The acronym MMO is about Massively Multiplayer Online, usually follow by a G for Game and in some cases RPG for Role Playing Game, but you knew that? Yes… Did you know MMORPG predates the computer gaming era? I bet not. Did you know the MMORPG type games with a persistent world evolved from MUD games? (Multi-User Dungeon)
MUD games were mostly mainframe based and were popular in the 1970’s. My dad told me of playing one by mail… I can’t even imagine what that was like. One turn per week… I complain about an extra 100ms of lag.
Hamlet at NWN is pointing out MMOG’s within SL have been around for awhile. I started wondering where the term Massively becomes descriptive?
A bit of Googling and I found Dave Sophn’s article: What Makes a Game “Massively” Multiplayer? (Note: I can’t find a date on the article.) He describes one of the first MMOG’s as having up to 100 players. That was 1995. Dave goes on to explain the problem of defining ‘playing’ and ‘large numbers’. I saw a debate my ‘uncle’ had about what is or isn’t a game. I’ve run into that problem of defining a game when talking about Second Life™. So, I’ve seen this problem on a personal level. It is a bigger knot than I expected.
To illustrate the problem of MMOG play think of the Facebook games like Farmville. There are millions playing at any given moment. But, a person is mostly alone while playing. Does that qualify as multiplayer? Some say yes, some say no. There is no clear definition that is generally accepted. That makes for chaos and ambiguity when attempting to discuss things and have well defined terms. It is one of the costs of that messy thing called freedom.
Dave also points to the technology problems we have as multiple players enter a game. World of Warcraft (WoW) and EVE Online (video above showing massive lag) are a couple of the few that allow truly massive numbers of players to come together in one place and interact. Most of the time they are spread across multiple areas of the game and only limited numbers of players can interact or even see each other, like Second Life.
As players are added the data needed for them to interact grows exponentially. Eventually the system is over whelmed. High Fidelity and the Next Generation Platform both are looking at ways to overcome or at least raise the limit on the number of people playing interactively.
The media contributes to some of the confusion about what is and is not MMOG. Guild Wars (GW) while not considered a MMORPG by its owners, it is considered a MMO by most of the media. GW allows many people to congregate in the city and interact. But, quests and adventures outside the city are for parties of 8 or less.
Neverwinter Nights allows 64 people to be in a server (a region?). But, Neverwinter Nights is NOT considered a MMO. Go figure…
There are different ways of thinking about playing and multi-player and what constitutes MASSIVELY. So, Remnants of Earth could be considered ‘massively’, depending on what one is thinking or meaning. Games with as few as 8 interactive players have been considered massive…