From Starwars Galaxies to Lord of the Rings Online, MMORPGs have allowed players to visit and explore some of the most famous fictional locations every created. MMORPGs created from an IP (intellectual property) that is beloved by millions of fans can be difficult for developers as they have to live up to fan expectations, but done right it creates an atmosphere that engulfs the player into that fantasy world.
For me, the first time this happened was with I played Starwars Galaxies and arrived on Tatooine. Like most players the first place I searched for was the cantina at Mos Eisley. I wanted to walk in and experience the same feelings that Luke Skywalker felt when he walked in and I wasn’t disappointed. On my first visit there were musicians playing for tips, bounty hunters resting, as well as a slew of other characters all visiting one of the most famous locations in the Starwars Universe. I swear, I think some people only played SWG to hangout at the cantina. Sadly I only played SWG for 3-4 months and didn’t get to visit many other famous locations as the game was seriously lacking and I decided to move on to something else.
Then there was Lord of the Rings Online. I really have to say they outdid themselves with the locations. Walking through the front gates of Bree for the first time felt like I’ve already been there. I knew that a bit down the road on the curve would be the Prancing Pony, the inn that Frodo and friends stayed at and if I traveled east I would eventually get to Weathertop and then Rivendell. Being a huge LOTR fan, it’s hard not to get excited when visiting one of these locations for the first time. And for those of you interested, yes I’m still playing LOTRO, just not much lately.
There are others like The Matrix Online, Age of Conan, World of Warcraft and I’m sure more that give players the opprotunity to visit famous locations based on movies, books or past video games. It’s really a cool feeling when you first visit a location that you already know about and you get that “I know this place” feeling.