Monday, March 12, 2007

Why Tomorrow's MMOs Continue to Suck

With all the new games being released, especially in the MMO genre, you would think that the genre would evolve. In reality so many of these games appear to be just as crappy as the ones that came before them. While there are exceptions out there, games almost always follow the same pattern as the ones that come before them.

Do you remember the first major real time strategy games? You had Command and Conquer and Warcraft leading the way. Starcraft came along, and so did Command & Conquer Red Alert. What changed here? Not much: settings, characters and visuals mostly. Of course there were small improvements to game play, but where was the innovation? Ultimately you can't really complain about these games, they were the innovators in their genre. But what about the countless clones that followed? Too many game developers develop in a fearful manner, afraid of what would happen if they tried something new. Flash forward to today and the genre is largely unchanged. Of course a few games started to try and break the mold and try new thing, Company of Heroes for example pushed things to the next level. But ultimately we are still stuck with the same games we played 10 years ago.

Lets flash to a new genre, how many Role Playing Games really broke the mold? Theres always a first, and a million clones to follow. This is great if your so in love with a specific game that you just want more of. But what about us who thirst for something new? Some players want to see innovative game play and not just the tried and tested. I could go on about the First Person Shooter genre too, but I will stop here.

Coming back to MMO games, they follow the same boring pattern. Unfortunately here however the mold hasn't changed in almost 30 years instead of 10 or 5. Yes I said 30. I wasn't even alive back then but I know BBS systems existed back then and players dialed in to play games. These games eventually evolved into multi user dungeons.

Heres how about 95 percent of these games work: You create a character, level up, communicate with friends, group up and run zones. You kill things, get exp, and level up. Some zones are meant for higher levels, and others for lower levels, and these same zones never change between each visit. In the larger games you have griefers, newbies, and just about every other category of player all playing in the same game. Sound familiar? With a few exceptions every MMO from Everquest to World of Warcraft follows this same model. To the extent that there were allegations that Everquest was modified from Diku MUD, the first mud out there.

Please someone do something new and different. I'm sick of seeing people run zones that don't change. I'm sick of seeing static worlds, essentially chatrooms instead of thriving worlds like we should see. And most of all I'm sick of the hype these games that are more of the same get. They haven't done anything spectacular for a while. So go ahead, pay 15 dollars a month for something you could have done for free since before 1990.

So go ahead, get in line behind all those other people... to kill the goblin king... in the goblin castle... again... for the second time today.


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