That's the new thing, now-a-days. That's what all the kids are a' doing: calling games a "_____ clone."
Usually, of course, it is a "WoW Clone."
I can see why, as many of the players that are OK with using the latest in hip internet lingo probably grew up with the internet, and WoW was their "home game." When they were jamming on that game, I was well into my 20's. Not that this is a big thing, it's only 10 years and not some grand length of time, but growing up with the internet during your teens and watching the internet actually come into being have completely different effects on players.
Anyway, as the slew of new games continue to come out, there will always be the inevitable clone comparisons. We don't need to get into who started what, being that many players never even played the ones that started it all.
My question is, if everything is a clone of something, where are these original titles that these players claim to be the start of it all? Also, if they were the prized games, why aren't they playing them anymore? I know so so so many gamers that claim their love for EQ, yet they haven't touched that game in years. And then there are bloggers and players that do nothing but mourn the loss of their favorite game to nerfs and crappy patches (while I maintain boredom is the more likely cause.) I will also say that I don't think almost any game has been changed so much as to be nothing like it's original state. Players love to wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to the memories of their first games.
It is to the point that almost no discussion can be started without players resorting to just typing "meh" (call me old, but godamn I hate that) instead of explaining WHY they feel the game is not to their standards. Now, you can just type "fail" to indicate your dis-like for a game, instead of explaining or looking into why exactly everything bores the hell out of you.
You know what I think it is? It's simple, but you can laugh at me all you want.
Skipping quest text.
That's right, skipping quest text is the main reason for this epidemic of lazy writers. Think about it: in example, Civil War novels are a very popular genre. There are Civil War romance novels, adventure novels...you name it, it has been done while set within the Civil War. The actual physical copy of the book is the equivalent of the MMO itself, and the story within is the equivalent of the Lore. Now, you can enjoy the book as it is, on it's own, or you can claim that Civil War novels have been done too much. You can read it front to back in one week, or go out and buy the Cliff's Notes or go onto some website to read spoilers.
Essentially, the MMO and game-play are just a delivery for the Lore, the Story. That IS the main point of these games, to deliver a story set in some other world or time.
If you skip the quest text (something most players I know do) then you are skipping the Story, period. If you skip the story, then yes, the delivery of the story, the vehicle, can seem like nothing but a copy of all the other deliveries/vehicles you have seen before. Not only that, but skipping quest text puts you in the habit of skipping all sorts of things, and encourages you to do things like going to a website to read all the walk-throughs before even your first attempt.
No wonder so many kids on forums are talking about "clones." This is an age in which many younger people (and older!) brag about not reading a damn thing. Books are "boring." This is why we have simple, simple, simple words like "loose" being used instead of "lose." Just the other day, one of my recurring trolls on one of my websites tried to insult me in the comments section. He not only used "loose" instead of "lose" but "your" instead of "you're." (I bet you he could spell "meh" correctly, though.) Needless to say, it was hard to take him seriously, being that his profile said he was a "37 year old male."
Think of how many songs or movies are basically the same as others, in setting or in rhythm. But, it's the lyrics or the story that can make those songs or movies unique. Why can't there be more than one game set in a comic-book universe or in sci-fi land without it being accused of being a "clone?" I wager it's because players are not looking at the story, just the vehicle for the story.
In a recent Becketts article, I read that the Harry Potter novels contained somewhere near 1,000,000 words. All the quests in EQ2 equaled near 9 MILLION words. If you were to skip past a good bulk of those words, you obviously miss most of the point of the game.
Yes, I know...there are many games that actually are just rip-offs of each other. The worst genre for this is first person shooters. Even the new EVE FPS footage showed the same lame design for weapons and vehicles (wheeled vehicles? Seriously? A drop ship? C'mooonnnn). Also, there is plenty to complain about, game-play wise, in MMORPGs. But let's be a little forgiving, because if we are not even willing to participate in half of the game (the quest text) then we are not really giving the game more than half of a chance.
So, name some games that are truly original in game-play and story. For me, I'm going with Ryzom and The Chronicles of Spellborn. Even Ryzom, with its very very limited development cycles, still attracts a hard-core following. Why? The story is so original. Spellborn is essentially a story that you play through, but what a good story it is! What an original setting!
For many, quest reading is just too slow. I understand. But, give it a chance, slow down a bit. The game isn't going anywhere, and no one cares if you are the first to gain anything. Just enjoy the story that so many talented people worked hard to bring you. Then, you might find that the entire package (the story and the game-play) form a pretty original package overall.