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MMORPG Columns

Mark Kern

Mark Kern is a long time game maker and designer, having worked on games like Starcraft, Diablo 2, World of Warcraft and Firefall. He writes articles on game design and business in his spare time, and makes mmorpg.com his writing home. You can find him on

Make Friends & Influence People in MMOs

Every game developer loves to talk about putting social into games. Usually this amounts to some token integration with Facebook (shudder) or Twitter from inside the game, or looking for group systems. But to me, what I’ve been describing in my last two articles as the decline of socialization, really means the loss of ability to form friendships. Friendship means meeting new people in-game, and refers to the surprisingly strong bonds you can form with people inside online games.

The War Against Down Time

Last week I wrote about the loss of class interaction and dependency as one reason for weakened socialization in modern MMOs. This week I want to discuss another big factor in the decline of social MMOs, the war against downtime.

Why Multiplayer Is Missing from Modern MMOs

In my last article, I wrote about the role of GMs in old school text MMOs, MUDs, and how they enriched the experience rather than performed customer service. This was one of the features that we’ve lost in the transition to streamlined, modern, graphical MMOs. This article continues exploring old MUD elements that are worth revisiting and, perhaps, reinventing for the modern era.

Recapturing that Old MUD Feeling

Before there was Ultima Online and Everquest, or even Meridian 59, there were MUDs. Standing for “Multi User Dungeon,” MUDs were the original MMOs. Played on mainframes with text descriptions and a simple command line, with no sound, no graphics, not even a map, you typed out your movements and actions in the game and waited to see the server’s response. You connected via your dial-up modem at 300 baud, and there were perhaps 20-30 players online at any given time.

Can We Make Quests Matter Again?

We would all love to see MMOs take new risks and new directions. While the standard formula is good, and games like WildStar are set to deliver top notch experiences based on the theme park model, most of us are jaded enough to want something different.

Games and Story - The Third Paradigm

As game makers, we have a very powerful storytelling tool, completely unique to our medium, that we have barely exploited. Instead of exploring the strength of interactivity in games for story, we’ve been distracted for years trying to emulate the story-telling technique of books and movies.

My Own Kobayashi Maru

It was recently spread across the Internet that Mark Kern, CEO and Founder of Firefall developer Red 5 Studios, had left the company he started. Today, in a Christmas Day exclusive here at MMORPG.com, Mark's offering a statement towards that event, with perhaps a cryptic hint or two on what's next for him in videogame development.

MMO’s New Buzzwords: Dynamic Events

Buzzwords seem to attract a lot of attention to topics of interest. Showcasing his unique inside perspective, Mark Kern takes a look at the power of buzzwords. Keep reading before heading to the comments to discuss the article.

MMO Development Needs Change

In his latest in a series of columns devoted to MMO development, Red 5's Mark Kern takes a look at the way development happens and offers some thoughts about why it needs to change. See what he's got to say from his unique developer perspective before heading to the comments to discuss the topic.

Up to 90% of MMO Real Estate is Wasted

Raise your hand if you remember the tutorial starter zone in your first MMO. It's sometimes hard to stretch back that far and it proves one of the points in Mark Kern's latest editorial here at MMORPG.com. See why he believes 90% of MMO real estate is wasted and then leave your own thoughts in the comments.

Have MMOs Become Too Easy?

One of the debates that rages in the MMO-space these days is whether or not MMOs have become to simplistic. In an exclusive developer blog, Red 5's Mark Kern discusses the subject from his very unique perspective. See what he's got to say before heading to the comments to leave your thoughts.

If Guild Wars 2 Changed Everything, What’s Next?

Red 5's Mark Kern is back with his bi-weekly column here at MMORPG.com. In this week's article, Mark continues the discussion started in his last article about the death of quest hubs. He moves on to "what comes next". See what this industry insider has to say before you leave your thoughts in the comments.

Quest Hubs Are Dead, Finally!

MMORPG.com is proud to introduce our newest regular columnist, Red 5's Mark Kern. Yep, -that- Mark Kern! In his inaugural column, Mark opines on the idea that a game has finally arrived that deals the death knell to 'quest hubs'. Find out what he's got to say and then weigh in with your thoughts in the comments.