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.