Although it could be argued that the effervescent and sometimes nauseatingly saturated MMO market doesn’t need more dark fantasy or derivative mashups in its library, there are certain games that have a propensity and disposition already in keeping with what makes a good MMO.
Here is a look at some of the games that would make for a great experience or adventure if turned into one and reasons behind why I personally would like to indulge in a massively multiplayer iteration of the series mentioned on this list.
It seems almost reductive to make an MMO out of the Pokemon franchise. Nintendo certainly doesn’t want to market to the overly stereotyped nerdy gamer of WoW renown.
Therefore the idea of selling what is essentially a porous and more time consuming version of their previous titles seems redundant on a Nintendo console or product.
Logical MMORPG Candidate
However, the elite land of pokemon pacifiers have a different view, one which I tend to agree with. Pokemon should be made into an MMO, if only to give further context behind questing and the ability to PvP without something akin to friend codes.
There is certainly something to be said for the core idea of Pokemon as an MMO. You play as a trainer who receives his first pokemon, from there you travel the world collecting the gym badges by defeating it’s leaders. Therein you attain all the badges and begin PvP battles in true Pokemon Battle style.
Massively Multiplayer Epoch
I find it hard to believe this game wouldn’t be enjoyable, even for someone not well-versed in the pokemon universe, like myself. Sprinkle some exorbitant side quests into the mix and lengthen the games story-quest line and you have a perfect pokemon online venture.
The foundations of a multiplayer version are visibly apparent within the gameplay itself. It really isn’t a big stretch to make an MMO from this game. Graphics upgrade (think Battle Revolution for the Wii), quest upgrades, tweak the levelling system and lengthen the overall game time and you have the online game that a lot of Pokemon fans have always wanted, that’s why this make the top 5 MMO list.
Just to note, I’m aware there is already a Pokemon Online game in the style of the series earlier Gameboy entries, but I’m taking a full scale, Nintendo invested, adventure.
[4. Grand Theft Auto]
Anyone who has played GTA before can surely see the potential in creating a fully realised multiplayer equivalent from this Rockstar series. Just a few changes could alter the whole experience into something memorable and playable for years.
Mechanics of An MMO
For instance, take GTA IV’s solid if unspectacular online modes and add them to a PvP environment, add a faction/guild mechanic, travel to multiple cities and areas around both America and perhaps the world, modify the quests to incorporate more than one player character and maintain the great satirical nature of the previous games.
With those additions and ideas from the creative minds of Rockstars designers, this could be the megaton bomb of massively multiplayer games (with the obvious exception of WoW) in the future.
A sticking point to its success would be the longevity of the gameplay and levelling system. As GTA doesn’t have a specific advancement system, it seems hard to imagine Rockstar creating a legitimate advancement map, at the first attempt no less.
However, if that could be remedied with external help from MMO veterans (Blizzard, Cryptic etc), then a solid foundation for weathered players would help greatly in cultivating a strong community and experience.
The idea of a fully persistent city is a very lucrative one, and although the tech needed to attempt such a feat maybe out of reach as of this articles writing, the prospect of eventually having an enormous hub city in a GTA game is mouth watering.
It makes this top 5 MMO list more for its stupefying potential as opposed to the practicality of effectively creating the project.
While former GTA developer David Jones and his Scottish company Realtime Worlds work off the success of Crackdown with their own GTA influenced MMO attempt in APB (All Points Bulletin), it seems getting the real thing from Rockstar may be the more engaging option if they are willing to create a massively multiplayer experience for their flagship franchise.
[3. Planescape: Torment]
A throwback to an almost lost time from PC gamings past, 1999 saw the release of Planescape: Torment, an isometric D&D influenced RPG from Black Isle (coming off the success of the first 2 Fallout games).
As with those Black Isle properties, Planescape has a morally vague and rewarding story about an immortal man’s quest to find his memories. The use of D&D standards, in this case being set in the Planescape multiverse, gives a working setup for an MMO adaptation.
Foundations of a Great MMO
All the foundations are certainly there, spells and potions being assigned to hotkeys, character progression and a plethora of factions to choose from in the hub city of Sigil.
The key difference between Planescape and almost any MMO, is the use of conversation and dialogue choices to resolve situations, as opposed to the usual grindfest that most games of this type occupy themselves with.
This unusual and refreshing approach to the gameplay could ostensibly create something engaging and perhaps more mature than your average combat heavy experience drive.
Stumbling Over Storytelling
There is a definite stumbling block when converting this game into a massively multiplayer experience, not only the graphical upgrade and mechanical tweaks, but the story driven nature of the game would need to be modified to provide what most MMO enthusiasts would be looking for.
It’s unfortunate that the overarching storyline may have to be culled into a digestible format for this purpose, but even with such a wistful version of the tale, it would still make for a memorable Planescape extension.
The PC version of this RPG behemoth is already half way there with a familiar hot bar, skill trees, quest markings (quest-givers and types also) along with the reticent hub areas found in any solid MMO.
It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to pontificate the idea of a Dragonage branching out in this direction, especially when Bioware are currently developing an MMO for one of their other series, Knights of the Old Republic.
Although Bioware would need to either abandon the Old Republic game or expand the staff to incorporate running two separate MMO’s at one time in the future for this to happen, the possibility of Dragonage being massively multiplayer is still intriguing, if only for how the game handles and its core mechanics.
Essence of an MMORPG Experience
Much like any good RPG, tweaks could be made to the game without destroying the essence of the experience, maintaining a decent playability for either single player quest hunting, PvP or party engagements.
A major problem that strikes me is the necessity and crux of the combat system to pause and queue attacks.
In an instanced or even persistent area, it would be nigh impossible for this to work, therefore taking a leaf from the console versions of the game would be beneficial (Although the console versions still have a pause function, it doesn’t queue up actions and making it real time would circumnavigate the obvious problems presented for MMO play).
As with TES and any good fantasy epic, the races that we all know and accept would be present, albeit with separate capacities and contextual differences (Elves being both servants to humans and forest nomads, Dwarves surviving in one or two cities are examples).
Giving a solid base and wealthy lore is often important also, and Dragonage fills the void with an exceptionally rich codex full of information on the history, geography, culture and tales of the world.
Most of my reasoning behind why Dragonage would be a marked success in this genre is because Bioware would be the proprietary developers of the game. Meaning their recent focus on dialogue and indivdual storytelling will likely be used in the multiplayer version of the game as an extension to what their Star Wars MMO will hopefully lay the foundation for.
With this being said it will be a good acid test to see how The Old Republic fares with the apparent focus on voice acting and NPC progression that Bioware are avidly talking up. If it works there, then a Dragonage MMO would be a great extension of their work.
[1. The Elder Scrolls]
Bethesda’s behemoth RPG canvases players for emergent behaviour, true role-playing and a huge emotional investment in its lore, faux history, books, universe and characters. Therefore it seems logical to assume that a MMO made from the success of both Morrowind and Oblivion would be meteoric in its appeal.
There are also several credible reasons why such an appeal would exist, for me and a few of my friends at least, which could hopefully culminate in a positively differing fantasy MMORPG.
The World of Nirn
Firstly, the vast open world aspect would definitely fit into the whole aesthetic of a large scale MMORPG. This idea is only enforced by the fact that a whopping 3 of the 9 nations of Tamriel have been used (apart from the first game Arena, which I will conveniently ignore here!) and that Tamriel itself is only one of the 5 separate continents on Nirn (the planet the games take place on).
That is a huge gulf of design and lore building which could easily and haplessly work in an Elder Scrolls MMO. While the primary focus may only give the player free reign of Tamriel (Cyrodiil from Oblivion and Morrowind included), with this amount of self-made content to account for, we could see unending expansions for the universe and the MMO if it were to ever become one.
A problem that many people have highlighted about Oblivion is the repeating voice acting draining from your soul as the game progresses into the hundreds of hours region. With the aid of a massively multiplayer setting this problem could be absolved.
Players will meet quest givers, merchants et al with their voiced lines of dialogue, however the average Tamriel citizen could be removed in favor of an actual physical players avatar.
Therein losing the need to pay extraneous fees to voice actors, and having a more focused player interaction system culling one of the major complaints about Oblivion.
If that fails, the use of Morrowind’s text based speech windows can always work, especially given the current saturation of MMO’s that use this system of interaction and dialogue.
First Person MMO Gameplay
To further my proposition we can look at the combat system, or at least skill and spell trees, which would benefit from only slight modification to become PvP and PvE friendly.
While mages can easily level spells and talents by casting them without a particular target, the other classes generally have to work for their experience, via actual combat which severely damages the balance of playing the game.
However removing this unending spellcasting to level up problem or allowing rogues and warriors to level by training at a fighters guild would greatly help the overall playability and remove a motif of broken gameplay were the MMO to manifest with Oblivion’s mechanics.
Hope for The Future
There are many more reasons (Morrowind’s persistent levelled enemies or the first person oddity of its perspective as examples) that come to mind when debating whether Bethesda should take the Elder Scrolls series to the MMORPG communities.
Hopefully players of previous TES games can see why I would argue for this and players unfamiliar with the series can at least see some of the reasons for my conjecture.
Also, it seems Bethesda has been working on a MMO which has been outed via the legal haranguing with Interplay, seems as good a time as any for me to start getting excited, even more so when Oblivion came out near 5 years ago…
- Starcraft - This could take the baton from WoW if Blizzard ever wish for it to be made.
- Left 4 Dead - I’m near salivating at the prospect of playing as an infected.
- Halo - Mostly for the spectacle, I’ll admit, but I wouldn’t expect it to be poorly made.
- Final Fantasy - Well, here’s hoping XIV lives up to XI’s hype.
- Vampire: The Masquerade - Both Bloodlines and the Original, worthy of further sequels.
- Something set in feudal Japan - I’ll always hope for a game set in the Sengoku period of the 16th century.