Designing an MMORPG: In the Beginning…

Designing an MMORPG is no easy task, but in 2018 that’s exactly what I want to do with your help. Each week we’ll be taking an in-depth look at a specific feature or aspect of game design, laying all the options out on the table, weighing the pros and cons, before finally putting it all to a vote. At the end of the year, we’ll see exactly what kind of MMORPG we make. Will it resemble any other popular MMORPGs currently on the market? Or maybe one that has shut down? Is there something coming out that matches our idea? So many questions need to be asked, but let’s start with the most important; genre.

Which genre your MMORPG is in can have a huge impact on everything else that will be in your game. After all, you won’t be flying spaceships in a Wuxia game, so it’s important that we get this out of the way first.

 

Fantasy

Wikipedia defines Fantasy as a genre of fiction set in a fictional universe that often, but not always, has no ties to the real world. It also goes on to say that most fantasy uses magic, or other supernatural elements as a main plot element, theme, or setting. Wiki also lists 18 different subgenres for fantasy, easily making it one of the most complex genres. It’s also one of the most popular for MMORPGs. Games that fit in the genre include World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, Blade & Soul and well, the list could go on forever. It is by far the most popular genre for MMORPGs, which can be both a blessing and a curse.

Pros:
A lot of variety and options available
Popular

Cons:
Oversaturation

 

Science Fiction

Science Fiction. Wikipedia defines it as a genre of fiction dealing with futuristic science and technology, space travel, time travel, parallel universes, and extraterrestrial life. In terms of MMORPGs, we’re looking at things like EVE Online or Wildstar along with Star Wars and Star Trek games. They can take place on a spaceship or you can have your feet firmly planted on a futuristic Earth or some distant planet. Science Fiction also includes all of the punks; cyberpunk, steampunk, biopunk, and dieselpunk. Where fantasy focuses on magic, science fiction focuses on technology. Wiki breaks sci-fi down into 7 sub-genres, though some we’ve not yet seen much in MMORPGs.

Pros:
Less Popular Genre
The only limit is your imagination

Cons:
Only appeals to a certain audience
Lacks magic, something people really enjoy

 

Modern World

Wikipedia defines the modern w- I’m just kidding. If you don’t know what the modern world is, take a look outside! You’re living in it! It is today, right now. While you certainly could have an MMORPG without any fantasy or science fiction added in, like The Sims Online, there are so many other stories to tell! It could be an alternate reality like Grand Theft Auto or something fantastical like Secret World Legends. Or maybe you’ve got superhumans wearing spandex flying through your city, or science has managed to bring back the dinosaurs. While many of these quite rightly belong in either science fiction or fantasy, we think the fact that they take place today makes them stand out in a unique way.

Pros:
Not found in many MMORPGs
Many options available

Cons:
Not great for escapism
Difficult to make it stand out

 

Historical

ever jane

Historical games are those rooted in the past with little deviation from what was available at the time. If you’re looking for examples of these in MMORPGs you should be looking towards the likes of A Tale in the Desert, Wild West Online, or Ever, Jane. They stay within the constraints set by reality and find ways to make it fun. If you’ve ever thought you should have been born in a different time or place, these are the games for you. There are thousands of years of history that could be covered dating back to when man first evolved all the way up to the 1980s. You won’t find any magic or aliens in these games as they stick to the rules.

Pros:
There’s a lot of Human history that is well known
The rules and restrictions for time periods are clearly defined

Cons:
Rules and restrictions may be too limiting to many
No fantastical elements

 

Now, this is where you come in. It’s time to pick one of the genres we went through above. Whichever one gets the most votes by Friday evening will be the winner and we will have officially taken the first steps to designing an MMORPG.

 

How does it work?

There’s a straw poll below, just select which genre you’d like to work in. A second poll, with the exact same options, will also be on the MMOGames Twitter account so you have two opportunities to leave a vote. Late on Friday, I’ll add up the results from the two polls. Next week the winner will be announced with an all-new poll that takes a look at the subgenre options we have available.

After we’ve got an idea of what subgenre we’re in, we’ll start having a lot more fun looking at everything from factions to crafting. Be sure to come back every Tuesday when we’ll take another step forward in our adventure.

If you have any ideas you’d like to see featured in the future leave them in the comments below and we’ll discuss them at some point this year.

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