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General : Outside the Box: Column #2

Posted Feb 13, 2006 by Dana Massey

In the second part of a three part series, Monday columnist Nathan Knaack builds on last week's article about the history of MMORPGs to look at the them in the present tense. Next week, he'll look to the future.

Enter Ultima Online, one of the oldest MMORPGs, yet still renown to this day for its innovative features. Some successful features, ironically, have seldom been duplicated. Although Ultima Online wasn’t 3D, it incorporated a great deal of player freedom along with a widely customizable world, including player housing and player vs. player combat. For these main reasons, the game saw widespread appeal and years of success, at least until EverQuest was released.

Originally created by a smaller company called Verant, EverQuest was subsequently acquired by Sony Online Entertainment. With its history already widely known, I won’t go into much detail about EverQuest or other present day MMORPGs, suffice to say that while server technology, graphical capabilities, and other programming advances have been made, virtually nothing about how an MMORPG system is arranged has been changed since EverQuest. Pick a race, pick a class, and start grinding. Cut through the graphical interface and EverQuest boils down to a graphical game of Dungeons and Dragons, but with no storyline (quests, or “chores,” as I call them, do not constitute a storyline), very few gameplay options, and even less role-playing. Hack, cast, cure, advance.

You can read the full column here.

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