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Considering the Turn-Based MMORPG

Atlantica Online Developer Journals - By Guest Writer on October 28, 2008

Considering the Turn-Based MMORPG
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While we were developing Atlantica Online, many people asked questions like, "Why make the battles turn-based? Would turn-based action work with an MMORPG?"

Almost every MMORPG these days feature fast, hack-and-slash battles; how quickly you can click a mouse determines success. But if everyone is developing this same style of game, I wondered- would people love all of these games? I didn't think so.

Some turn-based games have become true classics. Tastes may change, but there are some things that are timeless.

What Is Turn-based?

Turn-based action is when each player takes his or her own turn, in succession, one after each other. Each player takes his or her turn without any interference from other players. Player A takes his turn, then player B gets his turn and it continues in this fashion throughout the game.

The Classics

In both the East and the West, many games that operated on a turn-based system have flourished. One perfect example of a classic turn-based game from the West is chess. Each player moves a piece to secure his king, capture the other player's king, or to do both with a single turn. In the East, there are turn-based games like baduk and Chinese chess that are still very popular today. And of course, poker and other card games are turn-based. I am confident in saying that the percentage of truly classic games that are turn-based is very high.

The biggest reason why many classic games are turn-based is because they are easy to learn. These games can be distilled down to each turn, which makes it easier for beginners to start to understand and grasp the more complex dynamics of a game. A beginner can focus on his or her play without being disturbed by others. A turn-based game can minimize the nerves and the anxiety of a new player first starting out in a game.

Secondly, there is something universal about turn-based games, since these games can be played well equally by anyone regardless of age or gender. Games that require quick physical responses might be advantageous for male and younger players. However, turn-based systems provide a fair environment for any player, without regard to sex, age or physical condition. Having that fair environment makes it easier for new players to adopt the game, which in turn means more and more players, making a game popular for a long time. Something that wouldn't be surprising to see when it comes to games would be a grandfather playing a game of chess against his grandson. This is possible, in part, due to the nature of turn-based games.

Turn-based Video Games

Turn-based action, in both the East and West again, has been a part of the history of video games as well. There were many turn-based games in the early stages of video game history. One of the biggest ones is the Final Fantasy series The Final Fantasy games have not only been one of the biggest sellers in the history of video games, but they truly are some of the classics in the world of video games, ever since it was introduced in the 1980s. Final Fantasy games are also often an RPG with turn-based battles. In addition to Final Fantasy, many other RPGs use turn-based battles that maximize the strategic fun.

Last August, a Chinese turn-based online game reached 2.2 million concurrent users. In Japan, where players are well-versed with turn-based systems due to the many RPG games found there, some turn-based online games do very well and are highly ranked.

However, in Korea, it is hard to find turn-based games. This was a gap Atlantica Online was ready to fill. Atlantica commenced its official service last January and has become one of the few MMORPGs of recent years to become a success. Now Atlantica's launch in North America, for which we've received a lot of positive feedback from players, demonstrates that there is a future of possibilities for a turn-based MMORPG.

The Future Of Turn-based MMORPGs

We think turn-based MMORPGs can be a new paradigm for the global market, which is already intense with so much competition. But to have a base of loyal players, more so than just increasing the number of players, is very important to us. If we achieve that then we have found success. Our greatest opportunity is players' eagerness to find a new and unique game- an alternative to the cookie-cutter games that crowd the gaming market today.

The future for Atlantica is brighter because many North American and European players enjoy strategic and role-playing games. In Japan and China, players are already familiar with turn-based online games. With casual games and FPS games well established, it's time for something new, like turn-based games. I honestly hope Atlantica will be the starting point.

Next time, I will discuss some of the strengths and weaknesses of turn-based games.