MMO Games limited to Orcs & Spaceships?

Earlier this week I visited the Guardian website, and I found this post by Aleks Krotoski.

Now I've been playing online games for many moons now and have tried many of the game offerings that are on the market and I don't argee that all MMO games are Orc and Spaceship based, many are but not all. Also I feel that the reasons for so many fantasy-based games originates in the model, the gaming industry inherited.

thumb_planetside1.jpgFirst let us look at the alternatives that are about on the market for people to play:
Planetside is a 'true' MMOFPS, admittedly a bit long in the tooth now, yet it doesn't use instanced maps like many of the recent games plus it's not full of orcs or spaceships (yet).
Also under SOE are Star Wars galaxies and Matrix online, again these games aren't swimming with Orcs, although elements of SWG have space combat. SOE's Everquest and Vanguard cater for the fantasy genre.
There is also the 'City of' games (heroes/villains) that are based around a comic book theme.
About to arrive on the scene is Tabula Rasa, while not everyone's cup of tea, it uses the tried and tested missions & kills = xp = levels, plus it's got guns and aliens. A break from the normal fantasy genre to Sci-fi but the underlying game structure is the same, just with a different skin.

It's apparent that many MMO games are based around the old D&D style of play. Hence it was an easier progression from turn based (paper and pencil) to real-time (mouse and keyboard) play styles. World of Warcraft captures the imagination of the old D&D players, while EVE expands on that old classic 'Elite'.
Old games become new games just with prettier graphics and newer interfaces but the basis of the games remains the same, become the best.

I believe there are 2 types of MMO game, those based around progression/levels and those that are not.
The level based games are the most common as the publishers can ensure a player is likely to remain playing for a long period, thus generating more money, because lets face it, it all comes down to money at the end of the day.

cov-coh-pack.jpgThe other type of game is going to be the easiest to fit into multiple genres. As there is no progression it's not going to be something people are going to part with money to play on a subscription basis, nor is it likely to retain player interrest for a long period.
Ok, I know there are some exceptions to this grouping, like level based Guild Wars which is not subscription based, yet still retains a large player base.

Levels should be easy to start and get progressively harder the higher you rise. The top level shouldn't be too easily obtainable to keep players in a state of progression for longer.
The game developer has be careful not to make progression too taxing, making players 'grind' up the levels, can destroy any good feelings towards the game from players and they will end up swapping to another game.
On the other hand make it too easy and the top level status has less appeal when a new player can obtain max level by continued playing.

So in conclusion, until new methods of leveling are realised and tested, there is unlikely to be a massive break from the traditional methods used to retain players (leveling). Additionally the fantasy genre works exceptionally well with this format and I think that until the former changes the latter's dominance over MMO's won't budge.

My Guide to starting a MMO Guild/Group/Clan/Outfit

There a many MMO games out there, many of which have built in functionality for clan/group/outfit. For the most part you start to play a game and you get invited to join up to one of these groups.

If you decide at some point to start your own here are some lessons that I have learnt in the past few years playing MMO's and managing an active group.

First a little background.

Way back in January 2005 I started to play a massive-multiplayer game called Planetside after a gaming friend told me all about it and I got a free trail key. Within the first couple of days i'd been invited to an outfit within the game.

During the summer months there was a lot of activity and teamwork within the ranks of the group. By September time the top-level command had reduced the amount of time they played. Another member and myself attempted to keep things going and promote teamwork whenever possible. We hosted a teamspeak server and ran a simple forum system to allow communication between members.

The straw that broke the camels back was the lack of appreciation we gained from the top level members who infact demoted us to make way for a new 'ideal' structure and management.

So on October 17th 2005 ChaosNC was born, created by Dok, MK and myself.

The three of us had only a handful of ideas in mind but we felt that they were a solid basis with which we could move forward.


Our main goal has always been 'Have fun'. If we made the group too structured and limited, then it isn't fun and people will end up leaving.
Our second aim was to have multiple leaders, rather than just 1 top level person commanding the whole group, we decided on three people to allow discussion and debate over items that concerned the group.


Rules make up the backbone of the group and they should be brief and exact. You can and should expand on other group guidelines elsewhere but try and keep the basic ones in plain sight and make them easy to understand.

For example our rules have altered a little since the start of the game but only to clarify the meaning of them, our rules currently state:

  • No Teamkilling!
  • Squad Leaders MUST use Teamspeak and actively lead the squad.
  • Public attacks and personal abuse on other players / Outfits is strictly prohibited.

These rules are simple and directly state what we expect of each member, a higher ranked members of the group should examine any breach of these rules.

Group-wide ideas/policies

Before introducing a new idea to the whole group, ensure it has been discussed by the leaders first. We managed this by opening up the discussion to include members from next level down in the group structure. This insures that we haven't missed anything out and that our senior members were buying in to the proposed ideas.

If you are still unsure then try a group-wide poll/vote on the subject.


Now there are certain things you don't think of the first time you start up an ingame group, there are many pitfalls that you can and can't avoid. I'll start to detail a few of these so you can get a feel for them.


It's acceptable to think you will start off small. If you are actively inviting new members this number can grow extremely fast and can be quite difficult to manage. Make sure you have your rules/guidelines in place and make sure people can see/read them.


If you work as a team ensure everyone know their roles, if you have new players try and take the time to explain the game if they are very new and/or the way your group works. Don't expect everyone to automatically understand everything you expect of them outside of the main rules.

If you have veterans in the group suggest scheduling some training sessions and tips/hints guides.


Try and gain access to a Teamspeak or Ventrillo server, this can help you to rally members and can be useful for high ranked members meetings. Not to meantion the fact that Voice comms always a bonus in any game. But beware of give members to many rights at the start, only give it to those people you trust.

Removing Members

If you need to remove a member do so quickly, also make sure that you inform other members of thhe reason why you kicked someone ( if they aren't that clear). Don't keep quite about it unless they is a very good reason, else you members will be wondering if it's their turn next.

Active Leaders / Subleaders

This is a difficult goal to reach, you need to have the right balance of players at the command level to keep things ticking over. As i said before if all the top ranking members stop playing can the remaining officers manage without them? If you have hardly no body playing at the command level think about demoting some of them and moving up some trusted active players. If member see that nobody is leading them, they will leave without a second thought.

Problematic Members

There is little you can do you avoid getting problematic members but you can reduce the amount of disruption and damage to the group by identifying them as early as possible.

Annoying/controlling/wannabe type:

You will always get these people in your group if you are actively inviting. At first they will seem like an all-round nice person but you will start to get indications something is up. Look out for people that always what to be the first to obtain something, the example I can give is the squad leader function in Planetside (Squad Leaders earn different XP to others in the squad, harder to obtain).

Childish/Immature type:

There will be time that we all have a laugh and joke on teamspeak or on the forums. Keep an eye open for people fooling around with members on teamspeak or in game especially if higher ranked members aren't around.

“While the cats away..”

Veteran Players:

You need to be careful with veteran players; they can cause a lot of damage to a group. Remember that a veteran player has a lot to offer you and your group but they can also bring a lot of bad habits with them, like teamkilling spawncamping or killstealing.

Ok so you think we'll kick the player out, but be careful the player may have made some allies among your ranks and will drag them out too. Also a veteran player may try and blacken your name and tell lies about how/why they left. Also unless you know the person very, very well don't give them too high a rank within the group.


Here is a quick list of the items I've discussed above:

  • Set clear guidelines that are easily followed, don't over complicate matters with too many details.
  • Ensure members know whom to contact if they have a problem and avoid publicly airing disputes.
  • Promote members that show dedication towards the group and those that have stuck by you
  • Always give members a second chance. If they screwed up once they may not do it again. ( Unwritten Warning)
  • If you have to remove a member from the group, explain to the other members why and give your reasoning. Don't keep them in the dark unless you absolutely need too, it can breed ill feelings and mistrust.
  • If the top-level members aren't activate ensure that you have dependable senior member that can handle problems or report them to you if not.
  • Give members input on ideas and hold senior member meetings to discuss issues and ideas when possible.
  • If a new member joins ensure the higher ranking members greet them, also ensure they read the rules and supply help if they need it.
  • Remember new members may not be suited to your group, if others within the group comment on this, keep an eye on them.

Thanks for reading this guide I hope it will help you to manage and plan your own groups' future.

Happy gaming.

City of Heroes/Villains: Review

So over the past 3 months I have strayed from my normal bunch of games (Planetside/Guild Wars/BF) and I have been playing City of Villains after Rach started playing it 2 months before that.

Infact I bought the combined Good Vs Evil edition, so I have the ability to create heroes and villains but I tend to favour the darker side of things.

So I thought I'd write a simple review so people can get an idea of the game and how it all hang together.

For those of you that are unaware of the game it’s a MMORPG designed by Cryptic Studios and published by NCSoft. As you may have guessed it is based around superhero/villain genre and delivers a lot of content for your monthly subscription.
There are numerous areas that are populated by NPC's and other players, which area you can safely visit is determined by your level. Going to a high-end area is sure to bring you a lot of pain.

To progress through the levels you will need to accept and complete missions, while each city/island area is massive and you'll bump into other players frequently, each mission is instanced and it will be you and your team versus NPC enemies. As for the NPC's there are various enemy groups at work depending on your location, over time you learn more about each group and how best to fight them.

Another feature about the game that I feel is well implemented is the chat functionality, where as chat system is some game is bulky and cumbersome Cryptic seem to have designed a system that is easily mastered.

And finally I come to the 2 elements that really make the game unique and give it alot of appeal and longevity for players.
First are the fully customisable costumes and looks for your character using a well built designer, which can pretty much handle millions of combinations allowing you to give your character that perfect look.
Secondly are the Powers.

Upon character creation you get you choose the type of character you wish to play. Each of these is unique even the hero and villain options aren't the same.
Once selected you get to choose 2 power sets, depending on your type of character depends what you are offered there are normally 6 options to choose from in each set.
You start off with 2 powers and gain more as you advance through the game, each power can be customised with enhancements the allow you to increase damage or perhaps decrease the enemies resistance.

There are standard pool powers that everyone has access to; these include the wonderful travel powers options such as fly, superspeed, teleport and superjump.
Well that’s all I can think to write at the moment, but if you are thinking or looking for a new game to play then I'd advise giving the 'City of' games a go.

There are a few trails out there so you can get your teeth into the game before deciding if you'd like to purchase it.

Planetside Reserves

As you may or may not know Dok and myself play a MMOFPS/RPG called Planetside, it has been running for nearly 3 years now (launched May 19th 2003). Until now has always been a subscription game with the odd 14-30 free day trails floating about the place. Set to launch today (23rd) is a Planetside Demo named Planetside reserves (FAQ). 



If you want to see what planetside is like before downloading the client then check out this video (8mb/16mb – MS Media Player 10) created by player MarcoPolo as part of the UK fans guerilla marketing campaign.

Lightning Tank EventIf you are going to play then drop me a line chaoticdecimation[at] or pay my outfit (ChaosNC) a visit at our website, we will be glad to show you the ropes, answer any questions you have and run a teamspeak server for use in game.