Tuesday, 24 January 2012

10 Ways that MMORPG's and RPG's are Completely Different

Role Playing Video Games (or RPG's) have been around for a very long time. In fact, they've been around longer than any of us might realize.

Loosely based on pen and pencil games such as Dungeons and Dragons, they have progressed a great deal since their original origins on the Mainframe Computers of the 1970's.

Back then, they were only text-based and served as a form of "interactive book" where you were presented with options as to which choices you would make.

As the technology improved and became significantly more advanced, graphical content was added and started to become something way more interactive.

One of the biggest and most interesting changes to the genre was the eventual (and logical) progression towards an online space, which led to the development of what is now know as the MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game

More popular examples of this genre over the years include Everquest, Ultima Online, Phantasy Star Online, Guild Wars, Dungeons and Dragons Online, World of Warcraft and more recently, Star Wars : The Old Republic.

What was previously an evolution of the RPG genre has now become a separate genre in itself, and has evolved into something that still shares many aspects with RPG's......but they are also different in many ways.

Here is a rundown of  some of the major differences that separate the two from each other. (and in some cases....benefit each in turn.)

1.) Ability to Pause the game

Aaaaah...the pause button. Ever since I started playing games there has always been a pause button. Useful for any number of reasons like making yourself a snack, taking a toilet break or even venturing on an extended family visit....the pause button has always been there to keep us anchored to the real world. With the possible exception of cut-scenes within games, we have always been able to take any number of breaks between gameplay if we so choose. RPG's are certainly no exception.

However, MMORPG's will never have a pause button.

The very idea of one is counter-productive to the team-based method of gameplay. Just try and go and make yourself a sandwich in the middle of a dungeon or a raid.

You'll return to find that you've been kicked from the group with scorching text in the chat window reprimanding you,.........or alternatively you'll be left lagging behind the rest of the group.....and possibly lost.

Granted, any other online game would be much the same....with the possible exception of a game of Deathmatch in Call of Duty, where any other players may welcome it.

The WINNER...............RPG's!!!! 

2.) Social Gaming
As great as the Single Player experience may be, the addition of other human players always makes a game more interesting and diverse. In the case of MMORPG's, social interaction is incredibly important. Playing as a team requires that you work together, so therefore communicating effectively with each other is necessary.

These games generally have built in chat functionality and with the addition of a good VOIP programme like Skype, Ventrilo, Teamspeak or Mumble you can talk to your fellow players and form friendships with members of you Guild. 
    The WINNER...............MMORPG's!!!! 

3.) Graphics
Graphics have improved dramatically over the last few years, and the RPG is one of those genres where these improvements are shown in the most spectacular of ways. The worlds that these games take place in are beautifully designed and detailed. Occasionally stopping to look at the sunset or a beautifully crafted environment is not uncommon, and actually makes the game more dynamic and interesting.

In the case of MMORPG's these graphical improvements need to be balanced with internet speeds, keeping prospective target markets and countries in mind. Lag is a constant irritation (especially with a slow internet speeds) and with more intensive graphics the Lag has a tendency to increase. Due to this, graphics in MMORPG's remain relatively similar as the years go by, with smaller improvements implemented over time.

  The WINNER...............RPG's!!!! 

4.) The Savegame Dilemma
How many times have you played a game for hours on end, finding your way to the final boss, and then died? And the worst thing was......you forgot to save. 

I'm guilty of having done this countless times, and there are very few things as frustrating (the only two exceptions that come to mind are a bricked console or a malfunctioning PC)

While the Save Game is an important part of the Single Player experience, MMORPG's have no real need for them. The world is perpetual, meaning it will still be there even if you switch your PC off.

Instead of save games, MMORPG's like World of Warcraft use Spawn points, which allow you to appear a short distance from where you died as a spirit to reclaim your body. 

This system benefits you as a player significantly because it means that you don't lose out on any rewards or experience gained until that point.
 The WINNER...............MMORPG's!!!! 

5.) The Storyline
Whereas an MMORPG's main appeal to some is the social aspect of the game, RPG's have the appeal of being able to tell a compelling story. Partially due to graphical innovations and a focus on a making the story matter to you as an individual, the stories in RPG's have a tendency to be more emotional and enjoyable.

Games like the Final Fantasy series have always had a knack for pulling on your heart-strings, while others like the Elder Scrolls series and The Witcher have always given us a story we can truly feel a part of. 

The WINNER...............RPG's!!!! 

6.) Length of Gameplay
While RPG's generally have a conclusive ending (games like Skyrim possibly being the exception) and a finite amount of potential content that will keep you busy for many hours....MMORPG's are more focused on continuous gameplay. Updates and Expansion packs are often released, which add additional content to the existing game to keep players interested. 

Dungeons, Raids and Battlegrounds are structured to be played over and over again with different rewards, because the main focus of an MMORPG (regarding gameplay at least) is to keep you coming back for more.

As MMORPG's are massive endeavors on the developers part, they are not released anywhere near as often as RPG's and therefore are designed to make you play forever.

The WINNER...............MMORPG's!!!! 

7.) A Greater Selection to Choose from
Single Player games are a dime a dozen, RPG's being no exception. mainly due to shorter production times and the benefits of being able to bring out a sequel depending on the success of the first. Many developers compete on a yearly basis to better their competitors and end up providing us with title upon title to keep us entertained.

 The WINNER...............RPG's!!!!

8.) In-game Economy
RPG's have always had limited economies, with shopkeepers to sell and buy your goods to (with set prices) generally being the only thing close.

The huge online communities of World of Warcraft and Guild Wars have way more of a selection when it comes to buying and selling. Prices are only set with the regular vendors encountered within the game.

The majority of items are bought and sold within the auction house (highly addictive and a game in itself) where anyone can auction off an item at their own decided price to be bought by another player within a particular time frame. You can even trade or purchase between players.

Occasionally you'll pick something up at a very low price, and end up jumping up and down in joy at your amazing luck.

The WINNER...............MMORPG's!!!! 


9.) No Pressure to Perform
The beauty of a single player RPG is that there's no-one else can tell you what to do. If you're playing badly no-one else loses out, and besides, who really cares. It's all up to you how you want to play the game. 

If you decide to try and finish the game with the same leather armor and dagger you started off with, then it's your choice. (although almost certainly a bad one.)

The amount of character choices within an MMORPG are incredibly vast to say the least, and the daunting task of choosing the right abilities is often extremely difficult.

And on the rare occasion, if you've leveled your character incorrectly you may not perform sufficiently to assist the rest of your team, and may find yourself on the receiving end of several insulting comments. 

 The WINNER...............RPG's!!!! 

10.)Help is always at hand
RPG's are difficult in their own ways, with some games like Demon Souls being close to the edge of impossible. The most common way to overcome these difficulties is to look them up on the internet. For most RPG's there are several different resources to assist like Wiki's, Guides, Walkthroughs and Youtube Videos.

While MMORPG's have all of these as well, there are two more methods of help within an MMORPG that are generally easier and much more effective.

Ask someone!!!

Just type in your question on the global chat channel and someone will end up answering. People are generally friendly, and will more often assist you with Quest related information and advice.

Worst comes to worst you can even contact a GM (or Game Master) who works for the developer, and they will try and help you get through certain quests that are bugged or even assist in reclaiming missing items.

The WINNER...............MMORPG's!!!!

So that's that. Please note that there is no overall winner here, and there's a good reason for this.

Both genres are equally as good in their own different ways, and although they may appeal to different types of people they deserve equal respect.

Although these are the 10 most prominent differences between these two incredibly addictive and enjoyable genres, there are probably quite a few I've left out.

Feel free to add to these, if you think I've missed out on anything important. 


  1. Squeee,Final Fantasy X picture,oh the happy nostalgia ^^

  2. Yeah, loved that game. Last of the original Final Fantasy winning formula. That scene was definitely one of the best emotional moments in Video game history.

  3. Some good thoughts there. I'm thinking that MMORPG's (Star trek online) need a sanctuary room (equivalent of a pause function) for minors though, tired of arguing with the eldest son that it's time for meals and bed and he can't save and having to threaten to turn the internet off to force the issue...

    1. I agree, it would certainly serve to make things less stressful for all......with the exception of your ingame teammates maybe. :)

      Monitoring time within MMORPG's has always been potentially problematic. This is where self-control needs to come in.

  4. Some good points in the beginning but i found that it got more biased toward the end and was only trying to keep the balance even between rpgs and mmorpgs.

    and sorry but relating everything to skyrim and world of warcraft does not an article on rpgs vs. mmorpgs make.

    1. Thanks for the feedback.

      My comparison between these 2 games was mostly due to the fact that I've had the most exposure to them or that they're the most applicable regarding the article.

      Many MMO's as an example share the majority of features in World of Warcraft discussed.

      Where RPG's are concerned, Skyrim is certainly the most recent (and quite relevant example) to use at the moment.

      However, you are right in that I should maybe have included a lot more games as examples.

  5. Why did you try hard to make it 5-5 even? You even have put the entries in perfect order to show us that no matter what you wrote, it would be a tie in the end. Anyway, my objections:

    #4 The save game dilemma: Are you serious about it? Nothing is more frustrating than having to leave the game for an instant and finding you character dead somewhere far from your last location and have to do nothing but run all the way back. You lose much more time than forgetting to save. And if you are playing rpgs (or any game in that matter) and you are not epic-careless, one of your fingers is always on the quick save button, and you press it before every closed door, every chest, every encounter etc.

    #10 It should be the exact opposite. Googleing something is always, always better than asking someone in-game. You get your answer way faster, it will be more accurate, besides you don't have to deal with people trying humiliating you, calling you "n00b", ignoring you, or giving you false answers just to "have fun". You still need time to wait for polite people show up and answer you. GM interaction is a different issue. Though, you can always contact via email, or a live chat with customer service in an offline rpg.


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