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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » What is a Living Breathing World MMO? Any examples of one of these MMOs talked about here?

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58 posts found

Novice Member

Joined: 9/26/08
Posts: 20

8/23/14 2:15:16 PM#41

A dynamic, virtual world. Meaning not much scripted like you see in Rift or GW2 (though they and the fans were busy pointing out it's dynamic).

Xsyon and Ryzom springs to mind. Especially Xsyon. But being an indie one-man-company there are issues to encounter, and the playerbase is not that high. There's a free-to-try option though, so knock yourself out.

Once upon a time ...


Advanced Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 22588

8/23/14 10:31:52 PM#42
Originally posted by DMKano

Planet Earth is the only living breathing world we know about at present.

There is no game that even comes close - to emulate all the intricacies and complexities of a living breathing world - now that'd be something.


It may be "something" but the question is whether it will be entertaining?


Novice Member

Joined: 4/10/09
Posts: 809

8/23/14 10:35:31 PM#43
AO, Everquest, and FFXI in their early to mid years.

Novice Member

Joined: 4/10/09
Posts: 809

8/23/14 10:37:43 PM#44

If you're really interested in what made MMOs living breathing worlds then read the article I'm providing a link too.



Edit: nevermind with the link. If you want to know you're going to have to find stories about people playing Everquest and AO and FFXI.


Edit: yeah I did find the article.


Advanced Member

Joined: 12/13/08
Posts: 2050

8/24/14 12:41:00 AM#45
Originally posted by MMOExposed

Living Breathing World MMO. I know this is figuratively talked about around here.

But what does that even mean in terms of MMOs?

Are there any examples of such a MMO being this "Living Breathing World" that people here been scratching and begging for?

I been thinking about this request, when it hit me. What the heck is a Living Breathing World MMO feature?

Seems like a heavy requested feature, but doesnt really seem to have ever been done before. So I been confused about where this request even started from.


School me on this you all.


FFXI would fit a living and breathing world.  At least back in 2004 when I played it did feel that way.   I think this largely came from it's regional design and the absence of fast travel at the early levels.  Not to mention, all safe and fast travel options were mini social events in design.


Spotlight Poster

Joined: 6/17/10
Posts: 6403

OP  8/25/14 1:02:02 AM#46
Originally posted by Stiler

To me a living breathing world is when the game world changes over time, either by the player bases action or the developers.


It's when a world doesn't stay exactly the same all the time and it feels like just a static world.


The best example of a game doing this imo was Asheron's Call.


They would have monthly updates that could range from a simple season changing in game (IE  an area in fall would start getting snowfall and overtime it built up to cover the ground/houses/trees) to huge changes that were story-based, like a giant "hive" appearing hovering over the major towns in the game and new creatures out and about in the wildlife, to a major change like the games god appearing in game and fighting against the main villain.


This made the world feel "alive" because it constantly changed and evolved, and most of all unlike the "newer" mmorpgs that have tried this (IE Guild WArs 2) they didn't piggyback it and have it be instanced or reset it, if you MISSED it, you m issed it, there was no flip flopping. You were either there for it or you weren't. That made things feel finite and permanent, which is sorely missing from newer mmo's that try to do this kind of thing and fear people don't want to be able to "miss" them so they have them be instanced or reset (like guild wars 2 "events").


Then there are smaller examples of this, such as Ultima Online and it's famous "undead" attack on the in game city of Trinsic, where the undead attacked it and the players had to band together to fight them off (it was amazing), you had liches, skeletons, etc attacking it and the players were pushing back, there were a ton of them and the players (at least on my server, Lake Superior) made a teleport on top of the bank and used it as a safe haven (the undead couldn't get up there) so players would all rest up there/heal and then rejoin the fight.


Things like that hardly ever happen in mmorpgs today and if they do it's usually just for in-game "holidays" and the major changes are usually something they save for expansions and charge you for...again (since your sub cost is what they used to develop it in the first place).


I wish an mmorpg would take the monthly update approach of Asheron's Call (permanent ONE TIME changes per month) and also run in-game events like UO and the earlier mmo's had (have developers play a role in game, do events, etc).




But that Undead siege. How is that different from what goes on in GW2 today? or what about Rift?

Ever log into Rift on one of the abandoned servers in the max level zones. I did before, and it was totally taken over by NPC enemies. But on normal servers this doesnt happen because PLAYERS >NPC always in every MMO.

Players always are better than the hardest PvE NPC.

Imagine people that are masters of Demon Soul/ Dark Soul/ Ninja Giden / DMC, coming into a MMO in masses (50-100 of them) and fighting some super hard PvE NPC content like this that may be trying to take over the world. Those players would wipe the floor with those "Hard" NPC.


Thats why we never really see this anymore. but its still there. Its just players never allow stuff like that to happen now days. MMO gamers are way too skilled.


Elite Member

Joined: 7/01/04
Posts: 6310

8/25/14 1:31:49 AM#47
Originally posted by DamonVile

I cringe to say it but swg was the last one I can think of that was " living and breathing"  It's the last time I was in an mmo where people did things because they wanted to. They had house parties or went to explore a cave, or just hung out and talked in a mall.

I don't really consider a quest hub mmo living and breathing. It's just a game you play. SWG you could actually live in there to some extent. It's really hard to explain if you've never experienced it or are not looking for it. Eve is probably like that for the people playing it. There's no real content for them to follow. They sort of live in there and things happen because people do things.

Being a sandbox or having a lot of sandbox features probably has a lot to do with why they're so rare now and why so many of the older games had it and new ones don't.

I think its important not to confuse what constitutes a game with those kinds of features with games that rely heavily on scripted events to give the illusion of being 'alive'. That isn't to say that those things can't be fun, but their only fun as long as they don't repeat too often or people get bored with them occuring, Rift is probably a good example of this, and probably GW2 where there are often 'events' that occur on a seemingly random basis, but follow a fairly linear path as they progress. Only players themselves can breathe life into a world, and its the kind of thing that you only really find with sandbox type games, where players have the tools to do so. Themepark games tend to rely on scripted events which are ephemeral in nature and repeatable, players can interact with them on that basis, but there is no permanence to the outcomes.


Novice Member

Joined: 6/29/06
Posts: 3565

8/25/14 3:21:42 AM#48

Games like 'Drox Operative, Space Rangers, X3 etc' have all spoiled me when people talk about 'living breathing world'.

I don't think there is a single MMO that can do the 'living' part if compared to those.

Although I do recall asking GW2 fanboys about this with 'Dynamic events' and getting shouted at a lot. Looking back, not sure how they could have been so blinded to the short comings of the so-called 'Dynamic events'.

Gdemami -
Informing people about your thoughts and impressions is not a review, it's a blog.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/14/08
Posts: 1583

8/25/14 3:50:13 AM#49

As everyone else has already pointed out, if you're looking for examples of living, breathing worlds, then Eve Online and Guild Wars 2 are the only examples in the current marketplace. Everything else is pretty much static.


The only other slightly relevant example is FFXIV - the town hub in Mor Dhona started as just a camp but has been gaining walls and buildings every other update or so. The rest of the game is rather static, however.



Advanced Member

Joined: 3/07/04
Posts: 2610

8/29/14 3:16:34 PM#50
GW2 is a bad example because some of the Living Story events have had an impact on the game world but these events were planned scripted events.

A "Living Breathing" world would not have scripted events on timers. Things would just happen.

EQN is much more in line with what a "Living Breathing" world should be.
Of you hunt
  User Deleted
8/29/14 5:57:48 PM#51
Saga of Ryzom, UO, EVE, any number of smaller Sandboxes like WURM. Theirs alot of concepts From games like Fable that have not been done much because devs just want WOW locusts these days. Spellborn and a few other games not sandboxes but had interesting AI. Maybe Shadowbane to a degree.

Advanced Member

Joined: 6/01/09
Posts: 350

8/30/14 1:34:26 AM#52
Originally posted by iixviiiix

It mean the game broad (world) have it own cycle (of life) and not roll around player's action .

For example.

The cycle are 7 days "in game time" or farmer's farm

Day 1 he plan the seeds ,

at day 4 the seeds grow and rats start appears

at day 7 , if he manage to kill the rats , it time for him to harvest .

Base on the cycle there are many possible "future" depend on player's "chose"


Basically it kind of design where the game world roll around independent  with players.

It difference with current the world roll around players (main character of the story line)


"living world" are kind of design where the game world still run even if player join it or not . While "hero design" game world "stop" when player don't play it anymore.

I think this sums it up quite well. A living breathing world is a game world that is more like a simulation. It is not static but it does things on its own. The dynamic events in GW2 go in this direction, although in a very rudimentary way that is not well implemented. StoryBricks is promising a lot of this kind of stuff.

What is maybe even more important is that the there are many ways to interact with the game world that don't  evolve around combat. Planting weeds is one example. Another key feature world be the ability to place items on the ground like it was possible in UO. It starts with little thinks like sitting in chairs and if there is a plate with food I want to be able to eat it. This is what makes the game world feel responsive and alive.  

The epitome of a game world that feels dead is the type of static quest locations that exist in almost every themepark mmo. The game world consist of these small locations that are only build for one specific quest, and once you are finished with it they become completely useless.

And no, it is not simply nostalgia. And the one time events that exist GW2 for example are a neat feature but the don't really make the game world feel more alive for me.


Elite Member

Joined: 7/01/04
Posts: 6310

8/30/14 2:07:22 AM#53
Originally posted by Xiaoki
GW2 is a bad example because some of the Living Story events have had an impact on the game world but these events were planned scripted events.

A "Living Breathing" world would not have scripted events on timers. Things would just happen.

EQN is much more in line with what a "Living Breathing" world should be.
Of you hunt

I think personally that EQN will just be another example of the mechanics used in GW2, another variation in effect of the 'seemingly' random scripted events that follow a fairly linear path. Of course until SOE actually manage to create the thing we won't know for sure, but early indications do seem to point in that direction, either way the ephemeral nature of those 'scripted events' is not really in question so i don't think its really representative of an 'ideal' for candidacy of a 'living breathing world'. If anything, based on previous games at least, a 'living breathing world' is not so much 'designed' as something that occurs under the right conditions, however only sandbox games so far appear to have the best 'possibility' of bringing those 'conditions' together.


Advanced Member

Joined: 3/05/07
Posts: 3922

8/30/14 4:27:11 AM#54
Originally posted by nariusseldon
Originally posted by flizzer
When people use this term they are really talking about nostalgia and the game they played when they were younger and had so much more free time.   Nostalgia is a wonderful drug that distorts reality.

What game are you talking about?

EQ certainly wasn't "living and breathing" with slow static spawn, and camping.

     The term living breathing world refers to "PLAYERS" actively engaged in the world.. It has nothing to do with NPC and mobs..  When you venture out and see no one, the cities seem void of players, people consider the game world dead..  However, when you bump into others frequently, or group up with them while adventuring, and the cities are robust with active players chatting, or doing whatever brings them to the city..  That is a living breathing world..   


Novice Member

Joined: 7/13/11
Posts: 1156

8/30/14 4:33:47 AM#55

None of MMORPGs have 'living breathing world'


Closest to have it from still existing one are propably:





but they sell gold for $, so kinda undermine 'living breathing world' at same time.


In 1997-1999  Ultima Online also could've been used as example of 'living breathing mmo'  by standards from 90s.    UO was very simplistic, even primitive in many regards + had A LOT conceptual downsides - so by todays standard I would not call it 'living breathing mmo' anymore.


WoW of GW2 as example of 'living breathing world'  is an absurd.  WoW - I have no idea why would anyone call it 'living breathing world'.   GW2  - sorry simple scripted events on loop - cannot be called 'living breathing world'.


Advanced Member

Joined: 6/01/09
Posts: 350

8/30/14 10:04:50 AM#56
Originally posted by Rydeson

The term living breathing world refers to "PLAYERS" actively engaged in the world.. It has nothing to do with NPC and mobs..  When you venture out and see no one, the cities seem void of players, people consider the game world dead..  However, when you bump into others frequently, or group up with them while adventuring, and the cities are robust with active players chatting, or doing whatever brings them to the city..  That is a living breathing world..   

There is more to a living breathing world then seeing other players run by. Most mmo's are basically single player games. You only see other players while they are playing the same single player content like you. I don't get much thrill out of that.


Advanced Member

Joined: 11/03/05
Posts: 345

8/30/14 10:23:41 AM#57

like others have said, SWG was a perfect example of a living breating world - a open sandbox game with so many choices of things to do - with so many systems and activities outside of the scope of the "wow generation" norm


a game where not only the game provides many things to do, but where the community can and often does do things outside of the box too, creating a world not just designed to be experienced (themepark) but also inviting and exciting to add, change and influence (sandbox)


So it isnt just down to the game itself but the community that inhabits that world also matters but getting both together at the same time is a rare but awesome thing :)


Advanced Member

Joined: 3/05/07
Posts: 3922

8/31/14 6:24:09 AM#58
Originally posted by Sengi
Originally posted by Rydeson

The term living breathing world refers to "PLAYERS" actively engaged in the world.. It has nothing to do with NPC and mobs..  When you venture out and see no one, the cities seem void of players, people consider the game world dead..  However, when you bump into others frequently, or group up with them while adventuring, and the cities are robust with active players chatting, or doing whatever brings them to the city..  That is a living breathing world..   

There is more to a living breathing world then seeing other players run by. Most mmo's are basically single player games. You only see other players while they are playing the same single player content like you. I don't get much thrill out of that.

And where did I say it ONLY is seeing others?  Player INTERACTION is the key..  I don't care if you're chatting, selling, buying, buffing, etc etc..  Being social is what makes it a living breathing world.. IMO..  Without it, you are just playing a single player console game..

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