Last week, MMO designer Raph Koster made a Twitter comment that’s stuck in my mind:
Hell yes it has. It’s getting mainstream and indie attention left and right. As well it should: Even if you hated it, you can’t deny that it was a unique piece of sandbox art in an MMORPG field since dominated by World of Warcraft clones. And yet talking about it makes me sad. When we write about it, the best we can do, call-to-action-wise, is tell you to go play an emulator.
There are great MMORPGs still alive that deserve attention too, games that you can go play right now. Which one do you think our readers should give a try? Which old MMORPG deserves more love?
Firefall developer Red 5 Studios is apparently in the midst of a “strategic reorganization,” according to a message from the executive team passed along to us this evening through PR:
Red 5 Studios Update: Strategic Reorganization
Irvine, CA – January 7, 2016 – Red 5 Studios, Inc. is continuing to undergo reorganization and resource optimization efforts in order to secure our direction to meet the market needs of China and other Asian countries. The recent reorganization efforts include optimizing development resources and keeping bringing in new expertise and skill sets.
Our support to Firefall and our players are continuous with content updates and customer support. As always Red 5 Studios is committed to providing the best gaming experiences to our audiences.
We would like to extend our gratitude again to all of our players for their long term support.
-Red 5 Studios
Red 5 made headlines over the holidays when anonymous employees accused it of failing to pay devs over Christmas and allegedly threatening whistleblowers with legal action, though the studio was apparently able to meet payroll by the new year. The Chinese servers are due to be showered with over $1.5 million in promotional goodies.
Over the winter holidays, we wrote about game analytics consulting firm Quantic Foundry, which has published what it calls its “Gamer Motivation Model” — essentially, it’s an updated Bartle test for modern gamers that groups gamer types into three “clusters of motivations.” More recently, co-founder Dr. Nick Yee — yes, that Nick Yee — has discussed how gamer motivations align with personality traits.
In light of the fun we had taking the Bartle test a few months ago and the news that Bartle himself is publishing new books offering insight into our genre, we thought we’d take the Gamer Motivation test ourselves, share our results and our thoughts on the test, and provoke you to do the same.
Cryptic and PWE have announced that Champions Online lifetime subs are 33% off until January 21st, 2016 — that’s $199 instead of $299, if you wondered.
“Champions, we’re pleased to announce that for a limited time the Lifetime Subscription is 33% off!” says the official site. “These subscriptions come with everything you need! With multiple character slots that come free with your subscription, you can get to work on your new custom hero right away. All the powers of the premium Archetypes unlocked means you’ll have loads to pick and choose from. Get all the powers of the Tempest, the Scourge, and more.”
has released an atmospheric teaser trailer called Mind of the Virtuoso
, presumably a tease for a new League of Legends
champion that’s a little bit Phantom of the Opera and a little bit Dexter. So in a way, it’s perfect for gamers.
“For a moment i feel like they wanted to sell me a perfume,” wrote a Redditor. We agree. The teaser’s below.
If you’ve been waiting over the last week for Valve to approve Divergence Online for its inevitable Steam early access release, wait no longer: It’s finally live today. The game is currently $29.99 US, 25% off its usual $39.99 price. Wrote the team,
We’ve been online less than an hour and already making dozens of new friends. You guys are just the best! Thanks for your support and expect another 3-8 new patches tonight with fixes and improvements.
The game is known best to our community for its blatant Star Wars Galaxies influences, its hardcore sandbox vibe, and its community-inspired goal to implement a consensual PvP server. Stained Glass Llama’s Ethan Casner downplayed concerns over the game’s seeming use of SWG assets, telling us he welcomes rather than fears Disney’s attention because he’s “miles away from any legitimate infraction.” He also made headlines this week by ranting against so-called “gaming yelp reviewer bullshit.” Reviews on the early access launch are so far “mixed.”
. Thanks, Sethman!
“Father of MMORPGs” Dr. Richard Bartle, author of the pioneering research that spawned the Bartle test, is publishing two new books about our imperiled genre.
MMOs from the Inside Out: The History, Design, Fun, and Art of Massively-multiplayer Online Role-playing Games, the longer of the pair, will focus on MMORPG design.
“[It] speaks to the designers and players of MMOs, taking it as axiomatic that such games are inspirational and boundless forces for good. The aim of this book is to enthuse an up-coming generation of designers, to inspire and educate players and designers-to-be, and to reinvigorate those already working in the field who might be wondering if it’s still all worthwhile.”
MMOs from the Outside In: The Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games of Psychology, Law, Government, and Real Life will examine MMO research and educate readers on “how the world can change MMOs,” both for good and bad.
Did you think the Oculus Rift would be $350? Not so fast: Oculus is asking $599 US for its sweet chunk of virtual reality equipment.
As promised, pre-orders for the Oculus Rift opened this morning. The $599 bundle includes the headset, sensor, Oculus Remote, cables, Xbox One Controller, and its two flagship games. Those listed for sale as of press time will ship in April of this year (this date apparently shifts as more are sold).
Oculus is also planning a Reddit AMA for later this afternoon.
Of note to MMO players, the Rift will ship with a free copy of CCP’s EVE-spinoff VR shooter EVE Valkyrie, as announced last month. Oculus’ Touch controller, however, will not make the launch; it’s been bumped to the second half of 2016.
Protip: Don’t cheat in video games, especially always-online MMORPGs where the devs are actively seeking out cheaters and have a reputation for humiliating them publicly.
Popular Guild Wars 2 YouTuber duo Suck at Love could’ve used that tip. They logged into the game to find their accounts banned by ArenaNet for hacking, so what did they do? Post a video insisting on their innocence. (The video’s since been deleted, but it’s been uploaded to a mirror by Redditors.)
In response to fans’ inquiries about the case, ArenaNet’s Gaile Gray addressed the banning on the forums, writing that at least one of the accounts was banned for map hacking:
Customer Support has carefully reviewed the data that resulted in the termination of the game account in question. They verified that this account accessed 29 map points in under 60 seconds. It is not possible to accomplish this without the use of a third-party program, the kind of program that is expressly forbidden by our User Agreement and our Rules of Conduct.
Because of these facts, the account termination will not be reversed.
next update, Awakening of the Monk, arrives on Thursday, January 7th, says a new Net Dragon press release today. The Monk class is the star; it’ll receive a new weapon and new epic skills.
New Monk and Saint: It is said in the Western Fairland, only the Monk who penetrates the deepest essence of Buddhism can obtain the Epic Weapon, Divine Pillar. After finishing some challenging quests, monks are able to upgrade their Beads to the Epic Weapon. Monks equipped with the Epic Weapon will cause higher damage than those using the normal Beads. Get a closer look into the Epic Weapon. A wild dragon swirls around the weapon, symbolizing its power and strength! It looks firm, sharp and inviolable!
The Epic Weapon – Divine Pillar: Furthermore, there are three epic skills for the Divine Pillar, Infernal Echo, Grace of Heaven and Wrath of the Emperor. Infernal Echo is an active skill exclusive for Monks equipped with 2 Epic Weapons. Strike the ground with the Divine Pillar to randomly summon holy pillars around the castor, inflicting continuous normal damage on the target. Grace of Heaven is a passive skill exclusive for Monks also equipped with 2 Epic Weapons which increases the Maximum Stamina. Wrath of the Emperor is the other passive skill exclusive for Monks equipped with an Epic Weapon which deals normal damage on the targets within a certain range.
We’ve tucked the trailer below.
Crowfall has today introduced a new goddess to the game’s pantheon: Maeve, Empress of the Sea, Daughter of Carnage, the Tempest Queen, Goddess of War, and the Ruler of the Oceans. She’s kinda pissed off because her siblings got better titles, and she’s waging war against them.
“Her domain is that of water: Ocean, River and Storm. […] The waves are her troops – an eternal procession of soldiers sent to assault [her half-sister] Gaea’s domain, to crumble rock and stone and pull the earth beneath the ocean’s surface.”
Check out the gorgeous new artwork of Maeve below, and maybe don’t get on her bad side.
Tragic news for Final Fantasy XIV fans this afternoon: The BBC is reporting that actress Sian Blake and her two children are believed to be missing and that police have discovered a trio of bodies in the family home’s garden, prompting a murder investigation. Blake’s partner is posted as “missing” and has been the subject of a “high-risk missing persons” investigation since he informed police of his family’s disappearance in December.
Blake plays a major character in the Final Fantasy XIV universe, Yugiri Mistwalker, the unofficial head of the Doman refugees and the first ninja introduced to the game. She’s best known to mainstream audiences for her role in British drama EastEnders. The actress’ disappearance and possible death are devastating FFXIV fans, some of whom are already requesting in-game memorials.
Still waiting for Valve to approve Divergence Online for its inevitable Steam early access release? Stained Glass Llama’s Ethan Casner is too. While we all tap our feet impatiently, he’s penned a rant against “gaming yelp reviewers“:
The “gaming yelp reviewer bullshit” has got to stop. We get way too many requests every single day from people offering to give us a good review on steam in exchange for free game keys. […] Any requests made to Stained Glass Llama for the intention of getting free keys will be summarily ignored. Any “repeat” requests, threats, or offers from so-called “reputable” reviewers, streamers, whoemever, offering a favorable review in exchange for free stuff will go on a nice little list that I’m building up of “sources you trust for reviews which offered to give me a blanket good one in exchange for free stuff,” to be dispensed to your own community if and when I feel like it, assholes.