Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Everything old is new

The latest MMORPG from this month is the original Everquest, a new "progression" server called Ragefire with the advertising slogan "play it like it's 1999". There is obviously a huge demand for such back in time servers that promise to bring back our MMORPG past. I just don't think that is actually possible.

I have fond memories of the original Everquest. It is second only to World of Warcraft in the length of my subscription. And its basic philosophy of "you have to play together with other or perish alone" is fundamentally different from World of Warcraft and most other modern games. But a large part of the attraction of EQ at the time was that it was one of the first mass-market MMORPGs and the most graphically advanced in 1999. Sixteen years later we aren't the same people any more that we were in 1999, our tastes and expectations have evolved with all the games we played since then. And the graphics standards have evolved too, so today EQ is just downright ugly.

So for me the most likely scenario is that people will start playing on this Ragefire server out of nostalgia, and then relatively quickly discover that their selective memory made them remember all the good things and forget about all the bad stuff. It simply isn't 1999 any more, and we can't bring 1999 back. Most players will give up after only a few levels, because today the original EQ leveling speed will appear extremely slow.

Having said that, I do believe that Blizzard could get a million or more subscribers for a month or three by offering a "vanilla WoW" server with 40-man raids to Molten Core.

And don't forget the awesomeness of slow leveling coupled with exp loss on death. And of course, the ever popular "meditating."

I played the hell out of Everquest when it came out, but there is no way I would go back there now.
Don't forget SOE already did this several years ago with the Fippy Darkpaw server, which has remained up and running ever since (although Ragefire may just have d-populated it a bit). They had to launch a second server to cope with demand then, too. As for people dropping out after a few days or weeks, of course they will...then they'll come back and do it again for Kunark in 6 months and Velious 6 months after that and so on probably all the way up to TSS. Neither the commercial viability nor the gameplay success of the venture rests on continual play.

As for leveling being "extremely slow", Nagafen, Vox and Phinegel Autropos, some of the key end-game raid targets for "Clssic" were all killed within a matter of days of the server opening. Leveling is hyper-speed compared to the real 1999 version as are conveniences to gameplay. The Ragefire ruleset is a very clever nostalgia version of the real thing, designed brilliantly to recreate the memories of how much fun it was while leaving out most of the forgotten pain.

As for it looking "ugly", that's purely a mater of taste. It looks better than many current MMOs to me.
Hell, if Blizz offered a Wrath server --essentially a pre-Cata unbroken story server-- I'd bet that a lot of people would take them up on that.

Back to MC? No thanks, my memory isn't THAT bad. 60 people in a roaster, meant you really knew about 1/3 of them. The rest were a mixture of friends of friends and people you just picked up because you were short on Shamans and Tank-Warriors. Half of the team was barely able to do a heroic, another quarter was absolute egomaniacs, with generous overlap between the two. Then there were the guys who figured nobody would notice if they were mostly afk for most of the raid, the loot whores, PvP-Players who wanted the epic equipment but absolutely refused to let go of their PvP-Spec.. I'm sure there's a few groups I missed, but I guess its enough for the picture.

When Blizzard announced smaller raid sizes we were glad, because the average raid group of 60 people hat something between 10 and 25 people who were either good or nice. Little did we know that smaller raid sizes came with their own problems, but that doesn't mean 40 mans were great.
Burning Crusade times were the glory days for me.
You'd be surprised, and I bet not all the interest comes from old fans remembering the "good old days," either. If there's one thing I've learned from playing Dark Souls and trying EVE its that people will play anything, no matter how punishing and unrewarding it is (or boring). I don't doubt they can scrape enough people together to make it worthwhile.

Speaking of which, I would definitely return to play a pre-Cataclysm WoW. Probably not for terribly long, and it's ironic because when Cataclysm was on the horizon I was all "damn time! We need change!" but of course be careful what you wish for and all that....Cataclysm's shift to trite humor that made the game's prior trite humor seem almost submlime in its depth as well as the fact that the world now appears to be stuck in perpetual "on fire recently but not really" mode just sort of killed it all for me.
According to this blog post by Keen, it's really not the original EQ leveling speed. He talks about gaining 3-4 levels in a few hours - "absolutely unheard of in the Norrath I remember". And boss kills happening within a few days of the server launching.
In a world where Minecraft keeps selling like hotcakes it's hard to argue that a game won't get played because the graphics aren't up to date with technology.
"Then there were the guys who figured nobody would notice if they were mostly afk for most of the raid"

Was playing a resto shaman and one of the other resto shaman would put me on follow and go watch tv during raid time (MC). Good times. /end sarcasm
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