Nostalgia of the good old times spent in an old version of an MMORPG may have many origins. Back in the days, there were
- more friendly and well-mannered players,
- more original monsters,
- more believable NPCs,
- a less frivolous virtual economy,
- less competitive guilds,
- balanced equipment,
- authentic choices in avatar appearances/classes/races that have now been updated,
But in my opinion, updates are most strikingly received by players through the new maps. Characters of a new race start in new maps. New monsters and NPCs are found on new maps. New (unbalanced?) items are dropped in new maps. Many players go to the new maps at the same time, hence one can measure the new gaming atmosphere there. So ... everything is linked to the new maps! Let us look at RO, EQ and WoW map updates.
A new version of the Payon city was added on kRO Sakray (the Korean test server) in September 2004 with Episode 6.9.
// --- Ep6.9 - New Payon ---
// Requires kRO Sakray 09-03
(from eA svn)
The city previously counted 5 or 6 visitable houses and was very small compared to other cities of the world. A big castle and several houses were added to the city with the update. Nothing else but a larger city was added at that time (no new monsters, NPCs, items or classes). But many players have complained about the new Payon map:
God how I miss the old Payon so much...the map was so much easier to navigate through and to memorize... and others have expressed nostalgy about it:
Really missed the old payon. So many old memories with firends there. /sob
Some players from private servers have asked for the old Payon town to be added in addition to the existing new Payon.
As for Morocc, a new version of the city replaced the old one in September 2007 with Episode 12.
// --- Episode 12: Satan Morroc & Schwaltzvalt Seige ---
// -- 2007-09-19sdata_k.gpf
(from eA svn)
Unlike Payon, the Morocc update brought an entire new content set: a remake of the city map, new fields, new monsters, new drops and a new dungeon with a 2-phased 20-million-HP final boss ending a quest (bosses are usually less than 10M HP and quests are rare in RO). I did not see as much complain as for Payon, maybe because there was not only an old map update, but also a lot of new high-level content added.
WoW started in late 2004 with 2 continents: Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms. This pre-BC period has been called Vanilla. Then BC brought the Outland (and 2 new beginning maps) and WotLK Northrend. In the latest update, Cataclysm, Blizzard has decided to add new zones and modify existing maps.
However, some players have started a petition for Blizzard to launch Vanilla servers. Others like the Madcow studio have cleverly identified how Ragnaros - Vanilla-dungeon MC's final boss - would feel after the BC update. In the Molten Chorus, Ragnaros and Executus sing on the Yesterday tune of the Beatles
Yesterday, we were everybody's favorite raid and
Suddenly, everybody's level 70, we have a shorter life expectancy. Although Ragnaros will be back for Cataclysm, no wonder how clothing such a the "I Heart MC" nearby could appear.
The vanilla period of EQ is called EQ Classic. It lasted between 1999 (when the game started) and 2000 (when the first expansion, Kunark, was implemented). EQ Classic had 77 maps. Since then, around 330 maps have been added (around 400 total).
As for the WoW Vanilla petition, there is a Classic EQ petition.
A few teams have tried to develop a server-side version (also called emulator) of Classic EQ. Eqclassic have not finished their development yet, but Project 1999 was launched in October 2009. A poll of 799 players of Project 1999 revealed 57% started playing EQ in its Classic period and 2% played EQ for the first time on this emulator. Although there are around 500 players online, the team is aware of the legal issues raised by their emulator.
Edit (September 7th): my point is: whatever the update size, there will always be nostalgic players.