They are all 1st Generation MMOs!
Jan 24, 2007 13:54:46

I talked about the concept of 1st gen, 2nd gen, 3rd gen MMOs on podcast 49. The Ancient Gaming Noob has tackled the subject and his community has been holding an ongoing discussion regarding the merits of the wikipedia definition of the various MMO games.

You better go see this and this first for context.

This wikipedia definition is total garbage. Specific issues:

DAoC and AO are 2nd gen? How so? By no stretch of the imagination are they improvements over the listed 1st gen games, nor do they represent any real advancement in game-play mechanics.

City of Heroes is 2nd gen, but WoW is 3rd? Why?I challenge anyone to find a specific difference between the two aside from the seamless world. Of course, based on the list, the seamless world cannot mean a game is automatically 3rd gen because EQ2 falls into the 3rd gen list that is given.

Lineage II is 2nd gen and Guild Wars is 3rd? Tell me why. The graphics are strikingly similar as are the system requirements. Lineage II is seamless yet it lags by a generation. The control schemes can't be the reason because they are the same. There is no clear reason for this separation.

We need to face facts here and recognize that we're still in the 1st generation. Can anyone tell me why FPS games do not refer to generations? Ok, I'll tell you why. It is because there hasn't been a significant platform upgrade since Wolf 3D. Yes the tech is better and has improved inch by inch by inch over the years, but the game-play and overall concept of what an FPS game is hasn't changed since it was invented. For this reason there is no reason to put a Next gen tag on it.

The ONLY distinction that I would even begin to entertain is the overall graphical quality/requirements of the games in question and even then it is a serious reach. Point given on my podcast this past week:

Compare Vanguard and EverQuest. The only significant difference is the resolution of the textures which boils down to support for modern shaders and whatnot. With DX10 I'm sure Vanguard will support volumetric clouds and all that fancy stuff, but this is a difference between a $150 video card and a $40 video card, and even then EQ can press a machine hard with all of its settings up. What about the seamless world technology you say?

The seamless world technology is the single noteworthy game-play mechanic or platform enhancement between games like EQ and Vanguard or WoW and CoH, but this technology which was present in at least one of the games in the 1st gen list and several of the 2nd gen, which kills that theory altogether.

The only thing that can flip the switch on a new generation of games for a genre would be the implementation of a new standard feature that changes the game-play of the genre forever. By this standard UO fits in the first generation and the others all fit into 2nd as this represented the move from 2D to 3D perspectives in MMO worlds. One could cram all the seamless ones into a 3rd gen, but there would be no reasonable time-line within the generational spread due to the early adopters of seamless tech. This entire theory is tenuous, but has more merit than anything else we have seen.

I'm probably as irritated with this concept as I am with the sandbox thing. There currently is no generational split between MMOs regardless of when they released or the machine requirements, and at this point, I'm not sure there ever will be, and when you consider the FPS or RTS example, no delineation is necessary.

Submitted by Brent on Jan 24, 2007 13:54:46 CST (comments: 10)


'/ agree' by darrenl
Submitted on 2007-01-24 14:39:59 CST
Dude...I completely agree. No shit, I just put us a comment like this over at Ancient Gaming Noob.

/cut and paste...

There is no real such things as generations of MMOs. There…I said it.

What has really changed since UO or EQ? Really nothing but graphics and lowering the bar to entry with gameplay tweaks…thats it. MMOs are kinda like a phone…there really is no difference in functionality between the phones we have now and the the first phone Alexander Graham Bell invented in 1876. Sure, we now have call waiting, call answer and such, but its still a phone.

I guess I don’t understand the relevance of this topic as of late. Its fascinating to be sure,and I love the ideas come out of this, but maybe we’re looking for something that isn’t there??

'instances and some other term' by tide
Submitted on 2007-01-24 15:19:03 CST
I don't think this "generation" stuff makes sense, except when you're talking about GemstoneIII or the original NeverWinter Nights on the old ISP's it seems handy to refer to them as "first-gen". But you're right about MMO's from UO till now still having much the same general features and gameplay, and that it doesn't make sense to categorize games because of newer (but functionally the same) PC hw.

But what about instances? It wasn't that long ago (Nov '05) that McQuaid went off about instancing and its possible effects on a title. With the dependency on instancing in games like DDO, GW and the upcoming LotRO, couldn't we at least use that as means to look at older games? EQ had instances of course, but the whole model of something like GW and DDO strikes me as being really different. Heck Eve for that matter is a unique model as well. Maybe not as a different "generation", but something else might help to distinguish things.

'no generations' by Sente
Submitted on 2007-01-24 15:57:15 CST
I find it quite meaningless to talk about generations of MMOGs when it comes to game features. There is no single game feature, including seamless worlds and instancing, that would define a generation shift iMHO. A number of features and mechanics are certainly nice to have and have contributed to improvements of many games. But in the end it is how these features have bene used by the game designers that make or break the experience, not the features themselves.

If any feature at all should be considered, I think it may be player-driven and player-created content. Maybe Ryzom will be considered one early adopter in this case.

Another approach to a generational division would be based on business models, e.g. subscription models, free-to-play with buying in-game improvements or in-game advertising, or exchange virtual currency for real currency.
But all of these models can thrive and coexist I think - no reason to divide them into generations.
he whole game generation split just seem quite meaningless - but hey, it gives us MMO geeks something to discuss ;-)

'Fear thy generation...' by cyanbane
Submitted on 2007-01-24 22:29:35 CST
I had to post on this, good stuff:

15 Years? Am I an MMO Yuppie?

'didnt like my linkage' by cyanbane
Submitted on 2007-01-24 22:30:01 CST

'I'm glad' by Brent
Submitted on 2007-01-25 09:59:17 CST
Wow, everyone seems to agree. /whew

i figured Darren was going to come over here and rip me a new one.... but this time we're on the same page. :)

'Oh crap' by darrenl
Submitted on 2007-01-26 13:10:44 CST
I've traumatized Brent...


'Hmmm... let me stir the pot!' by Heartless
Submitted on 2007-01-27 03:07:39 CST
What has changed since UO and EQ? Nothing other than the fact the majority of MMORPGs have gone with the EQ model (which is not really EQ's, but I digress). Virtually none have gone with the UO model. Not to mention there were games well before UO and EQ.

MMORPGs seem to get limited to "graphical" games. I content that MUDs are by far and away the "first generation" of MMORPGs. The word that gets tangled here is massive. What defines massive? I know MUDs that had more players than the likes of Asheron's Call 2 or D&D Online. Let's give credit where credit is due.. MUDs started this.

The second sticking point that no one is discussing is the fact we have no quantifiable way to measure "generations". It simply seems to come down to release date or the date the project was announced.

You seem to want to quantify generations by what the game offers. If that is the case then I strongly argue that WoW is as different in playstyle to EQ as EQ is to UO. Even if WoW has the same characteristics of EQ it does not execute them the same way. EQ was never solo friendly. WoW is solo friendly. EQ2 will never be friendly to aging PCs. WoW will always be friendly to older PCs.

So do I have an answer for what generations are? Not really, but I would start by saying MUDs were the first generation. Then it is up in the air for what people want to discuss as the next generation.

'It's not a sticking point' by tdous
Submitted on 2007-01-28 19:25:25 CST
With respect to your second point, I don't think that "no one is discussing".."the fact we have no quantifiable way to measure generations". This is a point already agreed, I think, by the very nature of the post and by those agreeing with it. If you say that MMO generations in "modern" graphical online roleplaying games simply don't exist because no significant gameplay development has occurred to warrant such a grand description as next generation feature, while applying that to all existing games, you are implying that there is no currently measurable definition of generation. Otherwise we would know what is and isn't a certain generation and the confusion wouldn't have arisen in the first place.

In topsy-turvy order, to go on to your first point, although I never played a MUD I am not desputing their role in the history of the online RPG. I don't think anyone could. However, which ever game you choose to pin the tail to as being the first of the modern MMOs I think most people consider what we see as MMORPGs today and what MUDs were/are is not exactly the same thing. With that in mind, the current 1st "generation" of MMORPGs of which all the current modern games are part, as per the post, while being an evolution of the online concept, are genre unto themselves. This may be generation 2 of online roleplaying but, by virtue of lacking the definition to sub-categorise further, it is generation 1 of MMORPGs.

'*kicks a dead horse*' by CelApok
Submitted on 2007-01-31 12:18:56 CST
Heartless touched on what I had previously tried to post about generations of MMO's. Unfortunately my post was eaten by a session timeout.

So, I wholeheartedly (no pun intended) that MUD's were the 1st generation of MMO's. They were text-based worlds possible of holding many concurrent players.

I think we're currently in the 2nd generation of a grander picture of MMO's. The move to seemless, fully interactive 3D worlds. There will be many variations of this concept but there won't be a large enough leap forward to clearly define a 3rd genenration.

This opens a new can of worms. Creating generations within a generation? At this point, we can argue tech, gameply dynamics and what have you to define new steps in the current generation.

Until we change the way we interact with the online world, we'll be stuck in this 2nd Generation.

To post comments, please login.

More Blog Entries from Brent


RSS - Blog/Articles
RSS - News Feed
RSS - The Collective
Add MMO news to your site.

About aims to condense everything about MMORPG / MMOG gaming within a single source via news links, blogging, and podcasting. By extending the link directory to the community, everyone will get the news, credit and exposure that is desired and deserved.


Free 14 Day Eve Online
Trial from Virgin Worlds

VirginWorlds MMORPG News
Shut Up. We're Talking.
Massively Speaking
No Prisoners, No Mercy
Through the Aftermath
Brent's Other Podcast

1UP Yours
20 Minute Surrender
A Casual Stroll to Modor Podcast
A Life Well Wasted
Beneath Your Feet
Channel Massive
Fly Reckless
FYG Podcast
Games for Windows Radio
GWJ Conference Call
In a Perfect World Podcast
Killed in a Smiling Accident
Legendary Thread
Low Elo
Massively Online Gamer
Part Time Gamers
PC Gamer Podcast
SOE Official Podcast
SWG with Yivvits & MrBubble
The Big Freaks
The Instance
VirginWorlds MMO Podcast Collective
World of Warcast
Sites Updated Today
A Green Mushroom
Eve Bloggers
Rock Paper Shotun
Sites Updated this Week
Blue Kae
Sites Updated this Month