2. Key Points of Interest vs. NPC Quests
There were NPCs in Ultima Online, but short of Lord British giving you a scavenger hunt, they really did not send you anywhere. NPCs were put into the game to make towns feel whole and real. They could train you in skills or sell you goods. However, they did not tell you to get a necklace from their dead mom’s corpse and on the way force you to fight 8 skeletons.
The sandbox world has toys in it. Once you know the box, you can better explore those toys. This is something I wish more games would do. For example, Ultima had its famous Orc Fort. It was always surrounded by, well orcs, they even had a Orc Lord inside, and a few Orc mages outside. Every night this fort was host to battles or quests. You were not told to go there, but you stopped by to see what was up. Maybe someone was going to try and kill the lord? Maybe a guild had cleared the orcs and held the fort for themselves? These points of interest made the quests fun. I can remember often saying, tonight let’s go to a dungeon, or tonight let’s hit up this island. It was always fun to explore. Sandboxes are becoming this way again very easily. In DayZ you know if you hit the military base or airfield you are risking getting shot. Those locations have the best weapons in the game. It is fun to explore them and hopefully make it out alive.
While sometimes having NPCs tell you what to do all over the map can be fun. It eventually gets old. Using points of interest in a game world to generate small encounters that vary from time to time really makes the world feel real. From the early reports of EverQuest Next, they were working on this very design.
1. Player Driven Events
Old MMOs had these in droves. Ultima, Galaxies, EverQuest, they all hosted a strong community who supported (or warred) with each other. Regardless the players made the fun. This was something that definitely got lost in the WoW era of MMOs. Blizzard was so keyed up on creating content for players that they left out the ability for players to have their own fun. How great would it be in WoW if you had a player run council of orcs for each server? Now with Legion it looks like WoW is hosting class halls. A place where classes can meet up and interact. Seems like a throw back to giving the game somewhere that players can do something together. As a player from day one in WoW I would love to be known as a High Shaman among the horde or something. Maybe I could sit with a council of other shaman that started in the first few weeks of the game? These are all opportunities that I think really need to return to MMOs.
Hope you enjoyed the list! Tell us your favorite mechanics from Old School MMOs :)