So what is the difference between my good old CD-ROM style games and the new-age online games that seem to be popping up everywhere, you may wonder. Well, basically, the most obvious difference is in the form in which they come in. Traditional stand-alone games are usually packaged in CD-ROM media, while online games are downloaded straight from the server that they are being hosted on. Depending on the type of online game you choose to play, some may be downloaded completely from the server before play (e.g.: Java games), while others rely on a constant connection to the server for game updates (e.g.: Muds, Server-side games).
Traditional stand-alone games are usually cram-packed with loads of great graphics and sounds, not to mention music. Thus, they do provide a surrealistic environment in which you can immerse yourself in the world created by the game. However, due to these added "enhancements", you will find that to realize the full potential of the game, you will need mammoth hardware requirements, especially to play the latest games, such as Total Annihilation : Kingdoms
On the other hand, online games usually consist of just plain text or very simple graphics. Of course, there are some online games which are migrating to the use of high-resolution graphics, not unlike those of the traditional CD-ROM games. However, such games are few and far between and they usually cost money, since the game developer put in a lot of effort to create the graphics for the game. Perhaps you may be thinking that online games are really boring now, since most of them are just plain text right?
Well, the advantage that online games have over stand-alone games is in the area of player interactivity. When playing an online game, you can get to pit your skills against thousands of other real human players in a common battlefield. That's where the thrill comes in. You will no longer be fighting against some pathetic computer AI which never seems to improve itself fast enough to prove a challenge to you. Moreover, most online games are free, compared to the fifty to hundred dollars you have to pay to buy a copy of a CD-ROM game.
Lately, there has been a cross-migration between online games and traditional stand-alone games. These new series of hybrid games combine the best of both worlds. They not only offer the great graphics and sounds that gamers crave, but also allow you to play online with many other players who have the same game as you. Battlenet. The latest games have a feature which allows you to connect to a server and play you game against other human players simultaneously connected. Basically, the game still runs on you local computer, while the task of the server is to synchronize your statistics and positions with the other players playing the same game. In this way, you do not experience server lags as the server need not handle the processor intensive tasks but only needs to update the information regarding all the players. That way, you get to enjoy the best of both worlds - online interactive gaming and great graphics.
Summary of Differences