I once felt like you do, but for WoW because WoW was my first MMO.
Yes I think it was because we were new and noobs that made it a great experience. We didn't know what to expect, we just accepted this MMO world for what it is. And it was this magical place that kept wowing you.
And no, I don't think we can ever go back to those days, because back then we were like children experiencing new things.
Now, we are grown up adults living in the adult world with consequences. We cannot see MMOs with a child's eyes anymore.
However, I am amazed that so far, no company can make an MMO that wows us like how it wowed us the first time.
Just because I was wowed by Baldur's Gate 2, doesn't mean I will never be wowed by another RPG.
I have recently been wowed by games like Assassin's Creed, Dead Space, Crusader Kings, even Faster Than Light.
Why is there no new MMO that can wow me the way other games have in other genres? Why is the MMO market so stagnant?
I dont think you will ever capture the amazement you had for everquest in any new or future mmo. Simply put it was the first 3d mmo in the history of mmos, and most peoples first of the genre they played. It had things that people remember fondly, but lets be real at the time was annoying, like boat rides, and corpse runs etc. For me no other game outside of DAOC will ever give me that feeling.
DAOC was the next in line, and while it still wasnt as exciting to play as the first time I played everquest it was a close second. I loved DAOC because it was gritty (played midgard mainly) and had so many classes and races and realms to play. But anyway back on topic, I dont think there is anything any game company can do now to ever fill someone of our generations mmo excitement anymore (short of maybe a virtual mmo).
I know myself I have played pretty much every mmo under the sun, but msot games are just rehashes with different looks to me. SWTOR grabs me because of its theme, if it wasnt star wars i highly doubt I would still be playing.
Sadly, I think that you are both right. It was incredible because it was new to us. I look back fondly on things like the boat rides. It made the world seem more alive to me. I think that MMOs are a tricky business. Especially Star Wars MMOs. Star Wars fans are already quite finicky.
Single-player experiences are another story. There are still games that dazzle me. I have been following Star Citizen (a quasi-MMO). They are building something pretty innovative there. I wish that there was more of a courage to innovate in the MMO space.
I know that SWTOR or any other MMO won't likely give me that feeling, but things might feel a lot more grand if there was a bit more sandbox to go with our themepark.