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Reader Comments (27)

Posted: Nov 4th 2009 8:54AM (Unverified) said

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The term MMO seems to make people think "like EQ/WoW/Lotro". I would think that is a far to limited view of Massively Multiplayer Online games. I would say there are two elements that make a game qualify as an MMO: online play and persistence. Persistence does not have to mean a persistent world. A persistent character is enough. This would qualify Diablo, CoD:MW, Borderlands and Guildwars as MMOs. Problem solved.

Posted: Nov 4th 2009 9:13AM TexRob said

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It's really not an interesting question, it's simple. Persistence and progression. I say progression as opposed to levels, as you could have a system that allows for no levels with some sort of gear progression. It doesn't mean you can't have a game with MMO aspects, but those two things are the core of what we have come to know of as MMORPGs.

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Posted: Nov 4th 2009 1:28PM (Unverified) said

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For me an MMO is a game that is played online only in a persistant universe. There is no significant offline component to be played.

Just because you can play a game online, doesn't make it an MMO - Or we'd be saying everything, including games like Starcraft - MMO's

Posted: Nov 4th 2009 8:53AM Snichy said

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Is it Massive?

Is it Multiplayer?

Is it Online?

If yes, then its an MMO.

Is Call of Duty Multiplayer an MMO? No, of course not.....!

In all seriousness, I think a persistent world that evolves and changes even if your not there defines an MMO. Which is why the above doesnt apply and the term "MMO" is a bit misleading.

Posted: Nov 4th 2009 11:51AM (Unverified) said

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I think both Super Healer and Thorsten are on the right track. More than just looking at the individual words that form "MMO" though, you also need to look at the words together.

For example, someone might construe that a game is "massive" because it has thousands of players playing it online in multiplayer groups. Yet if those groups consist of 2 vs 2 combat (i.e. arena), I'd hardly call that "massively multiplayer". This is where I think it gets hard to draw the line.

For example, what if those 2 vs 2 combats were all connected in real time somehow. So ya they are instanced 2 vs 2 sessions but all them are being tracked and their results effect the determination of territorial control in the game in "real time". So yes the overall battle is "massive" but the experience for the player is still just 2 v 2 (so not "massive").

For me, an MMO really has to have a "massive multiplayer" experience to it where more than 64 players are "capable" of fighting in the same combat next to each other (thus greater than a FPS server based gameplay).

The other thing that's not in the MMO name though but has always been implied is "persistence". But even with this aspect, where is the line drawn? For example, does the persistence have to be "forever" (seems logically considering persistence would imply that) or can there be wars that last for days but they eventually have a victor and then everything is reset for the next war? For example, Warbirds is a WWII flight sim game and the battles are massive with many players all fighting towards territorial control. Yet eventually one side wins the war and the world map get reset. To me, this game is definitely a "massively multiplayer online" experience without a doubt and there is even some persistence with regards to territorial control, yet at the same time, its definitely not an MMO like WoW.
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Posted: Nov 4th 2009 8:57AM (Unverified) said

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The good old question :)
For me it lies in the wording:
1. massively: so I would expect at least several hundred players simultaneously on one server. Session based games excluded, as mostly I have only communication access to like 32 or 64 players at the same time.
2. multiplayer: the game features real multiplayer modes. This means it should be possible to either meet other players in game or do any kind of interaction with them. This also includes browser based strategy games, often visualized with static images and tables, but finally I am able to attack any other player on my realm.
3. Online: Online is misleading here. The game should not only have an online mode but more or less should offer a virtual world with persistent game elements. Not the whole realm has to offer persistency but certain core game elements should offer respective persistency.

Not yet played Borderlands, but always thought it is kind of fallout gameplay with session based multiplayer modes. If this is so, it wouldn't count as mmo following my definition.

Thorsten

Posted: Nov 4th 2009 8:58AM Aganazer said

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Two things make a game an MMOG in my opinion.

1. The world is persistent even after you log out. It doesn't disappear or reset just because everyone is logged out.

2. Players are represented in some shared area by their avatar. This would exclude something like the Diablo Battle.net but still include something like Guild Wars and DDO.

I don't feel like there should be any restrictions on a specific number of players per instance as long as its more than one. Also, keep in mind that "instance" can refer to a world instance (otherwise known as a 'server') just as easily as the more popular "group instance".

Posted: Nov 4th 2009 9:01AM (Unverified) said

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I really don't feel that Borderlands qualifies as an MMO. In it, your character is simply a save file in your PC, since there are no servers. The games are hosted by users, and as such, you can't meet other people around the game world. Even a game like Guild Wars allows you to meet up with people and form a group in the many city hubs they have. Borderlands also doesn't really have an economy, as the only way to trade items with other players is if you are in the same game as them. To me, it's simply a co-op RPG in the same way as Diablo, Sacred and Titan Quest.

I really enjoy those types of games, it's a shame there aren't more of them. The recently released Torchlight is awesome, but sadly doesn't feature online play.

Posted: Nov 4th 2009 9:55AM (Unverified) said

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This is not true. You need a service like Xbox Live to connect to other players. And those players are around the world. You meet them in lobby, rather than in a 3d city. No real difference other than aesthetics.
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Posted: Nov 4th 2009 11:10AM (Unverified) said

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@Harry: Still, every game room can only hold up to 4 players. And each room is absolutely separate from all the other rooms. If we consider each room to be a "server", then it hardly fits the "massive" criteria. In an MMO, I expect to have hundreds, if not thousands of players in one server, and their actions affecting everyone one else playing on the same server.
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Posted: Nov 4th 2009 9:20AM (Unverified) said

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is, in my view, a Massively Multiplayer Online game with persistant characters and character progression. That makes it an MMO in my book. A game like Quake, where all chars start equal at every match regardles of previous play (except of course for player skill) is not an MMO.

Posted: Nov 4th 2009 9:21AM regn said

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By definition it would be a game that you cannot play offline by yourself, so cut out games that happen to have an online element. Those are just that- offline playable games that have an online element. Thats the 'O' in MMO afterall.

The massively part is a bit up to interpretation, since many so-called "MMOs" aren't exactly getting massive subscription numbers by some people's definition. Then again, even a game with only 1000 active subs is pretty massive compared to a lan party game, which would simply be a multiplayer online game I suppose.

Also don't forget that MMO was shortened from MMORPG, that eliminates many of the types of games mentioned in the article.

Posted: Nov 4th 2009 9:55AM (Unverified) said

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My first comment kind of shows what I think is the confusion: people think of EverQuest when they think of MMOs, while the term itself does not contain any reference to a persistent world (or even persistence). Taken at its literal meaning, any game that has "lots" of players online (let's define "lots" ;-) ) is an MMO.

Said it before, and will say it again: a persistent character is enough for me to call it an MMO.

God, I love it when I'm right ;-)

Posted: Nov 4th 2009 9:22AM Psychotic Storm said

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Since the technology leaps faster than ever and become accessible to more and more, the boundaries are bound to become blurred, that's neither a good or a bad thing, its the way of progress, what is left is from an undefined genre to define itself.

I believe that MMO(RPG) must become "real worlds" to successfully diversify from the other upcoming MMO and this will be an intresting evolution.

another intresting evolution is that games will enter MMO teritory more frequently because technology is becoming cheaper another good thing for the progress, I believe the future will be quite intresting.

Posted: Nov 4th 2009 9:29AM (Unverified) said

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Come on, it's in the name. Massively multiplayer online game. Massively being the key word here. So a game has 4 player online co-op? It doesn't make it an MMO, cause 4 people is not massively multiplayer game. Maybe if it was 400...

Posted: Nov 4th 2009 9:35AM ReijMan said

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I'd say; if you have a group of on-line players to select from to play with, and there are multiple of these groups playing, the game is a massive multi-player on-line game.
The definition of massive is a bit ambiguous, so its up to everyone's interpretation.

Posted: Nov 4th 2009 9:45AM (Unverified) said

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An MMO is a game which has a world that changes and progresses whether you are playing it or not.

Borderlands, L4D, CoD etc. are not MMOs

EQ, EVE, WoW, Guild Wars etc. are.

Its that simple.

Posted: Nov 4th 2009 9:50AM (Unverified) said

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This is fun, it's like coming up with criteria for a planet (sorry Pluto):

1. World Persistence - I think Guild Wars has enough of this to qualify. Think about something like EQ2, where it spawns instances of areas outside of towns depending on population. When it's no longer needed, it goes away. Like "schrodinger's cat"? So this one is a little loose, but the most important thing is the world lives up there on a 'server' somewhere (yeah...I said it...'server'. 'cloud' is a word for IT managers to feel like they contributed in a meeting by saying it 5 times and using it in a sentence).

2. Character Progression: I like that someone said this, and to me 'gear' based isn't enough, because gear isn't part of the character (except in CoH). Either levels or skills (SWG, UO, CoH), or something we haven't thought of yet.

3. Shared Areas: Someone mentioned this as well, and it's important. Now, as a slight kick to Guild Wars, I don't think it enough that the shared area is a small part of the game and serves as a social/market place. The bulk of the game should be common. I might have to kick Guild Wars out on this one :(

4. Server Based World: I don't think any game that anyone 'hosts' is an MMO (unless you are hosting your own 'server' that contains the world, like UOX3, but I never did that, that would be illegal *whistles*). Which kinda leads to...

5. Server Based Content: In an MMO, we are constantly getting updated and pushed new content, lands, areas, quests to explore. GMs can pop in and start up a world event. A Fall Festival can spin up for a few weeks and go away. Things like this just don't happen in something like Borderlands. Sure, you have drive space on a PS3. I suppose the devs could start pushing new areas out to you, or even make you purchase new areas for you and your friends to explore, but that's a patch. It's not a living thing, which I guess means...

6. I'll know it when I see it :p

Honorable Mention: Personally, I am also looking for things beyond coming in and walking around shooting things with friends. To me that is Titan Quest, Diablo, MechWarrior, Cyberstorm (ah the good old days), Quake, Doom. Awesome games. Fun games. You can put as much online in them and let 100,000 people play in a giant shotgun fest in Doom - and it ain't an MMO. If you built a game with level/skill progression, housing, crafting, guilds, guild houses, slapped it on a server and gave me new content every 6 months, and there were quests and people to talk to and lore and story and all those goodies (regardless of genre), even if only 10 people came to play your game (Horizons?) - that is an MMO :)

MMO started as an acronym, but it has grown beyond that acronym.

Posted: Nov 4th 2009 10:20AM (Unverified) said

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Just to make things clear: if you look at WoW et al, the world does *not* change or progress. There are players online that do stuff but no one has an impact on the world. Only on their own character and on the characters of others. The characters progress. The world is just background. Interface.

Posted: Nov 4th 2009 10:18AM Pingles said

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It's a crazy semantics debate but I have to focus on the "Massively" part (no, not just to kiss up to the website :P ) mainly because otherwise we'd be talking about MO's (Multiplayer Online).

Is "Massively" really 8 players for most folks? If you mean that "Massively" is the player base (waiting room) then isn't ANY game that has Online access Massive?

I even hesitate to include the 64-player maps and such as Massive.

I realize that I am in the minority on this silly debate but that word "Massively" is there for a reason and I think it defines a different idea than most folks believe.

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