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Reflections on MMO's

This is just a minor reflection on MMO's in general

Author: Ciano

When are we going to get MMO's that don't suck?

Posted by Ciano Monday January 12 2009 at 5:23PM
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This is my first post and I don't have long to write it but essentially I'm going to cram my main gripe about MMO's in to a 20 minute write up.

 

When are we going to get MMO's that don't suck?

Essentially I am asking this because for the past 5 years I have seen clone after clone of the same horribly designed mmo's. These MMO's usually clone the ideas of previous mmo's but fail to include the features that made those MMO's good. For example, Warhammer was a good idea for an MMO. I'm not trashing it because I think it has excellent lore and a wonderful tool for exploring that lore as you play IE "Tome of Knowledge". Unfortunately Warhammer Online fails to deliver on the pvp aspect of RvR. Many of the open RvR areas are poorly designed and the Keeps that you take over and often clones of each other. The primary feature of Warhammer Online is RvR but instead of developing a unique realm vs realm they seemed to have took Warcraft's shoddy pvp system and built on it instead of developing somthing truly unique.

Here is another example involving Warhammer and Warcraft. Right after Warhammer Online released, Blizzard had an inspiration from the Muse and suddenly Warcraft had a Tome of Achievement...... Lets me see here. Warhammer Online does an innovative Tome of Knowedge that is the sum of all your experiance in Warhammer Online. This tome is very well thought out and quite innovative with tons of lore. Suddenly Warcraft has a tome of achievements that is shoddily done and exists as simply a poorly done record of achievements and titles for the Gerbils and treadmill sadists to work on. It contains little to no in game lore and really exists only for bragging rights.

Do you see my problem here? MMO's always copy a unique feature of a previous game and then gut it down to it's most basic elements.

 

I remember when MMO's were first coming out and games were truly unique. Call me biased but I am a big fan of Ultima Online before EA took it over and began copying things from Everquest and newer games coming out. Ultima Online in it's most basic form was a truly innovative game. Richard Garriott strove for a true sandbox game where the developers built the world and the players created the story. You can interact with any object, craft dozens of usable items, kill other players at will, adventure in dungeons, fight wars between guilds, or run around thieving from people and hope you escaped. The tools were in the hands of the players and all was well. All was well until Richard Garriot and Origin abandoned Ultima Online to the corporate dictators at EA. Suddenly Ultima Online began to change and adapt things for newer games. Suddenly you had all kinds of special abilities, special weapons, new races, extreme distortions of lore that never had anything to do with the Ultima Series. Interestingly enough, many of these changes came about as games such as Everquest, Dark Age of Camolot, and Asheron's call became popular. The greedy managers in charge of EA and Ultima Online realized that games that relied of human's obsessive natural tendency to grind and achieve required much less affort to maintain players than a game that relied on community involvement and live content. Thus began the age of adding grindable content. Skill scrolls, Stat Scrolls, Special weapons.

 

My point is, EA took the Gerbil wheel feature of non-sandbox games like Everquest and introduced them into a Sandbox game that didn't need it. It threw all of Richard Garriot's and his fellow designer's work and careful balance horrible out of whack. The result is that a game that was essentually very good, was destroyed for a dedicated player base and is now a horrible pervesion of it's former self. Almost every former Ultima Online player I have met, has remarked that they left the game as a result of the introduction of all the Age of Shadows and special items, and other such nonsense. The popularity of Free shards containing the original ruleset is a testiment to how much the pre 2003 Ultima Online was.

 

All these seem like rambling but essentially it boils down to one fundamental truth as I see it. Games are no longer innovative and that is result we are the consumers and gamers are constantly disappointed by half finished trash we are always getting. Games are relying on obsessive compulsive treadmill climbers to stray afloat instead of fleshing out truly unique features that enhance a game and make it FUN! Why can't we rely on fun to maintain a playerbase instead of treadmill? I'd rather spend a few hours relaxing to mine some ore and fashion some armor or go out to open area and pvp with people than spend my time running the same instance for the 50th time in order to get my final peice of +20 boots of uberness so I can show off my armor and die happy.

You can all disagree with me and state your opinions. I am open minded. Nobody can deny the trend of MMO failures recently though.