When it comes to ‘balance’ in a game, everyone is an arm-chair developer. Reading forums, you’d think that creating class balance was the easiest thing in the world, and it would be so obvious when class balance is off. That rogue who can stock lock you for 4.5 seconds once every 10 minutes is clearly overpowered! Healers shouldn’t be able to heal themselves in PvP because it’s unbalanced and they can’t be killed. There are a thousand examples that anyone with keyboard and a tenuous grasp on the English language will give you, often whether you want them or not.
It’s really great to think that even after so many years — over a decade–some MMOs are still going and actively being played. My first MMO love was Funcom’s Anarchy Online and this year it celebrated its 11th birthday. Wow, that is staggering to me. Not only because the game is so old, but that means I’ve been actively playing an MMO for about 9 years. And AO was the beast that started it all.
I wasn’t around for the fabled horrendous launch period, but I’ve heard stories. Oh man, have I heard stories. When I started playing the game was …astounding. I played a Metaphysicist (moochies anyone?), an Adventurer and a Doctor. But the MP was my favorite — I remember how geeked I was when I summoned my first demon instead of a meatball. It was so … invigorating. I can remember sitting in my dorm room grinding hecks for hours and hours, or using NanoNanny to plan out my implants–flying all over the world to play-cities to buy things from the market–when I got my first yalm.
Sure it’s not the best game on the market. But it’s still a good game. It was fun, complex, unforgiving (respeccing, what?!). It had player housing, guild housing, a huge world that would take days and days to run across. I met some great people in game, and I still keep in touch with.
Those memories are vivid to me…just as vivid to me as stuff that happened in real life. In the current MMO market, games seem to be dropping like flies. Huge inflated budgets in games lead to completely unrealistic subscriber predictions–which is just poor planning. Games downsizing, closing, running on skeleton crews so soon launch is the norm nowadays. Yet AO is still kicking–maybe not going strong as it once was, but slow and steady, stable … dependable.
Sure, it wasn’t the first MMO, but it was my first MMO. And you always remember your first with rose-colored glasses.