Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Smells Like Teen Spirit

It knows, you know.

Today's Twitter discussion began innocently enough.

This is how great posts are created...

Yes, Vanilla was rubbish. I was there and can say that in all seriousness. Four hours to only half finish a 40 man instance. Gear drops rarer than dodos. You've heard it all before, and ironically there's probably a couple more blog posts off the back of this discussion (involving what might actually have been good) but that's not my point. The smell is the thing here, and I stuck the question back onto Twitter almost immediately.

What would an MMO smell of, especially if it was brand new?

My choices were basic: Vanilla (obviously) was the first choice, almost as a reflex, not simply because of the references above. The first version of any game is the original flavour, the first iteration of your concept. Vanilla just works as an accompaniment. Then there would be the new-player odour (which I'd associate with the inside a recently-purchased car, an odd mix of polish and various raw materials) and finally the freshness of newly-cut grass, as everyone begins their journey on the same level playing field.

Twitter answers have been fabulously eclectic thus far: mossy forests, wet dog and sea salt (with blood and sweat mixed in for good measure), leather and the musty smells from long-forgotten crypts. A friend had even suggested it would taste of salt too, from the weeping of others: someone ought to market a 'Tears of your Opponents' Energy Drink, you know. It is always fascinating to me to see how people look at the worlds around them, whether they choose to simply play things as they are or to immerse themselves in the 'world' that they are presented with. I think one of the key factors in making an MMO a success is the ability for it to be able to stir such feelings, to transport them into a world where they could imagine these things would be real.

So, I ask the question not simply to the Twitterverse but to the Blogshpere too: when you sit down and play a new MMO, do you think about how it would smell? How it would taste? Is the sign of a good MMO the fact it would inspire such responses to begin with? More importantly, if you could bottle that new MMO smell, would it actually sell? Could we have the next must-have fragrance hit for this year...?


Jonathan said...

A new MMO would taste of chicken, because everything tastes of chicken.

Askevar said...

I do have some good memories from Vanilla and BC. I was a lock back then and finishing my lock mount quest was just EPIC. [Finding a group for it took weeks though]

That said, we are definitely much better off now.

As for what a new MMO would smell like?

That fresh linen smell. Yes, that.

The Godmother said...

Ooh yes, just washed freshness :D Welcome to the sofa, Askevar :D

Grimmtooth said...

If you limit it to raiding, then I'm sure that Vanilla was inferior. I wouldn't know, I didn't raid in Vanilla, but I know people that did and they don't miss it a bit.

That being the mere tip of the iceberg, though, I think there's more to consider. The whole environment that those raids were plunked down in the middle of, for example.

I miss Stitches and Mor'Ladim and other roving menaces that scared the bejeebus outta me. I miss that getting in close to an instance was dicey because it was surrounded by elites, and that actually MEANT something. I miss the occasional quest that wasn't a complete dawdle, that required you to be on your toes and do your best (I do not, however, miss group quests. Good riddance.).

And so forth.

The game itself used to pose a challenge to non-raiders. I'm very sad that LFD and LFS and LFR are being substituted for that, these days.

I won't deny that part of the charm was the newness. Not being a blog reader at the time, I was at the mercy of whatever I could chisel out of Thottbot, and actually quit the game at level 53 because of those terrible Timbermaw (and not at all because I Warrior'd like a newb). No, I won't deny that. But I do think that every bit of actual character that the non-instanced game had, has been wrung out.

Cymre said...

I still remember my 6hr AV match which didn't seem like it was ending any time soon so I just left in the end.