Perfect Ten: 10 places you visit in every MMORPG

    
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How could we have known this would happen, this is my surprised face.

MMOs are places of great imagination, where developers take fantastic concepts and make them real (in a sense). MMOs are also places of great copycatting because tropes are so strong and it’s really dang hard to be 100% original. Plus, consciously or subconsciously, devs draw upon other games when they make their own because that’s what they know.

So we end up with this enormous array of virtual worlds — mostly fantasy — and it’s hard to ignore the fact that we end up encountering the same places in different games over and over again. Some of these places are pretty generic (ooh, another wolf den), and some are oddly specific (chapels with back rooms that reveal a sinister secret), but chances are that you’ve seen every item on this list more than once.

The spider cave

OK, yes, there are plenty of caves in the world and lots of spiders who love to hang out in said caves, including this charming fellow, but MMOs are just overrun with such places. As we’ve established previously, there’s nothing that a developer loves more than a giant spider (it doesn’t take much imagination to make and it taps into many people’s arachnophobia), so the spider cave is ubiquitous. Spider cave, spider mine, spider quarry — they all have plenty of creepy-crawlies, web decor, and still-writhing cocoons as if you just stepped into the Aliens movie set.

The active volcano fortress

So when you’re going to pour thousands of man-hours (Dwarf-hours?) into hewing through rock and constructing a mountain fortress, location is probably quite important. Maybe I’m missing something, but picking a geologically unstable volcano with molten rock spewing all over the place is probably not going to be key real estate in this scenario. Every time I encounter the active volcano fortress, I have to wonder how many people burned to death horribly to make this place.

The brightly lit and oddly spacious crypt

Fun fact about me: I’ve performed several funerals in my life. As such, I’ve been to many crypts and mausoleums. They’re somber, incredibly quiet places that are usually immaculate and freezing. What they aren’t are blazingly lit aircraft hangers where wandering soldiers of fortune just stumble through, cracking open caskets and fighting the odd skeleton. Maybe in New Jersey, but not where I’m at.

The chasm you can’t escape

It’s bad enough that MMOs are just littered with valleys, chasms, canyons, and pits where you fall into them and are afforded no clear exit strategy. Because there’s just nothing more wonderful than wandering along a crack while the camera ping-pongs off of the narrow walls, just hoping that you’ll find a ramp back up. There comes a time when you resign yourself to your fate that you’ll probably have to marry the next person who falls down here and start a new civilization of chasm-dwellers. You sincerely hope it’s not a frog-person. How would that even work?

The throne room you can walk into without an invitation or proper credentials

Of course you’re going to have lots of palaces and castles in MMOs; it’s just how government is done. But man is it weird how we — relatively unknown adventurers — have unlimited access to the throne room at any hour of the day or night and how royalty doesn’t seem perturbed by it. I’d love to see an MMO feature bodyguards who do a flying tackle into your kidneys if you barge right into such places.

The hippie tree city

I have a strict maxim that nothing good lives in trees. Ewoks? Elves? Faerie folk? Giant Brazilian spiders that shriek as they dive-bomb your skull? None are good. Yet MMOs plague us with these tree cities that are full of hippies who have eschewed traditional plumbing and sewage treatment to fling their filth from a hundred feet off the ground and then lecture us on what savages we are.

The torture chamber

While they should be some of the most disturbing places to visit in any game, torture chambers are almost like invisible set dressing these days. It’s like, oh, there’s the rack and the iron maiden and a token skeleton and a couple of pools of blood carefully placed in accordance to the room’s feng shui. It’s about as impactful as wandering through one of those Halloween stores that set up shop for a month a year. Ooh, fake blood capsules are on sale!

The sudden biome climate change

Melding radically different zones together is an art form, but apparently some game designers are like toddlers slapping together different-colored Play-doh before calling it a day. The stitches that hold together an ice zone and a jungle zone are always apparent, and one has to wonder how this world’s weather system can offer such precise boundaries between sub-arctic chill and balmy tropical breezes.

The pirate camp

Arr! You know what I’m officially sick of? Talk Like a Pirate Day. Yes, it was amusing for a couple of years, but pirates have been wrung through the pop culture gauntlet too many times to offer up surprises. Likewise, we could probably do with about 2/3rds fewer pirate camps/ships/caves in MMOs. Throw up a few tents, have a table with a map spread out on it, pile up cannonballs, and come up with four pirate types to copy and paste about 10 times. There, I’ve just designed the next pirate camp. MMO studios, please throw a few royalties my way.

The overrun prison

No MMO prison has ever successfully held its population without a mass outbreak. This is a cold, hard fact of life. I will eat my virtual shorts if one day I discovered a prison where all of the inmates are safely locked away instead of roaming the halls as if they really don’t want to leave — they just wanted to stroll around the place.

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at justin@massivelyop.com or eliot@massivelyop.com with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”
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firithnorm

There’s also the endless resource nodes that you don’t need to really mine for – it’s right there at the surface! To expand on creationguru’s point, the requisite biomes:

– frost (usually mountainous too)
– temperate (with plenty of trees to cut down)
– tropical (usually rainforest, with too many trees to cut down)
– desert (sand everywhere, “it’s coarse & rough & irritating & it gets everywhere”)
– coastal (with pirates, ships and plenty of boxes to search)
– large city/town (a.k.a., the Hub)

Plus, let’s not forget our favorite NPC’s who need help collecting various items, mainly to deal with that insipid spider infestation.

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kjempff

10 places you never visit in a mmorpg.
(Well I couldn’t think of 10)
– The toilet
– The tax office
– The covid test center
– Your inlaws place
– A fancy restaurent
– The cleaning closet
– The massive piles of dung that all those middleage/fantasy mounts must produce
– An art gallery
– Sewers too small to walk upright in (also bit strange with those giant sewer systems but no tiolets)

uhm….?

creationguru
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creationguru

Desert endless desert and all ugly can someone give me a better enviroment please.

That and in the the Ewok department have memories of old battlefront games and thinning the population with a lightsaber

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Bereman99

It’s interesting how some games have these as clear as day…and others I have to think about if it counts, cause it’s a bit hidden or maybe more of an adjacent version.

Spider caves in WoW or especially LOTRO? Plenty of them.

In FFXIV? Well they don’t have many spider enemies (I’m not even sure the game has proper spiders as enemies tbh) to begin with and all are pretty much encountered out in the open. But one dungeon, the Thousand Maws of Totorak, does feature webbing and a scorpion like creature as a boss that happens to also use webs.

Volcano fortress doesn’t appear, but a volcano entrance does serve as the way into a hidden away shrine of sorts, though by the time you reach the shrine you seem to be out of the volcano itself.

Abrupt climate shifts…technically happen? But you’re passing through a zone loading screen that is meant to represent travel, so not sure that counts.

Torture chamber though, there’s definitely some of that in Haukke Manor in FFXIV, given how the villain of that place was inspired by the Elizabeth Bathory tales. Same with pirate camps – a few of them, though they are at least all located in the zone that is the pirate nation type place.

I can’t think of any overrun prisons though – at least one that was a prison but had been abandoned for some time, but not an active one that can’t hold its inhabitants. Same with visiting a throne room without permission (not that there are many in the game – only a couple nations in the game have a monarchy in the first place).

Counter point to the hippie tree city – attractive and fierce bunny women who ally with your cause.

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Bruno Brito

Giant Brazilian spiders that shriek as they dive-bomb your skull?

What? Justin, we are pretty ok on the spider front. You should fear our scorpions.

EmberStar
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EmberStar

I keep hearing that the rule is that the bigger the scorpion is, the less afraid of it you need to be. Giant Emperor Scorpion that’s eleven inches long? Shops sell them as pets. The half-inch long thing that just dropped down the back of your shirt? Yeah, you better hope it’s in a good mood, or you’re going to have a very bad day. O.O

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afox381

Ooh, how about The Tavern? Some of my favourite moments have been sat chilling, listening to bardic melodies…

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Sleepy

Or if you’re playing SWTOR, a dozen variations of “a corridor”.

Turing fail
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Turing fail

In Warframe, it’s vents.Lots and lots of vents.

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Minimalistway

“a couple of pools of blood carefully placed in accordance to the room’s feng shui” 🤣

It is a known fact that MMOs need no bathrooms, so tree people have no problem living there, players eating and drinking food for years never needed a bathroom, so basically it’s a heaven, eat all you want and never get fat or sick and never go to answer the nature’s call … but you die a lot.

EmberStar
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EmberStar

That’s why Adventurers don’t need bathrooms. Their digestion cycle is longer than their resurrection cycle. Ate a huge, spicy meal last night and are worried about the Thermonuclear Poo you’re going to do tomorrow? Don’t be, you’ll get your head bitten off by a giant spooder in three hours and all that bad news will stay with your corpse. You’ll get a fresh clean body at the local shrine. (As long as your Soul Tax is paid up. It is paid up, right?) It’s why you also almost never see any kind of equipment for bathing, and barely even see anything related to doing laundry. :P