I may be alone with my opinions, but my stance seems logical.
My first foray into MMOs was Everquest in 1999 and played for about 7 years straight and almost religiously. The graphics by today’s standards were sub-par and it was quite challenging to level up. You needed to group in most instances, you had to socialize to accomplish tasks.
One such task spanned the life (at the time level 50) of your character… it was the epic quest line which took you from the start until you reached the highest level. This caused many positive aspects – You always had a purpose and a reason to explore new areas, it progressed an intricate storyline that would, from time to time, interweave with another story arch, and give your character substance and a greater sense of purpose and accomplishment.
MMOs seemed to have shied away from epic story-lines that made your character feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose. In early EQ, you started out with your trainer who told you to collect 4 snake skins to prove you were worthy to start with your beginner’s item (sash for the monk). Usually that also earned you a level. Upon handing the items in, you get the sash, but there’s another step – 2 orc scalps, spider legs, and a wolf pelt. You hand those in with your beginner’s sash, you get a new sash and usually another level. The experiences were scaled. As you went along, you had to do more traveling and investigating to progress your class quest in order to earn your epic item. But it scaled and gave a sense of purpose and connection with your character. In the end, you earned your class’s highest honor, the Epic Item. And with all the time, resources, and friendships made, it gave a greater weight to what you were doing.
To this day, I still love my EQ monk, I took my roll as a “puller” seriously. I studied the game mechanics so thoroughly that I learned pathing and timing movement from “mobs” in order to be more effective to my group and/or raid. It gave me a sense of duty and ,yes again, purpose. I had to work with precision, tactics or else the raid would wipe or the instance would take too long. I’m not feeling such a connection with any other characters in games I’ve played. I had even created “FanFic” for my monk’s origin. And though the models for EQ were less varied and mostly generic, he was my own creation.
Sony, after buying EQ outright started launching expansion after expansion… monetarily it was annoying, but in hindsight, it was the smartest thing a developer could do… you had content on top of content and never had a moment to say “I’m tired of raiding blah blah”, because you could always switch gears and raid another storyline.
Now, it could also be that I may have “grown out of MMOs”, but I still pine after my days of grouping and raiding in EQ from time to time, and I have yet found a suitable replacement, though quite a few have come close.
I was a mob puller when I first started and I believe that art has been dismissed with the “progression” of the MMO world and it makes me sad and out of place… forever wondering.