Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dear Mr. Old School MMO Gamer

So, Rift had its first beta event this weekend just past. While I won't be divulging anything from that event due to the NDA, I will use this place to write about a distressing trend that is currently plaguing the beta forums. Rift is not anything like EQ. It is not anything SWG, nor DAoC, nor Vanguard. All of those games certainly borrowed things from EQ, but they too, were not EQ.

I have seen people say it is similar to EQII, and while I don't quite remember much of that game (I wrote it off, I didn't like it because it wasn't EQ, and World of Warcraft came out shortly after) I will let the similarity stand because hey... those people played it and they say it's similar, so I can roll with that.

However, I'm just going to link this here right now; Project 1999. EQ still exists. If you have your old EQ discs, feel free to dust them off, reinstall the game (you'll need to have everything featured in EQ Titanium), make an account, and play. If you do not have the discs, then you can put on your pirate hat, and get them. The entire process is not only easy, it's also free.

Now, let us clear up some assumptions for any Old School MMO Gamers reading this right now. Firstly, thank you for reading my little Rift blog. Secondly, I was born in '84. I started playing online with StarCraft in '97. I then started playing EQ in late spring of '99. I played it all the way up until Shadows of Luclin, and have been playing MMOs ever since. That is literally two years shy of half my entire existence on this planet. I loved my Druid, I never hit max level, and recall many a night having all kinds of fun into the wee hours of the morning just adventuring with people I may not have known a week prior to that evening.

Similarly, I have a character on P1999's server. Her name is Rinleigh. She is a Druid, just like my character of over a decade ago. She is fun to play when I want something to do that isn't Sins of a Solar Empire, forum browsing, drinking, reading books, watching movies, or hanging with the special lady.

The problem is, it's not the same.

I encourage anyone who laments over the evolution of the MMO genre to go back and play EQ, and see if they have as much fun playing the game now as they used to. I can guarantee that they will not, or else, they would still be playing the game.

The questions then become, "If these people love EQ as much as they love reminiscing about it, why aren't they playing it? Why are they on the forums of a different game, talking about how they wish that game, was more like EQ?" I see these people blaming the evolution of MMOs on my generation of gamers, saying we are all WoW kids who don't know what it is to work for anything, enjoy having games fed to us on little plastic spoons, and need a guiding hand to wipe our faces and change our bibs when we make a mess.

Beg your pardon?

I didn't know the MMO genre was now home to senior citizens who spend all day talking about how good things used to be back when they didn't need someone to help them up out of their chair.

Not a fair analogy is it?

There is one quote from those forums that I believe sums things up quite nicely, I will share it with you before I tie this one off.

It's a bit contradictory to say the game should be exciting, as though you are expecting the developers to make it so, and then by the same token say that you want places where you can do your own thing without the rails. Do you want them to guide you into excitement or not? The fact is that excitement has more to do with the players than with the game.

EverQuest was not exciting because it had so much content and so many things to do. In fact, EverQuest had a distinct lack of "quests". It was a very grindy game, that people made up for with their excitement of having a 3D avatar and the ability to form groups with other people to go take on the big bad orcs and goblins of their PnP D&D fantasies. It was, truly, a lot of fun.

However, over the last 11 years, we have played way too many MMOs. We have had far too many trying to do what World of Warcraft has done (mind you, without having fans from three different, highly polished franchises to market their game to (StarCraft, Diablo, WarCraft)), and we have been disappointed by far too many of them. We know the mechanics developers use to deliver content to us. Anything that is a traditional tank and spank is considered boring right off the bat, because we have done it so many times before, regardless of the fact that it may be the first or second time we are doing it in a particular game.

These companies make MMOs for profit. They do not make it to tailor to a niche in that market. CCP (creators of Eve Online) are the golden child of small time, long term success. But when companies go to investors looking for capital, they don't say "We want to be like CCP." They say, "We are going to give you a big chunk out of the WoW pie, by appealing to as much of the disenchanted MMO market as we can." Again, that does not include EQ at all, because by comparison, EQ's numbers were tiny.

Now all of us disenchanted MMO veterans spend our time being disappointed that a new game doesn't make us as happy as that other game, rage at each other on forums for disagreeing with our point of view, and blame entire decades of people, or entire companies, for ruining our genre.

If I were to point the finger at the decline of MMOs, I would honestly point it at the communities (who forced Blizzard to dumb down their game?) before I pointed it at the games themselves.

It is up to us to have our own fun and stop trying to dictate to others what that kind of fun is. I had as much fun playing street hockey as a kid, as kids who now play... well, I don't really know what kids play now. After living in this house for 8 years, I can tell you they sure as hell don't play street hockey anymore.

1 comment:

  1. /signed

    Just wanted to say that i fully agree with everything you wrote. Fun in a MMO is always made by the people playing it.