Part 3 of this little series concludes what I think has been a pleasurable look back at mechanics from older MMO’s that I love and the majority of today’s MMO players would probably hate. Some of them remain as mere shadows of what they once were and some have disappeared entirely.
Classes that filled Unique Roles
Anyone remember Bards from EverQuest? There are many examples of classes that were really quite original and have disappeared almost entirely. Certain roles needed to be filled for certain dungeons or adventure groups. Sometimes you would need a Monk to pull and that’s really all the Monk did. The CC of an Enchanter was what that class did and no one could compare. Yeah, some classes were a little worthless and I certainly don’t miss that but I really do miss how unique people felt when in a party compared to the cluster(….) of AoE DPS classes (very apparent in WoW).
Weapons with More Delay than Damage (Itemization)
I had to just throw this one in there. I remember using a Wurmslayer on my Gnome Warrior (which was bigger than him) but it had more delay than damage or at least felt that way. I’ll tie this one into itemization and just say that I enjoyed how itemization worked in older games. There were fewer options and gear was simpler. Using a sword was sometimes just a sword instead of “Sword of Tiger Swiftness of the Monkey’s Paw” and this whole convoluted itemization in more current games. This is where Dark Age of Camelot shined most of all in that you really could just use the weapons a vendor sold. I could buy an Iron Sword of the vendor and it would be really nice but then a crafter could make me one that had been refined and had more damage or something like that.
Pulling and Group Spots
Definitely one of the things that I miss most is the group-centric experience gain from killing mobs. This mechanic existed as early as level 1 in a game like EverQuest or Dark Age of Camelot; even SWG featured the same feel. Groups would go out into the wilderness and find a nice centralized location with lots of mob traffic or a spot near a camp of mobs or anywhere that was just a nice spot to sit and pull to and then they would start pulling. The act of pulling meant that it was one person’s job to go out and find a mob and bring it back to the group. I remember being in North Ro somewhere just north of the platform and pulling tarantulas, madmen, scarabs, mummies, and other neat creatures to my group. This was the absolute best way to EXP back then (in my opinion) and the most fun because it allowed me to socialize with people and form a connection with others playing the game. This was a catalyst for a very, very close-knit community later. The same stories can be told about DAOC and SWG — especially SWG when we would set up a Ranger camp and pull Krayt Dragons.
Rare Spawn Camping
While there were times it made me really angsty, there were also times when I had the most fun ever just hanging out with friends and socializing with other people while waiting on a spawn. I remember waiting on the Cyclops to spawn for the Jboots ring (in multiple spots) and while it was often an exercise in futility, there is still something about it that I enjoyed while doing it. I think it definitely worked better when the population was smaller (500k or less) and then compounded by the fact that the game worlds were larger and harder to traverse. When you killed your rare spawn it gave a feeling of unmatched accomplishment.
This ties in to rare spawns as well as ‘pulling’ and is a mechanic/feature that is no longer present. Dungeons were open to everyone at the same time. It was not something that you instanced into where just your group was there. Groups would enter a dungeon and attempt to find an uncamped location from which to begin pulling mobs and gaining experience. Most of the time these dungeons had certain locations that were compartmentalized or where a boss would spawn. The bosses were the big prize and groups would often form and camp the boss for dozens of hours at a time. People would come and go from the group if they could not stay but that same group that started could even last for days with a waiting list to get in. Crawling through dungeons and hunkering down was very similar to the group spots and pulling stories that I told above.
CHOO CHOO! Train to Zone!
Monsters used to follow you forever until you either zoned, ran them to guards, or died. This is what sparked kiting, created a big sense of danger as you had to escape a monster that could surely kill you, and also one that created a really dynamic multi-group experience in dungeons and crowded areas. There was one dungeon in particular called Unrest where a lot of undead monsters could quickly overwhelm a group because of a bad pull. The group would then have to ‘train’ them to the zone (the word came from a long line of monsters following someone like a train). People would shout “TRAIN TO ZONE!” because this train wouldn’t just go back to its spawn right away… it would attack anyone unfortunate enough to be near it.
Feel free to share your favorites. I definitely have not listed them all! Most of these mechanics or design decisions I’ve gone through in these 3 entries could really be brought back with a little tuning for the current generation and I believe quite strongly that they would make a positive impact.