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Is older better?

May 30, 2011

About a week ago Jef Reahard of Massively posted an article about older MMOs being better than newer MMOs and not just some nostalgia from people playing their first MMO. I think Jef has a point there, but I would not necessarily agree that older MMOs are generally better.

Rather I think the perhaps less varied content one sees in newer MMOs is a question of market adaption, trying to capture a wider audience. Even a relatively simple MMO may have a learning curve for an entirely new player that is a bit higher than many other games. There is also a lot more online and multiplayer games of different types being offered today than a few years ago; grabbing the complete attention of a player for a long time is less likely today.

Newer games are adapting (or trying to adapt) to the new market conditions, grabbing more players than the typical MMO games have done in the past (except WoW). This direction is better graphics and settings, cool effects and various other things to draw people in and play for a while – but also keeping things simple so that even a fresh player can get into it and perhaps get hooked for a while.

The player category that may be hurt by this is the MMO veteran. Having mastered many MMO gameplay elements in the past the veteran quickly relatively quickly identifies and understands many of the mechanics and features of a new game. Even a moderatly complex game (including all sorts of games) may be too simple – it has all been done before.

I think Jef’s point is certainly valid in the view of the veteran player and this is a target audience that older MMOs may be in a good position to capture – at least if some of the actually bad parts that may have been there in the beginning are fixed. Veterans may be more time-constrained nowadays, but still crave for that extra involvement that would be needed to provide a proper level of stimuli in the game.

The people in this picture have nothing to do with this post

Categories: MMO Games
  1. May 31, 2011 at 03:46

    Dang about the picture, I was curious πŸ™‚

    Honestly, when it comes to older MMOs, they still win on depth but fall straight down on playability.

    For example: EQ is a massively deep game, and about as much fun in terms of moment to moment gameplay as studying for calculus exams. On many classes an average combat feels like “hit auto attack…go make a sandwich.” I love the depth of the world. I’ve spent hours in the PoK just reading books (true story). I don’t love how painfully slow and repetitive making any sort of progress on your character is. I didn’t have the patience for that in 1999, much less now when I have dozens of more entertaining options.

  2. May 31, 2011 at 15:06

    I should qualify that statement to say that it doesn’t apply in equal measure to all “old MMOs.” From DAoC on up they gradually got more and more forgiving. In fact, I’d argue that a lot of them are still entertaining by modern standards if you care to give them a shot. Certainly COH and EQII (the latter of which I don’t really think of as an old MMO honestly, it’s WoW era) are still quite fun to play. Even DAoC can still be pretty fun as long as you pick a class that soloes well and can get past the clunky UI.

  3. May 31, 2011 at 18:16

    Absolutely, I think that a number of the older games certainly did suffer from playability when it comes to a more modern age and that is something they would have to fix – if they have not already done so. I never played EQ, but looking at Anarchy Online I see that they certainly have made some improvements in that area – although more can be done.

    A challenge here may be the tools the developers have to work with – I would assume new MMO game development have improved in terms of tools they use and that they in theory could be more productive – but that also assumes all the mechanics to provide more depth is in place also.

    Some touch-up without going through a Cataclysm route may still be a good investment.

    And the picture is from Croatoa with yours truly and Jack-in-Irons πŸ˜‰

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