I’ve made a few comments around, but there is one thing I want to post about here that I feel is important. I’ve touched on it before, at the end of this post. MMOs are a different beast that other forms of games.
Left 4 Dead 2 made some game play changes from the Left 4 Dead model. They added melee weapons, and the new boss infected shake up how you have to play, and the new “hordes until you turn them off” events instead of just the “hordes for X minutes/waves” ones change everything. However, if you hate the changes, all you need to do is put your old Left 4 Dead disc and play. The original game is still there.
When EverQuest launched, it had flaws. Parts were unfinished and some things just didn’t work. They released patches to fix those, and over the course of the first few expansions they expanded the game with new races, classes, item slots, abilities, and more. But, the underlying game, the way in which you played, really didn’t change. That came later. If you were to play EverQuest now, you’d find it plays very differently from the original game. With the new quest/task system that mimics WoW’s abundance of quests as opposed to EQ’s original more in-depth longer quests, mercenaries, more instancing, and other bits and pieces, it just isn’t the same. The old game still does exist on the EQMac server, but if you are on a PC and want to play the old EverQuest, you can’t.
Even World of Warcraft is not immune. The game as it exists now doesn’t play exactly the same as it did in the past. The faster leveling, the LFG tool for instance cross-server groups, the changes in raid designs. If you want to play the old WoW, you can’t, you have to play the WoW that exists now. The new Cataclysm expansion will put an end to the old game permanently as those zones won’t even exist in their original form anymore.
This is what I mean by the title, The Innovation Apocalypse. MMOs are expensive to make and expensive to run, and companies don’t want to see their game dwindle to a hardcore fan base and be faced with launching a sequel. EQ did that with EQII and initially EQII was a flop. They’ve recovered somewhat, and they have continued evolving EQ (up to expansion number 16 now). They are looking at EQIII (which might be referred to as EverQuest Next), but don’t expect it to be an iteration of the existing model – it will probably be a complete reinvention. If you are a fan of EQII, you should be thrilled with the idea of EQIII, because it means that all the new ideas are headed that way and are likely not to be implemented in EQII for a while yet. But that may just be a matter of time. Many of EQ’s more drastic elements didn’t come until after WoW and EQII were out. Someday, the EQII that you love may be gone as well.
Personally, I’m all for innovation in new games. But please don’t innovate in the game I’m already playing and enjoying. It is heartbreaking when a game you love ignores you and is ruined in its chase of a new lover.