It should be an interesting year. 

There are a bunch of new titles that should hit the shelves, as well as massive expansions to existing products coming out.  The upcoming nearly simultaneous releases between Vanguard: Saga of Heroes and the Burning Crusade expansion to WoW are just the tip of the iceberg.  MMORPG.com has a good at-a-glance run down of upcoming titles, and MPOGD.com has a searchable database with somewhat looser criteria for inclusion… lots of stuff that’s getting near the end of the development pipe.

It should be an interesting year.  But, I’m not all that interested.

However, at least I think I now have an inkling as to why.

There was a time, a couple of years ago, where I wondered if I was simply burning out on the genre altogether.  Seemed possible, and reasonable: I have been playing these games for a long time after all.  I have an entire shelf of a bookcase devoted to MMO boxes… and those are just the ones I purchased off-line for one reason or another.  I’ve bummed around a bit in everything from M59 to Vanguard (nearly, beta download progresses apace), from Rubies of Eventide and The Realm through UO and Shadowbane to EQ, World of Warcraft and beyond.

That’s really not it, though.  I am burned out a little, but the real problem, I think, is more than a little touch of the curse of the connoisseur.  A “MMO palate” so finely tuned, that it simply can’t enjoy the taste of a “mere” cheeseburger any more.

Part of the problem, of course, is that there really hasn’t been a lot of major innovation within the genre.  Most games are medieval-like combat-centric quest-driven clones of one another.  A single subsystem sees some innovation, maybe two… everything else evokes the uncomfortable feeling of “been there, done that”, almost before I’ve made it out of the “newbie zone”.

That could be burnout, too, of course.  The distinction, I think, comes from the fact that I’m ever more interested in trying my own ideas, which honestly are really just refinements of those same old tactics.  That’s not burnout… more like “seasoning to taste”.

Which is one reason I don’t review MMO titles here or anywhere else, and probably never will.  (I did do one review many years ago for Asheron’s Call, for MPOGD.com in 2000, if I recall, but I think it has mercifully fallen into the memory hole.)  Oh, I’m sure I’ll rant about a specific element of a product at times… but a “formal review” would be hopelessly biased to my own particular tastes, and a disservice to the developer and the prospective player alike if they bothered to read it.

I’ll just keep trying the new offerings and plugging away at my own designs.  Good enough for me…