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

Massively OP’s guide to MMORPG death penalties

In real life, when you die the penalty is… death. You just get that one go at things. But in MMOs, player characters are imbued with immortality, able to come back time and again from mortal peril. From a player perspective, this is great, since it allows a chance for persistent development and encourages the exploration of the world without dire fear.

But a little fear is perhaps appropriate, to keep the stakes high during adventuring and combat and increase fun by introducing some risk. After all, if you can just pop right back into being without any punishment, then death means absolutely nothing and a sense of accomplishment is lessened. Creating the right type of death penalty for an MMO is a tightrope that devs must walk. Make it too lenient or too harsh, and a game could suffer for it. If you ask the community, players are often split on whether or not MMOs should have strong death penalties.

Today we’re going to cover the major types of death penalties that MMOs have implemented over the years. As with many things MMO, there used to be a lot more experimentation in this regard, but it’s still a relevant topic considering the crop of up-and-coming games in this field.

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WildStar systems lead Brett Scheinert leaves Carbine

WildStar is one fewer dev strong today now that Multiplayer Systems Lead Brett “Timetravel” Scheinert has left Carbine Studios. He had been with the company since 2011.

“[I am] no longer an employee there,” Scheinert confirmed on Twitter. “I am sorry for the drama my departure is causing. I also can’t really go into the details.”

It is not clear whether Scheinert left of his own volition or was let go. Scheinert previously worked on WildStar’s dungeons and quests before moving up into the position of Multiplayer Systems Lead. This move comes a month after Chad Moore took over the director position from Mike Donatelli.

Source: Twitter via Reddit. Thanks to Dystopiq for the tip!

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The Daily Grind: What neglected MMO sandbox features do you crave?

Every time I see a new sandbox title cross the news feed, I could probably close my eyes and rattle off a fairly accurate list of what features it will tout. It’ll be skill-based, feature player towns, have tons of crafting and gathering, and of course, 100% full-loot PvP. Because someone somewhere — probably in the New World Order — gets a nice kickback whenever full-loot PvP is shoehorned into a game.

Frankly, I’m tired of this list. Most of those bullet points aren’t bad, per se, but they aren’t inspirational or exciting. Sandbox MMOs are supposed to be about open-ended possibilities and emergent gameplay and features that aren’t married to the combat system. I have a sad face when I see games that neglect, say, roleplay tools, player music systems, and pig racing.

What neglected sandbox features do you crave in your MMOs? These can be infrequently repeated systems or brand-new ones!

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Firor says Elder Scrolls Online’s success ‘has gone a bit under the radar’

If you are hankering to see Elder Scrolls Online’s Director Matt Firor squirm uncomfortably with the game being labeled as an “MMO,” then have we got the interview for you! In a discussion with UK’s Metro, Firor repeatedly and vehemently tries to divorce the MMO label from ESO while talking up how the game is progressing and what players should look forward to when the Thieves Guild DLC comes on March 22nd.

ESO is doing awesomely! Our success has gone a bit under the radar so to speak, but we are very happy with where we are,” Firor reported. “ESO has been super-successful at taking gamers not used to massive online games, introducing them to the concepts of group play by making it fun and optional, and turning them into online gamers.”

And if that’s not enough interview for you, then check out the following chat on Deltia’s Gaming with the devs about the upcoming Thieves Guild trial that players will encounter.

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Star Citizen pushes Alpha 2.2 to live

It’s time to strap yourself in and put on your big captain boots, for Star Citizen’s Alpha 2.2 is here, and it’s bringing a new dimension to the game’s dangerous universe.

The core of the update is the new monitoring and reputation system, which allows pilots to play as either virtuous defenders of the peace or nefarious scoundrels. In this system, the bad guys can get away with their black deeds as long as they’re careful and take steps to keep out of sight when their wanted meter is high enough.

Of course, if you want to get into the nitty-gritty of the update, you can pour through the entirety of the patch notes. Will you get starry eyes once you’re done, citizen? If not, then you can watch the following episode of Around the Verse, prepared especially for you.

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The Panther and Weasel rumble into Heroes & Generals

If you’re playing as the Germans in Heroes & Generals, it’s probably been with the hope that you’d get to take some of that country’s legendary war machines for a spin. One of the most iconic vehicles, the Panther tank, has been absent from the game — until just now, that is.

Today’s update adds the Panzerkampfwagen Panther Ausf. G with its long cannon and twin machine guns. It almost seems laughable that the US side, on the other hand, gets a little “Weasel” troop transport as their share. Other additions with the patch include new camo patterns, armor types, and weapon upgrades.

Last month the game announced that it had passed seven million players in testing so far. You can check out a video on the Panther after the jump!

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Allods Online orders a ‘complete rework’ of its class roster

If it hasn’t sunk in yet that Allods Online’s New Order update is going to be huge for the game, then take a minute to absorb this: The patch will contain, among other things, a “complete rework” of the classes. What classes? Oh, just all of them. The main focus for this comprehensive revamp is to allow for more flexible classes and role options.

“Previously, each class used to have one role (healer, “tank,” etc.) and was practically in-adaptable outside of that role,” the devs explained. “Now there will be different options for both iPvP and PvE — whether to take a support to increase damage and survivability, take a debuffer to reduce enemies’ efficiency, take a healer to vitalize the group, or take another damage dealer for burst damage.”

Choices of class roles will be handled by aspects, a new system that allows players to mix-and-match a few abilities, such as healing, protection, damage, suppression, and support.

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Ride a bear to work in Wild Terra

According to car commercials, your mode of transportation says a lot about you. So why be like the other chumps that drive an SUV to work or school when you could be yelling “Giddyup!” to an irritated ursine on the expressway?

Wild Terra has grand plans to let you tame and ride animals in its world, a system that won’t just stop with horses. Boars, deer, bears, and even wolves are willing to haul your fat butt around the world, provided that you take care of the creature and don’t decide that it would look better mounted on your wall or spread out in front of your fireplace.

Interestingly, mounts in Wild Terra don’t disappear when you’re not using them; instead, they roam around the landscape. They can also die, a state which might last forever if you haven’t plunked down money for them. Currently, the mount system is on the test server.

Source: Wild Terra

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Final Fantasy XI prepares to shut down its console service

Stand at attention, players, and pay your respects. Final Fantasy XI is marching down its final weeks of operation on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 2 before being shut down on March 31st. The good news is that this won’t mean the end of the game or those players’ experiences in FFXI, as long as they’re willing to migrate to the PC.

“Words cannot possible express how much we have appreciated your support over these many years,” Square Enix posted. “But this does not mean the end of Vana’diel, and we hope you will continue to join us on the Windows version of the game. Each month we will continue to bring you game updates, and I hope you will accompany us each step of the way.”

The studio also announced that it will be welcoming back old players to enjoy some free game time at the end of March.

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Get a first look at The Division’s season pass details

The Division launches next week, and you know what that means: Everyone will be asking, “What’s next?” Ubisoft has already planned out an entire first season of DLC content that will kick off later this month.

An astute Redditor spotted a season pass page (in German) with plenty of details about the upcoming patches. There will be three “expansions” in the season: Underground, Survival, and Last Stand. Players who buy the whole season will get extra gear like a sawed-off shotgun and outfit skins.

If you’re curious about how “accurate” The Division is in representing the collapse of a major city, you might want to read up on this interview with investigative journalist Dr. Nafeez Mossadeq Ahmed. He has several interesting insights into what would actually happen as well as some insider info regarding the game’s creation (such as the difficulties in using iconic landmarks like The Empire State Building).

You can eyeball the season one info page after the jump.

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Ex-Destiny devs on the downsides of big game production

It should almost go without saying that making a successful AAA-type game requires more than throwing money and manpower at a computer screen all willy-nilly. In a new interview (with Playboy, believe it or not), former Destiny developers Jaime Griesemer and Marty O’Donnell gave some behind-the-scenes insight as to why making big games is a fiendishly difficult task.

“It’s really easy to get into a situation we call feeding the beast,” Griesemer said, “where there’s this enormous production team that isn’t allowed or isn’t capable of making progress on their own, so creative directors are always just trying to generate something for those guys to do. And you come in every day and you’re like, OK, there’s a line of like seven people waiting for me to tell them what to do, I guess I will just — as fast as I can — make something up. And that’s crisis mode.”

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Asta starts open beta with giveaways

The open beta for the eastern fantasy title Asta is now upon us, as Webzen is welcoming anyone with an account to come and try out this Korean import.

To mark the occasion — and stir up some additional interest — the studio is giving freebies out to players who log in during specific time periods and over a set amount of days. Also, there is a running competition to see which players can hit 50 first on different classes, crafting professions, and in PvP.

Source: Asta

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Das Tal readies an alpha pre-test for later this month

When is a test not a test? When it’s a pre-test, of course! Oh, just ignore the silly terminology to accept the fact that Das Tal is gearing up for another alpha “pre-test” later this month.

The test will take place on a new server, Mayhem, from March 18th through the 31st. The population for this event will be drawn from US guilds and solo players who will get to try out new systems like caravans, clans, and raids. Following this will come a European test and then a “big spring alpha reveal.”

Source: Das Tal

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