Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Turning back time

Wolfshead is again posting a long rant on how everything was better in the past, or more specifically how the original Everquest was the best game ever, and all newer games are just shallow pieces of shit. Well, first of all somebody needs to tell Wolfshead that Everquest is in fact still running, so why does he waste his breath crying out for Everquest 3 (aka EQ Next) to be just like Everquest 1 instead of just playing EQ1? And then he has to realize that the understandable love we all feel for our first major MMORPG is due to the fact that it was our first major MMORPG. You can't turn back time, and the "sense of adventure" he remembers from EQ was *NOT* an inherent game feature, but simply due to the fact that playing such a game for the first time and being completely bewildered *IS* an adventure. People whose first MMORPG was World of Warcraft feel exactly the same way about WoW, remembering, quote: "Danger. Risk. Survival. Freedom. Mystery. Fantasy. Discovery. Camaraderie. Community. Escape. Defeat. Victory. Gain. Loss. Excellence. Skill. Excitement.", they had in World of Warcraft and somehow missing those elements in the games they played after that.

The only part where I agree with him, in parts, is where Wolfshead talks about why Everquest 2 was less good than the original Everquest. Quote: "With the original EQ I had 7 spell buttons, with EQ2 I had 52 buttons." I tried Everquest 2 not once, but twice, with a few years in between, and the above quote pretty much sums up that game for me. Everquest 2 is so full of features and options and buttons and collectibles and stuff that it ends up being completely unplayable for me. I completely agree with Wolfshead's advice that SOE should learn from Blizzard and make a game that is, quote: "Easy to Learn - Hard to Master".

What I absolutely don't agree with is his idea that you can take some features directly out of EQ1 and stuff them into EQ3, like "no instances", or "better community", which isn't a feature at all, but a consequence of both game design and a particular history. Some things only worked in Everquest 1 at the time because the community was smaller, more homogeneous, and of a different generation than it is now. Hoping that if you'd recreate EQ3 on exactly the same rules as EQ1, only with better graphics, and you'd get back that same community spirit and self-organization back is just foolish. Times have moved on. You can't just make a game where raid bosses aren't instanced and hope that guilds organize themselves into an orderly raid calendar any more.

Wolfhead's basic idea for EQ Next is to make that game so horribly unappealing for modern MMO players that only a handful of diehard EQ1 veterans would be willing to play it. What he forgets is the small detail that SOE probably wants to make money with EQ Next, and Wolfhead's concept is a recipe on how to lose millions of dollars on a MMORPG. Maybe he should read up on the economic concept of "utility", where it says that people spend money on things that have "utility" for them, therefore a product that makes more money is by definition better than a product that is less popular. If Wolfshead really thinks SOE is planning a game with naked corpse runs, xp losses, and forced grouping, he should really stop smoking whatever it is that causes those hallucinations. A time machine is more realistic than SOE trying to redo the original Everquest with those same features.

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