Extinct Old School MMO Mechanics We Should Have Saved - Part 1
Over 90% of all the species that have ever lived on this beautiful blue and green ball we call Earth are now extinct. IÂm not a scientist, but George Carlin said it and I believe it. Of course, Carlin (may the Big Electron rest his cranky old soul) was saying that we should stop trying to save endangered species and instead leave them alone and let them go gracefully. IÂm not advocating for that. Frankly, I wouldnÂt want to live in a world without the endangered slow loris. Enough said.
When it comes to MMO mechanics, many have evolved and some have even become extinct over the years, but maybe we shouldÂve been a little more proactive about saving them. Sometimes, you only realize how cool something was after itÂs gone. The poor thylacine (or Tasmanian tiger) knows what IÂm talking about.
Most of my experience with old school mechanics came from EverQuest, the game that once sucked years of my life away like Count RugenÂs Machine in The Princess Bride. Your experiences may vary. (And I'll admit that these mechanics are still alive in aging games, so they're not really extinct yet...but I simply wanted to write an article with a thylacine in it, so I had to get creative.) Here are three MMO mechanics we really shouldÂve tried to at least keep on the endangered species list for a while.
In this age of instances and fair play systems that let everyone partake in the fun of killing a rare monster and gain something in the process, spawn camping has gone the way of the dodo. But once upon a decade or so ago we were still camping out waiting for the elusive bad guy and praying to the MMO gods that someone wouldnÂt get the drop on him before we did.
As much as we all grumbled about the long hours spent camping a rare spawn, this mechanic had one thing going for it--it brought us together. For instance, if one of your guildÂs beloved mages needed that stupid Pegasus Feather Cloak for his mage epic, then you did what good guildies do--you headed out into the wilds of South Karana with your best Ranger and Druid buddies trying desperately to track the elusive (read: randomly spawned) flying horse, Quillmane. And, while you killed Splitpaw gnolls out of sheer boredom and frustration because that mother*&$%#@ would...not...pop, you talked with your guildies. You joked, you laughed. You had fun, together, as a guild or a group.
I could write chapters on how the social experience in MMO gaming has quickly vanished. Part of it definitely died when spawn camping did.
As far as I know, the corpse run died out with EverQuestÂs introduction of guild halls in the Dragons of Norrath expansion. Suddenly, you could summon your dead body to the guild lobby and all the Âholy shit IÂve got to get my corpse or itÂll rot and IÂll lose everythingÂ urgency was extinct for good. I know, I know, youÂre saying, ÂBut what the hell was ever fun about a corpse run?Â
If youÂre an old school EQ gamer youÂve got a corpse run tale. ItÂs a given, like the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. We all had them. My own introduction to corpse runs came when I was just a level 5 druid stumbling around Kelethin.
Seriously, you donÂt want to stumble in Kelethin, because itÂs a tree city and there are platforms. With no railings. And falling kills you.
So, I was stumbling around Kelethin and, whoops--I fell to my death. No matter how long I wandered around under the city looking for my poor broken body so I could recover my meager possessions (I had just acquired a pretty decent club, after all), I couldnÂt find it. I shouted to the zone, "Has anybody seen my corpse?Â A kind Necromancer answered and said that he could track it for me. He did, and we became friends, and later guild mates. And there would be many corpse runs--some of them guild encompassing and epic--to follow. The corpse run mechanic made you have to rely on other players, a big part of the joy of social gaming ... until Dragons of Norrath killed that fun once and for all.
BEING KoSRemember when factions mattered for more than just lore and PvP? Back in the good olÂ days in EverQuest, if you played a Dark Elf and you happened to wander into, say, Felwithe, a bunch of High Elf guards would run out the minute you came into view and kick your ass. Invitations to group in some zone with goodie-two-shoes guards left you saying, ÂUh, they donÂt like me much there.Â The term for this mechanic was blunt--you were KoS, for ÂKill on Sight.Â
But you could work to improve your faction by killing certain mobs or completing certain quests. It took a while, but after some dedicated faction grinding you could get those same guards to stop wanting to draw your blood and merely scowl at you instead. And seriously, whatÂs not to like about a mechanic like that? It made the world much more alive and immersive. But, for one reason or another, game developers must have decided that they wanted their players exploring every nook and cranny of the world theyÂd created, and having guards wanting to kill you probably wasnÂt conducive to that.
Because game developers are vain, and also maybe because players are lazy and donÂt want to have to work faction in order to interact with certain parts of the game, the days of being KoS have vanished from existence. Thanks a pantload, guys.
Next week weÂll explore a few more mechanics that are on their way to becoming fossilized remains. What are some of the old school MMO mechanics you loved to hate, yet still miss? Share a comment below.