Unique MMORPGs

By Jeffrey Kerkdijk (Hyarume), Onrpg writer
Article featured in Gaming Magazine Thirteen1 May Issue.
In the last few years MMORPGs haven’t been really known for innovation. Most of the MMORPGs play pretty much like  one another. However there are some games that really are unique, and some of them will never see daylight again. While many people are complaining about MMORPGs being so generic, there are several unique MMORPGs out there. In this article I want to tell the stories of some truly unique MMORPGs and some that died along the way.

The saga of Ryzom, launched in September 2004, is to be called one of a kind. A sandbox MMORPG where you can enjoy freedom, and features never seen before in any MMORPG.  The game wasn’t very lucky, it had few players. On November 20, 2006 Nevrax announced that the game would enter receivership and that Nevrax would seize to exist. However, there was still some hope. In that same month the Free Ryzom Campaign was started and was open for donations, their goal was to make Ryzom open source. They never reached that goal but they did donate sixty thousand dollars one month later.  On December 21, Nevrax was sold to the gaming company Gameforge.

Under Gameforge the game had another year of life, until the second week of February when the game was closed down. It seemed like there was no future for Ryzom. But the game opened its doors again,  the engine became open-source and the game is returning to its Pay to play business model soon. This time it seems to be noticed, there are more and more people coming to this unique MMORPG and the future seems bright once again.
Tabula Rasa was another unique MMORPG, its goal was to combine the elements of a shooter with a MMORPG. The game had a human versus aliens concept, on November 2, 2007 Tabula Rasa opened its doors. Tabula Rasa did not reach the number of subscribers that where first predicted and eventually Richard Garriott, the man behind Tabula Rasa, left NCsoft.
Darkfall was released on February 26, 2009 in Europe with features such as unrestricted PvP, a huge game world and a character development system in which you can go all ways. Despite having a lot of negative reviews, the game is sold out. Subscription numbers are unknown, and what the future will bring for Darkfall is a big mystery.
So why is it that Unique MMORPGs don’t always seem to have a successful life, why do generic games often become more successful that the ones that are different. Isn’t it strange that the most of us rather play a another game which is more like the standard MMORPG rather than another one that truly is one of a kind? But what about the ones that are having success? What about their lives?
Mabinogi a fantasy life MMORPG, a major success. With an unique combat system, character development system, and the ability to have your life in the game. It’s a big hit. The game is currently only available in Asian territories and North America, and is IP-restricted. The game has a lot of players.
City of Heroes/Villains is another unique MMORPG that has a success story,  a MMORPG with a super hero/villain theme. An original concept but there is much more to it. A unique gameplay, great customization, casual play friendly and rather than a fantasy world. A big city! Paragon city.

The launch of the game was known widely to be the most successful MMORPG launch around the globe. The game has earned itself 19 awards, the game is a great success.

Enough about games from the current generation, let’s look on some projects that are in development that also seem to be one of a kind.
Aion: The tower of eternity, with unique features such as the ability to fly and do flying combat, big character customization, unique PvP system, Skill chain system (think combo’s) it promises to be a interesting project. Also interesting is the fact the Korean and Chinese versions are already showing signs of success.
Blade and Soul, a martial arts MMORPG, promises to be a heavy action MMORPG. A  video of the game can be found on the web and it shows us gameplay that seems to be fast, with a lot of action. I even had to look twice because I thought it was a single player the first time I saw the trailer.
Some games are pretty unique and others use the concept of another and use it for their own. It all comes down to you, the player. What game do you prefer? What would you like to see? And why do some of these unique games fail so hard? What kind of gameplay do we expect from an MMORPG?

No one knows the recipe for a perfect MMORPG, we have to play them and find out ourselves whether we like them or not.
Some questions will always remain unanswered.

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