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Reader Comments (86)

Posted: Jan 22nd 2012 12:26PM Valdur said

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@(Unverified)

It's like saying sms language is good grammar.
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Posted: Jan 22nd 2012 5:58PM (Unverified) said

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@corpusc

Now, here I would think that massive means that you have a large number of players to play with. Or do you prefer a huge number of players all fighting for the same quest mob that has a three minute spawn time so everything just stands around picking daisies while waiting for it?
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Posted: Jan 22nd 2012 6:08PM (Unverified) said

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@(Unverified)
It's not whether you like how something is done. A term's definition is how it is, not how you prefer it.
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Posted: Jan 22nd 2012 9:13AM Lenn said

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According to most dictionaries, MMORPG would not be an acronym but an initialism.

/*that* guy mode off

Any online roleplaying game in which multiple people play in the same world simultaneously is an MMORPG, if you ask me.

I'll never understand the need to argue about the meaning of the acr... initialism. Does it really matter whether dozens, hundreds or thousands of people are playing it at the same time? Does it really matter whether the game uses instancing?

Posted: Jan 22nd 2012 11:59AM Deliverator said

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@Lenn
I think it does at the point of purchase.
It used to be that if I was looking at games and picked up a box that said "MMORPG" I'd be getting a game like Everquest, Ultima Online, Vanilla WoW, SWG etc. Today I could be getting a lobby shooter with gear drops or a game where an entire fleet can't play together on one planet..
The term really lacks definition these days - marketing depts have stretched it in an attempt to score WoW money. MMO sites have stretched it to gain readership.
A box isn't going to specify how instanced or how many people per instance the game supports. If you're looking for something seamless, it matters. "Persistent World" written on a box has described a territorial hex map.

I guess I should restate my opinion as "I think it should matter" because in fact, it doesn't matter any more. That ship has sailed. At least FPS still means you see a the barrel of your gun and a crosshairs - you know what you're getting. To illustrate the definition creep using FPS games, trying to pick up a MMO today is like picking up what you thought was a FPS and getting Mass Effect. People on forums would be arguing that the term "First Person" means that you only control one character instead of a squad in the same way that they're arguing that MMOs don't require a virtual world.
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Posted: Jan 22nd 2012 12:08PM corpusc said

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@Lenn for many players such as myself it matters in the extreme. its a make or break deal. i hate RPGs, but i'll play the true MMOs DESPITE that, because i like the virtual immersive world thats full of life (from other REAL humans populating it).

however, even if it has a gameplay style that a like (such as an old school FPS game), i probably won't play it if its instanced. i'll just keep playing the FPS games i liked the best. very little chance a new one will improve things over my favorites of the past 16 years.

just cuz YOU don't care about populated virtual worlds, please respect that there are others who live or die by that feature, and don't abuse the MMO term casually.
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Posted: Jan 22nd 2012 5:26PM Hammerbeard said

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@Lenn
or in such case as this discussion anacronym
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Posted: Jan 22nd 2012 9:16AM Irem said

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If the game doesn't have a persistent, open world, I find it hard to think of it as an MMO. To me the line is drawn at whether or not many people can exist in the same virtual world at the same time and encounter each other in the wild unplanned. I love GW, but I agree with ArenaNet that it's a CoRPG.

Some people have some pretty wild definitions, though. I've seen a few claim that GW2 won't be an MMO either, because the zones are divided by loading screens, therefore making it "instanced" (by that logic FFXI isn't an MMO, or WoW, ect.). I'd like to think they were trolling.

Posted: Jan 22nd 2012 9:20AM h4ngedm4n said

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Can of worms.
MMO = Massively Multiplayer Online = lots of people playing the game online. This is the strict definition and unencumbered by any implied baggage from the various subtypes of MMOs.

By this definition, MMO includes:
- Online shooters -> Battlefield, Call of Duty, America's Army...
- Turn-based browser games -> Planetarion, Earth 2025...
- Facebook games -> Farmville, Sims Social, Cityville,...
- Online RTS -> Starcraft, Warcraft, Company of Heroes
- MMORTS -> Shattered Galaxy, Dawn of Fantasy, End of Nations...
- Persistent sandboxes -> Wurm, A tale in the desert, minecraft, terraria
- MMORPG -> EQ, WoW, LOTRO, SWTOR, Fallen Earth, Runescape, MapleStory, FlyFF, FFXI/V, DDO, STO, DCUO, CO, CoH...
- Online arena games -> League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth, Bloodline champions, NavyField, World of Tanks, Fury
- Online action -> Dungeon Fighter, Vindictus, Rusty Hearts
- Mobile MMO -> the stuff Beau plays and I have no idea about

So, the strict definition allows for the broadest inclusion of games. Most of the games commonly associated with MMO come from the MMORPG category, leading many to ignorantly assume that MMORPG elements are also required for MMO.

MMO does NOT include:
- Offline games (obviously) -> Super Mario Bros, Skyrim, ...
- 1P games w/ online leaderboard -> Audiosurf, Defense Grid,...
- Online co-op games with few players -> Magicka, Portal 2, Renegade Ops, Trine 2

Posted: Jan 22nd 2012 10:41AM Dril said

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@h4ngedm4n

"strict definition"

You keep using this word to justify your definition, but I have to ask, where exactly do you include "massively" and how do you differentiate that from "multiplayer" in your definition.

You even contradict yourself by calling games that have only a small number of players in a zone MMOs (i.e. MOBAs) yet you then use Portal 2 and Trine, which are still pretty small, as not MMOs. What's the difference? Is "massive" defined as 10+ people?

People use MMO because they try and use "massive" to mean "there are lots of people playing it". That's just multiplayer. The massive(ly) part should be defining the factor that determines an MMO: the world has to be large enough to have a sense of realism, and there has to be the potential for EVERY player on the server/game to be in the same place at once (or near enough, with collision detection). Obviously, hardware limitations mean this isn't normally possible, but given infinite resources, you should be able to fit an infinite number of players into the same are and have them all be able to interact with one another.

If that wouldn't be possible due to game design, it's not an MMO.
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Posted: Jan 22nd 2012 11:57AM Irem said

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@h4ngedm4n
The "massively multiplayer" part is meant to distinguish the game in question from just "multiplayer," which encompasses games like CoRPGs, online shooters, Farmville-style games, ect. Lots of people can play a game online, but that doesn't make it an MMO unless they can all play together at once; the term just indicates a difference in scale between a multiplayer mode that allows 4-10 people and one that allows 100+.
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Posted: Jan 22nd 2012 6:16PM h4ngedm4n said

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@Dril
As you say, the line between "multiplayer" and "massively multiplayer" is grey. Anyway, while I respect your viewpoint of requiring the potential of many players to simultaneously be in the same virtual location, I believe that is implied design baggage carried over from MMORPG. The facebook games would fail the location test because they are largely based on indirect interaction with friends who play. This is in itself not massively, but the aggregate webs of different social circles of friends makes it massively.

With regard to the difference between online mutiplayer (Portal 2, Trine) and MOBAs (LoL, BLC), is only the matchmaking service. In games with a matchmaking service, the player can interact with many different people, while the online multiplayer usually are about playing with some existing friends.
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Posted: Jan 22nd 2012 9:22AM Wisdomandlore said

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The instance-grind for epic gear has all but turned most MMOs into Guild Wars-esque lobby/instance games. Take LOTRO, for instance. In the original release of SOA there were plenty of reasons for max level characters and parties to venture out into the open world. Turbine removed these incentives one by one, moving all high-level play into instances except for a handful of daily quests.

Rift tried to move away from this, but since most of the best gear was in instances, max level Rifts weren't that enticing. I don't know if they've fixed that since launch, though.

Posted: Jan 22nd 2012 9:25AM SgtBaker1234556 said

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EVE Online gets it right, rest are just instanced lobby variations.

Posted: Jan 22nd 2012 9:48AM h4ngedm4n said

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Another way of looking at, to clarify why I think many of these subtypes are ALL MMO. See, MMO describes Online/Offline and qualtity of players. It can be compared to:

Single player offline (Mario)
Single player online (Dark Souls)
Multiplayer offline (Rock Band)
Multiplayer online (Trine)
Massively Multiplayer Offline (I don't know of any)
Massively Multiplayer Online (many of the games we discuss)

Apples to apples.

Posted: Jan 22nd 2012 12:00PM Irem said

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@h4ngedm4n
Again, you're missing the "massively" part. You can play online, and you can play with other people, and many people may be able to simultaneously connect to the game, but unless you can play together with huge numbers of them at one time, it's not an MMO.
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Posted: Jan 22nd 2012 6:07PM h4ngedm4n said

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@Irem
I appreciate your emphasis on simultaneous gameplay, but that is one of the implied baggage I am talking about. There is no "S" in MMO for simultaneous, it is an addition you and many others share. By requiring simultaneous gameplay, that removes the turn-based browser games from MMO, which is absurd. These games allow players to submit their moves asynchronously, yet they are still playing together.

Therefore, some MMO have simultaneous gameplay, other MMO do not. Simultaneous gameplay is an independent attribute of player quantitiy (MM) and internet connectivity (O).
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Posted: Jan 23rd 2012 12:50AM (Unverified) said

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@h4ngedm4n : "Massively Multiplayer Offline (I don't know of any)"

Would you like a nice game of Global Thermonuclear War?
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Posted: Jan 22nd 2012 10:01AM Deliverator said

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There is no definition - there used to be, but as h4ngedm4n illustrated above, today it means basically anything with an internet connection.

Historically you could pretty easily draw a line between say Battlefield 1942 and Everquest 2. Today the term is defined by publisher marketing and sites like Massively. If Massively writes about a game, it brings in that game's fans. That game's fans then understand the term as applying to their game and will scream to the hill tops if you try to apply the traditional, specific definition of the term.

I gave up fighting that term creep years ago. When you call both Global Agenda and Ultima Online MMORPGs, there is no real definition. These days MMO is a word that really only says "We Want WoW Money"

Posted: Jan 22nd 2012 10:03AM Titan1 said

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MMORPG is an arbitrary designation coined by Richard Garriott.

Massive could mean anything.
Multiplayer simply means multiplayer
Online means it is online and not single or LAN which was popular at the time.
RPG means it is a role playing game. It is not a shooter, puzzle or strategy game or any other genre.

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