Another piece of what MMORPGs have lost over time

Part 2 in my reflective, and a bit nostalgic, look at  “what MMORPGs have lost over time” series.

The World

When I think back at what we’ve lost, or have begun to lose, in the MMORPGs of today, I keep coming back to one thing:  The World.  We’re starting to lose that sense of a big/massive, open, true world that we can explore and live in as we develop or take on the role of our character.  I want to share experiences from my MMO past to give you an idea of just how far we’ve drifted away from being able to replicate those experiences today.

Norrath in all its glory
This is a WORLD

It was somewhere near my third day of EverQuest.  I was playing a Barbarian Warrior and getting my feet wet for the first time killing goblins.  I came across a much larger spawn of them and found others hunting.  It was then that I received my first group invite and proceeded to kill goblins for over an hour.  At the end of our hunt one of the other Barbarian Warriors in the group announced that he had a friend who was making the trip to Freeport.  “What’s Freeport?”, I remember asking him.  He then went on to tell me that it was across the continent and one of the cities where Humans can start.  “The hunting is much better there”, he said.  That sounded great to me.  I had spent a couple days now killing things in the snowy lands of Halas and I was ready to move on.  “We’ll set out in 20 minutes.  Make sure you have time to make the trip because it’s a long one”.

This trip across Antonica was the single most memorable experience I have ever, ever, had in a MMORPG.  We began our trip by following an icy ridge to a cave.  There were no maps at the time and we were following someone who had only made the trip once before.  We made our way through a dungeon that actually acted as a passageway between regions.  “If you get attacked, do not stop running!”, was one of the scariest things I had ever heard.  Sure enough, we were attacked and all of us were frantically running for the zone line.  Thirty minutes later we were making our way down the coast of a river and in the distance we could discern this great winged beast… “GRIFFON!”, they shouted.  We ran as quickly as we could to the nearest barn that happened to be standing out in the plains of the Karanas.  “We’ll hide in here until morning”.  And there we sat.  Why?  I don’t know really… it wouldn’t have stopped the aggro from the Griffon and we would have certainly been dead since we were under level 8.  We hid until daylight nonetheless because at the very least it was actually difficult to see at night.

During this trip we saw several sights.  We stopped off in every outpost and town so that we could to let the adrenaline rush fade.  We visited with people we came in contact with and actually picked up more travelers along the way who wanted to make the trip in a group.  Seeing different races for the first time was a real treat.  The first time I saw a Halfling in Rivervale I couldn’t believe my eyes that they were in such abundance here.  This was their little corner of the world and I was out of place.  The little Halflings crowded around us, gave us buffs, and even traded us turnips or something (I have no idea why) – we were just as neat to them as they were to us.   We eventually made it to Freeport where a whole new, unique, set of experiences awaited me.

Finding people from other parts of the world and getting to hear about their experiences and how they’ve been leveling up is something unique to EQ.  As a Barbarian coming to a place like Freeport, I was an alien.  The way they did things across the content felt different.  In the North we sold pelts and down here in the south they wanted Lightstones because it was hard to see without them – Humans had poor eyesight.  I remember hunting near a platform in the North Desert of Ro and meeting a Wood Elf for the first time.  We exchanged stories of where we started.  He had started on an entirely different continent and had to travel past the Dwarven lands, across an ocean, and finally here to Freeport.   I told him about my trip through the mountains, across the plains, and the Griffon.  It made me want to visit his home lands and he mine just to have those same adventures and see how different the game felt across the world – because it truly felt different!

NOT a world
NOT a world

Although being a newbie greatly enhanced this experience [Note:  I had these experiences for over the first YEAR of play], there are a few key elements from this adventure which are missing from MMORPGs today that would make this type of experience impossible, even for a newbie.  We’re starting to lose that ‘big connected world’ feeling.  I feel that devs are quickly condensing the content into smaller packages and spoon feeding them to us when they feel we’re ready, not when we want to experience them.  Being a level 6-8 Barbarian making the trip to Freeport was a fool’s errand, but it was mine to make.   Norrath was not linear.  Games today are becoming increasingly linear with one path to travel.  I could travel across the world to one of a dozen or so locations to hunt at level 10 in EQ.  At 12, 15, 18, 20, etc my options kept increasing until I had so many options that I could actually plan out ways for my next character to level and see something entirely new the whole way.  I could have left Freeport and gone to the Elf lands if I wanted to and had an entirely unique experience there.

In a games like WAR, LOTRO, and even Aion the worlds are so linear that all we have to do is follow a road to the next location.  Players have no reason, and often no option, to diverge down a different path. There is often only one way to play a MMORPG released in today’s market, and trying to play it differently makes you a “niche gamer”, a “roleplayer” or a “nostalgic”.  I do not want my content handed to me one instance at a time and I certainly do not want to have to follow one road the entire game.  I can understand that people find comfort from some form of linearity, but we’ve crossed the line.

Accessibility has become the gateway for developers to take shortcuts and squander the sense of world immersion and connectivity.  How wonderful for them!  It’s less work and today’s current generation screams “Thank you!”  But who are the ones that suffer?  Everyone suffers from this.  Right now the newbies to the genre will probably respond to this blog entry with things like “this is how MMORPGs are made”  or with a slew of “casual gamer” defensive posturing because someone mentioned EverQuest.  Trust those of us who know better.  Trust those who have seen what MMORPGs once had and what they are missing today.  You might truly be satisfied today, but wait until tomorrow.  Wait until you’re not the one they’re making games for anymore and then remember the days when the few people waving their arms like madmen trying to get people to listen were right – then you’ll realize you’ve become one of us.  We’re on a slippery slope leading to iPhone MMOs with 5 minute adventures being sold for $7.99 and “worlds” becoming 10×10 screens – yep, there will be an app for that.

It’s not overly nostalgic or unrealistic to want a big open world like EverQuest.  I’m not asking for a sandbox – EverQuest wasn’t one.  I’m not asking for something completely devoid of linear play.  I’m not asking for hardcore mechanics like death penalties or harsh leveling curves.  I’m not asking for anything less accessible than what you have today.  I’m focusing purely on the world and how it benefits players when they feel connected – it becomes an experience rather than a gimmick or an obstacle.   I want players to consider the benefits of a true MMORPG world again, one like I described in my experiences above where people are connected to the experience, not the deceitful excuse for “worlds” we’re being pushed into today.

  • couldn’t agree more with this article. Lots of folks wax nostalgic about UO, but one of the beautiful things about the game was the interconnected world. You could sail to remote islands and delve into any of the dungeons in the game at any point in your players existance. Obviously, going into the dragon cave alone and without the proper skills and equipment was suicide, but it was entirely your own choosing of whether or not to go there.

    I almost played Darkfall simply for the open world design. It’s a shame they didn’t have a bigger budget to really flesh that game out.

  • Your article definitely dredged up great memories, EQ and FFXI. Nailed it on the head on whats missing. One reason Aion might be a gap filler for other MMO’s. While I miss the near forced grouping, while its great for building the team and meeting new folks, now its rush to end game. Still very interested in the next generation thats in development, see where the new FFIV offers.

  • Ryzom has a large open world (once you leave the newbie island). Give it a try and see what you think, Keen – it may be what you’ve been missing lately.

  • While EvE may have a huge galaxy on paper (7000+ systems, including wormhole systems), they all are procedurally generated and thus carbon-copies of each other. At most, you’ll be seeing stargates, ships and space stations that look different, but function just like the ones you have seen earlier. Furthermore, there’s safe routes between the four empires, so there’s no need to be afraid of the unknown. Fortunately, this is not the case in 0.0 and wormhole systems.

  • Broad appeal = maximum number of subscribers. Money talks. Massive online does not equal immersion anymore, it just means a game with chat client and co-op mode built in. This is the new way of things since online worlds have become mainstream.

    I’m not holding my breath for something like EQ or UO because the majority of players today don’t want to create their own adventure, that’s to much like work. Us old schoolers liked working for our fun so to speak because it gave the endeavor a feeling of genuine immersion. We were just happy the computer was doing the bloody combat calculations for us!

    I like having to draw my own maps. I like needing a group. My nephew on the other hand cannot fathom why that would be fun to anyone. Times have changed, and as long as the majority of players want easy mode, ride the rail adventures, there will be no major developer willing to take a risk on something more challenging.

  • A world without automapping… that will drive about 80percent of todays mmo market insane! Of course some of us would flip for that I think. Darkfall claimed this, but the lack of content really made it pointless. I was excited when I went off on my own and found an island with an abandoned fort entrance on it, but the building did not open and served no purpose.

    My hopes now go to Mortal Online. Their promise of no in game map sounds appealing, but we shall see how that is implemented.

  • Going to have to disagree with you on lotRO. World is the main appeal for me there. You are not on rails and there are no borders or zones. You can get anywhere on foot, in general.

  • I too played EQ and had such an adventure.

    I was bored out of my mind having nothing to do but kill frogloks and mushroom men for hours. I wanted to head to Oasis (I think – it’s been a while) to meet up with a friend. It was a trek through a dangerous zone but I eventually got there. And then a giant one shotted me. So a started a corpse run back to get my stuff. I managed to get within 5 feet of my corpse and another giant killed me. So I started to run back again and guess what?

    So you’ll understand if my memories of EQ are somewhat less pleasant that yours.

  • Another good blog and i’ll tie this one into my favorite whipping boy Vanguard:

    I knew that game was not for me the day they started dropping several riftways in every chunk. One of the few remaining good things that game had going for it was the world. I really thought they nailed the world for a fantasy mmorpg. It was vast, took time to travel around etc. Then the boats stopped working so they put in the dock teleporters as a “temp fix”. That was my first warning sign. Then instead of fixing the boats they decided to put in even more riftways because some folks on the message boards didn’t want to be bothered with taking any time to travel anywhere. Soon ever single place in the entire world was accessible within about 2 minutes. Game = dead to me.

    Vanguard is just a great example of what is going wrong with the genre, all represented in just that one game. Starting out it was going to be a long level curve, challenging content, and a large epic world. The devs that were left quickly transformed it into a lightning fast leveling curve where you would outlevel certain quest chains before you even finished them (even if that’s the only quest you were working on…i’m not joking), named mobs that would spawn every 5 minutes and fall over if you looked at them cross-eyed, and teleporters every 3 feet thereby reducing the once vast world into a joke.

    And now they probably have under 10,000 subs. what a shame.

  • I agree with you Keen and something else I never really considered. The vast majority of players in EQ didn’t care about the end game. Now the casual players cite accesibility to end game content as the reason for playing. There were alot of people who played EQ that didn’t play any more per day than what people play in WoW now.

    In EQ it truly was about the journey to max level, not just max level. Now days the leveling process is just a way to prolong subcription time.

    A fraction of the people on cutting edge content in WoW raided in EQ.

  • I don’t disagree with the general sentiment. The genre has moved more and more “on rails” during the five years I’ve been playing MMORPG’s, and something has definitely been lost in that transition. There are good reasons why these changes have been made – for example, new players may not be thrilled to enter Norrath for the first time and discover that they are in for a massive ordeal to join forces with their offline friends – but nothing comes without a price.

    The tyranny of the WoW-style “enough quest content to get you from level 1 to the cap” model is that no one, not even Blizzard, can produce the amount of content required to sustain it. You can really see a shift in WoW with tons of parallel tracks through to level 30 (made possible by the game’s relatively lengthy development cycle), with fewer and fewer options as players advanced until things reached a point where players had to start doing most or all of the available content to advance without grinding.

    Blizzard hasn’t put players on rails because it wants them on rails. It put players on rails because you need to provide guidance when there are only two locations in the whole game world that are appropriate for players’ current level. There’s simply no time for creating ambiance or multiple paths – everything needs to be geared towards filling a content hole that will be used by as many players as possible, to retain the subscriptions of players who are out of content.

    This problem is only magnified if you attempt to copy the WoW model with a smaller budget. The only way for a game like Aion to produce WoW-quality content is apparently to produce very very little of it. That part of the future of the genre does scare me, though I’m not sure what can be done about it.

  • @ Larry- most folks learned to avoid those giants after the first encounter. At least, i did. Ya, they put the fear of god in me…which made my heart race every time i was in that area. And that fear and learning process is one of the many things that made EQ such a wonderful game.

    Compare to Wow, where death is a meaningless mechanic people use to get through zones. wow, that really makes my heart race…

  • I have fond memories of these things in EQ as well, but I recognize them for what they are – nostalgia. EQ’s highs were great, but that’s in large part due to the fact that its lows were nearly unbearable.

    You could replicate this travel experience in WoW, you know – just don’t ever look at the map. WoW’s (original) world is a cohesive whole, linked together without even the zone lines and loading screens of EQ.

    In this respect, the biggest difference between WoW and EQ is that EQ gives you virtually no information. Everything is an unknown, which does enhance the sense of discovery when you figure something out on your own. Unfortunately, it also increases the pain when you’re actually trying to do something.

    Oh, and not traveling at night is a good rule for those without night vision. It may not have protected you from the Griffon you saw, but it would have made it easier to spot them when you started moving again 🙂

  • I have to say I was THRILLED to death when I saw that WAR was going to have instant flight times when going from place to place. And in game I even commented how much better this was then sitting on a stupid griffon waiting 20 min to get to where I was going.

    BUT…then I started to see the problems. It SUCKED when entire armies could move from keep to keep instantly. You never had to “plan” anything because you could just zip over to somewhere else. And the world FELT small!

    It wasn’t till a month ago when I logged into WoW for the first time that I really appreciated the long flights and travel times. The world felt SO much larger then WAR.

    ON a side note: I actually think that if devs added reasons to go exploring folks would run all over the world. I thought the idea in DF to randomly generate treasure chests was a GREAT idea. Reasons to explore, can’t look up on the net where they are, more PvP encounters as more small parties were out exploring, and the possibility of GREAT loot and gold. Add a mechanic that has a great chance of greater loot the further the chest is from a city/safety and it seems to me that is a simple way for the devs to get folks out of the precut paths.

  • Quote: “wow, that really makes my heart race…”

    When you just ran 2 hours to get to the wood elf town, only to fall off the rope bridge by accident due to lag and got sent back to your bind point on Qeynos because you didn’t find the druid in time. Yah, that really made my heart race, too.

    I’m not saying people didn’t eventually get past all that but, people had to put a LOT of work into that game. So much work, I’m not sure how it was a game anymore.

    I can see putting a lot of work into constructing a shack, or building a deck, or even a team of programmers working on a small independent software tool. Tangible and intangible things. But in a game? I start to loose the attraction.

  • Thank you, Keen, for posting something that doesn’t make me want to scream at you. 🙂

    The open-world MMO has been dying by degrees and each new game copies and tries to improve on the prior generation without understanding why prior games made certain design decisions. The sad thing is that World of Warcraft at least does a decent job of feeling like a world. Unfortunately, fast travel and discrete zoning have defined the modern theme park MMO to the detriment of immersion.

  • I had a discussion with one of my WoW-guildmates about something like this. His point was that from 1-60 you had so many differnt quest hubs to pick from that it was hard picking the best place and this was a downside. He said it was much better once you got to 60+ because there it was much more liniar and you didnt have to think about where to go.

    I remember my first char in wow and i had similar experieces as you describe. With automaps I could still have fun exploring. I loved some of the max level quests that would take you around the world to kill dragons in places you had’nt seen if you only followed the roads. I still remember one time I went exploring and stumbled onto a boss type dragon. Having seen him that day inspired me to join a guild so I could get to see and kill dragons like that.

    In warhammer you litteraly had a line leading you through the map. Some of my best times in that game was when my freinds and I went so far away from our line that we could’nt kill anything and we had to run from everything we saw.

    If not having an automap makes exploring more fun I am definately all for it.

    When I think back on how WoW was when it was released I can’t help but think it would get labbled as a niche game by todays players. It probably would’nt even be succesfull.

    Wow adapted to the changing playerbase, im hoping that the playerbase will change again. Only then will we see some of the things mmorpgs have lost again.

  • Can’t really agree with this one. I had great fun exploring the world in WoW when I started playing it and the world really did feel huge initially, but of course as you get to know every place and travel is trivialized, not so much anymore.

    I’ve only played a trial + month of Lotro but the single thing that really attracted me about it was exploring all the places I had read in the book about and I did feel like I could go anywhere I wanted there too.

  • The EQ run, I spent so much time exploring that game that I got behind my friends who actually spent time leveling. I didn’t mind though it was so much fun. I miss the differing languages and being able to learn them, I miss the feeling of not knowing whats going on or where you were going. Even the online maps we had for EQ weren’t the best. I loved learning the hard way about Kithcor Forest at night. Too bad everything is so cookie cutter now, if a game doesn’t get and sustain over 500k subs its a stinker!

    Vanguard was the spiritual successor to EQ, too bad it was rushed out the door, because it had potential to be a great game. I had a lot of similar experiences and wow moments with vanguard as I did in EQ and to a lesser extent UO.

  • I pretty much agree 100% with what Keen has been saying regarding MMO’s and what they’ve lost.

    However, I can also see the point of people defending how they are today in that there are times when I don’t want to have to run an hour just to meet up with my friends or to get to an area where I can hunt/quest.

    I love the exploration aspect of DAoC. Of having to run around the world and discover it before you could easily get back to them.

    WoW had a bit of this with having to find the flight masters before you could use them and to be honest, that’s as far as I would have liked to see MMO’s go.

    I don’t mind bind stones and I really like the ability to be able to be ported to my party without having kill half my play time running game miles just to be able to be with my friends.

    However, new MMO’s have tipped the scale too far into the ease of use area. Having to make a 5 minute run anywhere in a game world hardly ever happens anymore. And that makes me sad as the exploration of a new world is half of what brings me there in the first place.

    I’m not going to advocate going back to the EQ/DAoC ways. But I would like to see a nice mix of old and new. Let me be able to fly/port to cities I’ve previously visited. Let me be able to bind at different locations and give my friends the ability to “call” me to their location for grouping.

    But before I’m able to do all of that, make me have to explore the world and find those places and earn those abilities/spells. Bring back the adventure to MMO’s and stop giving us everything we want or need by level 5. Mix up the zones so a level 15 monster can wander through a level 5 zone from time to time.

    Have the MOB’s change along with the day/night cycles like DAoC used to do.

    There’s so much more that can be done and yet still make the game fun for casual players. This is one case where we can have our cake and eat it too. It’s just up to the developers to wake up and stop thinking less is more and that they need to make their worlds smaller in order to make smaller play times more rewarding.

  • WoW did have multiple quest hubs sure, but back then, pre TBC, you had to visit all of them in order to level up as there wasn’t enough content along one path to get you through on quests alone.

    Fundamentally though, I doubt we can ever go back to an EQ style open world with so many options for levelling, as long as players continue to expect quests to be the primary advancement path; it’s just not economical for developers to generate 10 times more quests than you need to hit the level cap just so there are multiple options. As it is, big budget MMOs can’t even release with enough content to make it all the way to the end game, let alone do it all several times over. Even vanilla WoW had content gaps if you weren’t able to follow some quest chains into elite areas/instances.

    The majority of players balked at having to grind mobs in AoC even for a few levels to fill the content gap to the next quest hub, so I can’t see a return to mob grinding being the primary advancement path for any new MMOs coming up. But the funny thing is, 90% of quests are just mob grinding anyway, just with a fixed goal and the reward done in one chunk at the end rather than spread over the kills.

    I know I’ve mentioned it before in comments here, but I’ll say it again; the only way to provide a non-linear advancement path that people aren’t going to be too afraid to follow is going to be dynamic/procedural content. I’d love to see a huge open world MMO where dynamically generated quests led players all off in different directions, each one (or group) forging their own path and telling their own story.

    Of course the technology has to catch up to a level where the world can change enough based on player actions for them to feel attachment to these dynamic quests, in a similar way to the story progression you get in something like Lich King, otherwise it’d feel like just another AO/CoH mission grind (which is why I hate instances for dynamic content).

  • Sounds like we need a niche open-world-sandbox type of MMO. The fact is, it will always be niche. But if it were modeled somewhat after Eve (with pvp, some saftey, and a lot of effectively player-generated content), it could work. For some people; it would never be a huge hit.

    Which means it’d be tough to get investors, which means tough to make the world really big and open and beautiful. You’d need some conceit that lets you expand new lands over time (easy enough to dream up), and a hard-as-hell leveling system (like original EQ where you can lose exp, or Eve where it’s basically neverending) to keep people from hitting the cap and wondering ‘where’s the endgame’.

  • @Deigh: I can only speak for my self but back pre TBC when I first was leveling up I often did come across quest hubs that I had out leveled.

    It never felt like a path because I would often have to travel to find the quest hub suited for my level. Travel in a vast seamless world was almost an invitation to go exploring.

    The content gaps in vanilla wow meant that you were “forced” to group up. This is also something WoW and newer mmo’s abandoned. Nothing that you need to do to advance can be harder than you can solo it.

    Can’t help but feel blizzard made a good game then spent alot of time making it worse/easy and got rich by doing so.

  • Awesome Write up. Brought back alot of memories.

    Just wanted to chime in and agree with most of the replies. I have hopes this can be done again. It can be done when the technology can produce random encounters/events everytime you log in. It will happen and I can’t wait.

  • Part of the issue today is there is no fear of death. While harsh death penalties are no fun they do provide a lot of value in your gameplay and that includes exploration. Adrenaline rushes can only be experienced in games where death hurts and requires some help from others at times to recover or get to your goals. Today its just far to easy and the consequences are meaningless.

  • I like this crusade you are on Keen. I think it a good subject to keep in discussion.

    I, like many others posting here, had the exact same experience early on in EQ, and that has yet to be rivaled. It is not a nostalgia thing, it was the fact that getting somewhere took an hour. It was an accomplishment.

    I respectfully disagree with Nemesis, I think WOW started down the slippery slope when they introduced meeting stones. How often did groups just use them to move people quickly (as if flights were too long/expensive.) For me this completely killed immersion and was the 1st step to theme park style play. Well.. you see how much worse it got.

    Maybe it doesn’t need to take an hour to get somewhere.. but make the JOURNEY meaningful, design the game around the JOURNEY, not the meeting place. If your friends are somewhere else, well then those were in game decisions you made… but it is nice to have real consequences. That is what’s missing.

    To continue my rant from the earlier posting… There IS a huge potential market for this kind of game. People continue to under-estimate how much online gaming has expanded, and companies have been too short sited in trying to cash in on one the one succesful style. It is like all the crappy copy-cat blockbuster movies that come out during the summer, and the studios wonder why the are hemorraging cash. Look at all who have failed at the rail-style game. I am guessing some of the posters are just very young when hey say there is no going back??

    We are about to see a generation of kids grow into adults and continue to play online games. For every 3 dads and moms that what a very casual, no consequence, instant gratification solo MMORPG, there will be one who is yearning for a much more complicated, in-depth, slow evolving hobby style game. And hobby games do make money. Throwing the word ‘niche’ around is just like conservatives throwing around the word ‘liberal’.. whatever your political views are, my point is it is extremely narrow minded… which is one thing in the real world, but quite another when discussing a CREATIVE ENDEAVOUR.

    The market is still in its infancy in this regard. Wait till mount and blade meets oblivion with destructable environments.. etc.

    AND FOR GODS SAKE BRING BACK A REAL DAY NIGHT CYCLE.

    🙂

  • You forgot the ability to party up in a group just by going into certain areas people were known to “farm” experience and occasional loot. HPH comes to mind and many,many groups I was in or started where no one said anything but everyone did their job. On the especially good groups that could pull from the very bottom before respawns, those were the rarities and the people you remembered.

    I am hoping the 38 Studios MMO brings back some of the things re remember and loved about these games (Go Curt!)into their new game. A challenge is really what is needed in the market…be it another fantasy game or not.

    I want to find out about the game through exploring or asking in game not from some site that data mines all the information and posts it before it even goes live.

    There were still major parts of the EQ world I never got around to seeing and I got pretty high on my Druid before going into the military then coming back to WoW.

  • I agree with u Keen, I also agree with Romble, “Fear of Death” is a key part to a good RPG in my eyes. Good things are supposed to be worth the risk, whether it’s a special site to behold, that only those with steel balls and an ounce of stupidity dare go see, or a special boss that could smack u into yesterday and make u drop that expensive helm that u salivated for and spent days grinding to afford though defeating this boss would bring u riches and a fealing of accomplishment.
    I believe RPG’s whether MUD’s (Multi-User Dungeon), tabletop DND and others, or just a group of friends playing adventures out vocally with no paper were looked upon as “geeky”. Average video game junkies wouldnt have been caught dead playing dnd. The closest they would go would be zelda! They were not considered cool to those on the outside.
    People call games that cater to the “once was” a niche, but i believe wow is the true niche. Wow took bits of what was good from older games and created a more palatable experience for more players. They removed the danger, fear of the unknown, fear of death, the real penalties for dieing. In dnd if u died, you were dead until someone could rezz you or they carried your dead body back a long way home or to some city to get u to a cleric or preist.
    I’m only using wow because it is the biggest and most widely appealing. Wow brought in the average console gamers and average computer gamers who were used to hitting the reset button when things didnt go right. Those who couldnt fathom spending hours, days, years playing 1 game, that didnt have any end in site. They made RPG’s “cool” to play.
    A few things I miss from playing an text based MMORPG Called Gemstone 3 about 20 years ago. Maps? what maps? U had to get a peice of paper and draw out your own map. Back then someone may have drew thier own map and colored it and made it look pretty for u to download and print out. Death ? if u died and you were a far distance from your home you better hope someone came past and seen your dead body laying there amongst the description or hope that you were friends or in a “clan?” with someone who has mastered teleporting to get to u and rezz or someone with the balls to try and find u on foot. Towns were, from what i imagined at 10 years old and from the discriptions, Far as hell from each other. You could join a group with someone who knew the way, but god forbid u had to go over an ice region, there was a chance you would slip and fall, and next thing u know, your group had left the area and if the leader hadnt noticed, he’d be 5 places further b4 u even had a chance to get up. I dont feel any real chances anymore in current mmo’s. So much catering to the new breed that they totally forgot about the old breed, The ONLY reason why rpg’s made it to today. Sorry for the length.

  • AMEN! Another great post on this subject. As someone who played EQ for about a year, then left to play many other games, now that I have returned to EQ I have finally seen what it was that I liked so much.

    I realize quests are really boring, I like grouping with other people where your role truly means you play a significant part. Tanks have to know how to taunt, shamen have to slow, enchanters have to CC, and haste the melee, buffs are actually important and desired!

    As far as content goes, in EQ you kind of make your own content. You log in and you put together a group and decide what you are doing that evening, and your options aren’t limited to a handful of dungeons in your level range. Which all ties back to the large world this post is about. That’s why 10 years later, its still running.

  • Keen, you picked a zone based game (EQ) and compared it to a zone based game (WAR). At least pick something like UO that had an actual world. A world that could be settled and developed. A world where you literally got into a boat and discovered islands no one else even knew existed, built your mother fucking castle, and became the god damn king of Ice Island.

    In comparison to EQ, though, I don’t think today’s games are any smaller or less open for the most part. However, today’s games go the extra mile to direct players at content. To this day, that is one of my bullet points for discussing WoW’s popularity. WoW is absolutely amazing at progression and directing the play experience.

    You hint at your “options” in EQ. I doubt very many of those options were spelled out to you by the game and I doubt many of those options were discovered with normal play. Someone somewhere cheated to figure out where level X camps were at. EQ eventually became a camped formula.

    Nostalgia for games like EQ is a very bad thing. It creates impossible to meet game play desires. It was not about EQ or UO. It was about the infancy of online interaction on a massive scale. It is a time that WILL NEVER be repeated. The Internet is here. People are not clueless about it as they were in those days.

  • Not to defend keen but although u have a point Heartless who’s to say that the options that keen had werent told to him by numerous people that each experienced a separate option on thier own? That was part of the purpose in rpg’s I played, To commune. People could take ideas and knowledge that they had personal experience on and share it amongst other people in game, and if they knew the char personally, then also outside of the game. I would never use impossible when we are talking about what “Mankind” can accomplish. I would rather use the word improbable, or in the case of the bottom line, irrational. It has become irrational to keep with the old school of rpg’s because then they would not turn the profit that they would like to achieve. One of the Biggest reason’s to the downfall of the old ways, which in turn has been one of the biggest reason for the sharing of information today is the internets. Why explore when I can run explorer? Why search for an item for days when I can search google? I am the type of person to break a game’s mechanics down so i can benefit and tell my friends so they can benefit and that information becomes privy to me and them. Nowadays why should i even go as far as to find out, when that information will be available for the whole world to know sometimes even long b4 the game actually launches?

  • @heartless – did you even read other people’s posts.. many clearly explaining what parts of EQ they like objectively?

    You are an idiot if you think games get figured out by cheaters/exploiters only, except that it is much easier to exploit a game on rails, because there are NO other options.. just min/max. Great – WOW et all is the game for you, but don’t come spewing this crap about the internet, as if you are in on some huge secret.

    I suppose your claim to fame is an in-game levelling guide where every step is lined out exactly to what you should buy and sell at the vendors. and in game do you flame other people for trying to actually figure things out for themselves?

    sorry for the rant… but I can’t /ignore you.

    Pleeeeeeeease… your comments ave no place here. at all.

  • @Chilltownnj – similarly, you’re logic is flawed in assuming that everyone wants easier and easier games. Who mandated this? Is it because it worked for WOW?

    I AM SO TIRED OF PEOPLE THINKING THAT BECUASE A MECHANIC WORKED FOR WOW, THAT IS MUST BE THE ONLY WAY IT CAN BE DONE FOREVER AFTER.

    Some of you guys really have small brains. /rant off

  • @Silverfly – I never once implied that everyone wanted easier and easier games. I for one don’t. I love games that I have to figure things out for myself, on my own, because once u do figure it out, there’s a sense of Relief/Appreciation/Satisfaction of an accomlishment. Wow has created the term, “casual gamer” and in turn dubbed the people who love and spent lots of time playing older rpg’s “Hard Core Gamers”. I want the old days back, I want to see a puzzle and have to dig deep in the lore of the game and tap my intelligence to figure out. Wow and many other games have catered to that “casual gamer” because they are more abundant than us. “Casual Gamer”=Big Bucks I would gladly pay $30 or more a month to play a rpg that racks my brain, penalizes me for f’n up, is beautifully thought out, beautifully imagined, takes time to learn and play efficiently, makes me work for my goals, and doesnt force me to do what the game wants me to do. I never said EVERYONE. Shoot i didnt even give war any props aside from making money. Small brains? Your trying to insult me with a comment that is so beneath me.

  • @Silverfly – Oh and I reread my comments just so I could gain a better understanding of where u mis-interpreted my thoughts.

    I was agreeing with the last line of what Heartless wrote

    “Nostalgia for games like EQ is a very bad thing. It creates impossible to meet game play desires. It was not about EQ or UO. It was about the infancy of online interaction on a massive scale.”

    Except I was saying that to re-make the older style of MMORPG’s would be “Improbabl\Irrational” to gaming companies because to them it isn’t about the customers, it’s really about the customers dollar and about the “Bottom Line”=Money Making Potential.

    A business is about making money, and that’s all there is to it. If it’s not about making money or turning a profit, then they call those Charities. And i dont think a charity holds well for selling games. When a gaming company comes around and actually has our ideal interests at heart first and know that the money will follow then i’m onboard forever with the product they will put out. But until then I will try what’s out, and hope for the best.

  • Great post Keen – something has definitely been lost in translation to newer games. It is hard to see where we go from here, though. Personally I think we’ve bid goodbye, probably forever, to a lot of elements I liked about early MMOs – a real world to explore, death penalties with some punch, lots of classes and races to choose from, etc. A few of these elements linger in current games, but I don’t think you could find the total package now in any newer game.

    I’m not bashing newer games or casual players, they are definitely a lot of fun, and reaching out to more casual players is a good thing in the long run. But the problem as has been mentioned in these comments, is that there isn’t another option, another track. After the Vanguard debacle (though it is still quite a fun game,) I can’t really see any of the major companies putting in the effort at making an older-style game.

    I’m hanging on with Everquest 2, which despite all that has been done to “casualize” it and make travel easier, retains a bit of the old ideas. At least there I still have my choice between 19 races and 24 classes. So many of the newer games are going with WoW-standard 8-10 classes, and you’re lucky to see any race distinctions at all (see Aion.)

    Maybe I’ll end up back in Everquest before all this is over.

  • Death penalty matters, why do you think you hid? Why do you think you felt that adrenaline rush?

    For contrast, look at WoW when it was new, if you were a night elf and wanted to go to human lands you had to travel across these big zones with high level mobs, but it was never considered exciting, it was tedious and boring as you kept having to make corpse runs back to your body, make it a bit farther, die, repeat. There is no appreciable death penalty, so all it does is it feels like its adding on time pointlessly.

    I do not advocate harsh penalties, but I do feel there SHOULD be a penalty for failure that makes you want to actually avoid death, and give you tools to do so (WoW didn’t, which annoyed me to no end).

  • Keen, thanks for sharing! I am almost getting sentimental and you are right, this kind of excitement and feeeling of sheer size of the world got lost.

    WoW at least still has open zones, i.e. no portals or access points, you can enter wherever a way leads into the zone. Night Elves often did a run similar to your Barbarian’s run (much less epic, but it was there) to Iron Forge. They took the boat to Menethil and met the little buggers there. Then it was only going through this passageway which was not that hard.

    Now a ship directly sails to Stormwind. It makes much more sense, especially as WoW has become an “old” game by now, but well.

    We have this trend to “large instanced zones”, and some areas of Aion are very linear indeed – only one way to go ahead. And flying is limited in many areas early on. Basically, to make sure you walk the linear path. 🙁

    Age of Conan has instanced zones, too. There it is even worse, as you always talk to NPCs to travel to the next zone. Ship Captains and Travel Agents abound, which loses some of that “world” feeling if you are zone hopping. It is also often a bit irritating at first to look for the travel agent rather than going “into the general direction of Aquilonia”. 😉

    Ultima Online even allowed you to have your own ship! I heard of a pirate city full of player killers called “Buccaneer’s Den” and immediately set sail with 2 companions. We sailed along the coast and then took a sharp turn to the east, over the open ocean.

    Then we arrived at Buccaneer’s Den. We stepped ashore like Columbus and killed some Giant Apes. Then a Player Killer came and killed all three of us, and mutilated our corpses, took our heads and most valuables. He could not carry everything but he had great fun to arrange our belongings all over the ground around us.

    Then he took our ship and sailed away. In these times you still could just take a ship and sail away…^^

    And he was not the worst. After several more violent deaths I only had a blessed (i.e. could not be stolen/looted) butter knife as weapon and finally managed to communicate with some of the silly red player killers!

    My story that we only wanted to discover Buc’s Den must have touched their hearts, as we got asked if we want to become “PK’s”. We agreed and he opened a Moongate for us to bring us back to Britannia.

    He did not do the silly “Moongate to doom” newbie killer trick, we really arrived before the Britain East Bank.

    Aw. Fond memories! 🙂

    http://personalpages.manchester.ac.uk/staff/m.dodge/cybergeography/atlas/ultima_large.jpg
    http://www.aschulze.net/ultima/guide/index.htm

    Some maps of Ultima Online. Buccaneer’s Den is where in the real world Cuba is located. 😉

  • Lots of MMO’s have that ‘world’ feeling. I have several “epic journey” memories from my n00b days in Guild Wars for example. Instancing didn’t ruin the immersion, in fact I’d say it made the journey more compelling because it focused on the struggles of my usually woefully under-powered party.

    It also has the added convenience that once you’ve been somewhere, you don’t have to wait to go back there again. This is great because exploring is fun for roughly the first 1.0 times that you do it.

    WAR I agree with you is a bad example of an open world.

  • @Silverfly

    I have no problem with you disagreeing with me. Good debate makes life interesting. 🙂

    However, let me clarify a bit. Back in the day, I had no issues running all over hell and back in a massive game world. DAoC had horse paths, but even with those you still usually had to run a good ways to meet your group in the prime hunting spots or to get to some of the better dungeons.

    I also didn’t mind the danger involved with having to navigate higher level MOB’s in order to get where I needed to go. The only thing that has changed for me between then and now is that RL puts greater pressure on my time.

    When I have 3 hours to play, I don’t want to have to spend an hour of that running just to be able to meet up with my friends. That is why I would love for a game company to come up with a solution that makes sense. I don’t want instant transport to every place on the map. I don’t want to take away the travel aspect or the danger. I also don’t want the game world dumbed down for me, made smaller or cut into instances just because I have a limited play time.

    These two ideas can co-exist within a game without making it easy sauce regarding travel. Massive game worlds should be the norm. The fun should be in the journey but where the real problem is is that there has to be a pay off for people or a reason to make that long run to a distant place.

    And there also has to be options for friends to be able to group up when needed. Hell, make it guild specific and only available at a certain rank, but at least give me the option if I choose to use it. The problem is, games give that ability AND make the worlds smaller or instanced all to hell.

    That to me is the main problem.

  • @Gordo
    I am pretty sure most of us have gone back to EQ to play it again at some point. After playing the newer MMO’s with the nicer graphics..that game sort of lacks the luster in that area.

    This brings up the point I have mentioned a couple of times in other posts…If they took EQ and reworked it graphically a cross between WoW and Lotro. Better quests system for today’s reading impaired and implemented better ways to notice quests..the game world would explode with people playing it.

  • @ gordo

    It’s not EQ, or UO or DoAC that’s so great as much as particular aspects of those games which were great. These compelling aspects which contributed to our enjoyment of those worlds is being lost as the ideas are refined going forward. We like all gamers are not as interested in playing games which are obsolete technologically. I think many of us are just wondering where the new gen version of what we enjoy is.

    It’s about the MMO hobby being shoehorned into a narrow corridor where there are fewer mmo choices in terms of playstyle. Even those of us who may have outdated views of what mmorpg’s are supposed to be like expected at least some products catered to our tastes with appropriate refinements in technology and game mechanics. We were the original market for these things after all, where the hell is our current branch of the mmorpg tree?

  • I have to echo #45’s sentiment. Games like EQ took a LOT of development time. You aren’t going to see new games released like EQ any time soon. I loved DAOC for exploration and such, but it appears DaoC’s time is over. EQ is still around. Why not go back to it if you miss it’s mechanics so much?

  • @Kosmo #47 – See the part about it taking a lot of development time for a world like EQ. If you want EQ to upgrade itself, then they probably need more subscribers. Go back there and enjoy what it is and hope that it develops into a more graphically and enhanced game than it already is. That’s my best suggestion to everyone looking for those kind of mechanics.

    I personally am settling for Aion. So far it looks like they have enough content to keep me occupied for awhile. I have hopes they will develop it more and open up certain areas for exploration. They seem to listen to people even better than Mythic and learn from other mmo’s mistakes which is a great sign.

    I really miss DAOC myself. I left because of the population. It wasn’t really massive any more with all the people leaving. If it regained population, I myself would still be back there even with the graphics worse than Aion and WoW because I loved the mechanics.

    So I guess what I’m saying is, if you really liked EQ, go back and support them. If it was what you really miss and really enjoyed playing, another one like it probably won’t be coming out soon due to development costs. Just go back and enjoy it and hope your funds will get them to develop it further.

  • @Chilltownnj

    Quote: “A business is about making money, and that’s all there is to it. If it’s not about making money or turning a profit, then they call those Charities.”

    Not ALL businesses have money as their primary driving force behind the decisions they make for their games.

    Decisions driven by passion, by a desire to create something amazing, will produce a better product, a more loved one, than a compant that takes the ‘short cut’ to the money.

    Given the choice between these two:
    1. CEO who started the company to make money
    2. CEO who started the company to make something awesome

    I’d take #2 every day of the week.

    Your quote makes it sound like the world is made up entirely of companies like Microsoft or Sony. Yet I think it’s clear that the world falls in love with products produced by Apple or Nintendo a lot more.

    I’m not saying that Apple and Nintendo isn’t trying to make money, but I am saying that for a great number of employees at the company, that is not their primary goal.

    Steve Jobs doesn’t come into work and say “How can I squeeze $40 more out of customers”. He comes in and says “How can I make our products even better and more awesome”

  • I hear you Steeldragoon, and you make salient points. Population is a big problem though.

    My solution is to play current gen games and focus my efforts into the parts I enjoy. I run a raiding team in wow with a bunch of like minded players but do not play the surrounding meta-game except to get to the raiding part. Once I’m max level (quite easy)I only raid because it simulates the need a group and figuring things out as a team aspect. We don’t use outside resources for strategy.

    I play Lotro and focus on exploration and wandering. This simulates the “wander the world” aspect I miss.

    I will play Aion as well and see what nuggets it has to offer. I just wish I could get it all in one game again.

  • Many people just seem to have a limited window of opportunity to play their favorite games. And there definitely are a large proportion of folks who are impatient (I can be impatient, too, sometimes).

    Never played EQ but that does sound fun. After a while of wandering aimlessly it would get to be a bit much.

    WAR is a bad example to compare considering there are two factions at war with one another. The goal is to find the enemy and fight. If it took as long to find them as your journey across the continent … there’d be no war. Or once everyone got to where the battle was most would just stay there to fight. I’m sure the WAR world will grow but it’s not even a year old.

    Can’t speak for LOTR although it is the one world I would want to just explore. Having read all the books I would have a lot of fun wandering around. How “built” is its world? Is it all there? Could I travel into Mirkwood? Go to the Lonely Mountain? Enter Minas Tirith? See Mt. Doom?

    WoW question: It really takes 20 minutes to fly from zone to zone? Are you kidding me? I’ve read some people enjoy this so they can view the gumdrop mountains and cotton-candy scenery but that’s just nuts. If one night I have only a few hours to play and 20 minutes of it is eaten up flying … sorry, cool the first time or two but then that’s enough. What do WoW players do in that time? Stop, eat dinner? Take a shower? Go to the store? Please tell me it’s not still like that.

    Can’t speak for Aion either.

    New to MMOs but can appreciate the adventure you speak of. I recall a similar feeling playing some RPGs where there’s just this big world and a general map … go find things!

    Good article.

  • First time I’ve posted here, but that was SPOT ON!

    I am keeping my fingers crossed for Copernicus. Schilling started on the EQ type of game, and maybe he will bring that concept of Small Person in a Huge world back.

  • @Krosuss: I don’t mean this as an attack toward you, but..

    If the game world is supposed to feel open and enormous, then instant travel shouldn’t predominate. I like the idea that deciding to travel to a part of the world means that you are going to base in that part of the world for awhile. Deciding to go to a far away land means you have a long journey ahead of you and a long journey back if you want to return. With instant travel options, it doesn’t matter if someone has drawn City X on one edge of the map and Town Y on the other. If travel between the 2 is instantaneous, it won’t feel like they are far apart.

    I’m a casual player at this point in my life, but I still would rather wait 20 minutes for the game to simulate travel because it is an exposition that conveys how big the game world is. It’s can be a hassle (among other things) to travel in the real world and if you want a game world to be believable it should emulate that feeling.

  • @Robert Schultz – I’ll put it to you like this, I’ve been #2. CEO who started the company to make something awesome. Except I was in it to do something awesome, and that is help out as many people as I can. Burned 75Grand on running a Computer Repair store. Pricing-affordable, Technical skill-Unbelievable, Competition-Couldnt stand a chance. Biggest problem is I didnt so much fail, as i didnt do as well as i would have hoped. I made a few mistakes here and there and i have learned so much from the experience and i know i will do much better next time around, The thing is, until you actually run a biz, u have no clue what the bottom line truly is. U can have all the greatest intentions in the world to do good, fight the good fight, help those who are getting cheated, raped and robbed in thier pockets, but if u dont float about your bottom line, what good are you? You cant help no more, You cant work no more, you cant do the good that u so meaningfully intended. I know this now, and i will never forget my lesson. Business is business plain and simple, and it’s about making money, those who put thier good natured goals above making money i would say will undoubtedly not succeed as well as they hoped.

    No not every company is microsoft or sony, many companies have hearts behind them, the problem is, where is thier bottom line?

    Can they maintain thier goodness in times where people are spending less and buckling their belts?

    I made decent money, and did well above what was necessary to repair computers and such. When I open up another shop will I be more strict, enforce contracts, dont be such a nice guy, and charge more for the good service that I render? Hell Yes! Because if i dont take care of number one first and foremost, there will be no one there to bail me out!

    Quick question… What happens when a good company wanting to put out a good product was damn near completely taken over by an evil money making corporation? 1 guess….. WAR

    Running a business has made me a realist.;)

  • @ IJamEcono

    Not taken as an attack at all. I respect your point of view and agree to an extent. Yes, if the world is meant to be big, it should take some time to get from here to there. However, I don’t always want the time in game to equal real-world time minute for minute.

    It’s a fine line to draw to keep everyone happy. I can appreciate the journey, however I don’t want that to dominate my time in game. I am not a casual gamer … I’ve been playing games since the 70’s (aaaahhhh! I just dated myself) and today I play games on every major console, PC, and web. My time, however, is dominated with work, personal, and family time. So when I play I want to get into the action and have fun. I’m not an instant-gratification kind of person and understand that to progress my character and get the gear for him/her I have to take the time to earn it. So I do log many, many, many hours in my MMO of choice (WAR).

    So if there’s a battle across the map, I’d hate to take 20 minutes travelling, that by time I got there the fighting was over. And I assume by your post there still are those 20-minute fly times in WoW. Those would drive me nuts. If I wanted to travel through all the zones of one pairing on foot … I could do it. It would take quite a while. That’s why unlocking flight masters is a good thing so if I need to get to Nordland from Altdorf … well, I can fly there rather than taking several hours running the distance.

    Having never played EQ I’m guessing it is an exploration type MMO with limited or no PvP. WAR is my first MMO and I’ll admit I enjoy the PvP aspect of it. It’s not as hardcore as Darkfall but still a lot of fun. You can PvP from Rank 1 all the way to Rank 40. I need to get to the battle as it’s a major part of the game. I can explore in WAR … the zones aren’t small and there are a lot of them. The dynamics of WAR just seem very different than those in EQ it seems.

  • @Chilltownnj – in reply to #37, I want this too. My frustration lies in this erroneous thinking that because there is a large market for a casual MMO, that this kind of MMO can’t exist or be profitable. It is simply not true. I can only re-iterate that is a new hardcore game had
    10% of the player base of WOW, it would be larger than EQ in it’s heyday. The positive thing WOW has done is brought many more people into this genre. Sure a ton of them want an easy game where they don’t have to look anything up, but I think you find an increasing amount of folks as they mature will won’t a deeper experience.

    To think this is not possible because of the prevalance and ease at which we use the internet is a false assumption. There are many design elements that could be added to balance this. Thinking there aren’t is where my narrow minded comment comes from.

    @heartless – this is in response to you as well…

    take for instance if you had to travel by ship.. the travel time is 10 minutes as opposed to instant, however there were spawns on board the ship.. perhaps they scaled somehow to the players on board. If the players failed the would be marooned or killed. Now all of a sudden something that was considered tedious just became dangerous and exciting. Perhaps certain players would just ride ships around all day to be ‘protectors’, or even mess with people. Fear of griefing should not stop a game mechanic in its early designs.

    what if there was a magical escalator road you jumped on, or you got attacked on flight paths… my point is companies have just gotten lazy.

    Just a couple of examples…

  • Well my fondest memories were of AC not EQ for many of the same reasons. Only in EQ to explore you had to have a group and you ran more than took time to look around.

    I think that in war most people simple are running for the end game instead of looking around because you level too fast, and if you do one area you have out leveled everything but heroes in the other two areas. Then again I’m still not 40 because I keep looking around instead of finishing the quests.

    I would love to go back to wide open world where if you just want to wander around you can. The problem is most worlds they populate the area and nothing else. All the early MMOs like EQ AC UO mostly filled vast area with random stuff.

  • @Silverfly – I honestly love that idea of making travel, not so safe, Just like i would adore the feeling of equivalent to real life death penalties in game (in real life it’s eternal, in game life it’s a real setback.

    I would love the fact that enemies lurk in every corner and when u think your safe your really not, anytime pvpve, Life is not safe, anything can happen to you at anytime negative or positive.

    Also if teleportation is an issue, make it an absorbatant price scalable by level to keep only the wealthy using the finer things in life, as a luxury when the broke and average can only use it of emergence.

    How about this for chance and adventure, Lets say 1 real world day is equivalent to 6 in game days, and for every main/capital city they would get a die roll at midnight of 1/180 on a roll of a 1 the souls of fallen mobs would rise and overrun a city! Talk about Fun!

    Problem is, any one of those “features” are not hard to implement, wouldnt take a rocket scientist to engineer, and would add excitement or balance a game a bit (no i’m no game designer but have done a minor bit of coding in my days and adding a town roll, with some spawning mobs set to aggro everything doesnt sound to hard to me) The biggest problem is, to some groups that would be a “deal breaker”. Someone is gonna bitch regardless… Someone isnt gonna like the idea… I’d say it’s a part of the game, and they would say, it’s not the game i want to be a part of…

    Make the game too hard and full of death and chances and make people think b4 they do and some group will not like the changes. A casual gamer would say, traveling to such and such port is too dangerous, i dont want to play anymore, or I died and lost my uber +10 pointything, i dont want to play anymore, or it cost too much to fly to zimbabwaaahhh i dont want to play anymore, or like u put it, (bring back the real transitions from day and night(not in those exact words but)) waaaahhhh it’s to dark at night, my eyes hurt, i dont want to play anymore…

    Games dont want to lose subscribers, they want to gain them. But u cater to one group, u lose another. There seems to be no give and take anymore. Just give me your money and take what i give u…

  • “…newbies to the genre will probably respond to this blog entry with things like “this is how MMORPGs are made” or with a slew of “casual gamer” defensive posturing because someone mentioned EverQuest. Trust those of us who know better. Trust those who have seen what MMORPGs once had and what they are missing today.”

    This is my new favorite quote. It is so funny that you say that because I’ve found the same thing. If you invoke the words EverQuest, Grouping, or PvE people start frothing at the mouth to tell you you’re wrong or foolish.

    The truth is that these aren’t just fond memories. There were mechanics that were just better in the original generation. If that wasn’t the case you wouldn’t have as many of us pining for yesteryear.

    My biggest issue is with “grinding.” Everyone is so against it but unknowingly they do it anyway. There is no difference between killing 10 blue slimes for 1 experience each and getting a quest reward of 500 experience than killing them and getting 50 experience each. Everyone just likes the “completed a quest” feeling.

    What that has done is destroyed the world. Everyone is conditioned to go the quest hubs, grab the quests and head to the exact locations for them. Most games tell you where to go now with huge red circles! I prefer the traditional fantasy feel of just looking for dungeons or caves or good places to hunt. Sure, have quests, but 50/50 is good too.

    I miss the old days myself and I think it is sad that I’ve had to tell guild mates on more than one occasion that we had games before WoW.

  • “My biggest issue is with ‘grinding.’ Everyone is so against it but unknowingly they do it anyway. There is no difference between killing 10 blue slimes for 1 experience each and getting a quest reward of 500 experience than killing them and getting 50 experience each. Everyone just likes the ‘completed a quest’ feeling.”

    While I agree Keen’s post and a lot of the comments, I have to disagree with this quote. At a very generic level, sure there’s nothing different about getting 50 experience 10 times and getting 500 once, but there’s a huge difference between sitting in one spot and killing creatures over and over until you level or get board and getting a quest from an NPC and meeting the quest’s completion criteria. In the first scenario I’m sitting in a hunting spot and doing the same thing repeatedly. In the second scenario I may be doing the same thing, but I also have a little story and a specific short-term goal. When I moved from EQ to DAoC the heavier emphasis on questing to level was one of my favorite changes.

    Unfortunately with WoW and other current MMO’s quests have been reduced to a small set of types (kill, courier, collection), plus no one reads the quests either for fun or to find out how to complete it. Even before the advent of WoW plugins or the WAR minimap guide, most players seemed to spend more time asking for help in chat than reading the quest text and trying to figure out the solution for themselves.

  • The big issue is that now nothing is sacred on the internet and if they made a game without maps then it by the time the game launched, some beta player would have already made some and stuck them up on the web.

    I loved everything you’re talking about with EQ but I think those days are past us and we can’t get them back again. Even EQ quickly went from being a world of mystery to being a well explored land. I had a huge folder of printed maps from EQ Atlas I used to use… trying to navigate without them was impossible.

  • this article almost made me cry looking at the map of eq, i remembered when that did’nt exist and you would actually get lost in a world, i beta tested and still, about 11 years later, its still my favorite mmo of all time, nothing has ever been like it, and nothing honestly will

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