How MUDs can avoid the MMO deathtraps.
As new MMOs are being developed, players ask questions like "What will the endgame be like?". The endgame is becoming dangerous territory for MMOs; even BioWare's SWTOR endgame has been called a "grindfest to PvP". If that's the case, are MMORPGs becoming the fantasy gamer's version of the first person shooter? It seems like more and more MMOs are being developed for the person who just wants to come home from work and score some frags.
MUDs have always been designed to be fairly complex, as challenging yourself to learn the game is part of the fun. The early graphical MMOs were the same, as games like Ultima Online and Everquest were difficult for a new player to get started by themselves. You'd think this would hurt a commercial title, but we all know how popular Everquest became. So why have MMORPGs been dumbed down over the years? Folks will argue that MMOs are expensive to develop and companies need to cater to a larger market to stay alive, but then why did early and more difficult MMOs do so well? Shouldn't the MMORPG market be dead today, if difficult and unfriendly games like Everquest paved the way?
Some might say that MUDs are following the same trends as MMORPGs, in that scripts are turning MUD combat into twitch-reflex arcade shooters, and solo grinding to endgame is easy as ever. There might be some truth behind those statements, but MUDs haven't succumbed to all the flaws that are killing the MMO genre. No MMORPG to date has successfully pulled off the player-driven factions and dedicated roleplaying communities that make MUDs so enjoyable. No MMO engine can handle the mechanics of IRE combat without lagging out; and as long as MUD producers continue creating memorable roleplaying events, as long as they keep introducing mechanics that are ahead of graphical MMORPGs capabilities, MUDs will continue to be an alternative to the MMORPG market that is becoming, in my opinion, increasingly single-player.
The topic of the future of MUDs interests me because I've invested many years into Achaea, and I can't imagine this tiny universe ever disappearing. I think about how it's just a game to an outsider, but to me it's this whole other world with real friendships and accomplishments. It's different for typical MMO gamers because they expect to play a game to endgame and then wait until something new comes out. How many players are going to switch from SWTOR to Guild Wars 2 after the latter launches? But MUD players are loyal to their games, we're career-players and I think MUDs are going to be here long after MMORPGs can't top whatever PvP endgame is flavour of the month.
Author: Aktillum of Achaea
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