I just had a thought, while writing the Mythos article. We all know where Mythos came from. Diablo II game play with a Warcraft art style. Diablo II came from Diablo, and Diablo was heavily influenced by the rogue-likes Moria and Angband, I think? Both those games were inspired by Hack, which was inspired by Rogue, which was heavily influenced by Temple of Apshai (I’m guessing), which took its inspiration from Dungeons and Dragons.
Now, World of Warcraft was inspired by the Warcraft RTS games, EverQuest, and Dark Age of Camelot. EverQuest took its inspiration from Toril MUD, which was based on other MUDs back to Diku, which was itself based on D&D and earlier MUDs which were inspired by Infocom’s Dungeon/Zork, which was inspired by Crowther and Woods’ Colossal Cave Adventure, which was based on real spelunking. Dark Age of Camelot took its inspiration EverQuest, so there’s some inbreeding going on there. Warcraft polished earlier RTS games, which draw heavily from those old Avalon-Hill war games, which likely got their start as variants of the board game Risk (total speculation for purposes of illustration only).
See where this is going? All these games take certain ideas — call them genes — and mix them up to form new games. What if we could, to push the analogy, sequence these genes, and directly diagram the rise and fall of genetic markers over the years. We would have a new handle on how to judge games. Point and click vs WASD? XP grind or quest grind? Group or solo preferred?
When someone says WAR is like WoW, we could say well, it’s 75% like WoW, 10% like DAoC (and since both games draw from EverQuest) can trace half its heritage all the way back to 1999. Now this 25% here, this was never in WoW, and there’s our difference.
And more importantly, we would be able to really focus on truly new and innovative ideas. “Whoa, in this game, your character loses levels if the player doesn’t log in. Is that new? Will it spread to other games?”
Virology and genetics can tell us a lot about gaming evolution, I’m guessing. Evolution? Yeah, I went there. I think we all can see these games are not a product of Intelligent Design… (Sigh. Devs, forgive me. I had to take the shot. You understand, don’t you?)