Horror MMORPGs

Admit it, you like being scared. The rush of adrenaline, the pumping of your heart, that exhilarating feeling; it’s why we watch horror films, go on roller coasters, partake in extreme sports, read Stephen King and watch the news on television at night. Horror is everywhere but as a genre for gaming though, it’s been pretty limited.

When face lifts go bad

When face lifts go bad

That’s not to say that there haven’t been a few great horror games though. A couple of my personal favourite have been Doom 3 (I played it on the hardest difficulty and could only stomach 30 minutes at a time) and more recently Dead Space (my wife used to giggle when I screamed whilst playing it). Horror games, and I’m not talking about the gratuitous mega violence ones here, can be exceptional when done right because they invoke strong emotions from the player.

So where on Earth are the horror MMORPGs? We’ve got enough fantasy ones to last a lifetime, a few sci-fi ones to wet our appetite with but absolutely nothing scary to speak off. And it’s a genre ripe for the taking with so much untapped potential.

I suppose I can understand the reluctance of developers wanting to take a risk with horror due to it’s adult nature and the resulting smaller target audience it will reach. Why make a Lovecraft-esque MMORPG when a happy, smiling, hugs all round Elves based fantasty one will appeal to so many more people? Like many things in life, it boils down to money.

Fortunately though, it seems like some developers are starting to recognise the potential of horror MMOs and with any luck we won’t have to too long until they appear. Funcom is working on The Secret World which is looks quite titillating and CCP have signed a deal to use the World of Darkness license in a MMO. Bloody great stuff (pun intended).

Still not convinced by the potential of a horror MMORPG? Well imagine that if running a dungeon in your usual fantasy MMORPG is fun, imagine how much funner it would be if you were scared witless doing it.

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19 Comments

  1. Bart says:

    Horror or not, world of darkness mmorpg is something I’ve been waiting for for years. I just think I’m too old for this now. But go on young nosfetatu and brujah.

  2. Tony says:

    It kind of stinks that the main entry in the horror genre for MMORPGs is Requiem. They call it Requiem: Momento Mori, but it was original launched with the subtitle “Bloodymare”… which kind of gives you an idea of how ridiculous it is.

  3. Bart says:

    Agree with above. Plus I really hate flash only sites.

  4. The main problem is that the general play pattern of MMOs is antithetical to horror. Horror stops being horrific if you are immersed in it all the time. Try this: pick a horror movie and keep it in the background whenever you’re playing an MMO. Is it still scary after even a month of doing that?

    This means that either we change the play pattern of MMOs to not be quite so constant (and perhaps they no longer become MMOs from that design decision), or we sacrifice some of what makes horror so much fun.

    The other problem I see, and this is the same thing with the cyberpunk setting that I’d still love to do a game in, is that horror necessarily means that the players are at an extreme disadvantage. Good horror is about the protagonists being vulnerable, even powerless, against a foe. While I think some people might really enjoy that, I think that would be a definite niche/minority attitude.

    • Gordon says:

      That’s true and people will become immune to the fear. Still, if the actual setting and lore is interesting enough then it may be enough to appeal. It doesn’t need to be a scare a minute. I suppose I just love the idea of a MMO set in the 1920’s Cthulu Mythos style world :)

  5. Adam says:

    I agree with what Brian has said but would add that the other big element in having successful horror is the unknown or shock element. Comparre running raids in vanilla wow with running them now. We know almost everything before we set foot inside due to all the online resources available to us. That would seriously hinder a horror MMO.

  6. I’m scared thinking about horror MMOGs :(

  7. Tesh says:

    I don’t like being scared. I ride roller coasters because I wish I could fly.

    I do think there’s a market for horror games, but it’s a market I’m far removed from.

    That said, I *do* think that the persistence of an MMO can work for long term psychological horror, rather than the schlocky Freddy viral strain. It would be less about the shocks, more about creating a brooding sense of gloom and inevitability, a game that focuses on “fighting the good fight” rather than winning. Less “gotcha”, more “depress the crap out of you in a crapsack world”. Fallen Earth may well be a step in this direction.

    • Tesh says:

      Though it could also be noted that current fantasy MMOs are already a weird sort of perpetual Valhalla fighting simulation, where nothing really dies, and everyone just runs on the treadmill. That’s a special sort of hell if it were a real place.

    • Gordon says:

      Yeah, maybe a dark and psychological horror would be more effective. Either way, something that moves away from the current trend of happiness elves would be refreshing.

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  9. mimic says:

    i disagree, for the problem occur in anything as long as you play it long enough it will lose it affect no matter what it is and require wait on the next expansion. Horror game play should focus on “surviving” mentallity then fighting to win. The thought that this overwhelming force is killing EVERYONE will make you think of every step you do and the people around you. You should feel fear of death.

  10. Anders says:

    Amnesia: Dark Descent Online… can’t quite see how to make that happen…

  11. ethan says:

    totally ive been on the internet for like months looking for a horrofic mmorpg … nothing NOTHING

  12. Lucifer says:

    Seriously I want to play this game so badly >< but when i check out the Site… THE GAME IS EXPENSIVE AS HELL!

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    this website is truly awesome.

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