The western has been limping along for decades now, occasionally rearing its head to produce a well-loved movie or game smash hit before disappearing once more. It’s certainly one of the most-cited genres when it comes to speculating about largely unexplored spaces for MMOs, but how feasible is doing an online western RPG really?
We’ve seen some titles tap into the western feel without being a true period game, such as WildStar and Fallen Earth, but no major attempt has been made to create an MMO in the wild, wild west of legend. Still, you look at how gamers flocked to Red Dead Redemption and you have to wonder if there’s potential there for something more persistent and massively multiplayer.
Today I’m going to mull over the finer points as to why making a western MMO would be an incredibly challenging feat — and why it would be totally worth it if done right. Giddyup, cowpokes!
Here I go, here I go, here I go again. Girls, what’s my weakness? Non-human races. But oh, so many MMOs let me down in that department.
Now, let’s be fair: I greatly enjoy the usual array of races present in most fantasy stories, which consists of five reliable stalwarts (humans, humans with pointy ears, short humans, short humans that are different from the other short humans, and big humans). And there are games that have done great things with the usual suspects. Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV have both done great work in making sure that the playable races are all seen as people by the game’s cultures, and there’s nifty stuff to unpack there. I like elves, even.
But I’m always super happy to find races that are really out of the box and can’t simply be pigeonholed into the categories that I’ve seen before – or if they can be, they’re at least interesting about it. So here are races from various games that are just plain cool.
RuneScape seems to be an MMO that’s incredibly easy to dismiss by the wider MMO community for being “too kiddy” or being a little too outside the boundaries of standard big-budget MMOs. Yet ignoring or belittling it would be a mistake: RuneScape has accumulated a massive audience over the years and been innovating and experimenting with ideas that other MMOs are too chicken to touch.
While it’s not a perfect game, RuneScape and its developer Jagex have shown a willingness to adapt to the community’s needs and try different things to see if they’ll take hold and work. Instead of coasting along into its elder years, RuneScape has been working hard to earn the continued patronage of its playerbase, and I think that should go noticed today.
In that spirit, we’re going to take a trip through 10 of the most innovative or interesting experiments that RuneScape has performed over its 15 years of operation.
Before I start this column, I want to say two important things. First, my experiences do not extend outward to the limits of the MMO genre; it’s quite possible that the good versions of these systems are already out there and I just haven’t seen them. Second, all of these are ideas that I want to be present. The core ideas behind all of these systems are really top-shelf and I like the concepts there. I come here not to damn these systems, but to exult them.
For as much as I might like the ideas behind all of these systems, I have yet to see them actually work out super well in pretty much any situation. Some of them I’ve watched getting ported into several games, some of them only show up rarely, but every single one sounds great on paper… and I haven’t seen it work out all that well once we get down to brass tacks.
Jumping into a new-to-me MMO can be a heady, nerve-wracking event. I think there’s a reason why we find our “comfort” games and feel a pull to stay with the known than to venture out more regularly to taste the fruits of other online titles, and that’s because there are so many small but crucial factors that play into whether or not we’ll enjoy our time in a game.
I see people all of the time asking for matrices of MMO features, which on the surface sounds like a good idea — but gets pretty insane when you consider how big these could grow. After all, knowing a business model and genre and combat type isn’t always enough. There are other deciding variables that can mean just as much to us.
So today I want to rattle off 10 weird questions that I would personally love to have answered before I head into a new MMO.
I’m not really on board with the trend of saying that big expansions are back. They never left. Sure, we have one coming out for Star Wars: The Old Republic and Guild Wars 2, but World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XI, and Final Fantasy XIV have all been keeping the faith for a long while now. Their format shifted for a while as game distribution formats shifted, but the idea of a big expansion has never gone away, just taken a drubbing from the popular adage of “let’s launch lots of little expansions over and over.”
Me, I’ve never been a fan of that approach. I wasn’t a fan of it with Guild Wars 2 when the game first made that a selling point, and I haven’t been fond of the games jumping on the bandwagon since then. And there are a lot of reasons why I’m in favor of slower patches and expansion with more content versus faster and smaller.
When it launched, Star Wars: The Old Republic
was one of the biggest video game voice-over projects that BioWare
or any studio had ever done. It boasted over 200,000 lines of dialogue voiced by more than 200 actors, a number that’s only grown with new missions and expansions.
With so many voice actors lending their talents, it shouldn’t be too surprising to occasionally find yourself going, “Now where have I heard that person before? He or she sounds so familiar.” I’ve done that so often that I wanted to make a list of some of the bigger celebrities and actors who are behind the characters that the SWTOR community’s interacted with since 2012.
Here are just 10 of the many great talents that helped to create this game experience — and I didn’t even have room to include Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s Armin Shimerman, which I feel is a darn shame.
It’s no secret that many of us in the Massively OP office have a little bit of a game crush on Project Gorgon. Personally, I fell in love with the game when I discovered that it was all about collecting and leveling up a wild array skills — lots and lots of skills. As of right now there are around 100 skills in the game with more coming in all of the time.
And while some of these skills are fairly tame and ordinary (archery, mining), there are some really far-out professions that you don’t typically see in an MMO. I thought that for kicks I would round up 10 of the craziest skills that you can actually learn and use in this game.
I have been playing MMOs with varying degrees of intensity for the past 12 years. That is really weird to me. It also means that I’ve had time to develop a robust set of memories, and not everyone has the exact same memories. But I’ve also found that we all have the same general categories of memories despite that, even if you weren’t first playing Final Fantasy XI when I was.
So let’s be a little bit universal. Not everyone has the memories I do of running through Qufim or dealing with goblins in every leveling spot ever, but whatever your first game was, I’m pretty sure you have these same memories. The details just change.
I have nothing but deep respect for cosplayers because on two levels they are performing activities that I cannot. First of all, they put together incredible outfits that must take hours and hours of painstaking research and skill (not to mention money!) to assemble. And second, they go out in public and subject themselves to a nonstop barrage of stares and pictures.
As with any other geeky field, MMOs have attracted their fair share of cosplayers over the years. Today we’re going to look at 10 amazing outfits and the people who both put them together and wore them proudly.
It may be true that interest in playing and developing mobile games has peaked, although personally I very much like mobile gaming. On the flip side is the fact that studios like NCsoft and Nexon are investing heavily in mobile development, and games like Forsaken World Mobile are giving us hope that online RPGs are still seeking to break into the market.
Mobile gaming is so dang convenient, especially when I find myself away from a computer with a few minutes of nothing else to do. Waiting for my kids to get out of school? Spending quality time in the bathroom? Curled up in bed before sleep? All prime mobile gaming time.
It’s been a deep desire of mine, then, to see a crop of good mobile MMOs spring up. While there certainly have been some, including the highly lauded Order & Chaos and all of Spacetime Studio’s library, nothing has given me the same taste and pop that I get from a computer. Fortunately for me and other mobile gaming lovers, there are many up-and-coming titles in the MMO genre to watch. Will one of these be the game of our dreams? Let’s take a look at the lineup and see if there’s some promise here.
One of the things I spend a lot of time thinking about is Operation Unthinkable. For those of you who don’t feel like clicking the link, it was essentially Winston Churchill’s plan to start World War III right as World War II ended, except this time with the Allies against the Soviet Union and with re-armed German soldiers as shock troops. I’m glossing quite a bit, but the point is that the whole plan was always nuts and weird, and it would have made for a very different world than the one we actually live in.
But then, that’s just me. I like to speculate about what could have been but wasn’t, even if it never had a particularly big chance of happening. So here are 10 possible versions of games that never were – some that did launch, some that didn’t, and none of them things that we’ll ever get to play for better or for worse. But it’s still fun to speculate, hmm?
MMOs are built on the backs of many interlocking systems, some more crucial to the experience than others. While I have great appreciation for the core systems that make up these games, such as combat, crafting, and chat, I must admit that my imagination and devotion are often set aside for the satellite systems that offer more innovation and flavor.
Today I’m going to point out 10 clever features that I think should be in more MMOs. I’ll pick one game to highlight each of these systems, although the game in question may well not be the only one to harbor that feature. And if I can get through the entire article without making a Jurassic Park “clever girl” reference, I’ll be golden.