MMO Understanding

You’re taking the fact that every game is an RPG, and trying to further your own debate (which is fine), but it’s not really what I was trying to show you. FPS kind of is a genre if you think about it. “First Person” is not a genre, it actually is just a viewpoint, but “First Person Shooter” is a genre.
Pretty much every juice product is made using water, does that mean we should call every juice product Water? It should be up to the developer to apply a “genre” to their game, whether or not it actually fits the description.

Dark Messiah of Might and Magic is labeled FPS Action Roleplaying, even though to me, it’s not a shooter, it’s an rpg game through a first person viewpoint. There’s some shooting going on with projectiles and bows, but I still wouldn’t call it a shooter. Why? Because to me, when I hear FPS, I think of call of duty. It’s the same with RPG; everyone has their own meaning that they apply to a word, but every opinion is still valid because it’s their own.

There’s also Mirror Edge. It is labeled First Person Action Adventure Platformer. It’s not labeled First Person Shooter because, even though you actually can shoot guns, and even though you technically are viewing the game through first person, the emphasis is not on the fact that it’s an FPS. Why? Once again, there’s a reputation that comes with each label that developers don’t want to get across. If you hear that Mirror’s Edge is an FPS, are you, or are you not going to automatically assume you’re going to be holding an assault rifle and blowing up buildings? With further research, you’ll learn that it’s not the case, but because you initially heard that it was an FPS, you already started developing feelings of like/dislike towards it based on it’s label alone. If you want to apply your own label to a game, that’s all well and fine, but again, it’s only your opinion (which is great).

To me, MMO is a type of network that allows multiple users to connect simultaneously to a game or game world. It’s not something you can actually create, it’s something that’s happened upon (can you really call it an MMO if you’re the only one playing?) Though the first MMO happened to be an RPG, it doesn’t mean that every type of MMO should be labeled as such. MMORPG is a product of a person that puts their RPG onto a network allowing multiple users, and concurrently, multiple users connect. The word Massive is highly subjective. The main focus here should actually be Multiplayer Online.

I am surprised how well the topic got heated up. I am even more pleased with the posters in it. We had several moments where we could have turned into a warzone in here but we all kept it somewhat professional and on topic. :slight_smile: I salute you all.

I think there’s a sweet spot where you have interactions with a massive player base asynchronously and have more intimate synchronous play sessions with smaller groups of players. Supporting a RPG dungeon crawl with 16-32 players synchronously doesn’t create a huge tech burden for example, and offering the larger community global services like chat, marketplaces, guilds, fort building, etc which scale through external services retains the best parts of a massive player base in my opinion. That way you can guarantee polished/low-latency interactions for the active play sessions and not sacrifice overall quality as your community continues to grow. This model also works well in the economy of server management which can quickly become important if you have a fun game on your hands. :slight_smile:

So essentially you would stretch your resources as your player base stretches. Causing minimal work load on the overall project. Instead of beasting it out at once you gradually add to it as it is needed.

@Ashern - You are right, shooters are a genre. I don’t debate that. I am completely fine with people making their own genre’s up based on their game. That point is one that doesn’t need argument. If I may repeat myself again, it is because of the initial claim to technical term that I responded to.

Since the convo is no longer about that, and NOW it is established that it isn’t “Technically” the way it was represented, but rather it is defined by the developer or fan base, (On an independent or person by person basis) then there is no issue :cool:

If you read carefully, you would see my ridiculous comment was geared towards Ryzon when he stated (every game being an RPG) - It was an exaggeration to prove a point.

If you read my response to you, I specifically said:

Technically for me, MMO is a server farm that allows hundreds of users to connect to one continuous game world. FPS is first-person perspective with guns. RPG is iffy but most categories it with vast equipment, stats and leveling up.

How would you guys classify games like maple Story and Grand Chase? Both are titled as MMORPG’s and both are sidescrollers and mostly 2D/2.5D. Neither has open worlds, or one continuous world. Grand Chase is a lobby based dungeon crawler with up to 3 other people. Or up to 8 on a PvP battle. Maple is map to map like you would see in a Pokemon game. Does this change your thoughts on the term “MMO”? Looking forward to comments on this.

Actually I was the first to bring up every game is an RPG :P. There might be a few instances in which you can find situations when you aren’t any particular role, but you can even make up a role for yourself in those situations! In Bejeweled, you play the role of a cursor trying to swap around jewels until they match!

Anyways, I wasn’t trying to take sides, but instead just show how there is almost no set definition of what a game is or isn’t. They just are, like you say, what the developers or fanbase makes them out to be. Even technical aspects of things may contradict themselves if you keep going deeper.

Guild Wars (1) is map-based, and has a limit to the amount of players in one channel at any given time. And when you leave town to go into the field, you are actually taken to your own personal instance of the field (only you and your current party members appear in your instance). I consider it an MMO because there are various amounts of players that you can add to a friend list or guild, and chat with them no matter what map they’re in. If I really think about it, the main feature of an for me MMO is the in-game messaging system. Without that, I don’t think I would call it an MMO no matter how many people are running around the screen xD.

Just because the word MMO means “massive multiplayer online” doesn’t mean it applies to all online games that have a number of players online.

From wikipedia:

A loby-based game that has usually about 64 (max) players online on the same server isn’t really an MMO.

It don’t know why I’m replying since this has been pretty clearly explained by JBaldwin in my opinion but it’s basically as simple as that ? :stuck_out_tongue:

Why would the server have a max 64 players? This thread is not directly linked to UE servers.

Hi Ryzon,

A think a distinction should be made here.

A Co-op, with smaller groups of players connecting through a lobby, but only a limited number of players existing in a given space, would actually be considered a Multiplayer Online Game (MOG) – nix the extra “M”. The “massively” part comes into play when hundreds+ of players exist together in the same space. This is why you don’t hear games like Call of Duty or League of Legends referred to as MMOs. Publishers understand that (incorrectly) attaching the “MMO” tag to these games would confuse much of their regular player base (and be somewhat misleading to first time players).

I hope that helps.


This cannot be right though. It should be based on players per server not game room. Because even the typical MMO’s have limits on how many players can be in one scene. Thus why instances were created. Actually there are several MMO’s that are just that lobby based, instanced based, or whatever you want to call it.

Hi Ryzon,

The number of players in one scene hits the nail on the head. A game isn’t an MMO just because it can group 8 or 16 or 32 players together in one instance; the first M, “massively”, means that players can interact at the same time on a much larger scale, whether portions of the game are instanced or not.

For example, one popular game type today is the MOBA, short for “Multiplayer Online Battle Arena”. The two most popular MOBAs, Dota 2 and League of Legends, each have millions of players online at the same time during peak hours. Millions are on line, and yet the games are not known as MMOBAs (adding the “massively” abbreviation) – they are simply MOBAs, because each game takes place in an instance with a limited number of players.

Here’s another definition, ripped from an Examiner article]( on the subject:

So while a gray area certainly exists, there is definitely a distinction to be made between MOGs and MMOGs.


@OP: you are wrong about your term “MMO”, a lobby based game is not a MMO if there are ~10 players per game.

Check out this great article about the use of the term “massively” (as opposed to simply multiplayer) from Joystiq last year. It was a fun read.

The Think Tank: How do you define massive?](

Some highlights:

BEAU: A “real” MMO is defined by a good number of people (enough to make a large neighborhood, but that’s up for debate) interacting and leaving a lasting imprint on a virtual world…

BREE: To me the term massive is about how big the game feels population-wise rather than how many people are actually around… A game that lets me trade, roleplay, PvP, and otherwise interact with people on the other side of the world simply feels more massive than a huge game with loads of people but empty zones and no reason to interact with anyone…

JUSTIN: …But for me, it’s kind of a much more subjective feeling. Some MMOs feel massive and some don’t, and sometimes that has little to do with the actual numbers around me. I mean, I could be playing a game with a million people, but if most of them are in endgame zones and I’m all alone in the beginning zone, it won’t feel massive. Sometimes just the larger community surrounding the game can make an impact in making it feel massive…

SHAWN: …I’d call “massive” anything that feels massive. This usually means a persistent world with other people running around. It means a world where you can run over and join your friends without worrying about what instance or server they’re on. It means a world with little or no restrictions on group play. I’m kinda tired of studios putting the “massive” label on games with four- or six-person team limits.

TERILYNN: I always thought of the term as being “maybe more than you can shake a stick at, but definitely more than can be played with in a typical console game.”…

I agree with the OP.

Now then, on to the juicy bits.

From the consumers perspective, just what does a genre mean to you? Imagine you have no idea what a “Massively Multiplayer Online” game is. Using your best layman judgment, what does it tell you as a description?

Massively -Okay, so… we’re talking large scale…-ish?
Massively Multiplayer - Ah… right. So I assume the game is massively based or heavily dependent on multiplayer? …Go on.
Online - Ok, cool. So I just plug in my 56k connection and I’m good to go. No more lan parties, YES!

What else does it say? Does it say anything about there by chance being large worlds? Small arenas rather? Hell, maybe it’s a card game playing 1v1 and I can play all those people online …eventually!

Clearly, “MMO” is a very ambiguous subject, rather a fancy term for “Multiplayer Game” held to a higher standard… sorta. Now then, the above questions can be answered hopefully by reviewing your title cover. All a genre means to do is categorize where on the shelf it belongs by describing your game in as few words as possible. “MMO” or any of its counterparts don’t do that efficiently enough.

I personally believe the MMO genre should be retitled to something more appropriately fitting, but not restricted by the constraints of this argument (suggested mechanics, etc). The idea being simple enough, if you have a multiplayer FPS game, It’d be an OFPS - Online first person shooter. Likewise, an MMORPG would simply become an ORPG and so forth. Very standardized and uniform.

What makes them ‘massively multiplayer’ at all? If nothing, perhaps they ought to be considered “Merely Multiplayer Online” games.

Though, it could be a lost-in-translation issue. English has a very taxonomic convention, where adding an adjective can wildly distinguish a term, such that all ‘Department Stores’ are ‘Stores’, but not all ‘Stores’ are ‘Department Stores’. The same logic applies to MMORPGs vs. mere Multiplayer RPGs, a nuance that may not have been carried in the translation to other markets (or the reverse, a general idea that became specific when translated to English). Thanks to international markets and a lack of talented translators, the end result is that you could easily see games with a descriptor that seems to defy convention.

This a problem not unique to games. We have “science fiction” that is more of an aesthetic theme than a genre, and “soap operas” that deliberately have almost nothing to do with opera. One must surely dread organizing the cacophony of terms used to describe music (‘house’, ‘grunge’, ‘dubstep’), where the meaning of the words has little to do with the music’s instrumental composition.

When in doubt, perhaps your best bet as a developer is simply to take note of the games your product superficially resembles, in the market you’re likely to release in, and borrow their descriptors. Stealth RPG hybrid? Sure. Story-driven first-person platformer? Of course! Tactical fantasy yak shooter? Naturally!

@Day, Kuro. You are taking definitions from the web based on what the stereotype for MMO means. MMO is Massive Multiplayer Online. Let us do this and break the words down.

-Massive- meaning many, or very large. Could be game size, game content, and or player base. (Nothing stating it needs to be all on one world, or at the same time)

**-Multiplayer- ** meaning you connect with other online users either socially via chats or by game play, actual in game playing. Cane be Co-Op or PvP.

-Online- meaning there has to be some kind of server running to have the content open.

Now if you break these words down and make a new meaning based on logic and usage of English and not a stereotype, this is roughly what I get.

MMO- an application ran online via a network configuration and hosts many (non exact number) connections to one or many servers. Allowing usage of these connections to later connect to each other over the Internet.

MMO’s have no definite number to reach to be considered MMO. Neither are required to meet a specific genre of game play. If I were to play one vs one online, 16 vs 16, or 100 randoms running around, if the player base is quite “Massive” and some of the elements are there to make it a connection based game, then it could be a MMO.

If my game reaches 1+ Million online players and only 64 can play at a time with each other I will still call it an MMO. If I were to play WOW and only seen 64 players ever on screen at a time will you try to claim it too is not an MMO? Think about the logic here. throw traditional MMO out the window. Were going from 3 letters here and there meaning together and on their own. Breaking it down.

BTW: Most MMO’s have server restrictions on how many can be on that server at once. So look at this workflow.

Traditional MMO- severs full you use another server to play game.

Lobby MMO- servers are full use another server to access game. Severs are open but a room is full use another room. The difference is Lobby based MMO’s would have set limits directly from the menu and not wait for you to lag out in game. also in lobby I can talk to everyone online in that server like in traditional MMO’s. I can also talk to my friends and others in other games or from the lobby while I am in game or they are via PM tags or whatever else global tags they use. Essentially a chat based game could be an MMO if it was just a large global chat room for the World to use. If it is labeled as some kind of game then well there you have it. A bunch of games could be titled as MMO if they ignored the stereotypes…

Ready to read any thought and suggestions. :slight_smile:

Hi Ryzon,

That’s a fine definition for the word “massive.” On its own, it makes perfect sense. However, for the purposes of our discussion, the word is part of a term which already has its own generally established definition (however flexible that definition may be – see my post above).

Try thinking about it this way. A “soap box”, literally, must be made from actual soap, right? Well, of course that isn’t right! People in the English speaking world understand the term to have a different definition than “a box made out of soap”.

Now, the same logic applies to that first “M” in “MMO”. You can define the term “massively” quite succinctly, separately from the “multiplayer online” part, but when those words are used together, the definition shifts in most people’s minds to the general understanding of the term “MMO”, one which has evolved over the past 15 or so years. And I think this is where you’re finding a disconnect with other posters.

If the players cannot all interact on a scale greater than 16 vs. 16, then it won’t fall under the definition that most people understand. That should be clear from the responses in this thread. If they can interact in the hundreds, however, then I imagine you’re on more solid ground.

In WoW, players can interact with each other on a scale in the thousands, even if some instances have 64 or fewer players. Game characters can chat, change instances, group, buy and sell, and affect the world around them on a rather large scale. This is what distinguishes that particular “MMO” from other “massive” but completely instanced games like Call of Duty.

If your game is that successful, then you rock as a developer, and congratulations! But would 64 players per world be enough to constitute an “MMO”?

Who knows. It’s possible, although I suspect most users would probably expect potential interaction with hundreds or thousands once that second “M” is added to the description. From their perspective, it doesn’t matter how many other people are playing at home – that has no impact on their game. What matters to them, per the expectation of an “MMO” experience, is how many people are playing in their world.

I hope that helps!


What I find strange in the traditional type MMO’s you seem to interact more with NPC’s and AI than the actual other players online. Most of the literal interaction is text based. I find this to be odd for a game type that is suppose to pride itself in Online user interaction.

Whats your thoughts on this?