MMORPGs are massively multiplayer online roleplaying games, our core focus here on Massively OP. MMORPGs are traditionally differentiated from mere multiplayer games by their persistent worlds, massive playerbases and/or servers, customizable character development, and always-online status. [Follow the MMORPG category’s RSS feed]
WildStar is still on the way to Steam, you’ll be happy to hear, at least if you’ve been following NCsoft’s latest quarterly financials. Carbine’s dev blog today confirms the plan and explains that the Steam launch will necessitate some other changes, including a tweak to the business model in the form of what it’s calling “Protobucks.”
“Instead of purchasing NCoin from the In-Game Store (or upcoming Steam overlay) you’ll now purchase Protobucks, and any In-Game Store items you previously purchased with NCoin will be purchased with the new Protobucks instead. And that’s pretty much it! There’s a new name and new look, but Protobucks otherwise work exactly like NCoin did. This change will occur with maintenance on May 18, and after that time you’ll be able to purchase Protobucks directly in-game, or change any NCoin you already have to Protobucks through a conversion system found on the WildStar In-Game Store.”
Converting NCoin to Protobucks will occur at a rate of 1 to 1, and no changes to cash-shop costs are anticipated, but Carbine is granting bonus ‘bucks to previous buyers and following the F2P trend of offering still more bonus ‘bucks to those who buy in bulk. You can still use NCoin for other NCsoft games, but you can’t switch back once it’s done:
Chinese MMO operator The9 has exchanged about half of its shares in Red 5 for nearly 153.9 million shares of L&A International Holding Limited. The9 previously owned a majority of the Firefall studio’s stock at 63.4%; the exchange represents a 30.6% equity interest in Red 5.
L&A International Holding Limited is a Cayman Islands holding company that… manufactures cashmere clothing. Each company will now hold an equity interest in the other as a hedge against market instabilities in their, ahem, rather different industries. It’s also possible that one or the other plans to liquidate its new shares to raise cash.
Of particular interest as a conversation piece is this quote from the statement: “The total consideration for the transaction for all the participating equity holders, including the company, is approximately US$76.5 million, implying Red 5’s valuation at US$170 million.”
Every MMO in development has to make tough choices about what features and systems are important enough to make it into launch and which ones will have to wait until later (if ever). As Chronicles of Elyria races to cross its Kickstarter funding goal in the next day or two, the devs put out a post discussing what they had to cut out of the game for its release version.
The list of proposed and discarded features are quite interesting to peruse, and include astral projection, sunburn, underwater swimming, gambling, beard growth, mounted combat, and natural disasters. If any of those sound wicked awesome, then take heart: The team is considering adding them back based on the results of a poll that it will put out soon.
There are good pieces of news from NCsoft‘s first quarter financial report. For one thing, the company’s year-on-year sales, profits, and net income are all up year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter. Q1 2016 was good for the company in that regard. The majority of games in the company’s roster also did quite well for themselves, with Blade & Soul seeing a significant upturn in earnings following the game’s western launch.
On the other hand, if you were hoping for good news about the planet of Nexus… well, WildStar‘s earnings dropped from a high in Q4 2015 to a lower point than the game had hit all through 2015 by a significant margin. Guild Wars 2 and Lineage II both also saw slight downturns, but nothing nearly as severe, while Aion managed to climb above all of its 2015 performance. Take a look at the full report if you’d like to have it broken down in chart format.
I don’t like listing off my mistakes and regrets in MMORPGs, but I do have them. I made a giant fool out of myself being tricked into letting a spy into my guild’s castle in Ultima Online, thus losing that castle. I fell asleep on an incredibly boring EverQuest raid once, making my guildies call me to wake me up so we could move on. I went off on an ally in a World of Warcraft raid for a good 15 minutes, shouting up a storm because he rolled on PvE tank gear… for his PvP kit. I quit classic Star Wars Galaxies to escape roleplayer drama and forfeited a metropolis in the process (don’t worry; I went back!).
But what I regret the most is not playing more of the games I knew I loved the most in their prime. I’m more careful about scams, I don’t game when exhausted, and I stopped caring so much about loot rules and drama… but the truly great games? I can’t get them back. It was a mistake not playing them even more than I did.
What’s been your biggest MMORPG mistake or regret? How have you overcome it?
Earlier this week, World of Warcraft Lead Game Designer Ion “Watcher” Hazzikostas weighed in on a player thread about Legion’s in-game prices in a way the original poster probably didn’t expect: Hazzikostas penned a veritable essay on the nature of MMO playerbase feedback.
“Almost every facet of WoW is an activity that caters to a minority of the playerbase. That may sound odd at first blush, but it’s true. In a sense, that’s part of the magic of WoW. It is not a narrow game, but rather one that can be enjoyed in numerous different ways, by people with hugely diverse playstyles. A minority of players raid. A minority of players participate in PvP. A tiny minority touch Mythic raiding. A tiny minority of players do rated PvP. A minority of players have several max-level alts. A minority of players do pet battles, roleplay, list things for sale on the auction house, do Challenge Mode dungeons, and the list goes on. Virtually the only activity that a clear majority of players participate in is questing and level-up dungeons, but even then there’s a sizeable group that views those activities as a nuisance that they have to get through in order to reach their preferred endgame. And yet, taken together, that collection of minority groups literally IS the World of Warcraft.”
Consequently, he argues, any decision Blizzard makes that favors one minority is naturally going to find a majority of the others against it, meaning Blizzard must carefully navigate the feedback waters. “Ultimately, the approach we take is usually to tailor different content and rewards that can feel special to different groups, rather than trying to come up with a lowest common denominator that isn’t special to anyone,” he writes.
Let’s talk about Blizzard’s point of view. Is it right? Does it work in every MMO or just WoW? How does it apply to other MMOs, old or up-and-coming? Is there a better way to handle all the constituencies offering feedback in an MMO? Let’s hash it out in this week’s Massively Overthinking.
On the way to Swordsman Online
“soon,” the Lone Wanderer expansion introduces a brand-new class: the Falconer.
“These resilient warriors are the last remaining survivors of a blood-soaked massacre that wiped out the legendary Infinity School. Hardened by battle, the Falconers turn to their only companions, eagles that they have raised from hatchlings. The giant predatory birds protect their handlers from enemies and also fly them through the air to help them launch aerial attacks.”
At last, a good reason to shout, “The eagles are coming!” The expansion will also introduce glass weapons, raise the level cap to 99, implement a character improvement system, offer a FFA PvP arena, and feature the usual assortment of endgame content. Check out the Falconer’s screenshots and trailer below!
One can only speculate about why anyone lives in the city of Neverwinter. However multicultural the place might be, you would think that the first
time you were besieged by something called the Cult of the Dragon, you’d think about moving. Who would live in a city that was constantly under siege by maniacal zealots bent on destruction
, aside from Detroit residents who wouldn’t notice the difference? Of course, player characters in Neverwinter
can actually benefit
from the siege, because pushing back the attack offers rewards to the participants, so perhaps that’s what makes it work.
Players who take part in the defense against the siege can earn two new companions, two new fashion outfits, and new dyes. The event has changed a bit since its prior incarnation, with a repeatable Stronghold quest and a new mount among other balance changes. So get on out there to defend the city from invaders! Don’t listen to that guy who says the city two days north of Neverwinter barely ever gets besieged and has a community rec center, either.
players are starting to get wind of the fact
that Content Design Lead Benjamin Gross
is no longer with Gazillion
While he did not make a public farewell statement, Gross did post a comment on Twitter that served to put a period on the end of his time with the company. In regard to the recent release of the new player experience, Gross tweeted, “So excited to see one of the last things I got to work on out in the wild. Great job to the Gaz team on this!”
Gross had been with Gazillion since 2012 and worked his way up into the content design lead position. According to his Linkedin page, he is now a senior content designer with NCsoft working on “secret designs.”
Cabal Online’s latest patch is in! If you fancy a free update that takes you to level 200, then Episode XV: Clashing Nations might be your bag.
“Cabal’s latest addition introduces new lands ripe for the taking by rival nations Procyon and Capella. Adventurers will rally at their nation’s base and prepare to battle for the unexplored shores of Senillinea. In addition to new locations and conflicts, the sprawling cinematic experience of Cabal’s scenario questline has been extended, with over 50 new quests added for each of Cabal Online’s two nation factions.”
Notably, ESTsoft has sprung for a total do-over on the mercenary system, which allows players to collect NPCs to help on dungeon runs.
While we don’t know just yet when The Division’s 1.2 update will be coming, when it does arrive it’s going to be interesting.
A summary of Ubisoft’s latest state of the game shares that the studio is trying to make players a little more resilient and encourage them to try different weapons. The armor cap will be increased and new gear sets will be introduced for underperforming weapons. The game will also replace health and armor on the HUD with a new stat, toughness, that will be amalgam of all of the factors that’s keeping a soldier alive.
What is out right now is the latest drop for season pass holders. The Division doled out a couple of new weapon skins (safari purple!) and extra crafting mats for its May content delivery.
With less than $90,000 to go, Chronicles of Elyria looks set to hit its $900,000 crowdfunding goal well before its month is up. “It won’t be long now,” Soulbound Studios posted. “At the current rate we should cross 100% funding by the end of this weekend!”
To encourage current backers and sideline spectators to pitch in more money, the studio is beefing up its $5,000 donation tier by offering fans the choice to either design a creature or a combat style for the game. Mounts and vehicles have been added to other tiers as incentives as well.
So what’s next for the campaign? Stretch goals, of course! Soulbound asked its supporters whether they want to see a few at a time or all at once when these are revealed. Another option that it presented was to let fans vote on the next stretch goal offered.
[Update: KingsIsle has confirmed the layoffs to Massively OP; see end of post for statement.]
Industry vets on Twitter have begun sending condolences to KingsIsle employees allegedly hit with “mass” or “massive” layoffs today. KingsIsle is the studio behind kid-centric MMOs Pirate101 and Wizard101.