Back then I was on the ‘red’ side, now I’m firmly on the ‘blue’ side. Guess the player along with the game evolves.
Wise words from a wise man, minus the grammar fail on the original. The first part of that comment is wrong, I’m happy to report, but I would like to talk a bit about the part that I quoted. It was true in 2007, and it’s still true today. Sorta. My ‘blue’ is just not nearly as blue as others, as both Darkfall and Rift have shown.
Back in 1997 the ratio of the hardcore to the casual player was (random number) 1 to 20. A small minority even back then, but at least a countable percentage of the player base. If I had to guess, the ratio today would be something like 1 to 1000, if not smaller.
Even in a game like Darkfall, tuned to meet the needs of the hardcore faithful, not everyone is as ‘red’ as the original PKs of UO. There are a lot of casual (by DF standards) players, and the elite are in a few known clans. I’m very much in that casual crowd by DF standards.
In Rift, while we are not on the bleeding-edge of PvE progression or running a 24/7 Warfront guild (think original WoW High Warlord days), I’d easily say we are in the top whatever % of the playerbase, and I know time is the only limiting factor from server-first levels.
Part of that is the content itself; I’ve yet to see anything on par with original WoW raiding, or even v1.0 Scholo/Strath, but the major factor is, simply put, the average MMO player is far, far more casual today then those who played back in 97. So even though my MMO time has decreased over the years thanks to RL, my time drop has not been nearly as steep as the overall average for an MMO gamer today.
In 97 the genre was super-niche compared to what it is today, and what is popular and why clearly reflects that. What is interesting to watch, between games like DF maintaining player levels, EVE still growing, and now Rift doing well, is just which direction things are headed. Back in 2007-8 the direction was clear; more ‘accessible’ = more players, and it seemed that every major MMO at the time was scrambling to figure out how to best hand out shiny loot with minimal effort to players.
Farmville and Mafia Wars epitomize this style of ‘game’ design, where the only path is up and minimal effort leads to constant pats on the head. WotLK at release was also hailed as the savior for the casual player, finally opening up all that content that BC kept for the elite few. Raiding for all! Cata continued the trend with (by TAGN official reports) super easy instances and a semi-revamp of the already faceroll-easy leveling game.
We are seeing the signs of the Farmville fad fading, and more than a few players have remarked about how little Cata held their attention. At the same time, Rift is far closer to 2004 WoW in terms of content challenge than it is to the current game, and as mentioned more difficult (spare me the definition, you know what I mean) games like EVE and DF continue to expand and improve, without caving in and going down the Trammel/NGE path.
Perhaps, as the MMO fad itself fades from pop culture status (sorry Mr. T), we will continue to see games designed more towards the core user base rather than trying to convert Farmville players or attract the roving bands of tourists. Certainly we won’t see 97-levels, but hell, I’ll gladly return to 2004, where I can once again be a happy little bluebie.