Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Massively multiplayer
These are online games where players pay a monthly subscription to share a
virtual world with other players and are often referred to by a number of
similar acronyms - MMOG or MMO games (massively multiplayer online
games), MMP (massively multiplayer), or MMORPG (massively multiplayer
online role playing game).
The origins of these games go back to the 1970s when they were called
multi-user dungeons (MUDs), but it is only since the mid 1990s that they
have expanded beyond the realm of the simple enthusiast into the phenome-
non the genre now is.
Though many games offer online content in some form or another, much
of this is either additional downloadable content, the opportunity in a first
person shooter to fight against other players instead of the game's AI-driven
opponents, or the chance to compete against other players in the latest racing
game, to give a few examples. Although these games can be played online,
there is usually a relatively small upper limit to the number of players who
can play together. Also, this type of online gaming offers little beyond
shooting or racing.
Where MMO games differ is that the players' avatars inhabit a persistent
world in which they can roam relatively freely and the players are able to
choose their own direction in the world. Many games offer combat of some
sort, but there are numerous other aspects that immerse the players in these
parallel worlds which they inhabit as they play - worlds with social structures
and rules of how the players should have their avatars behave.
As a single player in a world populated by thousands of other players,
making your mark can be difficult. However, many of the games encourage
players to band together, with such cooperative play building a real sense of
community within the world. For many people, this kind of gaming experi-
ence becomes part of their lifestyle and they will clock up many hours of
play each week.
Some MMO games are hugely successful, but the genre is not without its
problems. The games, because of their high detail and sophistication, take a
long time to develop and are extremely expensive to make. Some projects
have been cancelled before ever reaching the marketplace and others have
struggled to reach the subscription levels required to maintain a healthy
profit. Nevertheless, there is a feeling that after the initial boom period of the
genre it is now settling down to a level that is more stable.
The potential for a writer is enormous.Working with the design team to
 
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