When MMORPG players encounter the name “Bartle,” they think less malt liquor and more a man who helped to pioneer the massively multiplayer online space with his work on MUD1 that eventually spawned the gamer type test that bears his name.
But Dr. Richard Bartle knows MMORPGs from the inside-out, which is why he wrote his 2003 book Designing Virtual Worlds. This massive 947-page tome has been called “the bible of MMORPG design” and has been used as a textbook for college courses. And now this book can be yours for free. As in, it’s a free PDF that you can download. Right there. Go get it. Get off social media and read a book, literally.
Fellow long-time MMO designer Raph Koster commended this work to his followers, saying, “There is only one indispensable book on online world design, and it is Dr. Richard Bartle’s Designing Virtual Worlds. It predates World of Warcraft and yet is not obsolete. As of today, Richard is giving it away for free.”