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MMO Blender

MMO Blender: Larry's old-school 16-bit MMO

Game Mechanics, Opinion, Ultima Online, Guild Wars 2, Free Realms, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Miscellaneous, MMO Blender, Housing

MMO Blender Larry's old school 16bit
In August of 1991, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System launched in North America, kick-starting what would eventually be the biggest boom in console roleplaying games. Granted, some of us had been playing RPGs on consoles like the original NES, but RPGs didn't see as big a console boom as they did on the SNES. In fact, console RPGs haven't seen the same level of popularity since the SNES. A quick jump over to VGChartz shows us that out of the top 50 games sold world-wide on any individual console, RPGs on the SNES dominated the NES, the Playstation, and even the Nintendo DS, boasting titles like Dragon Quest VI, Final Fantasy III, and Super Mario RPG. If you take into account some adventure games that should be considered RPGs, like Super Metroid and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, then you have arguably the best platform of all time for the genre.

Nowadays, with online gaming and indie companies sprouting up all over the place, a 16-bit online RPG would probably sell really well, especially if it took some of the best elements from the classic console RPGs of the NES/SNES era. Isn't that right, Cthulhu Saves the World? Let's see what I can throw together from some of my favorite 8- and 16-bit games.

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MMO Blender: Bree's big-budget sandbox

Business Models, Economy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Professions, PvP, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, Roleplaying, Miscellaneous, Dungeons, Crafting, MMO Blender, Housing

That genie was kinda sneaky. (Credit: Disney's Aladdin)
Writing MMO Blender feels like getting three wishes from a magical lamp and having to think very, very carefully about what you ask for. You have to word it just right and ponder the consequences of each wish on the others because you just know that Genie's going to screw with you.

If I were stronger, I'd reject the wishes (here, the 1000 words) outright, knowing they're a trap, but I just can't resist a turn at this column. I want a new sandbox. A good one, not one made by gank-obsessed fanboys on a shoestring budget. I don't think sandboxes are dead; I just know it takes money to make money, and modern indie sandboxes are forgetting that rule. Fortunately, I don't need money for this column. I'll take my MMO Blender wishes and build a sandbox that's more than just a pile of sand and an empty box.

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MMO Blender: Matt's immersive cyberpunk monstrosity

Asheron's Call, EverQuest II, The Matrix Online, Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, Guild Wars 2, The Secret World, All Points Bulletin, Champions Online, TERA, Miscellaneous, MMO Blender

All right, maybe not that immersive.
Let's take a look at the acronym MMORPG for a moment. If you're reading this site, you surely know what it stands for: massively multiplayer online role-playing game. Ever since World of Warcraft hit the big-time, MMOs have been cropping up left and right in more shapes and sizes than many would have ever guessed. Swords and sorcery: check. Spreadsheets and spaceships: check. Roman orgies: coming soon.

But somewhere along the line, game developers have forgotten something. Before there were MMORPGs, there were just RPGs, played by folks gathered around the kitchen table armed with nothing more than pencils, paper, and their trusty dice. I'm not going to pretend that "I was there, man" because -- being a '90s kid -- I didn't get into pen-and-paper games until my teens in the 2000s. But even I know that those games put an emphasis on the "RP" part of RPG in a way that MMORPGs simply don't, and in some ways, can't. But I'm sure that I can't be the only one who still wants to escape to another world, to become fully immersed in that world and in my character. So in my Frankenstein's monster experiment today, I'm going to try my best to meld modern MMO features into an immersive fantasy roleplaying world. Won't you join me?

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MMO Blender: Beau's portable, accessible, and casually immersive mashup

Business Models, Culture, Ryzom, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Roleplaying, Humor, Miscellaneous, Sandbox, MMO Blender

Die2Nite screenshot
I've been pretty excited to take my turn at the MMO Blender wheel. Sure, we all have ideas about how we would build our dream MMOs by mixing up different parts from favorite games, but honestly, I wanted to use my time here to make a point: MMO gaming needs to climb outside of the box, soon. Since there is more and more emphasis on mobile and casual gaming, my game will take that in into consideration.

But games have to be fun too, right? I think they can be fun, immersive, and casual all at the same time. I'm hoping that my examples will show how other developers have combined the three such that players can access the game from anywhere. It's also important to me that my game be simple to play and accessible for players with disabilities, so let's just say that I have included all of the proper features like adjustable colors for the color-blind, resizable text, and maybe even audio cues to help those with sight issues.

I've been given a budget of one million-billion internet bucks, so let's get to it... this game is not going to build itself!

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MMO Blender: Larry's Firefly Effect

Sci-Fi, Guild Wars, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Economy, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, Star Trek Online, Guild Wars 2, DC Universe Online, Sandbox, MMO Blender

MMO Blender: Larry's Firefly Effect
Many MMOs suffer from not actually having immersive worlds. As a player, I always find a separation between what I am doing and what the rest of the playerbase sees. My personal gameplay has little to no effect on anyone else. MMO communities need to have more interdependency -- positive and negative.

I also believe that player choice also plays a major part in making a believable world, and I don't just mean just in some arbitrary dialogue choice, although that can be part of it. Actions in the world should play a part, too.

Many MMOs have the pieces already in place to make wonderful, immersing worlds, but for some reason, no one has ever put all the pieces together. What does it take to make a believable, fun world for a player to not only live in but feel that he is a part of the greater universe?

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MMO Blender: Eliot's self-made legend

City of Heroes, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Final Fantasy XI, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Game Mechanics, Warhammer Online, Opinion, TERA, Miscellaneous, MMO Blender

Yes, I sort of had a Greek thing on my mind with this one.
I like games that make your characters feel legendary, but sometimes I think they've gotten the whole formula wrong. The problem is that the only thing important about your character is what he or she has done, not what he or she is. World of Warcraft has a lot of quests and raids that seem to imply your character is a big deal, but how big a deal can you really be if you're learning all of your tricks at the local trainer?

What about a game where your personal history has as much to do with your future development as anything else? A game where your accomplishments aren't just backstory but an integral part of your character's abilities? A game where every new encounter is a chance for your character to learn something unique? I'd love to see a game where your accomplishments are not a list of things that you've killed but a clear litany of skills learned and scars accumulated -- a game where the path to power isn't necessarily clearly marked.

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MMO Blender: Jeremy's unholy MMO concoction

Fantasy, EVE Online, EverQuest II, Fallen Earth, Lineage 2, Lord of the Rings Online, Wurm Online, Opinion, Vanguard, Guild Wars 2, Free-to-Play, Runes of Magic, Post-Apocalyptic, Miscellaneous, Sandbox, MMO Blender

MMO Blender
Have you ever wished MMO developers could put away their checkbooks, pluck out the best bits of their respective MMOs, and weld them together to construct the megalopolis of MMOs? We do too! So today, we're launching a brand-new opinion column, MMO Blender, in which the Massively writers will mix and match their favorite features from existing MMOs for your amusement. But do our choices create a perfectly honed machine or a lumbering, speechless frankenstein of an MMO that deserves to be put out of its misery?

First up: Livestreamer extraordinaire and Contributing Editor Jeremy Stratton with a potent, sandboxy blend of Fallen Earth, EVE Online, Lord of the Rings Online, and more. Wet your whistle after the break and look for more MMO Blenders from the rest of our staff in the coming weeks!

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