Massively Multiplayer Online Games

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Games which support hundreds or thousands of players to inhabit the same game world and interact with each others.

While many games have several players, some games have very many players. This games, which for practical reasons need to be computer mediated to let many players share play sessions, are known as Massively Multiplayer Online Games.


Depending on how one defines massively, text-based multiuser adventures such as DragonMud and Kingdoms are among the first Massively Multiplayer Online Games. These were however not explicitly designed and deployed to support concurrent players numbering in the thousands, examples of games that do this include Ultima Online, World of Warcraft, Entropia Universe, and Eve Online. While all these are Computer-based Roleplaying Games to a larger or smaller degree, other game genres are possible. World War II Online is a FPS-based example and Hattrick is one simulating Soccer Management.

See the category Massively Multiplayer Online Games for all examples on the wiki.

Using the pattern

For practical reasons, Massively Multiplayer Online Games need to have some features. First, they have several players so designing them includes considering the various options connected to Multiplayer Games. Of these, supporting Late Arriving Players and Drop-In/Drop-Out are necessary since one cannot demand that all players should have their play sessions completely synchronized. Further, they need computer programs as Dedicated Game Facilitators to handle the large game states and to mediate the gameplay and the Communication Channels between players. This may be augmented with Game Masters to handle problematic Social Interaction between players and to collect information to develop Evolving Rule Sets.

Most often, Massively Multiplayer Online Games are designed to have players spend many play sessions interacting with them. This may be due to the intended Emergent Gameplay or Social Interaction only can occur when enough players are active simultaneously or they have spent enough time in the game. Encouraged Return Visits in general can be used for this purpose but more specific ways include having Evolving Rule Sets, having Events Timed to the Real World, making players be Always Vulnerable, or leveraging Player Time Investments. The encouraging of Social Organizations such as Guilds is another way to have Encouraged Return Visits and may over time be the most efficient; the use of Invites make players use their own social networks outside the game to populate these.

Some patterns are not required in Massively Multiplayer Online Games but are still quite common in them. Massively Multiplayer Online Games often have Persistent Game Worlds but do not need to - Hattrick suffices with players, Teams, and leagues. Purchasable Game Advantages may be difficult to avoid since players can discuss possible deals both within and outside the games, but Entropia Universe shows how this can also be accepted and encourage in the design. Instances are a way to handle many players in the same area of a Game World but also a way to encourage Teams such as Guilds or the creation of Dynamic Alliances through Pickup Groups. Regarding the action common in Massively Multiplayer Online Games, historically Roleplaying has been very common but these have in turn often have Combat as a central part. Construction was also present in the early cases using the pattern since they were to a large degree Player Constructed Worlds and Self-Facilitated Games; while this is not the case in the prime (commercial) examples of the pattern the creation of Guilds can also be seen as a form of Construction that players do.

Many Massively Multiplayer Online Games build gameplay focused upon raising Character Levels. Those that do typically also need to consider what gameplay should be meaningful after the maximum level is achieved, one common option is PvP. This gameplay defines the Endgame of those games.

Due to many of the factors mentioned above, Massively Multiplayer Online Games almost always need Dedicated Game Facilitators.

Some Live Action Roleplaying games do approach the same numbers of players as Massively Multiplayer Online Games but differ in many other ways and the two patterns have relatively little in common. Although similarly named, Massively Multiplayer Online Games mainly share functionality outside the actual gameplay with Massively Single-Player Online Games.

Narrative Aspects

Massively Multiplayer Online Games often have problems maintaining Thematic Consistency, either due to using Instances or to the practical problem of continuously generating enough context to support Never Ending Stories for large Persistent Game Worlds.


Putting many players into the same game make it more or less impossible for Social Interaction and Emergent Gameplay not to occur. Further, since the games nearly always need updates to handle bugs, Events Timed to the Real World, or issues with Player Balance due to the Emergent Gameplay, they also have Evolving Rule Sets.

The Social Interaction possible in Massively Multiplayer Online Games and the use of Player Time Investments often make Game-Based Social Statuses present in these games. Due to the many activity possibly, it is also quite likely that Social Roles emerges (but these may be more specifically supported by other patterns). The different inherent Value of Effort these can have can positively feedback on each other making the Value of Effort greater in Massively Multiplayer Online Games than other game types where only one of these are present.


Can Instantiate

Emergent Gameplay, Evolving Rule Sets, Game-Based Social Statuses, Purchasable Game Advantages, Social Interaction, Social Roles, Value of Effort

with Character Levels


with Dedicated Game Facilitators and Multiplayer Games

Drop-In/Drop-Out, Late Arriving Players

with Instances

Dynamic Alliances, Pickup Groups

with Purchasable Game Advantages


Can Modulate

Multiplayer Games

Can Be Instantiated By

Dedicated Game Facilitators

Can Be Modulated By

Always Vulnerable, Character Levels, Combat, Communication Channels, Construction, Encouraged Return Visits, Events Timed to the Real World, Evolving Rule Sets, Game Masters, Guilds, Instances, Invites, Persistent Game Worlds, Player Constructed Worlds, Player Time Investments, Purchasable Game Advantages, PvP, Roleplaying, Self-Facilitated Games, Social Organizations, Teams

Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Thematic Consistency


New pattern created in this wiki.