popular in the area and find one we can take. After declaration we will proceed to kill them till they agree to pay our surrender fees. Not exactly glamorous, but its pvp, and once we kill enough of these folks it will lead to bigger and more challenging battles with folks who will definitely give us a work out.

That brings us to my second point, Land control. Eventually over time, I plan on claiming certain areas of space either in 0.0 if we decide to get into large scale wars, or in low sec space, were if you’re not with us, your target practice. Once a sector of space is "claimed" folks start coming out of the wood work to test your resolve, should lead to very interesting conflicts.

Finally we come to coordination, perhaps the cornerstone of pvp. Good communication and teamwork can lead to overcoming greater odds, while poor communication can lead to higher blood pressure and a strong desire to kill your own guild mates. We will be using vent to stay coordinated and will have many small scale fights against easy targets to cut our teeth on before we anger the big boys. It will take a few months but hopefully in time we can become a well oiled machine.

If you have any interest in being a part of something like this, or contributing either money or targets feel free to pm me. See you in space!

The Nemesis and Property! (Part two of the fun missing in MMO's today)

Posted by Pyrostasis Monday February 11 2008 at 1:39AM
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I hadn’t planned on writing another part of this, but after all of the positive responses I got yesterday I have become motivated!

Yesterday I talked about open pvp with consequences and the content that added; today I’m going to kind of expand on that a bit with "The nemesis and virtual property".

I’m an old school gamer who started back in 1997 with the release of ultima online. I started off as a card carrying carebear. Hugs, kisses, and roses for all! However my time in UO taught me one major life lesson. In MMO's there are two types of people. The Screwer and the Screwee.

I never raised my weapons in anger towards anyone, but after losing 5 + houses in UO and countless hundreds of suits of armor and pack horses it starts to wear on you. I remember sitting down with my brother and a rl friend of mine and talking about going red. This was back before stat loss and back when there was only one world, back when killing 5 people turned you red as hell and anyone could kill you with out penalty.

We finally agreed to make some pvp characters and set up a house way out in the swamps south west of trinsic. Place was a real crappy spot, but since it was so far away we didn’t have to worry about folks finding our drop spot. We planned on looting our victims, storing everything in the house, and once a week or so we would go and sell and resupply.

I remember hiding with my buddy outside of shame and waiting for 20 minutes for someone to come by that looked "takeable" and jumping him. We were both shaking so bad by the end of the fight it was unreal. We had actually killed some guy. Unfortunately the guy begged us for his stuff back... and we felt down right horrible. We rezed the guy and gave him his stuff back, and the first thing he did was cast gate, and 10 of his buddies came through the gate and raped us... Lesson learned, being nice just gets you killed.

With the new changes to UO causing stats loss of 25% of all skill points upon death for a red, pretty much ended our UO careers. My friends and I moved on to the new game, Asheron's Call.

AC was a skill based / level based system. It had the benefits of giving you the ability to make any kind of class. For instance a melee that could cast spells, but you were limited in skill points by your level. Using a skill would increase the skill and also earn you exp. So it was still fairly familiar, and still had the open ended sand box play we enjoyed.

We never tried the blue servers as they were called then, and started out right off on Darktide. Darktide was an open pvp realm, no level safety caps, anyone could kill anyone, but unlike UO you only lost a small bit of items on you, and there were ways to make sure the items dropped weren’t your "good stuff".

However, with the new level system this brought in a need for exping, and to exp you needed hunting spots. Granted, you could hunt anywhere you liked, but just like anything else there are the best spots, and then there is everywhere else.

Blood was the name of the big uber guild on the server. At its hay day it had upwards of 15,000 members and was highly organized. Ventrilo and Teamspeak were just now starting to make their way into gaming. They were buggy and rarely used. Most folks used Yahoo to chat.

Our guild was a smaller guild of about 500. Now these numbers might sound rather excessive to folks now days. But AC was a bit different. You could have 5 characters per account per server, and with the way exp system worked you usually made all characters on the server.

Exp chains were also a new feature. Bob could swear allegiance to Ted and he would give Ted say 15% of his exp. Bob didn’t lose anything mind you, Ted just got extra exp from no where. Thus people spent hundreds upon hundreds of hours daisy chaining their guild into super huge pyramid scheme like chains that had the folks on top making millions upon millions of exp per day.

This is where the real key to AC came in. Land control.

As the server was open Pvp you had guilds fighting over spots constantly. You knew x guild would hunt at X spot, and if you weren’t in that guild you couldn’t hunt there. If you decided to go into the area, you would be attacked on sight. Thus there was constantly a power struggle to control the top 3 - 6 hunting spots that produced the most exp per hour.

Our guild was rather small for AC standards, but most of us had played UO together, and with the new voice coms over yahoo we were rather coordinated. While we couldn’t really compete with the 15k man guild strictly cause no matter how many you killed there were 20 more to take their place, there were however plenty of smaller guilds to compete against.

AC had a random portal system. Basically portals would occasionally open up and head to certain key locations that didn’t have a regular portal to them. If you could get a link to this portal during the 10 minute window it was open, you could get access to a spot most people could never find. These spots were highly secretive and well guarded / defended.

One of these spots was a tusker camp out in the middle of the direlands. My guild TDK managed to snag the portal one day by accident and the guild was leveling insanely fast off the insta spawn. We were finally making exp similar to that of some of the uber guilds, and it was our spot no one knew about it. Keep it secret keep it safe as someone once said.

Inevitably as all good things do this came to an end. Another guild on the server managed to locate the roaming portal, and started showing up at our spot. We had a few people killed, and we knew the time had come to fight for our property or get evicted. The spot was nice, but not big enough for two clans to share. Dread lord trevor was the name of the guild (DLT) and were about twice our size.

The other key thing to note about AC was all spells and arrows were projectiles. If I cast a fireball on you, a ball of fire would streak from my character towards yours, and if you were quick, you could slide out of the way, same thing with arrows. This allowed a good player to take on 2 or even more players at once and come out on top. Thus our little 500 man guild squared off against this 2000 man monstrosity.

We had been hunting at the tusker camp all day, and were getting a bit careless. We had stopped watching the portal in as closely as we should have, and one of the DLT folks ported in and took advantage of the moment. He managed to kill 2 of our 6 people before we realized what was going on. After a short fight we had him run off.

We got everyone in the guild that was on to the spot, we knew if we couldn’t hold it, then they would eventually control it completely. Eleven of us buffed at the portal drop spot and waited for the attack. We began talking strategy, who was going to cast what debuffs, and who would work together. I was going to be calling targets, so there wasn’t much else to do but wait.

5 of them ported in at once, I remember seeing their little purple figures waiting to load in and thinking, we got these guys, then 5 more appeared, then 10 more, then 6 more. Before we knew it we had almost 30 of the guys vs. our 11. Collision detection was another feature of AC; you could use your body to block folks in.  Our 11 man group formed a tight circle around the drop and prepared to fight the horde.

I still remember calling the name of the first guy who materialized. We had him vulned before he could move and instantly 8 people cast a bolt at him, he died as two more materialized. I called a second target and began casting. One of them jumped over us and made a run for it as his buddy was melted where he stood. 2 down.

6 materialized at once and that’s more or less where we broke down into groups. We had one mage and one melee to most groups, the mage would debuff and the melee would attempt to kill while the mage tried to assist. The next 45 minutes went by in a crazy adrenaline rush. 25 some odd enemies were trying to kill my 11 friends and take what was ours. People were calling targets, dodging spells and arrows, fighting and killing for something more important than a score, we were fighting for the right to hunt at our spot, our piece of property.

Sadly we weren’t able to hold them at the portal, there were just too many of them and over the next week the spot was rarely able to be used by either of our clans. We would start with initial ownership, and as the day wore on DLT would eventually drag control from our cold dead hands, but they definitely weren’t getting full use out of it. Every 15 minutes we would meet up at the guild mansion, buff and roll in killing anyone we could and then disengage when the large force got organized.

DLT eventually got tired of messing with us and moved to a different spawn, and we had a few weeks of peace before House of Sagacious a huge guild of several thousand came in and completely obliterated us. But we learned a lot in that time, and had a hell of a lot of fun.

They key point to this long winded story is two fold.

#1 We had a common enemy who was out to destroy us and keep us from doing what we wanted.

#2 We had ownership of a certain area and fighting for that piece of land was important to us.

These two features combined were the main reasons AC Darktide was so huge and such a fun game for the 3 - 4 years that I played it. AC as a game itself was fairly simple. Kill mobs, level up, get stronger, rinse and repeat. However, the open pvp combined with the guild and portal system gave a great mechanic for player content.

There were huge epic wars being fought 24/7 for different spots all over the gaming world. Guild names and places went down in history. Even now I can talk to old AC'ers about BSD and they will remember who owned it and where.

These types of content are what kept us playing for hundreds of hours and unlike raiding content took 0 dev hours to implement or maintain, it was 100% run and created by the players.

Look at wow's arena system and battle ground system. Your fighting for a flag *Yawn* who cares. Hell, up until recently lots of folks were just afking in the battlegrounds for free honor, this isn’t content. People have been saying "Shut up about pvp and go play counterstrike" ... but... arenas and battlegrounds ARE counterstrike. Meaningless fights over meaningless ground that when you log out no longer matters.

MMO's need to bring back battlegrounds / battle sites that matter and give us opponents that deserve killing. Give us a reason to fight again.

Why I miss real pvp in MMO's, and why I think we have lost the secret to fun.

Posted by Pyrostasis Saturday February 9 2008 at 10:55PM
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It’s kind of a shocker once you realize that what you think personally and your own beliefs just might be the minority. I still remember my first government class in college...we were discussing the up coming election in 2000 and I jokingly made a statement about liberals...assuming everyone else in the room agreed with me... and I still remember the shocked feeling when 90% of the room looked like they were ready to lynch me. I’m starting to feel that my thoughts on pvp in MMO’s are similar to my thoughts on politics... I might just be in the minority.

So your probably thinking what screwed up form of pvp does this psycho enjoy, and why the hell doesn’t he just shut up and play Counterstrike. Well I do play fps's... but they just don’t have the same draw. It’s not persistent, and it doesn’t give me my "Fix". It’s like handing a crack addict a cigarette to take the edge off... it just doesn’t work.

I started playing MMO's back in 1997 with Ultima Online. At the time I worked in Gamestop and was mainly a RTS gamer. Command and Conquer, Total Annihilation, and Descent 2 were my games. I was happy and content.

I had heard about Ultima Online and thought the idea was insane. Having to pay 50.00 for a game and on top of that a monthly fee? Hah what a crock. The hype was fairly good for it... but not huge. I remember trying to talk most of my customers out of buying it... the idea just didn’t seem to work for me.

Day of release we ended up with an extra copy, and I bought it just so I could shut the customers up and give them the real truth behind this obviously flawed game.

I remember patching the game and getting in for the first time... god it was laggy, horrible launch, but the few minutes I got in every time were interesting.

I spent the majority of my time chopping trees to make bows with and was just fascinated that you could do or be anything. I spent a week working my virtual butt off saving money for a house and still remember the sense of pride when I placed the house for the first time. It was mine, my virtual place in this new world.

Shortly after placing the house and showing it to my friend, a guy came up next to me with a huge axe (executioners axe) and promptly murdered me inside my own house, taking my key (and with it ownership) and all of my items.

I was devastated... the feeling of loss... the rush... My friends and I tried to kill the guy, but we were a bunch of farmers, animal tamers, bowyers, and miners. Our weapons were pitiful and he murdered us all. We finally realized the house was gone. I had lost a weeks worth of work in a few seconds, to some anonymous ahole... I wanted revenge.

My real life buddy and I made new characters. We knew who the guy was, but we didn’t know anything about him. We spent the next 2 days learning how to be "mages" and get our skill up. In our off time we spent hiding outside of trinsic near our old house waiting for him.

He left a rune outside to another house and we located his main "Merchant shop" a large forge, stuffed with loot, probably from other poor bastards like us. We really wanted this guy. We managed to meet a friend of his in the same guild and pretended like we wanted to join. After a few pvp outings to cut our teeth we were accepted into the band of murderers.

We didn’t like killing people... but we had to get close to the guy. Over a period of 2 weeks we got closer to the guy, learning his hang outs, his main house, and what he did for fun. We hunted with him, and chatted with him in ICQ. We were helping him move some regs from his merchant house to his main house when he opened a chest from a looted body that killed him. He instantly died. I remember clicking on his corpse and seeing the key and the rune for his house.

We had less than a minute. I ICQed my buddy who recalled to his house with 5 copper keys. We quickly made a copy of the key, and my friend recalled to his house seconds before he came onto the screen freshly rezed.

I pretended to be guarding his corpse, and laughed with him about how close that had been. He thanked me for not ripping him off. Mean while my friend was hidden outside his house, with a copy of his key. 2 hours later "Akari sucks" logged off for the evening, and my friend and  I went to get our revenge.

I remember when we first walked into the house thinking it looked like Wal-Mart... I had never seen so much loot. It took us almost 4 hours to clean the house from top to bottom as it was a large forge. We then took copies of his key and runes marked for his house and deposited them out side of the vesper, britain, minoc, and trinsic banks.

We had finally gotten our revenge on the bastard.

He logged on the next day and I still remember him screaming in ICQ that he had lost everything. I sent him a smiley face, explained who we were, why we did what we did, and that we were even. He was quiet for a good 10 minutes, finally responded with "Nicely done dude, nicely done"

Over time and a few guild wars later we ended up becoming friends with the guy and our tale of vengeance became part of our guild legends.

The problem with games now a days... is there is little if any player driven content. The story I just told you was an in game adventure that my friend and I spent the better part of a month doing. It required no development, no extensive play testing, no level requirements, and no quest to enter... it was a simple game of cops and robbers, good guys and bad guys.

That’s more or less what MMO's are missing now days. Evil people to hate and good people to admire. Games like UO had their evil elements... the evil pks who killed everyone, and people you knew if you saw you had seconds to escape or perish... and then it had its valiant police force of anti pks who would respond to any attack.

These clashes were what made the game great and what made it worth logging into. It wasn’t about slaying the dragon that you have never heard of who ticked off the mayor of your town... it was about getting back at the bastard who killed you while you were working hard, who deserved every slice of your blade and burning of your spells.

Did losing items to him stink? Oh man... it sure did, it pissed me off to no end... but getting vengeance, finally finding him and taking back what was mine and more, it was probably one of the biggest mmo moments I ever had and almost a decade later still sits with me.

I believe this mechanic is the main thing missing from MMO's now a days. Few people work together... because there is no need. There are no roving bands of bandits lurking outside the cities. The excitement has died down as all of the encounters are scripted, predictable, and repetitious... I miss the days of old.

What pvp we do get is pointless... killing for no reason, no drive, and is all about points and gear. Instant respawns, instanced battlegrounds, meaningless battles on meaningless battlefields and for what? I talk to people playing WoW and ask what their most memorable pvp event is... most just stare back at me confused about the question, or respond with a "We rolled this pug with a premade".

Maybe there is something wrong with me... but it just doesn’t seem right, it’s missing something, something that made it real, a purpose.

Am I alone in this?