Taking over the Web: MMORPGs

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By Andrew Cumbee

Massive multi-player online role-playing games (MMORPGs) are nothing new. The idea has been around since the golden age of the Internet. However, what once was the nerdiest sector of gaming is no longer for those lonely, stay-home-on-Friday-night geeks.

With a number of different franchises from all over the gaming and film worlds jumping on board with their own MMORPGs, the number of MMORPG-players has sky-rocketed. Literally millions of people all over the world log on to play these games. So, what is an MMORPG and is this going to catch with the average gamer?

Most people have heard of EverQuest. This series really took off in the United States, and even non-gamers know about the weddings and suicides connected with the game. People took it seriously. The game spawned one official sequel and one unofficial sequel, seven expansion packs, and many different knock-offs. Even today it is still the game that all MMORPGs will be compared against.

In EverQuest, you choose a character and then customize them to have your own individual, unique character to control while on your quest. You choose a character race and class and then you are set to adventure in the world of EverQuest, which spans an entire world with different continents. You play on a server that holds up to 2,000 people playing at one time. Throughout the game you try to build up your character’s power levels, develop skills, make friends, discover items and complete quests.

EverQuest made the MMORPG popular, and now game developers are taking chances by adding their own twists on the style of game play. The Warcraft universe has just made the leap into MMORPG territory with The World of Warcraft. Many people remember playing Warcraft 2, a game that it seems everyone has. This features similar characters and the "human vs. orc" theme. Players form teams with others and must complete missions and battle other teams for power and fortune. The game is new everyday, as the developer changes things around to make sure players will never be bored. World of Warcraft was released in 2002 and is still heralded as the crown jewel of MMORPGs.

The Matrix will soon be coming to us from Monolith, Warner Brothers Interactive and Sega as The Matrix Online. This game has been hyped up for a long time now, and on April 1, the MMORPG will step into the realm of "socially acceptable games." Matrix takes place after the films and will allow players to customize their characters and aid in the war between humans and machines. They can either choose to be on the side of the humans, machines or Merovingians. The story unfolds over time, according to what you do, and also what the developers establish in the game after it is released.

Many other games have been released in the last couple of years, all with different settings and things to do. For the Final Fantasy nuts, Final Fantasy XI was made into an MMORPG. There’s also Star Wars Galaxies, which, as the title suggests, is a MMORPG set in the world of Star Wars. Dungeons and Dragons is also getting the online treatment in a few months. City of Heroes is another very popular game, with the theme for that game being superheroes. There’s even a Lord of the Rings: Middle-earth Online on its way.

Expect this craze to outgrow its roots and get away from being just the next step for fantasy geeks. It is already becoming more and more acceptable and stepping into the shoes of many different types of games.

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