Friday, 8 May 2009

An MMO guide for people who don’t play MMO’s

There are, believe it or not a great deal of gamers out there who do not play MMO’s, maybe they have never gotten around to it, maybe they have not found one that appeals to them. I know for certain that there are a lot of misconceptions about them, and this maybe holding people back.

As a public service this is guide to MMO’s for none MMO players fitted with extremely opinionated views, sorry about that but as an MMO player I cant help it so I’m embracing my obsession, that will make sense as we go on…

MMO, a Definition.

People talk about MMO’s as if everyone should understand the term, an MMO is a massively multiplayer online game, usually a role play game (MMORPG to be correct)

Okay, to be specific any game that has persistent characters if an MMO, that’s a character who’s progress and accomplishments are kept by the games publisher on a massive server, then that character has adventures and interactions with other players inside an online world (realm) usually these games have a monthly subscription attached to them as the cost of hosting all this information is huge.

People are mainly attracted to MMO’s for their social aspects as you can encounter and interact with many people while playing via random encounters with other players of via a ‘guild’ (team/club) system that is in place in almost every MMO.

History.

Pretty much all MMO’s around now can trace their inspiration back to a gaming system called MUD’s (Multi User Dungeon), it’s a hard thing to explain properly but in short a MUD is a text based game played with others via a server, I have included the Wikipedia page if you want more information but we have come a long way since the MUD and games tend to be more interactive and fast paced now, but the basics where perfected way back when MUD’s where at their height.

Wikipedia Page (as promised): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MUD

Updates.

Its rare for you to be able to install an MMO and then play straight away, almost always there are ‘updates’ that you will need to download, they are usually massive so done expect to install a new game and play inside of the same day, yes they updates are usually HUGE. But good news is that your game client will usually do all the work for you when you load it up, be warned that if you have limited net usage this maybe a problem.

The options you have:

Okay bellow I have included what I feel to be a good cross section of MMO’s and if you are new to the genre any one of these may peak your interests, but this is in no way a complete list of the titles you could fine, also as much as I try not to, this will be salted with my opinions as I am a veteran MMO gamer and have my own thoughts on these games, where possible ill try and keep to the facts though. (also they are in no real order other than the order I remember them)

Lord of The Rings Online.

Also known as: LotRO

Setting: Classic fantasy

Learning Curve: Small

Price: £8.99 a month + about £14 for the box (that should includes expansion ‘Mines of Moria’)

Needs: Mid Range PC

This game is set inside JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth setting (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and many more famous novels) this game has been ‘running’ for 2 years and is very popular. Server population is good so you wont have much problem finding groups. The community is very friendly. The franchise is well known and I don’t think I need go into much more depth here.

Home Page (EU): http://www.lotro-europe.com/

World of Warcraft.

Also known as: WoW

Setting: High fantasy

Learning Curve: Small

Price: £8.99 a month + the box will cost anything from £6 (I got mine for that price) but saying that there are also 2 expansions that you may need if you become a serious player

Needs: Mid Range PC (but will run on a low end PC for original content) or Mac

Home Page (EU): http://www.wow-europe.com

Based on the Warcraft real time strategy universe. This game is probably the most well known of all the MMO’s out there due to its massive player numbers and superb advertising scheme, the game is easy to pickup and play and many players find the gameplay addictive, the game is ‘loot’/’gear’ based. The community ‘can’ be unforgiving of new players.

Eve Online

Also known as: Eve

Setting: Space scifi

Learning Curve: large

Price: £8.99 a month + free account

Needs: Mid Range PC, or Linux (support halted)

Eve online is some what of an enigma in the MMO genre as its one of the only games without the ‘level’ system and servers are run in a manner that allowed everyone to play together. The game is mostly based on player interaction and if the mechanics of the interface do not baffle you then there is lot of fun to be had, that said this game has a niche market

Home Page: http://www.eveonline.com/

Warhammer online

Also known as: WAR

Setting: High fantasy

Learning Curve: small

Price: £8.99 a month + £15 for box (Asda)

Needs: High end PC (minimum specification on box is optimistic as best)

Warhammer online is based on the popular Warhammer tabletop game, this game has a heavy focus on PvP (Player Vs Player combat) and the none PvP (PvE, Player Vs Enviroment) content is consumed fast and without stress, it’s a great game for those who really do enjoy arena style game play.

Home Page: http://www.warhammeronline.com/

Age of Conan

Also known as: AoC

Setting: Brutal High fantasy

Learning Curve: medium to high (so I am told)

Price: £8.99 a month + £20 for box

Needs: High end PC

This game is based on the writings of Robert E Howard, it has an adult theme and has a lot of PvE interaction. The actual combat of the game has been described as ‘hard to get used to’ and this is no understatement, the game makes good use of instancing and has little high end content, also its worth mentioning that while it looks great it also has one of the largest install sizes of any MMO I have encountered.

Home Page: http://www.ageofconan.com/

City Of Heroes

Also known as: CoH, CoX

Setting: Comic book Super Heroes

Learning Curve: medium

Price: £8.99 a month + £10 for box (include City of Villains)

Needs: Low end PC or Mac

Although this game is 5 years old it’s a fantastic comic book adventure with the best character creation tools I have ever seen, the game play is nice and straight forward good vs evil and the quests are all well laid out. Its getting over shadowed by upcoming super hero games but is still a solid game, also has tools for creating your own missions that really adds to the games longevity.

Home Page (EU): http://eu.cityofheroes.com/en/

Guild Wars

Also known as: GW

Setting: High Fantasy

Learning Curve: Low

Price: about £10 per campaign (3 available + 1 expansion) then its 100% free to play.

Needs: Low end PC

It has been argues that guild wars is not a ‘proper’ MMO as it relies on instanced combat area’s and only the town (hub area’s) are ‘really’ MMO areas but the game is a great skill based experience and being free to play once you have brought it, that’s a good pull for any game.

Home Page (EU): http://eu.guildwars.com/

Runes of Magic

Also known as: RoM

Setting: High Fantasy

Learning Curve: Low

Price: Free but uses optional micro transactions.

Needs: Mid range PC

It has been said that this game is an amalgamation of all the good things from every successful MMO ever made, I’m not disagreeing but in my opinion there are better games out there. This game plays like WoW and it’s the outright kind of the F2P (free to Play) games at this time.

Home Page (EU): http://www.runesofmagic.com/en/index.html

Free Realms

Also known as: FR

Setting: child friendly Fantasy

Learning Curve: Low

Price: Free but uses optional micro transactions.

Needs: Mid range PC (launched from web browser)

This is a free to play game but is supported by the use of the Sony Cash system of micro transactions. The game is aimed at younger gamers and is heavily mini game focused. It’s a solid game but offers little to more seasoned gamers.

Home Page: http://www.freerealms.com/index.vm

Fusion Fall

Also known as: FF, FFall

Setting: child friendly cartoon/sci-fi

Learning Curve: Low

Price: Free / optional subscription

Needs: Mid range PC (launched from web browser)

This game has an optional paid membership that not really necessary to play but is really useful for serious players

Home Page: http://www.freerealms.com/index.vm

Now what?

That was a short list of the MMO’s available to you, I have tried to get a good cross section of games, there should be at least one game on that list to interest everyone, there are a lot more games out there, and if anyone has a game that they want added please make a comment using my format and I will paste it into the list as soon as I see it.

Etiquette.

There are things in MMO’s that are considered good manners, if you follow this advice or not is up to you but this is MY list of polite rules to follow in any MMO.

1. If some one is in trouble (loosing a fight) and you CAN help then DO, believe me is good karma and people DO appreciate it.

2. Don’t shout N00b at people who don’t know something, we where ALL n00bs once, n00b means ‘new’ and there’s no shame in coming to a game fresh.

3. polite manner. You don’t know who is on the other end of a character on your screen, it maybe a nun, it maybe your next door neighbour (really that does happen) so don’t say things to them that you may have to apologise for.

4. same as 3 but its about perverts….. nuff’ said.

5. if some one is annoying you use the ignore list, every game has one, ignoring people is easy and no one want to hear your moan forever about another player.

6. get a GOOD mic, most MMO players will use some kind of voice interaction, keep Ventrillo and teamspeak installed as well as skype but if your mic is rubbish then just listen in, no one wants to hear your air conditioning for a whole evening or even the strange erroneous whistling that some people seem to have for no reason.

Terms and other words.

There’s loads of words that are common inside the multiplayer games that you may not have heard on the internet usually.

Loot: stuff you get when you kill an enemy

Woot: joy, comes from the phrase ‘wow, loot’ but you already know that, right?

Mob: a group of enemy’s (some times a single enemy that has no friends)

Mana: most MMO’s use some form of magical energy, this is always called Mana or energy because game designers lack imagination.

Mount: a form of transportation, usually a type of animal that you can summon to ride on (faster than walking)

Aggro: short for aggravate, it’s a term used to describe how much an enemy wants you dead, low aggro means that enemy’s perceive you as less of a threat… and its only goes up form there.

Toon: another word for character

Avatar: another word for character

N00b: and insulting term to describe a new player or an idiot.

****: if you see that a lot then turn off profanity filter, people use bad language a lot in an MMO. Saying that, a lot of chat filters are too strict and the word may not have been naughty at all

Lag (lag spike or ping): a slow connection to the game server, usually makes MMO’s behave strange, this term is some times used in error tot describe a low frame rate

End game: anything game content that is designed for ‘maximum level’ characters.

Max Level: a character who has reached the top of the ‘level’ system.

Client: the game you installed. Its called a client because the server does most the work when you play the game.

Again, its work mentioning that there are lots more strange MMO unique words but those are the really important ones you should know before you load up for the first time.

Anything else to know?

Yes, MMO gaming is all consuming and there are many podcasts dedicated to the various games, its strange but the type of community that these games have built around them is second to none. If you really like a game then you will definitely be able to find podcasts, Wiki’s and fan fiction dedicated to it. It’s great really but remember two things

1 Your first MMO will always hold a special place in your heart, and in your mind none will be as good, so don’t compare.

2 log off. Something about these games makes people want to play for hours and hour on end, its not healthy, I should know, real life is out there remember game addiction is BAD.

On last thing.

Thanks for reading, I hope that this post has helped some one find MMO’s or at least filled in the new players. All feed back is welcome.

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