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The staff of MMORPG.com gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

Author: staffblog

Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Community Spotlight: Fantasy MMOs Getting Old?

Posted by MikeB Saturday October 15 2011 at 5:58PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Are Fantasy mmo's Becoming Old?" by Razeekster. Like many of our Spotlights, this one's pretty straightforward, Razeekster simply feels fantasy MMOs are getting tired and stale:

Don't get me wrong I love me some dragon's, but they all seem to be the same thing.

'You're the hero of a world infested with the evil overlord Magorth, who killed the king and the whole royal family, letting out loose a thosand years of war. Magorth summoned thousands of demons and the people trembled as he rode on his dragon Gorgath, wasting the land in hellish fires. Finally, a brave knight defeated Magorth and sealed him in the demons worlds.... A thousand years later Magorth has escaped his imprisonment and seeks vengance on the world that exiled him to the demon world. You alone, hero, are the only hope for a dying world. Fight to save us. Fight for glory. Fight for peace. Fight for mankind.'

Keeping in mind I just made up everything above, either,

1)Means I'm a really great writer!

2)The fantasy mmorpg theme has been used so much that people can just guess how the 'newest and most awesomest mmorpg' is going to turn out to be like.

I think I'll pick option two (if you say option one though, I'd be flattered).

Nothing really new is happening, and it's as  if developers of mmorpg's are afraid of trying anything new and have sadly become stagnant.

It's become so bad for me that I actually find myself ashamed as I type into Google 'mmorpgs with flying mounts,' because otherwise I won't play them.

The reason being is because if I'm going to to play an mmorpg that has the same theme as 100's of other mmorpgs out there, why not play it flying on a kickass mount?

Yes, my shame knows no bounds.

Does the MMORPG.com community agree? Let's find out!

Arglebargle feels that the story and/or setting of these MMOs is actually at the root of the issue:

Far too many Fantasy backgrounds are written with little depth and consistancy.    If it's a dumb story, or a poorly thought out setting, I know I am much less inclined to invest in the game/book/movie.   Sadly, most games don't put enough consideration into the writing of the  set and setting.

Also, everyone and their uncle thinks they are a good writer.  So every programmer, marketeer, gofer, etc, in the business feels free to write up their 'masterpiece'.    Since this problem exists even at the pro level, it is sure to happen in the companies that make games.

If you continually run in to  re-used old tropes, without proper world building, it's going to suffer.  As will many of us.

TheCrow2k feels its simply a matter of an oversaturated market:

I personally am over the fantasy genre for both MMO and CRPG's generally. This is the main reason I have no interest in playing GW2 despite the games actual design and systems being of interest.

I think its over saturation in the market on both accounts, I am really looking forward to some sci-fi. I know the 40k MMO is coming (and with only 2 factions and being a WoW clone it will most likely fail hard) but I am surprised no one has done a 40k CRPG game yet. They could do an inquisition game which would give a lot of scope for building a party of characters of various races and a story that could encompass a number of planets & encounters with xeno races.

VoIgore clearly hearts the fantasy sub-genre:

Absoluteley no.

Out of every setting i can think of (there aren't that many to start with), baseline fantasy is the one i can connect with the easiest. Sci-Fi not so much (getting too stale for me after a while) and whatever asian setting not at all.

Fantasy (elves, orcs, trolls, dawrfs..) never gets old for me. I've got a TON of audiobooks set in medieval fantasy, both high and low. Many times i thought what an awesome mmorpg this or that book could make.

So for me fantasy is not getting old, but it has to be presented the right way. It's not the setting getting old, but games fail to represent it in an interesting way.

Like TheCrow2k, I feel it's simply a matter of over-saturation. Similar to the massive amount of WWII FPS games that came out after Saving Private Ryan, the MMO genre has been saturated with fantasy stuff of varying quality for many, many years now. The reason this is pretty simple, and goes back to what VoIgore was saying: fantasy is easy to connect to for many people. Heck, Star Wars is my favorite IP and it is honestly more 'space fantasy' than it is science fiction.

I don't think fantasy is getting 'old' per se, I just think developers will be much harder pressed to stand out with their new MMOs if they decide to go with the fantasy genre. You reallly need to be doing something interesting with your theme/setting in order to stand out in today's crop. Guild Wars 2 is a perfect example of an upcoming fantasy MMO that has gamers extremely excited and that's in part due to the fact the Guild Wars IP is extremely rich and detailed with a unique art direction to boot.

If you're banking on just going with the typical elves, dwarves, and humans set against a generic high-fantasy backdrop, yeah, you're going to run into some issues. That sort of stuff is definitely a bit old to me. :)