March 10, 2008

Unmake That Game

The question, "What game would you unmake?", is floating around the gaming blogosphere currently, and in true form I'm here to chime in with my opinion. As I am fairly narrow minded at times, I'm going to look at the MMOG genre by default.

The game I would unmake? Everquest.

Everything I despise and loathe about MMOGs is epitomized in Everquest. Grinding? Check. Leveling? Check. Harsh death penalty? Check. l33tn3ss? Check. Housing? No. Role-playing? Limited. Player cities? No. Anything other than just playing whack-a-mole? Not really.

Don't get me wrong, Everquest is not the first game to use these mechanics or commit these sins, but it was truly the first large-scale commercial success of the graphical MMOGs. Which in turn spawned the Everquest-clone syndrome that has doomed a hundred projects since. Every developer thought Everquest had it all figured out and subsequently tried to cash in with a game just like Everquest.

Some people will try and argue that World of Warcraft copied Everquest and is now the king of the MMOG hill. Therefore Everquest obviously did something right. But I would argue that WoW took it's ideas from the Diku text-MUDs that inspired Everquest, not from Everquest directly.

In my jaded-gamer view, Everquest also copied the Diku style, but did it in an absolutely horrible way. Everquest was complete and utter trash in comparison to the original Diku style. It added inordinate tedium and frustration to a system that truly worked best in text form over an infant Internet.

Not until WoW launched was the Diku style actually realized properly in a graphical MMOG, and even then it is fairly limited to the leveling portion of the game. The one concession I will ever make for WoW as an EQ-clone, is in the end-game raiding which was heavily lifted whole-sale from EQ (Blizzard just executed it better) and has been fairly directed at the EQ-type of player. However, that is Blizzard's fault for not controlling the former EQers on the WoW development team.

Erase Everquest from the history books and the MMOG genre might actually be at an innovation flood instead of an innovation standstill. Ultima Online, The Realm, Meridian 59, all had better approaches to the online space. All have been ignored.

Don't like my opinion? Comment.

7 comments:

Relmstein said...

Giving Jeff Kaplan free rein over the end game development of WoW was probably a huge mistake. I often wonder if the game's focus on raid content pre-expansion is responsible for the high amount of churn we see in the game. I glad that PvP is now a viable end game option even if class balance is currently on a roller coaster ride of death atm.

heartlessgamer said...

I just trashed end-game PvP as a viable means of play in a new post :P Blizzard sucks at PvP and is going to end up destroying WoW in attempts to make Arenas an e-sport.

I don't think raiding is a factor at all in the churn that occurs in WoW. The majority of the churn is probably coming from dabblers who try WoW, enjoy it, but decide to move on because they were never really that interested in the first place.

Die hard MMOG players, for the most part, realize what a great game they have in WoW and are willing to keep on playing regardless if it caters to their specific needs. Sure they quit, but they come back as is evident by the huge success and growth following TBC.

Askander said...

Two of my fav-o-rite bloggers in one talkbalk...how can I not elbow my way in here?

Anyway...As pretty much the opposite of you Heartless (very anti-pvp) I think a good bit of the churn, from what I've experienced, comes from lack of community. People will guild jump at the drop of a hat in WoW if they think the potential is there to get better gear, or better gear faster, in another guild. Maybe this is why Arenas are so popular. Solid rewards, no "wow...50 runs and I still don't have my Breastplate of E-peen Growing" but for me, I hate arenas for many of the reasons you listed. Foremost is the balancing nightmare that has descended on the game of late.

heartlessgamer said...

Askander, you would be surprised how PvP you are just by playing an online game. Playing online instantly creates Player vs Player whether it's trading items on the auction house or joining a group. There is just a question of how competitive you want to take it against other players and how direct you want that competition to be.

Relmstein said...

Yes you can pretty much argue that the dominance of stat based DIKU games is because it allows people to passively PvP against one another by comparing gear.

Adam Tiler said...

If it weren't for the massive success (at the time) of Everquest, World of Warcraft never would have been developed. WOW, in my opinion, took nearly every aspect of EQ and polished it till you could see your face in it.

A raiding end game, the "holy trinity" (of which support classes are still the boring ones), zone progression, itemization, races, factions, PvP implementation -- it is apparent to me that WOW took very little directly from diku. Either that or it took many things directly from diku in exactly the same manner that EQ did.

Adam Tiler said...

If it weren't for the massive success (at the time) of Everquest, World of Warcraft never would have been developed. WOW, in my opinion, took nearly every aspect of EQ and polished it till you could see your face in it.

A raiding end game, the "holy trinity" (of which support classes are still the boring ones), zone progression, itemization, races, factions, PvP implementation -- it is apparent to me that WOW took very little directly from diku. Either that or it took many things directly from diku in exactly the same manner that EQ did.