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MMORPGs Are All About Community

Posted by lordaltay1 Tuesday July 29 2008 at 10:52PM
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One of the biggest appeals of MMORPGs and MMOs is the massive community in the game world. The more players there are in a game the better the gaming experience. I enjoy strolling through town and seeing hundreds of players trading and chatting, such activities a powerful and engaging atmosphere. No body likes playing an MMORPG with a tiny community or even a moderately sized community. The single most important aspect of an MMORPG is community, as without one, the game isn’t “massive”. If you’re more concerned about game play than community, you should be playing a single player RPG rather than an MMORPG.

MMORPGs shouldn’t have so many servers and channels. Games like Fly For Fun and Lunia and even pay to play games like World of Warcraft would be significantly more enjoyable if they had fewer servers; perhaps one for each time zone. The trouble of having so many different servers is that each server / channel is empty. I don’t mean the main cities are empty, but the world itself is empty. When I’m grinding or questing outside of town, I’d like to see other people. Seeing people adds that much needed sense of community to a game. I’d also love to see cities completely packed. Imagine World of Warcraft with only a single server for everyone on the east coast. That would be ideal; thousands of players in a single town, all trading, talking, crafting, questing etc. Now that would be a real MMORPG. If towns get too crowded, the developers could just make the towns bigger. I find that splitting the game’s population across countless servers is a silly way to prevent over crowding. Doing this prevents players from different servers to communicate and also reduces the community size, as the community is split up.
Pay to play games should also all become free to play, as doing so would bolster the games population. Game companies could generate money by having a cash shop. Having more players would also further satisfy the game’s population since players like large communities. No matter how good an MMORPG is, if it doesn’t have a good community the game isn’t worth playing by my standards. An MMORPG simply isn’t an MMORPG without a community.


MMORPG Growth: Consoles or Cell Phones?

Posted by lordaltay1 Saturday July 26 2008 at 7:09PM
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With the explosive growth of MMORPGs on the PC, people are probably asking themselves when MMORPGs will come to consoles. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening… ever. Sony gambled by releasing their famous “Everquest” title to the Playstation 2 and the end result was failure. The game simply didn’t attract enough attention from gamers.

The console MMORPG market is simply too small. Let’s look at the numbers for a minute. For this scenario we will only look at the United States. Let’s assume that a fictional game publisher, Altay Games, wants to make an MMORPG for the console market. Let’s also assume that this MMORPG will be published on all three of the ‘next gen’ consoles, Wii, Xbox360 and Playstation 3. If you all up all the ‘next gen’ console sales, you’ll end up with approximately 29 million units. There are over 200 million internet users in the US. Those numbers alone are discouraging enough for a game publisher to even consider trying to bring an MMORPG to the console, but let’s go a bit further. For a game publisher to release a game on any console, they have to pay the company that owns the console, in this case our fictional game publisher, Altay Games, would have to pay a license fee to Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony. On top of those fees, how the heck could Altay Games collect monthly subscription fees? They’d have to work with all three console companies to develop a platform to collect monthly subscriptions. At the end, there is no way any MMORPG company can justify all these expenses for such a small market. There are simply too many barriers to entry.

MMORPGs have thrived on the PC simply because there are no barriers to entry for a game publisher. If we look at Outspark, the company behind Secret of the Solstice and Fiesta, it’s amazing how easy it is to publish MMORPGs. Outspark’s business plan, like most MMORG Publishers, is to bring popular MMORPGs from Asia to the United States. Since MMORPGs in Asia are already on the PC, there are no expenses relating to porting the game or anything. The only expenses MMORPG Publishers face today to bring an MMORPG to the United States is licensing and translation fees. Sure there are other fees associated with maintaining a game, but it’s a lot cheaper to publish an MMORPG on the PC than a console.

If MMORPGs can’t expand to consoles, where can they expand? I Predict cell phones. Think about it. The cell phone market is ginormous; yes that’s actually a word. Almost every single person in the United States has a cell phone, and even people in Asia and Europe have cell phones. Believe it or not, there are almost twice as many cell phone users worldwide than internet users. With cell phones being a bigger market than PCs and automatically having access to some sort of internet, MMORPGs have a lot of room to potential here. One free MMORPG that I found extremely fascinating was Shadow of Legend. The game is playable on both cell phones and PCs. The game doesn’t have ‘Perfect World’ like graphics, but they’re tolerable. When I first started playing the game on the PC, I was wondering why the game had such poor graphics, but after I learned that the game works on cell phones, I was immediately impressed. Sure the game had its faults, but cell phone MMORPGs are still extremely new.


The Free MMORPG Genre

Posted by lordaltay1 Friday July 25 2008 at 12:51PM
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As I’ve mentioned in my previous articles, the free MMORPG industry is growing by leaps and bounds every year. New MMORPGs and MMO games are being released on an almost weekly basis here in the United States. Games like MapleStory and Scions of Fate each have over 70 million players worldwide; that’s right, EACH game has over 70 Million players, while the most well known MMORPG, World of Warcraft, has only 10 million users. Of course this isn’t exactly a fair comparison as World of Warcraft has a monthly fee while the two games I mentioned don’t, but even so, it would be silly to call the free MMORPG genre small. With such an incredible amount of popularity you would imagine that free MMORPGs would get a lot more attention by the main stream gaming networks, but they don’t.

Networks like G4 almost completely ignore the free MMORPG genre. It’s as if they don’t even acknowledge its existence. There aren’t any major print magazines that follow free MMORPGs either, except for maybe a specialty publication with little circulation. Let us analyze the free MMORPG market for a bit. There literally hundreds of free online MMORPGs out in the US market already with countless games currently in closed beta. Nexon’s MapleStory game in the United States alone makes over $30 million a year and it is expected to increase in 2008. With big publishers like Outspark, Netgame, AeriaGames and Gpotato releasing new games almost every month, the industry is poised to continue growing.

The only MMORPG that gets any attention at all in traditional gaming magazines and outlets is World of Warcraft. We’ve heard a lot of buzz around Age of Conan as well, but it’s still a pay to play game. With the incredible growth of free MMORPGs I wouldn’t be surprised if the pay to play genre was completely eliminated in the next 10 years. There really are no successful pay to play MMORPGs out there anymore due to fierce competition. Previously popular pay to play MMORPGs like Ultima Online and Everquest are losing subscribers each and every day. Gamers are flocking over to free to play MMORPGs. The only real pay to play game that’s performing well is World of Warcraft, and that phenomenon can’t last forever. Think about it; would Facebook be as popular as it is today if it required a monthly fee to access? Of course not! Facebook is free to use for consumers because the company can make money through advertisements and selling Facebook gifts [The little images you can send your friends for usually a dollar]. If you look at in free MMORPG terms the Facebook gifts are like cash shop items. They allow the company to make money off a free product or service. I can’t see pay to play business models still being around in 10 years, as there are already so many free to play games out there today and there will only be more in the future.


MMORPG Addiction

Posted by lordaltay1 Monday July 21 2008 at 1:46AM
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All MMORPG gamers know that playing an MMORPG is significantly different than playing an FPS or any other video game. Other video games simply don’t have the same sense of community and progression as MMORPGs or the same sense of accomplishment when leveling up. I’ve been playing MMORPGs ever since I was 11 years old and have grown up playing MMORPGs. I’ve played everything from Everquest to World of Warcraft and while doing so I’ve also been actively engaged in traditional gaming like console games and non MMORPG Pc games.

Throughout my entire gaming career I’ve never looked at the two as equals. I’ve always felt that what happened in MMORPGs “mattered more” than what happened in other games and sometimes more important than what happened in real life. I would get more excited about finding a rare item in say World of Warcraft or finding an amazing deal on a scroll in MapleStory than real live events like acing a test or going to the movies. During my days of playing Everquest, I would at times forget to eat, because I was so hooked on the game. Obviously, at some point I would have to grab something to eat, but even as I got hungry, I couldn’t bring myself to get off my computer and grab a snack, as I felt some sort of need to keep playing as I wanted to continue getting stronger in the game. I also remember that whenever I had to go to the bathroom, I would literally SPRINT to the bathroom and when I finished my business SPRINT back to the computer to continue playing. I’ve always played non MMORPGs, but they were never the same, as I never found myself playing any non MMORPG for more than 5 hours at a time. When I played Everquest, five hours was nothing. From the moment I woke up, I would SPRINT to my PC and start playing until I had to go to bed. I would only play non MMORPGs when I was taking a break from an MMORPGs, as beating a single player game never felt as good as leveling up in an online game.

When I was addicted to MapleStory I would play the game every single day. Every day after school, my brother and my two friends that also played MapleStory would come over to my house and we would all grind together from 3PM to 8:30PM each and every day. At 8:30PM they would go home and play from their own homes. Because I had 8 computers on my network, I could have a lot of people playing MMOs with me. I went through this exact same cycle when I played World of Warcraft, but the only difference was that I had four friends coming over every day to play with me. We would blast music from one of the computers and all grind together for hours on end.

Now that I’m older, I still find myself playing mostly free MMORPGs, but not to the point of playing them the entire day, but that’s partly because I haven’t been super addicted to any one MMORPG lately except for maybe Perfect World and Fly for Fun, as I still play them regularly. When I find another great game, odds are I’ll get hooked and play all day. I’m convinced though, that MMORPGs are addictive. The most addictive component is the sense of progression. MMORPGs make you feel that once you become higher level, you’ll be able to dominate the game and have a lot more fun than you’re having at lower levels. It’s that sense of being awesomely strong in the future that keeps you coming back. The only games that can keep you hooked for 5+ hours at a time are MMORPGs, and if that’s not addiction, I don’t know what is.

The Social Aspects of MMORPGs

Posted by lordaltay1 Friday July 18 2008 at 6:12PM
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It is often claimed that playing video games is an anti social hobby. This label may be true for most videos games but I feel it does not apply to MMORPGs. Socializing with other players is one of the key aspects of any MMORPG worth its salt. Even more importantly, the kind of people you talk to in a game may be different than the kind you socialize with in real life. I’ve been playing MMOs for years and some of my fondness memories are my discussions with the type of people I would never of had the opportunity to talk with in real life. Take for example a newly wed German couple I met in Ultima Online or the Chinese woman I chatted with for an hour while I grinded (she wanted to use my PayPal account to sell gold, she couldn’t set one up in China…)

Developers have finally caught on to how important the socializing aspect is in these online games. For years features such as guilds, private messages, and in-game mail were included but recently new MMORPGs are springing up that place a greater emphasis on socialization. Below I shall discuss some that come to mind.

First up is Mabinogi. This is a new game, at least in North America published by Nexon. Mabinogi has all the classic features of a fantasy MMORPG, dungeons to explore, monsters to slay, etc. But Mabinogi is also a very accessible game. A player’s level is not the only thing that matters. Mabinogi has a built in music writing system that lets players create memorable music and start camp fires that people can sit around and sing their tunes.



Maple Story is one of the most successful free to play games. The casual nature of the game and the social aspects are the key to its success. Besides guilds and party quests (PQ), players in Maple Story can get married.



Oz World is a bit different than the the games mentioned above. MapleStory and Mabinogi are both full fledged MMORPGs while Oz World is a purely social experience. There is no fighting in Oz World, players just fish and talk. Oz World also lets players decorate their own houses.



MMORPGs let gamers talk with and learn from people all around the world. So the next time you see someone grinding away in the same cave as you, be sure to strike up a conversation. That way, the next time someone says you need to get out more, you can tell them about your conversation with an engineer from the Philippians.


MMORPGs Can Improve Your Typing and Reading Skills!

Posted by lordaltay1 Tuesday July 15 2008 at 6:01PM
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I remember when I first began playing MMORPGs It took me forever to type simple sentences as I was only 12 years old at the time. The game I began my MMORPG career with was Ultima Online, and like every other MMORPG the game had a community, and if I wanted to find some people to hunt with or trade with, I’d have to talk to them. The only real way to get better at something, it to keep doing it; and playing MMORPGs forces you to interact with people online.

Aside from teaching you to type faster, MMORPGs can also help you read better to. Because I started playing MMORPGs at such a young age, having to interact with other players has helped my vocabulary grow. Having to constantly read and understand quest dialogue, MMORPGs actually force players to read. Having to constantly read quest dialogue and user chat, players will indirectly improve their own vocabulary and reading level.

Playing MMORPGs is a great way for kids to learn while having fun! Come to think of it, I learned how to read almost entirely through playing games like “Legend of Zelda” and “Final Fantasy”, as those games forced me to read in order to progress in the game. Obviously I learned the basics of reading at school, but school can’t force you to master something that you have no interest in; I mean come on, how many kids are excited to go to school and practice reading? Games like Fly For Fun and MapleStory are extremely family friendly so even younger players will learn while having fun. My typing skills improve every single day, as I’m constantly interacting with people online. I just took a typing test, and I type 70 words per minute with 98% accuracy, and I’ve never taken any typing classes.


MMOs are a Breath of Fresh Air

Posted by lordaltay1 Monday July 14 2008 at 6:27PM
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When you look at MMORPGs they all feel so similar. I already wrote an article about how all MMORPGs are the same, and I’d like to be a bit more positive this time around and write about MMOs. Unlike MMORPGs, MMOs all feel unique, as they are all incredibly different. For all of you that don’t know the difference between MMORPG and MMO, it’s simple; MMORPGs are role play games, while MMOs are everything else where you don’t have to run around killing monsters to level up. If you still aren’t sure what the difference is, games like GunZ: The Duel, Shot Online, Richman Online are MMOs while games like MapleStory, 12Sky and Fly for Fun are MMORPGs.

MMOs are more unique than MMORPGs simply because they cover so many different genres. While MMORPGs are very similar games like Shot Online, a golf MMO, and GunZ: The Duel, a fast paced shooter, are completely different. I recently played Combat Arms, a first person shooter MMO by Nexon, and absolutely loved the game. Unlike other MMO Shooters, Combat Arms felt very polished and balanced. Although Combat Arms is a first person shooter like a lot of other MMOs, the game felt distinctly different.

Even though MMOs do overlap themes often, they are rarely as similar as MMORPGs are. Games like WolfTeam and Combat Arms are both first person shooters, but they’re not similar at all, as in WolfTeam, the game allows players to transform themselves into a werewolf that specializes in close combat fighting, which adds an entirely new layer of game play. Most MMORPGs don’t have these sort of major differences, but rather have only extremely subtle differences. There are simply so many different MMOs out there that all play extremely different from each other.

If you’re tired of playing MMORPGs but like the RPG / Leveling up elements of those games, I strongly recommend you try out some MMO games. Odds are you’ve never played a basketball MMO before, so why not try it out? FreeStyle: Street Basketball is actually a great game. It’s fast paced, balanced game play and 100% free. I recently played an MMO called “Richman Online” and the game was pretty impressive, as the game combined board game style game play with the RPG elements, making the game incredibly unique. I believe that MMORPGs can be just as unique as MMOs, but developers today simply aren’t willing to take risks and develop a new type of MMORPG.


MMORPGs Are All the Same

Posted by lordaltay1 Saturday July 12 2008 at 11:41AM
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I’m tired of getting excited about an MMORPG and after playing it for a couple hours realizing that it’s the same thing as every other free MMORPG out there. It’s as if every single game runs off the same system, but each game has its own character models, classes and setting. Other than those three things, almost every game plays the same way. I’d love to see developers try and innovate rather than using the same rehashed themes and systems. Why not try changing the way uses gain skills or the way players can gain attributes rather than leveling up?

One major complaint I have is that almost every MMORPG has the same slate of character classes. The least developers can do is invent a few classes rather than using the same rehashed variations of Warrior, Mage, Priest, Thief and Archer. I’m sorry, renaming the classes doesn’t count as creating a new class. You can go ahead and call a warrior a fighter, barbarian, berserker, swordsman, knight, or mercenary, but it’s still a warrior. It can’t be that difficult to create different classes. Even combining two or more classes to make a hybrid would be unique. Take a “pirate” class for example. They can be a hybrid swordsman and a marksman with swords/pistols. Most MMORPGs also never utilize the necromancer class or any class that relies on summoning pets, which would be a welcomed addition to the usual slate of classes.

Another feature I’ve seen overused is the standard quest system. How many times have you been presented with a quest that says “Go outside town and kill 10 scorpions “ or a quest that sounds a bit like this, “Take this note and give it to Joe who is standing 15 feet away from me”. I mean come on! I’m not saying the developers should scrap the kill quests, but I’d love to see some variation! MapleStory actually did a remarkable job with its quest system. The game introduced platforming quests to the MMORPG genre. Players actually had to master jumping through a map while avoiding obstacles in their goal to reach the end of the map. Sure this wasn’t exactly a revolutionary concept, but it’s definitely a welcomed change from the usual quests you’ll run into in an MMORPG, and it’s actually fun. No matter how you look at it, killing 10 scorpions for the local butcher shop isn’t fun.

I’m also tired of seeing the leveling system in 99.9% of MMORPGs. Why are developers so afraid of breaking away from the norm? Sure it’s easier to use an already established system, but players definitely want to try new things. I for one would give ANY game a shot if it looked unique to me in some way, even if the game was pay to play, but even pay to play games lack uniqueness. The only game I see in the pay to play market that seems at all unique is Eve online, and I congratulate the people over at CCP [the developers of Eve Online] for taking a chance and avoiding the entire leveling system and focusing rather on a skill system. I’m not at al claiming that games with a leveling system are bad, as if the system is very well polished and balanced it can still be fun, but I’d love to trying something new.

Lastly, I’m tired of seeing the fantasy genre over used. I’ve already written about this, so i’ll keep this short. I’d love to see developers try out new genres. The Sci-fi theme definitely hasn’t been fully utilized yet, as there really aren’t any free MMORPGs that have a large community yet that are sci-fi themed. One game Luckily, there are companies out there that are trying to innovate. Gravity for example, has released Requiem: Bloodymare which labels itself as a “horror game”. Although Requiem feels a bit like fantasy, I’d like to congratulate Gravity for at least trying something new, and would like to encourage all game developers to try something new for a change.


It's Good For a Free MMORPG

Posted by lordaltay1 Thursday July 10 2008 at 3:56PM
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The Free MMORPG market is undoubtedly growing at an incredible pace and there are easily over 100 free MMORPGs on the market today. For a free MMORPG, games can no longer be “good for a free game”, but rather genuinely good for the game to succeed. Back when free to play (F2P) games were relatively new, games could be mediocre and still be wildly successful, as they were free. When F2P games first began to come out, players excused developers for slow bug fixes and unbalanced game play, as they weren’t paying anything for the game and there weren’t any other free MMORPGs to play.

Today, for a free MMORPG to be successful it has to be nearly flawless. With intense competition from other established games and new MMORPGs coming out each and every day, developers have to constantly fix bugs and add new content to keep players hooked. If a developer is too slow to fix an exploit or inconsistent with content updates, odds are players will jump ship and shift to a new game. Searching for “Free online MMORPG” on Google today yields over 600,000 results, making alternatives to a bad MMORPG abundant

The massive amounts of F2P MMORPGs on the market today are also pressuring pay to play (P2P) games to either offer more content to their players or make their game free. Games like Archlord, Anarchy Online, Shadowbane, Rf Online and so many other games became free to play from pay to play. Rose Online, a long time pay to play MMORPG, has recently announced plans to drop their subscription based business model and make the game free to play. The games that remain pay to play have an enormous amount of pressure on them, as if they don’t constantly update their game, players may quit to play one of the many free MMORPGs out there.



Posted by lordaltay1 Monday July 7 2008 at 2:26PM
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MMORPGs today lack any sense of role playing and story. I remember when I first started playing Everquest, I felt as if I was thrown into an actual world, as NPCs actually interacted with you. I remember when I walked down the streets of Qeynos, a town in EverQuest, one day I heard two guards discussing the politics of the town, and I heard another guard arguing with another NPC. If you walked around town long enough you would learn a lot about what was going on in the town, in terms of story which was actually really interesting.

One particular quest I remember doing was trying to eliminate the corrupt guards in Qeynos. The quest was assigned by one of the guard captains who knew there was corruption amongst the ranks of the guards and would reward you for finding and killing the guards that were corrupt. Players could identify corrupt guards by right clicking a random guard and checking your particular standing with that guard’s faction. Corrupt guards would view you “Dubiously” while regular guards would look at you “indifferently or amiably”. Finding low ranking corrupt guards and killing them was easy, but every time you killed a corrupt guard your standing with their faction would decrease. Upon completing the Quest the guards went from looking at my character “Dubiously” to attacking my character on sight. Walking around town with half of the town’s guards attacking you was no fun at all, but it added another sense of game play to EverQuest, as players had to manage their faction standing with everyone. I still remember the name of the leader of the corrupt Guards, Lieutenant Dagarok. If you had low standing with the corrupt guards he would run up to you and one shot you.

EverQuest definitely had the best faction system. Everything you did in the game impacted your standing with one group or another. Whether you killed a monster or completed a quest, odds are it will benefit your standing with one faction and hurt your standing with another. I’ve played World of Warcraft, and that game’s faction system isn’t even comparable to EverQuest’s. Everquest simply felt like an actual world where what you did in the game affected how other NPCs treated you. I’m not claiming that EverQuest was the best game of all time; the game had its fair share of flaws, but definitely has the best reputation system of any pay to play or free MMORPG.

I always wonder what great looking MMORPG games like Sword of the New World and Perfect World would be like if they had a better story / more player interaction with the game world. Games like Archlord and Luminary: Rise of The Goonzu are definitely taking steps in the right direction with an in game political system, but I’d love to see other MMORPG games create similar systems. In Goonzu players can elect players into local town positions and can even elect a leader on the national level who has a great deal of influence over the entire game. These systems aren’t perfect yet, but they definitely add another layer of game play to MMO games.


Free MMORPGs are way too Similar

Posted by lordaltay1 Saturday July 5 2008 at 4:00PM
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Every time I download and play through a new free MMORPG I usually spot a few similarities in that particular game that I’ve seen in other games, which is perfectly normal. I actually prefer that games borrow successful features from other games, but when a game looks almost identical to another game, there is definitely something wrong. MMO developers are definitely getting lazier and lazier and are simply looking to older games for inspiration rather than trying to be creative on their own.
The single best scenario of a game copying another is the case with MapleStory and Ghost Online. Before I explain the similarities, I’d rather show you a screenshot first.


Maple Story

Ghost Online

Ghost Online

The games look almost identical, and they play almost identically as well. Ghost Online is a shameless knock off of MapleStory. Although difficult to see, the maps in both games are 100% identical. Players on the map for both games are marked by red rectangles. I’m not going to say that Ghost Online is a horrible game, as then I would be condemning MapleStory as a bad game, which it isn’t. Both games are actually pretty fun to play, but MapleStory is hands down the superior game.

One company, TQ Digital, is notorious for their lack of creativity. Every single one of their games play just like every other game they have. Crazy Tao for example is a clone of EuDemons, but with cartoony graphics. And by clone, I do mean clone. Both games are 100% the same game, just with different graphics. Don’t believe me? Please try it.

There are plenty of other games that are way too similar to other games; like Secret of the Solstice which copies Ragnarok Online and Combat Arms which is very similar to WolfTeam minus the wolves. I’m not saying these are all bad games, they’re not, but Developers, please stop copying each other and work on new ideas.


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