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Community Spotlight: GM Events in MMOs

Posted by MikeB Thursday December 16 2010 at 1:31PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "GM driven events in MMORPG ?" by NineDots. In the thread, NineDots wonders about the prevalence of GM events in MMOs, and seeks the advice of the community in identifying MMOs that feature such events:

I was wondering if it is frequent to see events directly driven by GMs (Game Masters) in MMORPG?

What I mean is when GMs would actually take direct control of some of the game mechanics such as monsters to interact with players.

Here is a recent example where GMs took control of monsters to attack cities:

Do you know of any other MMO with such events?

Hopscotch73 notes that Fallen Earth makes extensive use of GM events:

The team at Fallen Earth are great for these, there's a weekly (well, not so weekly lately)  trivia night where the head GM (Community Director Tiggs) asks questions for players to win player-donated prizes, and then they have live events like Hillstomper attacks for Halloween and the destruction of Boneclaw, plus live events that were run for the anniversary.

Just this past weekend the Devs and GMs took to the test server to play around with the players and answer questions - they spawned some monsters at the end for everyone to have fun with.

The stated aim seems to be to have one of these events a month if possible, they're always a blast, so I hope they can do this.

Trouble is, it's easier to do this in "smaller" games like FE and Deadfall than in "bigger" games, where you have multiple servers and multiple times the qq-ing from people that miss events because of time-zones and RL.

Such events are great for making players feel like part of the game. I guess if you've played an MMO with these sort of events you'd really miss them not being there, and if you haven't...well then you don't know that you're missing anything.

GrayGhost79 takes us back in time to the GM events of Ultima Online:

This is something that started way back with UO and it was one of the big appeals of it. GM's and event moderators would hold all kind of events in game. Some events had you protecting cities from mob invasions, others had you going out to dungeon crawl. When there was an announcement for the game Garriott would do it in game as Lord British (His in game char). He would call for an assembly in his castle and the town criers would announce it to any passing by them. 

3 of the most memorable for me were the Moonglow invasion where players actually had to defend the city from a siege. If the players succeeded on their shard then the city remained on that shard, if they failed it became a demolished city haunted by spirits. 

Another was the launching of Stygian Abyss. The GM's and Event moderators took on the roles of chars from the lore to act it out and the players fought in the war which eventually led to the launch of the Stygian Abyss expansion. 

My favorite of all though was the whole thing between Lord Blackthorne and Lord British. There was always something going on event wise between the two of them. They were the two lead devs and players got to side with whomever they wanted with most of the events. 

All in all it was a blast. I missed those events and am glad seeing some of the newer MMO's copying UO.

just1opinion highlights EverQuest II as another MMO featuring GM events:

EQ2 has GM events, BUT....the only people that know about them are the people that read the forums, because that's where they announce them. They're GREAT though.  They often give away rare shinies that are rare collectables, and assorted other rares items.  The events are usually a lot of fun and involve some quest that they give you.

One time I was in Paineel and was suddenly attacked by flying COWS.  Since cows are not plentiful in EQ2 and I have NEVER had one thrown at me.....I knew there was a GM SOMEWHERE.  I got bombarded with LOTS of them.  So I went looking for the GM, found him/her and got a GM vanity pet!  It was funny and a nice surprise.

I love how EQ2 has these events because it makes the world seem very alive.  They also generally EXPECT you to roleplay with them, and that also makes it loads of fun.

Funny that no one mentioned the MMO that was driven almost entirely on GM events: The Matrix Online. The Matrix Online featured a designated "Live Events Team" that moved forward the game's storyline by putting together incredibly elaborate events for the players on a regular basis and role-playing their parts as the franchise's signature characters such as Morpheus, Niobe, Ghost and more.

This was easily MXO's best feature, but it also highlighted a number of issues with the concept, namely that it was an incredibly costly feature when measuring the effort involved vs. the amount of players exposed. The Live Events Team had to do some serious tricks to make sure that they could include the most players possible across the game's servers and this was no small task, even so, many players were dissatisfied, missing events due to not being at the rightp lace at the right time, etc.

The event focus also opened up potential for griefing, though the Live Events Team did have a number of tools to deal with griefers, it required a lot of effort to get things working smoothly.

Live Events are definitely awesome and I really enjoyed my time participating in them in The Matrix Online as well as a number of other games, but I don't think we'll see many MMOs going forward that focus as heavily on them as The Matrix Online did due to the aforementioned issues.

Do you enjoy GM driven events and do you currently play any MMOs that utilize them with any regularity? Share your thoughts in the comments below!