Probably, no one would argue with the fact that online gaming has massively expanded in recent years. The growth of broadband Internet access allowed millions of people to play with each other simultaneously. I’d even go as far as saying that the fine line between the real and the virtual worlds is gradually blurring. Isn’t it evident? I mean, statistics tell us that there are 10 million MMORPG users in the world today, and their amount is doubling every two years. Moreover, millions of people around the world not only play, but also make a living out of their online adventures. Multiplayer games, such as World of Warcraft, now allow players to buy and sell virtual items, as well as getting paid for creating avatar clothing and robot costumes! There are also opportunities to earn very real money by looking after other people’s virtual characters while they are away from their PC (for example, asleep or at work). But gamers don’t just make money; they fall in love, commit suicides, and become totally absorbed by virtual reality…
No wonder that in this situation we can observe rapid changes in quality and overall complexity of design, graphics and development techniques of the online games. Now, World of Warcraft might be an extreme example, but there are countless amounts of other online games and companies that specialize in their development. Let’s try to look into some of the most popular new games out there, according to a standard classification:
1. Browser Games.
There is also a retro 8-bit and 16-bit games revival going on: the generation of the 1980’s children, who are now gamers and game developers, driven by nostalgia and by the awesome simplicity of the older video games, such as Street Fighter, Frogger or Pac-Man, recreate them in a new, online form, using Java and Flash.
Multiplayer browser games are a bit more complicated and therefore, have to use a web server. A pretty good example of a free multiplayer game is a real-time strategy Travian: it was quite heavily advertised upon appearing on the market and notably, it was also the first game of its kind to be playable on mobile phones!
2. FPS (First-Person Shooters)
A lot of things changed since a famous game Doom propagated a practice known as “deathmatch” or “PvA” (Player vs All) back in the day, but the shooters are still getting more popular and widespread around the world, while their plot and graphics become more complicated. Some of those games are even considered to be somewhat of an art form because of the amount and level of skills, tactics and strategy that one needs in order to succeed. There are popular competitions where players show their talents while fighting each other in the virtual universes of Halo, Call of Duty and Killzone.
There are some of the newer FPS games that are definitely worth checking out. For example, Battlefield Heroes: a free game with pleasant 3D graphics. It has several modes and skills to develop throughout the game. Another good thing is – this game has sense of humor.
Alliance of Valiant Arms is another free shooter that is worth spending some time on. It has lots of game modes, great customization options and a really tight shooting game play.
And finally, Tribes Ascend – a free game, which is a part of the Tribes franchise, developed by Hi-Rez studio, known for Global Agenda. The game offers really intense, fast-paced combat. The graphics is great and the colors vibrant. A very enjoyable game if you’re into this sort of thing.
Consoles are becoming more and more complicated. Basically, nowadays they are almost as smart and capable as personal computers, and in terms of online gaming, they are even better, for an obvious reason of being designed specifically for that purpose. As online games started crowding the market, well-known brands like PlayStation, Nintendo GameCube and Xbox stepped into the game and took advantage of online gaming. There are games that have private servers that are capable of functioning on various consoles. It means that PC, GameCube and Macintosh users can share one server! The new generation of Sony and Microsoft consoles, on the other hand, customizes their servers to the user.
However, the cross-platform method has serious disadvantages: it’s quite hard, or sometimes nearly impossible, for a console user to play a first-person shooter against a player who uses a keyboard and a mouse, because it’s much easier than with a gamepad. Same is true for sports games (where it’s just the other way around).