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The Problem with MMO's today.....
Well the problem is probably not with MMO's or the Developers or the Companies that produce the games, it is probably with me.
Back when I started playing Role Playing Games, they were just that Role Playing. A few friends and I had an idea this Dungeons and Dragons thing might be fun. One of us, I can not remember who, thought that they would have a go at being the "Game Master" and started wrighting stuff and creating a bit of a plot. After a couple of weeks of this he announced he was ready and we all gathered in the pool room at my house and started to play. Pretty soon what we had going was a sort of group created interactive novel. This is what I remember and this is what I love.
We had no problem in seperating what our characters where doing and how they were interacting from what we were doing as teenagers and how we interacted, we did not get any sort of ego boost by playing the game or think we were better than the others because we levelled faster or hit harder or whatever, it was a game we did together and had fun.
Years later (a couple of decades actually) when I started playing Everquest I found much the same thing, the game master had been replaced by Verant (SOE), my D&D friends and I had long since lost touch but I found new people and made new friends. Role playing was a big part of the experience and people did things with their characters because that was what the characters would do. You did not see people jumping down the road or just jumping. They walked, run or rode as their character would have. Lots of things that are now common place and regarded as legitimate fun were unknown, rare or at least very uncommon. Griefing, ganking and trolling (if they were even labelled as that) were disapproved of and sanctioned by GM's and players alike. Yes they were much discussed but not as 'legendary' or 'epic' but as childish and disreputable.
Today these things are regarded as normal parts of the game, whole guilds indulge in them on a regular basis. No real disapproval no sanctions, indeed some games are being designed to encourage this sort of behaviour.
As for seperating the character from the player, there is a steady progression towards making the character simply a wardrobe choice for the player, multiple characters becoming just multiple outfits for the same player. No role playing at all, unless you count people who have an on-line persona that they would never dare to act out in real life.
For people with my mindset this is bad thing. A down hill slide into 'console' style 'action' and 'magic realism'. For, what I believe is the majority of MMO players today, this is a major "quality of life" improvement.
In the end, looking at RIFT today, at the other AAA games out there and at what is coming in 2013 I have little desire to play any MMO. I still want to play a multiplayer online role playing game, with a fantasy theme and current generation graphics. I have the money and the time to play one. Unfortuantely no company out there thinks there is enough of a market to actually make one.
As I said in the beginning the fault is with my perceptions and desires, the gaming industry is catering to the market that exists and not to my personal tastes.
... when my parents purchased the house I am now living in, I was amazed by the postman arriving each day on horse back and not on a bicycle ...now it is sort of a motor scooter thingy.
In those first years milk was delivered each morning around 6am, a truck came around each day to deliver bread and such and there was a guy delivering 'soda' by the crate each week. Kangaroos where a regular sight on the newly growing front lawn and 200 yards up the hill you were in native woodland.
Now there are parklands down the hill (it was farmland then) and up the hill and for 20 miles beyond it is all houses.
Yes everything changes, not necessarily for the better, and those of us who remember it well get nostalgic and would like to see some of it again.
That does not mean I expect change to happen, or that more than a fraction of the player base agree or feel the same way.
What it does mean is that there is a section of the market whose desires are not being met, a cashed up time rich section of the market that hopefully someone will start to cater to. Who knows some of the younger folk out there may find it is more fun as well.