Justin Olivetti

Senior Reporter

A casual gamer and long-time MMO fan, Justin is often heard yelling, "Player housing for all!" in the Massively Overpowered offices. In addition to news, he tackles LOTRO Legendarium for LOTRO, The Perfect Ten, Jukebox Heroes, the retrospective Game Archaeologist series, One Shots, and the Massively OP podcast.

Personal blog: BioBreak
Twitter: @sypster

The Game Archaeologist: How Sceptre of Goth shaped the MMO industry

When it comes to text-based MMOs created in the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s, the sheer number of them would blot out the sky. There are certainly more multi-user dungeons (MUDs) than I’ve ever been able to get a handle on when I’ve tried creating lists of the most important to know, but I will say that there are a few that seem to pop up more than others. The original MUD1, created by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw, was certainly a watershed moment for online roleplaying games. Learning about DikuMUD is pretty essential, considering its impact on graphical MMORPGs that we still play today.

But there’s another title that often goes unnoticed, unless you keep an eye out for it. It’s a MUD that keeps popping up when you look into the history of the MMORPG genre, one with ties to key players and design concepts that are still active today.

It’s the MUD that shaped the MMO industry, and it was called Sceptre of Goth.

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Ashes of Creation revises referral program, unlocks Underrealm race, and shows freehold housing

With less than a week to go in its fundraising campaign, Ashes of Creation has raised over $2.5 million and become the most successful Kickstarted MMORPG of all time. This milestone also means that another stretch goal has been crossed, prompting the development of a “beast-like” Underrealm race to go with those boring humans, Elves, Orcs, and Dwarves.

One aspect of the campaign that the studio is being quiet about concerns its slightly controversial referral program. PC Gamer noted that the system originally factored in pledges and reached out to Kickstarter to see if this was allowed. Kickstarter examined the situation and determined that Ashes of Creation was in the wrong and had to separate referrals from crowdfunding.

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EVE Online prepares players for summer cruiser rebalance

Ahoy space captains! EVE Online is working to get the word out about a “significant” rebalance patch for the game’s strategic cruiser line that’s coming on July 11th. As part of the preparation, the team posted a dev diary outlining some of the changes and announcing the formation of a focus group to gather feedback for them.

“Since these changes to strategic cruisers will be very significant in scope, existing ships and subsystems will go through a dramatic transformation on patch day. We want to start warning people now about the impacts of this transformation and will continue communicating it over the next two months to ensure that players are not caught by surprise.”

If you’re in the mood for a good space yarn, you might want to read this fascinating true story about how tenacious EVE players managed to overwhelm and outsmart an AI space station that was designed to counter players’ threats. As usual for this game, the answer involved “tons of small, disposable ships.”

Finally, you can listen to a new EVE track, Birth of the Capsuleer, after the break!

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Star Citizen checks in with Frankfurt studio, talks about designing the Eclipse

In this week’s rip-roaring episode of Around the Verse, the Star Citizen team checks in with the game’s Frankfurt studio. This studio has recently grown to 74 employees, which raises the question of who on this planet isn’t currently working on Star Citizen?

“We routinely visitors to the office and this month was no exception with people here from both our US and U.K. offices,” Development Director Brian Chambers said. “Most of the senior production staff from across all the offices came together in one place for their annual summit. Had some intensive meetings and discussed upcoming and ongoing plans and we found that a few days face to face without distraction can actually go a long way.”

Following an update of Chambers’ team’s progress, the episode moves on to look at the design of a stealthy bomber, the Eclipse. You can get the full effect of developer genius by watching the full episode below, or if you prefer you could always simply read the transcript via Relay.

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Sea of Thieves talks PC version, live campaign events

According to Rare, PC players’ patience might have started to wear a little thin as the studio demanded a few month delay to get the computer version of Sea of Thieves ready for testing. But now that the first PC technical alpha is underway with 1,000 testers, a new era has begun.

“Stability and performance is just so important to us as a studio,” the team said. The devs are focused on getting the default video settings right during the weekend and generating feedback from the players to implement for future tests.

Another project that the team is working on are live campaign events. “Live campaigns are time-limited events that will happen in-game,” the team explained. “They’re meant to spice up the every day gameplay and potentially give you a unique experience and also a unique reward.”

For the record, both the PC and Xbox versions are being run in parity with the same updates and features. You can hear the team talk about the development of the PC build and the live campaigns after the jump.

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Seed lets you build your own colony using SpatialOS

Not to be confused with the extremely short-lived 2006 sci-fi title of the same name,  Klang Games’ Seed is an upcoming MMO where players will guide and nurture small colonies of people attempting to settle on a strange world.

While there isn’t much revealed about the game so far, we do know that you will be in charge of multiple characters, more reminiscent of an RTS game with survival mechanics than a straight-up RPG.

Seed utilizes Improbable’s SpatialOS,” the studio said, “which allows Seed to be a persistent, continuously running simulation, with all Seed-Universe game logic running and living on the technology’s powerful server.”

So what is up with all of these development studios flocking to use Improbable’s SpatialOS in their online titles? Check out a recent GDC talk where multiple dev testimonies are given about the platform and its appeal after the break.

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Devilian update raises level cap, gives out free goodies

Ah! Geez, you scared us, Devilian! We kind of… forgot you existed, for a minute there. What’s that you say? You’ve got a new patch to share with your friends? And a login promotion too? Good for you, little MMOARPG!

‘Tis true: Devilian rolled out its 7.0 Update this week, raising the level cap to 60 and giving players a set of new challenges and rewards. The Fallen Castle has received a hell mode, there’s the new Dimensional Fortress transcendent dungeon, and there’s an increased chance of success when enchanting gear.

If the patch isn’t enough to entice you back, perhaps some freebies will do the trick. Anyone who logs in by the end of the month will receive a bundle of goodies, including enough currency to buy some Morbid gear. But watch out, it’s morbid. New players also get some extra goodies on the side as well.

Source: Devilian

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City of Titans drops some Scorpion lore

Only part of becoming a successful superhero is mastering your abilities and pulling off a spandex outfit in public. Another key part is knowing your enemy inside and out, and using their weaknesses against them.

To wit, the team behind City of Titans posted a lore piece that shines a light on one of the villain groups, Scorpion. As the name implies, this gang is all cuddles and free love.

“Scorpion seeks world conquest at all costs,” the team wrote. “Its agents often pursue smaller, simpler-seeming goals, but ultimately, Scorpion seeks only power and destruction of all rivals. While Scorpion occasionally makes a show of espousing some particular philosophy or ‘bringing order to the world,’ its true goal seems to be to ensure its eventual dominion over the entire world and the elimination of all moral codes aside from ‘obey Scorpion,’ which essentially translates into personal power for its members.”

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A small Blizzard team might be working on a mobile Warcraft game

Ready to play some Warcraft on your mobile device? What are we saying, of course you are. Other than the various companion apps to World of Warcraft, and of course, Hearthstone, Blizzard hasn’t spent a lot of time bringing its franchises to the mobile space. This might be changing, however.

Conversation is swirling around a job listing on Blizzard’s site for an FX artist to work on an “unnannounced” mobile game. In addition to the posting mentioning that the artist must be able to work with Unity and a small team, the studio says that it is looking for people who have a “passion for creating imagery synonymous with the Warcraft IP.”

We first got wind of this mobile project back in April, although no particular franchise was tied to the game.

Source: Blizzard

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Elder Scrolls Online introduces you to Vvardenfell’s house factions

Let’s talk about Elder Scrolls Online’s new houses today, shall we? No, it’s not going to be a discussion of player housing, although that would be pretty cool. Instead, let’s examine Morrowind’s various house factions and what they might offer to the roaming adventurer.

“Vvardenfell is a dangerous place for an Outlander such as yourself, and if you aren’t careful when dealing with the powerful Houses and organizations that control the island, you won’t last long,” the team cautioned.

Some of these factions include pious and honorable House Redoran, the magicka-focused House Telvanni, the cosmopolitan House Hlaalu, and the four orders of the Temple Ordinators. There’s even an ancient order of assassins with the Morag Tong, because what fantasy game would be complete without such a charming group?

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Ashes of Creation will let you step into the shoes of a flesh-rending monster

If all of Ashes of Creation’s ambitious claims come to life in the finished product, then it does’t seem like players will wont for things to do. And if adventuring, farming, and trading gets old, there’s always the opportunity to take a vacation in the skin of a monster.

Calling it “fresh to the MMO experience,” the team at Ashes of Creation says that the game’s monster play will allow players to use special coins to take over a mobile boss for a dynamic event. Both the monster attacker and player defenders are judged based on their performance, with all sorts of cosmetics as potential rewards.

In addition to the monster coin system, Intrepid Studios announced the addition of yet another stretch goal: variant spell FX if 16,000 Kickstarter backers are reached. As it stands, Ashes of Creation has raised $2.35M with the help of over 13,200 backers so far.

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LOTRO confirms Chance Thomas’ return to score Mordor, says it will be his ‘darkest’ work yet

It was perhaps the worst-kept secret for Lord of the Rings Online’s upcoming Mordor expansion, but now it’s officially confirmed: Composer Chance Thomas is returning to score the MMO.

Saying that “it was a long time coming,” the announcement marks a reunion between Thomas and LOTRO after many years apart. Thomas was one of the key composers who wrote music for the base game and its expansions up through Riders of Rohan, but he’s been absent from the project since 2012. In the livestream, Thomas said that the lawyers had to wrangle things out to make a way for his return.

The composer said that the Mordor expansion will be a “different feel” than what he’s done for the game in the past — and will be quite dark, indeed. He’s currently reading through the design document and looking at various pieces of Middle-earth art to help inspire his composition. Thomas has just now started writing the score but said that there will be live orchestral recording of at least some of it.

Thomas and Standing Stone teased a second special announcement that will come next week. You can watch the full interview after the break!

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Elite Dangerous posts plans for PS4 launch and beyond

Crowding in on a packed MMO month this June, Elite Dangerous will launch on the PlayStation 4, bringing this space sim to consoles for the first time. But what does that mean for all players of the game going forward?

The team posted a preview of what’s being worked on behind the scenes, starting with the rollout of 2.3.10 on June 27th. This patch, which will role out to every game version, is mostly focused on under-the-hood fixes for game stability and performance.

Following that is a “mystery update” that will be spread out over time: “We’ll be providing a little more information about the update to the community and the press during E3 on June 13th and 14th. We’ll be hosting special community livestreams and activity so stay tuned for more news and updates as we get closer to the date. I can, however, tell you that this update will be slightly different to previous ones — content will be revealed over time rather than all being available on day one. Additional pieces of exciting content will surface over the coming months as the narrative progresses.”

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