Click Me Baby One More Time


Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGS) are, for the most part, all boring wastes of time that have very little of importance to differentiate one from another. This is not to say that MMORPGs are not fun, because in their own way they can be. They certainly have the tendency to be addictive.

Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGS) are, for the most part, all boring wastes of time that have very little of importance to differentiate one from another. This is not to say that MMORPGs are not fun, because in their own way they can be. They certainly have the tendency to be addictive. Nonetheless, the current crop of MMORPGs offer a sort of mindless monotony, that while engaging, is really a waste of the technology and the potential for true role playing. Unless the base of players, and the games themselves change in some very important ways, I believe that the upcoming MMORPGs will find the same fate.

At the most basic level, role playing is taking on the role of a character as you guide that character's actions within an imaginary setting. MMORPGs do offer role playing in this sense, because you act through a character, rather than as yourself. For players who are used to pen and paper role playing games, this hardly counts as role playing at all. Unfortunately the very nature of their design, MMORPGS do not encourage, and can actually hinder true role playing.

True role playing goes beyond just wearing the body of an imaginary character. True role playing is giving your character a fully developed personality of her own, directing her actions based on that personality, and can even go so far as to include an entire imagined life for the character. It includes giving a character likes and dislikes, goals, fears, behaviors, speech patterns, and other distinguishing characteristics that make her a unique individual. Furthermore, the relationships that your character builds with other characters and the history of your character within the world make up an important part of her personality. True role playing in an MMORPG is almost impossible because the structure of the game cripples or removes many of the important elements that allow a character to build and develop a personality and interact with other players and the world around her.

In MMORPGs, there is one basic goal, to make the character more powerful. This goal can be achieved in two basic ways, by gaining experience to raise statistics and skills or by gaining wealth to buy more powerful equipment and spells. The main way to accomplish this is two things, to practice a skill, or complete quests.

It is almost unheard of for a character to interact in a meaningful way with computer controlled characters or to change the game world. There is no real storyline to follow, and the minimal story that does exist does not offer characters any useful way to participate and enact change in themselves or the world. So all characters have essentially the same motivation and goals, which makes true role playing very limited.

Interaction between characters is fairly limited and sometimes difficult within the game. Talking to computer controlled characters gives no meaningful response, and talking with other players involves typing into a small dialogue window and reading their response. Since the keyboard is both the primary means of communication and of character control, it can make speaking with other characters difficult and dangerous to your character's health. Several of my characters have run off cliffs or bumped into deadly monsters while I was typing instead of moving my character in the right direction.

Dialogue takes place in the same window where battle results or item descriptions appear, further confusing communication. In a game world with dozens or hundreds of other people around, conversations of nearby characters, characters shouting, and out of character comments can all intrude. These difficulties make in-character conversations much more rare than they should be. Communication is often relegated to macros and hot keys giving important information. Money makes the game world go round, so the only communication that does not suffer is auctions and requests for help or donations. In-character discussions are rare, and people who actually bother to develop a personality for their character's communication are rarer still.

To really role play, you need a community of other players who are all role playing as well. It is possible to be the only player around acting in character, but it is not very enjoyable. If nobody else is acting in character, there is little point to dialogue. It is difficult to build a community in an MMORPG because the game's mechanics make it difficult to gain power and build a role playing community at the same time.

In order to gain power most efficiently, players need to form groups composed of diverse characters. In EverQuest it is not uncommon to see a Dark Elf Necromancer and a Troll Shaman grouped with a Dwarf Paladin and a Halfling Druid. From a role playing perspective, this group should never work together. The Paladin and Druid would most likely be quite hostile towards the Necromancer and Shaman. In the world of MMORPGs, enemy races and classes often group to combine skills and offer safety in numbers.

It is also most efficient and safe to group with characters of similar power to your own. If powerful characters group with relatively weaker characters, either the more powerful character will have no challenge and little worthwhile experience or treasure from fighting weak monsters, or the weaker characters will be easily killed and offer no real assistance when fighting stronger monsters. So within the game, groups almost always contain characters of roughly the same power.

Because gaining power for a character can take a large investment of time, it is easy for a character to fall behind others in her group if she is unable to play as long as they are. If a group of role players frequently works together, and one player takes a vacation for several days, she may come back to find that her character can no longer safely group with her companions. This effectively breaks the role playing community by forcing community members to split up.

All these features of MMORPGs work together to eliminate true role playing from the game. What is left is a game of pretty graphics and new places to explore, with action that consists of mindless clicking and very little skill or thought to achieve your goals. The game becomes merely a waste of time, since the only goal is to strengthen your character, and the only way to achieve that is by devoting countless hours of time to repetitive tasks. Game play consists of killing one type of monster over and over until you are strong enough to advance to the next harder color of that monster or running between two locations to complete the same quest dozens of times. This can be entertaining, the same way that throwing cards into a hat across the room is entertaining, but it's a shame to waste the potential of putting that many role players together by forcing them all to complete one boring task after another and making it difficult for them to actually role play their characters.

Of course, for the game developers, these types of games are pure genius. The mindless task of gaining power for your character by simple, repetitive actions is easy enough for anyone to enjoy. The "Gotta catch 'em all" mentality of collecting that made Pokemon such a success keeps players coming back to get just one more level or find the next most powerful weapon.

The ability to meet new people online, or spend time with your friends working together toward a common goal does have great appeal, and since these games are currently the best we have, thousands of people play them every day. With the developers collecting a monthly fee from every player, often bought in six month or one year subscriptions and automatically renewed for you, these games are a gold mine.

So unless we get really lucky and a developer comes along who wants to make a great game instead of a money-making game (Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Clause), or we demand more out of our MMORPG experience, I believe that the next generation of MMORPGs will be essentially the same as the ones we have now. In fact, Anarchy Online, the most recent MMORPG, was just released to the public. I was a beta tester, so I already have a pretty good idea, but I'm guessing it will be EQ In Space. Send them your money, shut down your brain, and click away!

Don't be so quick to announce the death of online RPGs. A lot of the games out there are looking to capture users who are used to the spectacle and action of arcade games. For example, Lucas Arts' upcoming "Star Wars Galaxies" will build on the EQ engine, and probably cater to fans of their first person shooter games. This may be fun, but I suspect it will fail to impress as an RPG.

But as the big-name flashy games move further into arcade-land, there will likely be something else to take up the slack. For example, SKOTOS games ( is working hard to make MMPOG RPGs that emphasize the role-playing. A lot of gamers don't know about them because they've attracted a lot of their users from RPGs, MUDs and MOOs instead of from the video game crowd. I think they have a ways to go, but they are on the right track.

I agree these really aren't RPGs. No roleplaying involved. More of an adventure game. People only pick a certain character class because they want a skillset, not a "character" type. Once you're done picking from your canned appearance and trying to find a unique name, it's rathunter 3D.

Most of the MMORPG's don't appeal to me because you have to pay more money every month. I have had a copy of Fallout 2 for a year and a half and still play it and it only cost 20 dollars.
The first two online games to really excite me and show some real pontential are Majestic ( and Horizons (www.artifact-entertainment/horizons).
Some people won't call Majestic an RPG. they'll call it an adventure or mystery game. But the fact is they aren't just creating a new world for some character you play as, they modify your real life and turn it into the game world.
Sounds like the ultimate level in role playing to me.
Horizons goes the other way and fixes almost every flaw mentioned in this article. your character will have parents, a home(if your can afford it or rent it from someone), and have a reputation that will follow them.
they haven't entered beta yet but it sounds promising.

Star Wars Galaxies isn't building on the EQ engine, it's an entirely new engine.

I have to go with Mightycow. The whole MMORPG's roleplaying has been shined up, tossed serious mechanics, and left you with a ok game for now. It leaves you feeling ok, not used, but wanting more. I just got done with the whole ultima online ride, its a ok game, they fixed alot of the problems others faced. But even on there message boards the real hardcore rpgers are getten peeved. The real roleplaying mechanics, i hate to simplyfy it so much. But my vocab. isnt too grand. Anyhow, poeple that started when it first came out, were getting mad. From when they started little things, like talking to npcs, for instance, "George, I would like to take a look at your wares". Sentences that kinda gave you the feel they were there, were taken away. Reduced to "Vendor Buy" or you get to put that inside a sentence. Joy, oh rapture, how many interesting things can you do with that? Well anyhow, the other big beef with the public, i wasnt one sadly. Is that the text changed, it was orginally, all loopy and looked, like the fairy tale writing, made it more emmersive. Well, that was the next big suprise for the somewhat hardcorers, it was replaced with a larger, ugly, not soo great looken text. There was a good string of comments on that one.
Anyhow heres my great problem solving idea, see what you all think. They make a game, its got the fairy dust, the stank armor, and the baddies, the normal formula, if i may borrow some if mighty cows good ideas, the better stuff off of his list, well really all of it. Instead of the whole server idea though. You have a menu that pops up, it basically boils down to, hardcore, or other. Then you deal with the pk thing with, pk only servers, goody goody only servers, and multi-servers. My guess is that would please both crowds, keep the ones that arent into the whole immersion coming, and still rake in the hardcore, serious roleplayers that want the "good stuff".

If a developer were to come here and check this out, it could be the new gold mine. I've said my peace, and ill leave, you be.

Have a good one

P.S If anyone can help me out with my firewall/ip adress situation it would really be nice, thanks for your time. :)

i totaly agree with you guys that these 'next step in rgp's' i just two bicycles dressed up to look like a car. there basicaly is no role playing factor in them. where most videogame players would go: 'it's got an HP and an MP meter so it's an rpg' the elements that make it an rpg are either not there or can't be bothered with because player A is really just focusing on making his warrior reach level 9 by hotkeying the required text to activate a mini-quest. though one of the cool factors of mmorpg's is the fact that there are other people playing the game with you, it is hard to stay in character without others 'keeping it real' as well. heh, when i finaly get the oppertunity to create one of these mmorpg's, i'll do you guys proud.
by the way, i could use some help with the elements of this project if anyone cares to.

Now I disagree with much of what has been said here. (Sheesh, I've been writing so much i should start to send in my own articles) MMORPGs can be RPGs, and can be adventure games. If you will notice, games such as EVERQUEST have no storyline for you to follow, making them not Adventure games, but let you do a wide range of actions not even related to anything you have done previously, making them like RPGs. On the other hand, there is limited action and a tendency NOT to roleplay, making many denounce them as RPGs.

I am sorry that many don't play RPGs on MMORPGs, although I have to say this. You do NOT have to categorize them. It's not an adventure, it's not an RPG. Find another name for them then, but don't try to stereotype them. Perhaps we should call them morgs, a pronouncible form of MMORPG. The name doesn't matter, the heart of the game does.

Granted, morgs don't have the freedom of RIFTS, TFT, GURPS, or even D&D. Granted, people tend to play like powergamers. Granted, I don't like these people. Granted, I still enjoy and play Everquest. How? Simple, granted you take the time to search the game and make friends you connect with. Solution found. Go into Everquest as an adventure and you can enjoy it. Expect to roleplay in a slightly limited system and you can enjoy it. Look at it from the outside and pronounce 'That's not an RPG!' and you don't care what it really IS even if it isn't one.

Now if you wanted a MMORPG and not a morg, try making one yourself. My friends and i are slowly turning my MUD entitled 'Lands of Meraak' into an actual RPG. The PROBLEM with an MMORPG which no realizes is human ability to work. To actually and really go through and make a true RPG, where you can play as virtually anything, you need programmers galore. You can get programmers galore, but it will COST money, which most people can't afford. Not to mention the money required for bandwith and computers good enough to hold such a system. Don't expect what we can't at this point in time create. Although, if you are truly rich and crave an MMORPG in the truest sense, look into Assassin's Revenge sister game, Fantasy Revenge. The cost is upwards of ten thousand dollars a year, but they have a ratio of around two programmers to one player so you can implement your every idea as fast as you type it in. That's a true MMORPG, but it was hard to make and harder still to maintain. Don't expect programmers to be gods.

Learn to accept and enjoy morgs, even if you don't play a morg yourself.