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The Mythology of MMORPGs
Sure, your teachers in school probably taught you all about mythology from Athena to Zeus, and everything in between. But they probably didn't tell you about the opportunity to step back into time via MMORPGs to experience firsthand the thrill of flying through the air on a legendary pegasus or the pain of being zapped with a bolt of Divine fire. The information I took away from formal education on mythology-related topics pales in comparison to things that I learned from playing video games. Here are some of my favorite MMORPGs influenced by mythology.
Dark Age of Camelot
Based on Arthurian legends, Dark Age of Camelot hearkens back to a time where men wore armor to protect damsels in distress. References from both Norse and Celtic mythology enhance the MMORPG. Players choose one of two ways to play -- PvE, player versus environment, or PvP, player versus player. In the case of the latter, players first choose one of three factions, and then team up with other like-minded characters to fight against the other two. PvP is not only encouraged, but players also get exclusive abilities for killing other players. If you aren't into player versus player combat, then this mythology-based MMORPG probably isn't for you. While the game is unique in that it uses Norse and Celtic mythology as the background setting, unlike other MMORPGs it provides little opportunity for mindless grinding -- I mean, c'mon, the highest level possible is merely level 50. Also, there is a monthly fee to play Dark Age of Camelot, adding to the list of reasons why I'll sadly probably never try this mythology MMORPG. Otherwise, it does look rather interesting.
Cosmology of Kyoto
Religion, philosophy, myth, legend -- this Japanese mythology MMORPG has it all. One important note is that the game isn't strictly visual, or strictly text, blending the two to create a unique transition between two different types of mythology-based MMORPGs. Not only can players expect a lot of reading, but they will also find themselves typing now and again. One downside to this game is that when your character dies, after being reborn you have to go loot its previous corpse before progressing forward. On the upside, the further one progresses through the game, the more protective abilities the character gains thus lessening the opportunity to meet its maker. Oriental mythology MMORPGs aren't widely available, so if that's where your interest lies this game is worth a shot. However, my tastes lean toward something a bit more classic in nature.
Achaea, Dreams of Divine Lands
Sharing its name with geographic location in western Greece, the very name Achaea brings legendary figures to mind. It's no wonder that names like Hermes and Pandora appear in this mythology MMORPG. Players in the game can choose one of each of the following: six cities, twenty classes, twelve races, and twenty-five houses. Of course, come combinations work better than others, but the game is free so if one character isn't working out you can always roll up a new one. In the world of mythology MMORPGs, most are pieced together with little coherency. Achaea sets out to fix that, stating:
In Achaea, we fashioned a unique, original, detailed mythology and history for the Achaean realm, one that is reflected in the world itself. Most MUDs involve playing against the computer, either by yourself or in a team of other adventurers. In Achaea, the focus of the game is on interaction with other adventurers, whether positive or negative. Cities and Houses and Clans and Religious Orders are all run by adventurers with only the absolute minimum of administrative oversight.
The goals and motives of our groups are not scripted by some pre-defined set of rules! Groups choose their goals based on their own motivations and interests. It's really great! One important side-effect of this focus on adventurer vs. adventurer interaction is that it can provide for a very intense and emotion-laden environment. Beating a computer might feel good and being beaten by one doesn't feel great, but how much more powerful will those emotions be when your opponent is a real person and you're fighting (in whatever form) to defend yourself, your city, or your religion against truly capable enemies?
Achaea provides a canvas upon which the adventurers may paint an interesting history.
The complexities of the realm are unmatched, and you can have as many or as few characters as you like -- so long as they don't interact with one another in any way. However, interacting with other people's characters is highly encouraged! You can even go so far as to take a spouse (which isn't a denizen, like Skyrim marriage) and bloodline into an established family -- or start a completely new family bloodline! Regardless of a characters class, opportunities exist to learn a trade like making clothes, crafting jewellery, or cooking up your very own recipes. Board a ship and travel to outlying islands, or buy your own ship and battle pirates on the high seas. The best part about Achaea is, like other games produced by Iron Realms Entertainment, it's free to play. For real. Forever. Why not give it a shot?
What are some of your favorite mythology MMORPGs? I'd love to hear about them in the comments section. Thanks for reading!