Expansion sets, that is! MMORPG.com gives their take on the 2002 Dark Age of Camelot expansion: "Shrouded Isles" expansion. What struck me: just as Ralphie said in this week's Op/Ed, one MMO (in this case, EverQuest) sets the standard, and then 6 months later you see the other MMOs catching up when they see what "works." Why not let your competitors do your gameplay testing for you, after all?
Creating expansions for MMORPGs has become an art form, it would seem. As the genre begins to settle somewhat, and starts to take on standards learned from aging veterans like Ultima Online and EverQuest, it becomes at once easier to craft an expansion, and tougher to craft a great expansion. A great expansion can keep current players happy for another year, or even bring in new players; a bad expansion can ruin the experience for veterans, and possibly scare off recruits. Mythic, the creators of Dark Age of Camelot, offered up Shrouded Isles in late 2002, a year after the original game’s release. At the time, it seemed like a very thorough expansion, and kept me playing for another year. In hindsight, it seems more like a very safe expansion.
Take a look at the "Dark Age of Camelot: Shrouded Isles" review at MMORPG.com.