Is city-building the next big craze in MMOs?

Josh Augustine

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It's easy to feel like your choices don't affect the world around you in an MMO. When you log out, you disappear without a trace. But if you could build a city in an MMO, it wouldn't disappear—it'd hang around 24/7 to remind your fellow gamers that whoever built it (you) are totally cooler than they are, and that they should fear you.

Meet the new neighborhood watch.

Darkfall and a few other MMOs have proven that persistent city-building can work, with guilds proudly constructing, protecting and showing off their self-built cities. And the trend looks like it's growing: two new fantasy MMOs, War of Angels and Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising , plan to expand city-building features even further this year.

But what good's a city if you can't fight over it? In War of Angels, guild towns can only be built on specific plots of land, which must be wrestled from other guilds' control if you want one. And you do want one—whoever's in control can decide what buildings are built (ranging from skill-boosting research huts to banks and armor-making blacksmiths), collect taxes from the NPC vendors that'll sell to all players and hire NPC guards to keep the peace.

You\'ll have to start small--Rome wasn\'t built in a day.

But the developers at Heatwave (who took over development of the Roman mythology-themed Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising from the now-defunct Perpetual) plan to expand city building in a different direction with their player-built Estates—in an instanced valley, players will grow a small army camp into a thriving city. More than just a vendor hub, Estates will be a major source of gameplay, with resource management that'll require you to complete quests out in the world to keep things running smoothly. Kill a big boss? Why not chop off its head, drag it back to town and build a statue in honor of your intense badassery? The peasants may even come by to admire you.

Watch your kingdom grow

In WoA , your city will start off humble. Wisely upgrading its buildings-- such as the blacksmith, post office, skill research lab and inn, will reward you whole guild.

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