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See: Anarchy Online

The Game Archaeologist: Neocron

It’s the distant future. The high-tech battle armor you wear sharply contrasts with the ruins of civilization that you traverse. You spot an enemy and raise your pulse rifle, firing off shots as you strafe to cover. Technology hasn’t solved the issue of war; it’s just raised the body count.

PlanetSide 2? Nope — this is Neocron, the quite-forgettable MMOFPS from the way-back era. I like to call it “that game with the most regrettable cover art in the history of video games,” but that isn’t quite as snappy.

Going into this article, I have to admit that I previously knew absolutely nothing about Neocron other than the fact that it was a sci-fi MMO that vaguely reminded me of Anarchy Online. Oh, also the fact that nobody I know or perhaps ever will know played it. Was it just a myth? A practical joke to make us believe in an MMO phantom? Only sifting through layers of dust and grime would produce results, so I rolled up my sleeves and started digging.

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The ultimate guide to The Game Archaeologist’s MMO archives

When we moved over here to Massively Overpowered, some of us transplanted our long-running columns to the new space. I perhaps felt most devastated that I was going to lose all of the Game Archaeologist articles that I had painstakingly researched over the years. So my mission with this space became two-fold: to rescue and update my older columns while continuing to add more articles to this series on classic MMOs and proto-MMOs.

I’ve been pleased with the results so far because TGA is a series that I really don’t want to see vanish. As MMORPG fans, we should consider it important to remember and learn about these older titles and to expand our knowledge past the more popular and well-known games of yesteryear.

Now that we have quite a catalogue of Game Archaeologist columns, I thought it would be helpful to end the year by gifting this handy guide to you that organizes and compiles our continuing look at the history of the genre. Enjoy!

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Funcom is launching a ‘saga server’ specialty shard for Age of Conan called Saga of Zath

So much for maintenance mode: It appears that Funcom has plans yet for Age of Conan, if the studio’s email to players and post on the official forums this afternoon are any judge. Looks like you’re getting a fresh start temporary challenge/progression server called a “saga server” next year.

“In early 2018, we will be introducing a saga server to Age of Conan. A saga server is a unique server that is live for a limited period of time and comes with unique rewards for completing objectives. All players will start with a fresh, new character that will be transferred to Crom after the saga server’s live period ends, along with any earned rewards. Players will be able to claim rewards on a single character of their choosing. We’ll be releasing more details as the launch date draws closer. Until then, get ready for the Saga of Zath – launching in early 2018!”

There’s nothing on the Anarchy Online forums yet to match, though earlier this week the studio put out feelers for the idea on Facebook.

Source: Official site. Thanks so much, John and David!

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Anarchy Online might be considering a new fresh start server

Sometimes all it takes to light a fire under a gaming community is a simple poll.

Funcom sparked a bonfire of interest by asking fans on Facebook the following: “Would you be interested in a fresh start server for Anarchy Online?” As you may imagine, this raised quite a few eyebrows, because the studio has all but abandoned Anarchy Online in 2017 after putting it in maintenance mode and vastly cutting down on any communication with players.

In any case, the community seems somewhat in favor of the idea, although some have questions about what this would entitle (especially in light of Secret World Legends’ reboot). “I would be interested in literally anything that showed a hint of supporting the game, so yeah,” said one player. “Someone from Funcom please enlighten me as to why this is a good idea all of the sudden?” asked another.

Source: Facebook. Thanks Jack Pipsam!

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Anarchy Online and Age of Conan host an arrested development sale

Just because an MMORPG’s development has been put into suspended animation doesn’t mean that profit still can’t be made! To wit, check out Funcom’s can-do spirit, which doesn’t take “maintenance mode” for an answer when it comes to holiday sales.

For whatever reason, the studio is holding a sale on Funcom Points for both Anarchy Online and Age of Conan. These titles, you might recall, joined the original Secret World earlier this year in having their active development canceled while nominally keeping the servers running.

Anyway, both games are throwing in bonus points when you buy certain tiers of bundles. Additionally, Anarchy Online has a luxury armor set that it would like to sell you as part of a multi-month membership package.

Source: Twitter

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Identity answers player questions, gives game overview

A trio of Identity’s developers sat down for an extended question-and-answer session about what’s happening with the creation of this virtual life simulator. The good news is that there is a whole bunch of additional brainpower working on the project, as the team has tripled in size over the past month.

The devs explained why the early progress faced a lot of delays: “We didn’t have the programmers that really knew how to solve some of the issues we were facing. We were doing a lot of learning on the job back then… We were struggling trying to get over each hurdle.”

Player customization, law and order, and player housing are the three critical features that the team considers at the core of Identity, as it’s being designed to be a very social MMO. There are numerous sound issues with the video, but if you’re patient and curious, there’s some interesting information and sights below!

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Perfect Ten: The biggest MMO stories of 2017

One thing you can say for the MMO industry: It never ceases to surprise all of us. No matter what predictions we may make at the beginning of a year, by December we will all be proven fools who lack vision and foresight.

Although 2017 isn’t quite over yet, we here at Massively Overpowered wanted to count down the biggest news stories that crossed over into our neck of the woods so far this year. We witnessed controversies and delights, shockers and sadness. We saw launches and shutdowns, expansions and bugs.

So before we move into 2018, let’s take a look at the year that was and remember the biggest stories that dominated headlines.

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Choose My Adventure: Challenging currency in Secret World Legends

Here’s the thing that I love to point to whenever I talk about this portion of Secret World Legends: New England is really kind of just like this.

The thing about Kingsmouth is that you can’t really appreciate Kingsmouth unless you’ve actually been to places that feel pretty much like Kingsmouth with a lick of paint. Change the street layouts and call it Vineyard Haven, and I wouldn’t really notice the difference. There’s a degree of verisimilitude there you don’t get with games, which are usually either concerned with the bustle of cities or fanciful lands drawn from cultural theme parks.

Not so on Solomon Island. Yes, it’s in Maine rather than my personal stomping grounds of southern New England, but there’s a real sense that you’re actually dealing with a real place, modeled after real New England seaside communities, complete with a large number of people who don’t seem to be taking it as all that much of a deviation from the norm. When I tell people that this is pretty much true to reality, most of them think I’m joking; I am not.

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Choose My Adventure: The truth is out there about Secret World Legends

Oh, Secret World Legends. What are you? Are you a Frankensteinian change forced upon an existing beloved game that sucked some of the life and character out from your original source? Are you a relaunch that was billed as being something bigger than you actually were? Are you a new game that inherits the theme and setting of your nominal predecessor? Are you a good witch or a bad witch?

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.

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Massively Overthinking: Is open-world housing really a ‘failed’ MMORPG experiment?

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?

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SMITE 4.1.9 Departure to the Afterlife brings back the Halloween arena and new skins

Halloween is taking over SMITE this month — and every other MMO and MOBA, of course, but that’s OK because it’s the best holiday of the year and you know I’m right.

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!

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Perfect Ten: MMOs obsessed with the floating islands trope

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?

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Perfect Ten: MMOs in limbo

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.

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