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The Fear of the Online RPG

by Jason Dow

Well it seems online RPGs are the way it's going to be from now on, and I personally, am scared down to my core. We've seen attempts at these types of games with Ultima Online and Everquest, and both have one major complaint, Player Killers. Player Killers are not a new concept, but now they are more in the spotlight. People who have been playing Ultima Online since it's start can find themselves instantly sent back to the beginning because somebody hacked his/her game, and sent his/her "god character" after him/her. But this is only a minor concern of mine.

A main element of an RPG is the story line. For example, one of Xenogears' best aspects is the complex and well thought out plot. Parasite Eve, while short, has one of the best stories I've ever seen in an RPG. All in all, the story of the game has a great effect on a player's enjoyment of a game. So along comes the online RPG, and try as I might, I cannot see how the stories will work. The Online RPG will have to be completely different than the traditional RPG.

There can be no "Final boss" at the end. No Kefka, no Sephiroth, no Zeromus, no Ghaleon, no Deus, no ultimate evil can exisit. The reason is simple, the point in beating these bosses is to save something, usually the world. So if you go on to play your Online RPG, and you team up with a person who has beaten this boss before, and knows what to expect and such, you get a free ride. Also, if a "Final Boss" is threatening the world, how many times can it be saved? After the first person on the online RPG beats him, should anyone else be able to? This completely removes the concept of the "final boss" from the RPG altogether.

This removes the joy of beating the game, the joy of seeing characters progress and develop, and basically almost all the things we enjoy about the story of an RPG.

So what are we going to have then, if not the RPGs we all know and love? Well I'd say something like an online Dungeons and Dragons. You come, biuld up your character by going on quests, and keep on doing so until nothing happens. And we have had things like this before. I for one got bored of them quickly. In games like this, there are no goals to be achieved.

But thankfully I am skeptical of the whole "online gaming" concept. Sega tried once with "Sega tv" and failed miserably. While the Playstation 2 seems glorious, I see no way it can hook into the internet, and I for one won't buy a $200 attachment to do so. It had also better be a faster connection than 56k, because I currently have a cable modem, and have no intention of going back to a slower connection.

So let the Online RPGs come, and I'll just be at home playing my copy of the best RPG ever made, FF4.....and enjoying everytime I send Zeromus back to wherever he came from...

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