Copy / Paste

New MMORPGs are accused of being rip-offs of WOW. Before that people compared MMOs to EverQuest. New MMOs always copy what they think is working and slap on a new theme and and tweak a few mechanics. We could say that the developers are greedy and want a piece of that WOW pie, but I hardly think that’s all there is to it.

I used to play Muds, and every mud I played was a rip-off of some other Mud. I don’t just mean they copied some game-mechanics or ideas about leveling, I mean they copied entire zones and sections of code. I played Vampire Wars, which was a rip-off of God Wars, which was an altered version of Merc, which was a modified version of DikuMud. I coded for Cythera, which was a split off from World of Carnage, which was a heavily modified version of CircleMud, which itself also derived from DikuMud.

To this day, slash commands like /bow from early Muds are still used in the most modern of MMOs. We still have hit points and mana points and we still work on getting better gear when we’re done with leveling. We still have these things because they work. Why fix what isn’t broken?

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Suzina

Suzina is a 27 year old who usally plays the same MMOs as her husband.
Games played: UO, EQ2, FFXI, SWG, LOTRO.

11 thoughts on “Copy / Paste”

  1. Now, apply this faulty thinking to computers and technology as a whole, and see where this type of outlook causes redundancy and eventually stagnation.

    Some brands do not have an issue with “sameness”. For example, when I eat a Pizza from Pizza Hut, I want it to taste like the last Pizza, or when I get chicken from KFC…better taste like the last time.
    But, even these companies know that letting things be “as they are” eventually equals falling behind in the market…
    Look at KFC and the “Grilled Chicken. It is ingenious, so simple, yet, so tastefully good too…and has sparked new interest in KFC again.

    Get my drift?

    Yes, you can continue to use some attributes of the other MMO’s to make YOUR MMO, but I better have a reason to switch from my current MMO.
    Being the same, or not “Fixing” the issues of the current title I play…will definitely equal another 100k subs game that will probably eventually close.

    Right now, the genre as a whole is looking at this “Leave it as is” mentality, and the market is 100% stagnant.

    Time to “FIX” it.

  2. Because what people are fixing is the homogenization in and of itself, not the problems with the component parts. Homogenization is broken, it always has been and always will be, and from what you say could probably have had more to do with MUDs staying niche than their textual interface.

    The good news is, you’re asking why the barn doors should be opened after the cows are already out.
    The Agency
    Metaplace
    ohai
    Black Prophecy
    Huxley
    Earthrise
    APB

    The horizons already in sight and it’s pretty damn exciting actually. You know, I actually feel kind of sad for you, it’s really too bad you never got the chance to play on a mud that began from first principles. Even when they fail, it’s exciting it to be part of it.

  3. “Why fix what isn’t broken?”

    Because otherwise the genre goes stale and boring and people stop playing. Its not rocket science.

    If you are happy listening to the same song day after day, year after year.. without ever trying new experiences, new original ideas.. instead only ever sticking with what you know and are familiar with. Knock yourself out.

    When you can quit one MMO and start another, yet half close your eyes and its the same game.. what’s the point even playing MMO’s any more when they are all the same 1-2-3 button mash, gear treadmill?

    I bet EA/Activision love people like you. Why innovate when we can release Fifa 2020? Why work on new concepts when we can put out Fight Night round 50 and add 3 new punches which are more or less the same as the old ones just a new animation.

    Yeah, great stuff..

  4. It’s more than just a simple copy and paste. Pretty much every MMO takes what was there was before but evolves it slightly. If they didn’t we wouldn’t have a lot of the common features we have now nor the evolution we see in MMOs. For example, I remember when DAOC came out and introduced a ton of features EQ never had (but soon implemented) like item levels, item binding, LFG system etc. And then new MMOs introduce new features and improve on them.

  5. You’re simplifying text MUDs a bit there, Suzina. In addition to DIKU-inspired games that you mention, there were also the LP-MUD side of the family that allowed in-game coding. LPs were also divided into multiple sub-families that had their own little quirks, too. An LP-MUD felt quite different than a similar DIKU due to the underlying structure.

    A lot of the sameness, especially for DIKU MUDs, was because they were such a beast to work on. People with little coding experience wanted to run their own game, so they’d get stock areas. LP-MUDs suffered from this a bit, too, but the stock areas wouldn’t always fit well if the core lib had changed much.

    The other issue was that some MUDs were set up because people were tired of the “jerk admins” running a game they liked. They’d go download the basic MUD then start copying everything they liked about the previous MUD, only this time they could be the “jerk admin” to people playing their game. :)

    Even beyond the game-focused MUDs, you had a lot of other games that had other focuses besides “bunny bashing”. MUSHes, MUCKs, and MOOs focused a lot more on player building of locations, each with different rules to keep things in order. A lot of these games tended to be more “social”, some with pretty deep role-playing. These variations inspired the Second Life type games we have today.

    So, I don’t think you can really say that all text MUDs were the same. There were quite a few variations from a high level view. If we wanted to dig deeper, we would see that even in LP-MUDs there were a wide variety of structures there that are more varied than the current “mainstream” MMOs we have today.

  6. This is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve seen anyone write in an MMO blog in a while (which is saying quite a bit).

    a) MMO’s are broken
    b) Evolution works by making changes to the previous most successful implementation

  7. Actually one thing I wonder is why there are not more libraries available for development teams to use. Such as a chat library, mail library, AH library. It seems every game I try (big budget ones) rebuilds these from scratch, and every game has a horrible implementation of mail, chat, and AH ype economy for the first 6 months because it’s low priority. Hell some even write their own forum software.

    No one would in any other computer/it industry would bother building their own chat, they’d buy a library and integrate it. I know there are other libraries and tools used for design. And they are extended or changed with plugins. Just seems like there is a whole basic infrastructure that users always want that is ignored. I do the same thing I won’t want to work on the basics :) But just buy it then.

  8. I think one thing that you have to remember is that “innovative” is not the same thing as “fun.” The bulk of the mechanics shared by EQ/ WoW/ EQ II/ AoC/ LoTRO/ FFXI/ WAR ect. aren’t broken as far as the target audience for those games is concerned. In fact most MMO gamers quite seem to like classes, gear, levels, quests..ect. Fucking with something that most players think is pretty fun just to do it is pure stupidity.

    Improving on something is another story. Like any product MMOs must evolve or they will stagnate and eventually become irrelevant [to the market they serve]. However, I didn’t see anything in Suzina’s post saying that MMOs should not evolve. Every one of the MUDs that she mentioned diverged from a previous MUD in at least some ways.

    The basic point I see is in her post is that there is no reason to take a big dump on a new product because it’s only an evolutionary improvement over existing products (rather than a revolutionary one). Modern mainstream (i.e., 200K + users and sub based) MMOs (CoH and EVE excepted) bear many more similarities to launch EQ than differences when you break them down to their core mechanics. But I personally would rather quit MMOs altogether than go back to launch EQ. An evolutionary change is often enough to make a real difference.

    Put differently, gradual change is the safest bet for a big budget MMO. “Hopeful monsters” better be budgeted for a niche market, because that’s all they can realistically hope for.

  9. I think one thing is iteration and another quite different is imitation. Sometimes they’re hard to tell apart.

    I think we -do- need iteration. Lots of it. It’s good. It’s a filter, ideally it cuts out what needs to be cut out and leaves the good intact. Evolution is essentially iteration.

    The problem here is that we (myself included) have been bred and bred not only expecting, but almost demanding the next best thing at every step. If it’s not quantifiably better than the previous one, it’s crap. If it doesn’t have better graphics, it’s crap. If it’s not more intense, it’s crap.

    We’ve become way too demanding and despondent to that which does not meet our inflated expectations, and this is something that comes with age as gamers. This doesn’t mean we should be accepting of everything, no matter how bad it is. As a customer, I don’t believe in “A’s for effort”. But it doesn’t mean we should discount things because they’re not orders of magnitude better/newer/more original/more intense/better looking than previous things.

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