Syp over at Biobreak has a post talking about the pre-2003 MMO market and todays, and how you can’t pay him enough to go back to that time.
First I find this odd, as looking at his About page, I’m not seeing pre-2003 MMOs on his list of games he has played extensively, but maybe that’s just an omission on his part? Maybe he is a pre-2003 MMO vet? Is he just hiding the fact that he was Dreadlord Syp?
Anyway, here is his list of reasons why the genre is better today:
The quest system, dynamic events, full voice-overs, customizable appearances, public grouping, hybrid gameplay (such as STO’s ground/space combat), genre blending, business models
The quest system of 2012 is Cataclysm and SW:TOR. I’ll leave it at that.
‘Dynamic Events’ are a buzzword today for games like Rift, which are painfully static. Dynamic events in games like UO or EQ, which were player-driven, were actually dynamic. And actual events. The killing of Lord British anyone?
Voice-overs – Yup.
Customizable Appearances – In UO you had more options for this than you do today in WoW. With more impact as well. The game also had customizable housing on a scale most games today can only dream about (or declare technically impossible, depending on how little the devs think of their player-base).
Public Grouping – UO had this feature. Only it was called “Talk to that played, see what they are doing, and do stuff together”. When this happened regularly, it was called a guild. And since people actually lived in those worlds, rather than just ‘progressed’ through one hub to the next, knowing the locals meant something. I’d be dying to hear how someone who has experience with that prefers the random dungeon finder instead, as relates to group quality and the overall enjoyment of grouping.
Hybrid gameplay – The genre is better now that we have a poor man’s version of Starfox that we have to pay $15 a month to play? Odd, I was under the impression that when I loaded up an MMO, it was because I wanted to play an MMO, and when I loaded up Starfox, it was because I wanted to play Starfox. That said, UO had chess, although it required two players, so I understand why it would not work today.
Genre blending – We sure are.
Business Models – I love Pay-2-Win enhanced games like Atlantica. That game would suck as a pure sub game. I also love an immersive experience like LotRO turn into a slot-machine. Finally how can you not love what accounts being free does to server communities (lulz what is that?). In all fairness this can work sometimes. LoL being F2P is cool. EVE having PLEX is nice. Games like DDO/EQ2/LotRO/AoC not shutting down but instead milking a few dummies is cool, I guess.
And finally on to his real argument as to why those who enjoyed the genre pre-2003 love it today.
Oh wait he’s done? I see. Fine, let’s move on to the horrors of pre-2003 games, shall we?
You think the quest grind is bad today? Try simply grinding mobs endlessly for no reason other than a lack of other options. Or the horrible death penalties. The lack of real support for solo players. The incredibly obtuse nature of game mechanics and stats. The lack of free-to-play resulting in fewer gaming options on any given day
What game was Syp playing where he was grinding mobs endlessly because he had no other options and that was it? Doesn’t sound like UO to me. Nor AC. Nor DAoC. EQ1 players? The original carebears? Is it you?
Death penalties – The funny thing about WoW-only players is they just don’t know better. Tell them that if they die they lose all their stuff, and their heads explode. Now Syp, I guess being a pre-2003 vet, (right?) knows better. So he knows why the death penalty in UO was awesome. Just how much gameplay came out of the penalty in AC (Darktide, the only version of the game that mattered). And how many of you original carebears have epic corpse-run stories? I don’t think I need to talk about dying in DaoC, do I?
Solo players – What a horrible crime, that in a genre called massive MULTIPLAYER, we don’t cater to solo players. One can only imagine how horrible server communities and guilds were back when the only people playing were those who wanted to be social, who wanted to play something with others, who cared for group progression over personal. The horror! What would I do without little solo-Billy never talking and always being in his personal instance? Do you know how much worse my MMO experience would be without people like him… not around?
Game stats – I’m so glad the genre moved away from needing a website like EJ to play ‘the real game’, where groups are no longer formed based on gearscore, and that we no longer suffer with FOTM builds in games like Rift. That finally, we did away with obtuse things like being stuck playing a character in DAoC and making the best of it, rather than just re-spec’ing. That finally, rather than having to work towards a new build like we did in UO, you can just instantly hop from one solo-build to another. Amazing progress has indeed been made, and it’s clearly reflected in not just the games, but their communities as well.
Lack of free-to-play – Ah yes, the land of infinite quality, where only the best and brightest games dwell, and where only the finest of citizen reside.
I think I get where Syp is going with this. Now that I think about it, the 1997-2003 years were indeed horrible. Dealing with server communities, playing with tight-knit groups that stuck around longer than a month, building a server reputation, being judged not by my epics but by my personality. Just terrible, nightmarish days.
And remember all those awful days of Relic keep raids? Of invading Darkness Falls? Or all that time spent ‘grinding’ away in Minoc? Just talking to other players around your house because, damnit, you had no other options? Remember how painful it was to go into a dungeon in AC-DT, only for it to escalating into a server-wide brawl? Do any of you know how much time I ‘wasted’ fighting over a city in that game? How many people I knew by reputation, how deep the connections were? It was just awful man, awful. Not a single solo instance around, no ‘epic’ gear handed to me, absolutely no way to instantly teleport to a dungeon with some bots to go on an ‘epic’ quest to kill a god (for the 400th time).
Syp didn’t mention these things, but I will. You know what’s awesome about 2012? That thanks to $300m budgets, the games of today are bug-free (just don’t /dance), that they get prompt content updates (delayed until next week), look amazing (SW retro 2004 vibe is great), run great (just don’t turn on those now-gone high textures), have awesome server hardware (up to 10 people in one area) and they offer such a wide variety of things to do compared to games of old.
I mean look, when I’m tired of listening to those B-rate voices on my main solo-quest, I can go and do this side-quest. Solo. While listening to B-rate voices. In only one zone (sorry, planet) See? It’s awesome. So much better than being ‘forced’ to grind the same mob camp (one out of about a few thousand, if we’re talking UO) all day. Assuming I’m not a crafter. Or a shopkeeper. Or a PK. Or an anti. Or exploring. Or sailing. Or acting like an orc. Grinding mobs all day, yo!
Man I’m glad it’s 2012!
(Apologies for it not being Friday)