Years ago and I am talking early 90's, I first read about a MMO. I think it charged by the hour, was a text only game and it supported 1000's of players. They had terminals setup around the UK where you pay and use much like a Internet cafe.
More after the jump:
It was a mud and I wanted to play it so badly because it sounds so cool.
Then the MMO craze hit, Ultima Online etc. This was the late 90's where I was under employed, had dialup so MMO's were out of reach.
They sounded cool but the idea to pay to play just didn't sit right. I couldn't really afford it. Fast forward to just before SWG was coming online. The original SWG sounded like a huge waste of time ( turns out the latest version is also the same ), why would anyone pay to play what was almost a second job. I liked a few of the concepts but after playing a early demo I knew it wasn't worth the time or money.
Then World of Warcraft came out and my entire perspective changed for 6 years. Warcraft isn't a real MMO, its a theme park fantasy action game. It gave me hours of enjoyment until ultimately Blizzard changed the game into something that no longer interests me.
Which leads me to the point of this post. I am having a hard time breaking into a new MMO. Don't get me wrong, I have no plans to ever return to warcraft. The drive to log in and level in a new game is not there. This is partly because the end result is the same for every mmo. Get to the cap, and then raid or quit.
The only game which is proved differently is Star Trek Online, this is because there is no end game. The game ends, that's for sure, you just run out of things to do but there is no fake repetitive grind or carrots to keep playing. Which also means your not getting left behind.
When rift was released, I had burnt out on the Beta. I did make it into the 3rd zone, about level 25 but I discovered that there was nothing at the end to keep me going. So I canceled. This was odd because when I started the full game, I was planning on getting 3 months of subscription . Rifts only drive is to get to the level cap and raid.
So this ultimately brings me onto The Old Republic. Which is a Theme park action RPG clone of warcraft. Will its promise of epic story telling pull me along to get to the end game. Or will I give up after 2 weeks ?
MMO's need to re-look at why people play them. When you sign up for a MMO you kind of expect to get a years worth of game out of them. Most theses days including warcrafts latest expansions will last you a month. The raid end game needs to go, they need to bring something to the table that will drive the player to keep playing.
Massively Multiplayer games are no longer new, the golden age is over and trying to clone Warcraft, Everquest isn't going to hold a player base. I think personally what is lacking now is immersion which brings me back to the original game I talked about. Being a text based mud meant it had no sound, no graphics, just words. It was these words that got me excited, the whole experience was in your head and the game world gave you almost unlimited freedom to do what you want. The modern day MMO puts you on a quest rail track and you hop from one place to another kill x for y with no real connection to the world around you.
Instead of words, you are just a number and everyone around you just treats you like a number.