Two weeks ago I started a post talking about my initial reaction to shedding the modern MMORPG for a bit of old school gaming. A few people thought it was just nostalgia making me love it so much as a past Everquest and Ultima player, but here I am still truckin away in a hardcore raiding guild at cap. You can read that one over here:
A quick tl;dr - Everquest released "progression" servers that shed most of the modern comforts and threw everyone into what is essentially a game from the old days. The controls and stuff are still updated, but the overall it's as oldschool as they get, requiring grouping, slowing exp down, and adding all that danger we used to have back in the day that we didn't realize was actually much more engaging when WoW started stripping it all for the modern mmo.
Anyway, about a month and a half ago, they released ANOTHER progression server, this one stopping the ability for people to play more than 1-2 characters (there were entire raids of 25+ characters played by one person on the others). It also cut exp gain by another 60%, forcing people to absolutely group up with actual players for weeks on end to get to the cap.
The grind was long, and at first I hated the slower exp gain, but over time I came to realize why it existed. When I finally hit level 50 (the current camp), I looked back at the crazy amount of time it took. My /friends list was massive, as people from different eras of my leveling were ones I'd invite to future groups. A bunch of people in my guild knew me, as guilds are huge (raids cap at 72 players in EQ) and we all probably ran into eachother once or twice in the grind. That's what the community was. When you can't solo anywhere near as efficiently as grouping and things take a long time, you tend to make friends.
This also has yet another effect. The time it took to hit cap means people are much more dedicated to their characters. There are a lot of times where you could potentially get ripped off (selling something bind on pickup from a corpse for example), but people aren't willing to risk their reputations. There are asshole guilds and friendly guilds that you know to assist or avoid. Daily threads complaining about specific people and an actual community response when they are LFG or need assistance (and everyone does at some point). This is what community is all about, and the reason I'm still subbed here unlike WoW where I'd join for a month, pug everything, and quit right before my sub runs out without really talking to anyone.
Loot is a big deal and continues to be difficult to get. When I first started I crafted myself a set of armor and a good amount of the pieces were used long into my 30's and 40's. It adds a lot more of an impact than the stuff we equip in modern themepark mmos that is replaced every other level. A lot of grouping is about farming specific pieces. A few items on my character now are BIS, even though I got them at level 30, and they are farmed by people all day.
It's more of a complete package really. Endgame begins early, unlike modern mmos that just toss a pile of quests in your way that no one actually cares about. I cant remember a single interesting event that happened while leveling to 50 in FFXIV, and my recent 1-100 on WoW a few months ago is a complete blur. So many events that happened in my 1-50 on EQ were significant though.
Does the current MMO industry have any chance of creating another one of these types of games and succeeding? Or are we all too spoiled, and even more so with the next generation of gamers growing up with mobile games where almost no effort other than hitting a few buttons once a day is required for anything?