Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Direction of change

To yesterday's post in which I said World of Warcraft was constantly evolving, I received a comment which after some deliberation I decided not to publish. It was a long rant about how WoW wasn't evolving but, quote "I would say WoW is de-evolving, and hence why it is so popular. The content is so streamlined and simple now to level 1 to 80, so devoid of any real challenge, nerfed elites, heirloom items, decreased xp targets...". I found it extremely funny, because the author was with the same breath complaining about changes in WoW, and claiming that WoW didn't evolve. But I'm taking this up in a separate post, because I think this is a frequently made mistake: People only count a change as innovation or evolution if it is in a direction they like.

I loved Everquest back in 2001, but it wasn't a game I would have recommended my wife to play. And funnily enough, I do think that most of the people who today complain loudly that WoW is too "streamlined and simple" wouldn't have lasted a week in Everquest back then. My typical EQ stories are about camping a mob I had to kill for the quest to get the Testament of Veneer, with said mob spawning only every 8 hours, and somebody killstealing that mob after me having waited for it for hours. Or me camping the Mammoth Cloak for 16 hours total, 4 full evenings long, killing the mob who dropped it every 23 minutes. Or quad-kiting a group of 4 mobs at level 40 solo, gaining 1% of the xp needed for the next level by that, and then having to spend 15 minutes "meditating" to get the mana back up to full. Or taking a wrong step near the Erudin starting zone, which resulted in falling into a chasm which was a high-level zone, being unable to recover my corpse, and losing all my gear. I played Everquest for 19 months, and I have lots of stories like that which appear to be unbelievably harsh to somebody playing WoW in 2010.

Like most innovations in life, for example a dishwasher, the evolution of MMORPGs made life easier for people. My wife does play and enjoy World of Warcraft, and she recently reached level 80 with a second character. That change in accessibility definitely is an evolution of the genre. If there was anyone who didn't play any MMORPG for a decade, World of Warcraft would seem as strange as my stories of how Everquest seem to those who haven't played that game. MMORPGs changed *a lot* since then. Whether you like all those changes, or whether they went too far, is a different discussion topic altogether. But denying that things evolved over the years is just foolish, especially if you're complaining about the changes at the same time.

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