WOW:TBC – Tom Chilton’s AoS all over again?

Tom Chilton (also known as Kalgan or Evocare) might feel a little bit of deja vu these days. Maybe it’s just the time of year, the weather, or the music they play on the radio on his way to work, but more likely it’s an uneasy feeling that something that’s dismissed internally might have repercussions externally.

February 28, 2003, is a day to remember. That very day Ultima Online died. First it was just a more or less subdued roar, then a cry, and then … the once mighty empire of Electronic Arts’ leading MMORP came a-crashing down. Others took its place, players moved into Asheron’s Call and EQ only to be absorbed by World of Warcraft. Such is the nature of migrating societies, such is the course of the entertainment industry.

If today feels familiar to Tom Chilton, it is very likely because of his latest project, The Burning Crusade.

Chilton’s first brain child, Age of Shadows, was Ultima Online’s fifth expansion pack. It saw two new classes, a new continent, new items, new spells, and … resistances to most of the changes since their announcement. The weapons, argued the player base, were too anime-y, too wieldy, too colorful, to be truly worthy of UO. The PvP system, they claimed, was being skewed towards specific roles and classes and did not allow skill to overcome gear differences.

EA, Origin, and Chilton dismissed most of the criticism, stating how exciting and new it all would be. Shortly thereafter the exodus began. Slowly, first, then more and more, an avalanche. Origin never again developed a game the size of AoS, Chilton left the sinking boat to join Blizzard and develop the much-criticised PvP system (which, again, emphasizes gear over skill) and, today, World of Warcraft, The Burning Cusade.

The once mighty UO, leader of the MOG pack, today sports less than half its player base, most of which are located outside the US.

The similarities are striking. As with AoS, TBC introduces two new class/race combinations by giving Paladins and Shamans to either faction. It also introduces new races, a new continent, a new PvP system, and brightly colored weapons and anime-y characters.

The criticisms sound vaguely familiar as well. While hand-wavingly dismissed as a small fringe group of complainers, the percentage of those unhappy with the Blood Elf addition of “cute” characters into the Horde, the sharing of Paladin and Shaman classes between factions, the – still broken – Druid class, the still immense reliance on gear in PvP vs. skill, and more, is about the same as that of UOs “whining detractors”.

Does Tom Chilton feel the similarities? Not likely. Does the Burning Crusade spell the downfall of WoW? Again, not likely. But to all those arguing “small numbers” and WoW’s monopoly in the MOG world, the history of UO might serve as a reminder that once before a monopoly tripped and fell.

3 Comments so far

  1. Digi (unregistered) on November 19th, 2006 @ 6:01 pm

    I have been saying this since they released the details of TBC. So many ‘soft’ decisions made, so many ‘easy’ changes to the system.

    They do this purely so they dont alienate the kids that are addicted in droves. They use the phrases ‘evening things up’ when its more like ‘fucking things up’ and hide the things they didnt bother to address.. the lack of real hands on NEW features (end-game is decidedly going to be the same) and the total lack of listening to their player base.. with lots of fluffy promises and 10 levels of new slog for the same end result.

    Come on blizzard, who do you think your kidding?

  2. Kathy (unregistered) on November 20th, 2006 @ 9:38 am

    People just hate change– that’s what it comes down to.

    You don’t like the cute characters don’t roll one. It’s not like we don’t see ‘cute’ characters in the game already. True, we horde usually kill the cute ones but…

    You don’t like the pvp system — don’t play pvp.

    My main complaint with the population of players is the lack of humor regarding the game and it’s function. Have fun with it — it’s a game for god’s sake.

  3. Oskar (unregistered) on November 20th, 2006 @ 11:31 pm

    I am thouroughly addicted to WoW.

    And Im dreading the release of the expansion.

    With the apparent favor Blizzard has to the Alliance. The addition of the cutsey blood elves (Anyone else initially envision them as this ragged, hunched over, destroyed race. ALA the drugaddicts of the horde? I was expecting the creepy chick climbing out a TV in The Ring. Not Princess freakin Mononoke. *sigh*) The new PvP system (making all this rep grinding against all you Naxx geared jerks irrelevant on top of it already being impossible). And all the little things that are making thier appearance.

    Now, at start, somethings I dont care about (Im not a druid. Druids in my guild dont complain. They are, in fact, the best overall class in the game. So… Stop complaining that you cant use a pot in bear form.) and some things make me giddy, even hesitantly ( Yey lesser instance required sizes. But… How will that effect the drama in a rapidly growing guild when only 25 of us can go to MC and the other 15 have to sit around… >.>)

    But I see this as the downfall of the game I have come to love immensely.

    And… Ill admit.

    My Final Fantasy 11 account is dusty, and ready to be played again.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.