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I'm probably thread number 1 million but I wanted to voice my own thoughts on this matter. I'm about 29. I've played nearly every MMO since Sierra's "The Realm" back in the 90's. I cut my MMO teeth on Ultima Online, Dabbled in Asheron's Call, Shadowbane, EVE, Auto Assault, Meridian 59, Planetside 1 and 2, Star Wars Galaxies, Warhammer, Darkfall, Pirates of the Burning Sea, and a whole host of other game's I've forgotten over the years.
I've noticed the MMO's came out of the text based genre of Online games called Mudds. They were text only so people relied on innovative ways to create "interactive" worlds and communities. Being a GM meant somthing. He or She was a god in the gaming world. They set the stage for the story, and determined the results of world events and player actions. In Meridian 59, players and GM's sat on a regional counsel of judges that put players on trial for real or imagined crimes. I remember the coolest thing ever was being put on trial for an attempted Pking. I had a GM as the judge, a player and the victim were the prosecution, and a volunteer player. I of course argued innocent and claimed that it was an accident, I was just practicing my sword swing "roleplay of course *gasp* people roleplay?" and accidently hit the other player. Of course the prosecution got theatrical and accused me of being a murderer and a liar. After a bit of back and forth the judge sentenced me to a small fine and an hour in prison and .... well dang I was flagged red for a day. That was the coolest event ever for me in MMO gaming. It was a real world.
Ultima Online took some of the power away from GM's but gave the roleplay event job to other employees. I remember specifically the Dupre roleplay events, the Lord British vs Lord Blackthorne events, and all the Halloween monster invasions and other things. Usually the boss monster was played by an Origin employee. The world occasionally changed and the developers changed things to go along with it. GM's and counselors even presided over player weddings and other events in game.
What is my point? Somwhere along the way we lost the concept of what made an MMO and interactive world worth playing in. GM's are now glorified hall monitors designed to keep us in our class rooms while we have the latest MMO theories shoved down our throats. Independent thought is usually ignored and drown out by a plethora or willing idiots who abhore art, creativity, and a requirement for intellectual thought during a game. Instead we fill games with endless leveling treadmills, static themeparks full of shinies, pointless and repetative battlegrounds. Developers have removed all requirements of challenge, creativities, individualism from games. Everything is predictable and Game Masters are now wholly reviled for their intrusive and yet mostly useless role in MMO's.
Am I simply getting old? When will developers release a game where things are challenging? Where success actually requires a community of players to survive? Why do games that allow a changing world and dynamic environment such as Wurm or Salem fail to attract the financial support to create a truly modern bug free version of a gaming "World" as opposed to the equivilant of a digital B movie?
All I want in the end is companies and players alike to release a game that goes back to the golden age of video gaming. Days when we logged in to play with certain people and participate in this event or that event because it was part of the story. Not to go on Quest A or B to obtain the latest must have item. Where game companies made a concerted effort to change the world in response to our actions or gave the tools for us to do it ourselves. I'll assert that innovative digital world likes Shadowbane, Salem, Wurm, don't fail because players don't want to play them. My assertion is that they fail because big name publishers with the money to make them successful are afraid to take a chance on them. That, and today's players are too busy gobbling up the latest digital treadmill crap, that they don't know what made the first MMO's great to begin with.