In this modern age where a MMORPG can cost up to $200 million dollars to make, it seems unfeasible to take a chance on something new and unique. That's what big publishers would tell you, like EA, Nexon, Aeria Games or NCSoft. None of them want to support new projects that try dangerously new and exciting ideas. It's been 13 years since Everquest and what new ideas have been brought to the genre? Action based mechanics certainly, free to play, cross server functionality, unique skill systems, exciting dungeons, story based gameplay, but what else?
You might say that newer MMORPG's have evolved crafting into a better experience or taken the grind out of leveling, but those are both only marginally better than they were back in the last 1990's. What about guilds, well sure some guild systems are thoroughly thought out and have all kinds of accommodations, like in Rift or Tera, but Ultima Online also had a fairly deep guild system. I will concede that MMORPG's have generally been improved and refined, but creativity is being confined and strangled. Will we see a rise of new ideas, bold ideas, that take the genre into new ground, or will the stagnant state of genre continue in this safe manner in which each developer will only take a slight creative risk, generally conforming to a large portion of the already defined aspects of a MMORPG.
|Nothing but slightly re-imagined interface to be seen|
|Graphically we've come a long way, that's for sure|
My point isn't to say that Tera or Star Wars: The Old Republic are bad MMORPG's, they each certainly have their own draws and fanbase in mind, but my point is that they both take the easy path. Where is the creativity that spurred on developers to take the idea of 100 person text based MMORPG's and turn that into a whole 3d world that is filled with daring new ideas. I want to see a bright future for the genre, I want to play a MMORPG that genuinely has innovative ideas. No more of this false advertising that attempts to make every new MMORPG into this unique experience that you can only achieve through that one game. They all blend, they all mesh, they are all playing it safe to an almost extreme extent.
There are some games out there could give some hope to others who find the genre to be tired and out of ideas, like the upcoming The Secret World by Funcom, Guild Wars 2 by Arenanet or Salem by Seatribe. I say some hope because each of those because like the previously mentioned Tera and The Old Republic, each has some new ideas, but for the most part may stick to tried and true methods, meaning all three of those could be just as unrevolutionary as nearly every other MMORPG right now. Someday we may see the rise of something new that does away with the shackles of safety in familiarity and tries to create a unique, innovative and exciting new MMORPG, hopefully one that takes the genre in a positive direction.
-Written by Sean Cargle