Jukebox Heroes: Seven MMOs with player music systems

    
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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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Pi87
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Pi87

Nothing compares to LOTRO, not even remotely. That also includes the quality of sound and options. With the plugins for LOTRO, you can have entire bands with actual lyrics to play in sync to the music.

CazCore
Guest
CazCore

DPandaren CazCore i’m specifically talking about the music systems.  not the overall game engine.

the music systems are EXTREMELY different.
LOTRO is pretty much like playing a real piano (or string instrument if you map your keys that way), but on computer keys.

AC2 is like an emote system that has premade little musical emotes that mesh with each other automatically.  with a choice of like 8 or so pre-made riffs/melodies/beats for each instrument. you’d type a command like “/music8” for example to change to a different one.

DPandaren
Guest
DPandaren

CazCore It’s actually an upgraded version of the AC2 engine. It’s common knowledge at this point.

haggus71
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haggus71

melissamcdon You can play instruments IRT in GW2.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOAywwb6_9Y

bossrprouse
Guest
bossrprouse

Thanks, Justin. This was one of my favorite Jukebox Heroes.

syberghost
Guest
syberghost

FineFineValentine you get that most MMO devs are rabid MMO players, right?

Player music systems are expensive to create and are ignored by most players. Something’s gotta get cut. It’s always a pity when it’s the feature you want, but it’s not because they have a misunderstanding; it’s because they’re making hard choices.

skoryy
Guest
skoryy

And they all go ‘bowchickabowmpbowmp.’

syberghost
Guest
syberghost

KenAddeh APB has another music-related feature I find amazing. If you’re playing a tune on your ingame radio from your library, and your MP3s are properly tagged, people near you will hear the same song if they have it in their library. If not, they’ll hear a “musically similar” song from their library.

Most people don’t add their libraries, so they just hear one from the ingame tunes.

melissamcdon
Guest
melissamcdon

zoward what server?  that’s awesome :)

melissamcdon
Guest
melissamcdon

CazCore youtube will have it