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First of all, let me preface my point in that it is highly likely that the majority of the readers of this post will at least partly agree with me because we who frequent this site are more apt to be "looking" for something at the moment as we are obviously not currently playing an MMO while we peruse these forums...
Anyway...enough of my jargon...
I have posted a few threads lately about the demise of MMO's and the impending doom that looms over my preferred choice of recreation: MMO's (okay, I wasn't quite through with the formal jargon). As such, I have concluded that what is missing from todays games that was prevalent in the early MMORPGs is true excitement. In the early MMO's (I am mostly considering UO, EQ1, etc.) the fear of losing was the driving force behind the excitement of the game: the fear of losing your hard-earned gear and the fear of losing your hard-earned experience/time. It is the fear of losing that makes winning feel great! And the fear of losing is what makes winning and even playing EXCITING!
Just so we are clear, I do NOT like losing: either gear or experience/time, however, it is the fear of losing those things that makes progress actually FEEL great. If I had never known the "yucky-icky-horrible-terrible-dread" of losing my corpse or losing a significant chunk of my experience (time=experience), I would not appreciate the days in which I did NOT lose those things at all. There were many days in UO and in EQ1 where I finished the day with either less money or less experience than I started....and believe me when I say, I was not happy at that very moment. But the next day I would vow NOT to let that happen. I would make it a personal quest of mine to make SURE I gained that day and I would feel great knowing I had accomplished something. Gaining a level was HUGE! Remember in EQ1 shouting "DING!!!!" Dozens of people would "Gratz!!!" because gaining a level was NOT A GUARANTEE! Having bad days made me appreciate the good ones. In today's games, by my standards, it is not possible to have a "bad" day. Everyday you gain experience and more money...the game makes sure of that. I want a game that progress is NOT ASSURED! I wan't a game where people progress when they progress in knowledge and skill IN THE GAME. I don't want a game that is so "funnel-minded" that even a retard can get to the final levels and have great gear. (On a side note...I remember the first time I saw someone in EQ1 levitating....I about crapped myself with envy...or in Ultima Online the first time I saw someone come into town with a DRAGON in tow!!...I wanted to be able to do that too! And what was neat was...I was not sure I was going to ever be able to...that way...if I ever did...WOW, I really accoplished something) In todays games, EVERYONE expects to be able to have great gear and be the top levels. This overall concept of funneling people to the end makes me heave.
I am not suggesting that every game become "hard-core" where one death means you have to start over. But I am suggesting that a death be significant. That losing a battle means losing an item or even losing everything until you go back and get it. Oh man...do you remember the days of EQ1 when you died? You woke up naked and your corpse (with all your belonings) were left exactly where you fell. If you were 4 levels deep in a dungeon, thats where you had to go to retrieve your "stuff". Now a lot of you look back on that and cringe---you hated that part of the game. And I'm telling you that THATS the part I MISS. It is the lack of genuine fear that makes playing all these other games feel like eating a plain baked potato tastes -- bland. When I lost my corpse, either in UO or EQ1, I panicked. I would call on everyone of my friends and would plead with anyone who had ever been in my predicament to come help me on my newly self-created quest "Retrieve Alasti's corpse from the depths" quest. THAT WAS FUN!! The fear of losing everything (or even ANYTHING) is what made games exciting...and THAT IS FUN!! In the last 15 MMO's or so that I have played since then, I haven't been "scared" at all. I can die and not even flinch. Death in the former games was (or I should say "could be") catastrophic. Remember in EQ1 when you were resolved to dying, fleeing from a monster that was going to kill you, you only had a chance to partly decide where, so you would run to a "better spot to die", knowing that the difficulties of retrieving your corpse could be ugly? I did that more times than I can count. THAT was fun. Anyway...I think I've made my point.
I know I rant. I rant alot. But I miss being excited playing games. Excitement means dealing with genuine fear, and sometimes the result is positive and sometimes negative, but the excitement COMES from the fear.
The Glory of Victory is directly correlated to the Risk of Defeat. No Risk=No Glory....Little Risk=Little Glory....and a boring as hell game. Give me risk and I'll show you Glory...or die trying.