Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Roots of MMORPGs

For everlong as the roots of a MMORPG aren't clearly defined, the game can only find as inspiration other games of the type - copying from other MMORPGs. In truth, MMORPGs come from many different sources, which may create many different results.

If you found your MMORPG based on single-player role-playing games, you will create what amounts to a single-player RPG with many player-controlled NPCs. The goal of the game will be power acquisition, and as long as acquiring more of said power is possible, challenges will be overcome by being more powerful than them, instead of outsmarting them. Players will come to expect a linear story where they are only tokenly involved. There is a market for such MMORPGs, but they are often regarded by outsiders as being games for simpletons.

You could also base your MMORPG on human history; conflicts wouldn't be lacking, but perhaps not that many people are interested in long, boring walks punctuated by short periods of chaos. Players would, for the most part, have to play the role of simple people, doing simple (and often boring) things. Again, there might be a market for this type of game, but I honestly doubt it would be worth considering.

Of course, you can base your game on tabletop games (call it AD&D). Tabletop games have the advantage of being more open-ended, since game masters can make or break rules as they see fit; that part would be kind of difficult to implement in a computer game. Luckily, you can still do something similar, by having a very open-ended game, with few rules imposed on the players. Such a game would probably require longer development and testing time, but it is a market where competition is quite scarce.

There's other sources of inspiration, of course, but these three should cover the basics; you have to define your game at least relatively to these three, or other similar concepts, before you can move ahead and design the actual game.

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