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Expansions in MMORPGs

After resubscribing to Dark Age of Camelot, there is one thing which has been slightly bothering me whilst reminiscing about the game - the fact that expansions and updates in MMORPGs tend to destroy any use of old areas.

Trials of Atlantis rendered a huge amount of armour and weapons entirely useless from the original version and the first expansion, thanks to their overpowered nature. Catacombs comes along and it had some of the best areas to level up characters in - until they increased the bonuses for other areas making it entirely pointless. The more recent Dragon's Revenge updates makes the older armour less useful, so everyone changes to the latest and greatest. Certain things tend to remain useful for quite a long time if there isn't any better alternative, however once something better has been added the players will flock to it.

Why does it bother me? There is a lot of quality content in the game which people won't touch and will avoid as much as possible because newer things are better. Why would I bother doing the very old quests which give virtually no reward? Instead I can do the latest expansions quests and get 500 gold just for completing one of steps. Many hours must have been spent on the design, the coding, the graphics, the storyline and everything else involved in an expansions content - yet a few updates a year later will render that content pointless.

I'd like to see more MMORPGs updating their older areas at the same time as working on their expansions. This is something Mythic has been doing, although it has only been a fairly recent and minor effort. Update the stats on drops for old items, though not retroactively as to encourage people to go back for the new bits. Add more quests and content to existing areas instead of putting the entire focus on new areas, maybe more of the old content could be updated to point to new areas within the storyline - instead of just having a portal to switch to new bits.

Players like to reminisce about the old days, take advantage of your old content and update it slightly to make them think they're still playing the game they once loved.

© Alex Tomkins.