Okay, this is not actually a Friday Humor post that is two days early but rather a discussion of humor in MMO's. This is one of those posts I wrote and then never posted because some type of news came up. Now I'm finally getting around to it and things have changed. I'll comment at the end.
Everyone knows the really hilarious, "I-spit-on-my-keyboard," "rofling at this" moments in MMO's come from other players and not from the game. But still, MMO companies can make a conscious decision to include humor in their worlds. One way to do that is through pop culture references.
During my limited time playing WoW I really got a laugh out of the many pop culture jokes contained in the game. I recently found this site which lists many of those references. As long as it is, it is still quite incomplete.Oh, just one more quick note. The Haven Match service I wrote about in this post has dropped their subscription model as I suggested they should (though I'm sure that's not why they did). Anyway, it's apparently now totally free for the foreseeable future so check it out if you're looking for MMO love.
Following is a list of some of my favorite references in WoW which I either ran across while playing or read about on the forums:
A stableboy named Wesley, a reference to the main character in the fantastic Princess Bride novel and movie.
The series of Linken quests in Unguro, referencing the classic Legend of Zelda. You will also find monkeys there that drop barrels, another obvious video game reference.
The gnome spy named Tyrion and the Direwolves and Night's Watch in Darkshire. Not that obvious, but I like to think these are a reference to the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin. I include this because it is, perhaps, one of my favorite fantasy series of all time.
The discussion of crossing the streams being bad by npc's in the mage area of Stormwind along with the item called Egan's Blaster. Great Ghostbusters references and there are a few more I think.
An item called the 1 Ring which is "not quite as good as the 2 ring." Good LoTR joke.
An NPC Guard in Ironforge wonders "Why didn't I take the blue potion?" A Matrix reference.
There is a crashed rocket car on the road from the Shimmering Flats to Tanaris, a reference to the great Buckeroo Bonzai movie.
I could seriously go on for hours with music, novels and other references. But I guess my point is, do you enjoy these allusions while you are playing?
I can't really think of any in EQII except for the obvious references to the original EQ, which don't really count, and the fact that Qeynos is Sony EQ backwards. Oh, and I did recently run into someone who had a Ring of Xanth, which I assume is a reference to the pun-filled Piers Anthony series. There might be others I'm missing.
I'm not saying the lack of pop culture jokes in EQII is a bad thing. I guess modern references can break immersion in the fantasy world. I think WoW goes way too far. But maybe EQII could use a few more laughs? There are ways of being funny without breaking immersion.
Well, since I initially wrote this, EQII has gotten funnier. There was the introduction of /cutemode and the naming of items after prominent community members. I also recently encountered a DoF quest which was clearly a parody of LoTR (or actually the Hobbit). There are some other funny incidents in DoF which I don't want to spoil. The Halloween costumes look pretty humorous too.
So is EQII at the right humor level now? It seems pretty close to me but what do you think?