Thursday 17 February 2011

If you could make an old MMO a modern classic

If you could revamp and re-release any MMO from before World of Warcraft, what would it be and why?

So we’re talking about the likes of Ultima Online, Everquest, Asheron’s Call, Anarchy Online, etc; those foundation games that developed the concepts we take for granted in modern MMORPGs. Imagine one of them getting the chance to have an up to date game engine, fancy graphics, a polished UI, the works…

My initial thought was (shock horror) Ultima Online. I first played UO sometime around 1997/8, in its relatively early days and I bloody loved it. It was a wild and dangerous game world where you just never knew what would happen and because of the ability to kill and loot other players, it was a game where the server community really mattered. It developed its own self policing community, with guilds built around murdering scum, or those defending against them and even trade guilds. There’s a lot of old UO in EVE.

Alas I just don’t think original UO can be recreated with the very different overall MMO community we have today. It was too harsh, too risky, far too broad in scope and just isn’t easily accessible enough. Plus the purple pixel obsessed gamer of today wouldn’t understand the era of UO I would want to return to, since their motive for playing wouldn’t be there. Yet the main reason I’m not picking UO is perhaps an odd one; it’s the game I have the most epic tales and awesome memories from. I don’t fancy tarnishing those memories watching some ADHD epeen retard jumping around everywhere spamming chat about WoW.

As such my regular readers will no doubt have guessed what game I’m going for…


It’s still a good game today, not without issues, but they are mainly due to its age and there is still just so much that is so bloody right about it. If DAoC’s graphics were updated and, most importantly, it had a major UI overhaul (as in every department), then I think it could step up and deliver the goods.

The oft talked about three faction RvR system works perfectly. The population auto balances itself as under populated factions battle the common enemy and every fight has a level of wonderful uncertainty. It also provides a smorgasbord of characters to choose from, it is an alt-o-holics wet dream.

The gameworld has a great feeling of being alive and is incredibly atmospheric. This is down to a combination of the varied and well executed racial themes, the art design, the sound effects, the bloody huge scale of it all and the proper day/night and weather systems. Fighting battles in the pouring rain as thunder rumbles around you… just glorious…

Whilst the RvR system is less “jump in and play” friendly than WAR’s, the DAoC campaign itself is far, FAR, FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR superior. I used to bang on about how WAR needed to work on having an epic campaign, rather than the ping pong one we’ve got and I stand by that. Yet all those years ago DAoC had it nailed. Taking keeps was a big deal and certainly in the old days, stealing a Fortress relic was a proper achievement. Then there are the details of fights themselves, the destructible walls, siege towers, properly mobile siege weapons, the truly massive frontier zones to fight in and so on.

It would be easy to wax lyrical about Darkness Falls… The classic PvP/E dungeon gets all the hype, it was (and still is) great, yet that takes away from all the other solid PvE that so often has a risk of PvP. All the frontier zones had PvE elements; I’d go so far as to say DAoC combined PvP and PvE seamlessly.

I could go on for ages about DAoC, hell I’ve posted enough about it since I started this blog. The thing is though I genuinely think it would succeed; a modern version of DAoC would have so many of us dropping everything to play it. Of course a fully realised DAoC2 would be the ultimate dream, but I reckon there is awesomeness to be found in just taking the original game and sorting out a posh up to date version. A fresh server to start from scratch on, with all the UI mod cons the modern MMO gamer expects and graphics to make me weep with joy. Yes please, DAoC revamped… That’s the one for me.


  1. My vote would totally be for Shadowbane, though it could probably use a fair amount of updating beyond the graphics, it was still a great game conceptually. Guild based siegeable cities, and that's all the end-game there was.

    My second vote would be for WAR.

  2. DAoC, I'm with you bro :)

  3. DAoC all the way! used to love it!

  4. It gets my vote.

    The beauty of DAOC is that it doesn't have any interlectual property.

    Can I carry my old characters forward .... please ?

  5. Hmmm... I don't know enough about MMOs to actually post something useful. I was (and, hey, still am) a girl so I played mostly Dungeon Keeper, Theme Hospital and Constructor (I still have bad dreams about punk squaters) while boys had all the fun with... other fun games. It wasn't until Guild Wars and WAR that I actually fell into the loving embrace of the MMO universe.

    But I've heard great things about DAoC so, I'd like that one, please.

  6. [shakrah]
    Definitely Planetside (although it has been called an MMOFPS, but with a persistent world). The core of these games were people playing to be able to log off and think "that was fun!". A simple test would be "how many anecdotes can you tell to illustrate the game". On Planetside, "we defended Dagda for 3 hours" was actually fun and I can easily bore everyone (my son would agree) for hours with quite thrilling tales.
    Mostly, with recent RPGs, it would be "I got the Hammer of Doom +24",... and little else.

  7. Shadowbane, now that is a game I wish I had played. I can't remember why I didn't, because I was aware of it, must have been busy elsewhere.

    Planetside... I loved Planetside :) Which is cool because Planetside Next is currently being developed :)

  8. You probably tried to play Shadowbane, but every five seconds you got the infamous sb.exe error so you just uninstalled it.

    I have played many MMO's, and DAOC is still my favorite. I recently went back for a free trial, and OMG I hated it. I really thought to myself I was that mesmerized by the piece of crap game. I still loved the game at the time. Three factions rocked, and I just remember gaining realm abilities was so sweet.

    I think players forget though how the game rewarded old schoolers. If you played since launch than you had enough realm abilities to fill 10 spellbars, and were virtually unstoppable to anyone who tried to compete their first year.

    It is the same problem WAR is facing now. The elite keep getting eliter, and the noobs have no way of gaining renown at the rates RR90's gained it when everyone was RR40.

    After leaving DAOC I did sort of fall in love with SWG's. I only stuck around for about a year when I was forced to move to LA for 4 months to help with the grocery strike down there so I wasn't really able to game since I was living in a company paid hotel.

    I thought SWG had something that DAOC didn't, and that was Guild bases, and cities.

  9. While I've never played DAoC myself, so many of my guildies talked about it like it was the holy grail of MMOs that I wish someone would make a game that was a spiritual successor to it!

  10. Shadowbane in a controlled environment where you could only have one account and one toon. The game itself was an amazing experiment even though the gameplay itself was slightly lacking. Unfortunately, on my server, the political landscape ended up that the best PVP clan dominated because thier guild leader's alt ran the "open city" of trainers, funding thier PVP exploits and crushing the server.

  11. A different iteration of WAR with

    1) non-newbie zones like LotD or apparently DAoC- large integrated PvE and PvP areas, with fewer but better quality PQs- contested like DvG pairing, dynamic like RIFT

    2) less but better PVE- interesting quest lines, greater variety in PQs, more and better dungeons with better mechanics

    3) minimal vertical progression in gear power (vertical progession in visuals yes). Almost all quality gear comes from a robust crafting system that uses materials & recipes from both PvE and PvP fights, not gold bags or tokens. In-game tools to support)

    4) horizontal rather than vertical progression with increased renown. Higher renown opens more possibilities for different passive & dynamic abities, not more powerful ones. Maybe a guild-wars still on X dynamic and Y passive abilities can be slotted at any time (including both class and renown).

    5) successful city sieges (every race has a capital) yield boosts to renown/XP/gold earned, not loot.

    I actually don't care about the 2 faction issue. I personally think that the high-end gear need to compete in T4 was only easily available by keep/fort/city siege for most of WAR's life was an issue. Conversely, I wonder how balancing the 3 faction system in DAoC would have been if you needed gear only available from multiple successful relic captures.

  12. DAoC all the way had so many fond memory's. the 3 factions made a fight very risky, team play was real not standing around spaming one move casters were fully interupted not set back so positioning was key. tanks did no dmg but protected there healers/casters

    PvP had the zergs but a full 100 man strong zerg could be stopped dead by a 8 man organized grp defendin a keep. keeps kept u interested with crafting inside them to get the best gear so there was a risk of being stabbed in the back by a stealther that climbed a wall.
    not picked a lock on the back door which would never really happen.
    Caer Sidi one of the best instances ive ever been to was a realm wide event organized for certain days same with most bosses that dropped the loot that u need to mix with your crafted set to be the best your char could be.

  13. I'm with you on DaoC! But would also love an updated version of Ultima Online, I never played it but I like their approach.


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Half man half pixel. Music obsessive, likes a drink, occasional bastard.