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Article - 'Pro's and Con's of MMORPGs' by Angroth

An item about Miscellanious posted on Oct 1, 2004

Blurb

Angroth randomly rants about good and bad things in MMORPGs.

Body

What are MMORPGs?
Well especially recently there has been quite a competition for MMORPGs. And inevitably the race is still on, to create the biggest, newest version. With the internet becoming such a widespread invention I suppose it was only a matter of time before this would happen. After all it’s undoubtedly more fun to play games against a real human than a piece of computer coding. So the possibility to play with hundreds of people across the world is a great idea. In one way you could describe a MMORPG as a giant advanced chat room, where you can go and kill stuff, get items and level up. In some ways they are more fun than normal chat rooms because it gives you much more to do and more to talk about, but you might not always want to play one and sometimes they aren’t very well geared towards chatting with people (FairyLand had poor chatting capabilities, with about 4 lines of what people had said on the screen, so guild rooms and large conversations were a big no no).

All MMORPGs like to have something unique or special to offer. So what can we expect of them as a whole? Well they should definitely have customisable characters, I found The Realm Online very good for this, you could change the body, dye clothes and hair not to mention editing your eye brows, facial hair, eye lashes, eyes, hair, chin, nose etc etc. The more you can edit your character to your personal desires, the better. If there wasn’t much customisation involved then it would look more bland with lots of the same character running around the screen (cough cough Diablo games). You can also get an eerie satisfaction from creating a character that looks just like you, or your ideal character (the person you could never be). There should obviously be some fighting and levelling up involved (this should go without saying). There’s nothing more fun than increasing your character’s stats, getting groovy new weapons and fighting more impressive monsters. To top it off there always has to be at least one other feature worth playing the game for. Sometimes it’s forging equipment, other times it’s fishing, foraging and mining. But as long as there’s some other things to do the game is liable to stay with you much longer (The Realm Online, you didn’t have this extra feature so you sucked for long term game play).

Pros of MMORPGs
What makes these games a notch above other rpgs or maybe even most other games in general? Well, let’s have a look.

The first thing is obviously the amount of people, you can find people you get on with from across the world and then go and kill stuff together. And there’s often a few different servers (for bigger, better games) that you can use so the game doesn’t become too over crowded and laggy. I can’t stress how much this enhances a game, making it playable with your friends! (and not have them stinking out your house). Plus you get to meet lots of people you wouldn’t normally have a chance of meeting.

Another good thing about MMORPGs is that they are often updated and improved. None of them I know has stopped having updates of some sort. This is always good to know that if you like the game, it will only get better with time. Whether it’s fixing bugs of some sort or adding new weapons, armour and enemies, something is likely to be going on behind the scenes.

The way most of them are like a super chat room is also great. Some people just like to sit around and chat (Townies) other do a bit of both, but if you don’t want to socialise then you can always ignore people and just play the game for the rest of what it is (although you might not get all of the game’s worth this way). To be able to chat to people and have a full digital version of yourself projected next to theirs with some cool equipment, in a misty old tavern is totally awesome.

Plus I’d have to say that MMORPGs usually have cool stuff you can’t normally do in games, including forging weapons and armour, mixing herbs and items, making clothes, farming, foraging, mining, fishing, run a shop and the list continues. Sure, these are sometimes found in other games but there’s always something of interest to do. MMORPGs don’t ever really have a big storyline like conventional rpgs, therefore they need some good game play and features to counteract this, thus comes in all these nice things.

The lifespan of MMORPGs can vastly exceed that or normal games. Due to the fact they don’t actually end (like the Sims) you can literally play it as much as you want for as long as you want. All you have to do is stop playing when you’re not having fun anymore.

Cons of MMORPGs
What knocks these games back down to, or even below rpgs and other games? Well, let’s find out.

Instability in the server, or sometimes updates themselves can cause as much harm as they can bring more fun. Items (or even characters) can get “nerfed” (like in Eternal Lands). Whereby basically it is permanently erased because a new piece of coding has altered their original stats or something becomes corrupted and there were no backup files. If you ever have this happen, it is very frustrating.

Next I would have to say that paying all the money is also a big con of MMORPGs. Some are free, but most can cost quite a bit of cash. Basically in the worst scenario you’ll be paying for the game, monthly / yearly fees and a registration fee. Even if not the monthly / yearly fees will eventually build up (like for people who smoke) and over time you will have lost enough money to be worried about. Sometimes these prices are very unreasonable.

Lags and crashes are also a big flaw. Even if you’re computer’s specs are fine, you’re likely to face at least one crash and lags can happen if the server gets too busy and especially if there’s some updating going on (in which case the server might be taken down for a while). A dead connection can not save your character data, or even make you lose certain items if you’re in mid-trading.

Customer support is always there, but it’s a gamble as to whether or not they will do something about anything. They are more likely to give no response to serious questions, or problems than giving any sort of answer. Even if they do reply to your messages it can be half assed, like they have better things to be doing.

Although there are nice people, there will always be at least a handful of idiots. Swearing, stealing, Pking (player killing), and generally trying to bend the rules in anyway to their favour which isn’t all that bad I guess, but when it effects you it’s not good. You’ll also get some people trying to use the game for cyber sex, which isn’t appropriate for younger people playing the game, who might be exposed to something that they shouldn’t be. People also like to claim certain parts of the map as theirs and will magically curse you, lead monsters to you or give you some tips to get to the next town, but actual tell you directions to Mount Doom or something.

If the makers of a MMORPG make a sequel or merely a much better game, they may simply abandon the older project (the one you’re playing) which could mean you’ll never be able to play it again, no matter what. Which especially if you enjoy the game, isn’t too great. It’s also easy to get and play a MMORPG that is either very old or very new and unknown, therefore there’s only and handful of people who play it, at that. Which means if you are paying for the game in any way, this is a big rip off.

You might become addicted to the game. MMORPGs can devour people’s lives and they can’t stop playing whether they want to or not, they just get into an unbreakable habit of playing it. I know of a few claims towards this, there’s not much you can do about this, you might have to see psychiatrist about it. The fact is, these games don’t go anywhere and have no true storyline to follow, you can play it forever.

Are MMORPGs Worth the Effort?
Well despite that oh so long list of cons, some MMORPGs are actually very good and it’s a genre that’s on the rise. These games often get quite a bit of hype and if online gaming is your thing, and you like rpgs then they are the ultimate combination. It’s just worth making sure that you buy into a decent mainstream one, because a perfect lesser known game might not have half as many people or half as much fun. It’s up to you really.