I recently got accepted into the League of Legends closed beta. It has a pretty strict NDA, and I may only disclose "that the beta exists and that I am participating in it". Let me tell you--I am having a blast. Guinsoo (and all the excellent people at Riot Games) has done it again. DotA++
I'm not really playing any MMOs at the moment, and I'm having tons of fun with Team Fortress and LoL so I'm not thinking about MMOs either. I also don't want to just rehash other bloggers' topics--a phenomenon evizaer likes to call blog inbreeding. But Keen and Graev have had a series of posts which made me a little nostalgic.
Which reminds me of comment I made to evizaer in an IM the other day, "I really want my MMO innocence back." My MMO history is fairly young; my first MMO was FFXI. It also isn't that extensive. I typically play a single game (any multiplayer game) for months or years at a time, get completely infatuated with it, and learn its deepest and darkest secrets before moving on. But there is something about that first MMORPG which completely overwhelms you, and you find yourself willing to do the most outrageous tasks for the game (long travel times, forced grouping, harsh death penalties, grinding mobs for money).
Some players will argue that these chores "build character", help stratify the players, or are actually fun (see Keen). The first time. My first run* to Jeuno in FFXI took probably close to 45 minutes. I did it with personal friend. We had a map, but it wasn't terribly useful at describing where the zone exits were nor where they led. I remember describing land features to my guildmates, hoping that they'd know where we were and could guide us. It was a fearful journey; I leveled down in one of the zones, and we had to duo some tough mobs to get me back to level 20. But I think the most remarkable feature of the whole trip was that I remembered it all. It was a lot of fun, akin to all my ventures into the exotic lands of Vana'diel. You just don't see this anymore.
* I originally had a typo here which said "my first fun". The human brain is fascinating.
Is that sense of adventure during travel gone because new MMORPGs make travel less of an issue or because that first time was really exceptional and we've lost our innocence? I'd like to think the former, lest I end up a fiend injecting raw source code into my veins to get my fix.
Games like Guild Wars and Global Agenda (which I am excited to try) are removing that large world feel. Instanced, instant action. It's what the masses want. And I would be lying if I said these games don't make huge improvements to the MMO genre at large.
After experiencing a long line of tired or mediocre gameplay (WoW, EQ2, AoC, GW, Darkfall) I'm wishing that I wasn't an experienced MMORPG player, that I could pick up any one of those games and be enamored by the wonder that makes MMOs what they are instead of nitpicking every single feature. I wish I could see past all the faulty mechanics and immerse myself again in the world and the community. I wish they were new.