A few days ago I made the comment that current MMO players are ‘soft’ compared to those that played UO/EQ and such. Instead of using the word ‘soft’, I think I prefer spoiled. Spoiled by todays crop of games into thinking we are more important than we really are in an MMO world. The very idea of an MMO is that you are but one player in a giant, living world, out to make your mark on it in any way you can. Somewhere along the way, this changed to ‘you are the hero, and everything revolves around you’.
I’m not exactly sure when this happened, and I don’t think you can blame any one single game out for the shift in thinking, but comparing the MMOs of today to the originals and it’s very clear to me that this has happened. The old joke of doing multiple ‘kill rats’ quests reflects this, in that back in the day players often did seemingly un-heroic deeds to get by, while in todays games everything you do is wrapped around earth-shattering lore and conclusions. Instead of killing a few bears to feed a farmer, you now raid a food stockpile to save an entire continent from starvation.
The problem is that everyone is saving that same continent from starvation, only I did it in my instance, and you did it in yours. And somehow we both came out with the same exact epic sword as a reward. And since everyone has done this epic quest, it’s now just ‘quest x’ along the way to maxing out, so we can get together with x number of people and raid the pantry of evil to save the world; all for a far more epic looking sword, the same one you saw in town being used by twenty other characters.
In reality today’s MMOs share more with a single players RPG than they do with anything ‘worldly’. Somehow developers tricked us into paying $15 a month to log into a single players game, where we jump from instance to instance completing quests while gearing up. Oh well I guess we pay that $15 for a chat room of dubious quality and the ability to bring a few friends along on some quests, right?
To make matters worse, nothing you do can really impact the world you are in. No one outside of their server cares who the top raiding guild is, or who is the top PvP team. Hell even world firsts are forgotten as quickly as the forum post drops off the front page. Few of todays games give anyone the opportunity to be a Rainz or Istvaan Shogaatsu. Unless you have a hit youtube video, you are not likely to be the next Leeroy Jenkins.
Players today are tricked into thinking they are the hero, and in actuality any abilities to do something truly special has been stripped away. Instead of a PvP guild making its mark on the world by making certain regions dangerous to traverse, we now have repeatable ‘epic’ quests to open gates to instances, gates that will eventually open regardless of any one players actions. Instead of a famed smith producing rare items, we have an auction house packed with any ‘epic’ item a player could want.
This has also led to the trend of players expecting to get everything they want as quickly as possible. Anything that takes actual planning, patience, and yes work, is considered ‘unfun’. Far too often you read a forum and see a ‘I don’t play games to work, and I don’t want others interfering in my gaming’. Is this not what MMOs are about, are they not a living world that we INTERACT with, good or bad? If you truly want a safe ‘I’m the hero’ experience, should you not be playing a single player RPG?