Posted Fri, May 07, 2010 by Sardu
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Change is an inevitable eventuality when it comes to the long term health of the MMOGs we spend countless hours scampering around, hitting things with our virtual sticks. After all, a stagnant world offers little impetus for players to keep coming back no matter how brilliantly designed a core gaming experience may be. Besides, consoles already fiendishly hold the concept of throwaway gaming in their plasticized grip, and that’s the last thing we need spilling over into the pixilated soil of our beloved online virtual worlds.
However, not all change is for the better, though thankfully it more often than not is when it comes to the growth of an MMOG. Today we’ll take a closer look at two examples which represent opposing sides of the coin of change in Loading… Out with the Old, In with the New.
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Out with the Old (For Better or Worse)
In the hubbub surrounding Halas making a triumphant return to shatter-style Norrath, I could be counted among the many players who hadn’t realized that the Queen’s Colony and the Outpost of the Overlord were facing the chopping block. While the revamped versions of the original Isle of Refuge were certainly a bit stumpy as far as MMOG starting zones are concerned, they still represented one of the final links to the EverQuest II of yesteryear.
Now, I’d never make light of all the sweeping changes that have helped EQ2 overcome some of the early hurdles that allowed the Blizzard wrecking ball to do some shattering of its own on the game’s server populations back in early 2005. All the same, I’m one of those nutty people who loved EQ2 for what it was from day one, and have long since mourned the passing of different aspects of the old EQ2 such as one of the most brilliantly designed social crafting experiences the industry has ever seen. Sure, a small part of me may have loathed the fact that my Sage lived or died by the whims of Alchemists and their desire (or lack thereof) to sit and craft stacks of ink all day. But at the same time, the crafting channels were some of the most hyper-social I’ve ever seen in an online game, and it was thanks to the dependency between trades that the vast majority of my early friendships in EQ2 were made.
So while the current iteration of the early starting isles may be one step removed from their launch day form, I will mourn their passing all the same. To me it’s the MMOG equivalent of driving past the neighborhood where your favorite park once stood only to discover that it’s been steamrolled in favor of a sparkling new parking lot. Thankfully the memories remain, but it’s still a bummer to see that your favorite park has become little more than a crappy new place to park your car all the same. Call it what you will, but I’d be the first in line to log into an “EQ2 Classic” server, however doubtful it is that one will ever officially be offered to players.
In with the New
As noted in my recent interview with the fine folks from Fallen Earth, the developer may have hit a few bumps in the road last week, but that certainly hasn’t stopped the game from building up momentum moving forward. Not only is the ultra-cool Blood Sports update hitting the live servers today, but yesterday Ten Ton Hammer also broke the news that Fallen Earth has landed on the shelves at a Walmart near you. In an era where shelf space for PC games at major retailers continues to shrink at an alarming rate, that’s a pretty major deal for an independent developer.
The combined one-two punch of Blood Sports and a heftier retail presence could very well precede a sizable chunk of new clones scampering around the wastelands in the weeks and months to come. Be sure to check back next week for a detailed report on Blood Sports, Deadfall and the Fallen Earth Achievement system, and to learn why they represent the positive end of the spectrum of change in MMOGs.
That about wraps things up for this week, but be sure to hop on your Prairie Chickens and ride ‘em on over to the Loading… forums and share your thoughts on the death of EQ2’s noob isles, and FE’s latest and greatest update. Have an excellent weekend everyone!
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- Reuben "Sardu" Waters and the Ten Ton Hammer team