I'll be honest, I wrote a first draft of this blog post that was not much more than pointing out that many of the flaws in DAoC and other "pre-WoW" games are responsible for the current environment that many of those "old-school" players gripe about that exists now.
You know the stuff: "Games are too easy now!" "WoW has ruined the market!" "It's all easy mode vanilla land!"
Note that most of these constant gripings are coming from WoW players, or players that played WoW pretty much religiously for YEARS. They had their fun with it, or are still having their fun with it, but it's as though a NEW gaming sub-hobby has come out of the WoW community: constantly hating your hobby.
But, I decided that that old point was detracting from the fun I have been having in DAoC, namely because of the difficulties that the game has. I don't mean difficult as in hard to do, I mean difficult as in trying to figure out how the hell to do something really basic. Hiding information from your players, just for the record, is not a learning curve. But something about having to manually type out a location to cast your spell on is kind of fun. And although the Immersion Rules forbid me from using world chats, the help channel is not off-limits. (As long as the help requested is not like "Someone help me kill this mob?")
I've been enjoying the community, and enjoying (I can't believe I am saying this) stumbling through bad fonts, horrible descriptions and basic controls.
The flight path, for example. You buy the "ticket." Fine, did that. NOW what? Turns out you have to drag and drop it back onto the NPC you bought it from, then you get to fly. Now, that doesn't seem so complicated, but when you are brand new to the game and used to any and all flight paths being, you know, explained better, then you can see how mind-boggling it is to have to try and figure out "Oh! I buy the ticket, and then give it back to the guy!" There is no hint whatsoever that tells you "drag it to the guy." Same with casting a spell. Well, certain kind of spells. The community, again, was the only source of information.
Still, I've been enjoying these...puzzles...in the game. I haven't stepped too far out of the newbie experience, and already I am puzzled as to where all these guides or clues might be. But, being puzzled doesn't mean that I am not enjoying being puzzled!
I died for the first time today, and had no idea what to do. I couldn't get the help chat back (for some reason) and could not find a button for "resurrect" or "release." All that I saw was a "time until release" countdown. So, I just typed /release (I guessed) and off I went without knowing what the punishment for dying was.
Again, this is kind of fun, but I am weird like that. I like having to stumble around until you can figure out how to do things. I like having to figure out basic things like "Open the item, then go to info, THEN drag the items ability to your bar, THEN you can use it." It makes for a strangely organic experience.
Graphically, the game holds up very well. I think they did a graphics update in '05, soon after I stopped playing. I do NOT remember the game looking like it does. It looks actually quite nice, especially at night. (Why do all games look better at night? Different shaders?) The character selection and customization is robust and fun, and this was the first time I got to play a tree-dude! I was, to say the least, pleasantly surprised when I logged in.
So, is it a bad thing that these games that we used to play actually created the perfect need for a game like WoW? Not at all. You have to have "mainstream" games like WoW to have smaller, independent or unusual games. Same with music or movies. And that's not saying that a "mainstream" product can't be a blast. It's just saying that everything has it's place, and a game like DAoC sure feels nice all of a sudden. Granted, I haven't jumped into high level this or extreme that. I probably never will, instead going off for a while to explore, to die and to try to figure things out. But the game has surprised me, and has fired off an idea to re-examine a lot of the "old" (like 10 years ago was that long ago hehe) games that I played but barely remember.
Like a lot of my tastes, I'll bet my gaming has changed to more fully appreciate a game with a steeper "learning curve."