Dance With The One Who Brung Ya….

Content.  MMO players are obsessed with it.  We want more.  And more.  And more, again.  Be it in free patches or paid expansions, we can never get enough content.  We finish newly released content in record time and ask for more.  Devs have to work faster and faster to make sure we get it.  Don’t want us players to run out of things to do, do they?

But there is inherent problems with new content.  Most content takes the form of new races, new classes, new areas, quests and instances.  We eat that stuff up.  We love it.  Unfortunately, however, some new content changes the core of the game that we love and makes it nigh unrecognizable.  This is bad.

Let’s take expansions for instance.  I have played plenty of MMOs and purchased plenty of expansions over the years.  Most have been great.  The Mines of Moria, for example, was a solid expansion for an already solid game.  It added the much anticipated Moria to the game, raised the level cap, added two new classes and hundreds of quests.  They also added Legendary Weapons and Crafting instances.  This expansion went over amazingly well with the current players of LotRO.  There were a few nitpicks with one of the new classes, the Runemaster, and it not fitting in well with the Lore, but other than that, the expansion was very well recieved.

Similarly, the Everquest 2 expansions have seemed to be solid and hits with EQ2 fans.  I don’t pretend to be an EQ2 expert, having only flirted with it in the past, but the five expansions (wow!  does any game release as many expansions as EQ1 and EQ2?) have all looked to be pretty well-recieved and have not had too many complaints by long time fans.

On the other hand, we have DAoC.  My favorite MMO of all time.  DAoC’s expansion history started out pretty solidily.  Shrouded Isles was nice, adding new classes, races, lands and a upgraded graphics engine.  The second expansion was free and added player housing.  Then came THE MISTAKE.

Trials of Atlantis was released on an unsuspecting DAoC player base and totally changed the core of the game.  Suddenly, the things we loved the most about DAoC, Realm versus Realm, were thrown to the ash heap in favor of a PvE heavy expansion.  Not only that, but all of the best gear was located in those PvE dungeons and to excel in RvR you needed that gear.

DAoC was changed in a heartbeat.  Disgruntled players left in droves, players who stayed were forced through the PvE content.  DAoC, as we knew it, was dead.  Mythic admitted their mistake and later made “Classic” servers but it was too late.  DAoC ended for many on October 28th, 2003.

Not as drastic, but just as bad for many players, is WoW’s expansions.  “Vanilla” WoW is, seemingly, a totally different game than modern-day WoW.  Less forgiving, requiring a higher time investment to excel and more accepting of World PvP than today’s WoW.  Raids were 40 man and were truly epic.  Epic gear was much, much harder to come by.  World PvP on PvP servers was abundant.  Classes and races were less homogenized.

Look at the WoW forums now and you see many threads begging for a classic server.  A server that forgets that The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King ever happened.  A server where Shaman are Horde, Paladins are Alliance and the Blood Elf abominations are only myth.  I see more of these threads every day.  Blizzard changed WoW and left many old players behind.

So, what does this have to do with Aion?  Plenty.  NCSoft has already said they are hard at work on the first expansion.  We have no idea of a release date or what the expansion may entail, but we can only hope the core of the game does not change.  The average Aion fan seems to be very fond of World PvP, difficult PvE with many group oriented quests and, in fact, many seem to be former WoW players looking for a “Vanilla” WoW experience.  We can only hope that Aion takes this into consideration as they design new content.

Getting new players is all well and good but a MMO developer should never forget about the original fans.  The ones who followed the game from the beginning.  The ones who built the original community and paid their hard earned money to make that expansion possible in the first place.

Call me a Texan but in this case I fall back on a phrase that my grandfather said to me many times:

“Dance with the one who brung ya…”

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9 Responses

  1. Good post, I hope the devs read this.

  2. […] Naamah remembers game-changing expansions for Dark Age of Camelot and World of Warcraft, and hopes the same doesn’t ruin the core Aion experience. Well, how can it not? The current end game is RvR in the Abyss. If they add more PvP zones, it […]

  3. 100% agree

  4. I agree with you but also disagree on 1 point. Mines of Moria didn’t just add new content. They redid the whole combat system. They added new requirements for gear called radiance, which made it alot more gear centric. Give me LoTRO without the MoM expansion changes anyday!

    • I never got my Captain up to the level 60 cap, as I stopped around level 53. I never experienced the radiance issue because of that. In looking at the forums for the game, I see few people actively griping about Moria, certainly not with the same fervor as I saw people griping about Trials of Atlantis or The Burning Crusades/Wrath of the Lich King. Thus I assumed most enjoyed the expansion.

      I am sure Moria has its problems and things that some players don’t like but its nowhere near the extent of DAoC or WoW’s expansion. Even with the change to combat (which, honestly, I never noticed while leveling my Captain after Moria) and the addition of radiance, the changes don’t seem to change the core of the game as the aforementioned expansions did.

  5. Couldn’t agree with you more. They have to find a happy medium between keeping the original players happy and still wanting to play without completely alienating new players or shutting the game off from growth. It’s very doable especially in Aion where all the things we loved about Classic WoW are part of the integral core of the game.

    If they ever do fall into that rut of PvE heavy content they know they’re going to have the same problems of class balance/representation that WoW and even FFXI had to some degree. Those are straight up game killers as we saw with DAoC, when you take what made the game unique and fun and then completely switch gears.

    WoW’s become a game more for the masses, integrating Bejeweled and Peggel for example through “officially licensed addons” are proof enough of its caliber as a game.

  6. ‘Dance with the one who brung ya’ is what guys used to say to girls because they’d usually have been the ones with the cars 😛

    But it’s way more fun if you dance with the cutest guy in the room.

  7. To tell the honest truth, I’m not so much bothered. While I really, REALLY enjoy investing lots of time into any given MMO, I’m not adverse to change. It’s nice to have something you like, and something that’s familiar to you, but I think that not enough people appreciate the good things that come with the change.

    I see it like I see bands: You like their music, their style, but a new album comes out that’s got a totally different sound and everyone is driven up a wall by it. That doesn’t make their music bad. Usually, when they try to replicate their typical sound, they have a higher tendency of making music that’s not as good. It’s particularly obvious in the bands that have been together for eons or just got back together that’ve made new stuff. People praise it (partly because they’re happy to have something new), but they also frequently complain that it’s just not the same.
    I would argue, simply, that it might be better to figure out what that band wanted to do and give them a chance, because it may be even better. If not, there are always other bands, right?
    Same thing applies to games. (I would argue that the personal attachment to music is the analog to the time and effort investment.)

    The one difference, however, is that big MMOs fail more easily. I certainly don’t like seeing that, but it really only reinforces my wishes that change could be more accepted. (Some) Devs actually do try to appeal to their players, despite what the internet says. 😦

    I admit to disliking new expansions, however, because I am cursed to miss all the “golden ages” in the MMOs. When endgame thrives and server-wide events kick up, I’m off doing something else, oblivious to the fun I’m missing. Then I end up coming back and running through all the old content by myself, as everyone else has left it for greener pastures. D:

  8. I love looking back at Lineage 2 in reference to Aion. If NCsoft is working on an expansion, then it might be free. God, I hope so.

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