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Reader Comments (32)

Posted: May 29th 2009 8:22AM (Unverified) said

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I would Vote Ultima Online in any way. Everquest for PvE and Dark Age of Camelot for PvP / RvR

Posted: May 29th 2009 8:28AM (Unverified) said

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Of course you need a nob to MUDs. Zork especially for its popularity. And then there's Neverwinter Nights (NOT the BioWare one) and a bunch of other First-gen MMOGs like UO, EQ, and The Realm Online. It's a safe bet that without any of these games, MMOGs today would be a different thing all together.

Posted: May 29th 2009 8:39AM Krazed said

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I agree with Saji that there needs to be some acknowledgment of MUDs; games like the Gemstone series. Though I am a huge fan of Meridian 59, I think Ultima Online would have to take the prize as possibly the most influential MMORPG to date because it brought MMORPGs to the attention of the everyday gamer. WoW is doing the same with gamers of its' generation, but at the time Ultima Online got everyone talking about MMORPGs. So my list (not 20) would go something like this:

1. Ultima Online
2. MUDs (in general)
3. WoW
4. Everquest
5. Meridian 59

Posted: May 29th 2009 8:43AM fzzzt said

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I agree with all the games listed, but would add Shadows of Yserbius on TSN, which I suppose was technically my first MMOG.

Posted: May 29th 2009 8:46AM (Unverified) said

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In no particular order:

Everquest
In so many ways, this started it all. I realize there were MUDs and MMOs before it, but this was the game that started the proverbial ball rolling, in my mind.

Dark Age of Camelot
Realm-vs-Realm fighting was the precursor to so many of the PvP MMOs and realms/zones today.

EVE Online
For it's single shard (server), the longevity it's shown in going on when other space MMOs could not, true espionage and corporate hackery, and it's uncompromising complexity and depth.

Star Wars: Galaxies
While there were some wonderful things in this game, in most ways it's an example to other developers of what NOT to do. The NGE or whatever they called it will live on in history for destroying the game.

World of Warcraft
Is it innovative? Not really. Did they re-invent the wheel? Definitely not. Is it addictive? You bet. With what, 15 million subscribers, if you're going to ask what are the most influential MMOs, I think this has to be included in the conversation. If nothing else, it proves that a veritable fortune can be made in the MMO market, and that's pretty damn important for other developers to see.

Posted: May 29th 2009 8:58AM Dlangar said

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So.. we're not even going to mention the elephant in the room? I played TSN, Neverwinter Nights, Ultimata Online, and most of those other great, original MMO's. And they were definitely influential.

But prior to World of Warcraft, pretty much every commercial MMO known to man was built with the same set of preconceptions, to the same niche players. 1.) You must make players group, 2.) You must challenge players at all times.. 3.) You must make death a scary and meaningful event 4.) You don't have to have directed content, and it's okay for there to just be monsters to kill. That is enough.

WoW challenged and changed all of that, forever. It has redefined what the boilerplate list of must-haves are for MMO's. It was the first to recognize that soloing was okay, and if you didn't make members group, you actually got MORE players. It wasn't the first to provide quests, but it was definitely the first to make questing a first order concept. The primary and most useful way to advance your character. It was the first to give players directed content from the moment they created their character. It was the first to basically throw away death penalty. The first to make the levelling curve for the first 15 levels trivial, so that player's felt rewarded quickly and right away. It used to take four HOURS to get to level 4 in DAOC. Wow gets you to level 4 in 15 minutes, tops.

WoW's influence has been so pervasive that you actually see a backlash now against it's common elements, and people crying for something that isn't WoW. It's influence has been so great that it forced older games to redesign themselves years after their launch just so they could be more like that game.

There were many great MMO's that came before WoW. But they were essentially all the same game. And they all appealed to the same player, and if you could get 200,000 of the to subscribe to your game you were damn successful. WoW trashed all of that.

There isn't anything that's had more influence on the MMO genre than that game.

Dlangar
http://ofcourseillplayit.com

Posted: May 29th 2009 9:14AM (Unverified) said

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DAOC had quests and direction at launch well before WoW did.
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Posted: May 29th 2009 9:14AM Jhaer said

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I would say that EQ was the most influential in getting "gamers" to look at MMOs. Before that they we much smaller, a niche in a niche. Then WoW did the same for non-gamers. EQ grew MMOs within the game space, WoW grew the game space.

Posted: May 29th 2009 9:17AM Wisdomandlore said

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I think WoW has to be #1. It may not be the most innovative or original, but MMO's would still be a niche market if it weren't for WoW and it's 12 million subs. We certainly wouldn't be seeing the massive investments in the genre that we are now if not for the game.

#2 should certainly be EQ or UO. And a MUD should be in there somewhere.

Something no one else has mentioned is FFXI. It proved that MMOs could work on consoles without dumbing down the game (as is the common argument on many message boards). It was also the first game, AFAIK, to let PC and console players play together in the same world. And it's still the only commercially successful MMO on a console.

Runescape should also be on the list somewhere, for being one of the first (and for a long time one of the biggest) Free-to-play games.

Posted: May 29th 2009 9:25AM (Unverified) said

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I think MMO's are still a very niche market. Success is still measured in the early 100,000's. Now if there were 6 subscription AAA quality MMO's with 3 million, that would be mainstream. In most game genres there are at least three 3 million sellers a year(FPS, JRPG, Platformer, etc). MMO's can't average but 1 million every 5 years or so.
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Posted: May 29th 2009 9:17AM (Unverified) said

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Avalon MUD ( http://www.avalon-rpg.com/ ) I think has a lot to answer for. For an early MUD, it was incredibly well featured; evolving game world, crafting system, quests, persistent inventory, guilds (of a form), non-level ranks (city ranks)...

Meridian 59 obviously gets a nod for first (AFAIK, anyone want to correct me) to have a graphical 3D world. Everquest for making the MMO model actually work, and WoW for polishing a thousand ideas perfectly to make one gem.

Good to give a nod to the experimental stuff that showed what could and couldn't work. EVE made an incredible success out of being a very different MMO. Planetside tried the MMOFPS model, but mostly showed (IMHO) that people didn't care enough to pay every month when Battlefield was free. Star Wars Galaxies showed what happened if you tried a realistic economy (it got overly complicated and didn't really add much).

Posted: May 29th 2009 9:21AM (Unverified) said

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Always one you forget... Federation ( http://www.ibgames.net/ ) for being first to user created content.
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Posted: May 29th 2009 9:21AM (Unverified) said

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What would be considered the modern MMO owes itself to Everquest. Not so much the launched version of Everquest, but Everquest around Velious to Planes of Power era. Velious introduced Tiered Armor hopping, requiring you to get equipped in one area before moving to the next to get equipped again. Planes of Power introduced tiered raiding cluster progression, requiring you to finish a set tier of raids before it would open up the next tier. Planes of Power also introduced the progressive storyline into MMO's, being much less sandboxed and more linear than all the games and expansions before it(I understand this is not the case now, but at launch POP was VERY VERY linear, there was no skipping of tiers). Luclin, which was in between Velious and POP, introduced raid specific weaponry.

Posted: May 29th 2009 9:53AM (Unverified) said

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UO - the grandfather of true MMOs which started it all.

EQ - brought in the grind and stepped away from UO's level-less sandbox game.

WoW - brought the MMO to the masses.

GW - went a different way with the MMO concept and may or may not be classified as a true MMO, but it did have influence on the rest of the market with their 'no fee'-game.

EVE - the sheer size of the server, depth of its economic and political system.

Posted: May 29th 2009 2:00PM Tom in VA said

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Actually, I wish GW had been *more* influential than it actually turned out to be. Very few (if any??) online games have followed GW's "pay once, play forever" marketing strategy. I think this is odd and unfortunate, considering how successful GW turned out to be.

I also think GW trumps all the other MMOs in "solo accessibility".

What most MMOs do now (WoW included) is provide enough quest content to allow solo-oriented players to skip past the group quests and instanced dungeons if they wish and still achieve the maximum level, whereas GW used a mechanic (customizable NPC parties) that allowed ALL players to play through (nearly) ALL of the group content on their own if they wanted to.

My hope is that STO, GW2, and/or TOR will take a page from that book. The greater the group content/solo content ratio is in an MMO, the more likely that MMO will fail, in my opinion.

WoW succeeds because there is plenty to do apart from the group content; but it would be a better game if it opened up/reconfigured the lower-level group content to solo players.


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Posted: May 29th 2009 10:05AM TheJackman said

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Everquest and World of Warcraft.... Everquest was my first feeds into the mmo and did show that this was possible! And WoW's printing money thing make many other people start to make mmos and fail sadly! Also WoW is pretty much the reason for the dumping down of all mmo's coming out this days!

Posted: May 29th 2009 10:35AM (Unverified) said

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The only answer is DikuMUD. It was the first MMO to base the gameplay around killing monsters and gaining levels, and it's the mother of the entire MMO genre.

Posted: May 29th 2009 10:45AM elocke said

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I would say, based on my memory of how I learned about MMORPGS, that

1. EQ - I remember this being on the news and certain PC gamers would talk about it. I remember Curt Schilling talking about this on the news. So I tried it and couldn't get past the controls. (Wish I had stuck with it, but life at the time was hectic).

2. SWG - This is the game that opened the MMORPG door for me. Being a huge fan of Star Wars I HAD to play this game, glad I did. First 6 months were incredible, I remember running outside of a city on Naboo and this player ran past in front me, gun waving behind him shooting bolts of blue. I wondered what the guy was running from when suddenly this 2 story tall Dinosaur type creature shambled past, ground shaking. It was AWESOME! Then they went and pulled the wool over our eyes by making Jedi unlockable only by grinding random professions, INSTEAD of unlockable by a long and thoughtout awesome quest line. Well, you all know what happened next.

3. FFXI - This is the game I moved onto after the travesty of SWG's changes. Awesome, pure awesome, made some great friends here, loved the music, atmosphere and having ONE character have ALL jobs whenever I wanted. Too bad the console limited the UI of the game and too bad it was still influened by my number 1, EQ with the forced grouping.

4. WoW - I had tried EQ2 about a month or so before this but that game didn't grab me at all, even though it looked and sounded nice, it played horribly, game mechanics and graphics wise for me. But WoW is where FUN ruled. I play this off and on still, although it does seem to have lost its magic.

That's about it for me, I haven't really seen anything since WoW that has moved the MMORPG genre up or down, its been stagnant if anything, not that I'm not playing some good games, like LOTRO and GW, but I'm waiting patiently to see what Star Wars the Old Republic and Star Trek Online bring to the table.

Posted: May 29th 2009 10:59AM CCon99 said

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Here's my list of most innovative MMORPG's.

1. Ultima Online - (The first true MMORPG. A full sandbox game world, open world PvP with full looting, custom characters, housing, ships, mounts, pets, crafting, and lots of skills. UO was just about a perfect virtual game world, sadly it's biggest innovation was that it proved if you build a perfect game world, it will only take the players 10 minutes to abuse that world.)

2. Everquest - (A true 3D world, use of "zones", spawn timers, raiding, and lots of differing world themes.)

3. World of Warcraft - (Sure it "borrowed" most of its design from every game before it, but WoW was an innovator in 3 important areas. 1. It took the best of previous games and made it better, 2. It took its time in development and released mostly polished. 3. It made MMORPG's a household name. )

4. Dark Age of Camelot - (RvR combat, 3 separate factions with their own unique homeland, Epic feeling Keep Battles, Siege Equipment, unique classes to each faction, quests that worked, and a game that made Realm Pride something to be proud of. Ahh, if only WAR would have used its graphics on top of DAoC's 3 realm style of RvR. Oh well I guess there's always hope for a 5th gen DAoC2.)

5. Star Wars Galaxies (Pre-CU and NGE) - (The original game was a true sandbox, letting you be an adventurer in the Star Wars universe, as well as being an every day Joe merchant if that was more your style. Space combat, Player Housing built on the physical game maps, Jedi Alpha Class, and a full blown unique economy built by the players on each server. The game was also an innovator in what not to do when coveting #3's subscription base.)

6. City of Heroes - (Collision detection that worked, knock backs, and a true custom character creator. While most would agree it overused the instance feature, it also proved the MMO world that instancing was easy to do.)

7. EVE Online - (Lots can be said about this great game, but it's best innovation has been proving if you stick with your game plan as a niche game, you'll be rewarded with a loyal, steady, and growing community.)

8. Dungeons & Dragons Online - (Like most who played it, I didn't play it longer then 2 months, but it was still an innovator with features like being the first to offer built in Voice Over, Twitch combat in a fantasy setting, and scripted events in interactive dungeons.)

9. Guild Wars - ( No subscription required, NPC henchmen for hire, epic progressing storyline, group vs group scenarios, 1 universal server. )

10. Lord of the Rings Online - ( Music system, progressing popular storyline, unique lifetime subscription for affordable price.)

Honorable Mention: (3 way tie) Vanguard, Age of Conan, Warhammer Online - (All 3 games proved that no matter how badly your community wants your game to be the next big game, they will dump you swiftly if you don't deliver the goods and release a good polished game come launch time.)

Posted: May 29th 2009 11:01AM Durinthal said

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Am I the only one here that wants a return to the older way of doing a lot of things?

I don't want the game to "start" at the level cap. I also don't want to get to level 20 in five hours. I want every single level I gain to actually feel like an accomplishment, not just an increment.

I don't want my own instanced everything. I want to be able to run into another person in the middle of a dungeon and if they've already looted all of the treasure, tough luck for me.

I want to be afraid of dying. Death should mean something more than a five minute walk back to where I had been before.

I'm not saying that the games that did those things were perfect (and there's a lot I'd change about them too, but I've already touched on that in other posts), but I felt a much greater connection to those games than the more recent ones.

EVE is honestly the only game out there that I'm willing to play right now. It would be difficult to implement correctly, but if a developer took some ideas from there and made a game with swords instead of spaceships named for them I'd be on it in a heartbeat.

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