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Could a game like this succeed?

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I am not looking to create this game, since I know how difficult it is to create MMO's, but I'm just curious what you think of the idea. Basically, the game would be an MMO, with no NPCs and no quests. Pretty much the game would provide a world and content for the players to explore and interact in themselves, and it would be up to the players to create an economy, build towns and houses for themselves, possibly set up a government. So the story would not be prewritten, but would be created entirely by the actions of the players. This means that RPing wouldn't be necessary, since each player would be doing what they wanted to anyway. The way I personally would implement this would be to have the world be something like an unexplored continent, and have new players "discover" it by landing there and starting out with certain tools and resources from their "boat". Some developers might have to start the game off by overly RPing at first, but by the end I think players might even be giving other players quests for rewards that the two of them negotiate. I see it as somewhat like Wurm Online, but far more polished. I'm not sure how I would want leveling/combat to work, or if I would even want leveling. If I did, I would want it so that each player starts off equal, and then becomes more proficient in certain skills as they use them, but in a way that's completely transparent to the player. Edit: Combat - if stat based, then it would be kinda like Oblivion. Otherwise, it should be more based on the skill of the actual player, and more like a fighting game.

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That's good, but without NPCs to give a frame to the game, the game just relies on player interaction for its content. Which doesn't work. Why do you think table-top and live role-playing games have game masters and plots?

Also, how do you expect players to set up a government by themselves? People won't agree on who gets to do what.
It's best to have a pre-existing structure in place but where all NPCs can eventually be replaced by players.

Also, if your unexplored world is empty of any NPC, what's the point of visiting it? You might as well stay in the city where there are things going on rather than walk around in empty forests or mountains.

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I like the idea of starting out with NPCs, but then as more players join slowly phasing them out, actually. That way things like government coups could happen, but there's still a starting point.

The point of exploring the empty world would be to make it not empty. Like if there's a forest with nothing really going on that a player finds, he'd be able to clear out a chunk of it, build himself a house using the trees he cleared, and settle there, maybe hunting for food in the woods or maybe traveling to town more often to trade things.

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I hope a game like that would succeed! That's what I'm trying to design.

I'm thinking of having VPC*s who do lot's of the boring stuff to allow Real Players to do the interesting stuff.



*Virtual Player Characters.

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By NPCs, I meant just people - I thought that was implied in the character part of that, but I guess not? Idk, I don't play enough RPGs to be sure of the terminology.

But yeah, there would be various animals and monsters, of course, otherwise it would just be a big open world with nothing to do other than fight other players and do things you could do in real life. It only becomes interesting when there's other things to do and actual threats to the player's lives to motivate some to take action.

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Quote:
Could a game like this succeed?
Basically, the game would be an MMO, with no NPCs and no quests.

Yes.
It's called an MMOFPS.

Now, if you meant to ask:

Quote:
Could a game like this succeed?
Basically, the game would be an MMORPG, with no NPCs and no quests.

No.

Can it be made and have people having fun playing it?
Yes.

Will it succeed at a profit gain?
No.


Here's a way to test your idea out.
Seriously.

Go get about twenty people.
Find a gym somewhere
Tell them this is the game
For every ball they collect, they get 10 cents.
For every "mission" they complete, they get 2 dollars (write up some "obstacle tasks" on note-cards ahead of time and put them at "stations" in the gym)
Make sure some of those missions require teamwork to finish.

Watch them go.

Now.

After they are done with that, then tell them there's a new game.

For every ball they collect, they get 2 dollars.
That's it.

Now go.


You will immediately see teamwork go out the window and you will also see no one trading with each other for anything.


This is pretty much what tends to happen in a free for all player only RPG.

If you aren't sure about that...then just grab any RPG game you like.
Then get some friends together to play this pen-and-paper RPG.
Scrap missions right away...they just get to do whatever.
Anytime there's an NPC in the game, just hand it to one of the players and have them play the NPC from that point on.

And there you have it.
An NPC-less, non-questing RPG.

Now see if they like the world as much this way.

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In my opinion it will not work. The major problem is the human natur. In a virtual environment like a game there's nothing to gain and nothing to loose when it comes down to "real" life properties. So, gamers tend to do things they would never do in real life.

One of the most feared characteristic of some human players is to bully others, destroy the environment, or just plain destroy any fun game experience of other players. This happened in every single multiplayer game I have played so far (Quake,HL,BF,EQ,EQ2,WOW,DAOC,AOC,LOTR,some RTS,EVE....). It is a sad story, but as game designer you have to deal with it :(

So, a open sandbox game without any ingame "law" (enforced by i.e. guards) or undestroyable tasks (quests) will result in chaos and anarchy. Maybe some "good" gamers will try to enforce some kind of law, but most players will just leave and play some other less "stressful" game to have some fun. First the noobs will leave, then the frustrated part of the gamers, then the hard core gamers and at last the bullies :/

--
Ashaman

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The existence and success of Second Life seems to refute suggestions that this sort of idea can't succeed at all, but I do wonder if the fact that the players are being placed into a significantly more fleshed out and developed world would have a significant impact. It's worth noting that Second Life is most definitely not a traditional "game" as such however, and participants may have more trouble establishing any stable sort've systems given a more restrictive framework with rules and boundaries to what they can do.

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I hold to what I said, if the question is in regards to an MMORPG, then it will not work.

Simulators, such as Second Life, are not the same thing as an MMORPG remotely.


However, I should rephrase somewhat here because I do so much dislike such rejection of radical attempts and risk.

I should rather say that it will not work by taking a normal MMORPG structure and simply removing the NPC and Quest functions out of it.

If, on the other hand, you drastically and radically approached the game with a complete understanding of what the task was to build an MMORPG without quests and NPC's and knew that the game had to be constructed from the ground floor up entirely different than any MMORPG to-date in it's philosophies of identity, ownership, and community, and strove to form every small detail to enhance the fusion of player society within the constructs of a fantasy gaming environment with flexible goal setting systems then you might have a shot if you can find a market strategy for it.

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I don't think it would work commercially, but I'd really like to see an idea like this coupled with some sort of external threat to the player civiization. So you have some encroaching evil menace that steadily conquers human cities and all the cities are conquered then the server is finished, everyone loses their character. However if the players can organise themselves and rally around a leader they can develop their economies,raise armies and work together to hold back the tide. Whereas if they spend all their time ganking each other and squabbling then nothing gets done and everyone loses.

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Original post by: Griffin_Kemp
Quote:
Simulators, such as Second Life, are not the same thing as an MMORPG remotely.

RPGs are not only about killing monsters and taking their loot. This has established its self as typical in cRPGs, but it is by no means essential for cRPGs (there are cRPGs out there that are not about killing monster and taking their loot - for instance "Sword of the Samurai").

In second life, there is many places where you "Role Play" without monsters, without NPCs, and without predefined quests. What you do is pretend to be a certain type of character and from those characters and the scenario (setting) players themselves make up quests. There are even game rules for when disputes arise (there are some real life LARP games like this too)

These work quite well and disprove your claim that they can't work (as they clearly do).

Second life, as it is, is not really an RPG. But, when players are allowed to add in their own rules, which don't have to be implemented by the program and can be just handled by the text chat functionality of the program, then Role Playing can occur.

So simulators, with communications channels (which is a necessary part of these kinds of programs) can work as an RPG, just not the typical slay-the-monster-rob-the-tomb types games that are taken to be the standard (which it isn't, they are just the popular ones that the gaming community brought up on games of kill-everything-that-moves arcade style games can relate to more).

You are working off a limited data set (ie one that has not had much experience with games that allow proper Role Playing) and therefore have reached an incorrect conclusion.

There are many roleplaying games out there that are far more flexible than game like Neverwinter Nights, or World of Warcraft. These are typically called Role Playing games, but for those of us that like to have a game where one can properly role play, these are a completely different genre to the actual games that allow roleplaying.

Most of these "Games" would be viewed by most "Gamers" as glorified chat programs, but they have all the necessary parts to be called a game (they implement a set of rules and players). Some have provisions for combat, most (but not all) have provisions for NPCs (usually implemented as secondary character's that a player can jump into as needed and this is typically - but not always - reserved for a Game Master player). Some of these games don't even have any Game Master in control of the game (there are pen and paper RPGs that have no Game Maser either - but these are typically indi games and can be quite good fun too).

But all that said, the market is small and there are many open source or free versions of this type of game software (Map Tools is one such example - although it is designed more as an extension to Table top gaming, but is intended for use over the internet when getting a group together in RL is difficult) so this all makes commercial versions unlikely to be successful.

So although I do disagree (based on the fact there there is direct evidence against it) with your premises, I do however agree (for completely different reasons) with your conclusions: That they will be fun to play (for a small niche of players) but that they wont be a commercial success because of that small market and that there are many free versions out there already.

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RPGs are not only about killing monsters and taking their loot.

I didn't intend to suggest that they must be.
There are plenty of paper RPG's out there that have neither of these concepts.
One such example is, Toon, an RPG where players adopt the roles of cartoon characters.

However, my point was that the difference between a simulator environment and a game environment comes down to the intent of the design.

One is designed to be a game and one is designed to be an experience.

As such, you will find it very difficult to successfully sell a game of role playing to players looking for a role playing game if that game is lacking in non-playing characters and quests or missions.

This has little to do with killing and taking items.
This, instead, has to do with the basic function of obstacles encouraging team play in a game environment with that understanding.

Non-playing characters are easier to forfeit to some level (see star wars galaxies for examples of minimal npc use), but removing quests or missions pretty much kills the entire game part of the system.

All of that said...as I said, that is unless you build from the ground up radically different than MMORPG's are built today.

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I personally have never played an MMORPG, so I don't know exactly how they work at all. But yeah, like Griffin_kemp said, I think the game would have to be completely different from other games out there. There would have to be various tools provided to help the players be able to cooperate, and to encourage teamwork and not just random ganking. Like for example, to help encourage people to enlist the help of others, there could be some kind of "town board" or something where people can list tasks they need done and the reward offered for completion of those tasks. And there would probably have to be some kind of system in place to help other players identify people who are just going around killing people for no reason. Just to identify them though - it should be up to other players to decide what to do about it.

I guess I am really talking more about a medieval fantasy life simulator than an MMORPG. Kind of like an online version of Mount and Blade in its open endedness, just with more content and options. Although that game did have elements of what I'm talking about - for example, you didn't even have to fight if you didn't want to. You could just go around trading things and trying to make money instead if you chose to.

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After randomly googling stuff today, I found 2 (possibly) upcoming MMOs that look like they have elements of what I'm talking about. Darkfall, and Mortal Online. Problem is, there's a strong possibility they will either suck or never come out, from what I've read.

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Darkfall is out now. It's not bad, but suffers from lawlessness. Why go out and hunt monsters for loot when it's quicker and easier to grab a few friends and kill the newbies for loot?

Without any "in-game" laws, it's pretty much just a huge game of quake deathmatch with swords.

I've no problem living in a lawless world with a risk of death from other players, and them taking all my loot - but when every player I meet trys killing me, it get boring after a while...

Mortal online is supposed to be released this year I think, and seems to have a bit more structure to it. In game laws, guards in towns, and still full loot and open PvP, so should be fun, and less chaotic than darkfall. It's the MMO i'm waiting on anyway.

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Original post by DaveMS
Darkfall is out now. It's not bad, but suffers from lawlessness. Why go out and hunt monsters for loot when it's quicker and easier to grab a few friends and kill the newbies for loot?


I reiterate:
Quote:
Original post by Griffin_Kemp
...Now.

After they are done with that, then tell them there's a new game.

For every ball they collect, they get 2 dollars.
That's it.

Now go.


You will immediately see teamwork go out the window and you will also see no one trading with each other for anything.


This is pretty much what tends to happen in a free for all player only RPG.


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Quote:
Original post by Griffin_Kemp
Quote:
RPGs are not only about killing monsters and taking their loot.

I didn't intend to suggest that they must be.
There are plenty of paper RPG's out there that have neither of these concepts.
One such example is, Toon, an RPG where players adopt the roles of cartoon characters.

However, my point was that the difference between a simulator environment and a game environment comes down to the intent of the design.

One is designed to be a game and one is designed to be an experience.

As such, you will find it very difficult to successfully sell a game of role playing to players looking for a role playing game if that game is lacking in non-playing characters and quests or missions.

This has little to do with killing and taking items.
This, instead, has to do with the basic function of obstacles encouraging team play in a game environment with that understanding.

Non-playing characters are easier to forfeit to some level (see star wars galaxies for examples of minimal npc use), but removing quests or missions pretty much kills the entire game part of the system.

All of that said...as I said, that is unless you build from the ground up radically different than MMORPG's are built today.

I was disagreeing with the claim that Second Life is nothing like an RPG. If we are going to get into an argument about the intentions of the game designer vs how a player uses the game, then we will just go around in circles.

As far as I am concerned, the intent of the designer is not important. They will try to impose an intent for play on the player, but it is the intent of the player that is far more important. IF the player does something in the game they consider as playing the game, whether it was the intent of the designer or not, then I consider that as still playing the game.

So, in Second Life, even though the intent of the designers was not to create a role playing game, if the players use it as such, then as far as I am concerned, they are role playing.

In the case of Second life, the players are using the "game" mechanics of designing and dressing an avatar, scripting behaviours of objects and using communication channels to play a role playing game, then these players are using the game to role play (as everything they have done has been within the scope of the game and the tools it provides). There is nothing externally imposed by the players (no meta rules that are not within the game engine and applied only by player consent).

To argue against these, you would also have to argue that Neverwinter Nights is not anything like a role playing game because in NwN, players have the scope to do all of these things. You can designing and dressing an avatar, scripting the behaviours of objects and using communication channels to communicate. I ahve played a NwN game where there was no pre-set quests, no NPC and no monsters. All it was, was a series of vendors with which you could buy and mod equipment and clothing to set the appearance of your avatar, and then a series of locations to set the scenes (throne room, audience chambers, etc). The only thing that was pre-set was that the king had died (in his sleep), and we didn't have to even worry about that because the game was about the interactions of your character following that event. You could be crowned king, but that had no real impact on the roleplaying other than as your social levle in the group. We didn't even use any of the D&D rules.

If you deny that Second Life is capable of being a roleplaying game, then you must also deny that Neverwinter Nights is a role playing game as both were used in exactly the same way and most people I think would consider what was done in Neverwinter Nights role playing.

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Original post by Somnia
I don't think it would work commercially, but I'd really like to see an idea like this coupled with some sort of external threat to the player civiization. So you have some encroaching evil menace that steadily conquers human cities and all the cities are conquered then the server is finished, everyone loses their character. However if the players can organise themselves and rally around a leader they can develop their economies,raise armies and work together to hold back the tide. Whereas if they spend all their time ganking each other and squabbling then nothing gets done and everyone loses.


This actually sounds like an incredibly great idea. it would really promote player coop when there is the potential of a semi-real-world loss such as player destruction (server reset). Mind you, you would probably lose a great deal of your player base AFTER the world reset, which is emminent. But if you tied world resets with new versions of the game, it may be commercially feasable. In addition, a game like this would probably spread quickly via word of mouth, as players would be encouraging their friends to play in order to keep their hard-earned player alive and well.

I suppose you could help make this "fathomable" by adding the old "points" scheme to the game. After a reset you grant the players a number of points based on completed quests, loot gained, experiance, etc, which they can then use to choose special classes or items to have at the start of the next game. And while the reset would likely discourage many long-time players, it would most likely bring in additional new players who dislike the fact that starting an mmorpg sticks them WAY behind other players.

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Original post by Edtharan
So, in Second Life, even though the intent of the designers was not to create a role playing game, if the players use it as such, then as far as I am concerned, they are role playing.

By that logic regardless if an M-16 is designed for combat situations, if someone chooses to use it as a sport hunting rifle, then the M-16 is a sport hunting rifle.

The intent does matter, whether or not someone chooses to use it for something else than it's intent does not matter.
How it is perceived by the market is what matters, and how it is perceived by the market is an extension of what the intent of the designer is.

Someone choosing to adopt a role to play as in a simulator does not make the simulator a game as it lacks the components that constitute a game.

I am not suggesting that people are unable to adopt vicarious roles in any thing they take part in, but the aspect that drastically makes a difference in this instance between a simulator and a game is that a game has components in place designed to be used as a game.
A simulator does not have these components and instead has components in place to simulate reality as closely as possible with respect to it's setting.

For instance:
consider the following:
Simulator -
One that simulates, especially an apparatus that generates test conditions approximating actual or operational conditions.

Game -
A competitive activity or sport in which players contend with each other according to a set of rules

Virtual Reality -
A computer simulation of a real or imaginary system that enables a user to perform operations on the simulated system and shows the effects in real time.

Roleplaying -
to assume the attitudes, actions, and discourse of another, esp. in a make-believe situation


So, to combine the terms:

Roleplaying Game:
A competitive activity in which players assume the attitudes, actions, and discourse of another to contend with each other according to a set of rules

Virtual Reality Simulator (e.g. Second Life)
A computer simulation, that generates test conditions approximating actual or operational conditions of a real or imaginary system (real life) that enables a user to perform operations on the simulated system (second life) and shows the effects in real time.

So I hold to my original statement:
Though adoption is available in both systems, they are not the same thing.

It would be as to tell me that Rummy and Tarot are the same thing since they both use cards, and if someone wanted to play Tarot with Rummy, they could so that's all that matters; and because of this they must therefore be the same thing.

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It would be as to tell me that Rummy and Tarot are the same thing since they both use cards, and if someone wanted to play Tarot with Rummy, they could so that's all that matters; and because of this they must therefore be the same thing.

Rummy is a process played with a set of components that are given an arbitrary value. Tarot is a different process implemented by a set of components that are given an arbitrary value.

Because of this, you can play rummy with any set of components that can be given the necessary set of arbitrary values. When this be card, tiles, tarot card, pieces of paper, stones or whatever else. Rummy is a process that you implement with the components. So it does not matter a bit what the components actually are so long as you can implement the rules of the game with them.

So this actually supports my position, and so is actually a bad example for your position.

Quote:
By that logic regardless if an M-16 is designed for combat situations, if someone chooses to use it as a sport hunting rifle, then the M-16 is a sport hunting rifle.

Components and processes are different things. From the above examples, I think you are confusing the two.

A set of tiles used to play rummy (there is a game called Rummycub which is rummy played with a set of tiles) are still tiles. I am in no way disagreeing with this analogy, but a set of tiles used to play rummy can also be used to play a different game (like poker). You can then describe these tiles as poker tiles (as many people will call card poker cards or rummy cards depending on the game they are ablut to play).

However, Hunting Rifle and M16 describe not the intent of the gun, but specifying the operational characteristics of it. The functionality of an M16 is quite different to that of a hunting rifle and this is what the difference in name is all about.

Cards and tiles are two things that also have different operational characteristics, but in the above examples, the operational characteristics that are relevant to the games are no different (they can be held in the hand, they can obscure one side of them, they can have a symbol identifying or conveying information on one or more sides and they can be placed so that a particular side is visible). As for the guns, they can both be used to shoot things.

So while I would never call a card a tile, I would also never call an M16 a hunting rifle for the same reason, there are specific differences between them that the naming is intended to indicate.

But you can go hunting with an M16 (although because of the differences it might not be all that effective), that does not make it a hunting rifle. You can also play rummy with tiles, but that does not make the tiles cards.

Now the really important thing is that each of these (tiles, cards and guns), are a component used in the process. Where as the computer program is the process, and how you work with that process is different.

For the analogy to be proper, you would ahve to equate cards or rifles with on screen button, or objects within the game (like weapons, crates, etc).

So you are confusing process with components, and this is why your analogies are not valid.

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The functionality of an M16 is quite different to that of a hunting rifle and this is what the difference in name is all about.

The functionality of a simulator is quite different to that of a game and this is what the difference in name is all about.

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Original post by Griffin_Kemp
Quote:
The functionality of an M16 is quite different to that of a hunting rifle and this is what the difference in name is all about.

The functionality of a simulator is quite different to that of a game and this is what the difference in name is all about.

It would depend on the type of simulator. If it was a weather simulator, I'd agree with you, but a "simulator" like Second Life is so much like a game that many mistake it for one.

It can be debated that Second Life is not a Simulator, as it is not actually trying to simulate anything (although it succeeds in simulating an economy so well that it had been accepted as one - but it is not an economic simulator). Second Life is Entertainment Software. Games are just one type of entertainment software. Second life has some many components in common with games that, although the basic program can not be described as a game exactly, when people script in "world" objects to act like part of a game, it becomes a game.

I scripted Neverwinter Nights to act as a RTS game. So, if you are playing that lever, are you playing a role playing game or an RTS?

This is an important question. If you agree that when playing my RTS scripted elves you are playing an RTS and not an RPG, then you have to agree with me that the intent of the software designer is not the defining thing that makes a game a game or the type of game. If in Second life someone scripts it so that it is an RTS, is what way is that different from me scripting NwN into an RTS?

Entertainment Software can be made so flexible now days that the intent of the original designer can be overwritten. Neverwinter Nights and Second Life are both pieces of Entertainment Software, if the original designers gave the users the flexibility to make it what they want, why can't it be what the user wants it to be as the designer added this flexibility into the software so it can be argued that it was the intent of the designer that it be used in that way.

So we come to the fact that even if we use your definition and requirement, Second Life can still be called a game (because it was the intent of the designers that users could - in system - manipulate it that way), and if it is used as a Role Playing Game, then it can also be called a Role Playing Game when used that way.

Second Life has the functionality of "Hit Points" built into it. This is not enabled in non game sections, but it exists and it was the intent of the designers to include it (no body hacked it and it is part of the default interface that you can enable/disable it in the areas you own as you wish). Hit Points are a Game Mechanic. The designers of Second Life intended for their software to be used as a game.

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I apologize, I didn't see the responding post.

I can see your point, and it becomes more difficult to determine the exact line between such systems; I concede on this.

There definitely is a difference, and I still hold to the difference being the intent.
However, I believe that I have changed my reasoning as to why it is the intent because of your solid points that force the consideration.

The designers build the systems with different passions and purposes in their minds, and as such, the systems carry with them a different characteristic than the other.

MMORPG developers definitely seem to have a consistent mindset of developers and Second Life drastically approaches it's own design with an entirely different mindset than that of the regular MMORPG fare.

I am among those that state that MMORPG's are hardly an RPG much more than than Halo Online, or Knockout Kings, but they are titled as such due to history so the imagery of what an MMORPG, as convoluted as it is, is the cause from the mindset of those that have designed them.

Perhaps one day that will change, but for now, what you get from the current history of MMORPG's regular fare is what is an MMORPG (with or without role playing) and Second Life is not part of this group because it does not follow the same structure as they do.

(personally, MMORPG's would be better named currently as MMORAG's [ Reward Attainment Games], but that's a different discussion)

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