Last week, Brian Green wrote about how individual worlds change over time, specifically using WoW and Meridian 59 as examples about how various rebalancing and bugfixes change the dynamics of the world (e.g. with ranged weapons in M59) and how demographic changes in a world’s player population prompt changes as well (such as the erosion of immersion in the Wolfshead article that prompted Green’s post). As far as I know, there is no specific term for this, though “Live Team Drift” might be appropriate. Community worlds are just as prone to this as commercial ones. Amia’s recent introduction of a “job system” is a specific example. Thrym, the lead admin of Markshire and one of IGN’s Neverwinter vault editors, constantly introduced new subsystems to Markshire and while I was the lead dev on Etillica, I was also prone to major overhauls of the world.
The reasons that live teams do this are many. If fact, community worlds are probably even more prone to it as they tend to launch in less than polished states (pre-alpha being more the norm) and are constant works in progress. Sometimes it is to fix glaring bugs or imbalances. The list of NWN worlds that started out with a “we don’t want to nerf or change spells” policy and then went on to customize (and nerf) the scripts for nearly the entire spellbook is long and illustrious. Sometimes, it is to try and make the world truer to its ideals for its actual (or intended) playerbase; such as devdisco’s job system on Amia. Sometimes it is to expand or deepen a particular gameplay aspect that the players or admins are fond of; such Hephaestus’ extensive additions and modifications to Mythos’ implementation of Craftable Natural Resources (CNR). The fact is that any actively administered and developed world will change over time and possible even be unrecognizable to earlier players.
Green asked the question “Do you enjoy your favorite MMORPG more or less because of the changes that have been applied to it?”
This is like asking about your favorite model year of your favorite model of car. Is the latest Ford Mustang the best? One from recent years? Another from the late 60’s? You’ll never get an objective or consistent response.