Ten Fictional Settings That’d Make For Awesome MMOs

What do The Elder Scrolls, A Song Of Ice And Fire, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Star Wars, and World of Darkness all have in common? C’mon, guys; this is an easy one. Give up?

All six properties have MMOs either already on the market or currently in-development. With video games gaining greater mainstream appeal with each passing day, more and more fictional settings are getting the MMO treatment – with admittedly mixed results. In light of this, I took the time to think of a few settings, worlds, and stories I’d love to see made into MMOs. I’m sure you’ll agree, all the entries on this list have the potential to be downright awesome. 

[heading]1984[/heading]First up on the list is George Orwell’s 1984, which tells the story of a terrible dystopia in which everything – including individual thought – is harshly regulated. Those of you who are familiar with the work might think this an odd choice, but hear me out here. A 1984-esque MMO wouldn’t be traditional by any stretch; politics and espionage would play a greater role in the game than in any MMO to date. Imagine playing as a faction desperately fighting against the totalitarian regime of Big Brother, or dealing with the fallout of a war between two dictatorial superpowers. Admittedly not an MMO for everyone, but still an amazing experience for the right person. 

[heading]The Wheel of Time[/heading]
One of the best things about Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time is the incredibly rich mythology, detailed world, and painstaking history of the setting Jordan’s crafted with which to tell his story – a setting which would be perfect as the basis of an MMORPG. Such a game could take one of several forms: it could work similarly to Lord of the Rings Online, and have the party fight alongside the main characters during the events of the series. It could also look back, walking players through the events during and after the Breaking of the World. Lastly, it could take place after the series’ conclusion.

Whatever the choice, developers will have an amazing and fully fleshed-out world to work with, though…they might need to balance Channelers a bit. 

Although the Dune series gets a bit strange in later books (like, cocaine-addled acid trip on an alien planet strange), that doesn’t change the fact that there’s a whole universe and an immense history for developers to work with. How would you like to play a game set during the Butlerian Jihad, or one which pits the great houses against each other in a no-holds barred contest for control of the Spice planet of Dune? Don’t lie – you know full well that either of the two would be awesome, and it’s high time Herbert’s universe got a bit of modern video game treatment. The last time we saw a decent game based on Dune was with the 2000 Emperor: Battle For Dune. Isn’t it high time we handed off the rights to a new developer? 

[heading]Avatar: The Last Airbender[/heading]
Imagine, if you would, being able to play a game set in the Avatar-verse. While I’m fairly certain playing as the eponymous hero of the franchise would be more or less out of the question, players would be able to play any of the four bending disciplines (or play a badass non-bender in the vein of Sokka or Ty Lee). At higher levels, players could potentially even be equipped with the ability to customize  how they bend – unique abilities and bending techniques could be unlocked, or possibly even developed through gameplay (though I’ll admit, I’m not certain how such a mechanic would function). 

[heading]Blade Runner[/heading]
Blade Runner – based on the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Phillip K. Dick – is widely regarded as one of the best science fiction films ever made. And while it might not necessarily be the first choice for an MMO, I feel as though the property holds a great deal of promise, particularly if the developers were to place a great deal of focus on social elements of MMORPGs. Think about it: you’ve got a dystopian setting, clearly defined factions,awesome tech, and the potential for even more awesome mechanics. The friction between Blade Runners and Replicants provides the perfect backdrop, while there’s the potential for a bunch of unique mechanics regarding Replicant detection and the Voight-Kampff machine – perhaps a competitive minigame of sorts which pits Replicant and Runner against one another? 

[heading]Mass Effect[/heading]

A huge galaxy to explore? Check. A diverse selection of races and classes from which to choose? Check. A well-established, beloved franchise? Now, given that each Commander Shepard is a little bit different, a Mass Effect MMORPG would either have to run independently of the Commander’s story, or be set some time before the war against the Reapers. The first Contact war could be a prime period, as could humanity’s first peaceful interactions with the Council races. The only problem is that EA’s got a very good chance of mucking things up somehow. 

[heading]Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy[/heading]
Here’s another oddball concept to mull over: an MMORPG based on Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Obviously, this wouldn’t be the sort of game anyone would be able to take seriously. You’d have no melodramatic quest-lines, grim narrative arcs, or, well…logical structure. It’d be all about blazing a trail through the galaxy, a trusty towel at your side, while gulping down the occasional pan-galactic gargle blaster. I’ll admit, while I have at least an inkling of how mechanics and the like would work for most of the other entries on this list…I’m completely clueless where Hitchhiker’s Guide is concerned; I just know that whatever form it might take, it’d be awesome. 

Who among you watched Reboot when you were younger? For those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to see the show, I recommend you close your browser, find a copy, and go watch it. Seriously – stop reading here and do it. You can finish reading later. 

Now, I’d like those of you who have seen the show to imagine something for me: A Reboot MMORPG. Guardians vs. Viruses vs. Web Crawlers and Pirates. Wars which span systems, peoples, and cities. Games within the game that involve battles of wit, endurance, strength, and skill against the mysterious User. I want you to think about it – to really think – and tell me it wouldn’t be awesome to put together your own sprite and dive in. 

[heading]Cowboy Bebop[/heading]
I feel like the the anime that basically created the Western-themed space opera has more than earned a spot on this list. I’d wager a Cowboy Bebop MMORPG would probably work by having you create a basic character and select a ship, at which point you’d be cast adrift in the Universe in search of mercenary work, loot, and crew members. As an added bonus, players could serve as crew on the ships of their friends or guildmates, potentially even forming their own fleets. Action, meanwhile, would probably be split between space combat and on-planet missions. 

[heading]Anything Involving Non-Asian Or European Mythology[/heading]
Let’s be honest, folks: I feel as though Asian and European influences are getting pretty played out as far as MMORPGs are concerned. Am I the only one who’d love to see an MMO set in a fantastical version of Ancient Egypt or pre-European North America? The cultures of our world are all incredibly rich an varied; there’s a veritable treasure trove of potential settings out there for a developer who knows where to look. 

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