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General: New Column: Why Not Historical MMOs?

DanaDana Member Posts: 2,415

Why not historical MMOs? That's the question Dana Massey asks as he debuts his brand new Thursday column. Each week, he'll examine some under-served or poorly executed part of MMOs and ask "Why Not?"

For his first column he gives his unique take on the Historical MMO genre, which he feels has been neglected, and runs down some of the best candidates for adaptation into an MMO.

Hell, the Empire itself was organized like an MMO world.

For the carebears among us, they could be noble Roman Citizens, practicing their wrestling, building statues and assassinating Senators in a safe, cozy PvE environment.

For the moderately hardcore, there is always the life of a Roman Soldier to consider. March forth with six of your closest shield bearing buddies and civilize you some Gauls.

For the really hardcore? The life of a Visigoth is for you. Sharpen your teeth, practice your club swinging in the dense, cold forests of Eastern Europe, then pull a Leeroy Jenkins and run screaming into Northern Italy to kill you some Romans.

Seriously, what’s not to love?

Read it all here and check back each Thursday as he continues to ask "Why Not?"

Dana Massey
Formerly of MMORPG.com
Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios

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Comments

  • Hammertime1Hammertime1 Member Posts: 619

    The answer to that question can be summed up in two words:

    Roma Victor 

  • DanaDana Member Posts: 2,415
    Originally posted by Hammertime1


    The answer to that question can be summed up in two words:
    Roma Victor 

     

    I'm pretty sure it's mathmatically impossible that you read this article before posting ;)

    Dana Massey
    Formerly of MMORPG.com
    Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios

  • sonicbrewsonicbrew Member UncommonPosts: 514

    I have asked this question myself for several years. . Any of the suggestions you made would be awesome to see especially 12 century Japan.

    “Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box.” ~ Italian proverb   

      

  • KhalathwyrKhalathwyr Member Posts: 3,138

    Because this industry is ran by those who aren't table-top gaming nerds and geeks and who have no real creative spark driving them. They have a money-grubbing spark, for sure. That's why they have WoW goggles on (not berating WoW so put the flamethrowers down) and only want to repeat that success.

    The only ones that have the creative spark are the small companies that just barely have the budget to make an MMO. The big companies that you illude to have gotten fat and lazy. Luckily, they have an apathetic hoard to sell their snake oil to.

    Seriously, this industry needs to have a few of us guys out here in the trenches head up a design team. While I don't always agree with some of my peers on gameplay issues, at least some of these guys have a better perspective then the majority if not all major game companies.

    Seriously, that should be a challenge. Have a guy/gal from the community come up with a sandbox/immersion/UO-AC era type game and one come up with what is commonly referred to as a themepark game. I'd wager the player led efforts, if given good team of coders, would be more popular that the current line of "professional" games.

    For a genre that supposed to be about it's players, a deaf ear has never more been turned.

    "Many nights, my friend... Many nights I've put a blade to your throat while you were sleeping. Glad I never killed you, Steve. You're alright..."

    Kickstarter 2 / Naysayers 0

  • Hammertime1Hammertime1 Member Posts: 619
    Originally posted by Dana

    Originally posted by Hammertime1


    The answer to that question can be summed up in two words:
    Roma Victor 

     

    I'm pretty sure it's mathmatically impossible that you read this article before posting ;)



     

    I promise you that I read it, Dana. It was only two pages long after all, and I read *fast*.

    If I came across wrong by the quickness of my quote, please accept an honest "well done!" for the article, I'd love to play those type of games as a MMO.....

     

     I was an old fan of the Avalon simulation games, I loved those hexes......but I understand that people with my type of interest make up only a tiny percentage of the gaming population.

  • DanaDana Member Posts: 2,415
    Originally posted by Hammertime1

    Originally posted by Dana

    Originally posted by Hammertime1


    The answer to that question can be summed up in two words:
    Roma Victor 

     

    I'm pretty sure it's mathmatically impossible that you read this article before posting ;)



     

    I promise you that I read it, Dana. It was only two pages long after all, and I read *fast*.

    If I came across wrong by the quickness of my quote, please accept an honest "well done!" for the article, I'd love to play those type of games as a MMO.....

     

     I was an old fan of the Avalon simulation games, I loved those hexes......but I understand that people with my type of interest make up only a tiny percentage of the gaming population.

     

    LOL, don't worry. I wasn't offended, just being snarky today apparently.

    Dana Massey
    Formerly of MMORPG.com
    Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios

  • TruethTrueth Member Posts: 287
    Originally posted by Khalathwyr


    Because this industry is ran by those who aren't table-top gaming nerds and geeks and who have no real creative spark driving them. They have a money-grubbing spark, for sure.


     

    This!

    It's sad really. I mean there is WWIIOL from 2001, and it's still alive - But many would say that it made an acade turn a year or so ago and now just uses historical units in rea-world locations, with gamey gameplay.

    As the other posted hinted at. It's easier for developers to just make-up some random crap with half-assed lore, or leech some existing IP and then justify (with ass reasons) why they had to stray from it here and there.

    I'd play a 1200BC MMORPG in a  heartbeat. Shadowbane style city building, in depth crafting and economy with DDO/mount and blade style combat. Like the man said, what is not to love?

    * When I say DDo/Mount and Blade combat that is what I mean. Not Darkfall circle running with spammy mouse clicks.

     

  • KainisKainis Member Posts: 436

    Actually, Dana- Vin Diesel's Tigon Studio is working on a AAA Roman era title, currently called Barca B.C. , as I reported to you guys weeks ago in a thread apparently long since buried. Just a heads up!

    -----------------------
    Tried- L2, Ryzom, WAR, DDO, PWI, Tab Rasa, Requiem, Champs, AA, JD, PWI, SUN, Dawntide

    Played- SWG (pre-cu), AoC, VG, WoW, LoTRO,CoX, EQ2, DAOC, GW, PotBS, Aion, MO,APB, NASA, Fallen Earth, DCUO, Rift

    Playing- EVE, Black Prophecy, TOR

    Waiting for- Tera, Jumpgate Evo, WH40K, WWE, WOD, TSW
    --
    --
    "Hey, if Activision liked it, then they should have put a ring on it," Double Fine President Tim Schafer said. "Oh great, now Beyonce is going to sue me too."

  • DanaDana Member Posts: 2,415
    Originally posted by Kainis


    Actually, Dana- Vin Diesel's Tigon Studio is working on a AAA Roman era title, currently called Barca B.C. , as I reported to you guys weeks ago in a thread apparently long since buried. Just a heads up!

     

    Neat, missed this one.

    However, if you go to the Tigon website, they're promoting it as an Action RTS. Odd. Definitely worth digging into though.

    Dana Massey
    Formerly of MMORPG.com
    Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios

  • KainisKainis Member Posts: 436

    No problem. I am actually suprised he hasn't been interviewed more often about it. Or NASA about their upcoming mmo (ala America's Army), either.

    -----------------------
    Tried- L2, Ryzom, WAR, DDO, PWI, Tab Rasa, Requiem, Champs, AA, JD, PWI, SUN, Dawntide

    Played- SWG (pre-cu), AoC, VG, WoW, LoTRO,CoX, EQ2, DAOC, GW, PotBS, Aion, MO,APB, NASA, Fallen Earth, DCUO, Rift

    Playing- EVE, Black Prophecy, TOR

    Waiting for- Tera, Jumpgate Evo, WH40K, WWE, WOD, TSW
    --
    --
    "Hey, if Activision liked it, then they should have put a ring on it," Double Fine President Tim Schafer said. "Oh great, now Beyonce is going to sue me too."

  • DanaDana Member Posts: 2,415
    Originally posted by Kainis


    No problem. I am actually suprised he hasn't been interviewed more often about it. Or NASA about their upcoming mmo (ala America's Army), either.

     

    We will dispatch some minions and see what we find :)

    Dana Massey
    Formerly of MMORPG.com
    Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios

  • SparklingSparkling Member UncommonPosts: 3

    My company doesn't qualify in the AAA description that this article is hoping for, but we are making an historical MMOG based on Ancient Rome.  We're doing it with an entirely volunteer team. The game is called Visions. 

    We've just re-started world development in the new TGEA 1.8.1 engine by garage games which we hope will resolve some issues we were having with terrain and mapping features in the previous version of the engine we were using.  Due to the volunteer nature of our team we had to revise our launch plans as well, as it became clear that our tiny little team is not going to be able to release a fulll scale MMOG with "out of the box trimmings" in anything short of 2 human lifetimes.  But what we can do is release a small start and hope that this generates enough interest to provide funding or developers to increase our team size and create the game as imagined in the design documents.

    If you are truly interested in helping a MMOG based on ancient Roman history (2nd century AD to be precise) come to life, come join us!  We can use the help, especially from programmers, 3D artists and animators. Apply online at www.visionsgame.com  If you don't have any of the development skills we need then just tell your friends.  Buy a copy of Chariots, our ancient Roman racing game, to support our efforts in the mean time.  But especially tell your friends.  We would like more people to know about our efforts!  We're trying to get the first phase of Visions released before the end of 2009.  There is a lot of work to be done to get us to that point.

    I already know that there is no funding for a project like ours. That's why we can't meet the AAA budget expectations that the author of this article is wanting. A volunteer team just can't produce the same volume of work that a fully funded full-time development team can produce.  Whoever it was that said investors are only interested in making money is exactly right.  A ground-breaking concept like the one we are working on is all but taboo in the game industry.  No investor will touch us because no one has ever made a game like Visions before and they don't know if it will succeed.  It might not.  But that hasn't stopped us from trying, we're just doing it in unconventional ways. The main advantage we have is that we have passion for our project, and the developers put their heart, soul, and lifeblood into the work they are doing.  We don't have many developers but the people we have are highly gifted and very dedicated.  I couldn't ask for better people. I believe that we'll have a great game not because of big budget funding, but because of the great people who helped make it.

    Thanks for the vote of confidence in making a game with historical background!  Good to see it.

     

    Blessings to you,

    -Sparkling

     

     

    I'm recruiting volunteers to help create Visions, a new MMORPG set in the 2nd century Holy Land. Are you interested? http://www.visionsgame.com

  • JenuvielJenuviel Member Posts: 960

    Frontier 1859, the best MMO that never got off the drawing board. I've been visiting the site (and its previous site) for going on 6 years, and I still think it'd be unbelievable if the person behind it could find the money to make it. Given the scope of what he intends to do with it, though, it's like one of those shows you see on network television that you know will be canceled because it's just too darned intelligent for its audience. Even if it'll never get made (and I'd so love to be wrong about that), the FAQ is worth reading just to see what a clever software designer can come up with when he's focusing more on the art than the business.

  • RhyllRhyll Member Posts: 1

    I didn't have to read it and knew :D

     

    I had really loved that game ..played it early on when it first was completely free and beta :) 

     

    didn't keep playing simply because I got married and it took me a while to convince her to play games ... by then. my brother got me LOTRO and i had to pick ... :( 

     

    unfortunately i'm more of a tolkien nerd that  history buff .... but it was close :) 

  • WewaWewa Member Posts: 17

    Combine this

    Mount and Blade combat engine +

    Crusader Kings for map and strategic part 

    than add voting for position and you got EPIC!

  • SmokeysongSmokeysong Member UncommonPosts: 247

    For me, historical MMOs won't work; MMOs aren't capable of reflecting reality, or even another's fantasy, without compromise. I point to LotRO and AoC as prime examples - these games may be great fun but they both heavily violate the world as created by their authors. For me, LotRO was virtually unplayable because it was not the Tolkien world and mostly just a WoW clone other than that (Yes, there are elements Wow doesn't have, but I'm an old-school sci fi/fantasy reader and the compromises are too deep for me to enjoy the game). AoC, well, not as bad, and the combat system is great fun, but it is no Hyboria and I don't feel like it is when I play.

    MMOs like UO, EQ, AC, and even WoW work in large part because they can do pretty much any dang thing they want and not violate the basis of the fantasy. The same for Eve, and the defunct Tabula Rasa, and many others. No one comes in with pre-conceived ideas about how the game should be. In thiese examples WoW did have a pre-existing world, and if I'd played the Warcraft games I might not be so forgiving (just as those who never read Lord of the Rings or the original Robert E. Howard Conan stories were not as judgmental, I'm sure, as I), but I still think the example stands.

    Even these MMOs go too far to suit me. Celebrations at real-world holiday times using simialr themes, references to real-world situations or literature or other fantasy works can be fun (I laughed out loud playing Wow when the goblin cook I'd just learned some recipes from listed them and shouted  'Bam!', mimicking Emeril Lagasse's famous cry at the end of the show as he presents his completed dishes), but to me they are mostly counter-immersive. They take mme out of the fantasy.

    The mechanics of the MMO will do that too much, in my opinion, when it comes to trying to be historical. History will have nothing to do with such games, rather they will be just a collection of familiar names and items in a world that didn't and couldn't exist, literally diffusing real history and, in the weak-minded, replacing it with the fantasy.

    ;)

    Have played: Everquest, Asheron's Call, Horizons, Everquest2, World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, Warhammer, Age of Conan, Darkfall

  • DOUBLESHOCKDOUBLESHOCK Member Posts: 5

    Sounds awesome.

  • dcostellodcostello Member Posts: 6

      I agree with the OP, hisorical MMOs are a much needed sub-genre within the genre...I wish that someone would make a bonafide Medieval game (the closest to that was DaoC, but that didn't work out for me).  I've given up on hoping for a AAA company to come along and make a historical game because even if they did make one, they'd just mess it up anyway.  That's why I've been writing down ideas for a Medieval MMO, just in case I get the "elevator" scenario where I have to persuade a game developer to adopt my game :) --until then I'll just be waiting.

  • Bruticus_XIBruticus_XI Member Posts: 827

    It's a good question to ask, seeing as fantasy is just a reflection of history with magic thrown in. In the real world, "magic" is technology, and there's no reason why we have to be dominated by fantasy games which replace, or combine, magic with technology to create helicopters or motorcycles (damn you WoW).

    Oh, wouldn't that be awesome. A historical MMO, slightly fictional, where Rome expands even farther east and really gets into a full-scale war with the other superpower of the ancient world, the Persians. Would probably be sometime just before the Pax Romana. Honestly, I think at this point even historical fiction would be better than more fantasy.

  • As tempting as some of these concepts seem to start, as a few other commenters have pointed out, a few kinks in the historical concept come to mind.

    Timeline: All mmos flow on some sort of timeline. If there is a timeline then there is an end. This, Im sure is the fundamental reason most developers wont even touch historical IP for games that they intend to have no end(LotRO being the only IP with enough clout & guaranteed playerbase to expend the resources to come up with a not-so-perfect-but-workable timeline solution). Its a big hurdle to overcome & has to be given so much more thought and resources to develop a game that deals appropriately with what happens when 1776 comes around in your American Revolution MMO, or when 1240 comes around and gunpowder is showing up in medieval battles?

    The developers choice is to expend lots of resources to develop a good, working, original timeline concept, or drop the timeline concept altogether and leave you in a sandbox with a vacuous feel of floating in perpetual limbo. This might appeal to some, but falls short of what most MMOers are looking for in their gaming choices.

    Politics: Weither you choose to acknowledge it or not, all historical wars have been political. Would you allow players to make crucial political decisions that send countries to war? Would Henrys invasion of France even occur if JoePlummer happens to be the highest level advisor the king has & completes his Keep the King Home quest? And who wants to tackle the sensitive issues like racism, sex(you know homo or hetero sex outside of marriage made little difference to the average pre-Christian Roman or Greek?), slavery(need to stock up on slaves so I can leave my farm for a month & fight in the american revolution,...), religion, genocide, and mass slayings by tyrants & despots-all vital to determining a countries historic geopolitical power?

    Would you allow players to ascertain a historical countries racial or religious inclinations? Would you penalize players who wouldnt conform to RPing them? Would you discount these major power builders? Would players have an active role in these, be victims of them, or would the developers choose to leave out these crucial, depth building, immersive elements that makes history what it is?

    Most players dont want to have to deal with these issues when playing(or some do-but companies dont). These issues can also be "sugar-coated" and not-dealt with, but all of them are major challenges that would require time & resources to decide how to develop or omit.

    In short, while it seems that there is a plethora of historical IP out there to be able to build a good MMO from, the development costs of producing MMOs these days is through the roof, making it impossible for an average independant to develop in a lifetime, and no big company wants to throw money(lotsa money) into a project for 2+years, without anything that sells.

    Believe me, as a veteren industry worker, these ideas are shot down before anyone can even make the pitch.

    It really does come down to big business thinking like big business, and with all the good smaller game companies being bought out by larger ones(EA), and the aggressive moves by those larger ones, toward console development, I cant see the MMO market developing as it could, or perhaps should, with abit more input from gamers rather than executives. This is the main arguement (resources expended vs. what they think/know works) for WoW=death knell of MMOs.

  • Raven724Raven724 Member Posts: 1
    Originally posted by Blacksun
    Timeline: All mmos flow on some sort of timeline. If there is a timeline then there is an end. This, Im sure is the fundamental reason most developers wont even touch historical IP for games that they intend to have no end(LotRO being the only IP with enough clout & guaranteed playerbase to expend the resources to come up with a not-so-perfect-but-workable timeline solution). Its a big hurdle to overcome & has to be given so much more thought and resources to develop a game that deals appropriately with what happens when 1776 comes around in your American Revolution MMO, or when 1240 comes around and gunpowder is showing up in medieval battles?

    The developers choice is to expend lots of resources to develop a good, working, original timeline concept, or drop the timeline concept altogether and leave you in a sandbox with a vacuous feel of floating in perpetual limbo. This might appeal to some, but falls short of what most MMOers are looking for in their gaming choices.

    Probably keep on fighting for anouther 7 years since the revolution didn't end till 1783....

  • DanaDana Member Posts: 2,415
    Originally posted by Blacksun


    Timeline: All mmos flow on some sort of timeline. If there is a timeline then there is an end. This, Im sure is the fundamental reason most developers wont even touch historical IP for games that they intend to have no end(LotRO being the only IP with enough clout & guaranteed playerbase to expend the resources to come up with a not-so-perfect-but-workable timeline solution). Its a big hurdle to overcome & has to be given so much more thought and resources to develop a game that deals appropriately with what happens when 1776 comes around in your American Revolution MMO, or when 1240 comes around and gunpowder is showing up in medieval battles?

    The developers choice is to expend lots of resources to develop a good, working, original timeline concept, or drop the timeline concept altogether and leave you in a sandbox with a vacuous feel of floating in perpetual limbo. This might appeal to some, but falls short of what most MMOers are looking for in their gaming choices.


     

    Only a very small handful of MMOs have any internal concept of time. LotRO being the notable exception to the rule.

    Most MMOs are basically a "snapshot" in a moment where people play within the box. There is no reason any of these settings would need to advance in time and have external events "imposed upon them" unless they wanted to.

    For example, expansion packs that introduced new content and "advanced the timeline" would be logical.

    Dana Massey
    Formerly of MMORPG.com
    Currently Lead Designer for Bit Trap Studios

  • brad813brad813 Member Posts: 103

    If you really think about it, Pirates V. Ninjas would be historically accurate in a way.  There have been actual historical conflicts between the Japanese and so called Western Traders, who had a habit of stealing from their Japanese trading partners(Isn't a pirate just a murderous thief anyway?).  So I think it is entirely concievable that while some slight changes from the traditional pirate idea would be needed, it could be historically accurate.

  • Loke666Loke666 Member EpicPosts: 21,441

    I said this for a long time,  a few historical games would be great. There are all kinds of other historical games, FPS, RTS, turnbased games, sim games like Stronghold....

    But the only thing close I seen are some poorly made pirate games.

    Knights, Romans, Vikings, feudal Japan...  The possibilities is endless. Of course you wont get a healer so you better not get too badly hurt.

  • Loke666Loke666 Member EpicPosts: 21,441
    Originally posted by brad813


    If you really think about it, Pirates V. Ninjas would be historically accurate in a way.  There have been actual historical conflicts between the Japanese and so called Western Traders, who had a habit of stealing from their Japanese trading partners(Isn't a pirate just a murderous thief anyway?).  So I think it is entirely concievable that while some slight changes from the traditional pirate idea would be needed, it could be historically accurate.

     

    Well, you are right but still wrong. Ninjas against Chinese Pirates would work well, it is a bit doubtful but have probably happened even if I havnt heard a story about it myself. Ninjas were never that numerous and didnt have so much historical impact as Anime and B-movies want us to believe.

    But westerners did have very little influence on japan until the Japanese-Russian war of the 1890s. The exception was the Jesuit order that did operate a little in Japan.

    But a Shogun MMO (where everyone isn't a westerner) would make a great MMO actually :)

This discussion has been closed.