above and beyond technologies

See: The Repopulation

Underage Overwatch player lands six-figure e-sports contract

He may not be old enough to vote, but 17-year-old Jay Won is already making more money than you. Probably.

Won, an Overwatch player who goes by the handle “sinatraa,” just landed an $150,000-per-year contract with NRG Esports. He will be playing for the e-sports firm on its Overwatch League team, enjoying revenue-sharing options and team bonuses above and beyond his annual salary. Which, again, is $150,000.

Apparently Won is such a good player and in such great demand that there was a bidding war between teams to grab him. He’s also part of the North American Overwatch World Cup team, which will be competing in early November at BlizzCon.

This is merely the latest drop of wild news to fall into the bucket of Overwatch League craziness. The fledgling league is expanding aggressively as it seeks to establish itself and the game as a legitimate e-sports outlet. Last month, the OWL expanded to include teams from London and L.A.

Source: ESPN. Thanks Sally!

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Perfect Ten: The 10 saddest MMORPG stories

Every MMO tells a story through the run of its life. A lot of those stories are pretty happy, too. Ultima Online may not be the most happening place in the world right now, but its story is about launching a genre and then running for two solid decades. That’s a pretty great story. However much it’s become a tale of mismanaged expectations, World of Warcraft kind of became the most popular thing for a long while and brought in tons of new people to the hobby. Even titles with sad endings often have bright stories; the end bit for City of Heroes sucks, but everything leading up to that was a gas.

And then you have these 10 titles. These are titles where the whole story is a tragedy, start to finish, and in many cases the tragedy isn’t necessarily over, but the story is still just plain sad. There are reasons, of course, maybe even good ones, but the result is that the narrative for these titles is pretty sad all the way through.

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The Repopulation struggles to get content patch ready for release

The faithful and hopeful fans waiting for the next stage of The Repopulation’s development might have a glimmer of hope to hang on to today. The devs announced on the forum that they had overcome “a major hurdle to deployment” of the long-awaited patch and were optimistic that the process might go a bit more smoothly from here on out.

“The changes in [the hybrid patching system] over the last 16 months has given us some of that challenge we mentioned above,” the team said, “but we believe we have finished the changes needed to push The Repopulation. Please note that once we get past the cleanup and can update The Repopulation to the latest version of HE, it will be easier and quicker.”

Ever the teases, the devs posted a few pictures of rocks, hinting that these assets are going to be part and parcel of the content update when it arrives.

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The Repopulation-spinoff Fragmented has reached release on Steam

Gosh, I had almost forgotten about Fragmented – it’s been a while! But it’s formally launched on Steam as of today for a discounted $5.99.

“Today we have moved Fragmented into a released state after 16 months and more than 30 patches in Early Access,” says Above and Beyond’s JC Smith, noting that launch “does not mean the end of updates” for the game; “tweaks and bug fixes” are still on the table.

Fragmented was originally created by A&B in the Great Repopulation Pause of 2015 as a survival sandbox spin-off of the The Repopulation, first Kickstarted in 2012. The MMORPG was crippled by a nasty public contract dispute between the dev team at A&B and its Hero Engine-lessor Idea Fabrik, driving The Repopulation offline and causing A&B to spend a year working on Fragmented instead. Earlier this year, the studio announced it had sold the game to Idea Fabrik instead, a move that A&B said was in the best interests of the game and the playerbase, while A&B kept Fragmented. Since then, Idea Fabrik has gotten The Repopulation back online in a limited alpha.

Source: Steam

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Checking out RIFT 4.2: Celestial Storm

Summertime does seem to be ripe territory for MMORPGs to release sizable content updates in the hopes of keeping players occupied and luring back in the bored and nomadic in the larger community.

Making a pitch for your attention today is RIFT, which has just released the latest segment of its Prophecy of Ahnket expansion cycle with Patch 4.2: Celestial Storm. As players head into the newest endgame zone of the MMO, what will they discover?

A few words on that: Beauty. Challenge. Epic feuds. Rewards. And a crapton to do.

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Albion Online plans huge beta finale ahead of July 17 launch

Albion Online is finally making the transition from beta to launch this month. Sandbox Interactive has posted a timeline of events leading up to the formal July 17th release date, beginning with an invasion event this Friday, a treasure hunt on Saturday, and a castle siege event on Sunday. Following the conclusion of Sunday’s event, the beta servers will close, so these are your last funtimes before the launch.

The game’s new launcher has also rolled out as of this morning, complete with server monitoring, game news, and fast-access to bits and bobs like the forums and profiles.

Founder packs (and upgrading) will also become unavailable on July 9th. Founder pack buyers will be granted an additional 10% gold when the game launches, above and beyond previous promises. Do note that the game will not be free-to-play at launch, and presumably the launch game won’t come with the same goodies, so plan your wallet-opening accordingly.

We’ll be streaming the game later today on OPTV, so stay tuned!

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The Repopulation posts teeny, tiny image teaser

It’s small. It’s ambiguous. And it might be pointing to the future of The Repopulation.

The new team handling this sci-fi MMO posted a rather tiny picture on the forums of which looks like a river on top of a grid and then asked players to vote on what they thought it might be. As the poll is labeled as a “teaser,” we might make the assumption that this has something to do with upcoming development for the game.

Curious what it looks like? We blew the image up (but did not enhance, as that doesn’t really exist outside of TV detective shows) and posted it for you after the break.

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The Daily Grind: Has a soundtrack ever inspired you to try out an MMORPG?

Massively OP reader Andrea has a fun question for us today. “I’ve been perusing through different MMO soundtracks these past days and some of them are so beautiful and atmospheric that they make me want to actually try the game although I had no intention otherwise,” she writes. “Has an MMO soundtrack ever inspired you to try out the game itself?”

You folks know we love our MMO soundtracks here on Massively OP — we keep Jukebox Heroes and Battle Bards’ Justin Olivetti trapped in a tower with nothing but a keyboard and an iPod, after all — so I’m guessing a lot of you have heard more scores than played games, and this question has a high chance of scoring hits. I’ve found some gorgeous music thanks to Justin for games I’ve never played, for example — I’ve been completely obsessed with The Repopulation’s released music tracks. (I’m a sucker for marimbas.)

Has a soundtrack ever inspired you to try out an MMORPG?

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The Repopulation moves forward with huge patch, alpha plans

Back in January, we learned the fate of The Repopulation: The Hero Engine team from Idea Fabrik would be taking over development of the game from its original developers at Above & Beyond following a lengthy dispute between the two that took the alpha offline for more than a year. It returned online and relaunched on Steam earlier this spring, promising an update in May after major issues were discovered in the code.

And here we are now in May, and the new team says the staging build is nearly live. The latest dev post promises that the “core vision” is still in line with A&B’s, will stay away from pay-to-win, will expand “to include multiple play styles” for PvE and PvP, will consider new and different rulesets, and will lay the groundwork for “future expansions.” The update is dubbed Condorslug, “first and foremost the start of the renovation to replication within every game system, at its very core this is about bug fixing and trying to get things in a much better place.” Expect new shaders, redone heightmaps, new textures, and yes, wipes.

Oh yeah, and expect to shell out some dough too, as the studio is “aiming to re-enable the purchasing of higher tiers” once the dust has settled.

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Massively Overthinking: Competitive PvE in MMORPGs

During last week’s podcast, Justin and I bumped into a tangential topic about competitive PvE and how relatively rare it is in MMORPGs, which seems weird, right? It was once the nature of MMOs to make us scuffle with other guilds in open-world dungeons, but with the dawn of instanced PvE content, devs didn’t replace that type of content the same way they’ve embraced raiding and PvP. You’ve got achievements, sure, and gear show-offs, but outside of Guild Wars-esque challenge missions and WildStar PvE leaderboards, it’s just not something most MMOs bother with.

Why is that? Should they? And how do you want to see it done? I posed all these questions to the Massively OP team this week for Massively Overthinking!

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The Repopulation updates graphic shaders, QA pipeline ahead of May update

How’s The Repopulation coming along? Well, it’s coming. Last week, the newly installed Idea Fabrik developers discussed how the planned May update is progressing with bug fixes and a smoother pipeline for actually identifying, reporting, and correcting issues. The big news, however, is the new shaders that provide a big visual upgrade to the game world (though the team notes flora isn’t in — you can check out the before and after shots below).

“The lore team is looking at shoring up a few things, getting a consistency and looking at future ideas,” Hobble writes. “A new launcher is being built, this may or may not make 15.10.1, but there are a few inconsistencies to do with Steam/Stand Alone that we wish to sort out.”

And Hero Engine also brought back online the EU server, which was taken down for database issues yesterday.

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The first new patch for The Repopulation should be in about five weeks

When The Repopulation returned under new management, it was an understood fact that it would be a while before the game got its first patch. And it’s true, it will be a while. Specifically, it’ll be about five more weeks according to the latest update from the development team. That’s how long it’s going to take to sort out all of the back-end issues players aren’t seeing and gently massage the code into cooperating and improving.

If you were thinking it would take longer than five weeks, well, this is pretty much good news. And there is definitely a lot of stuff being adjusted behind the scenes, including combat, the UI, new player tutorials, pathing, and texture files. How good the first few patches under the game’s new ownership will be remains to be seen, but it does seem pretty clear that the game’s improvement is being taken seriously.

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The Survivalist: Massively OP’s guide to multiplayer survival sandboxes

Welcome to The Survivalist! Ya’ll might have noticed that I have gravitated a bit from my happy home of deep, immersive virtual worlds (possible due to the lack of them!) and have been tinkering about and enjoying time in various survival games. This isn’t as odd as you might think! One thing I love about sandbox worlds is the ability for your actions to matter in terms of shaping the world and carving out your place in it. Survival games have been allowing me just that with opportunities to build the world, from the society on it to structures in it to the even the physical world itself. And decisions definitely matter, bringing satisfaction and reward or disappointment and destruction.

I’m not alone in this appreciation of the survival genre, either. Many MMO gamers have joined mainstreamers by flocking to it lately as seen by the explosion of the available games. Those of you not on board yet might be wonder just what is so alluring about a genre that has many elements of MMOs but on smaller — and oft times privately managed — scale. As the weeks and months wear on, The Survivalist is going to explore all the nooks and crannies of the survival sandbox genre (and likely die many, many times in the process!), but today, we’re going to look at what players can jump into to test their survival skills. So here’s a guide to many options in the newest genre to take over our gaming sphere.
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