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Massively multi-player online role-playing video games (MMORPGs) are role-playing video games played online. They differ from other RPGs with online capability in that they are designed to be played with other people, most often with no single-player portion. Also, the scale of the online experience is vast compared to normal RPGs, with servers often supporting populations of thousands of players, and multiple servers on offer. Because of server upkeep, games usually charge a monthly fee, though there are exceptions with free trials (Anarchy Online) or a one-time fee (Guild Wars). However, there are games whose publishers rely on the real-money sale of in-game items for their income. These games are typically termed "free-to-play".
The Character System
Playing in a MMORPG requires playing as a certain character. In a level-based MMORPG, which is the most common type of MMORPG, this character starts off at a low level and begins to train to reach a higher level, where better skills and weapons and armor that are of a higher level can be accessed.
Characters in these games can also be separated into classes, or jobs. In these MMORPGs each individual type of class have their own strengths and weaknesses, which can lead to certain builds that can be used to counter each class. This class-oriented system can lead to a more versatile gameplay. Bonuses also exist in each class which are not present in others.
Guild and Quests
MMORPGS usually have a guild system, where players can unite to form a kind of force that help each other defeat enemies. This form of organization can create friendly competition amongst guilds which enhances multi-player gameplay.
Quests are usually side adventures and stories that are linked in some way to the game. A quest usually consists of some form of task which has to be completed. At the end of a quest, a reward is usually the privilege that the player gets, for example an item or access to a hidden area or service.
Most MMORPGs use a fantasy theme in their worlds. Hybrid themes incorporating elements of other themes, including sorcery and spell-craft, swordsmanship, guns and even the dead are explored in various MMORPGs. Most of these games use exploration as a primary part of their games, to make the game last longer and to make gameplay unpredictable. Monsters, another major theme of this genres, may contain drops which characters could use. Items such as healing items (restoratives) and skill catalysts are a primary part of a character's tactics. The obvious theme, consisting of the HP (health) and SP or Mana bar, determines how long a player can withstand hits and the amount of mental stamina left to use skills.
A text-based MMORPG is usually one that is based on text navigation, usually on an internet browser. While these text-based MMORPGs do not draw as many gamers into them due to the lack of hands-on action and interactivity, these games have a tendency to be free in cost and in lag. These games have been criticized greatly for having no action and repetitive in nature, using only text and images to make attempts to recreate what would be a real environment in a real MMORPG.
The Client-Server System
The software that operates the game is usually run on a server which is connected to via clients by players. In private servers of games, GMs run the server using revenue that is generated by subscription fees or donations.
- Some gamers feel that constantly paying for a game is too high a cost, even if it is necessary to the survival of the game.
- Many MMORPGs feature what is described as a level treadmill or grind feeling that eventually settles in. The constant striving and repetitive tasks & training to reach that next level or get that new item can come off as more of a chore and less of a game to some players.
- Anarchy Online
- Asheron's Call
- City of Heroes
- EVE Online
- Everquest II
- Guild Wars
- MU Online
- Ragnarok Online
- Ultima Online
- World of Warcraft
- Pirates of the Caribbean Online
- StarQuest Online
- Vanguard Saga of Heroes