Friday, November 28, 2008

Wishing Well

Memories usually seem to consist of our best and worse times. The bad memories, no matter how hard we try to forget about them, they just seem to have a way of crawling back up to the surface. The danger with those is allowing them to dictate the choices we make in the future for fear of a repeat, making us sometimes miss out on great opportunities. On the flip side, good memories are the ones we like to revisit. But just like bad memories, they can be dangerous. When we dwell too much on the past, we fail to appreciate the present for what it is and constantly compare anything we get to what once was. So the question you have to ask yourself is was the past really all that great?

There are a number of things that make something great, often a combination of the right elements at the right time. But put that same something in a different setting or at a different time, and it may very well turn out not to be so great after all.

As a child, there was this great big park a block away from my house where I used to play with my brothers. It was huge! And there was this great river running through it surrounded by swings and slides and all sorts of fun things for children to play with. My brothers would tease me all the time, threatening to throw me in the river. The river was so wide and so deep, surely I would have drowned!

I was about 6 yo when we moved from that house. In my early 20s, I was driving by the area and decided to do a little detour by the park I so fondly remembered. When I got there, at first I thought I was at the wrong place. You see, the huge park that I remembered was really a small park on the corner of the street. The great big river was a small pond that ran through it. It was barely a meter wide and maybe 2 feet deep. There were 2 slides, a sand square, 2 sets of swings and a couple benches.

I was sad and disappointed to see it with my grown up eyes. As a child, it had been a great almost mythical place. As an adult, it was just small, bland and dated. I wish I had not gone back. I wish I would have just kept the wonderful memory of it and not today's reality of it.

People often say "I wish we could go back to when..." thinking they would be happier if they did. This is especially true in UO. Like many players, I wasn't happy with AoS and I had mixed feelings about Renaissance. But would I really be happier on a pre-AoS, pre-Pub 16 or pre-Renaissance shard? On some fronts yes, on others hell no! Globally? I don't know.

The old days were great, no question about that. But it wasn't just the game mechanics that made it great. It was mostly the people, the different mentality, the different era. Times change, people change and expectations change. It took me months pre-Power Hour to GM Mining, and that was with me mining every night for hours non-stop. I won't even talk about how long it took for smithing and lockpicking. I loved the difficulty then, but I would hate to go through that today. I was never fond of having to use reagents to cast spells. I cannot bear the thought of going back to no LRC. But I miss the Seers and Counselors, the slew of player run towns and RPers galore of old. More importantly, I miss the people who have now moved on to other things.

Bottomline, you shouldn't live in the past. It's ok to learn from the mistakes of the past and take some of the good from it, but not dwell on it. You HAVE to look to the future and you have to evolve into something else, and hopefully something better. If you wish for the past long and hard enough, you may just get it. But once you do, you will likely realize it really wasn't what you thought it would be and all you will have accomplished is tarnish and maybe even shatter the fond memory you once had.


Joshua said...

That's a great perspective! I take it you guys are still hearing desires for a pre-UO:R shard? It never ends...

Regine "Sakkarah" Abel said...

Still is quite the understatement :P

People are quite obsessed with the thought of going back to pre-UO:R and while part of me understands where they're coming from, I think if we do end up giving it to them, it will ruin what they remember the old days to be. I personally do not see such a shard lasting all that long.

Siege probably has the closest thing to what pre-UO:R shards were like yet it has a very low population. People use the ROT excuse not to play Siege but honestly, the pre-UO:R skill gains weren't too far from the Siege gains, in fact they were slower as you weren't even guaranteed that 1 gain every so often.

So people should definitely be careful what they wish for.

Hawkeye Pike said...

You are right, not everything that worked in the past will work today. However, we should also be able to learn from the mistakes we made. For example: With AOS, UO followed the trend of making its game more item-based. Today, UO mostly is about items and nothing else. Overpowered items and insurance lead to a vicious circle, where players become item-addicts and ask for more and more powerful items and for more and more powerful monsters afterwards. A similar mistake was the splitting of the world between Trammel and Felucca. While PKs really ruined many players' game experience back in the Early Days, splitting the world did not solve the problem but just created new ones.
However, these mistakes are almost irreversible, and yet they determine the future of UO a lot. By these mechanics you determine what kind of people are playing UO. And I believe that those preferring item-based playing rather play other games. UO is and always was a community game. Turning it into a game where items matter most will damage what UO was originally made for.

Hawkeye Pike said...

P.S.: I don't wish back the Early Days. Most of the enhancements in UO were great. But the two biggest mistakes (splitting the world, and turning it into an item-based game) will probably be its doom if they are not reverted.