Thursday 19 May 2011

The classic MMO that you said needs a 2 after it's name

Recently I put up a poll to see opinion on which of 4 classic MMORPGs deserves a sequel. I was tempted to have a larger list, including the likes of Asheron’s Call, City of Heroes and so many more, but for me the games on the list are the ones I consider the big 4 genre defining MMOs. They are the classics that really laid the foundations for the modern MMO and proved to developers that online gaming was going to be big, serious business. It could be said that it was these games that led to World of Warcraft, certainly EQ and DAoC did. Also whilst they may be some of the oldest games out there, they are all alive and kicking today and are far more active than you might realise.
The poll finished:
63% Dark Age of Camelot (2001)
25% Ultima Online (1997)
7% Anarchy Online (2001)
3% Everquest (1999)
Firstly there is something to acknowledge regarding this poll that will have influenced the results. Despite me writing about whatever I feel like at the time, my blog is seen by most as a WAR blog and as such has readership associated to a particular style of MMO gaming. That style being games with a focus on structured openworld faction based PvP campaigns; where the PvP has purpose and impact on the game world. So I’m sure it’s not really a shock that Dark Age of Camelot was a clear winner, as this is without any doubt a poll with a slightly biased audience, but we should also remember that a great many of us WAR gamers also played and loved a lot of other games; including the classics in this poll.
And whilst we all know DAoC can stake a claim as the master of structured realm vs realm PvP, don’t fooled into thinking DAoC was the only game to do this. Ultima Online has (or had, I’m not sure all of these systems are still properly active) multiple PvP systems including: Chaos vs Order, Player driven community/guild based openworld pvp and an extensive 4 faction system where the game’s major cities could be captured and taken control of. Anarchy Online is also split into factions, with a pretty cool storyline where rebel factions are battling the Omi-Tek Corporation’s dictatorial government. Everquest, well, its split into different races, but the game was in my mind utterly focused on PvE grinding and I found it’s PvP to be purely about ganking and griefing. EQ was clearly the inspiration for WoW and AoC’s PvP servers… Yeah I hated Everquest. I tried EQ after I’d been playing UO for a while and crikey it was horribly dull in comparison. Still, it turned out to be the biggest influence on the entire genre, so my loathing for the game doesn’t matter. ANYWAY, yes indeed, DAoC is the master of RvR, but it’s not the only game to have RvR.
I think though that this poll (and the bazillion of forum and blog posts elsewhere about this) does demonstrate that within the community there is a real desire to get back to the broader RvR concepts that DAoC personifies. Huge open zones that are fully PvP enabled, with PvP objectives for the structured campaign, but that also have PvE scattered throughout the same landscape. Effectively a game centred on hybrid zones, packed with character, atmosphere and purpose. Small scale skirmishing, large scale raid combat, keeps, fortresses, relic raids, siege weapons, frontiers, true enemy territory, all of that. Also a game where neither the PvP or PvE feels like an afterthought, which is something that to my mind no MMO has managed since.
So DAoC 2 then, sweet, sweet DAoC 2…. For so many of us it is the dream MMO, the game we still hope one day will get made, but most likely won’t and will continue as the biggest missed opportunity in the land of MMOdom. It has been argued that WAR is effectively DAoC 2. It’s not. Rumour is that WAR was made with a directive for it to NOT be DAoC 2, how true that is I don’t know, but it does make sense. Why WAR isn’t DAoC 2 is a whole other and lengthy post that I may write one day, but lets just take it as a given for now. We are talking about a true DAoC 2; with Mids, Hibs and Albs battling it out in a massive world. There are many factors that make a sequel for DAoC so desirable and I could write and write about them, so instead I’m only going to mention one. I’ll leave it to you folks to comment or blog about others.
You may think I’d say RvR, but actually I’m going to say that the setting was an inspired and brilliant choice. By basing it around the legends of King Arthur and Camelot, combined with the Norse sagas and Irish myths, it tapped into a comfortable familiarity within us. Almost everyone knows and likes one of these legendary themes, so the game never had to convince anyone of its lore and atmosphere being good, since you already know it is. I’ll always remember the day during the beta that my friends and I ended up on Salisbury Plain and discovered Stonehenge… We were all wetting ourselves with excitement, we KNEW this place in real life and now we were there fighting giants. We discovered tombs underneath and the excitement continued. This sort of thing runs throughout the game, almost everywhere you go there is a legend or location that you will have heard of.
This flows all the way into the quests and storylines in the game. DAoC is packed with huge stories, masses of NPC conversations, all running through these familiar themes. All within a massive world, with weather, properly dark nights and one where you often actually had to travel to get places. If you’re not interested in PvE or a game’s theme at all then you could of course ignore it all, but should you have any interest in PvE or the setting you’re in, then DAoC delivered flavour and atmosphere on an epic scale.
So what about you? Why did you vote for DAoC? What makes it so worthy of a sequel?
There is one thing though. If DAoC 2 ever materialises, it will never, ever, be a WoW beater. No RvR or PvP based MMORPG ever will be, which is something I’ll be posting about soon. I do think though that it could be a highly successful game and would become the premier PvP game with ease, but only if Mythic stuck like glue to everything that makes the original such a landmark in MMOdom.
The big question is of course: Do Mythic plan to (or have they already…) start working on it?
It would be easy to assume after WAR and with Bioware being focussed on Star Wars that this is very unlikely. Easy to assume…


  1. [shakrah]
    Dreaming aloud from the sarcophagus of MMO genre, the agreed shortening of the game genre into MMO is in itself revealing: MMORPG have become the norm. And RPG a given.
    Once upon a time, MMO simply meant massive multiplayer online...(!!!scoop).
    This was a tool, to deliver online a ruleset, an extension on screen of the DnD ruleset. Yes, there are/were some variations (armor degradable or not, flat abilities or variable characteristics,...) but nothing earth shattering.
    The 4 archetypes (warrior, priest, wizard, thief) remain the common basics. For nothing less than 30 years mind you.
    Put like that, I think it explains a lot of the current sense of "been there, done that", because essentially we have been doing the same for 30 years, and on online (MMO) for 10.
    Where to? For me, not so much anymore the setting, the lore, the graphics, but truly something that would change the tools, not an umpteenth reshuffle of rules however cleverly disguised (Imperial Agent, get your Cloak of Invisibility +3 adn lockpick +10%).
    I wonder if it would not be time to remember that they were other game systems than DnD, with other objectives. Examples (I am sure there are much much better ideas out there): scaling abilities by usage frequency, with set fighting values (traveller for example, use a spanner 10 times and become spanner 1, but heavy weapon depends on your abilities+a modicum of usage, around 90%-10%)?
    This slant would then be to play the game, whichever setting it would be in, not to grind it as it would bring you very little as such. Beside the reward from living the story, as it is needed to feed the greedy crowds, rewards could be of material nature and/or status(wealth, housing, etc...).
    Anyway, something where I log and know that I am going to do/see something new, and potentially without having to read the walkthroughs or grind gear A for 350 scenarios...
    Philosophical isnt? And yes I am that old that I played all of the above at release :)

  2. true. i voted for DAoC. Obviously I miss the kind of RvR action that DAoC delivered, but my main reason was the atmosphere of the game.

    I still, to this day, miss Snowdonia Station. The view was breath taking and I have yet to see another MMO that can pull off the same kind of immersive landscapes.

    Another thing I miss about it is the traveling you had to do. It had a certain feeling to it. And that combined with the scenery made for a unique experience. Riding out of Snowdonia, crossing the bridge with Camelot on the horizon, closing in on Prydwen Keep, taking a long stride alongside Salisbury Plains just before entering Campacorentin, knowing that any time now you should be arriving at the Marshes...

    Truth be told, what I really want isn't a DAoC 2, but a DAoC with updated graphics and a revamped UI (the UI is one of the only things i don't miss about the game :P )


  3. I never played DAoC, before my MMO-time as it were, but I played WAR and so many of my guildies talked about DAoC that I ended up wishing that I had. Many of the flaws with the design of WAR seemed to have been cured by the design of DAoC and I couldn't help but wonder why take two steps back the way WAR did?

    I think GW2 might have the same sort of PvP vibe with the World v World fights. I'm hoping at least.

  4. [shakrah]
    If I am honest, I am only looking fwd to Planetside Next. SOE issues have cut my wings, and forced me back over the last days to WAR.
    DAoC when it was up did not convince me (looked very PvE), so there :P

  5. I liked all the classes in Dark Age. Each faction each with lots of different classes to choose from and all different from their enemy factions. With so much choice there was a perfect class for everyone. Ofc it made balance tough but I think overall the factions themselfs were balanced.


  6. RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR RvR


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