I was a wide-eyed, naive kid when I first stepped into Ultima Online in 1997, and as it turns out, the developers were too.
That’s my takeaway from reading through the Ultima Online chunk of Raph Koster’s new book, Postmortems. Koster, as any dedicated MMORPG fan will recall, went by “Designer Dragon” back then as the creative lead on the game. Having come from a MUD background, he and his wife Kristin Koster were instrumental in shaping Richard Garriott’s seminal MMORPG and therefore the genre as we know it.
Koster kindly sent us a preprint of the book, unwittingly robbing himself of $35, as I was going to buy it anyway, and it’s massive, folks: over 700 pages spanning three decades and the majority of the online games Koster’s worked on during his long tenure in the gaming industry. Some of those games are definitely of more interest to our readers on Massively OP, in particular Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies. It’s the Ultima Online chapters I aim to cover today.
In an alternate universe, Dragon Quest X got ported to western shores in 2012 when Square Enix launched the MMORPG in Japan. Sadly, we’re stuck in this crap universe, where that’s still never happened.
But it’s not off the table. According to a Game Informer interview from E3, during which Square was ostensibly there to talk Dragon Quest XI, the studio still hasn’t written off the idea of bringing the cutesy sub-based cross-platform MMO here.
“We wanted to release it in [North America; I still want to release it,” producer Yuu Miyake says. “However, with the MMO, it was based on a five-year plan of service, so if we were going to release it in North America, there’s the question of how we would rearrange that.”
Fancy staring at some pixel spaceships this morning to weigh in on the latest Star Citizen drama? ‘Course you do. The ship on display today is Star Citizen’s Vulture, the latest concept ship that’s been teased all week.
The problem, as multiple Reddit and Twitter threads have pointed out, is that the ship looks really freakin’ similar to an EVE Online ship: the Venture mining frigate.
It’s certainly possible that the artists were inspired by the same source material; it’s not as if pincer/forklift combine type vehicles are unheard of. That hasn’t stopped both Star Citizen and EVE Online players from mapping the ships onto each other and calling shenanigans.
We’ve reached out to CIG for comment and will report back when we hear more.
Getting pumped for Trove’s
upcoming expansion, Geode
, later this June? Trion is figuring to channel all that pre-launch energy into something constructive – literally. It’s kicking off a co-op community event
in which players will be helping an NPC build the ferry that’ll take us to the new maps. Yes, we’re gonna need a bigger boat. And we’re gonna build it ourselves.
“A warrior from the besieged planet of Geode has come to Trove to seek out warriors for his cause. First, he must get you to his home planet, and for that, you’ll need transportation. With the Rise of the Sunseeker event you’ll join your fellow Trovians to build a vessel capable of carrying our bravest adventurers on the journey. Building a ship of this size requires a massive amount of resources and lots and lots of magic.”
Head to the game’s hub map during the next two weeks to help out with the construction! You can’t miss the NPC; he’s standing by the massive pink ball. There’s a little boat in it for you too if you finish the quest line!
Steam’s new chat client has gone into testing this week, with major overhauls to the friends list and group chat system. I gave it a spin last night after my guildies reminded me that you have to opt in to the beta to give it a go. As rumored prior to the launch, the chat system itself looks a lot like Discord, and it has a lot of the same features too, like a rebuilt voice chat system.
Notably, there’s a new invisible mode that allows you to appear offline but still see who’s on (and chat with them while otherwise hiding out).
It is pretty, but if you primarily use Steam to see who’s online rather than to group chat, you may be a bit put off by the enormous display; there’s no way to condense the list to just names as in a standard messenger client right now, and the panel includes modules that you might not use but can’t hide.
What do you think? My groups still use Slack chat primarily for the security, but Discord has always been pretty, so I wonder whether people who use Discord will feel enticed by Steam’s new featureset.
It’s patch week for PlanetSide 2’s PC servers, which is always a nice thing to get to be able to say, don’t you think? Daybreak has pumped out the “construction reconstructed” update as promised with some pretty major changes for the classic MMOFPS sandbox.
Let’s start with the construction changes themselves. Daybreak says they’re intended to “encourage more interaction for builders and less frustration for attackers” with a “group building mentality.” Most constructables will cost less to unlock and place; rules on spacing have been relaxed; friendly fire has been reduced; and structure repairs should be faster (to reduce the impact of swarm attacks). On the other hand, you’ll have to take more care when it comes to monitoring and funding your objects to make sure they don’t decay.
Players can also expect the revivification of facility control alerts, a new aerial anomaly event, new faction-themed weapons, squad improvements, UI tweaks, and an influx of Player Studio trinkets.
Way back in April, Pearl Abyss rolled out patch notes for the Korean version of Black Desert
that included a dating system – dating as in romance options, not carbon or tree-ring dating. And today, that patch has ported westward.
Essentially, the game has a pool of romanceable NPCs throughout the game; your character can try to woo them with gifts. If the NPC accepts your “confession” of love, “you will become their lover and earn a special in-game title with a distinct color” for at least a week. Of course, you’re in competition with other players for these mighty fine NPC catches, so the NPC might break up with you for a sweeter suitor. There are additional titles for going through this process five or 10 times.
Today’s update also puts the finishing touches on Lahn with her last round of extra skills (Enhanced skills this time), plus tweaks the world boss schedule (again), buffed drop rate on Arsha (whose PvP rules have now been altered), removed mount purchasing time restrictions, tweaked the forward guard effect, and buffed the Tamer.
MOP reader Joel recently wrote into us with a link to a Dark Legacy Comic (#634) that succinctly captures the problem of content lulls in MMOs. It features a bored World of Warcraft hero character staring at his friends list full of buddies who haven’t logged on in weeks (“wake me for prepatch,” one friend’s tag reads); he then becomes super excited at a newly delivered mail, only to find out it’s an automated brew-of-the-month club missive telling him to share his drinks with his friends. Womp womp.
“I can’t speak for everyone but this episode really spoke to me as there have been a lot of times I’ve felt exactly this way in quite a few MMOs that have hit a lull,” Joel wrote.
I thought it was particularly relevant this summer for MMORPG players; World of Warcraft is in a bit of a lull right now ahead of the launch of its expansion, while Guild Wars 2’s next big patch has been delayed so significantly that I heard the word “drought” being kicked around yesterday.
So how do you handle content lulls in MMORPGs? Do you stick it out, play alts, grind cash? Or do you wander away to play something else?
Battle royale is all the rage these days, but as we’ve been covering over the last few months, the SpatialOS-based Mavericks is aiming to bring a new approach to the wildly popular new genre: by making it truly massive, which by studio Automaton’s count means 1000 players in the same persistent world.
We got hands-on with the game at GDC, however, and had a hard time seeing how 1000 people made a significant difference in the gameplay in practice. “It’s much more for the battle royale crowd than the MMO crowd,” MOP’s Andrew wrote at the time. Hopefully, the E3 demo will change our minds.
Closed beta is expected to launch in August; you can already sign up on the official site. The company will also launch its founder system later this week. The splash page for that says lootboxes aren’t on the table, but there will be what looks like an optional subscription in the form of “citizenship” that unlocks “a variety of content within the game.” Check out the new E3 trailer below.
Sandbox Interactive has a new dev talk video out on Albion Online’s upcoming balance overhaul, specifically for the 5v5 GvG meta, group fights, and the crowd control builds that pretty much, as SI puts it, “reign supreme” in that game mode. Nature builds are definitely due for a nerf, while a number of weapons (bows and staves in particular) are getting buffs.
Buzz on the official forums and Reddit is relatively tempered, though there are definitely some folks annoyed with their perception that Sandbox is fixing only the most glaring problems with the metagame and not focusing on weapon balance overall.
Meanwhile, the devs have updated their doc on the upcoming third season of GvG play, which technically begins on June 23rd, though functionally the killing doesn’t start until the 26th. Have fun!
The whole dev talk is down below.
Victory is Life
is officially live in Star Trek Online
just in time for E3, harkening back to the much-loved run of Deep Space Nine.
“Star Trek Online’s fourth major expansion, Victory is Life, is now available on PC. The update takes Captains on a journey to the Gamma Quadrant, where they will team up with crew members from Deep Space Nine to battle the Hur’q. This includes Quark (Armin Shimerman), Odo (René Auberjonois), Kira (Nana Visitor) and nine other characters voiced by the actors who originated the roles on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The expansion also introduces a brand new Jem’Hadar playable faction, increased level cap, seven new episodes and an all-new Gamma Quadrant Sector Battlezone.”
To celebrate last week’s launch, PWE has granted Massively OP a bunch of goodies to give away! We’ve got 50 codes for the Gamma Vanguard Starter Pack for our PC readers. Each pack includes a T6 Jem’Hadar Vanguard Dreadnought Cruiser, the playable Jem’Hadar Vanguard Species unlock, a Jem’Hadar Tactical Uniform, the “Victory is Life” title, and the “Plain and Simple” title. Do note that the cruiser can be used by only Dominion captains, and all of it’s for PC accounts only. Read on to enter to win!
It seems weird to me now that the game we were preciously calling “Crowfall for PvE fans” at last year’s E3 has changed so drastically in that time that right now it’s leading the battle royale pack as one of the biggest games in the entire world.
But here we are at another E3, and Fortnite is all grown up, blazing ahead along Epic Games’ vector to get it on what seems like every platform known to man in an attempt to bedazzle the competition.
And that now includes the Nintendo Switch, as announced at the Nintendo presser at E3 today. As this post goes live at 1 p.m. EDT, the game will arrive for Switch players through the eShop, free-to-play as always. Yes, today. Right now.
Catch ’em if you can.
If you somehow missed the Morrowind chapter of the MMORPG we named game of the year in 2018, then this sale is most definitely for you: Green Man Gaming has Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind edition on sale right now for $8.10. ZeniMax didn’t ask us to post this, and this is not an affiliate link – just a great sale.
The bundle can be a bit confusing, so let me break it down a bit: The Morrowind pack includes the base game and the Morrowind chapter, but that’s it. It doesn’t come with the extra bonuses from the CE, it doesn’t come with any DLC (like the Thieves Guild), and it doesn’t come with the latest chapter, Summerset. Vanilla plus Morrowind is still a huge amount of content, plus all the classes, so it’d be awesome for gamers who’ve somehow never given it a try. The game does have a subscription, but it’s optional; it unlocks a bunch of perks, cash-shop currency, and non-permanent access to the DLC (but not the chapters, so not Summerset, again). Worth noting is that you can start out as a new toon in Morrowind; you don’t need to grind in the base game first if you won’t want to.