Ever since the tone-deaf SOE proclamation that nobody wanted to play Uncle Owen in an MMORPG, contrary me has consciously fought that very stupid idea. A whole lot of people wanted to play Uncle Owen, then and now, there and elsewhere. Star Wars Galaxies was a game half full of Uncle Owens. I spent a lot of time literally becoming a moisture farmer as my own form of rebellion. And yet, as I realized while debating with my husband a few weeks ago, the person I really wanted to be was freakin’ Lando. And most MMORPGs don’t allow that either — it’s Luke or GTFO.
Such is the argument made by a recent PC Gamer article, which in its own precious mainstream way argues that “MMOs need to let you be an average Joe” to get out of the clear “creative slump” they’re in.
“With their scale and permanence, MMOs give us the chance to be citizens in a make-believe world we create with the help of our fellow players. When it’s left up to us what kind of role we want to fill in that world, everybody’s immersion benefits from being surrounded by all types of characters with vastly different stories.”
For this week’s Overthinking, I asked the staff to chime in on the concept of Uncle Owen in MMORPGs. Do you play this way? Do you wish you could? And is it the way forward?
A fresh expansion is on the way for ArcheAge
announced this afternoon. It’s called Erenor Eternal, and you’ll be downloading it in all its 3.5 glory on June 7th.
The expansion seems to deserve the label, as it’ll add three new ocean-themed zones – Whaleswell Strait, Aegis Island, and Whalesong Harbor – with their concomitant quests and leveling hubs, plus a new housing province and a revamp for the game’s trading system.
Endgame achiever and crafter types can expect to grind their way up the new Ancestral skillset, work through a newly RNG-free equipment crafting advancement system, and push through the overhailed regrade mechanics.
And there’s something for the PvPers too: a pair of open-world battlegrounds. “Possessing a unique PvE focus, players will hold off waves of enemies with not just their skills, but mines and heavy artillery as well,” Trion says. “Upon completion of either tower, players will be rewarded with Honor and materials used to craft the new Erenor-tier equipment.”
If you play one of Trion Worlds’ online games, then chances are very good that you also use Trion’s Glyph launcher on a daily basis. The studio said that it’s been evaluating the launcher after complaints that it was too much of a memory hog, and as a result, Trion has streamlined Glyph so that it doesn’t take up as big of a footprint when used.
Part of the solution was to drop browser functionality altogether, Trion said. Doing so has cut the program’s memory usage by as much as 75% in the studio’s tests.
“A great many of you mentioned the memory usage and CPU performance that Glyph was gobbling up,” Trion said. “While this won’t be the last time we assess and address this issue, we are excited to talk about the release of an update that frees up more of your computer’s resources so you can focus on crushing that 20-man raid, explore strange lands or bask in the glory of your fantastic creations.”
Back when I mentioned that I was learning to like Black Desert a while back, I got this tweet from the game’s official account. That was awesome. I liked it immensely. And while I don’t think I ever actually learned to love you guys (sorry!), I definitely do have a degree of appreciation. It just never crossed over into actual love. (Not least because my heart is already sworn to another game. You all know it.)
I’ve kind of struggled to summarize my feelings about Black Desert in my mind. The trouble isn’t that they’re negative feelings; it’s just that, much like my feelings on The Elder Scrolls Online’s battlegrounds, it’s easy to take them as negative when that isn’t how they’re meant. I certainly didn’t dislike the game, and it’s definitely not bad; I kept feeling like I was brushing up against the same territory as I did with the aforementioned ESO. But where I walked away from that game thinking “this is a lot better than I remember, even if it’s still kind of tedious in places,” I’m walking away from Black Desert feeling as if the game keeps giving me tools to solve problems I don’t have.
Today, Ashes of Creation takes a big plunge into an all-or-nothing Kickstarter campaign. Over the past few months, the MMO seemed to come out of nowhere to stun us with an ambitious design, well-crafted videos, and a team of experienced industry vets who seem passionate to make the next generation of online RPG.
For this occasion, we sat down with Intrepid Studios CEO Steven Sharif to talk about the Ashes of Creation’s crowdfunding campaign, the studio’s design philosophy, and the next steps for this upcoming MMORPG. Does this game deserve your support? Will it rope in widespread interest? Let’s see if Sharif can make the case.
“Magic can be ANYthing!”
The forces of magic run deep within MMORPGs, casting shadows of wonder wherever we look — and listen. In today’s show, Syl sparks a musical revolution as her fellow Bards struggle to rise to the challenge of defining what, exactly, constitutes a “magical” track and evokes that particular feeling. Did we nail it? You’ll have to join us for the journey to find out!
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.
Listen to Episode 97: The sound of magic (or download it) now:
There’s a new way to pay in Trion Worlds’ games, and that way is Razer zGold.
Trion announced this week that all of its games, including RIFT, ArcheAge, Trove, and Defiance, now accept Razer zGold as a payment option. Razer zGold is a virtual payment and rewards currency that can be used in several games while helping players earn special gifts on the side.
Trion is encouraging players to try out zGold with a pair of gifts of its own. Players who buy the RIFT Ascended Essentials Pack with zGold will get the Intermediate Pack for free. Additionally, a free month of patron status will be handed out to anyone who purchases a 3,250 credit pack with zGold. These can only be claimed once each per account.
XLGAMES has received a vote of confidence in the form of some welcome investment from fellow Korean developer (and publisher) WeMade Entertainment. MMO Culture is reporting that WeMade recently sold off over $178M in Kakao shares and then turned around to snap up an unknown quantity of shares in the ArcheAge developer.
This is good news for XLGAMES, which ended 2016 on a down note after announcing that its Civilization Online was closing down following a year of Korean open beta. Now that the studio has an infusion of investment, perhaps we will see a new project emerge from Jake Song’s imagination factory.
Over on the ArcheAge
Reddit, people are grumpy. No, stay with me; they might have a point here. Trion kicked off an odd sort of promotion Monday
in which players can purchase APEX packs and get pretty big additional APEX bonuses for doing so, which players suggest has never happened before, not even when the currency (which is traded in-game as well) was inflated.
What’s made them grumpy is the note at the bottom of the sale that tells people to “act fast” because “this bonus could disappear at any time.” Redditors suggest is part of a quarterly financial push — do you agree?
In less puzzling news, ArcheAge is beginning the Gweonid Forest Lantern Festival today and running through April 19th, complete with daily quests and prizes.
Blogger Tobold recently wrote a provocative piece on social play in MMOs, as pointed out to us by our dear tipster Sally. In a piece cheekily titled “Why I can live without other players in my games,” he writes that far from being the foundation or glue of MMOs, guilds are actually one of the worst bits of the genre, being platforms for selfishness and drama.
“Guilds were never designed for positive social interaction, they were always a means to an end of individual character progress. You needed those other people to get the most powerful gear in the game. And the way there wasn’t exactly a constant stream of friendship and happiness. Look at what MMORPG blog posts have been mostly about when talking about their guilds: First people complain if others aren’t investing as much as they do and become a hindrance to killing raid bosses, and then when the raid boss is finally dead they complain that somebody else got the loot.”
“The people most loudly complaining about the lack of other players being forced to play with them,” he finishes with a zinger that resonated most for me, “are the kind of people with the most predatory play styles.”
I’ve presented Tobold’s piece to our writers for this week’s Overthinking. Do they — and you — agree with his thesis? Let’s Overthink it.
Sandbox Interactive ran an AMA for its in-development indie MMO Albion Online on Reddit last night, covering everything from the game’s business model to how players in far-flung locations fare on its global server. Here are the highlights!
- There are no plans for a freebie weekend or trial as a result of fairness to founders and botting issues — as well as performance issues. “The game is extremely well populated as it is, and we’d be worried that free trial could slow down the servers.”
- Likewise, SI will be sticking to its original plan to reward founders with early access, though players have expressed concern over the potential for an ArcheAge-like land-grab.
- In response to players bringing up pay-to-win and the game’s $30 buy-in, SI explained the game’s business model is based on EVE Online’s and that while players can essentially gain an advantage by buying and then exchanging real-money currency for in-game currency, it won’t afford players a guaranteed win. As for the currency exchange, it should be possible to play the market.
If the world was to end this week, how would people react? That’s an interesting question to ponder in the abstract, but researchers took this hypothetical one step further by looking at an MMORPG wipe to map out the behavior of players at the end of their virtual world.
In a recent study, a research team looked at a massive amount of data — over 270 million player records — from the conclusion of ArcheAge’s beta. The purpose was to try to get a feel for human behavior during “end times” and draw possible parallels to what might happen in our world. While there was some anarchy and nasty behavior, the study notes that a majority of people mostly played out their remaining time in the social sphere. Quests and other progression paths were abandoned, while more players simply grouped up for fun and to take on interesting challenges.
What are the best and most popular MMO theme songs of all time? A couple of weeks ago I posed this question to the Massively OP community and encouraged fans to submit their own list of music themes in response. We saw a healthy amount of email votes and comment nominations since then, and I was able to compile a nice list of the top 24 MMORPG themes from it.
There were several surprises, at least to me, in the final results. I thought some games would’ve gotten more nods, while others seemed to come out of nowhere to demand a spot on the list. Each of the themes on this list was put out there by at least two fans, which is why we’re going to start with number 24. I’m thinking we might have an honorable mentions column as a post-script, but we’ll see how it goes.
Today we will begin our countdown to number one, looking at your favorite MMO themes with my own take on each. Let’s get started!