If someone says the acronym MMORPG, ninety percent of those who listen will surely think of World of Warcraft. But in reality, this genre, which seems to have been invented when the Blizzard game came out, dates to the beginning of video games in the 70s. As a tribute to one of the most successful games in history (yes, you WOW), we have decided to review online and massive role-playing games that, since very recently, enjoy high widespread acceptance.
World of Warcraft invented nothing! Well, it may be a hasty opinion, but what we are referring to is that all that we are enjoying today, thanks to Blizzard’s online role-playing game, is due to the construction of a genre that is already around 30 years old. But first of all, let’s start with a little definition. MMORPG is the acronym for Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (RPG online and mass), and, as explained by its name, this genre is RPG with a connected world, where each player has a place.
The History of Online Role-Playing Games
As we said, World of Warcraft is the perfection of a genre that has been evolving since the 70s. Only in 1973, with Mazewar, the first virtual graphic world was introduced, something that not only helped this genre but many others like the First Person Shooters. But it is also relevant when talking about online games since Mazewar was one of the first titles to allow network connection for two players to interact in the same virtual space. Years later, games like Adventure and Zork would bring things to do in those worlds, in addition to role-playing elements extracted from Dungeon & Dragons, which are used today in virtually all MMORPGs, but with variations in different systems.
MUD (Multi-User Dungeon)
So far, games like Zork have bee treated as an adventure, but it would not be until 1978 that more than one person could play these adventures. In that year, Roy Trubshaw, an English student, began developing an adventure game for more than one player. The name of this game was MUD (Multi-User Dungeon). This title took action in the network of its University, Essex University, for ten years, until 1987. Moreover, its success was so high among students that years later, it expanded throughout the country along with the advance of the personal computers that could process that amount of data and connect to local networks.
Meanwhile, the PLATO system, whose objective was purely educational, pioneered many of the concepts of multiplayer games. In 1974 there were already titles like Spasm, a ship game that could support up to 32 players at the same time. This system was the platform for many games similar to the MUD, but with small differences in its execution.
Island of Kesmai
Only in 1985, the world could enjoy the first MMORPG. His name was the Island of Kesmai, and up to 100 users could play it for $ 12 an hour, using the CompuServe online system. Although we now know Neverwinter Nights as the series created by BioWare, in reality, it was also the name of the first graphic MMORPG. In 1991, users could play this title on their computer through the AOL portal for 6 hours.
Neverwinter Nights – The First Graphic MMORPG
During that time, MMORPG lived in the shadow of more popular genres, such as visual adventures. In 1991, games such as The Secret of Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion had already appeared, and only two years later would Doom come out, the game that would perfect what Wolfenstein 3D did years before. Only in 1997, with the launch of Ultima Online, the genre would achieve some commercial success.
In the early 90s, the genre seemed to enter a cryogenic state with very few new or new games to the market. Until the middle of the decade, users continued to play Neverwinter Nights and others like The Shadow of Yserbius, Meridian 59 and The Realm Online. It was in September 1997 that Ultima Online saw the light and completely changed the gender landscape.
Now, with the advance of Internet connections and games, not only MMORPG began to exist, but similar ones, called MMOG. Probably the most popular of this genre is Second Life. The main difference between both types of games is in the name. Titles like World of Warcraft are, at its core, online RPGs, with quests, combat, level advancement, and all those things that characterize the genre. Meanwhile, the rest of the MMOGs offer a virtual world, but they don’t follow the rules of the RPGs, but they are different games with other goals and ways to play them.
The Massive MMORPG
The beginning of the new century saw companies very interested in this new type of game, and titles such as Dark Age of Camelot, Anarchy Online and Ultima Online 2 came out. However, none advanced the genre very significantly and maintained the same basis as its predecessors, failing so, to achieve great success. The market quickly became saturated, and all kinds of MMORPG began to come out, none particularly good. Even licenses that did not originate in the genre proved lucky, such as Final Fantasy XI in 2002.
With all the demand for MMORPGs, eventually, free games of the genre began to come out, such as Runes of Magic, Requiem, Free Realms, and, more recently, Dungeon Runners. Although they started with very few production values, as the years went by, the quality was increasing, to the point where they could hardly be differentiated with the titles of the big companies. Today, many large companies have launched their own MMOPRG Free 4 Play, where they make money through micro transactions, similar to the Battlefield Heroes style. For example, Dungeons Runners creators are the NCsoft, the same company that makes millions today with Lineage II.