I see that in SAO and LH, players can craft, buy houses, adhere to the holy trinity of MMO, etc. My first thought was that they might have WoW in Japan, but it doesn't seem to be as popular as it is in the U.S. There don't seem to be a lot of Western MMOs that allow you to buy property either. My second guess is that they might have been heavily influenced by Korean MMOs such as Ragnarok, but I have not played them and I wasn't sure.

So what MMOs could have influenced SAO and LH?

7 Answers 7


His main inspirations would be

  • Ultima Online
  • Ragnarok Online

Reki Kawahara was in the Manga Studies Club. He drew manga and illustrations during his time there. Kawahara would often head to the arcade with his fellow members to play fighting games . He also started playing online games in 1998, starting with Ultima Online. Kawahara also played Ragnarok Online, his most played game (although he stated World of Warcraft during Sakura-Con 2013)

He felt it would be more natural to write about net games.

For some more of his inspirations and why he decided to write you can read a brief biography about him


Hard to tell really - a lot of MMOs have custom housing, in depth crafting - cooking - random enjoyment, including a couple titles from NCSoft (well, in Aion, players have the ability to own houses and some form of [very annoying] crafting).

Though not a fantasy MMO - Eve online thrives on the idea that just about everything ( ships, fuels, space stations , some random commodies ) can be crafted. Just about every ship, gun, module, ammo , Nullsec POS, etc was made by somebody - somewhere - probably in some territory were thousands of ships were destroyed in a war between two alliances of player run corporations in which the wreckage ended up recycled into other crap etc etc etc.

In terms of fantasy MMOs, I don't think there was really any title that did it all with that much depth. I could be wrong though.

  • 1
    He did not try to recreate a certain title though. He only based it on some and tryd to I guess improve it.
    – Dimitri mx
    Jan 4, 2014 at 1:42

In a Q&A session between the author Kawahara Reki and Heathcliff (Kayaba Akihiko) in 2005 (during the web novel period, to give some background of the characters), Kayaba Akihiko said that he "acquired a lot of inspiration from [Wizardry]".

Q. If I were to ask for you to mention one of the games you like best, which would it be?

A. If you mean aside from SAO, it would be Wizardry, a game from long ago. I acquired a lot of inspiration from it.

We can take this as the author indirectly borrowing Kayaba Akihiko's position as the man behind the design and development of Sword Art Online VRMMORPG to confirm the source of his inspiration.


I'm going to guess a bit on this one and say that Everquest should be thrown in the mix of potential influences.

Some parallels that fit with this are:

  1. When Regan explains the World Fraction spell, and Shiroe reverse engineers the time line to coincide the beginning of its first use to the start of the open beta. I don't recall if EQ had an open beta, but it did release in '99. The screen show indicated '98, so this is plausible.

  2. The most powerful guild in Akihabara is D.D.D. Their legendary exploits coincide with the early and buggy release of Kyrafrim after the defeat of Ventani.

Are there other events, probably. I can't recall them off the top of my head. Could those events coincide with other game changers from other MMO's? Likely. But EQ was my first.

  • Yeah, Touno Mamare (Log Horizon author) is on the record as having been a very serious player of Everquest 2, which is apparently where Log Horizon gets a lot of its mechanics from.
    – senshin
    Dec 22, 2014 at 18:00

Jeez people are silly. SAO's writer says it himself, Wizardry inspired it.

Just check out Wizardry Online sometime. It's straight up an SAO MMO, with the possibility of perma-death.

The main character in the story is the only one who can dual wield, but never does *cough* Kirito *cough*. Minor crimes make you yellow for a short amount of time, while heavier crimes like PK-ing, or looting a player makes you red for like 24+ hours.

The game has a totally open PvP combat system that requires skill instead of good gear, cash, or level.

  • Please also include the references for your statement. Thank you. :-) Mar 25, 2015 at 11:09
  • Wizardry Online is in 2012, while SAO has been written as early as 2002, and the first volume is published in 2009, so it might not be a good example here. It's true that he gained inspiration from Wizardry, but I don't know how much from the previous series.
    – nhahtdh
    Mar 25, 2015 at 19:21

SAO and LH are not based on any existing MMO. Depending on which MMORPG's you have played you will likely find certain aspects of the world to be incredibly consistent with it.

The grand-daddy of all MMORPG's as they play right now is Ultima Online (which I played during beta) as the crafting and "loss of experience upon death" both originated here, and it even predates EverQuest, as you could craft in previous Ultima games since at least Ultima 4 (magic spells), 6 and 7 (food). Likewise, player-owned housing originates in Ultima Online.

As far as Asian MMORPG's influence, LH's world is a bit more consistent with Final Fantasy XIV (and likely XI), while SAO is very consistent with Mabinogi. In game, marriage is something that was introduced in a Nexon game that predates Mabinogi (called NexusTK:Kingdom of the Winds, which is a game I also played during beta).

Dungeon Raids, as they are in SAO and LH, are shown as a type of instancing system which is fairly consistent with the advent of 3D modern MMORPG's, though based on the explicit references to roles (eg Tank) and menu driven combat with cooldown's, this might have its origins in EverQuest, but this is fairly consistent with FFXI/FFXIV at present.

The respawn rules, how monsters respawn in the same area, which is something that both Ultima Online and NexusTK did in 1998.

Guilds is a strange aspect. The original 2D MMORPG's never had guilds (it may have originated in Lineage) and it was just something people started doing, so later games actually introduced it as a game mechanic (and indeed the entire point of Guild Wars). Likewise, the PK elements were also something that existed originally in UO, but EverQuest was probably the first to see abuse of it, as in SAO.

Take for example the pets and mounts. In LH the pet griffon mount is also a flying mount that is available in Mabonogi. Likewise in SAO, Silica has a combat pet. Combat pets have been in MMORPG's for quite a while. However, virtual pets actually originated with Tamagotchi's, which actually die if you don't take care of them. So again depending on your point of view.

As for the races and classes, SAO was primarily humans, while SAO:Alfhiem is actually based on Lore from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" which is Shakespeare. The races in LH are the standard human-like characters from Tolkien (LOTR) with the were-animal races (which the current game out there that has these is TERA).

And to round this out, the "Fighter, Wizard, Thief, Cleric" type of roles originate in tabletop D&D games, but the way they are used (Tank, DPS, Healer) originates in Wizardry, which was more popular in Japan than it was in the West. Permadeath (SAO) also originates in Wizardry.

In respect to LH, since there is a specific reference to 1998.10.22 and the character in episode 14 specifically mentions 8 levels of magic which is also something that Ultima has. Like if you want to use the date as a piece of proof, that means the game in question would have been in open beta on or after 1998.10.22, which chronologically can only be EverQuest. I've personally played the EverQuest Beta in 1998.

In one of the most recent episodes of LH (you need to pay close attention) you'll also realize that they are partied with an NPC. Most MMORPG's don't let you adhoc have any NPC join, they either are temporary for a quest (escort missions), or summonable partners/pets.

So as you see, it depends on which games you've played. When I talked to friends about SAO, they can find individual aspects of it that they related to their MMORPG of choice. Over time (at least since WoW) most games have borrowed ideas from each other enough that they're all becoming exactly the same game. They're only differing by environment (Fantasy like SAO), race/monster names (many are derived from Tolkien/D&D) and cost to play.

So there is no one right answer, as no single game introduced everything seen in SAO and LH at launch. You can read comics/manga like 1/2 Prince or Yureka that also deal with virtual worlds and you'll see much of the same elements there as well.

The interesting moral question that comes up again in all of these stories based on MMORPG's is "are we losing our humanity" by when we treat AI's as tools.


No doubt that it is mainly influenced by Ragnarok Online. Music, mood, atmosphere, character and art are very similar. Even the naming and boss monsters.


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