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Turns out its all three.
Rose tinted glasses is a popular derogatory term used to attack those of us who enjoyed older style MMOs or the rare and often not shut down MMO with special mechanics, generally those involved in base building, open world pvp, or crazy complex economics.
If you have ever made a thread or post about your love for SWG, UO, DAOC, or Shadowbane chances are you have been hit with the accustation fo wearing rose tinted glasses. Its happened to me quite a bit, and sad to say its not true, I wish I had them, they are tres populare with the ladies.
The thrust of this accusation is that you only like those games because you played them first and thus you assign the value of of novelty to the games mechanics instead of your own newfound wonder. It couldn't possibly be because personally you liked being a merhcant or a crafter or a researcher. It can't be that you like the intensity of perma death or only slightly less serious risks from death. It doesn't matter if you played EQ in 1998, WoW in late 2004, and only got into DAOC or UO in 2005. That kind of thing never happens in the vision of people without fabulous eyewear.
Now obviously most of us don't believe that rose tinted glasses can explain our desire for the more experimental pre WoW age of MMOs. Are we right? Turns out the answer is not a simple yes or no. Assuming that there is no significant other difference between two games, rose colored glasses can have a powerful effect. Why? Been there, done that, and no long term emotional investment.
When the somewhat misnamed WoW clones hit release ,many players will flock to the game only to burn out in a couple months and head back to WoW. Yes, ironically WoW players are the primary group of gamers who we can be sure are afflicted with pink world views. Why is this? Because games like SWTOR and WAR are close enough to WoW that you have had the vast majority of their experience already playing WoW. And in WoW you have that novelty bonus and you have also been playing it for years, investing much of your emotional capital there.
Why does this not apply to UO, or Shadowbane, or EvE and other more unique games? Because the amount of powered possessed by the nostalgia phenomenon is not significant enough to overcome feature based differences. Games like EvE and Shadowbane simply aren't made anymore. SWG has no spiritual successor, aside from The Repopulation which isn't really out yet. 3 faction DAOC pvp and realm warfare doesn't exist. Modern games do not put significant class differences into each faction.
When was the last time a game focused as much on crafting as EvE or SWG came out? Compare that to how many games with extensive solo content, end game raid focus, and multiple arena based PvP maps have been made post WoW. Quite a bit of difference no?
Rose tinted glasses have power, but its not the overwhelming force argued for by new school gamers. It can only make decisions between games that are nearly identical.
The reason many people are upset about the state of MMOs is because the glorious variance of yesteryear has gone by the wayside. Just try and convince a serious company to make something that is highly deviant from the WoW model. Are they identical to WoW? No. But its close enough.
Economic gameplay has been relegated to indie games like Wurm and ATITD and to older games maintained by companies who aren't run by greedy men with MBAs like EvE. And god forbid you want an EvE style game but don't like spaceships, or you don't want to play a game that resets every year like ATITD.
I do have some nostalgia for my Tibia years as my first MMO, but not enough that I would play it over games that are in the genres of MMO that I prefer such as economic games and base builders. I enjoyed my years with friends in Guild Wars as my first AAA quality graphics MMO but I don't want to go back to instanced gameplay with boring crafting and only 8 skills. Yet by the argument of rose tinted glasses I should want to play Guild Wars way more than I want to play SWG or ATITD or Wurm.
What do you guys think? I know which posters I really want to weigh in, but I'll take the rest of you guys too