Top Five MMOs Based Upon Older Games
Inspiration for mmo games can come from many different sources. There are games based upon hit movies or a popular book series. Quite a few mmos boast an original setting and concept that was dreamed up by the game's developers. One area that serves to inspire online gaming development is games themselves. We have to remember that the people creating the games that we love to play are gamers too. They come from a background where they've been exposed to games for almost the entirety of their lives, and they take little pieces of all the games that they've played with them as they embark on their game designing career. There are a number of games, both video and tabletop, that have served as the foundation of a good mmorpg. In honor of such games, we offer our top five mmos based upon older games.
World of Warcraft
Let's start our list of the top five mmos based on games with the largest and most successful, World of Warcraft. This insanely popular mmorpg is based upon the Warcraft rts games released by Blizzard in the 1990s. The first game in the series, Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, introduced gamers to the world of Azeroth and the conflict between the humans and the invading orcs. The subsequent games and expansions introduced the other races that WoW players know so well, such as the Tauren and Night Elves, as well as expanding the world of Azeroth. World of Warcraft used the setting and lore that they had built up for the rts games to craft a fully-fledged mmo that still continues to print money for Blizzard and has seeped into the popular consciousness as the representation of online gaming. This approach shows how important lore is as that it can be adapted to any type of game, such as a first-person shooter, moba, rts, or standard mmo fare.
Next on our list of the top five mmos based on games is Champions Online. Cryptic had been working on a Marvel mmo, but that project was cancelled when Marvel pulled out of the project. Cryptic was left with a mmo system designed for playing superheroes, so they cast around for another intellectual property to use. They then came across the Champions pen-and-paper roleplaying game that had been around since 1981. They bought the intellectual rights and used the setting and the superhero archetypes to create Champions Online. I actually played Champions way back in the day, so I was excited to see how Cryptic would use the system. I was happy that players could create their own heroes just as a roleplayer could in the pen-and-paper rpg. The freedom to create your own unique superhero was amazing. Now I understand that the current f2p mode has archetypes, but these were also introduced in the pen-and-paper game as well long ago. Personally, I loved running around the setting of Champions Online, visiting places that I had adventured in long ago in my mind but could now do so in the virtual realm. Another treat was seeing characters that I knew from the original game, such as Defender, and being able to interact with them. The emphasis on action and the cel-shading to emphasize the comic book nature of the game has always appealed to me.
Elder Scrolls Online
Another of our mmo based on games list is Elder Scrolls Online. This mmo has such an impressive pedigree that is second to none. Long time computer gamers have worshipped the Elder Scrolls games since they were first released back in 1994. I can still remember playing the first game (yes, I'm old!) and being thrilled by the open nature of the game's world. You could travel to many cities and towns, explore tons of dungeons, create your own spells, take part in thousands of side quests, and essentially ignore the main storyline if you wished to. The subsequent Elder Scrolls game continued to build upon the lore and really immersed the gamer like no other game series before. The countless hours that I lost playing Oblivion and Skyrim will never be recaptured, but I don't begrudge the expenditure as I enjoyed every second of it. I'm actually surprised that it took Bethesda so long to create an mmo based upon their video games, but you can't argue with the astounding success that their games have had. The release of an Elder Scrolls game was always met with enthusiastic cheer and gamers showering money on the company to buy them as soon as they were released. The Elder Scrolls Online takes many elements that were perfected in the earlier games and adapted them to the mmo format. While some may decry the use of character classes and such, I think that Bethesda has done a good job of translating the world of the Elder Scrolls into a playable, and enjoyable, online game.
Dungeons and Dragons Online
Probably no other game, be it video or otherwise, has had more of an impact upon online gaming than the Dungeons and Dragons pen-and-paper rpg created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. Introduced in the mid 1970s, D&D allowed players to unleash their imagination and adventure in a fantasy world where they controlled the actions of the characters that they created. If you could imagine it, you could most likely do it. Many of the developers working in the online gaming industry today played D&D when they were younger or still do as adults. D&D introduced the concept of roleplaying to what had been a tactical skirmish game. At its height, D&D was the biggest tabletop rpg on the market and the undisputed industry giant. Dungeons and Dragons Online used the third edition rules of the game in creating their mmo. I love how all actions are resolved by rolling a twenty sided die just like in the classic rpg. The classes and races are also just the same. The one thing that I wasn't thrilled about was that DDO used the Eberron setting, which was a new steampunk setting and not the main Forgotten Realms setting. In time, I learned to love the Eberron setting, but I was thrilled when Turbine brought the Forgotten Realms to the game with their Menace of the Underdark expansion. Now I was able to quest in locations that I had known for almost thirty years.
So far in our look at the top five mmos based on games that were older have focused on video games and pen-and-paper roleplaying games, but our last choice was based upon a tabletop miniatures game. I'm talking about Warhammer Online, which was based upon Warhammer Fantasy Battles game created by Games Workshop. Just to show how some things are connected, the founders of Games Workshop were making and selling chess sets when they heard about the original edition of Dungeons and Dragons. They bought the rules and were blown away by them. They then decided to ditch chess and to concentrate on epic fantasy. Their most lasting success is Warhammer Fantasy Battles, whereupon players build armies of miniatures based around fantasy races. Over time, the world that the battles took place in was developed and acquired a character all its own. Each army eventually had their own manual, and the number of armies expanded to Wood Elves, Empire, Dark Elves, Chaos, Dwarves, Skaven, and so on. Warhammer Online took this setting where Chaos seeks to warp everything it touches and adapted it masterfully to an mmo setting. A number of races were represented, and the character classes were ripped straight out of the individual army books. (My personal favorite was the Witch Elf.) Sadly, the execution at the later tiers of the game didn't live up to expectations and an attempt to convert the game to being a free mmo couldn't save it. Still, I include this mmo on our list as it really captured the setting of the miniatures game perfectly.
As you can see, games can serve as a great inspiration for the creation of a really good mmo. There were some others that I could have included, such as Final Fantasy 14 and Neverwinter, but those listed above are my top five mmos based on games. I give thanks that there hasn't been a Monopoly mmo yet, but one could never know. Did your favorite make the cut? Let me know in the comments below.