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MMOGs create a persistent universe where the game continues playing regardless of whether or not anyone else is. Since these games strongly or exclusively emphasize multiplayer gameplay, few of them have any significant single-player aspects or client-side artificial intelligence . As a result, players cannot "beat" MMOGs in the typical sense of single-player games.
A massive(ly) multiplayer online role-playing game or MMORPG is a multiplayer computer role-playing game that enables thousands of players to play in an evolving virtual world at the same time over the Internet . MMORPGs are a specific type of massive(ly) multiplayer online game (MMOG) .
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A massive(ly) multiplayer online role-playing games or MMORPG is a multiplayer computer role-playing game that enables thousands of players to play in an evolving virtual world at the same time over the Internet . MMORPGs are a specific type of massive(ly) multiplayer online game (MMOG) .
Players run a client to connect to an MMORPG and someone else, usually the game's publisher , hosts the game world. Most MMORPGs are commercial and require the player to pay a monthly fee in order to play. The virtual worlds they create are called "persistent worlds", meaning that the world continues regardless of who is logged in or not. When a player logs in, they are represented in the game world by an avatar — a graphical representation of the character they play.
Most MMORPGs run several identical copies of the virtual world, called "shards" or "servers", that the player can choose from. They strive to allow the player to shape their own experience by providing multiple (or customizable) avatars that the player can use. MMORPG developers are in charge of supervising the virtual world and offering the users a constantly updated set of new activities and enhancements to guarantee the interest of players.
Most MMORPG are commercial in that a user must pay money for the client software and/or a monthly fee, in order to continually access the virtual world. Still, some totally free-of-charge MMORPG may be found on the Internet, although their quality is generally lower compared to commercial MMORPG. Some of the most popular commercial MMORPG report over 150,000 subscribers, including Ultima Online ( 1997 ), EverQuest ( 1999 ), Dark Age of Camelot ( 2001 ), Star Wars Galaxies ( 2003 ), and Final Fantasy XI (2003). South Korean MMORPGs claim the highest subscription numbers by far: Lineage and Ragnarok Online report millions of registered users. There are also several projects in development to create high-quality free MMORPGs, such as PlaneShift or Daimonin , or a free game engine for MMORPGs, such as Arianne .
MMORPGs are computer games that can be traced back to the 1970s to non-graphical online MUD games, to text-based computer games such as Adventure and Zork , and to pen and paper role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons .
The first modern multiplayer online rpg is now mostly credited as Meridian 59 ( 1996 ), but it was Ultima Online ( 1997 ) that popularized the genre. Both of these games featured a flat monthly subscription fee instead of the traditional per-hour plan. The concept of massively multiplayer online games expanded into new video game genres . Many of these games, such as the " massively multiplayer online first-person shooter " PlanetSide brought some of the RPG heritage with them.
MMORPGs have begun to attract significant academic attention, for example in economics . With the growing popularity of the genre, a growing number of psychologists and sociologists study the actions and interactions of the players in such games. One of the more famous of these researchers is Sherry Turkle .
With the success of the MMORPG genre in recent years, several multiplayer games played in web browsers have also begun using the MMORPG moniker. This largely text-based sub-genre developed from old BBS games and predates the modern idea of MMORPGs. Browser-based MMORPGs are usually simpler games than their graphical counterparts, typically involving turn-based play and simple strategies of "build a large army, then attack other players for gold", though there are many interesting variations on the popular theme to be found.
One of the earliest examples of a browser-based MMORPG is Archmage , which dates back to early 1999. A currently extremely popular browser-based MMORPG, with players numbering in the hundreds of thousands, is Kings of Chaos . Kings of Chaos ' popularity is primarily fueled by a reciprocal link clicking system where users give each other more soldiers by clicking on their friends' unique links, taking advantage of the small world phenomenon to spread word of the game across the world. Another popular browser-based RPG is Legend of the Green Dragon , whose code is open source , allowing anyone to create their own game server . There also exists a browser-based MMORPG which is largely a parody of others, Kingdom of Loathing .
Not all browser-based MMORPGs are turn-based text games. More recently, faster computers and Java have allowed the introduction of graphical browser-based MMORPGs such as Runescape which are more similar to standalone MMORPGs.
Most MMORPGs require significant development resources to overcome the logistical hurdles associated with such a large production. These games demand worlds, significant hardware requirements from the developer (e.g., servers and bandwidth), and dedicated support staff. Several MMORPGs have suffered through technical difficulties through the first few days or weeks after launch. Early successes such as Ultima Online and EverQuest managed to pass through this stage with little permanent damage. Later games such as Anarchy Online and World War II Online struggled to regain good press after their first month. Nevertheless, Dark Age of Camelot and City of Heroes hardly showed any signs of such difficulties.
In addition to the challenges faced in making an MMORPG, designers also must face problems largely unique to the genre:
- It is impossible for each player to significantly affect the overall state of the world. In a normal RPG, the player or party is the hero and single-handedly saves the world. In an MMORPG, every player can't save the world.
- Inflation . In many MMORPGs, the economy becomes unbalanced over time and can reduce meaningful interaction between players of varying level (i.e., newbies versus more powerful players). This is primarily due to the gradual accumulation of wealth and power within the game. Some MMORPGs have addressed this with varying degrees of success. Asheron's Call for example uses a guild system where lower level characters swear allegiance to higher level players, and generate additional experience points for them. The theory being that it is in the interest of higher level players to assist the lower players and thus increase the reward they receive. This is due to the constant recycling of players, creating an active market for all levels of equipment.
- Bots . In many MMORPGs, you can set up scripts (also known as bots or macros ) to play the game, performing a simple task over and over again, and reap huge rewards. This lets you build up a powerful character just by letting your computer run unattended. This flaw is built into almost the very essence of a RPG "leveling", that your character becomes more powerful primarily by repeatedly performing actions. These macros are forbidden in many of these games, and developers are now fighting back by working on automation detection systems.
- Player Killing (PKing). In a more realistic world, players should be able to kill anything, even other players. However, this is very discouraging to new players, who are slaughtered by experienced player killers.
- Time commitment. A character's power usually represents how much time is invested in playing, rather than skill. Again this is due to the "leveling" aspect of the game. Being killed is discouraging for casual players, who are interested in 1-3 hours a week without dedicating their entire life to the game. Some games require so much commitment that players have resorted to buying powerful virtual characters and items on eBay rather than obtaining them through playing the game.
- Pay to play, (P2P) pay even more to win. Due to the problems just mentioned, one can receive a great advantage in game by buying another persons' already powerful character. It is also possible to buy memberships or special items such as those offered by games such as Runescape and Elysaria . Project Entropia takes this incentive a step further, allowing players to convert real-world currency to in-game "Project Entropia Dollars", which can then be spent on better equipment, and even houses, for their character. (Houses have been auctioned for hundreds of US dollars.)
- Rude players. There also is a problem of rudeness by other players. Some MMORPGs discipline nasty players (termed " griefers ") by ensuring that responsible administrators or support personnel are online at all times.
- Scamming. Scamming can also be a problem in many of these games, as players try to break the rules to further enhance their characters. Typically this occurs by manipulating bugs in the game code or by taking advantage of new players' lack of familiarity with the details of game mechanics.
- Uberguilds or zerg guilds. Sometimes, the most powerful characters on a server form a single, influential association popularly called an uberguild (after appearing in EverQuest ). In addition, some guilds mass recruit players, simply to gain a large enough number to have an advantage, nicknamed zerg guild after the Zerg race (in the popular real-time strategy game Starcraft ) that was only effective in large numbers.