Sequencing MMO DNA

I just had a thought, while writing the Mythos article. We all know where Mythos came from. Diablo II game play with a Warcraft art style. Diablo II came from Diablo, and Diablo was heavily influenced by the rogue-likes Moria and Angband, I think? Both those games were inspired by Hack, which was inspired by Rogue, which was heavily influenced by Temple of Apshai (I’m guessing), which took its inspiration from Dungeons and Dragons.

Now, World of Warcraft was inspired by the Warcraft RTS games, EverQuest, and Dark Age of Camelot. EverQuest took its inspiration from Toril MUD, which was based on other MUDs back to Diku, which was itself based on D&D and earlier MUDs which were inspired by Infocom’s Dungeon/Zork, which was inspired by Crowther and Woods’ Colossal Cave Adventure, which was based on real spelunking. Dark Age of Camelot took its inspiration EverQuest, so there’s some inbreeding going on there. Warcraft polished earlier RTS games, which draw heavily from those old Avalon-Hill war games, which likely got their start as variants of the board game Risk (total speculation for purposes of illustration only).

See where this is going? All these games take certain ideas — call them genes — and mix them up to form new games. What if we could, to push the analogy, sequence these genes, and directly diagram the rise and fall of genetic markers over the years. We would have a new handle on how to judge games. Point and click vs WASD? XP grind or quest grind? Group or solo preferred?

When someone says WAR is like WoW, we could say well, it’s 75% like WoW, 10% like DAoC (and since both games draw from EverQuest) can trace half its heritage all the way back to 1999. Now this 25% here, this was never in WoW, and there’s our difference.

And more importantly, we would be able to really focus on truly new and innovative ideas. “Whoa, in this game, your character loses levels if the player doesn’t log in. Is that new? Will it spread to other games?”

Virology and genetics can tell us a lot about gaming evolution, I’m guessing. Evolution? Yeah, I went there. I think we all can see these games are not a product of Intelligent Design… (Sigh. Devs, forgive me. I had to take the shot. You understand, don’t you?)

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Tipa

Web developer for a Connecticut-based insurance company that's over 200 years old! Also a bicycler, a blogger, a kayaker, and a hunter of bridges.

22 thoughts on “Sequencing MMO DNA”

  1. @Tipa
    You have picked the perfect example of why I say “pick something from an MMO the dev likes…” analogy.

    Chronicles…

    I think the combat looks to be awesome, visual landscapes like LOTRO

    And UGLY people!

    I like my people to look semi -realistic.

    Maybe this is why Mythos which seems quite fun, never grabbed me. Maybe it is why WoW does not bring me back in.

    And you state there are 100’s of MMO’s. But, if I have to pay 50+ bucks to try each…no thanks.

    The trial system does not work, as the limitations of MMO’s and having those really good” tutorial” areas (LOTRO, AoC) does not show what will happen in the rest of the game. Bad gameplay!

    As to the overseas titles. EVERY SINGLE one copies the other…period. I have played Silkroad, Cabal Online, Perfect World, Requiem. Visually different with some unique features, and all equal pure GRIND!

    But, I always am willing to keep looking, I have yet to give up. And until I find my next one, I will stick with the oldies but goodies for a bit.

  2. Yeah, the vast majority of the Asian games are cookie-cutter. You really have to buy into their business model — they are a grind to force you to buy extra-XP potions and stuff. If you don’t accept the fact that you are expected to buy your way through the game, you just won’t enjoy them.

    Of course, there’s that instant backlash that forms the main difference between Western and Eastern MMOs. Western — subscription and no RMT. Asian — No subscription, but RMT everywhere. But with the option to pay nothing, ever. Play an Asian MMO with the expectation that the $50 you would have spent on the box for a Western MMo will be sunk instead into buying xp potions and decent gear and you will have a different experience. That’s their business model. With RMT, you get good stuff without having to camp, level without having to grind, and can finish a game at the pace you choose. They make the gameplay without RMT so unpleasant that you will pay to get to the good bits faster.

    Once you have gotten over the hump of accepting RMT, you can appreciate the games better for their differences and their community (which will, again, be largely Asian, but in my experience playing with Japanese gamers in FFXI Online, some of the best, friendliest and most intense gamers in the world).

    Millions of gamers play these MMOs. Every single one of them has other things to do, and other games to play. When someone releases a game in the West that has a million players in the East, can we really flatly say it’s not worth our time to give it a look?

    That said, there are a lot of games out there, and codifying those differences is what I aim to try to do — not just for Asian MMOs, but for all of them. MMORPG.com tracks 250+ MMOs (though the MMO-ness of some of their titles is iffy). Somewhere among those 250 — and more every month — is the perfect game for someone. Finding it is the problem.

    And btw there are Asian games which are very similar to Western games. Just as we have Western games that are similar to Eastern ones.

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