If you are looking for a bridge between you and the sometimes dense (but quite popular) works of J.R.R. Tolkien, then you could do no better than to sit at the feet of the Tolkien Professor. Dr. Corey Olsen
has been teaching about Tolkien and his collective works for years, providing understanding and fostering discussion in a way that is always interesting and accessible.
Recently, Olsen started up a new course at Signum University (where he is both the founder and president) called "Explore the Lord of the Rings on Location." This free, public course meets every week for a lecture through a chapter in Tolkien's famous trilogy, followed by a "field trip" in Lord of the Rings Online to locations mentioned. It's been a highly publicized event so far, with Standing Stone even creating a special lecture hall in Bree for the series. Interested parties can attend in person in the game, watch via Twitch, or catch up with afterward on the series' YouTube channel.
We caught up with Dr. Olsen to talk about the making of the course, the history behind his university, and his interaction with the long-running MMORPG.
It's time for us to just admit this as a species: Jurassic Park is not a good movie. I know, you have fond memories of it; I do too, aside from the fact that I remember being disappointed with it even as a child because it was more interested in "rawr scary dinosaurs" than actually showing off these magnificent, enormous animals. But the movie is about five minutes of cool, memorable moments mixed in with a bland, overlong plot that's mostly just people running around scared as everything gets ruined.
The science doesn't hold up, the characters are thin pastiches (including Jeff Goldblum being slimy enough to leave a residual bad taste in my mouth), and what made the movie work in the first place was how enormously compelling those dinosaurs look. That part still can impress viewers; not much else does. So "Chris Pratt and a team of raptors vs. invisible T-Rex" is really more of a lateral move for the franchise.
That's all, folks. Oh, right, What Are You Playing is here. Let us know in the comments!
While there are plenty of similarities among magic systems in MMOs (hey, how about you cast another fireball? There you go, champ!), there is a lot of variety as well. I'm always attracted to systems that put some though into their design, such as Guild Wars 2's illusion-based Mesmers, the mix-and-match Necromancers of Vanguard, and Lord of the Rings Online's wordy Rune-keepers.
At the very least, I have to applaud developers who at least put in the effort to gussy up the same mechanics in a new outfit. But when a team eschews the tired magic tropes and starts to get imaginative with spellcasting? That's when I perk up and pay attention.
What's your favorite MMO magic system and why?
The initial build of World of Warcraft patch 7.2 is up for testing now, but be fairly warned: It's not all of the patch. It's not even necessarily a majority of the patch; as confirmed by community manager Lore, the main focus right now is stability and testing the new Demon Invasions, which means that players can expect to see many further iterations before the patch goes live. There's an entire chunk of stuff coming with the Broken Shore, after all.
You can peruse the patch notes for this first build now just the same; they include some nice additions like a "Sets" tab for transmog collections, higher item scaling for World Quests, and more options for gaining reputation from Emissaries past Exalted. You can also take a look at some of the new models already in the patch, including new class mounts of various hues and a long-overdue new model for Trade Prince Gallywix.
Just in time for your New Year's resolution, we reported on how Pokemon Go was featured in a peer-reviewed study on getting people to move more. But truthfully, Pokemon and Nintendo have built exercise games several times in the past, and Niantic never advertises PoGO as an exercise game. It's an ARG. In fact, the official site never mentions exercise, just exploring. That being said, we don't really think of adventurers or explorers as being slugabeds. So what is PoGO doing with exploration that gets people to exercise, and is it really that effective?
Quantic Foundry, the gaming analytics consulting firm we've been following since late 2015 thanks to its Gamer Motivation Model, has a new blog post out this week that purports to break down participation rate in various gaming genres, including MMOs, by gender.
Parsed from 270,000 self-submitted surveys gamers have submitted to date -- 18.5% of which are from women -- Quantic's data appear to reinforce some of the basic stereotypes in gaming: two-thirds of match 3 gamers are women, almost all tactical shooter fans are dudebros, women play more high-fantasy MMOs than sci-fi MMOs, that sort of thing. But there are some interesting surprises. For example, a smaller percentage of World of Warcraft players are women than the genre numbers on the whole.
"23% of World of Warcraft gamers are women. This is substantially lower than the group average (36%). A lot of game researchers (Nic and I included) focused on studying WoW as an exemplar of online gaming, but it looks like WoW was not only an outlier in terms of market success, but also in terms of its demographics relative to other games in the genre."
The third closed beta for Revelation Online
is running, and you can test out the game's cash shop right now if you're in the testing. But maybe you'd like to spend some money on the game while it's testing? Aside
from buying a Founder's Pack, or possibly in addition to it. Because the game wants you to spend a bit more money, and it's enticing you to do so by... giving you money
It's a very simple promotion at the core. Spend money for cash shop currency now while the game is in beta, and you can spend it freely within the cash shop in this test phase. Since the servers will be wiped, all of that money will be refunded to you after this test, but 15% extra on top of what you would normally get. So you get the money back and more besides, which is a pretty good deal if there's stuff you already know you want to buy when the game goes live.
Remember that World of Warcraft cookbook? It's heading to the next level. South Korean television will soon feature an entire cooking show based on World of Warcraft, which we may presume means that it's inspired in part by the game rather than the idea that people cook food and then attack one another with swords.
It also presumably means that you're basing it off of the cooking done by players rather than Nomi, unless the show is all about winding up with a great deal of charred, inedible food.
Choi Hyun-seok, a well-known chef and fan of WoW, will be hosting the show. Participants will cook dishes inspired by and based upon the show as well as talking about experiences within the game, providing a combination of influences that will hopefully prove entertaining to Korean viewers. We can only hope that the show will provide us with an edible real-life version of Delicious Cave Mold at some point.
Massively OP reader Sally Bowls pointed us to a fun piece on Frankengadget this week about Final Fantasy XV and its overt product placement. "Final Fantasy XV tricked me into buying Cup Noodles" through a "beautiful, devious combination of empathy and nostalgia," the author laments. The story content promoting the noodles seems like the sort of cheesy fake marketing you'd get out of a Mass Effect game -- I'm Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite X on the Citadel! -- only it's real.
Sally suggests that we're all still fighting the lockbox gambling battle -- and losing -- while the marketing departments of online game studios are already dreaming up their next trick, which might just be an old trick that never took hold in MMOs, at least not yet. "I think the next outrage is going to be ads and product placement," Sally writes. What do you think? Is in-game advertising the MMO genre's post-lockbox future? And if it is, do you prefer that to lockboxes?
Massively OP Patron Duane's done the math on what is becoming, more and more, a truly global MMORPG industry. His question for Overthinking this week is a simple one:
"Devs in over 27 countries have released MMOs as of 2017. What country which is NOT your own would most excite you with a future MMO release?"
Now this is an unusual one! I posed his query to the team, and when we're done, we'd love to hear from the rest of you.
When the winter is coldest on the coast of Iceland, CCP lugs out its 20-foot wooden alpine horn and blows a signal that can be heard across the Atlantic. The sound awakens all EVE Online players from their hibernation and lets them know that it is time once again to form the next Council of Stellar Management.
Starting in February, EVE Online will begin the process of electing a player council to advise and provide feedback for CCP on game matters over the next year. During February, players can apply and be processed as potential candidates. In March, the community will vote on their favorites, and in April, the 12th CSM will be announced at this year's EVE Fanfest.
One detail of note for this year is that all players -- even free-to-play accounts -- may apply to join the CSM. The current CSM is participating in a second and final summit at the end of January in Iceland.
There's no doubt that last year was phenomenal for Pokémon Go, as the popular app racked up an astounding $950 million in revenue by the end of 2016.
A study by App Annie credited Pokémon Go's success to the combination of simple mechanics, social features, AR gameplay, and the popularity of the Pokémon franchise. "To put Pokémon Go’s success in a broader perspective, its global consumer spend in 2016 exceeded the total worldwide box office gross of Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice," the study said.
One of the touted benefits of the augmented reality game is how it got players moving. According to Niantic, collectively players logged 8.7 billion kilometers walked so far. However, a study in a British medical journal found that while most players started out by walking much more in the first week of play, by week six they were back to their old habits and any health benefits from the game were negated.
If you're old enough to remember the first Jurassic Park film, you probably remember the lengthy and involved explanation it gave about the technology that fueled the park's dinosaur recreation. Ark Park has plenty of technology fueling its creation as well, but unlike the aforementioned movie, it's all real technology that can actually work. Seriously, you can see it all in action in a video just past the break.
Obviously, the down side here is that this experience will not bring actual dinosaurs around to stomp about in front of you. The up side, however, is that even if all of this technology fails to work you will not be eaten by any dinosaurs. (You may be eaten by dinosaurs in Ark: Survival Evolved, but that's the name of the game.) Plus, it's not Jurassic World, so that's another mark in its favor. Check the video out just below.