Zoning Out: A look At Zones In MMORPG’s

Zones, the areas that breathe life into the games we play.  The look and feel of the game is dictated largely by the graphical world made up of zones.  They are the ground we walk, quest, and duel on.  They are the caves and dungeons we brave for treasures unheard of.

I want to start my own series about zones.  I think there is a plethora of discussion to be had about them.  No doubt it will cross over into many other areas, as zones are the ground in which everything else is plopped into: mobs, buildings, trees, etc….

For starters I just wanted to compare some games and how many zones they have.

Note: My count may be off a little, as I just looked up different sites and mostly “eye-balled” it.

World of Warcraft:  The one considered to be king of the hill, and undoubtedly it is large.  Anyone stepping into Azeroth for the first time will continually be amazed as they slowly progress through landscape after landscape for hours.

WoW currently has over 60 zones(actually I think closer to 70) of varying shapes and sizes.  That doesn’t inlude the instances and sub-zones found littered throught the major zones.  The in-game world of WoW is indeed pretty massive and will soon be adding even more zones when there next patch hits soon.

EQ2 I’m new to Everquest 2 and had trouble finding information on major zones.  I found one site that had a list under the heading “zones” but I believe it included instances as well.  Even still it listed hundreds, which would seem to me to be more than WoW- taking into account instances too.

Vanguard is really difficult.  The entire world of Vanguard: Saga of Heros is what’s known as “persistent”.  A single zone in another game like WoW is a persistent zone with respawning mobs.  Vanguards entire world, which is quite large is one persistent world with gigantic valleys, fissures, caves, dungeons, lakes, etc…. That means no instances…no zones.  However I have found sites separating the game world into zones.  In one of these I counted, like EQ2, hundreds.

As you can see I really need some help from more knowledgable people(hint hint).

So far I’ve listed only Pay to Play games.

Free to Play are typically much smaller.  They usually have a much smaller company, fewer employees-which means fewer devs, and therefore game worlds are usually smaller.

RoM, as you know, is currently my favorite game- of pay or free MMO’s.  It is much smaller than the subscribtion based games I’ve listed.  Currently Runes of Magic has 8 zones, not including major cities or instances with more arriving in a patch this September.  I listed RoM because it’s my favorite game and I can, and because in my opinion it’s the first F2P that’s more like a pay game than previous F2P titles.

I’ve been thinking a lot about player perceptions pertaining to many areas of MMO game play, so that’s just how I’m geared right now.  I tend to percieve larger sized games as more-likely-than-not to be more fun.  At least initially the size of a world plays heavily on my mind as effecting how much content, fun, or how long-lasting the game could be for me.  It of course isn’t always the case, as in how I feel about Runes of Magic.  I’ve been playing it for many months and haven’t started to get bored with it, and it’s not a tenth the size of many P2P MMO’s.

Of course, I day dream about RoM having as many, or more, zones than a game like WoW.  I make up dozens of imaginary zones in my head for the game and run my imaginary character on his imaginary horse though them.  In fact, if I were magically given the decision as to what comes next for RoM.  What direction it should take? What time and resources the developement team should concentrate on for the next year?  I would decree an order to be made immediately that adding dozens of zones a month be of highest priority for Runes of Magic.

How much of your fun is based off the size of the game world in which you play?  What priority does it take, if you could work on the game?

Would you be more concerned about adding more daily encounters, quests, gear, instances, festivals, or perhaps fixing bugs?  No doubt they are all important, but to what degree?


One Response to “Zoning Out: A look At Zones In MMORPG’s”

  1. EQ2 does indeed have hundreds of zones, partly because it’s had a lot more expansions than WoW. They also used to do lots of smaller zones but have since shifted to do fewer, larger zones and lots of instances.

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