Brianna 'Bree' Royce

Editor-in-Chief

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
Twitter: @nbrianna
Favorite MMOs: SWG, CoH, Glitch, GW2, GW1, WoW, MH

H1Z1 has defeated its ‘King of the Kill’ branding in a last-man-standing battle royale

Looks like at least some of the rumors last week have proven true, as Daybreak is indeed removing the “King of the Kill” branding from H1Z1, meaning the battle royale half of the zombie survival sandbox is now getting the unified game’s original name free and clear.

You’ll recall that in 2016, Daybreak split H1Z1 into two separate games, H1Z1: King of the Kill and H1Z1: Just Survive; this past summer, the company dropped the “H1Z1” from Just Survive’s branding, cutting loose the survival sandbox half of the original split-apart game, and then it announced a pro league for H1Z1 just last week.

“Throughout development we’ve continued to define the vision for H1Z1, which is competitive at its core with fast-paced and action-packed combat,” Daybreak explains. “Over the past year, the game has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of both player base and development, so we thought it was time to evolve the game’s look to something that better represented the spirit of H1Z1 and the level of quality we aspire to. H1Z1 is also the name that our players connect with most, so it was just natural evolution for us to transition back. We’re also working to ensure that H1Z1 can be enjoyed by players around the world, and having the word ‘Kill’ in the name of the game can be limiting with some global audiences.”

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The Daily Grind: How should studios solve the gaming-while-rural problem?

If you’ve ever read any of MOP’s Andrew’s coverage of Pokemon Go, you’ve probably noticed a recurring theme: One of his biggest pet peeves is that Niantic privileges urban players over everyone else. If you live far away from a large city, you’ll not only struggle to attend events there; you’ll suffer from a lack of hotspots, gyms, raid opportunities, and other players on the daily, and you’ll have to drive between far-flung destinations just to play. A studio obviously can’t fix a population weakness, but it surely could work harder to stop making game opportunities and rewards effectively dependent on where you live.

The same problem’s apparently cropped up in Hearthstone as Blizzard has begun incentivizing what are essentially player-hosted LAN-party events with an ultra-rare Nemsy cards, ostensibly in the service of community. I plugged my current address in and came up with no less than six events over the next month within 20 miles of my home – triple that if I am willing to drive up to 100 miles. But I live in a large city (6M metro area) in the midst of even more large cities. If I plug in my address from back when I lived in New Mexico, there are no events within 100 miles of Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Zip. Nada. They don’t even make the top 50 list for metro areas in the US, but they’re the biggest for 300 miles in any direction where they are. And still nothing.

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MMO Week in Review: Warframe’s first steps into a larger world (October 15, 2017)

Were you too busy gaming this week to pay attention to MMO news? Get caught up every Sunday evening with Massively Overpowered’s Week in Review!

Warframe took another step closer to being an MMORPG this week with the launch of its Plains of Eidolon expansion, which introduced an open-world landscape feel to zones and a slew of MMO-like questing options.

In Final Fantasy XIV, the latest housing crisis was met by apologies from no less than Naoki Yoshida.

And on the business end of things, the ESRB declined to classify lockboxes as gambling, Blizzard sued another Chinese ripoff, and IGN bought out the Humble Bundle company.

Read on for the very best of this week’s MMO news and opinions.

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MMOs you’ve never heard of: Immortal Thrones, Identity, and Lordmancer II

Welcome back to our intermittent series on MMOs and other multiplayer games you you’ve never heard of! Let’s run down three of them.

Immortal Thrones

First up is Immortal Thrones, a mobile MMO import from Chinese studio Zloong, which is calling the game a 3-D MMO set in a “richly detailed medieval fantasy world.” It’s just launched on both iOS and Android in North America and Europe. Expect four classes, multiple PvP options, and “a merged live-streaming and Location-based Service (LBS) system [that] enables players to find other competitors and engage with them in real time,” which the PR says “makes the game more interactive than the standard MMORPG.”

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Underdog Pokemon Go players took over the capital of Croatia

But it’s cool; they gave it back.

We’re talking, of course, about Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, which is apparently a flourishing Pokemon Go city with 420 gyms thanks to seeding years ago by Ingress players. A group of Croatian gamers were trying to conjure a way to persuade Niantic to switch a famous Croatian POGO trainer to the outnumbered Instinct faction when they hatched a plan to put together a massive 70-man raid to help the tiny team take over the whole city — that is, all 420 gyms — which necessitated crews of players and a fleet of cars to zip around the capital all day and all night in shifts. And they pulled it off.

“The biggest pride for us is that we managed to organize such a mission and did everything in it 100% legit play – not a single multiaccount was placed in a gym to make it stronger,” Redditor LekoZG writes. “Maybe we demolished all other gyms in the city, but what we built is far more valuable – a strong, positive and forward-looking community of players.”

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IGN has apparently bought up the Humble Bundle company

IGN has just announced that it’s scooped up a pretty sweet acquisition: It now owns the company behind Humble Bundle, known best for its cheap game bundle deals and originally famed for its charity work (reportedly over $100M for charity since 2010).

In an interview with Gamasutra, the top men of both Humble and IGN say they have no grand plans to change anything about the platform.

“We want to stick to the fundamentals in the short term. We don’t want to disrupt anything we’re doing right already,” Humble’s John Graham reportedly said. “Because of the shared vision and overlap of our customer bases, there’s going to be a lot of opportunities.”

No doubt.

Source: Gamasutra. With thanks to TJ and OneEyeRed.

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TERA and Kritika Online kick off Halloween festivities

Let it not be said that En Masse doesn’t embrace the Halloween spirit, for both of its core MMORPGs in the west are getting all dolled up for the season starting next week.

In TERA, Kyra’s Pop-Up Potion Shack and Harvest Festival Hall return on October 19th. The former brings the Kyra’s Catalysts quests in exchange for prizes (mummy costume, what!), while the latter dares “players to use Halloween Cannons to repel waves of sweet-toothed enemies intent on stealing all the candy they can carry” in exchange for “tokens that they can spend on a variety of rewards, including Boo, the spooky ghost pet, and the fearsome Boneshaker mount.”

Kritika Online, on the other hand, will celebrate its very first Halloween beginning on Wednesday of next week in the form of its Haunted Room. “Dive into the Danger Zone’s newest challenge—the horrifying Haunted Room—and duke it out against the Halloween Ghost to earn a bag full of Festival Candies and a chance at special costume pieces,” says En Masse. “Complete the Haunted Room event 50 times during the Halloween celebration and unlock a permanent Ghost pet ready to scare friends or strangers at a moment’s notice.”

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Blizzard sues alleged Overwatch clone, bans World of Warcraft cheaters

Gone are the days when Chinese companies could get away with ripping off games left and right: Blizzard is going after another one of these alleged copyright-violating piles of crap.

The game in question is mobile title Heroes of Warfare; Japanese publication PC Watch reports that Blizzard’s Chinese conglom and publisher NetEase are suing the the maker, demanding and apology, restitution, and removal from Apple’s appstore, on the grounds of IP violations in China.

Meanwhile, stop cheating, cheaters. Your day has come, as the studio has apparently begun another round of six-month bans to folks who use cheat tools. Stoppit.

And in happier Blizzard news… here’s the whole WoW dev team. The fluffy white dog on the left personally made the no-flying-in-Argus decision, we’ve been informed by the PR collie being hoisted over on the right.

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Pantheon’s halflings are more like Peter Pan’s Lost Boys than Tolkien’s hobbits

The MOP team tricked me into taking this post. They promised me gnomes. They aren’t gnomes at all. They’re halflings!

We’re talking, of course, about Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, which this week released its October newsletter, the star of which is the newly revealed playable halflings. The Visionary Realms devs say the halfling will look familiar but not identical to what’s become a stock fantasy race.

“It was a real challenge to be sure, owing to how extensively the Halfling trope has been explored in popular culture,” Senior Concept Artist Jared Pullen says. “There are so many preconceived notions of what a halfling is, a good deal of which has been based largely on Tolkien’s Middle Earth Halflings; the Hobbits. The unique lore set in place by our talented writer and loremaster Justin Gerhart became the pivotal point of difference for us. While still being deep lovers of nature as one expects of this trope, Pantheon Halflings have a wild edge that sets them apart. They embrace a very literal and visceral affinity with nature, wearing furs and hides with plant and animal adornments both. As such they carry into the game with highly tribal design sensibilities, very different to the Halflings we’ve come to expect from books and film.”

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Rumor: H1Z1 is about to drop King of the Kill branding (and maybe it’s really launching)

Remember in 2016 when Daybreak split H1Z1 into two separate games, H1Z1: King of the Kill and H1Z1: Just Survive?

Remember back in August when Daybreak dropped the “H1Z1” from Just Survive’s branding, cutting loose the survival sandbox half of the original split-apart game?

And remember earlier this week when Daybreak announced a pro league for H1Z1 – without using the words King of the Kill?

Put that all together and you may be figuring that King of the Kill is about to get its own rebrand. Indeed, while it hasn’t been officially announced or confirmed, it seems backed up by a video pulled of a new splash screen on King of the Kill’s test server, which shows just the term H1Z1 by itself. Redditors are further speculating the game will finally go free-to-play, which was SOE’s original plan, though that was chucked overboard pretty early on.

Hey, while we’re making crazy predictions, maybe we can predict that the game will finally launch. Because it still hasn’t. That was slated for a year ago, but it (and its console port) was indefinitely delayed.

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Star Citizen’s Around the Verse isolates 23 more 3.0 alpha bugs, details immersive cockpits

On this week’s edition of Star Citizen’s Around the Verse, Sandi Gardiner does a happy dance as Chris Roberts updates viewers on how Evocati testing of the 3.0 alpha is going. CIG says that the testers are getting daily builds and finding fun new bugs, which has brought the must-fix bug total back up to 23 before it moves along to release (and backers no doubt find even more).

The feature segment of the episode is all about cockpits. Get your snickers out of the way, folks, because this actually looks awesome. You’re not just sitting in a chair; the cockpit experience is trying to be fully immersive with all the sticks and gizmos and buttons and screens and g-forces and hit reactions you’d expect if you were actually flying (a spaceship) in combat. Things might even catch on fire! You might even need to hit eject! Maybe watch the whole episode first, though. It’s down below.

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The Daily Grind: Are you a fan of ‘automatic helping behaviors’ in MMORPGs?

We’ve been complaining about lockboxes a lot lately as an unwelcome psychological trick in gaming, so this morning, I wanted to talk about a welcome one. To do so, let me invoke the wisdom of blog The Psychology of Video Games. Author Jamie Madigan discusses “automatic helping behaviors” that studios can take advantage of to combat toxicity; he notes that researchers have found your attitude doesn’t always control your actions – you can often be tricked into an attitude based on your actions.

So if a game like Guild Wars 2 finds a way to incentivize you into resurrecting other players and helping them in combat, you begin to perceive yourself as the kind of person who helps – and you might just begin reflexively helping elsewhere, even when you don’t have to. That leads to situations, at least in GW2, where people will actually stop fighting to rush over to res a stranger, perpetuating that warm fuzzy feeling.

In a game like Overwatch, it’s even more automatic, as your character fires off compliments when characters nearby perform well. See and hear “yourself” do that enough and suddenly, that’s the kind of player you are.

Are you a fan of MMOs that employ this “trick” to encourage cooperation and community building? Where else have you seen it used to good effect?

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Massively Overthinking: Three-way RvR and ‘fair’ PvP in modern MMOs

MOP reader Sally Bowls is on a roll with the good questions lately! She lobbed us one this past weekend that seems a good follow-up to a comment thread discussion about the problems inherent in unregulated three-way factional PvP/RvR (and how a game like Camelot Unchained will regulate it). By way of example, she noted that a certain MMO griefer famously argued in favor of strategy that basically made the opponent not want to log in, using tactics like creating timesinks and hassles in a sandbox. “Should the dominant faction on a RvRvR server ‘camp’ the smallest to try to drive them off?” she wondered.

“If it’s about fair PvP, then that is anathema. But if you see the game as being about your faction being at war with other factions, then not doing your utmost to win that war is incompetence. Neither is bad design per se, just a conflict in understanding of the goals. And will Camelot Unchained really be RvR, doing everything legal for your realm to win? Or will it be about PvP battles, with the RvR rhetoric being more marketing fluff than von Clausewitz and Machiavelli? If camping a mine hurts your kill/death ratio but makes the opponent weaker due to hassles or crafting, is that winning or losing? Is an RvR game really about realms vs. realms or is it just another BG?”

I’ve pitched Sally’s comments to the team for consideration in this week’s Massively Overthinking. Is RvR just a more carebear-friendly way to market FFA PvP? Do you play RvR or factional PvP to win or to have fun, and how does that differ from a more open FFA sandbox? How would you design three-way factional PvP to keep people from quitting and stop griefing before it starts?

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