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History's Time Has Come

By Michael Hampden on March 15, 2006 | Editorials | Comments

History's Time Has Come

Roma Victor
Africa
WWII Online
9 Dragons
Pirates of the Burning Sea
Fantasy, fantasy... Why not look to the rich world of our past?

Breaking News!

X-Reality Entertainment Studios have just announced an exciting new Fantasy RPG Entitled: Ghouls N’ Goblins Online!

The game is scheduled for a “probably never” release date, and will feature stunning innovations to the genre. Joe Generic, the game’s producer tells MMORPG.com what makes GNG Online so very very different from those other Fantasy MMORPGS: “We wanted it to have Orcs” says Joe, motioning towards a display screen featuring beautiful, high-res shots of a muscle-bound, green creature (and take it from this writer, it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before).

Will the game have levels? Yes.

What about quests? According to Joe, one-thousand pre-fabricated adventures ready for release or bust.

And loot? You’re kidding right. In GNG Online they give you a glowing raven’s claw dagger +2 before you even leave character creation! +3 if you pre-order…

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…Um, it’s getting a little predictable at this point isn’t it?

Let me start by saying that developers of fantasy MMORPGs have given us some of the best games out there right now. But aren’t you a little sick of hearing about a new one being announced each and every week?

So, let’s say you are sick of fantasy and want to try something different. What options do you have? Well, there’s a bevy of sci-fi MMOs coming out, they’re the new flavor right? Well… yes and no.

There’s a little genre of MMO out there that’s slowly but surely gathering steam, and there’s more potential for innovation in this than in all the Intellectual Properties major developers are clamoring all over themselves for. What genre am I talking about? Historical MMOs.

Think about it, there are countless civilizations and cultures on which to base an MMO, each of them having a wealth of pre-existing legends and mythology to build upon. Not only that, but they also have an incredible amount of archeological and geographical elements to work with. Best of all is the history itself, which is an invaluable foundation on which to create a great storyline. Look at what HBO did with the series Rome for example. HBO took a number of historical facts, developed compelling fiction around them, and the resulting excellence was undeniable. Wouldn’t it be great if someone could do that with an MMO? Wouldn’t you love an MMO that allowed you to be a part of such rich world of intrigue?

Well, there are already a number of Historical MMOs on the market, with many more on the way. Here’s a brief rundown of some of the more interesting titles:

  • World War II Online: (Released in December 2003) Set during the European conflict of WWII, World War II Online (AKA Battleground Europe) overcame a premature and rocky release to become a solid MMO that is still enjoying success today. Besides drawing on history for the setting, WWII online also features a 1/2 scale map of Europe with accurate terrain modeling. Quite an achievement.

  • Pirates of the Burning Sea: (In Development) Pirates gives you the experience of being a pirate in the 18th Century Caribbean islands. Pirates draws on history for inspiration in everything from the look of the ships, towns, clothing (Tricorn hats – Yarr!) and the diplomatic and trade climate of the time. One to keep an eye on.

  • Roma Victor: (In Development) As I said earlier, Rome is a fantastic setting for an MMO. This particular MMO is going to be set after the end of the Roman republic, during the years of the Roman Empire (circa 180 AD). Giving you the option to become a Roman or a Gaul, Goth, Briton, etc. gives you many distinct ways in which to enjoy the virtual Empire. You’ve also got a number of occupations to pursue, such as Gladiator, Merchant, or even Legionary General. Redbedlam is set to launch Roma Victor later this year, and it could just set the standard for Historical MMOs.

  • Africa: (In Development) Announced a few weeks ago by Rapid Reality, Africa places you in the ancient world of North-East Africa. Besides being fun, Rapid Reality hopes to tell gamers the story of this part of Africa – in the form of an MMO. Besides using the geographic location, Africa will also make great use of the local mythology. This title is still a long ways off, but it has the potential to be very innovative.

  • 9 Dragons: (In Development) Also recently announced, this MMO is being developed by Acclaim and will be based upon China during the Ming Dynasty. China has a tremendously rich history, and the developers will have loads to work with during development. Acclaim has already stated they will include landmarks like the Great Wall of China and the Shao-Lin Temple. After three years of development, we shouldn’t have to wait too much longer to see what 9 Dragons has to offer.
These are just a few of many Historical MMOs currently released or in development (for a full list see our games list). With two Historical MMOs announced just this week, you can see that this genre is growing. There is a wealth of other historical settings just begging for an MMO, ancient Greece during their conflict with Xerxes and the Persians, Medieval England – I could go on for days. My point is, the depth of culture and history to draw upon gives developers a lot more to work with than your typical foundation of elves, dwarves, orcs, and gnomes – and I think it’s just a matter of time until major developers start to realize that.


You can comment on Michael's editorial here.