Video games have always been a remarkably insular field; that’s the nature of development. Someone produces Super Mario Bros, and a few years later Sonic the Hedgehog sounds like a really good idea for some reason. But then you have games like The Great Giana Sisters, games that don’t try to just copy parts of what made the inspiration good but just copy the whole thing with one or two changes.
For normal video games, this can work out decently; a game that just doesn’t get much traction still sells some copies, hopefully. Just because Croc wasn’t Spyro didn’t mean that no one bought the former. But for online games, these trend-chasing games are almost always dramatic failures that litter the landscape. Why is that? Well, there are pretty good reasons, and today seems like a good time to talk about that.
On this week’s show, Bree and Justin mull over the fate of MOBAs, investigate Alganon’s nebulous state, talk about why subscribing to an alpha test might not be the smartest thing in the world, and more!
It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.
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Nine years ago on Massively-that-was, we began covering the MMORPG known as Alganon – you’ll recall it as a bit of a World of Warcraft clone, long before that phrase was trite. You’ll also recall it as a game that weathered a major controversy back in 2010, when the game’s president, David Allen, was pushed out of the company. Why? According to none other than Derek Smart, who replaced him, Smart “fired” Allen “for insubordination and for acting against the best interests of the company,” investors, game, and team, arguing that he himself had a better plan for the game’s business model. Allen retaliated, accusing Smart of a “smear campaign” and suing him to boot (the lawsuit was settled in 2010 and Quest walked back some of Smart’s statements).
Since then, the game has muddled along without making headlines for much of anything besides an expansion in 2014. But that might be changing, as over the past few months, the game’s future has appeared less certain.
Back in October, Smart told Steam players that because of the game’s low population, the team hadn’t been investing much into the game for the prior year. “We were planning a visual update, and another DLC,” he wrote, “but those plans are on hold for now.”
Did you know about all the MMOs I hate? I sure as heck didn’t! I mean, I knew there were a few games I hated (Scarlet Blade, Alganon) and some that I have pretty poor feelings toward for various reasons (Star Citizen, EVE Online, League of Legends, H1Z1: Kash of the Kow), but those are also games I discuss only in particular circumstances.
Yet thankfully, I have been informed over the near-decade of writing about MMOs that there are a number of games I thought I liked but that I do, in fact, hate. This was a surprise to me, but I think that for purposes of comprehension, it’s best for me to list for reference all the games that I apparently utterly despise. It’s all very confusing to me, but I’m confident that by sharing and making the occasional off-color joke, I’ll be able to decipher it all.
Your favorite game is going to die. I wrote about that. Some games are never even going to get to launching in the first place, unfortunately. But then there are these titles: games that went the distance when it came to development, marketing, promotion, testing… but somehow didn’t quite manage to stick the landing past that. These are the games that, in Transformers terms, are the hi-then-die cast of the MMO space.
That doesn’t always mean the games are bad, mind you. Some of these games were great fun. But through a combination of business model issues, publisher issues, player population, and just general weirdness, these titles couldn’t make it to a year and a half in the wild. Heck, some of them couldn’t even make it to a year and a quarter. And if you want to peruse this list and wonder why all of these titles are gone but Alganon is somehow still operating… well, we’re just as confused as you are.
Ever find yourself wondering, “Whatever happened to so-and-so? We never hear about that MMO in the news any more! Is it still running? Does it still have a loyal community? How will I find out about these things if I am too lazy to Google it?”
Well, that’s what I’m here for, gentle readers. The response back in March to the first column in this series was positive enough that it warranted a follow-up with a different trilogy of games to investigate. In today’s post, we’re going to see what’s going on (if anything) with Alganon, Ryzom, and Forsaken Legends, three titles that haven’t been in the spotlight for a while.
Have suggestions for future installments in this series? That’s what the comments are for, brah.
Internet Warlord Derek Smart is at it again: This morning, the dev behind Alganon and Line of Defense ramped up his crusade against Star Citizen and Chris Roberts with a demand letter from his attorneys and the threat of a class-action lawsuit.
“I have decided to make good on previous statements calling for accountability,” he writes. “Aside from the FTC guidelines on crowd-funding, as well as actions they have taken against companies that seek to defraud consumers, and because I have reasons to believe that this entire project now borders on consumer fraud, regardless of the risks to myself, my family etc or the amount of aggravation (attacking the messenger is an exercise in futility) that this is no doubt going to cause me, I am going to continue fighting this, while working with the Federal authorities, including the FBI, to get to the bottom of what is going on with this project and where backer money is going.”
It’s safe to say that Alganon has not been a well-liked game on Steam since its arrival on the platform on May 5th, at least if you judge by its player reviews: There are twice as many negative reviews as positive criticizing the fantasy MMO. Derek Smart, who is still in charge of the project as well as his upcoming Line of Defense, claims that this title has been unfairly assaulted by “review bombing” and has issued a warning to those who attempt to put down the game without justification.
“If you violate any of the community guidelines in our forums, you WILL be banned (temp or perma-, depending on severity),” Smart posted. “NO EXCEPTIONS. And now also, you will be banned from our game servers. In case you were wondering; yes, we can in fact do that, same way we treat cheaters and their ilk.”
Smart did assure players that “nobody gets banned for their opinions” as long as they bow to the Steam community guidelines.
Remember Alganon? It’s still alive and kicking, and it’s probably about to get a player infusion since it’s heading to Steam on May 5th. The game’s latest expansion, Rise of the Ourobani, added a new playable race, a new leveling experience on the continent of Aeon, flying mounts, and mercenary companions that players can hire to help them in combat.
Alganon’s April newsletter also mentions a one-shot comic book as well as a fix to some of the bugs that cropped up with the expansion’s launch.
[Source: April newsletter
; thanks Zariarn!]