As I have mentioned, I don’t have history with SWL. I do, however, have history with The Secret World. And the fun thing is that said history informs my attitude going into this title as well as the reasons behind the remake-slash-rebranding, so it’s worth examining that along the way. Just as it’s also worth noting that The Secret World has also long been a victim of Funcom’s slow-running financial implosion.
Hey, you. Yeah, you, dude leeching candy from the bucket you bought “for the neighborhood kids.” And you, lady still trying to decide between “Princess Leia” and “lazy zombie” for your costume (go Leia, duh). Put all that aside and get into some MMOs instead! Halloween is only one night in real life, but in MMORPGs, it goes on for days or even weeks. Some studios will probably even forget to turn it off! Others will let you run around with a flaming pumpkin head mask for all eternity!
Here’s what we’re looking at this year for Halloween across the MMORPG verse.
Massively OP’s Justin Olivetti has a provocative article on his personal gaming blog, Bio Break, this week on MMORPG housing.
“I once again wonder why open world housing is this holy grail that some players and developers seem hellbent on chasing,” he writes. “It’s an ideal, a beautiful mirage couched in the notion of players inhabiting the very world they play, allowing them to stroll through neighborhoods of fellow adventurer’s homes and basking in the connectivity of it all. Yet it’s a failed experiment, one that is proven time and again to have far more drawbacks than benefits.” After listing off his complaints with the mechanic, he ultimately concludes that “we simply don’t need fixed open world housing, even in sandboxes.”
But being Justin, he also asked for feedback on why the joys are worth the drawbacks – and how to fix the system so it works instead of running off the rails. That’s just what we’ll do in this week’s Overthinking. Is he right about not needing this type of housing? And if not, how would you fix open world housing?
This week’s update introduces new skins for multiple characters, including Halloween skins for Thanatos (shown above), Cupid, Izanami, and Susano, several of which are part of the latest leg of the game’s ongoing Odyssey 2018 overhaul. Players should further expect new Japanese-themed quests and the return of the Halloween Arena, plus some balancing tweaks for Ao Kuang, Awilix, Cu Chulainn, Erlang Shen, Izanami, and Raijin. Check out the video for a detailed look at what to expect from this chapter of Odyssey!
One of the fun things about this hobby is that certain tropes repeat themselves constantly. And they’re usually weirdly specific tropes, too. Poop quests, for example. So many MMOs have one quest or another that make you dealing with poop. Someone has a fixation that is probably not entirely healthy, and that someone keeps getting hired to design quests.
But sometimes you try to come up with a trope that’s so specific that it has to be unique. Or at least rare. “MMOs that feature a zone full of floating islands requiring flight to travel around.” At least one zone, and it is traveled around via flight. That cannot be common, that has to be…
Wait. How did I not only get a full list but actually have to decline some entries? How the heck did this happen? There are this many MMOs using this astonishingly specific trope? How did this happen and why?
The one thing that I thought we could all count on forever was that the MMO life cycle was pretty easy to understand. A game is launched, then it runs for a certain amount of time, then it shuts down. That last part kind of sucks, but the point is that you know when it’s time to move on. The life cycle is clearly one of creation, then life, then death, like a potted ficus or a cheap desk chair you get at Target.
But then sometimes you have a cheap desk chair that breaks in a crucial way, but you manage to screw the right sort of braces together so you can keep using it for another year after it should have been thrown out. And sometimes an MMO is born, and then it lives, and then it… doesn’t live, but it’s not actually shut down or in maintenance. Or it isn’t clear what’s going on with it, due to what seems to be total abandonment. Or it updates more than games which are supposedly live.
That’s what this column is all about. MMOs in a weird sort of limbo, where some facts are clear, but the results or the overall trajectory make no sense. Sometimes it’s not even clear if the game has actually launched or not. It’s weird.
Maintenance mode or no, Anarchy Online is going to celebrate its birthday in style. The MMO, which launched back in 2001, turns 16 this month and is bringing back its anniversary celebration to mark the occasion.
“Today, Anarchy Online celebrates its 16th year of active service,” Funcom posted. “Not a whole lot of games can boast this kind of accomplishment, and we sincerely thank you for your continued love and support of Anarchy Online. You are the very matter that makes up this universe, so thank you again.”
As part of the anniversary event, players can run quests for the Tinker to earn a gift bundle with 500(!) items, defeat the Desert Rider for his loot, and take advantage of multi-month subscription deals to secret bonus loot. There’s also a new cybernetic helmet as a loyalty reward for those who have stuck with the game thus far.
“Funcom N.V. has entered into an agreement with Bearded Dragon International LTD regarding the development and publishing of a new game. The game is in the ‘tactical turn-based strategy’ genre and is planned to be released during 2018. Initial platform will be PC, with consoles to be evaluated after the PC launch. More information about the game will be revealed when PR and Marketing activities are initiated prior to release. This activity is part of Funcom’s strategy of releasing multiple game titles per year, providing significant activities more often and building a larger portfolio of products.”
Funcom is best known to MMO players for its long-running The Secret World, Age of Conan, and Anarchy Online, as well as sunsetted MMO LEGO Minifigures Online and early access survival sandbox Conan Exiles. AOC and AO were seemingly maintenance-moded earlier this year, while The Secret World has been back-burnered in favor of Secret World Legends, which has formally launched today.
After some ups and downs this afternoon — everybody loves the “try again later” message, right? — Valve’s summer Steam sale is finally underway and stable. Here’s what we’re looking at in our corner of the gaming world.
- Elder Scrolls Online Morrowind is 25% off, with even steeper discounts for the larger bundles.
- Black Desert is 20% off.
- Final Fantasy XIV’s bundle and standalone are on sale, but Stormblood alone is not.
- It’d be criminal not to try Trove; its starter pack and DLC are up to 90% off.
- All of TERA’s Steam packs are 50% off.
- Skyforge boosters are up to half off.
- Shroud of the Avatar is $19.99.
- A couple of RIFT’s packs are half off.
- Final Fantasy XI’s mega bundle is half off.
- ArcheAge’s starter pack is 10 bucks.
- EVE Online’s editions are half off.
- Elite Dangerous is half off, give or take depending on the edition.
- Some of Riders of Icarus’ packages are up to half off.
- A bunch of Marvel Heroes’ packs are 40% off.
After four years and over 700 MMORPG music tracks, the Battle Bards have arrived at their 100th show! For this centennial spectacular, Syl, Steff, and Syp reminisce about the most notable shows, their best soundtrack discoveries, and their favorite tracks. This super-sized show gets wrapped up with a bout of listener emails and a promise of another amazing hundred episodes!
Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and Player.FM.
The company reiterates that the reboot of The Secret World as Secret World Legends will make its recently announced June 26th debut, but the Steam launch will be delayed until July 31st as a result of “crowded market conditions with multiple MMO releases in May/June on Steam” — those being Black Desert’s Steam launch, Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind launch, and Final Fantasy XIV’s Stormblood. Seriously, nobody else should even try launching that month.
“The Company expects the majority of players after launch to be newcomers to the game, but is also working to make it worthwhile for as many veterans of The Secret World as possible to continue playing Secret World Legends. Due to the high uncertainty regarding a Free to Play business models the Company expects the development team to need to tweak the monetization mechanisms of the game in the months following launch. Paid User Acquisition will gradually be tested and introduced in tandem with the monitoring and tweaking of the game’s monetization KPIs.”
Have you ever noticed that while there’s an entire world out there, most all of the MMORPGs we discuss and play tend to either be ones crafted in the USA or imports from China or Korea? We even have a shorthand for this: “western” and “eastern” MMOs. We’re usually not talking about entire hemispheres with these references, but rather about categorizing three countries that are big into the MMORPG business.
But what about the rest of the world? Are all of these other countries so uncaring about this genre that they’ve never tried their hand at making an MMO? Of course not; as I’m about to show you, there are plenty of online RPGs that have been made in countries other than China, the USA, and South Korea. It’s just that for various reasons, those three countries ended up fostering concentrations of video game developers who knew how to create these types of games.
So let’s take a tour around the world and see if we can’t give some credit to other countries for their contributions to the MMORPG genre past, present, and future. Before you click the link, see how many you can name off the top of your head!
In each of our articles about Black Desert’s upcoming graphics upgrade, there have been a slew of comments about how the game doesn’t really need it, puzzled remarks that the game is already pretty enough, and hopeful requests for Pearl Abyss to tone down the lens flares or at least allow us to turn off all the bells and whistles. It’s been interesting to witness — I know we’re still in the middle of a massive renaissance for retro graphics, but in general, hardcore MMORPG players are total graphics snobs, to the point that many older games, from Ultima Online and Anarchy Online to World of Warcraft and EVE Online, have all taken a stab at improving their graphics (and in some cases, adjusting their art styles too).
Not all of them have done so successfully, of course; many City of Heroes players, for example, couldn’t make use of the upgrades, and Ultima’s Kingdom Reborn was plagued with issues.
For today’s Daily Grind, I’m wondering: Which MMORPG has seen the most improved graphics over the years?