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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » IN THE SPOTLIGHT: What made old skool MMO's harder than modern day MMO's.

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Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/06/09
Posts: 1667

OP  4/02/11 11:11:01 AM#21

So, so far I'm getting the feeling that older MMO's were not really that more difficult than modern ones they just had you work things out for yourself and did not guide you in any of the overriding mechanics, which seems to me to be a sin of omittance rather than commitance, in other words it was not intentional because they were low down the list of priorities of the devs to build ingame guides and time ran out. Other things like death penalties and forced grouping seem to vary in severity, like having corpse runs, from game to game as in you could solo and avoid combat in UO but not in EQ and FFXI and they really don't make the game harder as just force a certain situation on you and reduce choice. Though I can understand that these things at the time seemed harder but in reality were just being unknown quantities and thus took time to learn pulling people together. 


The other elements like closer communities, involved ecomonies, server reputation and politics can be found in the upper eschelons of many modern games, my UK server on EQ2, Runnyeye, has all of these things intact. For me the older community spirit is still there but it has fragmented into guilds and alliances moving to the latter more commited part of the game rather than being there for all to see. So in those rarefied atmopsheres you can have a server reputation as in the infamous Goonsquad and affiliates. I feel this is a natural progression as the MMO movement became more popular that you branch off into the groups that support your way of playing be it casual, core raider, fun loving criminals, altoholics anonymous or any other subset of MMO player. I used to be part of the really early UK Acid House scene before it exploded into popularity but even when it did there was still great clubs/raves that existed within this new found popularity but of course the flipside was loads of idiots coming in thinking they knew it all and it only began when they found out about it 3/4 years after the first underground clubs started up. So I know where a lot of the early MUD/MMO players are coming from its just harder to see through a sea of epeens and in our case, posers.


My conclusions could be off the mark but I don't think the genre has really taken that much of a nosedive really as some would have it, though a little more variey is always welcome but remember there is an old skool heart in all MMO's you just need to find it and in the immortal words of an Acid House icon.... 


"In the beginning, there was Jack, and Jack had a groove.
And from this groove came the groove of all grooves.
And while one day viciously throwing down on his box, Jack boldy declared,
"Let there be HOUSE!"
and House music was born."


Big thanks to all the originals from Chicago and London.





This doom and gloom thread was brought to you by Chin Up™ the new ultra high caffeine soft drink for gamers who just need that boost of happiness after a long forum session.


Novice Member

Joined: 2/04/07
Posts: 274

4/02/11 12:31:14 PM#22

AC1 Darktide:

1) Originally you had to figure out the formulas for your own spells.  There were lots of materials and ways to combine them and the combinations were different for every account.  It was insane (until someone figured out the pattern and published a program to predict the formulas based on your accound name).


2) PVP was rough - just to sell and restock comps you had to go into a town.  But there were limited places to go for the good mats, it took a few minutes to actually select and buy/sell everything, and there were tons of people camping the area because they could kill and loot your character while he was in the buy/sell window.


3) It took several minutes to fully buff a character.  The buffs lasted < 15 minutes.


4) There were lots of loopholes and tricks to PVP because the devs didn't know what they were doing when they designed it (godmode running, buffing robes instead of individual pieces, metal armor was useless against most attacks even with buffs, martial arts was the cheapest melee skill and it was also much much better than the most expensive, some skill combos made characters much much better than others, etc).  This separated experienced/rutheless players from others. 


5) AC1 was before google.


6) Competition for hunting grounds.  You were either in one of the good spots or you were taking a lot more time to get levels.


Most of the above are bad things that probably cost Microsoft/Turbine customers and all/most of them have since been changed.  But playing was much harder than Wow or any game is now.




Advanced Member

Joined: 5/07/09
Posts: 1184

4/02/11 1:32:55 PM#23

I will try to keep this short as i can go on for ever about this topic.


Let me explain how it worked real fast in Asherons Call.

You log in to this huge open world with not a single instance. you have a dagger, some bread and no idea were to go. all you know is the little dots on your mini map that are orange will kill you.

you set out to explore the land and die many times before you figure out what you are doing. each time leaving a body on the ground with money and some loot you had picked up. you can either go get your body and loot or just leave it. You open up your world map and it shows towns and points of interest on it, yes thats it. you learn to stay on the road because its safe to try and find a town.

then you find a town with people running around doing their thing, you start asking questions and figureing out whats going on. trying to make some friends and maybe join a monarchy. after this your real journey begins.

This game was made in 1999 had no classes had a skill system that is way more advanced then any garbage i see today.

the loot system was 100% random off mobs wich means you never know when your going to find that awsome piece of loot that is better then what you already have. no boss grinds in some stupid instance for a piece of loot you looked up on the internet so you know right were to get it.

you could dodge magic and arrows, wich i found to be so awsome about this game. the physics engine was just amazing no heat seeking magic spells/arrows.


Now this is what happens when u log into a newer game.


You log in you ( first thing is first Turn off general chat )  then you see the NPC with the ! above his head, talk to him, hit Yes a few times without reading the garbage he is saying because it doesnt matter.  Do this to all the NPCs in the area then hit quest jornal see what one is the closest go kill 10 boars then return. then the same NPC says go kill same boars this time bring 30 boar tusk. ( and they call these quest ).

you do this almost the entire game. and people doing the same quest are only in your way.


pretty much you log on the game holds your hand and walks you threw panzy land makeing sure everything is ok and happy go lucky. if you die its ok nothing happens because we dont want you to get upset.


Novice Member

Joined: 2/28/09
Posts: 39

4/02/11 1:53:33 PM#24
Originally posted by BCuse

i find newer games hold your hand too much.  The people playing tend to want everything given to them in a short period of time rather than building up your character. 




 Games like WoW tell you what to do next, they hold your hand every step of the way and give you rewards left and right.WoW is a childs game to be honest. It's a great game for someone who isn't good at MMOs, because even 8 year old kids play WoW and are main tanks... That tells you how dumbed down the game is.


 Old school games like UO (Played in 1998 until they killed the game in 2003 with AoS) Were nuts. Not only did you have NO idea how strong a mob was before you fought it, you also had players attacking you left and right. That sweet sword you found? Yup, there was about a 95% chance if you used it you would lose it when you died.


 There was no quests in UO, no levels, no raids, no item stats (other then the +1-+5 damage on weapons) you were dropped into a world and that's all you knew. YOU had to figure out what to do, the game told you NOTHING.


 to be honest, I miss those days. The game had a real economy, friends you made were either real friends in the end, or people who backstabbed you and robbed you blind. I STILL talk to many friends I met in UO. *sigh* they need another true sandbox that doesn't hold you by your hand.


Novice Member

Joined: 3/17/10
Posts: 2943

4/02/11 2:01:23 PM#25

Deeper RPG mechanics

Harder raids (no instancing, mobs shift tactics based on how many is attacking and with what)

More in depth combat and classes

Quest NPCs didn't glow like neon signs, and a yelllow brick road didn't appear to take you to your objective

No GPS maps

Penalties for failure

Night was actually dark

in dungeons you had to account for roaming mobs, some that got attracted to certain inventory items, other players (this could fall under deeper RPG mechanics)

things weren't always blatantly obvious

PvP that mattered and had lasting consequences for success and failure

PvP that wasn't always scaled into sports teams of perfect even sides.


Advanced Member

Joined: 4/23/03
Posts: 1127

4/02/11 2:03:42 PM#26

Inability for most classes to solo.

Slow recovery times.



Novice Member

Joined: 12/02/10
Posts: 2425

4/02/11 2:06:49 PM#27



Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/10/04
Posts: 5231

Be Brief, Be Bright... Be Gone.

4/02/11 3:07:37 PM#28

I personally don't feel old MMO's were harder.  They were longer than most newer games, they definately had points that were more irritating.  But the game itself, how you played wasn't any harder or more challenging... just longer and more tedious.

Actually as much fun as I had in EQ I actually find that it was more limited in almost every way than games today.  Less choice in developing my character, less choice in the areas I played (eventually solved by... what 16 expansions now), less choice in the content available for single player progression.

However I did like the teamwork.  These days I team when I want and solo when I want, however I will admit that sometimes sparking up conversations and keeping groups is harder today.  There has to be some way to not only make grouping as easy and rewarding as it is today (and yes groups get more xp, more loot and more coin than soloing) encourage teamwork, while still keeping soloing as a real viable experience and not the afterthought of games gone by.


Quit worrying about other players in a game and just play.


Novice Member

Joined: 10/08/10
Posts: 1074

4/02/11 3:12:26 PM#29
Originally posted by VengeSunsoar

I personally don't feel old MMO's were harder.  They were longer than most newer games, they definately had points that were more irritating.  But the game itself, how you played wasn't any harder or more challenging... just longer and more tedious.

Actually as much fun as I had in EQ I actually find that it was more limited in almost every way than games today.  Less choice in developing my character, less choice in the areas I played (eventually solved by... what 16 expansions now), less choice in the content available for single player progression.

However I did like the teamwork.  These days I team when I want and solo when I want, however I will admit that sometimes sparking up conversations and keeping groups is harder today.  There has to be some way to not only make grouping as easy and rewarding as it is today (and yes groups get more xp, more loot and more coin than soloing) encourage teamwork, while still keeping soloing as a real viable experience and not the afterthought of games gone by.


I feel the same.

Jeremiah 8:21 I weep for the hurt of my people; I stand amazed, silent, dumb with grief.
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Novice Member

Joined: 6/06/02
Posts: 483

4/02/11 3:19:10 PM#30

mob difficulty, death penalties, playing without sleep. 1999 was a fun year


Novice Member

Joined: 5/26/10
Posts: 254

4/02/11 3:37:06 PM#31
Originally posted by Loktofeit


Online resources weren't as prevalent. For example, wikis didn't exist and fansites were more about events and guild news than walkthorughs.

NPCs weren't marked and quest logs weren't as detailed.

You could actually do things or have certain rep levels that would get you guard-killed in otherwise-friendly towns.

In UO, there was no global chat and even when one was introduced, no one used it. All chat was based on proximity.

Ingame maps were very limited, IIRC, in EQ, I had to constantly spam 'Sense Heading' to raise the skill that told me what compass direction I was facing.

No respeccing or skill builders available. If you took cooking on your swordsman in AC and were 30 levels into the character (took al ong time to do that back then), you either lived with it or rerolled.



People also played very differently back then, though.

  • People used their first character or two to learn the game before making their actual character. The first character almost always ended up a mule with a skillset or build that was entertaining to see years later. Now people expect their frist character to be their main and, as such, MMOs are designed to support that which means less expeerimentation and more direct information, less choice and more handholding, and definitely as little consequence as possible.
  • People back then also came from group gaming backgrounds. The early MMO gamers were that cross section of PnP gamers and computer users. They were people that actively looked for groups, wanting to emulate the teams they read in their fantasy books or played in their DnD games. As such, with a group-focused audience, the games were designed to offer challenge to groups, resulting in often torturous gameplay for most solo players (*cue the jackass that has to reply with how that isnt' true because they leveled their druid/necro/whatever to cap solo*).
  • Politics were more a part of gameplay.In the older games there was more of a hierarchy, and when you had a problem with someone you didn't start spouting profanity in general/local but rather went to your guild leader who went to their guild leader to resolve it. As such there were a lot of rules, written and unwritten that players generally followed.

Well this is my opinion of older MMO's as compared to newer MMO's:

fun < pain in the ass

To me it would seem like older MMO's took the joy out of playing and replaced it with bashing your keyboard and pulling your hair out. I'm all for hardcore, like loosing items during PvP or more intense death penalties (those are understandable). However, shady quest txt that leaves you searching the map for a rat killing quest for 8 hours because there's no marker or proper quest description is just rediculous.

No global chat? Imo seems to take away from the MMO experience in general.

No respecing? So if you miplaced one skill or took the wrong profession you'd have to waste another couple weeks of your life to re-roll and redeem a simple mistake. That would really suck.

Also, theres plenty of grouping in modern MMO's, it's all about who you play with. MMO's are 5 times more popular today than they were back in the day so of course there's going to be more immature players spouting profanity, being a nusance and not wanting to group (bigger population = higher chance of douche bags). But this is because of today's gamers themselves, not the games.

Imo games todays MMO's have evolved to be more entertaining rather than "hardcore". Not neccessarily a bad thing considering games are supposed to be developed for entertainment purposes anyway.

Most people go through life pretending to be a boss. I go through life pretending I'm not.


Advanced Member

Joined: 2/05/08
Posts: 1275

4/02/11 3:40:47 PM#32

Mob health and damage VS player health and damage.  I think that has been the biggest change. 


Advanced Member

Joined: 2/28/04
Posts: 4742

4/02/11 3:56:17 PM#33
Originally posted by Calerxes

So correct my ignorance as I was not there.... what makes Ultima Online, Everquest, Asherons Call, Anarchy Online, Dark Age Of Camelot, FFXI more difficult and immersive than modern day MMO's like I have listed? 

They had no meaningful quests..............people had to group to progress

The WoW quest progressions killed real MMORPGs which should be about community


Novice Member

Joined: 9/12/04
Posts: 118

4/02/11 6:02:13 PM#34

The whole MMO gaming atmosphere as well as genre' of people playing online rpgs was different.  The community of players was pretty much free of anybody under the age of 21 with the average player ages 30+ There was no instant gratification as everything was hard earned. When you ran from a elite mob trying to kill you , you had an adrenaline rush and you feared for real losing hours of exp from a NPC death. You had to look at the game from a more realistic perspective.

Without going into a novel of a story i will state that WoW made the old school game developers change the format to instant gratification easy mode. As an example. My frst 50 in DAOC took me months of  marathon play to achieve that level. I revisited the game last year and i went from 0-50 in about 32 hours of game play. Old school meant downtime to rest and power up which promoted socilizing.  The social element is a game breaker for me. I haven't found a game since pre-wow that really had any social element. I'm still looking.


Advanced Member

Joined: 7/26/04
Posts: 550

4/02/11 9:45:13 PM#35

This can easily be answered in one word - Paradigm.

Even if you don't know what it is, you know what it is.  It's the "zombie", "vampire" or ninja.  It's the backstory behind the story.  It's what makes something we all know, something we all know without needing an explanation.  It's the reason we can see something and know all about it without being told anything.

When MMO's first came out, there wasn't this paradigm; everything was new and never, or only rarely, seen before in a game.  Years have passed and now we all know what to expect in an MMO without needing our hands held or detailed explanations of the core gameplay itself.

No one has to explain that an MMO is a persistent world anymore.  No one has to go into detail about the idea that you can attack another player-character in real-time.  These are all things we just know by now.  That's why MMOs now have their own paradigm, just like a movie villian or horror flick.

It takes the newness out of the game and the sense of mystery away from it.  Those are the things that made the older MMOs a challenge.  We didn't exactly know what to expect of the genre, never mind individual games.  No one was exactly sure what was, wasn't or could be possible in the actual game itself.


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Joined: 5/21/03
Posts: 2704

"A wise man has something to say, but a fool just has to say something."

4/02/11 9:49:08 PM#36

Older mmos more difficult? Please. I wish more people would get this train of thought out of their minds. I'll tell you the truth that others don't want you to hear (and I've been playing them for a long time), old skool mmos were not hard, the players back then were just less experienced...

"Small minds talk about people, average minds talk about events, great minds talk about ideas."


Hard Core Member

Joined: 4/25/08
Posts: 2400

4/02/11 10:02:43 PM#37

At no point do I think they were harder in terms of Mob AI or anything like that.  They were harder in the sense that grinding by just killing mobs.

The games were more group based.  There was a lot less soloing involved.

A LOT less people played them, so there were a lot less resources put into helping new players.  With most MMOs now, you have many websites to help you out in many regards to the game.

Do I think mezzing groups of people for minutes at a time was hard? Lol.  Do I think chaining CCs from different classes that have very short durations hard? Not really, but it does take some coordination.

People try to scream about how now a days, "Everyone gets epix for free".  That might be true.  They might not have to camp a dungeon for over a week to see a boss spawn and hope their group gets more people on before the other.  They might not have to spend weeks and weeks killing things to get one drop.  That sure doesn't make it hard at all.

I play games to have fun.  I don't play games to spend weeks and weeks and see no improvement or have no fun.


And i00x00i brings up some very good points.  Rose coloured goggles = win!


Novice Member

Joined: 10/04/08
Posts: 260

4/02/11 10:32:54 PM#38
Originally posted by MMOman101

Mob health and damage VS player health and damage.  I think that has been the biggest change. 

That is a serious change. BITD in EQ1, an even con mob was seriously an even fight - if you did not do your absolute best (hit every kick/bash/other hotbar ability to the fullest and in the right ways) you could easily lose. Sometimes the mob got lucky and you lost ANYWAYS lol. So you had to run for it with that sucker hot on your heels until you found a guard, or got to the zone edge, or some other player took it off of you - and that happened a LOT, because people were not oblivious to each other in those days. And you absolutely said Thank You! to that person for saving your hide :)

But that was part of the game - the purpose was for you to win by playing it well, not to hand you little packages of xps and loot  because you logged in and clicked a target.

I'd throw in another reason was that the games were designed for grouping, and by that I mean if a warrior type did not have a healer with him/her, they were going to spend a LOT of downtime between fights. I tried soloing a rogue once, and around L18 he had around 400 hps. After a hard even con fight, he was down to around 10% health (not unusual even for a guy with good gear). Health regenned at something like 1 pt per second, meaning that he needed to spend 6 minutes downtime in between fights - or quit being a solo jerk and join up with a group :)

Another reason was no taunting. That's right, no instant "aggro management". The warrior actually had to do the majority of the damage in order to keep the mob on him. If someone else pulled aggro, it was up to either the warrior or the off-tank (usually a higher DPS character with some armor, like a ranger) to get the mobs attention and yank it back over to the warrior.

This took actual preparation, assignment of roles in the group, responsiveness to changing situations, and skill of execution. You pretty much found at least a modicum of the skill now needed for raids in every successful group. 

  User Deleted
4/02/11 11:39:25 PM#39

mobs were just generally tougher. In the case of EQ, the damage and health they dad was on par, if not higher than a player of the same level. Interrupting their spells/actions also required some quick timing, easily missed if you just spam your skills and get stuck in cooldowns and casting times.

Debuffs were actually a significant part of the fight as well, one I always found mobs were very eager to fuck you over with it. Experienced this very early on in EQ with orc priests blinding and slowing me, and large stat reductions. Mobs that debuffed were a nightmare for a solo melee class. Players learned and picked targets that would put up the least amount of resistance to your classes abilities.

Mobs had large aggro ranges, and even unique triggers like just casting a spell near one. More often than not they had faster movement speed than the player, if you didn't have a speed buff or a root, you weren't likely going to get away unless guards or players helped you out.

Honestly the list goes on, all i'm going to say is mobs put up a serious fight in older games, and player classes didn't have a counter/solution for everything a mob might throw at them. This is why players were very eager to find groups back then.

Modern mmo's have needless to say, nerfed mobs to  very tedious, grindy, and meaningless encounters that don't require any thought or effort.


Novice Member

Joined: 7/09/06
Posts: 2206

4/02/11 11:54:05 PM#40

Gear was alot harder to obtain..

Money was alot harder to obtain.

No Maps..

No compass..

No Radar

major exp loss upon death

corpse runs after death with all your gear on corpse

No real indicator of which mob is an 'elite'

no hand holding,during quests and in general.

Lots of mobs were underconned...a giant who is an even level with you could still tear you apart and rightfully so.


just a few off the top of my head.

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