The Point Of No Returning To MMOs
Although I had a long on and off again relationship with Everquest for several years (1999 – 2004 to be precise), there came a point when I couldn’t go back to the game no matter how much the nostalgia bug kept pestering me. I tried, oh yeah, I tried, but at some point along the line after 2004 the mechanics, UI and gameplay of EQ just seemed too dated and archaic to satisfy me. My once favourite game that I poured hours into every day had become incredibly irritating and about as user-friendly as an early 90’s Operating System. And here’s a hint, those weren’t very user-friendly at all.
It’s not just Everquest that I’ve had this experience with either. Anarchy Online and Dark Age of Camelot were the same. I adored them when they first came out but when I briefly tried each of them again a couple of years ago, I just couldn’t get past how terrible they looked, how frustrating their UIs were and annoying the grind was. On one hand it makes me a little sad to think that I can’t just reinstall some older MMO and enjoy it like I used to but then, on the other hand, I suppose it’s perfectly normal and logical. Aside from the fact that nostalgia plays tricks on our minds, MMOs (and video games in general) are evolving every day and the mechanics we take for common place in 2010 just weren’t available 8 years ago.
But what’s the cut-off point? When does a MMORPG go from being playable and current to being a lumbering and dribbling old beast? I have to wonder because two of the MMOs I’ve being playing a lot recently (WoW and EVE) are starting to get to the point when they’re long in the tooth and I can’t help but wonder how long it will be before one day I log in and I find I just suddenly can’t stand them any more. I suppose it’s like waking up one day and finding that your prized Ferrari has turned into an old Skoda.
Of particular interest to me is Everquest 2. It’s been out for 6 years now and I haven’t played in about 2. It was a fabulous game and probably gave me the best MMO experiences I’ve had to date but it was never the most streamlined or highly optimised in terms of either PC performance or in-game design and mechanics. Lately I’ve been feeling the itch to return but I’m not sure it will feel the same as when I left. Will it have aged behind my back and turned from my most precious MMO into an ancient disaster? And if so, will that sully all of the beautiful memories I’ve got of the game?
Although MMOs can live for a long time (and possibly even forever?), there definitely comes a point when an old player just can’t go back. And I’m OK with that because, heck, it’s the way life is. All I want to do is enjoy the games when they’re current and refrain from returning years past there sell-by-date in an attempt recapture old glories. I think I’d prefer they just slowly disappeared in a graceful and dignified fashion.