MMORPG- Love/hate and how it all begin and where its going

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Joined: 01/21/2009

I am a MMORPG ADDICT, there i said it, its out in the open and the first step of fixing the problem is accepting you have it. I have been playing Online games since I found MUDS on the local school mainframe and you logged in via modem to about 10 numbers and if one was busy you just kept trying. My first TRUE online games where Gemstone on GENIE online, and Kingdom Of DRAKKAR on what I would guess was the first online game network. I do not remember the name anymore, but they had about 6 games, mostly war games that you could play online with other players for a minutely rate. DRAKKAR was the breakthrough game for me, it was a tile based RPG where you could form parties and quest together, full color, huge worlds and pretty complex. Its still going today as a free web based game (Google it). its basically a early version of Ultima Online, almost a cross between the early tile based Ultimas and the later isometric. My next big revelation was a game called CYBERSTRIKE (1993), a true 3D combat game. You piloted a bipedal mech of one color and tried to expand your territory by dropping Power Poles. Your mech when in range of your power poles had faster energy regeneration, so shield and weapons worked better. But to expand you had to either destroy the other teams power poles which required leaving your power grid and entering theirs where they would be stronger than you. Once you destroyed their power poles (nodes?) you could place yours, as long as you where close enough to another one. It was a simple block world with roughly 10 players total. It was the first online action multi-player game i had ever played (keep in mind it was released the same time as DOOM, which you could lan 4 people, but not 10! online!). next was Meridian 59 (1995), which is quite possibly the grandparent of ALL the MMORPG's today. It wasn't true 3D, it was more like Doom, sprite based 3D, but it was a world you moved in, instead of over. I liked the game but it never crossed into obsession like the previous games had. Then of course came Ultima Online (1997), again I loved the Ultima series, but had lost its luster for me as it moved to isometric. And while Ultima Online was fun it was one of the first games to invite Player Killing where it could be done to any character. Up to this point any COMBAT games allowed Player vs player on a somewhat even playing field, both had the same equipment to chose form and both had relatively the same Hit points. Ultima Online introduced the GANKER! Somebody many level over other characters could sit outside safe zones (zones you couldn't attack other players) and just wait for somebody to step out to kill and take the items they had. Items in MMORPG games can take weeks or months of playing to acquire and in seconds it can all be gone. The game even somewhat encouraged it. You could take the items of the dead person and sell them, there was a reason to do it besides ruining somebody else s day. There was some good to come of it, Guilds, player enforced laws, etc. It was the first game I grew to dislike because of the player base. Then came my moment of revelation, the game that changed gaming for me forever. EVERQUEST (1997), the first true 3D world where you could join others to slay the dragon. The first game I skipped work for, the first game I skipped work for an expansion pack. If Meridian 59 is the Grandparent of the MMORPG game genre, Everquest is both Mother and Father, it was the game everything that came after copied, it itself copied many a MUD and RPG system. It used Pen and paper Class system so group required varied members. It used quests, though sadly the title was quite deceiving, you could easily burn through the few quests it had and not have a "goal" other then to get more equipment and higher levels. The game disguised grinding by putting some crafting and times in random drops. The true test of game was its dungeons. These dungeons had SET monsters , as in they where always in the same spots except for a few Patrols that moved the layouts where always the same. This meant the designers could layout how hard the play got and the farther you went in the harder it got. They also would place "named" monsters in spots who had rare and common loot. Which in turn drove you to keep killing them to get LUCKY and get the rare loot. They also started the PLACEHOLDER system. it worked (loosely) like this; one area had 6 mobs, every time one of those 6 mobs was killed there was a percent chance that a NAMED monster would show up in its place. This was also a way to make dungeons more exciting as you never knew what might show up. This method had some downsides it led to a new type of CAMPING, we are all aware of FPS camping, but in MMORPG games its the same yet different. You know where a monster will spawn (eventually) so you sit and kill the placeholder in its spot untill it shows. Since its random chance of it showing it can take minutes, hours or days. Naturally there where some items considers must have by many players. These camps turned into social events. there was the famous Nejena BOOTS OF SPEED camp. a named monster dropped boots that made you run faster (this was before mounts in MMORPG) so they basically made the game go faster/easier and any character could use them. People used to LINE UP, just like at a store, one person would be at the spot killing the named, a new person would show up and announce he was #2 in line, and the third would be #3, etc.. They would all group and kill the monster until the item dropped, #1 would take it and leave group and last person in line would join. In the early days of Everquest this worked, the griefers where not as common a site as they are today. My personal experience at this camp made me swear off that type of camping forever. I was awake 36 hour and only 2 people got the boots (I was 6th in line). I never went back. it was my first taste of dislike for Everquest. I played Everquest pretty much all my free time for 7 years. I was lossing all interest for it when Everquest 2 and WoW came out. Both had improvements (and some of the same old problems) of Everquest. WoW is currently king by a margin nobody ever imagined and has made every game company try to get into the MMORPG market. Most have failed are pulling in just enough numbers to keep the servers going and keep making a living.

There are at least 20-30 more MMORPG's I haven't even touched on that I played in this span, I plan on starting from the back and playing some of the still active ones and talking about them. We all know about the big ones, but I'm going to go back to the first graphical MMORPG games and talk about them a bit and where they are today. How they stand up, how I remember them and so on. Not sure how much interest there will be, but as I will ahve fun even if nobody read any if it, Im going to do it.