Brianna 'Bree' Royce
Bree is an unrepentant escapist with a predilection for MMOs. When not compulsively proofreading cereal boxes and newspapers, she can be found modding, PvPing on the auction hall, and touring the Next Big Thing with her guild on a quest for the elusive perfect game.
Working As Intended and Ask Mo are her pet op-ed columns, but she also pens Daily Grinds and compiles both Massively Overthinking and the Week in Review. You can hear her ramble about MMOs every week on the Massively OP podcast. If you're nice, she'll even talk about something other than Star Wars Galaxies.
Personal blog: Skycandy
Favorite MMOs: SWG, CoH, Glitch, GW2, GW1, WoW, MH
Long ago, I used to live for player-run MMO events. In old-school MMORPGs, people judged a guild’s quality as much on what it did for the community as how well it fared in PvP and PvE — maybe even more. We hung out in taverns in Ultima Online, held overwatch/buffing nights for server newbies in EverQuest, told stories in Dark Age of Camelot, performed plays in Star Wars Galaxies. We even ran roleplaying events in World of Warcraft for a year or so — on a PvP server.
But nowadays? I don’t run them. They were work, so very much work, work that requires management and networking skills that everyone else seems to take for granted or look down upon unless it’s in the service of an endgame raid. MMOs don’t reward them at all; any time you spend on events for your fellow players is time away from whatever grind the devs have set up as the “real game.”
Former World of Warcraft Community Manager Micah “Bashiok” Whipple announced he was leaving Blizzard last week to take up a new job this week, leading to speculation that his next job must be close to the Blizzard studio in Irvine, California. And unless he’s trolling Twitter, it seems he’s making the move to NCsoft, which happens to have a studio in Irvine too.
His tweet teases a photograph of a WildStar rowsdower plush on his dashboard during his morning commute and implies he and his new buddy are on the way to his new job.
I know I wasn’t the only person worried about Blizzard’s intentions regarding World of Warcraft after its latest patch was revealed as the last serious update for the poorly received Warlords of Draenor cycle; in this very Week in Review column, I even snarked that Blizzard no longer wanted our money. But maybe that worry was for naught. This week, the studio made one of those announcements-about-an-announcement to get the hype and buzz started for WoW’s next expansion. Will it suck, or will it be jammed full of the content MMORPG fans traditionally clamor for? Let the speculation continue, at least until Thursday.
Read on for the very best of this week’s MMO news and opinions.
Ultima Online’s Time of Legends expansion is on the way, just in time for the venerable MMO’s 18th birthday in September. And if you’re a dedicated player, you can even get the expansion for free. Says the game’s latest newsletter,
“To help us celebrate our 18th Anniversary we would like to announce that if you have a current subscription, reactivate your account, or start a new account in August, September, or October, your account will have the Time of Legends expansion applied automatically. A gift from us to you! Happy Birthday UO!”
Ultima Online’s month-to-month subs currently cost $13 US.
Time of Legends was announced back in February and will draw on Ultima lore, add new wearables and lands, and expand the virtue system, housing customization, and skill masteries. It will be the first large-scale UO expansion since 2009’s Stygian Abyss.
If you haven’t tried Skyforge yet, today is the day. The steamfantasy hybrid-F2P MMORPG soft-launched earlier this month and already has its first megapatch planned, and today’s giveaway makes your first steps into the game easier. We’ve got 5000 (seriously) keys for Skyforge gift bundles thanks to the fine folks at My.com, Obsidian, and Allods Team; each pack offers two weeks of Premium membership and 1000 Celestial Threads, which allow you to purchase outfits, accessories, and mount time. The Premium membership — i.e., optional sub — confers a number of benefits, including better drops and a faster progression rate.
Clicky the Mo button below and one of them is all yours! All gone, sorry!
The company attributes its quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year boosts primarily to Blade & Soul’s “strong performance” in East Asia and momentum in Taiwan as well as the Lineage series’ continued dominance.
Western sales for the company rose slightly over last quarter but are down year-over-year, probably because its major expected releases, expansions, and conversions in 2015 haven’t happened yet. Guild Wars 2 and Aion are both up on the quarter and year. WildStar, on the other hand, continues to struggle, having lost a fifth of its sales since the May report.
Warframe’s massive Echoes of the Sentient patch is about to go live, so let’s have a celebration with free stuff! We’ve got 1000 promo keys to give out thanks to the fine folks at Digital Extremes, and they include two worthy gifts for Tenno everywhere: Resource boosters, which double the amount of resources earned from pickups and can be paired with the Resource Drop Chance booster too, and Affinity packs, which double the rate at which you earn affinity.
Be one of the first thousand readers to clicky the Mo button below and one of them is all yours!
Earlier this week, several Massively OP staffers were debating the best way to set up MOP guilds in games where we were already in guilds. It’s easy in a game like Final Fantasy XIV, which has both free companies and linkshells to help people connect to multiple groups, but not so easy in an MMO like Star Wars: The Old Republic, where you’re either in the guild or you’re just not.
And that led to discussion on multiguilding in MMOs. Some of our writers embrace multiguilding — that is, being about to join multiple MMO groups at the same time — as the best way to make a game sticky; the more people you know and the more groups you bond with, the more likely you are to stick around. But others believe that multiguilding has helped destroy MMO communities by eroding loyalty to a single guild and creating a wide, casual network of people to whom no one has any allegiance.
How about some Guild Wars 2 news to justify the fact that you’re awake at the crack of dawn for this Gamescom embargo lift? Yeah! ArenaNet has just announced that the first public beta weekend event for its very first expansion will run next weekend during the Cologne con.
For the Beta Weekend Event, players around the world who purchase Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns will be able to play all of the content in the beta test using their existing Guild Wars 2 accounts starting at 12:00 p.m. PDT on Friday, August 7, and running until 12:00 p.m. PDT on Monday, August 10. ArenaNet announced access to Beta Weekend Events as one of the perks for anyone who pre-purchases Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns, the upcoming expansion to Guild Wars 2.
Today’s Massively Overthinking question was sent via e-pigeon from Kickstarter donor Apollymi. No e-pigeons were hurt in the writing of this article.
“Have you heard of any MMOs that will not be PvP-oriented — by that I mean, have completely consensual PvP — that may be coming out in the near future?”
Let’s draw out Apollymi’s question a bit and talk about the PvE/PvP divide in our genre. What PvE/consensual-PvP/classic PvE games do we love, which future ones do we have our eyes on, and why is the industry so focused lately on PvP MMOs? The MOP writers are discussing all that and more in today’s entry.
If you’re upgrading to Windows 10 this week, congratulations! You’re brave! You might be in for a week of tech headaches and busted games!
Tech support across multiple games and studios is recommending that you fully update your graphics drivers first and foremost. Nvidia and AMD have released new drivers in the last few days to support Win10’s support for DirectX 12. “NVIDIA has been working closely with Microsoft on the development of Windows 10 and DirectX 12,” blared the tech giant’s website yesterday. “Coinciding with the arrival of Windows 10, this Game Ready driver includes the latest tweaks, bug fixes, and optimizations to ensure you have the best possible gaming experience.” Yeah, you need ’em.
- World of Warcraft users are reporting FPS drops, mouse and camera issues, and screen tearing. (Switching from windowed to full-screen and back again seems to be resolving a lot of problems.)
- Trion is confident in its preparedness: “As of today (July 27), and barring any last-minute changes made by Microsoft, all Trion games are ready for Windows 10 release,” Brasse told RIFT, Trove, ArcheAge, and Defiance fans. Players with problems are advised to update their drivers.
- Final Fantasy XIV is less confident. “We are currently performing operation verifications so that Final Fantasy XIV can be played on Microsoft Windows 10, the next OS to be officially released by Microsoft on Jul. 29, 2015,” posted the studio earlier last week. “The verification process is scheduled to be completed in mid-August, but if any issues should occur, more time will be required for verification. We will make an announcement when Final Fantasy XIV officially begins to support Windows 10.”
Raptr has published its stats roundup for the month of June. It turns out that people are still playing games online. You can close your browser now, and thanks for the pageview.
Oh, you want details? League of Legends is still kicking everyone’s ass. ARK: Survival Evolved debuted in 12th place, and Heroes of the Storm landed in 8th place thanks to its formal launch. In the realm of pure MMOs, World of Warcraft jumped back into the top five in terms of relative playtime share, but its total playtime was down over May — no surprise there. Final Fantasy XIV fell two spots to 15, Star Wars: The Old Republic fell four spots to 18, and Guild Wars 2 dropped out of the top 20 altogether. “Dungeon Fighter Online made a surprise entrance into the top 20,” posts Raptr, crediting the game’s North American open beta.
As usual, this post comes with caveats that you will ignore on your way to shout about this post in the comment section. The stats represent only users of the Raptr service, and percentage playtime is calculated relative to other games, so it is possible for a game to sink in relative rankings while actually improving in overall playtime/players/income/health (and vice versa). Irritatingly, Raptr does not provide complete information on games’ total playtime except for the tidbits it mentions in the body of the article.
The top-20 infographic is below.