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T O P I C
A Fistful of MMOGers
October 21st 2002, 00:22 CEST by m0nty

Frontier 1859 is a MMOG in "pre-production" (i.e. not funded yet) from little-known design company Cosmic Origins. It is a re-enactment of the silver rush in the Carson Valley region of Nevada, where the players are prospectors and landowners building the foundations of the Wild West myth. Like Mythic's forthcoming Imperator Online, the game is aimed at filling the untapped market for historical simulations in gaming. But aren't successful MMOGs supposed to be about elves and beam weapons, and other trappings of traditional fantasy?

Daniel McMillan from Cosmic Origins, who seems to be the chief "ideas man", has given three interviews: one to Gamespy a year ago, another to Avault in August, and the most recent to RPGDot. I can't see many ground-breaking new gameplay features mentioned by McMillan, but the idea of recreating history, rather than dipping into the realms of high fantasy, has inherent problems.

The main problem, as I see it, is that characters in Frontier are assigned real-life races. The concept of race is a time-honoured game mechanism in MMOGs, but it has been rendered non-controversial in the past by the fact that the races used are fake, either deriven from Tolkien, or alien races stolen from various science fiction sources. It is accepted that dwarves are strong and sturdy, elves are dextrous and wise, Wookies are skilled with crossbows, and Vulcans are highly logical. Of course, many of these fictional races were conceived as thinly-disguised analogues of real races - for instance, the Klingons and Romulans were modelled on the Russians and Chinese. In fact, Star Trek has followed real life to some extent, with later series including plotlines where the Klingons/Russians make peace with the Federation/USA, but the Romulans/Chinese remain enemies. Similarly in the DS9 series, the parallel between the Bajoran/Cardassian war and the Israeli/Arab conflict is striking.

This sort of abstracted plot development would not be possible in Frontier, because we are talking about real races which had real conflicts. The problems may be exacerbated somewhat by the fact that there are no classes in Frontier, just races.

RPGDot: Are there classes? If so, are they the standard fare (warrior, rogue, healer, nuker)?
There will be ethnic races, rather than classes. "Titles" and "dispositions" will attach to your action-figure. PCs will decide on their own, who they will sell too, and who they won't. For instance, as a loose example, not selling certain goods to a "Chinaman" could flag "prejudice" in your "dispositions" inventory if the last 5 Chinamen who wanted to trade with you were rejected.

Elsewhere, it is mentioned that "Indian tribes" would be the only races able to use magic.  From the sounds of it, racial stereotyping would not only become a major issue in this game, it would be the very basis of much of the gameplay.

One important aspect of this is the slavery that was still in force at that time - which raises the question of whether the archetypal "henchmen" of RPG fame will be replaced by "slaves" in 1859. McMillan mentions one of the game features would be the ability for other players to bear witness to PKing and other evil deeds by players, leading to official hanging of PCs. Introducing public executions to a MMOG would be "edgy" enough, but history shows that an abolitionist named John Brown was hanged in Virginia in 1859 by the state governor for inciting a slave uprising. One wonders if this sort of real event would be included in the narrative arc, or whether historical accuracy would be discarded in favour of political correctness. Of course, the Civil War started only a few years after 1859... and Virginia was on the losing side.

The problems along these lines for Imperator, Mark Rein's little baby, would be similar. Instead of African-Americans, presumably, you would have Nubians and other African races, as well as Egyptians, Phoenicians (Israelis), Greeks, Gauls (French), Goths (Germans) and other forefathers of real life modern races, all of whom were subservient to the Romans at one point or another. Slavery was even more widespread in Rome, although Rein could conceivably say it had been banished from the culture over time.

Are historically accurate MMOGs doomed to failure? Are these issues too sensitive, or won't MMOGers care about the social implications of slavery if they can use coloured slaves as packmules for their phat lewt? Does the lack of classes mean that, in effect, Chinaman=trader, Indian=cleric, Mexican=rogue, Whitey=ranger and Negro/Black/African-American=slave? Will teeny wiggers form abolitionist guilds to  rage against the machine, or will Klan members be attracted by the promise of a land where Whitey is king? Will Frontier 1859 players get to change history by defeating those damn Yankees? Will McMillan ever get funding, and will Imperator ever see the light of day?
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#1 by Neale
2002-10-21 00:26:33
neale@pimurho.co.uk www.pimurho.co.uk
I voted "no".

signatures are, as I've stated, for perverts
#2 by Post-It
2002-10-21 00:31:08
keithlee@speakeasy.net
Gaaayyyy.

Comment Signature
#3 by lwf
2002-10-21 00:43:27
I'd prefer Oregon Trail Online.

Like a valentine laced around an icepick
#4 by Greg
2002-10-21 00:45:01
[Obligatory negative comment about pushing topics through.]

"I am not a mouse! This thing can't hurt me! Ha ha, the peanut butter is mine!!!" - Lydia Lu
#5 by chris
2002-10-21 00:46:37
cwb@shaithis.com http://www.cerebraldebris.com
[obligatory comment about pointless, stupid, useless and unnecessary bitching about any new topic, regardless of what it is about]

-chris
#6 by lwf
2002-10-21 00:47:48
[Obligatory withdrawral from chequing acct -$500, no wait, $1000]

Like a valentine laced around an icepick
#7 by Charles
2002-10-21 01:09:14
www.bluh.org
What?

"There is a huge difference between disliking somebody - maybe even disliking them a lot - and actually shooting them, strangling them, dragging them through the fields and setting their house on fire. It was a difference which kept the vast majority of the population alive from day to day."
-Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.
#8 by yotsuya
2002-10-21 01:10:39
"Chinaman"?

I propose making the "Blazing Saddles" add-on pack. Who's with me???

Arizona Diamondbacks 2001 World Series Champions
"It's all about positioning! So assume the position!" JMCDaveL
#9 by Bailey
2002-10-21 01:15:56
Can't we just avoid all this bleeding-heart liberal do-goodery and call them chinks like we all know we want to?

Hurting others makes me feel better about myself.
#10 by jafd
2002-10-21 01:20:45
Selling virtual slaves on eBay? Hhm. Hhmm hhhmmm mmmmm.

"Perhaps I'm insensitive to the bond between you and your subservient quadruped."
#11 by Bezzy
2002-10-21 01:27:36
painberry@hotmail.com http://www.antifactory.org
As touched on in the topic, it's a shame that the most original thing people can do with MMO games is change the theme very slightly. MMO can do more than RPG, surely?

My only problem with Bezzy is, truly and honestly, about one third of his longer, passionate posts make no sense to me.  I don't necessarily agree or disagree, I just literally can't parse them.  - Hugin
#12 by deadlock
2002-10-21 01:32:31
http://www.deadlocked.org/
Neale:
I voted "no".[/quote[
I voted YES! I second the motion to have Nice biscuits in the European Assembly! What... you mean there were other issues than tea and cookies?

your brains are locked away, but I love your company
#13 by deadlock
2002-10-21 01:33:02
http://www.deadlocked.org/
This is thomfoolery of the highest order, incidentarelly.

your brains are locked away, but I love your company
#14 by deadlock
2002-10-21 01:33:17
http://www.deadlocked.org/
I voted YES! I second the motion to have Nice biscuits in the European Assembly! What... you mean there were other issues than tea and cookies?

your brains are locked away, but I love your company
#15 by Marsh Davies
2002-10-21 01:34:32
www.verbalchilli.com
Are you posting drunk?

#16 by deadlock
2002-10-21 01:35:49
http://www.deadlocked.org/
Never!

your brains are locked away, but I love your company
#17 by Hugin
2002-10-21 01:36:42
lmccain@nber.org
I've played in historical pen and paper RPGs where there was slavery and whatnot.  In my tabletop gaming lifetime, I've played a slave, and I've played an owner of slaves.  But that was with people I knew and trusted.  I knew thier social and political views, I knew they were mature, we all knew we respected each other and such.

There's no way in hell I could log into an MMOG with slavery in it, and watch some random mouthbreathing netfucko say "OMFG I totally 0Wnzor that that nigg3r".  Because I don't have enough money to keep sending Bailey everywhere to kill those people.
#18 by Warren Marshall
2002-10-21 01:37:37
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
Maybe we could start some sort of Fucko Fund.

"You can't kill a man when he's got no hope."
#19 by deadlock
2002-10-21 01:38:42
http://www.deadlocked.org/
OK, i haven't actually read this topic yet, but on the basis of what hugin has said, i should probably apologise for taking the piss...

your brains are locked away, but I love your company
#20 by LPMiller
2002-10-21 01:44:07
lpmiller@gotapex.com http://www.gotapex.com
Just to say, Roman was an equal opportunity slave holder. Race didn't factor into it, so much as class, poverty on conquest did. But as it takes place in modern times, I dunno why it's even mentioned.

I believe I can fly......urk.
#21 by Max
2002-10-21 01:55:55
http://massivebraincase.org/
I like grapes.  And I want a pony.  And BMX XXX.  Yay for boobies!

I am surprised that they modeled seats on the women's bicycles.  If you are going to push the envelope, then you should push it. -ChunkStyle
#22 by Hugin
2002-10-21 01:59:04
lmccain@nber.org
Yeah LP, the game in which I was a slave, I was playing a Gaul.  

But race is actually irrelevant to my fundamental problem with it.  MMOG's already feature too much of people exploiting each other and treating each other like shit.  I don't want it to be codified in the rules, and from there, inevitably abused and distorted in ways the designers never imagined.
#23 by Foodbunny
2002-10-21 02:04:41
foodbunny@attbi.com http://www.foodbunny.com
If this actually gets made I'm going to start the Ethnic Stereotype clan, my friend is going to start the Multiculture Pals, and we're going to battle to the death. But other than making fun of the use of real-life races to give class skills as being stereotypical I can't really see much reason to play.

It won't have any impact on DNF.  Nothing really does.
#24 by CinqO
2002-10-21 02:05:51
Did the Nevada territory even allow slavery in 1859? I can see the whole Chinese oppression thing in the game, but I doubt there would be much slavery in it, unlike if the game were set in Virginia or something.

Nothing can kill the Grimace
#25 by jafd
2002-10-21 02:07:01
MMOG's already feature too much of people exploiting each other and treating each other like shit.

I think you misspelled "Earth."

"Perhaps I'm insensitive to the bond between you and your subservient quadruped."
#26 by Bailey
2002-10-21 02:15:52
Warren

Maybe we could start some sort of Fucko Fund.

There isn't enough money in the whole world.

Hurting others makes me feel better about myself.
#27 by BobJustBob
2002-10-21 02:29:38
At least they're trying something different.

I'm killing myself with cola.
#28 by Charles
2002-10-21 02:30:12
www.bluh.org
Yes, it's 'different'.

Different like NPCs in Morrowind!

"There is a huge difference between disliking somebody - maybe even disliking them a lot - and actually shooting them, strangling them, dragging them through the fields and setting their house on fire. It was a difference which kept the vast majority of the population alive from day to day."
-Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.
#29 by Foodbunny
2002-10-21 02:31:25
foodbunny@attbi.com http://www.foodbunny.com
The players should be nude prospectors and landowners building the foundations of the Wild West myth.  Then they'd be trying something new.

It won't have any impact on DNF.  Nothing really does.
#30 by Foodbunny
2002-10-21 02:32:23
foodbunny@attbi.com http://www.foodbunny.com
And you should automatically yell "SPEAK QUICKY, PERSON OF A RACE DIFFERENT THAN MY OWN, OR GO AWAY!" every time anyone gets anywhere near you in the game.

It won't have any impact on DNF.  Nothing really does.
#31 by Foodbunny
2002-10-21 02:33:13
foodbunny@attbi.com http://www.foodbunny.com
Also, needs more fucking people like a jet.

It won't have any impact on DNF.  Nothing really does.
#32 by Warren Marshall
2002-10-21 02:35:58
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
Or jets fucking like people.  Think of it!

"You can't kill a man when he's got no hope."
#33 by BobJustBob
2002-10-21 02:40:34
...

I'm killing myself with cola.
#34 by yotsuya
2002-10-21 02:43:55
Also, needs more fucking people like a jet.


Foodbunny, I want you to have my babies

Arizona Diamondbacks 2001 World Series Champions
"It's all about positioning! So assume the position!" JMCDaveL
#35 by yotsuya
2002-10-21 02:44:22
Message to jjohnson-

Did the burner come in yet? How is it? Let me know.

Arizona Diamondbacks 2001 World Series Champions
"It's all about positioning! So assume the position!" JMCDaveL
#36 by BabiG
2002-10-21 03:04:56
Can't we just avoid all this bleeding-heart liberal do-goodery and call them chinks like we all know we want to?


Um, no.

Don't Panic.
#37 by jjohnsen
2002-10-21 03:15:18
http://www.johnsenclan.com
yotsuya, they pushed the ship date back.  Supposedly the dock strike did it, but I've seen them in Best Buy.  They are supposed to be shipping it tomorrow.  I'll let you know how it goes.

I am trying to catch up to Ergo's Dvd collection.
#38 by jjohnsen
2002-10-21 03:16:53
http://www.johnsenclan.com
Can't we just avoid all this bleeding-heart liberal do-goodery and call them chinks like we all know we want to?


I've never understood racial slurs.  I'd much rather call someone an asshole, or a bastard.

I am trying to catch up to Ergo's Dvd collection.
#39 by yotsuya
2002-10-21 03:20:48
jj-

How much were they at Best Buy?

Arizona Diamondbacks 2001 World Series Champions
"It's all about positioning! So assume the position!" JMCDaveL
#40 by jjohnsen
2002-10-21 03:23:15
http://www.johnsenclan.com
$349.  I was tempted to cancel my order with Dell, but I got it there for $274.  There's no way I could convince my wife its worth $70 just to have it a week earlier.

I am trying to catch up to Ergo's Dvd collection.
#41 by Bailey
2002-10-21 03:29:31
jjohnsen

I've never understood racial slurs.  I'd much rather call someone an asshole, or a bastard.

Slurs are the last bastion of the unimaginative, I suppose. Plus there's no racial superiority implied in calling someone a bastard, durr.

Hurting others makes me feel better about myself.
#42 by yotsuya
2002-10-21 03:29:38
Do what I do- go on your way home from work and hide it in your pants when you come home.

Arizona Diamondbacks 2001 World Series Champions
"It's all about positioning! So assume the position!" JMCDaveL
#43 by Bailey
2002-10-21 03:31:10
There's enough room in yotsuya's pants for TWO Dells!

Hurting others makes me feel better about myself.
#44 by Max
2002-10-21 03:33:11
http://massivebraincase.org/
But is there room for two monkeys?

I am surprised that they modeled seats on the women's bicycles.  If you are going to push the envelope, then you should push it. -ChunkStyle
#45 by jjohnsen
2002-10-21 03:43:23
http://www.johnsenclan.com
So I'm all excited because I'm building my first computer, with a pretty good setup AMD 2000+/80 gig hd/Radeon 8500.  Then in irc Post-It swaggers by with this site that can give me the same thing for $170 less, including a Radeon 9700 instead of a 8500.  So should I just strip it down and rebuild when it gets here so I can prove my penis is still big if someone asks if I built my computer?

I am trying to catch up to Ergo's Dvd collection.
#46 by yotsuya
2002-10-21 03:45:24
Heh. Seriously. My wife and I don't fight over money because I never tell her what I buy. Ignorance is bliss. You coulc spend hundereds on RAM, a processor, videocard, sound card, etc. and no one is the wiser because it all fits in the same beige box. She does. however, know I'm in the market for a DVD burner, so I don't have to hide that next to my scrotum.

Arizona Diamondbacks 2001 World Series Champions
"It's all about positioning! So assume the position!" JMCDaveL
#47 by yotsuya
2002-10-21 03:55:05
And, a word of advice to those of you gentlemen here who are planning on getting married soon:

Never, EVER, let your wife buy the home electronics. They will ALWAYS buy the cheapest item, never stopping to think WHY it's so cheap*. Note the following example:

You: Honey, what's that?
Her: I bought us a new DVD player! It was only $60!!!
You: Great. Does it play VCDs? CD-Rs? Does it have progressive scan? S-Video out? Zoom control?
Her: I don't know, but it was only $60!

Don't let this happen to you.

*There are some exceptions, like Caryn, of course

Arizona Diamondbacks 2001 World Series Champions
"It's all about positioning! So assume the position!" JMCDaveL
#48 by jjohnsen
2002-10-21 03:58:23
http://www.johnsenclan.com
I second that.  She thinks I'm an idiot for saying my PIII 500 is getting old and slow, because she doesn't have any trouble reading her email on it.

I am trying to catch up to Ergo's Dvd collection.
#49 by yotsuya
2002-10-21 04:00:03
True dat. When they do buy electronics, of course, just smile, nod, and deal with it.

Arizona Diamondbacks 2001 World Series Champions
"It's all about positioning! So assume the position!" JMCDaveL
#50 by "Mank"
2002-10-21 04:16:44
Yotsuya
True dat. When they do buy electronics, of course, just smile, nod, and deal with it.


Of course you have to learn how to do this loooong before you get married. Saying Yes'm helps a lil also..=)
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