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BadSpock's Logical Conclusions.

My random thoughts about MMORPGs. A bit of critique, suggestion, debate, and insanity. Enjoy.

Author: BadSpock

Has MMO development gone backwards?

Posted by BadSpock Saturday October 27 2007 at 6:59AM
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It's about 6:30am on a Saturday, and I'm at work. Yeah, it sucks. Just thought I'd throw that out there...

 
Anywho... I was talking to my brother about Ultima Online yesterday. Our account is still active, not currently subscribed, but all of our characters and their possessions still exist. I think we are up to our "9 year veteran" awards or close to it lol.
 
So I've been thinking about UO, and have come to a startling realization!
 
MMO development has been going backwards!!!
 
What are some of the top features people on MMORPG.com ask for in their "perfect" MMORPG?
 
1. Skill based system - no more classes and levels to grind
 
2. Sandbox game play - no linear progressions / roller coaster rides
 
3. Open / FFA PVP
 
4. Player Housing
 
5. Less dependency on gear
 
6. All gear crafted by players / was equal (kind of) to loot
 
Ultima Online had all of these things and more. I consider the "high" point in the life of UO was when they released Renaissance and introduced Trammel to the world, and not long after that the Factions PVP system.
 
It was an open skill based system, gear didn't really matter at all, you had full Faction vs. Faction PVP and FFA PVP in Felucca, and a completely griefer/ganker free environment in Trammel. They had really expansive player housing, a massive world with no instancing, hundreds and hundreds if different monsters and NPCs to battle with, countless dungeons.
 
Pretty much, UO had everything that the "modern" MMORPG player has been asking for.
 
Where have games gone since those awesome days of UO?
 
1. Instancing
 
2. Class / level based systems (I blame EQ for this, d*mn you Everquest!)
 
3. Gear dependant play (again, I blame EQ for this, d*mn you Everquest!)
 
4. Much more restrictive PVP
 
5. Most modern MMOs no longer have player housing.
 
6. crafting in modern MMOs mostly sucks and is trumped by loot drops from mobs/raids (many games even require you to raid in order to get the materials to make the best crafted gear)
 
So why have MMOs taken such a major step backwards?
 
They haven't gone backwards in terms of:
 
1. Developer content - quests, dungeons, events, raids, missions, etc. etc. etc.
 
2. Graphics (obviously)
 
3. Accessibility (MMOs are now a major genre instead of a niche market)
 
and that's about all I can think of.
 
So why doesn't a developer just make a game exactly like UO, throw in a bunch of cool quests, dungeons, raids, etc. just for fun, and give it a sweet modern graphics engine?
 
I know people will say "that's what Darkfall is going to be!"
 
But for one, many are unsure DF will ever be released and two, the Trammel / Felucca split is what (in my opinion) was UO's greatest strength. DF is FFA everywhere, which will turn off a great many players.
 
What do you think? Has MMO development gotten so backwards that future games are looking more and more like old UO?