Persistent world

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A persistent world is a virtual world that is based in certain parts on a real world and is permanently accessible to the player at any time (at least in principle). Many pen & paper role-playing universes or MMORPGs are based on an ongoing (persistent) game world . Probably the most important property is that events also happen when the player is not actively involved.


In the case of a computer game, the game can neither be paused nor saved; only the current player character is retained. With MMORPGs this effect is inevitably achieved (often through client-server systems ), the player has no influence, as already mentioned, and cannot stop the world himself. Of course, in special cases, short-term inaccessibility can occur (e.g. power failures, overloading of the game server, maintenance work), so continuous persistence can only be guaranteed theoretically.

Persistent worlds also exist in offline video games (e.g. Animal Crossing ). Since no more events take place after leaving the world, these are simulated with the help of the internal clock - for the player it looks as if events have taken place while he was not in the game.

In pen & paper role-playing games, the flow of time is to a certain extent in the hands of the game, so a group of players can interrupt a fight and, for example, continue it two weeks later without losing time. However, this does not change the persistence of the game world itself, but only affects the current plot - the player has no (or only little) influence on advancing the timeline itself; in commercial role-playing games, this is done by the publisher or the authors in the form of Campaigns or novels .

In a broader sense, the Tamagotchi or Nintendogs could also be assigned to a persistent world. Also Pokémon includes a persistent world issues.


Elements of persistence can already be identified in computer games from the 1980s, for example in the games Trade Wars (1984), Wasteland (1988) and Orb Wars (1989). Video games like the aforementioned Animal Crossing, with a day-night rhythm based on the natural sequence of times and non-player characters who also pursue their activities between the individual game units, also created the impression of a persistent passage of time as early as the 1980s.

In the 1990s, persistent worlds finally gained popularity with the emergence of multiplayer games (MMOGs). The seemingly continuous passage of time reinforces the perception of the games as a parallel world, creating a greater proximity to the real world. Many MMOGs therefore also advertise the property of persistence, which is intended to ensure a particularly real gaming experience for their players.

The challenge in the development of persistent worlds is to involve new players who are not yet familiar with the plot and its previous course into the game. Most online role-playing games ( MMORPGs ) solve this by giving players or groups of players individual tasks following a tutorial. The complexity of the game world is then gradually revealed.


See also


  1. ^ Koster, Raph: Online World Timeline , February 20, 2002