Lets think about this. Where can MMO's go now. How can an MMO be "innovated" past the original mechanics.
Tabula Rasa tried with using non skill based shooting. AoC tried with wild swing combat and realtime combo mashers.
But, the rest of those games still have kill 10 x quests, go here to get this book, take a message to this guy, etc.
I got started on this when I read about Jumpgate today on Kotaku.
As stated on the report...
What Needs Improvement?
It's STILL an MMO: A fetch-quest in space is the same as a fetch-quest in Azeroth; kill so many X, and bring me this many Y. I understand there's a need for basic monotonous quests to grind with in order to upgrade ships, characters, mounts, etc. But couldn't the "why I need you to bring me rat-butts" expository text be more interesting? Maybe then I'll actually read it before clicking through it with that glazed look in my eye.
And so, it goes. And guess what...the rest of this years offerings are all the same thing.
So, I have to ask, am I comfortable with these meager options. Are you?
Yes, we still all play these games. No matter how much I wanted to give up on them, I still went back. But, I at least made a conscious decision to make sure something was different.
So, are the little changes enough to keep this genre going? What could the developer possibly change to bring about the next wave of MMO's that are unique?
FPS's on consoles have done it...but slowly. RTS's, well still the same with some small innovations (or are they changes now because innovation requires more massive changes...ARGH!)
Anyways, it looks like I am not alone in thinking maybe a total sea change is not possible...
Elder Game has a post about "Innovation or History?" Where he calls out Tobold (who is also discussing this issue)...
"He (Tobold)seems pleased that the developers of both Darkfall and Age of Conan tried to do something new with combat, but notes that the lack of targeting in Darkfall especially doesn’t do the game any real favors because it is too easy to exploit."
He then goes on to say..
"But now that Age of Conan and Darkfall are doing it, untargeted combat is considered “innovation”."
Is it? Or just a minor change to a same old mechanic. All I know is thanks to AoC's semi-real time combat system, I cannot go back to the old ways, no matter how much I try. Was this enough of a change in the genre to motivate other companies to follow suit and try to change the Press 1, Refresh, Press 2, Refresh combat?
And if they do, is that not an innovation of the genre? I guess maybe we need to state these are just evolutions.
Maybe the genre cannot innovate...maybe it does not know how.