Andrew Ross

Andrew Ross usually covers E3, MOBAs, MMO-ish multiplayer games, and game related studies for Massively OP. He's a hardcore PvPer who delivered pizzas to shard defender supply runners in Asheron's Call's Shard of the Herald event, fried fish during Darkfall's World War 1 and 2, and killed many alliance members in World of Warcraft for picking "his" flowers. He is a terrible jungler, but can usually stay on the road in Mario Kart.

Monster Hunter World’s community will be bolstered with multiguilding

It’s interesting how Monster Hunter World, a game that is supposedly being made to specifically target western players, is adopting functionality that I’d imagine all gamers everywhere would appreciate. While portability, one of the series’ main draws, is being sidelined again, social structure is actually being enhanced with the release of squads or “circles,” MHW’s answer to guilds and clans.

Both of the above articles I’ve just linked to you focus on general social play, like the 16-person social areas, ability to arm wrestle for fun, and the chance to pick up various kinds of quests, but in-game support for long-term social groups is quite new to the series and is probably of more interest to MMO fans. Past MH games have had friends lists, but communities have largely been left to themselves to create clans, similar to how old-school online gamers (and some modern ones) built websites and created clan tags before developers gave them in-game tools to manage and label themselves.

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Divining the details of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite from a Pokemon Go player’s perspective

When we first heard rumors about a Harry Potter version of Pokemon Go, I said I could barely imagine what the game might be like before listing several other IPs that would translate better as AR games. It’s not that I don’t like the Harry Potter series (I do) or Niantic (someone’s got to push the envelope). My issue is that I can’t see how their respective styles could combine to create something great.

So I’ve gone back to some of my pre-POGO notes about Ingress and what would need to change before it went live and, well, Niantic clearly thinks differently than I do because this game is very much happening. I thought it might be useful to consider Niantic’s past and how it may affect its upcoming game Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. Let’s dig in.

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Adding multiplayer didn’t save TellTale from having to cut a quarter of its staff

Earlier this week, TellTale games, the company behind famous graphical choose-your-own-adventure games using famous IPs like The Walking Dead and Guardians of the Galaxy, laid off 25% of its staff (90 employees). “Our industry has shifted in tremendous ways over the past few years,” Telltale Games CEO Pete Hawley wrote. “The realities of the environment we face moving forward demand we evolve, as well, reorienting our organization with a focus on delivering fewer, better games with a smaller team.”

What’s interesting, however, is that many people in the industry have noted that the company is far from perfect, with issues ranging from having to work with an “ancient game engine” to corrupt or inept management.

While not an MMO company, TellTale has made its games more multiplayer with its Crowd Play feature, allowing groups of people to choose their own collective adventure. It’s felt like a streamlined version of what BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic does but with a single avatar. I’d personally been hoping that TellTale would find a way to expand its narratives and game worlds to be less about main characters than original characters with their own paths in known IPs. TellTale did this once with Minecraft, which, unlike most of their titles, had multiple potential avatars to choose from and some very small scale building.

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Pokemon Go’s Halloween event update is more than just candy

Recent Pokemon Go updates had been hinting at something big, and now finally we’ve got an official announcement from the team, and it’s big. Not, “another Pikachu with a hat” big (though we have another of those), but big enough that it could tempt people into returning to or starting the game.

Halloween and Generation 3+

Starting October 20 at noon PDT, players will be able to get double candy from walking/catching/hatching/transferring Pokemon, hatch/catch a Halloween inspired Pikachu, and get special store deals. Unlike other deals in the past, though, this one is offering super incubators (which help you hatch eggs faster) and raid passes, the game’s biggest money-makers. What kind discount remains to be seen, but the company’s been better about these packages since its anniversary failure.

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Smart Social Gaming: Why people play social games and other topics non-gamers don’t get

While those of us who write for MassivelyOP do try give you all the scientific resources we can to help you fight back against your family, friends, and co-workers who may still not get your hobby or why you may let your child participate in gaming culture, it’s not our primary function – that’d be covering and analyzing the MMO genre.

Enter SmartSocialGamers.org, an “online resource that provides guidance, tips and expert advice for everyone to have a positive social games experience.” While I’d normally smirk and wonder who really thinks he or she has the clout to do something like that, in digging through it I found that Dr. Rachel Kowert, of The Video Game Debate fame, penned several of the top tips, including one that starts off using Quantic Foundry’s Gamer Motivation Model. That’s some clout. Let’s take a look!

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Scientists say Pokemon Go helps relieve stress in Japanese workers

A new Japanese study in the acclaimed science journal Nature suggests that Pokemon Go players experienced a drop in “psychological distress” because of the game. The paper gives psychological distress a specific definition, but it’s easier to explain it as the amount of “vigor” someone has compared to depression, anxiety, and fatigue.

While the study had a control group of non-players and used a total sample size of 2,500 fully employed Japanese workers, at this point in the research game, I’ve started to become less impressed. While I’d love to sing praises of POGO, there’s a reason most people look at the game as a fad, and the research here only reinforced this. Let’s take a look at the study and what it really means.

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Niantic is releasing new Pokemon Go raids despite major bugs

Hot on the heels of its legendary bird raidsPokemon Go will have Generation 2’s legendary dogs as the game’s newest raids starting August 31st. As the dogs roamed the 2-D landscape 1999, they’ll now roam the world’s gyms, with each dog being a region exclusive for about 30 days before moving to a new territory.

Electric dog Raikou will be in the western hemisphere, fire dog Entei will roam Europe and Africa, and “why is this still weaker than Vaporeon?” water pup Suicune will be doggy paddling around Asia. For those thinking about jumping back into the game, Reddit user RyanoftheDay, who often creates infographs for the game, has already put together an image to help people prepare for the pups. In addition, EX Raids (formerly called “Exclusive Raids”) will be distributed to the public soon for events starting September 6th.

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The Walking Dead IP is getting a new augmented reality game, like Pokemon Go but maybe better

Next Games, the company behind The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land, recently announced an AR game based on the Walking Dead IP.

What’s interesting is that unlike Pokemon Go, the Walking Dead’s AR seems to be a key feature of gameplay, not an add-on, and it’s being marketed as such. Players will need to follow AR clues to find survivors and physically move around to find and combat zombies which may surround them. While that does seem highly engaging, I know I’ll have to worry about non-gamers reacting to AR weirdness in meat space, sort of like in Pokemon GO raiding situations in high-traffic areas.

In addition, comparing the demographics of The Walking Dead TV series to Pokemon GO player demographics reveals quite the overlap in terms of gender and age. Both have nearly equal appeal between the genders and primarily seem to attract people in their 20s and 30s. This means Niantic might actually have competition from another AR game based on a strong IP. It’ll be interesting to see how the community responds once The Walking Dead: Our World arrives.

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Why you should care that Nintendo’s social network Miiverse sunsets in November

We’ve known for a while that social network Miiverse would eventually be closing, but Nintendo confirmed the news and the official death date yesterday on its Japanese site. For those hoping it may only affect Miiverse in its home country, a second shot has since been fired on Nintendo’s North American site: Miiverse shuts down at 1 a.m. EDT on November 8th (10 p.m. PDT on November 7).

Miiverse wasn’t an MMO, but social-minded MMO players might care about the sunset all the same because of the MMO-like games it effectively serviced and the multiplayer future it could have heralded. While Nintendo cites the reality that users have migrated to other social media platforms as the reason to shut the service down, the fact remains that Miiverse integration made a lot of Nintendo games more multiplayer. Nintendo’s clumsy code system could often be circumvented through Miiverse, allowing people to add new friends by seeing who was active on a game’s Miiverse page, looking through profiles, and requesting to add buddies to friend lists. Miiverse profiles allowed not just text and mentioning of favorite games or personal interests but also custom art, something we still infrequently see in MMOs.

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Final Fantasy XIV’s Naoki Yoshida on Stormblood’s release, AI issues, and MMO history

After all this time, I’m sure some of you forgot that my original E3 2017 interview with Final Fantasy XIV’s Naoki Yoshida was supposed to have a part two. That’s OK, since, well, the team’s been a bit busy since then. With the expansion out and some fires smothered, the much loved game director finally was able to get back to some of my questions.

Naturally, the first question I had to ask was how Yoshida is feeling about Stormblood following early access, launch, and the release of the first content patch updates. For now, he said (through translators) that he’s relieved but that the expansion had “an unexpectedly high number of new and returning players [who] came back to the game, which caused some issues and frustration.” One of them was the DDOS attack, for which he again offered apologies.

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The Stream Team: Lucius Fox’s fate in Telltale’s Batman The Enemy Within

Oh man, did we ever end on a cliff hanger yesterday while streaming Batman: The Enemy Within – The TellTale Series! We’ve had some great Batman moments and met an old Batman villain, which led to an explosive event just as I had to end the stream. Hopefully we’ll get some good news in today’s stream as our OPTV audience continues to hop into TellTale’s Crowd Play and vote on what actions Batman takes next!

What: Batman: The Enemy Within- The TellTale Series
Who: Andrew Ross
When: 4:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, August 11th, 2017
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The Stream Team: Digging into Batman: The Enemy Within – The TellTale Series

Let’s solve some crimes and make up rhymes as TellTale Games pits Batman, Andrew, and our Crowd Play audience against the Riddler in the newest choose your own adventure title, Batman: The Enemy Within- The TellTale Series. As in other TellTale games we’ve streamed, the audience will be picking Batman’s choices as the story unfolds based on Andrew’s (slightly brutal) experience with the first game. Join us this afternoon on OPTV as we play…

What: Batman: The Enemy Within- The TellTale Series
Who: Andrew Ross
When: 4:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday, August 10th, 2017
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Elite Dangerous: A ground-pounding newbie’s perspective

Earlier this summer I wrote that Elite Dangerous community events were something the MMO community should watch. Watch. I never said play, and I never ended up pushing the “purchase” button when I saw it on sale. I’m not really a flight sim person. Heck, I’ve even mentioned several times that I prefer kart-racers to realistic racing games.

However, I recently snagged a review key for Elite Dangerous to try it out on the PlayStation 4. I even streamed my first experiences with the game. It was a rocky session to say the least, but I decided to stick with it for a few more hours after getting some support from viewers. I really wanted to be able to recommend the game as something to pick up, but honestly, I’m still in the “watch” category.

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