I'm going to start off with a game that I absolutely adore, but it's one that skirts the edge of what MMO means. I'm normally such a stickler for using the correct terminology when it comes to covering games, so I'll try to at least explain why I talk about this game. Die2Nite
, a zombie-apocalypse game from Motion Twin
, works by inviting players to participate in 40-player towns in the hopes of surviving daily zombie attacks. Basically, players are given a number of action points, and these are used to perform different tasks around the towns. I can spend six points to go out into the desert to scavenge for goods, spend another six to return home, and maybe six more to help build something in town.
The 40-player towns are limited, acting like an instanced dungeon in a way. How is Die2Nite
an MMO? Well, the basic design is "MMO" with a cap on player numbers. Technically there would be nothing stopping the developer from allowing 1,000 players to build a town. Within that town and the outside area are persistent factors. Players also have a persistent character (a "soul") and player actions have an effect on the rest of the town. A player's character also has an effect on the rest of the town after the player logs off, making for another layer of persistence. So really, Die2Nite
is an MMO, just one that supports smaller numbers. It's a stretch, but the game is a blast
"You can find strategy and chin-scratching depth in a world like the one Jagex has created, but you will probably be too busy enjoying yourself to get very serious about it."
Despite the fact that I might log in to the game for only a few minutes a day, it is still firmly within the "fun" camp. Strategy MMOs like Illyriad
or even different titles like War of Dragons
offer that same gameplay that happens in spurts, but Die2Nite
fills my head with such wonderful images and keeps me on the edge of my seat until the next invasion, something that equals large amounts of fun. There is definitely strategy in Die2Nite,
but it's on a smaller scale. I don't picture massive armies or sweeping story-arcs while I'm playing. This pocket-sized adventure is fun as heck.RuneScape
is another fun title. Why? Well, any MMO that allows a player to log in for as little or as long as he or she wants is fun. Within just a few minutes, I can locate and complete some activity. I can access the game from even my netbook, and the sheer variety of activities in the game makes it a really fun game. You can
find strategy and chin-scratching depth in a world like the one Jagex
has created, but you will probably be too busy enjoying yourself to get very serious about it.
The fun factor is ramped up because Jagex
is dedicated to updating the game. Every week there is something new, a pace matched by only a few other MMO developers, like Artix Entertainment
. Every time I log in, there is a new quest, bit of lore or video that sucks me into the world. If I feel like min-maxxing my character or trying to get in a really long play session, I can, but generally my time with RuneScape
is spent in these fun spurts of play. Playing is like visiting the toy store. I might not be there for long, but when I'm there, I'm all smiles.
BigPoint's Battlestar Galactica Online
is another good example of a browser-based MMO that brings the fun, big time. PvP, in general, can be a lot of fun to participate in, but flying through space and destroying enemies is particularly hilarious. The twitch-based space combat is closely related to a first-person-shooter, so you have to stay on your toes and hardly have time for smack-talking. Traditional client-based MMOs have always been harder for me to enjoy when it comes to PvP simply because there are more opportunities for out-of-character chit-chat. In BattleStar Galactica Online
players exist to fight and to take over territory. If you have time to fire off one-liners, you have time to die.
The game looks great as well, thanks to the Unity engine. While it does look better as the graphics are cranked up, it can run on even a basic PC or netbook. It also features offline skill training that helps semi-active players avoid feeling as though they are being left out of the action. Even when I am offline, I am participating in the game by making my character smarter.
It might be surprising to hear, but I would not put some of my favorite browser MMOs like Glitch
into the "pure fun" category. Glitch
provides moments of sheer joy, but generally I log into the game to craft or to tune my character's look. It's not the "Wheee!" sort of fun; it's closer to my earlier example of a good book. I'm not saying that Glitch
or other games are not
fun, but they are
a different kind of experience. A visit to the local game shop will illustrate how differently people enjoy themselves, even within the confines of a single game. Watch a Magic: The Gathering
session and you will see someone who is dead serious, others who think it is silly fun, and a few who think that the game is aggravating but continue to put money into it.
For me, browsers are not always where I go to have moments of fun. I go to the browser for strategy, depth, and accessibility. The games I mentioned are my go-to games for giggles and smiles, however.
Do you have a favorite fun browser-based game? Do you participate in different titles in different ways?Each week in MMObility, Beau Hindman dives into the murky waters of the most accessible and travel-friendly games around, including browser-based and smartphone MMOs. Join him as he investigates the best, worst, and most daring games to hit the smallest devices! Email him suggestions, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.