Finally, a new entry... sorta.
Every MMO needs a goal. Whether all the drones at the screens realize it or not there is a status MMOs want and need to achieve. WoW redefined this as EQ did before. People do not exclaim “it’s better than EverQuest!” or “why are you still even on that EQ? This biznatch is l337!” WoW has so dominated the market that the only purpose today is for a MMO to be the anti-WoW… by being just like it.
Every time a new MMO is announced speculation begins, hearts beat rapidly as players wonder- could the day have come? Is it the chosen one? Shall we truly be raised to a greater plane of existence? Can we even truly give up all we have for this perfect glory? Will there be free cheese? Is it… THE WOW KILLER! From HG:L to Tabula Rasa, LotRO to CoH, and even most recently AoC to WAR all these are not proclaimed so much as their own game but an anti-WoW. And nearly half of them are either clones or at least built from the same template as the dreaded favorite! Sure each has their own brand and flavor, but is that really what they are focusing on?
It is every game for itself against the big guy nowadays. Sometimes this means looking just like him. Many of them will get their own posse or gang supporting them, but all they are is more of the same and how could they, even if they merged together, really beat WoW’s armies by offering them more of the same?
I think what they fail to realize is that instead of trying to market their games as similar to WoW because, well, obviously if they like WoW they will like your game if it is like it. This could very well be true, they very well may like it. They may even try it. But the real breaker is… if it is just the same gameplay style what NEW feature, content, or look will make them give up their hours, no days or months of time dedicated to WoW. Maybe some people like Tolkien’s lore better than that of Warcraft. Maybe they like sci-fi better or are just desperate for anything besides the same old orcs and elves. Very little really seems to be different between the number of MMOs pumped out today than their specific landscapes and world settings.
The most dynamically new feature I can think of in a MMO since WoW is outright gory-goodness of AoC. What has everyone else done with their lives? (Feel free to mention some of your favs.) I would like to see developers think past quick money making clones that can maintain a decent following but innovate nothing. Of course often they do not because it is an even greater risk to ask the masses to give up their time dedicated to WoW not even for something they know they like on a different world, but something totally new and foreign to them.
This is what has pushed me from MMOs in general and back to some single player games. Well, that and the other flaws I see with MMOs. There is also the issue of college, work, family, a girlfriend, friends, and more college to keep me from playing more of the same game endlessly instead of keeping up to snuff with the latest games… Somewhere along the line I feel like I’ve kinda lost my freedom in the matter…
It looks like the only MMO that will pull me from the single-player and Valve online shooters (KZ2/LittleBigPlanet are quiet nice too) world could be Darkfall Online (check it out, darkfallonline.com), if it ever releases here in America properly... Anyway. Innovation is rare and hard to find in a world where the evil WoW still needs slaying, how long till something new replaces it? At least Blizzard is a kind master…
O when the revolution comes… And by that I mean Diablo 3. Ha.
PS: Check out this guy, NegGamer mentioned him in a post and I'd like to do the same, he is rather quiet brilliant! He has some posts of animations which are good but I'm talking about his game design ones, obviously. Hopefully I'll stop complaining about MMOs after this and will move onto more interesting things like this guy has.