Jukebox Heroes: Seven MMOs with player music systems


A few weeks ago I asked the Massively Overpowered community if all MMOs should come with player music systems. In my opinion, at least, the answer to this is “almost always, yes.” Giving players tools and freedom to express themselves creatively through music is such an immersive and socially bonding element to a game, and yet such systems are more rarities than commonplace.

Today in Jukebox Heroes I wanted to flit around between seven different MMOs to deliver examples of how each included a player music system into its world. From the obscure to the popular, we’ve got an MMO symphony awaiting you after the break!

1. Asheron’s Call 2

Asheron’s Call 2 had an interesting music system that didn’t quite allow for an unrestrained performance yet did flex to include different characters and instruments. The idea was that each instrument could be paired up with as many or few other instruments, with the pre-recorded cues syncing together.

Here’s an example of one player who busts out his drum, only to find others join in on the fun. Personally, I love the beatboxing!

2. Lord of the Rings Online

LOTRO quickly became the gold standard of player music systems, at least where reputation is concerned. The community quickly took to the freedom of composing ABC music files and performing them as groups for the amusement of many. In fact, every year dozens of bands compete at the annual Weatherstock concert for fame and prizes in front of crowds so large that they often threaten to bring down the server.

Word is that the devs are working to expand the popular music system with more support and instruments.

3. Star Wars Galaxies

Ask any Star Wars Galaxies player to reminisce about what he or she remembers most fondly from the game, and chances are that you’re going to hear a lot about how special and unique Entertainers were. A profession devoted entirely to putting on a show for amusement and buffs, Entertainers had access to multiple instruments, flourishes, and song snippets that they could weave together to make memorable (or annoying) shows. It’s truly a shame we haven’t seen another class like this in other MMOs. After all, why make war when we can make music?

4. Mabinogi

Mabinogi has another robust music system that is unfortunately often overlooked. It’s amusing to me how players, when given the unlimited freedom to create any music they want, will invariably gravitate to cover tunes. Then again, they’re proven crowd-pleasers, so why mess with a good thing?

5. Guild Wars 2

While Guild Wars 2 doesn’t have a full-featured player music system (for shame!), the studio has made several instruments available for purchase. Musicians can attempt to peform with these, although it’s all real-time and requires some genuine skill to pull off right.

6. ArcheAge

Say what you will about the game, but ArcheAge did not skimp when it came to including a player music system. There’s a deep and involving system here that allows players to interact with many instruments (some suprisingly modern) and to pre-program songs using a simple text editor.

7. Trove

Trove has one of the most unique player music systems I’ve ever witnessed. Instead of jamming with guitars and flutes, players can “program” magrider tracks to play notes as visitors ride over them. So you get not only a show but a performance as well!

MMOs are meant to be heard as well as seen, and chances are that music ties your memories to these games more than you might realize. Every two weeks Jukebox Heroes listens through a game soundtrack and picks out the highlights to share and discuss. And if you like this column, then don’t miss the author’s MMO music podcast, Battle Bards!
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