Another Random Camelot Moment

January 13th, 2011

It seems that every now and again I pop back into Dark Age of Camelot and play around a bit. I remember playing the game when it first launched, thinking it was so incredible and advanced. Now it looks ancient and dated. But despite the outdated graphics and archaic interface, it still boils down to being a fun game. A lot of the core design is still solid by today's standards. Most importantly, the classes are interesting and fun.

It makes me wonder about the viability of re-launching MMOs. Re-do the client, update the graphics, modernize the UI, polish up a few last rough edges, and re-launch it. DAoC v2. Fresh servers, a fresh start, and - quite possibly - a fresh experience.

This ties in with why MMO sequels have had such a rough time. When an MMO is successful, it probably has a very strong core design. When a sequel is launched, it seems like the developers throw away everything that made the original game good and try to find something new. They're re-inventing the wheel. Asheron's Call 2 bombed out because of this. EQ2 rubbed a lot of EQers the wrong way (though was sufficiently good in its own right to keep going). Warhammer Online, the "RvR sequel" to Dark Age of Camelot, abandoned too many crucial elements that gave DAoC its charm. Final Fantasy XIV seems to have entirely overlooked what made FFXI good and instead picked only the bad things.

Maybe, instead of making a true sequel or spinoff, some good MMOs deserve to be simply re-launched. Don't reinvent the wheel and all that. Unfortunately, it's my impression that the part of the game that would have to be re-done - the client and graphics - largely constitutes the bulk cost of producing an MMO to begin with. A re-launch would be a risky expense if it fails to bring in a whole new generation of players. Then again, classics like DAoC could tap into the new generation of MMO players that WoW brought to the table if it were re-launched in a suitable manner to appeal to them.

Posted by: Soulrift

DAoC's Still Arround, and Still Fun!

April 16th, 2010

I re-installed Dark Age of Camelot on something of a whim recently. I played the game to the point of detrimental addiction the year it came out, I eventually had to cut my ties and sell my account to get away from it. It seems I did it at a good time, too, because, from what I hear, the first two expansions weren't all that well received by the remaining players.

But I digress. Some 8 years later I'm playing DAoC again and I find myself pleasantly surprised by a number of things: it's still fun and it's still quite populated. The latter surprise may be the result of the game being merged into one (or 10?) servers. I'm not entirely sure why, but there are 10 "Ywain" servers, but everyone on each of them seems to actually play together in the same virtual world. Oh well, I try not to over-think it.

I created a hunter; it was a class I enjoyed quite a bit my first time through, but never played much since my main character was a Hibernian Enchanter. I also tried out some of the new classes: a Bonedancer and a Reaver. It was a thrill to see all those old areas again, as well as to explore all the new content available. More importantly, the game is still quite fun and quite playable... though a bit long in the tooth when it comes to its interface.

You see, DAoC is still tied to its relatively archaic command-line-based interface, where you type /commands (such as "/keyboard") to access menus and interface items. Sure, you can macro them, and sure, they've added buttons for many of these, but it's nowhere as polished as any MMO that's come out in the last five years. It's actually kind of a curious anachronism too, because DAoC came out in fall of 2001 if I recall correctly, only three years before EQ2 and World of Warcraft reshaped the MMO-scape in 2004. And yet, in the past 6 years, MMOs haven't changed much, visually or interface-wise. I suppose, in a sense, DAoC is one of the last great "golden age" MMOs, along with Asheron's Call and the original Everquest... all of which are all still running with strong, dedicated fan bases.

Continue reading...

Posted by: Soulrift

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