With all due respect to everyone wanting a PSO1 remake... Sega choosing not to remake Phantasy Star Online is a WAY different scenario than them choosing not to remake a single player game like say... Sonic Adventure, Skies of Arcadia, etc. Mind you now... i'll be looking at this from a port perspective as well (e.g putting PSO Blue Burst onto Steam) just to kill two birds with one stone. Anyways onto points to cover...
I'm not gonna give Phantasy Star Online much flack, at the time of its release it was indeed ahead of its time and introduced the gaming generation to something 'new', however to think of it as this massive Online RPG on-par with say... Final Fantasy XI or World of Warcraft (games released around that gaming generation) would be all but a delusion.
While admittedly the way Sega handled the franchise played a hand in things (I mean what marketing did PSO1 get? How could anyone forget their inaction with regards to cheaters and hackers? Endless Winter on Xbox? etc), the fact that the mechanics were quickly aging as new games released and continued to evolve probs doesn't help matters.
As a result... any statements using World of Warcraft Classic's existence as to why a PSO1 Port or Remake should be done I can't really take seriously for reasons i'll get to later.
Who is this remake/port for + Costs?
So let me start from the angle of a remake... PSO1 has many things which has admittedly not aged that well.
- The controls and stiff battle mechanics.
- Limited customization options; your character is tied down to one class and the outfits they wear are locked to their class.
- As if PSO2's story didn't feel like it was tacked on as it is, PSO1's story is inconsequential.
On top of that... this being an online game, the game... unless we settle for less stable Peer to Peer connections, servers will require costs. Many people complain about MMOs nowadays being too easy... like it or not the casual audience is practically NEEDED in order for a game to remain alive... if we just take PSO1 and give it 'new graphics' the game will indeed appeal to the original fans... and that's about it, aside from an occasional new player willing to give classic games a try a PSO1 Remake or Remaster is not gonna attract enough New players to keep the game alive.
So this of course leads to what's next? Well... i'll play devil's advocate here and actually give an ideal PSO Remake scenario....
- Use Phantasy Star Zero as a base for updated mechanics; Left Trigger not only resets camera but locks onto enemies when held, a "Dodge" command for the Command Pallette, Material Stats, Feeding Weapons to Mag, etc.
- Bring some elements from PSO2; Common and Character Storage, Mags screen shows what stats will increase when selecting an item, etc.
- Adjust enemy AI accordingly to account for player's new range of mobility (you can DODGE now!)... heck even bring in some unused enemy features like how Booma came rushing at you or how you could sneak past them unless one spots you and alert the others (unused animations showcasing these behaviours were discovered).
- Expand upon the story in an actual Story Mode... take the Governor Quests from Blue Burst and make them full-fledged cutscenes, Give the game an actual ending instead of ending abruptly after Dark Falz, etc!
- Bring in PSO2's character creator... I know the thread started with PSO2's focus on Fashion as a complaint... but advanced character creation had become a part of the franchise's identity now... you can't go back to how it was before exactly and future titles will have to build on this.
- Bring in the unfinished class+race combos; HUmarl and HUnewm to balance out the number of options available to the player in terms of classes.
- Rather than simply copy and paste the areas but with new graphics... expand upon the areas to make them longer, bring back areas that were scrapped during development.
- Have a streamlined online experience that still gives a sense of modern designs while also keeping the freedom of the original. Here is a structure the menu might have under this suggestion:
MATCHMAKE (finds a random party to join)
SEARCH BY PARAMETER
SEARCH BY FRIEND
SEARCH BY RECENT
But of course... the above changes would radically transform the game. It would hopefully be able to capture the spirit of the original while also being 'new' enough to appeal to new players thus ensuring the success and life of said remake! This being more of a remake along the lines of the Final Fantasy VII Remake or the Yakuza Kiwami series... but of course I feel that this is not what people want. Which leads me to...
The Game's Life
So lets say my 'remake' suggestion from before is a no go... what do we want then? PSO1 as it was on Blue Burst as this sort of game that never changes outside of Seasonal updates with the same quests available all the time and the same things to do? Again, unless we are willing to accept a compromise in the form of a less stable P2P connection method... a game isn't gonna survive that long.
What about an Offline version?
With what content? Turning off nostalgia goggles, there really is nothing much to the game without its online mode. A story is present but unless it's to the same degree as Final Fantasy, Shenmue or even any of the classic Phantasy Star games which had a full story that took centrepiece in the game, it's not worth the trouble of porting for a barebones story presentation (now if the whole game's story from the moment you began playing was told in the same way as Seat of the Heart on the other hand...).
As for split-screen mode... there is even less content while doing so (No quests!) and it would seem ridiculous having a game called Phantasy Star Online be playable Only as split-screen.
Finally there's just the way Sega's handling the franchise... the franchise's identity is ultimately defined by what main-series title is currently active. Phantasy Star Portable isn't called "Phantasy Star Universe Portable" nor is Phantasy Star Nova called "Phantasy Star Online 2 Nova". With Phantasy Star Zero as the odd one out... the franchise's identity will always be based on the latest title with games in the "Phantasy Star" series borrowing elements from PSO2 until the next mainline title comes around.
I bring this up since... with this style of management I doubt Sega would wanna do something like this... but hey lets say i'm wrong, is there any win out of this? The only realistic way they could rerelease PSO1 is if somehow they still had the source code to Blue Burst lying around and say... ported to Steam and made heavy use of Steamworks; use Steam for authentication, move the game from being hosted using dedicated servers to Steam's P2P support and matchmaking servers. Maybe if we're lucky they add scaling options and widescreen support but other than there... there would be no updates, the game would remain exactly the same all year around with the same quests to play.... how is this any different from playing a private server?
As a small case to my statement... here is the reason the GMs disclosed as to why Blue Burst shut down on the original Sega Forums:
On a personal level, I am very saddened by this news and wish we could have come to a different resolution. PSOBB is truly a great game and it will be missed by me and everyone working along side it.
To give players some insight into the goings on of PSOBB, I've drafted up a brief explanation that covers the why concerns for the game closure. The reason for closing ultimately falls on two core reasons:
PSOBB is not making any money, in fact Phantasy Star Universe is the only reason it has been going as long as it has. Even with the lack of updates (no development, localization, or management costs), the server and bandwidth costs exceed the amount of money generated by paying subscribers.
Persistent billing issues and server timeouts (error 906, etc) cannot be resolved by our billing server team. We've been working on them for months and they simply cannot be resolved, I would go into more detail, but the end result will always be the same.
As a company offering a subscription-based service, we cannot charge people for a broken service, and we can't offer a free service without offsetting the cost. The sad result is a closure of the game.
I worked hands on with this process from beginning to end, and was very vocal about getting a resolution in that would benefit players as a whole. Unfortunately, I could not sway people past the numbers and, in fairness, they had a very tough decision to make.