For the past year, my day job has required that I commute about 2 hours, each way, every single day. A necessary result of this is that I often end up spending 20 hours or more in my car every week just driving. This leaves a lot of time for thinking, listening to music, and, most recently, listening to audiobooks. This newfound idle time has rekindled my interest in fictional fantasy, something I stopped really reading over the last several years.
While listening to an audiobook is a very different experience than reading an actual book, it leads to the same degree of appreciation for the worlds that are created. Hearing the voices really brings these worlds alive even more and it helps me visualize what these characters look like in my head by assigning an appearance to a voice. As an avid MMO player, this naturally led me to envision what some of these fictional worlds might be like if they were an MMO.
5) The Wheel of Time
Some how, some way, Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series never grabbed me while I was growing up. I am still on the first entry in this fantasy epic, but I can already see the potential. First and foremost, I noticed how grounded this fantasy world was. At the start, all of the main characters are farmers, blacksmiths, shopkeepers, etc. lending a surprising degree of realism.
This would works as a great counterpoint to the existing degree of high-fantasy that exists in most games. While it’s not the same level of realism that you see in games such as The Secret World, it is decidedly more grounded than World of Warcraft or most other games. All regions of the world are described in great detail - all the way down to the regional differences of village inhabitants - lending a perfect degree of believability to the world as a whole.
4) The Hunger Games
Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of Katniss Everdeen spearheaded one of the most successful book-to-film adaptations of the generation. As such, I volunteer the world of Hunger Games as tribute for the next setting of a AAA MMO. I haven’t personally read these books, but based on the films alone I can see the potential.
Each district can be its own faction within the game with regional differences, faction limitations, and skill bonuses. Perhaps District 12 starts with a bonus to archery, while District 10 starts with a bonus to stealth? Those variations could lead to some really interesting gameplay differences for players. They could also adapt the whole “Hunger Games” setting, increase the frequency to weekly or even daily, and that would allow for a built-in recurring in-game event with tons of potential.
Post-apocalyptic settings are far from new to gaming. Fallen Earth already captures the mysterious wasteland setting. The Secret World is, arguably, another variation. But there isn’t really an entry that leans heavily towards the robotic sci-fi apocalypse angle, and that’s where Daniel H. Wilson’s Robopocalypse comes in. It all takes place on the actual earth, from the point of view of various different characters, battling against artificial intelligence that seeks to wipe out humanity.
Wilson does a wonderful job of humanizing all of the characters, even the non-human ones, in such a way that it feels like something that could actually happen. And it would be great for a format similar to DC Universe Online where you choose different characters as mentors. In Robopocalypse, some people are better at using the environment to their advantage to figth against the robots (or robs as they are called in that universe) while others are demolition experts, or even hackers that can reprogram the machines.
Out of all the recent fantasy series that I’ve read, the Mistborn trilogy (and subsequent short follow-up epilogue novel) is the most engrossing and absolutely incredible. There are strong backstories for entire populations of people and different races, but also plenty of regions that are never fully explored leaving the door open for an MMO. Different abilities exist for different types of allomancers.
Furthermore, if the MMO took place just after the end of the trilogy, or near the end, there are plenty of events going on that would be great to tap into that are ripe with narrative potential. Not to mention that trying to work towards becoming a full-Mistborn rather than just a Misting would be an awesome and epic journey, reminiscent of what it was like to become a Jedi in the launch version of Star Wars Galaxies.
1) Harry Potter
Maybe it’s because I grew up with the books and movies, but the Wizarding World of Harry Potter would make for an absolutely perfect MMO experience. There are strong fantastical elements that almost everyone on the planet are familiar with. There is rich backstory and history to establish the settings and characters. Hogwarts already has a House system that would work perfectly for establishing factions within the game - and the Sorting Hat could be used for character creation.
Years in school allow for built-in progression systems, along with learning new spells, attending classes, and developing new techniques. Events like Quidditch, the Tri-Wizard tournament, and other competitions would make for great side activities. Diagon Alley would be an amazing central hub full of various shops and other assorted gathering places. Then, once you reach the end-game, choosing to become either a Death Eater or an Auror would fit in perfectly for large-scale PvP combat. I am completely dumbfounded that this isn’t an MMO yet.
Do you have even favorite books or book series that you think would make for a great MMO setting? I can think of several more off the top of my head that I chose not to include, simply because I needed to keep this list down to just 5 entries so it was more manageable. Let us know some of your thoughts down in the comments below and if you would like to see more lists like this one!