by Josh Martz
Beating the hell out of your friends is the perfect way to play multiplayer! Sitting back, getting a few drinks in you, and having the time of your life cracking jokes with your friends...that's just awesome. RPGs still have quite a ways to go to live up to the rest of the genres in terms of peer-based multiplayer, but that doesn't mean there aren't perfectly good reasons to grab a slew of your friends and start harassing each other virtually.
There are a few outlets for you to satisfy your Multiplayer RPG desires...the GameCube seems to have several offerings, including Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles and Legend of Zelda: Four Swords. Both of these titles promise hours of entertainment, dungeon crawling and such with your friends. Even older titles provide you with sweet, sweet mutliplayer goodness. Secret of Mana allows you to grab a friend and roam the land killing harmless little Rabites together, and even Final Fantasy VI allows you to have a friend control other members of your party in battle. They were small advances, but advances, nonetheless.
But what about MMOs? With Massively Multiplayer Online RPGs, sure, you get to play with countless numbers of people. But here's the kicker, and it's something I've learned throughout life, and it is always effectively enforced as I continue to live: People are idiots. As an avid World of Warcraft and Guild Wars player, I have plenty of experience dealing with the enormous amounts of complete and utter morons that inhabit these games' servers. I can't begin to tell you how many times I've tried to gather a group in Guild Wars, only to have to respond to at least ten people who can't get past the fact that their attitude towards every other player (read: rude, dumb, and irritating) isn't conducive to my group's performance or them living past their next birthday. At least with my friends, I know that I can trust them, and if they are going to act stupidly, I can either relate to it, or physically abuse them later! Hell, you can even grab your friends and have a LAN party, and play together. MMOs may give you the game to play, but you get to choose how to play it, and not having to deal with idiots is a definite plus for me.
Ultimately, it all boils down to where I'm most comfortable. If I'm in the mood for a linguistic experience, then I'll go online and try to discern what part of the English language exploded all over the internet. If I want to be guaranteed a good time, then I'll grab my copy of Four Swords, grab a few of my friends, make some nachos, and then sit back and enjoy peer-based multiplayer gaming.
The MMOre the Merrier
by Michael "Macstorm" Cunningham
The more the merrier! Isn't that usually the way it is? Without MMORPGs, RPGamers would have very few outlets for multiplayer adventuring. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicals? Secret of Mana? Honestly, it's not there. MMORPGs are the greatest advancement in multiplayer gaming in recent years and the only advancement for RPGamer.
MMORPGs are addictive. Why is that? It's because RPGamers can truly live as a character. This goes beyond the emotional investment that goes into a story character. People get really attached to the time and personal involvement that goes along with a character in an MMORPG. The time that players spend improving their character by gaining levels and earning money is insane. These online, persistent worlds have even gone so far as to spawn other real world markets such as real world money trading. People will spend real money to benefit in a game. Yes, that is addiction at it prime. But hey, it's making developers money, so who cares.
Sure, there are idiots to deal with online. Stupid people are everywhere and you are going to encounter many of them during your time playing MMORPGs, but think about this for a second. In an MMORPG, you have the ability to ignore these stupid people. If you are playing a local multiplayer game, the stupid people are within your physical proximity. No escape. Well, no escape other than throwing them out of the house. I just hope if you do that, that it was your house that you threw them out of, because people seem to get mad when you throw them out of their own house.
There are a wide variety of MMORPGs out there. Final Fantasy XI. World of Warcraft. Guild Wars. Don't like one, then go to the next one. You have plenty of choices. At any given time, thousands upon thousands of people are playing these games. Local area multiplayer games are novel, but most of these games just have a multiplayer option thrown in as an afterthought. They don't have a real market, like MMORPGs have. And be honest, how many people do you know that want to come and sit with you in the same room to play a multiplayer RPG with you. I like to game in my underwear, so the answer for me would be none.
There really is no competition, MMORPGs are a huge powerful market. The Nintendo DS and Sony PSP could eventually become stronger competitors with the WiFi market, but I just don't see that happening on as grand a scale as MMOs currently have. I continue to say, the more the merrier. MMORPGs give us that and it works.