1. Technology

Massively Multiplayer Online RPGs

Massively multiplayer games where hundreds or even thousands of people can simultaneously participate are becoming all the rage. Now that games like EverQuest have demonstrated that there is a viable market for persistent world online games, many other developers have started taking this approach.
  1. EverQuest (15)
  2. Free MMORPGs (33)
  3. MUD / MUSH (30)
  4. World of Warcraft

Thoughts on Character Levels
Some people love leveling their character in an RPG, while others despise it. Most games in the genre employ character levels, but it's not the only way. Here are some thoughts on the use of character levels in game design.

Guild Wars 2: Thoughts on World vs. World
ArenaNet's MMORPG sequel, Guild Wars 2, has a large-scale World vs. World PvP system which has attracted a lot of attention. Here are some thoughts on how it's working out so far.

Star Wars MMORPGs: What Went Wrong?
Stars Wars seems like an ideal franchise to build a MMORPG around, but it hasn't worked out quite as planned for two attempts that have been made so far. Here's a quick look at what went right and what went wrong.

The Evolution of Questing
A lot of people complain about the mundane nature of quests in most MMORPGs. What are the alternatives, and can a quest in this genre really be epic?

38 Studios and the Future of MMORPGs
We take a look at the downfall of game developer 38 Studios, and what implications this has for the MMORPG industry in general.

MMORPGs: Solo vs. Group
Although grouping with other players has long been a central to gameplay in MMORPGs, current titles tend to leave ample room for soloing, especially until you reach the level cap. Should there be a greater emphasis on group content in these games?

Star Wars: The Old Republic Space Combat Basics
Star Wars: The Old Republic isn't just about light sabers, you can also go into battle in your spaceship. This introduction to space combat is intended to get you off to a good start.

MMORPGs: 4 Ways to Improve AI
Has the behavior of monsters in MMORPGs become too predictable? We look a few ways to make the AI in games a little a more dynamic, and make encounters with mobs less routine.

MMORPGs: The Travel Dilemma
The amount of in-game running around required from MMORPG players has been steadily reduced over the years with quick travel and various instant forms of transportation. These changes aren't to everyone's liking, so we examine some of the pros and cons of quick travel systems.

MMORPGs: Why So Few Sandboxes?
For the most part it would appear that themepark MMORPGs have won out over their sandbox brethren. Is it really over for big-budget sandbox worlds, or is it just that nobody has come up with secret sauce to make it work?

Star Wars: The Old Republic Crafting Basics
Need a good combination of Crew Skills for your Star Wars: The Old Republic character? This is an introductory guide to the game's crafting and gathering system.

MMORPGs: The Difficulty Dilemma
Have MMORPGs become too easy in recent years? This week we discuss the connection between a game's difficulty and its popularity.

MMORPGs: Are Voice-Overs Now Mandatory?
Voiced-over dialogue has been a growing trend in MMORPGs for many years now, but Star Wars: The Old Republic went the extra mile by using voice-overs for all the game's quests. Will gamers be willing to go back to reading after this, or will every MMORPG be expected to have voice dialogue going forward?

SWTOR Nexus Guild Leader Interview
Considering a switch from World of Warcraft to Star Wars: The Old Republic? We talk to leader of the Nexus guild about transitioning to SWTOR, and get their impressions of group content in Bioware's new MMORPG.

PlanetSide Retrospective
Countless people have fond memories of the truly massive engagements that PlanetSide introduced back in 2003, and they really haven't been surpassed in scale to this day. This is look back at the game, why it was so much fun, and why so many of us have moved on.

Star Wars: The Old Republic Warzone Basics
If you're hit level 10 and you're ready to jump into some PvP, here is a quick guide to the Warzones in Star Wars: The Old Republic and how they work.

SWTOR: Should It Support UI Addons?
Addons make it possible to have a highly customized user interface in a game, but not everyone likes them. This week we wade into the debate about whether or not Star Wars: The Old Republic should add support for UI addons something like those in World of Warcraft.

MMORPGs: Sandbox vs. Themepark
Games are typically a blend of different and sometimes exclusive design principles. This has led to use of descriptive terms like sandbox and themepark. Here is a definition of these terms for the uninitiated.

Star Wars: The Old Republic Alignment Guide
Star Wars: The Old Republic is one of only a few MMORPGs to experiment with an alignment system. This is a quick explanation of how it works and what the consequences of going to the Light or Dark side are.

MMORPGs: The End-Game Dilemma
Sometimes what happens after reaching the level cap in a MMORPG can make or break the game. If you prefer to raid, for example, you're likely to race through the game's lower levels to get there. Others find that there's not enough to do at the cap to keep them interested. This is a quick examination of the MMORPG end-game.

The Biggest Heists in Eve Online
Eve Online is a unique game with a deep economic component, and player perpetrated scams are all part of the action. This is a brief history of the game's largest and most famous swindles.

Guild Wars 2 Primer
The Guild Wars series has been highly-praised since it launched back in 2005. This is a preview of Arenanet's upcoming MMORPG, Guild Wars 2, which is currently under development.

Upcoming MMORPGs: 2011 and Beyond
Although World of Warcraft continues to dominate the MMORPG scene, the genre is growing steadily and developers are experimenting with a wide variety of settings and game mechanics, with mixed results. There are a few big titles due in 2011, so let's look a ahead to see what we might be playing in in the upcoming months.

The Evolution of MMORPGs
Just about every discussion of MMORPGs these days brings out people who will argue that the industry is stagnant, that recent releases have been little more than unpolished World of Warcraft clones, and that the best games were old-school offerings like Ultima Online, EverQuest, and Dark Age of Camelot (in their original forms prior to any major updates or expansions, of course). Have we really n…

Are Subscription Games a Good Value?
Although the number of people subscribed to games that charge monthly fees continues to grow, we've all heard protests from those that refuse to pay any regular fees to play a video game. Many are accustomed to the traditional retail offerings: buy the box, take it home, and play it forever, or until you get bored of it. By comparison, the...

Richard Garriott Interview
Traveling up to the International Space Station is something very few of us will ever have a chance to do, except perhaps in a virtual world. Richard Garriott is making the trip in real life, and as you may know, he's also the cofounder of Destination Games, makers of the sci-fi MMORPG Tabula Rasa. I had the opportunity to talk to him last week about his upcoming flight, how it will be tied into certain events in the game, the state of Tabula Rasa, and more.

Paying to Play: Is It Worth the Money?
Although the number of people subscribed to games that charge monthly fees for access continues to grow, we've all heard protests from those that refuse to pay any kind of regular fees to play a video game. Many are accustomed to the traditional retail offerings: buy the box, take it home, and play it forever, or until you get bored. By comparison, the $10-$15 per month a lot of MMOGs charge may look rather steep, but are they a rip-off, or are they good value for your entertainment dollars?

What Makes a Game "Massively" Multiplayer?
Massively multiplayer is a term being applied to an ever-increasing number of online games, but some them don't actually support a massive number of players. Although there's no gold standard for what makes a game massively multiplayer, I think the proper use of the term MMOG deserves further examination.

Second Life Profile
One of the most open-ended virtual worlds around is Second Life, and although it's not really a game, I get quite a few questions about it. Over the years it has set the stage for some unusual events and grown into a very dynamic and controversial social experiment, as well as favorite place to set up a virtual classroom. Here's a quick overview...

Roleplaying and Massively Multiplayer Games 101
One of the most remarkable trends in online gaming in recent years is the rise in popularity of highly graphical 3D roleplaying games. Some roleplaying games are ideally suited to small groups of players who want exclusive encounters, while others feature large persistent online worlds with hundreds of players running around. If you're new to playing online RPGs, these basics may help.

Your Favorite Sci-fi MMORPGs
Science fiction is a natural fit for a roleplaying game, and, although medieval fantasy still has the largest draw, there has been a steady increase in the number of MMORPGs with a sci-fi setting. If laser-beam toting superheroes are more your style than elves and dwarves, these science fiction MMORPGs feature persistent worlds full of high-tech...

Top Fantasy MMORPGs
Medieval fantasy remains a favorite setting for MMORPGs. These are some of the best graphical games that let you don a sword or a spellbook to seek fame and fortune in a mythical online realm.

Your Favorite Fantasy MMORPGs
There are a remarkable number of choices available to massively multiplayer online gamers compared to a few years ago, but medieval fantasy continues to be the most popular setting. In these games you create a character, don a sword or a spellbook, and venture off into a persistent online world in search of experience points.

Top Science Fiction MMORPGs
Elves and dwarves are not your only roleplaying options these days. If laser-beam toting superheros are more your style, these science fiction MMORPGs feature persistent worlds full of high-tech weaponry, spaceships, and belligerent aliens.

Top MMO Action Games
While most massively multiplayer games seem to be RPGs, there are a number of action and simulation games which accommodate hundreds of players. These games, unlike most RPGs, all feature combat systems that require a steady aim and fast reflexes.

Lineage 2 Revisited
Although a lot of people are aware that World of Warcraft is the most popular MMORPG in the world, relatively few could name the second most popular franchise, which is Lineage. Chronicle 5, Oath of Blood has just been released, and I had a chance to tour some of the new content on the test server with staff from NCsoft.

Thrones of Chaos Q&A
If you've been following the MMORPG scene you may remember Realms of Torment, later to become Mourning. Mourning will not be coming back, but some of the game's assets have been purchased by Loud Ant Software, a development company based in Oregon, for use in Thrones of Chaos. I had a chance to talk to Colton Burgess, Head of Operations for Loud Ant Software, about this upcoming MMORPG.

The Dark Side of MMORPGs
Massively multiplayer online games are certainly the flavor of the day, but as experiments in this genre mature, some people are discovering that virtual worlds aren't always as enjoyable as the hype makes them out to be. This is a look at some of the problems that have plagued MMORPGs over the years.

City of Villains Issue 7 Q&A
Issue 7: Destiny Manifest will the seventh major update for City of Heroes, but the first for City of Villains. As well as level 40-50 content to bring villains up to the same level as heroes, the game is getting missions with destructible environments and a new high-level PvP zone which heroes and villains can fight over. Matt Miller, the game's Senior Designer at Cryptic Studios, took the time to give us some more details on Issue 7.

Roleplaying and Romance
Although it may not fit the stereotype, gamers are not immune to love. Sex and romance are bound to come up in massively multiplayer games, where players celebrate everything from birthdays to weddings, and gamer couples are becoming commonplace. Most games do their best to keep it clean, but those seeking something more risque have a few virtual worlds to choose from as well.

Trading Game Assets
A lot of money is changing hands these days for characters and items that exist only in the virtual worlds of massively multiplayer online games. Remarkably, some people have turned this activity into big business, creating auctions and stores that cater specifically to the needs of online adventurers.

World of Warcraft Compared to EverQuest II
It's not often that two blockbuster MMORPGs hit store shelves within weeks of each other, and it presents people who don't have unlimited time and money for online games with a tough decision. Both World of Warcraft and EverQuest II promise to be exceptional games, so here is a quick comparison between the two that might make it easier to figure out which one is for you.

A Tale in the Desert
Building cities, managing your financial empire, and leaving your mark on civilization are the objectives of this unusual MMORPG which has no fighting.

Alliance Ascension
Players compete in a race to become the most powerful in the galaxy. This sci-fi based MMORPG is promising unique gameplay and prizes.

Age of Conan : Hyborian Adventures
Funcom has developed a MMORPG based on the brutal world of the Conan franchise. It's an adult-rated game with city building, sieges, and mounted combat, with a deep solo quest that co-exists with the online world in the early levels.

Ashen Empires
A 3rd-person fantasy MMORPG which is a relatively light download and has very reasonable system requirements. They charge a monthly fee to play but you can download the client at no cost.

Anarchy Online
A venerable sci-fi MMORPG that lets you battle other players or mutant monsters with a wide variety of high-tech weaponry. The basic version of the game can now be enjoyed at no cost.

Asheron's Call
Become a hero in the land of Derath. This well-established MMORPG has thousands of subscribers and is now back under the management of Turbine Entertainment.

Astonia 3
Astonia 3 is a 2D graphical online RPG in which you assume the role of a battle-hardened warrior or a powerful mage. Download and try it for 28 days free of charge.

Camelot Vault
Good information on Dark Age of Camelot as well as forums for all the servers and character classes.

City of Heroes
Explore your alter ego as a super hero in Paragon City. A refreshing change for those of you that are weary of medieval fantasy MMORPGs.

City of Villains
City of Villains is a dark companion to City of Heroes, allowing players to take on the roles of the bad guys. It is a stand-alone game with PvP areas that overlap with City of Heroes, rather than an expansion.

Dark Age of Camelot
Official site of Dark Age of Camelot, a MMORPG based on the King Arthur legends, Viking mythology, and Celtic lore. PvP is central to this game, as the map is divided into three realms which attempt to raid each others territory and capture relics.

Dark and Light
Medieval fantasy in a huge seamless online world, featuring 14 character classes, hundreds of cities, and a dual experience system.

Darkfall Online
Darkfall Online is a free-for-all PvP MMORPG developed by Aventurine and released in 2009. The game offers a mix of kingdom building, conquest, diplomacy, strategy, and politics.

The English version of Dofus from Ankama Studio is now available. It's an imaginative combination of roleplaying game and interactive cartoon, designed to run on multiple platforms using Flash technology.

Dungeons & Dragons Online
This is an online version of the famous pen and paper game, developed by Turbine Entertainment with consultation from Wizards of the Coast. The focus is on instanced dungeon crawls in groups of up to 12 players.

Eve Online
Cruise around the universe as a spaceship captain, mining resources, building components, trading, and fighting with other players. Eve Online features complex player organizations and extremely robust economic elements.

Face of Mankind
Set in the 24th century, this sci-fi MMORPG is developed by a German company. Face of Mankind has a player-generated mission system.

Faction Earth
This is a text-based MMORPG with a very friendly and fun graphical interface. Set in the mega-cities of Earth in the year 2125, the game revolves around industrial espionage, super-hackers, rediscovered magic, battling factions, and a constant struggle against genetic creations gone awry.

Final Fantasy XI
The award-winning Final Fantasy series has been adapted into this rapidly growing MMORPG. Three powerful nations try to protect the world of Vana'diel from the hostile beastmen. It's the first MMO that allows PS2 users and PC users participate in the same universe.

Horizons is a fantasy-based MMORPG which promises seamless and dynamic worlds, along with abundant character customization, including the ability to play a dragon.

Imperial Wars
Unconventional gameplay is a central feature of this turn-based sci-fi MMOG, which involves a great deal of interaction with other players both inside and outside of the game structure.

Irth Online
A fantasy MMORPG developed by Magic Hat Software which features an open skill system, instanced content, PvP as well as PvE, and opportunities for non-warfare gameplay.

Jumpgate is a massively multiplayer space combat game which features 3 playable factions, 48 ships in 16 different hull classifications to fly, and over 130 sectors to explore.

Lineage II: The Chaotic Chronicle
Like its predecessor, Lineage II focuses on player versus player combat and large-scale siege warfare. This iteration of the game is fully 3D and powered by the Unreal graphics engine.

With millions of subscribers in Asia, Lineage is one of the world's most popular MMORPGs. The English version has been gathering players as well. It combines medieval and fantasy elements and is based on a Korean comic book by the same name.

Lord of the Rings Online
Tolkien's legendary "The Lord of the Rings." trilogy is the setting for this MMORPG from Turbine. The game features an extensive PvE campaign that brings you into contact with many famous characters from the books. Chapters have been added to the story regularly since launch.

Meridian 59
Originally released in 1996, this was a true pioneer among commercial online games. It continues to offer entertaining graphical roleplaying at competitive rates.

Hunt monsters and mutants with thousands of other players in a sci-fi based game that is refreshingly reminiscient of a FPS. Features "game in game" deathmatch arenas and more than 250 maps to explore.

Pirates of the Burning Sea
Plundering ships and swilling grog are the order of the day in this seafaring MMORPG from Flying Lab Software. Players captain a wide variety of ships for different nations in an effort to take over the Caribbean.

Released in 2003, PlanetSide is a futuristic vehicular warfare MMOG from Sony Online Entertainment. A low learning curve, fast-paced action, and solid team play have made it a favorite among shooter fans.

Ogre Island
This MMORPG was not designed for high framerates, fancy graphics or special effects, but rather for a good storyline and roleplaying elements. It's free to play, but some areas can only be accessed with a certain amount of Ogre Island Platinum, which is available for purchase.

Ragnarok FAQ
A wealth of information on Ragnarok Online, including keyboard shortcuts, item statistics, creature statistics, and much more.

Ragnarok Online
Ragnarok Online is a MMORPG made by the Korean company Gravity Interactive. It is based on the Ragnarok Manga by Lee-Myon Jin, and it's an extremely popular game in Asia.

Rising Force Online
Three warring factions are battling for control of a deep space galaxy known as Novus. RF Online uses a mix of fantasy and science fiction setting and now available in North America.

Roma Victor
An unusal MMORPG that attempts to recreate the Roman Empire in an historically authentic way. There is currently no monthly fee for the game, but you do have to purchase the client.

ROSE Online
An anime inspired game developed by Gravity Interactive, a Korean company. Players compete for dominion of the world's seven planets. The client is about 310 MB.

Saga of Ryzom
This unique persistent world features a blend of science fiction and fantasy, a dynamic ecology, a heredity system, and refined large-scale combat mechanics.

Dynamic content, a sophisticated guild system, and seige warfare are among this fantasy MMORPG's offerings. Player versus player combat is central to the game's design.

An unusual, adult-oriented MMORPG with a variety of sex-related content. It uses 2D graphics which are crude but fairly explicit. Of course, you must be of legal age to play.

Star Wars Galaxies
Lucas Arts and the creators of EverQuest give you a chance to explore the "Star Wars" universe with thousands of other players. Perhaps the most highly-anticipated MMORPG of 2003.

The Realm Online
An older medieval fantasy MMORPG which is very reasonably priced and not too graphically demanding. Download it and try it for a month free of charge.

ToonTown Online
MMORPGs aren't just for adults. This title from Disney is aimed at kids, allowing them to create their own Toons and help Mickey stop an evil robot invasion using cream pies and other gag weapons.

Ultima Online
The official Ultima Online site features a new-player guide, detailed game-play information, news and updates, a downtime schedule, technical support, and interactive account management pages.

Ultima Online Stratics
Quite possibly the ultimate Ultima site, with vast amounts of information on items, skills, and the finer points of Ultima gameplay.

Vanguard: Saga Of Heroes
Vanguard was developed by some of the minds behind the original EverQuest, so it is of high interest to the MMORPG community. This title marks a return to the slower progress and group-oriented play of earlier games, but they've also taken an innovative approach to crafting and diplomacy.

Vendetta Online
An open-ended MMOG set in outer space that features an FPS-like combat system. Pursue a military career, establish a trade empire, or become a notorious space pirate.

Warhammer Online
Based on the world of Warhammer, this MMORPG is from Mythic Entertainment, the makers of Dark Age of Camelot. The game focuses on PvP elements, with two factions warring for control over the world's territory.

World War II Online
This MMOG immerses you in an enormous digital reconstruction of the Second World War. It has excellent flight simulation and a fairly complex command structure. You need a joystick to play.

World of Pirates
Now you can plunder the Carribean with hundreds of other adventurers in World of Pirates. This title takes a 2D approach reminiscent of the classic Pirates game by Sid Meier, but includes a persistent online world where you can get into sword fights and sea battles with other players.

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