Having possess the memory-capacity of a French potato (if there are any French potatoes reading this, then I do apologise), I must admit that I do not recall how many MMOs were released in the past few years, despite having played through a dozen or so personally. But one thing is for certain – this year, the year 2010 has been a very busy year for this raising genre. Dozens of new titles and expansions have been released, and dozens more have been announced. Drama and chaos abound in the industry, and the bloggosphere has been buzzing non-stop with a constant stream of sizzling hot news and updates. But let us not forget – the year, is not yet over. With dozens more high profile titles due in the next few months, dear readers, now is the time to start saying goodbye to your wallets and your loved ones.
However, I realise that not all of us are early adopters. There ARE some among us who are able to resist the call of the shinies, while some others simply cannot afford to buy, or in some cases, run the latest full price titles as they are released. Looking through forums and blogs recently, it appears that a lot of gamers belong to this camp. Curiously, I am also noticing a lot of gamers who are currently in-between (or on a break from their current) games. This means that right now there are a lot of people out there, searching through the marketplaces for existing and older titles, many of which are hidden gems which have been previously overlooked. Older titles like Vanguard, Final Fantasy XI, Everquest, and Guild Wars are getting some attention, and even the classic Ultima Online has been getting a mention or two among some circles. However, there are problems associated with older games.
First we have the technical side of things. The world of computing and gaming moves along at a rapid pace, so fast infact that sometimes the games on the market simply cannot keep up. As new technologies emerge, existing games can quickly become outdated in this modern day world. When new operating systems and hardware come on the scene, sometimes drivers do not get updated, and the games are not patched, incompatibility issues often surface. And it is not just with the operation of the games either. As new graphical engines and techniques are developed, as well as new gaming mechanics, the look and the feel of existing games which were once state of the art, can become clunky and archaic overnight.
Then there is the contents side of things. Most MMOs do not tend to get regular influxes of new players. This means the main bulk of the players tend to enter the game, and progress through contents around the same time. At some stage these players would level past the lower (and eventually mid and higher) end areas, leaving these zones in the process. As a result, new comers might find these zones unusually cold and barren, and might find themselves unable to experience a lot of the group contents due to a lack of players. Even those with friends (among the existing players) who are willing to help might run into problems. Problems such as a lack of challenge (and some might say fun) due to the presence of more powerful levelled players in the group; the inability to experience the same contents due to level differences; or perhaps the forced rushing and bypassing of content in order to catch up to the other players. To top it all off, all these problems are enforced and further enhanced as expansions, adventure packs, and game changing patches are introduced.
Despite all the problems that can arise, a lot of these older classic games can be a lot of fun. Many of which definitely deserves a playthrough, if only to show us where our games came from, and how the genre have evolved. Experience the past, some might say, to prepare us for the future. However, I am of the personal opinion that as time goes by, getting a SATISFYING FULL EXPERIENCE out of a game can become increasingly difficult, especially if you wish to experience the game as originally intended by the developers (Note the special emphasise on the original, satisfying full experience).
So, while a lot of older titles are sure to invoke fond memories in a lot of gamers, myself included, I cannot help but wonder – can it ever be too late to start a game? Can it be better sometimes to NOT start a game, rather than to experience the faded shadows of what once were?