Because sometimes, brainfarts have substance…

State of the Game

I hate this game!

Hello again,

This time I’m actually going to sink my teeth into a topic that few others even mention.  Why so many WoW players hate the game.

Ages ago, when the net was dominated by text and analog modems, we had MUDs.  MUDs were the ancestors of the MMOs we know today.  Essentially a series of linked chat rooms that designated locations, and simple objects that carried descriptions.  These early MUDs didn’t have combat.  Their draw was one of social interaction, and world building.  Players would explore the world for a while, get to know the locals, and would then often be granted privilege to expand upon the world themselves.

As is the nature of Open Source, one good idea led to another, and we had several types of MUDs, with various levels of customization.  Combat made it into the system, and Combat MUDs were born.

As we poured our efforts in to perfecting the genre, we had one wish.  A large, graphic based, world that would bring together the playerbase we had spread across hundreds of separate worlds.  Eventually our wishes were granted, and we learned the meaning of “be careful what you wish for.”

First there was Meridian, then Ultima Online.  I missed Meridian personally, but I was there from day one of UO.  UO was an amazing system, obviously grown from years of PvP MUD experience.  It suffered from one major flaw, tho.  The same flaw that all commercial MMOs have, and by their nature cannot avoid.

A commercial game is by its very nature static.  Once you have raised the money to begin development, you need to have a vision and stick to it.  Once you have people paying to play your game, you need to keep the money rolling in.  Also, once you have developed a following, more people enter your game, many who have never played anything like it.  For good or for ill, developers need to either stick to their guns, or cater to the playerbase.  More often, it is a mix of the two.

So, UO goes on its merry way, bending itself to the will of its masters.  Goodbye, economy that could be controlled.  Goodbye, PvP, sorry most people can’t handle you… and so on.  If the game had been Open Source, the original would have stood, and somebody else would have built a “lighter” version, with less control over the economy and little to no PvP.  Both would have stood side by side, and with no cash measure of what was the most successful, would be considered a success and a great game in their own right.

This is a scene that has manage to play itself out in every successful game that has come since, and gets worse as the popularity of the genre grows.  People play WoW because it’s the top dog.  They want an MMO style game, and WoW is the “best.”  It no longer matters they don’t enjoy what WoW brings to the table.  WoW is the best, they want in, and they want it their way.
They won’t go anywhere, because they have to be playing the “best.”  They don’t have anywhere else to go, because there isn’t an alternative, a game that plays just like WoW but with their own prefered ruleset.  That is a feature of the past.

What will come of it?  Hard to say.  The wheels of commercial MMOs move so very slowly.  As well, small commercial MMOs have another name, we call them “failures.”  In my day, a small MUD was considered “tight knit.”  Smaller MUDs were better, as you could get to know just about everybody on the server, and everybody on your server was into your set of rules.

Sadly, I’m not sure we are going to see Open Source MMOs for some time.  There has been some work, but I’ve yet to see anything that comes close to what WoW brings to the table, I’ve not seen anything that even rivals EverQuest.  Seems the OS community is too busy playing WoW to write their own.  Commercial games are likely never going to be able to cover the varied tastes of players in the same was as the MUD Multiverse did.

At any rate, if you are one of those players that can’t stand WoW, my best advice to you is to move on.  WoW’s success has hammered in stone the way it will continue to play.  If you don’t like it now, you aren’t going to log in one day to find the game has changed to your taste.  You wouldn’t drop 12M subscribers either.

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