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There really seems to be two types of MMO around currently
1) the combat MMO
2) the variety MMO
sure there are variations on this concept, even some crosses between the two in a way most likely, but really they can all be roughly broken down into these two groups
The combat MMO consists of a game in which it is virtually impossible or worth it to do anything other than level your combat. You kill things, maybe do some quests, and try your best to get to a certain "top level". they usually are class based and linear. Games such as WoW, EQ, FFXI, and 90% of current MMOs are a good example of this.
The Variety MMO may have more to it, there may be combat, it may even play a central role, but you can do many things outside of combat which will get you equally as far and can be as much a part of an MMO as fighting. Often times they are skill based and sandbox. A few examples would be runescape, ryzom, and though i never played it i heard UO was like this.
The variety MMO, or as i like to call it a "world style" MMO are my personal favorite, and i have been wondering why there arent more of them. It seems funny that with so many different opportunities for different genres and types nearly ever game made is combat centric and linear. Why cant games be more like a functioning world, or have activities to do which dont involve violence all the time? Dont get me wrong i love playing a knight in shining armor as much as the next guy, but i also would love to play the merchant, lord of a city, diplomat, architect, or thief. Hell puzzles are even fun to do
anyone else feel the same way? (i know i jumped around quite i bit, ive been known to ramble)