In this rapidly changing world it would be easy enough to dismiss these comments as the rambling of old timers, addicted to their rose tinted glasses, who cannot accept the fact that the world has changed. Brad McQuaid's attempt to bring back old school MMOdom in Vanguard was something of a disaster. Ten million World of Warcraft players can't be wrong.
However - the old timers do make some solid arguments. Keen points out that without challenge there is no sense of achievement. Tipa looks back to the days when the very difficulty of games forced players into grouping and formed the basis of a tightly knit communities - survival on your own was just not an option.
For me the most eloquent statement of the romance of old-school MMO gaming was made by poster 7-Vodka in a comment he made to some random Slashdot article about a recent World of Warcraft patch. I quote:
Bring back the wild west. Bring back the buggy, unforseen, wild, insulting, violent mess that was Ultima Online back in the early years. There were no cookie cutter classes. There was gambling, extortion, confidence tricksters, scammers, spammers, raiders, looters, exploiters, thieves, honorable and dishonorable fighters and gangs. There was somewhat of a safety zone in towns. There were no factions, everyone and everything was fair game. There was no one way to play the game, I'm sure people have so many interesting stories about how they or friends played. I had a friend who liked to spend his time stealing useless items. He was a weird looking fellow and a clepto. He also enjoyed running around town naked. He would yell at the NPCs and get angry at the guards when they caught him and killed him. That was his take of the game.
That stirs my blood. I can understand the romance of that. I am not sure that I have the time or the patience to play that game (in fact it sounds a lot like EVE online) but it could be fun to read about it.
PS: In case anybody is tempted to sue me I should point out that I am sure both Tipa and Keen are both younger and sprightlier than I am. The title of this post and the general thrust of the second paragraph are supposed to be ironic.