As I posted a bit earlier, I thought I’d list off a few things I think MMOs have taken from D&D. I think when you look at it from this perspective, you really see how the typical MMO game characteristics are very close to what you find in your typical D&D game.
A key point of most MMOs is something that D&D simply oozes from its books, adventure. Most MMOs just don’t have you act as a farmer. You’re not playing a medieval simulator where you work as a peon. You don’t sit around and make pottery all day. You are an adventurer, a hero. You’re exploring dank crypts and deep forests, fighting monsters. You’re a hero saving the world (or at least filling your pockets with treasure).
Granted some of these more mundane aspects have creeped into MMOs (something I’ll touch on later in another post). But the bread and butter of your game experience is fighting things. Combat is a huge part of the game play.
D&D is also all about fighting stuff. Kill monsters, do quests, earn XP and gain treasure. It’s a basic formula and I dare say most campaigns out there, even those with a strong story, still have a component of adventure and exciting melee. It’s something that D&D does very well.
You can have a campaign of political intrigue, where players talk their way through everything. But I think these games sort of show the flaws of D&D. It really does not sport a robust social conflict system, where you are able to fight out ideas and debates through words. I think skill challenges have provided a DM with a way of adding some game structure to non-combat actions, but it might not be as robust as other games.
Some folks might chide D&D for being a simplistic RPG because it doesn’t have these types of systems. I’ll give them a nod for having a point, but D&D does these types of RP situations poorly because it is all about fighting monsters. D&D does combat pretty darn well, and I think with 4E the tactical options for melees have raised a few notches making combats even more engaging.
Because this is such an integral part of game play, MMOs dedicated to fantasy games have followed suit. They’ve managed to latch on to that fun concept of the classic dungeon crawl. They’ve discovered the sheer glee of wading through a pile of monsters, hacking away, and emerging victorious.
Sure, you could be a MMO player that enjoys wandering around a city, crafting endless amounts of virtual junk, never stepping outside the city gates. But I can guarantee that if that was the only play aspect of an MMO, it would fail. People crave for excitement and adventure. The ability to jump into a world as a powerful wizard or a stalwart warrior has a strong pull. Something that MMOs have latched onto, and quite simply most folks that have played D&D found out a long time ago.
So MMOs have taken a page from D&D, and provided people with a way to find adventure. D&D laid the foundation of having people adopt a fantastic persona, and helm that characer to have adventure. Something that obviously hit a resonance with many folks out there, as MMOs and video games have built on that idea and made it a staple of game play. More to come…