The origins of Massively Multiplayer Online games (MMORPGs) stem from Multi-User Dungeons (MUD), a text-based multiplayer real-time RPG appearing in 1975 in the United States, slowly transforming into graphical MUD mid-1980's and finally full-fledged 3D MMORPGs in mid-1990's. At that time, and until about 2010, most of them relied on big publishers to fund the development of the games. About 10 years ago, this all changed thanks to crowdfunding and open-development, that allowed studios to become independent from major publishers and finally create the game they dreamed of (rather than a clone of World of Warcraft). So he we are, 10 years later and there's a large variety of indie MMORPGs in development, diverse in the setting, design and budget. The only ones that launched so far are Albion Online, Boundless and Legends of Aria. I've made a list of 18 of the most popular MMOs in development by independent studios and I'm sharing it on forums to make these titles more known. Let me know if you'd add something (or if a correction is needed).
Setting: Science-Fiction || View: First-Person || Focus: PvP || Budget: ~$25M* || Engine: Unigine 2 || Origin: France/U.S.
- Single shard persistent universe shared by all the players
- Voxel-based universe: player-made cities, stations and warships
- Space warfare: pirate ships, coordinated attacks, skirmishes
- Player-controlled global economy: mining, crafting, building, optimization, barter and trade
Setting: Medieval Fantasy || View: Third-Person || Focus: RvR || Budget: ~$25M* || Engine: Unchained || Origin: U.S.
Heavily inspired by Dark Age of Camelot
Large-scale RvR battles and sieges featuring more than a thousand players and hundreds of siege weapons
Open world with islands that players can move to strategically reshape the world
Block-by-block construction with server-side stability and destruction
Setting: Medieval Fantasy || View: Third-Person || Focus: PvP/RvR || Budget: $38M || Engine: Unity 5 || Origin: U.S.
- Heavily inspired by Shadowbane
- Player-created worlds with parcels of land and pre-fab building pieces
- Time-limited GvG/RvR campaigns that guilds or factions can win thanks to sieges, skirmishes and capture mechanics
- Deep crafting system inspired by Star Wars: Galaxies that is a central part of the player-driven economy
Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen
Setting: Medieval Fantasy || View: Third-Person || Focus: PvE || Engine: Unity 5 || Origin: U.S.
- Spiritual successor to EverQuest
- Deeply social: dungeons require teamwork and group strategy
- Combat focuses on preparation and awareness: players will face challenging scenarios that require understanding and skill
- Perception system: the world reveals its secrets through the environment
Mortal Online 2
Setting: Medieval Low-Fantasy || View: First-Person || Focus: PvP || Engine: Unreal 4 || Origin: Sweden
- Open and realistic sandbox world where player houses can be built almost anywhere
- True, real-time combat where outcomes are decided by skill rather than levels or gear
- Legendary crafters trading across the globe, famous warriors studying the art of combat, explorers puting names on the map
- Individual reputation: people will recognize players by their impact on the world
Ashes of Creation
Setting: Medieval Fantasy || View: Third-Person || Focus: PvP/PvE || Budget: ~$40M* || Engine: Unreal 4 || Origin: U.S.
- Nodes system: player participation influences the type of content in the surrounding areas
- Open world housing: players have the ability to survey and develop land anywhere in the world
- Castle sieges with hundreds of players with many moving parts
- Harsh, unforgiving and stunning environment
Setting: Science-Fiction || View: First-Person || Focus: PvP || Budget: $350M || Engine: Lumberyard || Origin: U.S.
- Spiritual successor to Freelancer
- Procedurally generated and handcrafted stunning worlds
- Open world PvP with high speed dog fights with multi-crew ships or intense FPS warfare
- Exploration: hidden outpost, abandoned ships and beautiful sunsets
Setting: Cyberpunk || View: Isometric || Focus: PvE/PvP || Unity 5
- Seamless open world with fog of war
- Players explore the world, participate in trading, complete dungeons, or engage in PvP battles
- Day / night cycles as well as weather conditions
- Flexible character customization with a wide variety of builds
Setting: Science-Fiction || View: Isometric || Focus: PvP/PvE || Budget: +$36M* || Engine: Unity || Origin: Germany
- Players voyage across a persistent, Earth-like planet to harvest resources, collaborate with other players, and conquer new lands
- The exoplanet is abundant with all forms of biomes, filled with various habitats, seasons, unpredictable weather, and ecology
- As a colony grows, resources, research, and construction will increase, which can permanently impact the economy of the planet
- Players can freely construct structures and organize offensive missions to raid other colonies, or join skirmishes
Setting: Science-Fiction || View: First-Person || Focus: PvP || Engine: Frozenbyte's || Origin: U.S.
- Voxel-based, fully destructible and infinitely expanding universe shared by all the players
- In-depth physics simulation make fights (structural durability), exploration and flying spaceships more creative and fun
- Focus on building and designing spaceships and stations, exploration, resource gathering, crafting, trading, and combat
- Ships are hand made by the players, wired and controlled with a in-game programming language
Setting: Medieval Fantasy || View: Third-Person || Focus: PvP/PvE || Engine: Unity 5
- Heavily inspired by RuneScape
- Focus on a deep skilling system, massive fantasy open-world, engaging quests, and a complex, skill based combat system
- 20 skills offering various bonuses and unlockable content
- Players play through open-world mini dungeons and bosses, as well as instanced raids
Ship of Heroes
Setting: Superhero || View: Third-Person || Focus: PvE/PvP || Engine: Unreal 4 || Origin: U.S.
- Spiritual successor to City of Heroes
- Players defend Apotheosis City from criminals and alien invaders and explore whole new planets
- Unique character customization with countless options
- Thousands of power combinations to form a unique playstyle
Setting: Medieval Low-Fantasy || View: Third-Person || Focus: PvP || Engine: Unity 5 || Origin: Poland
- Skill-based combat mechanics à la Mount and Blade
- Class-less system with diversified equipment
- Open world territory control for guild castles and sieges
- Complex crafting system: leatherworking, armorsmithing, engineering, weapon forging, woodworking and more
Setting: Medieval Fantasy || View: Third-Person || Focus: PvP || Engine: Unity 5 || Origin: Brazil
- Territory conquest: guilds can leave their mark on the game's history by conquering mines and castles
- Players can build small towns and great cities in the open world
- No class or level: combat style is determined by what players exercise the most
- Open PvP and full loot: karma system with restrictions to access cities if the player is a criminal
Setting: Cyberpunk || View: First/Third-person || Focus: PvP/PvE || Engine: Unreal 4
- Eight player-run factions are locked in endless galactic strife of commerce, intrigue and warfare
- Brutal conflicts: combat is entirely skill-based, with full-loot on death rewarding those who master the art of war
- Players forge their destiny as an interstellar entrepreneur, a mercenary or a faction leader at the helm of the next chapter
- A detailed economic system provides the backbone for mining, production and manufacture fueling conflict and player greed
Setting: Medieval Fantasy || View: Third-Person || Focus: PvE/PvP || Engine: Unity 5 || Origin: U.S.
- Cross platform: can be played on PC and mobile
- Ever expanding world: exploration of the lively land with new exciting environments
- Randomly generated dungeons that are unique and offer a new experience every time
- Random events: dragons could swoop down, the undead may rise, or there could be an Easter egg hunt
Setting: WW1/WW2 || View: Isometric || Focus: RvR || Engine: Unreal 4 || Origin: Canada
- Single shard with hundreds of players: wars that last several weeks and reset after each war
- Players are what they carry or drive: player progression is purely horizontal as characters have no stats
- Three main roles: soldier, logistics, builder, and many sub-roles: medics, drivers, gunners, artillery, partisan, etc.
- Deep logistics and building mechanics: transportation, factories, scrapping, trenches, bridges, defenses (AI), bunker bases
Setting: Medieval Fantasy || View: Third-Person || Focus: PvP/PvE || Engine: Unreal 4 || Origin: Turkey
- Spiritual successor to Knight Online
- Full PvP-based maps and events
- PvE content like missions, creatures and bosses that take several groups to defeat
- An endless war between two kingdoms
Cross post. *Personal estimate, may be inaccurate
Feel free to suggest improvements to this post!