by Cody "Micajah" Bye
In the gilded halls of Hollywood’s movie industry, you can
typically make two choices while selecting your latest feature film.
Along one aisle you may have the wonderfully campy or terribly complex
cult classic with its lackluster box display of film festival awards
splayed across the box art. A movie for the critics and fanatics, the
cult classic holds a bevy of promises if it’s given a chance.
However, you’ll have to give it some time to grab your
attention, but you may be better off because you did.
style="font-style: italic;">The original
can be dubbed a "cult classic" simply because it didn't
follow the standards of the genre and did not have a "big name" IP to
back it up.
But flashing lights and booming music may be calling you to the other
side of the aisle, where Hollywood’s blockbusters have inured
themselves to draw you in. Big explosions, bosomy women, hard-bodied
men, massive guns, fast cars and a transparent plot are all at your
fingertips, waiting for you to tear open the box and settle in for a
round of brainless enjoyment. And sometimes we need that in our lives,
to simply walk out of our bodies for a two hour span and find somewhere
else to waste our time. That is often the realm of the blockbuster.
The same sort of comparisons can be drawn in the MMOG industry. We have
our own cult classics and blockbusters, each of which provides their
own sort of magnetic pull on our gamer personas. However, in the MMOG
industry it can often be hard to draw the line between blockbuster and
cult classic. Often we’ll encounter MMOGs that do extremely
well yet are totally original IPs and brand new game features and this
may make it hard to differentiate between the two, but I’ll
try to make some clarifications within my article.
To me, the blockbuster titles mainly come from well-established
publishers that use high powered IPs or standard game functions to
create their game. The first blockbuster title to ever be produced was
probably Richard Garriott’s initial foray into the MMOG
Online. While UO was one of the first graphical MMOGs, it
still falls into the “blockbuster” category because
of its roots in the Ultima
franchise and its development by Origins. It retained some of the
essential nuances of Ultima,
thus it was created from a standardized version of game mechanics.
on the other hand, was more of a cult classic. While it did have many
features that could have been developed from previous RPGs (EQ took
some ideas from Dungeons
and Dragons along with style="font-style: italic;">Wizardry), it also
broke into the realm of 3D and stepped away from the skill-based mold by introducing a
class-based system that is still extremely popular to this day. Even
now EQ remains a “cult classic” because a large
number of people still play the game and even more individuals continue
to talk about it.
Looking at our current crop of MMOGs, I tend to think of style="font-style: italic;">World of Warcraft, Star Wars
Galaxies, Lord of the Rings Online, the Matrix Online, Dungeons and
Dragons Online, Vanguard, Everquest 2 and style="font-style: italic;">Tabula Rasa
as blockbusters. These are games that had either a
high-powered IP or a solid development studio backing them up until
launch. There may have been some new tactics employed in the games to
make them seem original, but most of the foundational elements are
still there that makes them fall into the category
of blockbuster. Essentially they're fun to play and provide
you with an entertaining experience, but there's simply nothing new or
thought provoking about these games. They've simply built things bigger
and better, hoping to draw you in through flash and glamour alone.
Sometimes players need that, and sometimes they don't.
title="Bunch of fighting"> src="/image/view/12045/preview"
style="font-style: italic;">Fury's new mixture
of deathmatch action and RPG combat is a new and original way to make
Cult classics – while once a pretty commonplace part of the
industry – are a bit harder to come by in the next generation
of MMOGs, as most publishers don’t want to take the risk of
slow subscription numbers or poor box purchases. To me, the cult
classics in the industry are Dark
Age of Camelot, Asheron’s Call, City of Heroes/Villains, EVE
Online, Guild Wars, Anarchy Online, Shadowbane, Auto Assault and
of these games not only broke the mold in certain aspects, but they
also were created by development teams that didn’t have a
virtual treasure chest of experience in MMOG worlds. Although several
of these games were – and still are – incredibly
popular, they still fall into that “cult classic”
realm simply due to their ground-breaking nature and small-ish game
Sadly, the only real cult classic that I feel has been released in
recent memory is our freshly minted MMOTPS, style="font-style: italic;">Fury. To me, Fury
is almost the epitome of cult classic gaming. Built from the ground-up
to be different from other MMOGs (with the PvP-only style of play),
Fury was developed and built in Australia by a team of relative
newcomers to the industry. There aren’t any names that are
incredibly familiar to the MMOG market – no Garriotts,
McQuaids, Kosters, Emmerts or Jacobses – yet
they’ve released a product (which is more than Gods and
Heroes can say) and seem to have found an entertaining blend of
deathmatch and RPG style combat.
The horizons for both the blockbuster format and the cult classic are
brimming with possibilities. Games with big IPs like style="font-style: italic;">Stargate, style="font-style: italic;">Conan and style="font-style: italic;">Warhammer are still
being created, but other companies like 38 Studios and Red 5 are
devising their own brand-new game worlds to let players entertain
So next time when you step down the aisle of your local game store
don’t be snared by the latest and greatest blockbuster. Have
a clear mind when you’re selecting your game;
you’re more than welcome to pick up a blockbuster –
even I grabbed a copy of Transformers when it was released –
but don’t forget about the cult classics, like style="font-style: italic;">Fury, that are just
as entertaining, if not more so.
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