Marvel Vs Capcom Vs MMOs.

This is related to the last post about Rift and twilight.

In the local mall, there’s a small local arcade surviving heroically. Like all arcades, it’s more redemption and ticket machines than actual games, with only a few of them left. It’s mostly racing games and light gun games, but with one exception. They have a Marvel versus Capcom 2 machine there.

This is welcome to me as I played the same game in the same mall over fifteen years ago, and it adds some continuity to life. These days so much of what existed when we were young has been thrown away, either due to innovation or simple time. In my town, my high school doesn’t exist any more, the employer I worked at for 7 years doesn’t, the movie theaters where I first watched movies are gone, as are all the video and book stores I lived in as a kid. However, there is a problem.

There’s really zero quantatative difference between MvC2 then, and any Capcom versus game now besides the graphics.

If anything, MvC2 is the better game because it strikes a balance between complexity and simplicity. This is not good at all.

It means the series has been stagnant, and it really has. It’s not just MvC: play Soul Calibur on dreamcast, or Tekken 2, and you see all the later iterations just get more complex and never really change. Playing King in Tekken barely has changed at all over time. We are seeing fifteen years or more of games, a lifetime according to Moore’s law, do  little to advance themselves. Even niche titles: Gulity Gear on playstation one is basically the same game as later models except for arcane tweaks to the ruleset.

This is bad, because it killed the genre. Virtually all fighting games cash in on multi-decade existing licenses. Capcom used to innovate in fighting games with spinoffs: Techromancer, Cyberbots, Rival Schools: United by Fate. While others relied on past technologies, they tried to make a new experience. Primal Rage and Brutal are two examples, as was Eternal Champions and Bushido Blade. But innovation has been thrown off a cliff in favor of updated retreads.

The problem with MMOs specifically is that we are now at the MvC2 point. We had an early time of a lot of innovations, but like all the fighting games of the MK/SF 2 generation, they have moved to incremental advancement. Why would anyone in God’s name go back to playing by classic EQ rules? It would be like going back to play a 8-bit strategy game. It should feel so shallow as not to be worth except as a curiosity.

If we can in 20 years, look back and still find past MMOs anything but shallow, linear experiences heavily colored by nostalgia, and not be able to point to the current genre as adding entirely new experiences and concepts, the genre has failed. Burnout is not the same as pole position. But will Everquest 4 be the same as Everquest one?

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