State of Decay 2 is out, and I know, I know, it’s not an MMO, but it does have online multiplayer in a shared world, as long as someone’s hosting. And I’ve been thoroughly sucked in.
Here’s the thing: It’s survival, it’s got a bit of a story, and you can immediately deal with griefers in the post-apocalypse and never have to see them again. I had great experiences with friends and foes alike, and I think some of you might feel the same if you give it a whirl.
As some of you may remember, I wasn’t terribly impressed with Conan Exiles when it first went into Early Access last year. It wasn’t exactly that the game was rough, but just more of the same: free-for-all PvP with people constantly zerg killing each other, now with slavery and some dragons!
But Funcom has done a lot to flesh out the game since then. My GDC look at the game gave me hope, and although the PvE conflict switcharoo is really upsetting, I actually have to say that, mechanically, Funcom has won me over. While I normally track my playtime, I have to admit that I spent far too much time playing Exiles. Sadly, I didn’t get to experience clans, god summoning, purges, teleportation, massive battles, or slavery, but it wasn’t from a lack of trying. In fact, Conan Exiles should give all of us, PvE players included, a reason to pay more attention to the survival genre.
As you probably have heard, there was a Bless influencer event this week, with a couple of media and a smattering of MMO streamers in attendance. The leak of the price points happened soon before we went in, but none of the people in attendance, devs or streamers, really seemed fazed by it. Most people seemed ready to have a good time.
For someone like me, who was initially blown away by Bless circa 2011, the game had fallen off my radar, especially after the game’s rocky trip to Russia and initial Korean release. The western build-up for me has felt like a big PR push, with the pricing model dangled like a feature that people actually should be excited about. Basic questions like, “How does endgame work?” were easier to find on Reddit, Steam, and fansites than any of the PR I was reading. I was concerned, to say the least, but things like “tame almost any mob!” and “100v100” battles intrigued me. Though nothing I saw is probably going to change any core fans’ mind, it may be useful to those on the fence.
A lot of critical things have been said about Pokemon Go and Niantic in the past. Professionals that tried to defend certain UI elements still had plenty of suggestions a non-professional could have made. Same goes for players and professionals that noted the need for quests. In fact, Niantic’s insistence on doing local events instead of global events created some huge PR problems, and that’s without noting that, for a social game, the game actually lacked a lot of social features.
But there’s a weird thing: Niantic’s addressed many of those issues. Several are ones I’ve previously suggested. There’ve been several UI improvements, new quests, at least two events per month since February 2018 that aren’t just cash shop sales, and a push towards community building. It’s far from perfect, like the glaring omission of in-game communication or a social media connection, but we’ll ignore that for now. What I want to focus on is how Niantic’s taken feedback and enhanced Pokemon Go.
It’s really hard for me to not to gush hard about Sea of Thieves. I know many out there won’t agree, and it’s easy to say why, especially for RPG and theme park fans. It also may be because I’m late to the party, as the game came out while I was at GDC. That being said, Massively OP doesn’t do ratings because we expect the games we cover to evolve, but we do post impressions and hands-on coverage, and as I’ve played the game before and after it’s latest patch, I figure it’s time to lay out some judgments. Don’t worry, we’ll run through the game’s grimy pockets before looking at its actual treasure!
As if tier systems weren’t specific enough with letter grades, + and -, S rank, and S+#, Splatoon 2‘s 3.0 update is further separating the kids from the squids with rank X, a tier above the rest aimed primarily at the best of the best.
For the rest of us mere mortals, about 100 new and returning pieces of gear are being added tonight at 9 p.m. EDT, along with some Splatoon 1 songs, four new weapons, the Camp Triggerfish stage, and Callie’s glorious return. The once lost squid sister will offer recent multiplayer stats about the player’s character after “certain requirements” are met.
We’ve also been warned that future releases will be coming out more slowly, but meatier, with batches of weapons, gear, and stages still coming along in the future.
Source: Splatoon 2
press release, Tumblr
It’s finally time for me talk about Project Gorgon as a released product. As you might have guessed, I was avoiding the game prior to launch. I’ve spoken out against early access a lot and have realized that, at this point in my gaming/career, playing games I’m passionate too early can be a threat to both work and play. I wanted a relationship with PG, but I didn’t want to rush into anything pre-release. I wanted it as complete as possible.
MJ’s streamed it a bunch of times, including the day before launch. Eliot’s comments from his pre-release CMA feel spot on still post-release. However, as the resident old-man Asheron’s Call fan with a review copy, I think I can add a few comments about how Project Gorgon compares to AC1&2, plus how developer Eric Heimburg’s infused PG in AC-esque ways.
I’d like to think that I’m kind of a healthy gamer. While MMOs take a lot of time, the nice thing is that their downtime can lead to forming bonds, or give you time to exercise. Augmented reality games can give you both at once, especially Pokemon Go, since it’s the best-known ARG we have (and the mountains of merchandise make it easier to stand out as a fellow player).
However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and I’m not just talking about game mechanics that have plagued Niantic games since at Ingress. I remember playing that title and thinking, “Man, this game is dangerous! There’s no way they’ll just clone this for POGO, right?” And yet, here we are. But I can’t put all the blame on Niantic, especially after my time with ARG competitor Maguss. Some things just seem inherent to the genre.
As this year’s GDC coverage is winding down, I am finally coming to the topic I saved for last: community. MMOs are more than just multiplayer. We attract the “alone together” people more than the “FPS hero” crowd in our comments section for a reason; MMOs are virtual worlds. They’re a digital space inhabited by other people. We may not talk to them, but we watch and listen. Maybe we engage, maybe we group, maybe we guild. We do stuff in a shared environment because we think, or hope, we’re part of a larger system.
And this is why we need to talk about cross-platform communities and the strength of in-game, embedded community tools. As social media rises and mobile crashes against our PC fortress, increased console cross-play should be a reminder that we’re all gamers, and (some) developers are finally getting that.
Games alone won’t make the world better. They won’t even make gamers better. We publish some articles that certainly seem pretty pro-games, but we’re very upfront about the catches. One big one is on us, the players, and how we game. However, game designers can do a lot to help us.
“But that’s hard, expensive, and/or boring!” some of you may be thinking. And yeah, sometimes that’s true. But for both indies and AAA companies, not only are there organizations able to help, but there’s the potential for government aid in unlikely places. Games for good isn’t just a pipe dream, either. Some of the most (deservedly) vilified gaming communities have not only helped with their time but their wallets as well. Even before going to GDC this year we knew this, but a few panels I watched really helped it click.
Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset
during GDC 2018
, which may or may not
have surprised you, depending on how many spoilers you’d already seen. As I still haven’t gotten back into ESO
, I didn’t mind the spoilers; I knew I was going to talk to the game’s Creative Director, Rich Lambert, so I’d need to be prepared. After consulting a bit with Larry
and discussing how hard to push the anti-elf agenda, I was released into the wild… but had that information gagged until today.
Perhaps that was for good reason, though, as not only did I get some hands-on time with Summerset, but ZeniMax provided us with capture cards so we could show you what we saw and did. It’s very much an early look. Yes, there are elves, but also mind traps and a new tutorial for those just entering Tamriel. It’s just hard to say much more, though, since the demo felt like it was aimed more at press/streamers completely unfamiliar with ESO. Don’t worry, lorehounds, I know enough to help you avoid spoilers (so maybe avoid the first 10 minutes of the video).
I love stories. Maybe it’s the teacher in me, but I love stories not just for their raw entertainment value, but for their ability to teach. It’s not heavy-handed like being in class, but stories teach culture, customs, and character. We visit the past, the present, the future. We experience things through stories we might never get to experience for ourselves. War, I hope, is one of those things.
Andrew Barron, Director of Design at Bohemia Interactive Simulations, has seen war. And war stories. He’s also been in the game industry for awhile, both before and after his time as a U.S. Marine in Afghanistan. He knows war, but he also knows war simulators. It’s actually his job to help build them. So when he says our games our violent, he knows what he’s saying, but the context for that may not be easily understood. However, once it is, you’ll see that not only do we have some games getting war “right,” but that there’s room for us to grow, and some people are already working on that in a way that sounds, well, fun.
is not known for being a happy place. It’s shown even in mass media as a cutthroat world of war
. Dealing with exploits is key to making sure that this world ripe for unfairness is, well, as fair as possible, mechanically speaking. If abuse happens, traditional developer wisdom seems to be “shoot first, ask questions later,” and as players, we’re often fine with this. We don’t want to play with cheaters, right?
But what happens if the cheating is unintentional? What happens when the bug is so ingrained into the system that even casual, lapsed players accidentally took advantage of it just by returning to the game? How would you react if, shortly after resubscribing to a game, you had items or experience points taken and had your account suspended or banned? These are the things CCP Games’ Senior Project Lead of Player Experience David Einarsson had to deal with when tackling the ghost training bug.