Humour In MMOs
I don’t know about Ultima Online but Everquest was one of the original MMOs and it certainly had a fair amount of humour in it, often little nods towards obscure geeky references designed to give us a smirk if we noticed. You can find a full list of them here.
Everquest 2 was a lot more serious and I remember reading an interview with a developer a few years ago who talked about how they they felt humour and Easter eggs removed people from the immersive world and made it feel like too much of a ‘game’. The EQ2 team seemed to have lightened up over the years though and now have a few in-game jokes, none more obvious than a legendary scythe called ‘Dawnfear, the Reaper’ (\aITEM -1115320850 1219695296:Dawnfear, the Reaper\/a ) which drops in the Plane of Fear. It even procs an effect called ‘Bos Bovis Carillon’ – carillon being a musical instrument, bovis sounding similar to bovine and bos… well, I have no idea what that means but it sounds German.
World of Warcraft on the other hand is absolutely ripe with humour so obvious you just can’t miss it. In the Draenei starting lands alone there is the opportunity to meet Laando and do a delivery run in under 30 minutes for a chap called Kessel. And if you have no idea what those are about then please go punch yourself in the face.
Blizzard are even so much into their in-game humour that they can manage to pack two, count ‘em, two geek references into a single quest. Chasing A-Me 01 not only references the film of the same name but also Congo. My favourite comedy quest however has to be the one in Honour Hold in Hellfire Peninsula were you help a priest called Barada perform an exorcism. The power of Christ compels you!
You can find a full listing of WoW Easter eggs here… all 12 pages of them.
So it seems some people dislike the idea of humour and Easter eggs in their MMOs but I’m not one of them. I love the jokes in WoW and personally I think it makes the game seem more personal and vibrant. I can’t see the argument for it breaking immersion and role play because, lets face it, no one bothers to RP in it anway. Now, I’m just waiting to bump into an NPC with a huge chin who goes by the name Druce Dampbell (you can have that one for free, Blizzard, but the next one will cost ya). BOOM.