Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Massively Multiplayer Games for Dummies: A Retro-review

Recently I have been entertained by reading the book Massively Multiplayer Games for Dummies by Scott Jennings. They really should make a new edition of this book. I got my copy at the local library and since this book was first published back in 2006, a number of changes have been made in the industry since its initial release.

The game is written by Jennings, who worked as part of Mythic’s Dark Age of Camelot as a database programmer after his day job disappeared as a result of the dot-com crash of 2001. So when he wrote this book, Jennings had at least five years of experience with mmorpgs (probably longer) but you can tell how dated the book is because he makes references to defunct mmos like Shadowbane and The Sims Online. He also refers to these games as “mmgs” short for massively multiplayer games when the industry refers to them now as mmos. Perhaps the terms mmos or its lengthier acronym, mmorpg were not in vogue at the time the book was printed, but a google search of both will validate the fact no one calls these games mmgs.

So why am I reviewing this book now? It’s probably been reviewed before in other places in cyberspace, but I can’t help but to be fascinated by it, it’s not only like a history lesson in mmos, and somewhat of a time capsule because it includes a CD with a trial version of DAoC, a game most people still consider the best pvp game to date. It is interesting to note some of the things that have come to pass since Jennings wrote this book, and also interesting to see screenshots of the glory days of a game like DAoC, which he obviously helped to develop and is very knowledgeable about.

Mostly though, this book serves to outline the fact that mmos really haven’t changed all that much in five years, a period of time which can seem like an eternity in terms of today’s emerging technological breakthroughs. A lot of the information presented within its covers is still very useful, especially to a newbie. While it is amusing to check out the chapter on message boards to see how many of the fan sites listed are still up and running (surprisingly there are a good number) and find that the DAoC Allakhazam site has a 14-day trial to RIFT banner plastered on its home page, this chapter has good information beyond the obvious pointers on net etiquette. Maybe a new edition would make more reference to the obnoxious communities in some of these games, which people still bitch about even to this day, maybe not, but I found the entire enterprise fun and entertaining reading.

Though I had already experienced a lot of the things Jennings writes about, I think that the advice he presents here to new players is still quite valid. They should update this game for modern audiences and I think that they would sell more copies of it given the rising popularity of mmorpgs. I give it four out of five trolls. Now on to troll on that DAoC fan forum. He, he.

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