arg

“ARG” stands for “alternate reality game” or “augmented reality game.”

The MOP Up: Diablo levels up in Heroes of the Storm (May 13, 2018)

The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!

Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from Heroes of the StormElder Scrolls Online, DayZEVE Online, Pokemon Go, Dota 2City of HeroesFinal Fantasy XIVPortal KnightsLineage 2 RevolutionWizard101Ingress, and Reign of Guilds, all waiting for you after the break!

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The Game Archaeologist: Harry Potter Online

If all goes well, later this year we will finally be treated to an actual Harry Potter MMORPG in the form of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. While that will be a mobile ARG in the vein of Pokemon Go, it will still be a big step into the online space that MMO fans have been craving for nearly two decades now.

Obviously, Harry Potter continues to be a mammoth franchise for J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., and Electronic Arts, which has handled the video game license over the years. While there have been single-player Harry Potter titles, especially on consoles, no MMORPG emerged even at the height of the IP craze that swallowed up Star Trek, Star Wars, Warhammer, and more. So why not?

The truth is that Harry Potter Online almost did happen. Its brief existence and development isn’t too well-known, even today, but the wasted potential has always tantalized me with what could have been. Using a time-turner, we will go back to the late 1990s today and peek in on a possible future that came to fruition.

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The Soapbox: Three augmented reality game problems (most) MMOs don’t have – and one thing they do so much better

I’d like to think that I’m kind of a healthy gamer. While MMOs take a lot of time, the nice thing is that their downtime can lead to forming bonds, or give you time to exercise. Augmented reality games can give you both at once, especially Pokemon Gosince it’s the best-known ARG we have (and the mountains of merchandise make it easier to stand out as a fellow player).

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and I’m not just talking about game mechanics that have plagued Niantic games since at Ingress. I remember playing that title and thinking, “Man, this game is dangerous! There’s no way they’ll just clone this for POGO, right?” And yet, here we are. But I can’t put all the blame on Niantic, especially after my time with ARG competitor Maguss. Some things just seem inherent to the genre.

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Perfect Ten: Why I (grudgingly) put up with Secret World Legends’ reboot

Less than a year ago, I faced a crisis as a fan and player of The Secret World. Funcom abruptly announced that it would be throwing the current game — the one I had spent about five years of my time playing and leveling — into maintenance mode and then rebooting the title as a free-to-play quasi-MMO called Secret World Legends.

It was an obnoxious, brute-force decision that greatly alienated many TSW players, and in my opinion, did not pay off as well as Funcom had hoped. Without allowing us to port over our characters or perhaps figure out a way to transform the old MMO into a free-to-play model (like so, so many other MMORPGs had), the studio forced us into a Sophie’s Choice. Did we say goodbye to the game we knew and loved (or worse, remain in a stagnant game forever), or did we start over and put up with the changes?

Grudgingly and not gladly, I started over. I spent a half-year leveling up a brand-new character just to get to the same place that I was before all of this started. And now that we are on the verge of the start of season two, I have time to reflect on why, exactly, I put up with the reboot and didn’t bid this game universe farewell. Here are my reasons.

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NCsoft has hired 1000 employees in the past few years, considers VR and ARG titles

Everybody saw NCsoft’s financials last month, I’m sure – Guild Wars 2 bouncing back thanks to Path of Fire, Lineage M driving revenue, and Blade & Soul outperforming almost everything, pretty good news all around.

What we didn’t cover was the associated conference call and Q&A, which has only recently been fully transcribed in English and has a few nuggets worth highlighting

  • CFO Jae-Soo Yoon told listeners the company is working on 13 new titles, of which the largest are Blade & Soul II, Aion Tempest, and Lineage II Mobile, all mobile titles, and Project TL for PC.
  • To make those happen, the company’s hired “around 1000” new employees over the last two years. One analyst was skeptical about those numbers, suggesting that NCsoft is overspending on labor compared to an unnamed smaller company launching far more games; Yoon counters with some polite shade by suggesting NCsoft is going to for quality over quantity.

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OARG Jurassic World Alive brings dinosaur dicing and splicing to mobile

You may have thought the multiplayer online dinosaur genre is already tapped out, what with the likes of ARK Survival Evolved and ARK Park and Durango, but that’s not going to stop a classic from giving it a Pokemon Go-inspired effort.

Yep, Jurassic World Alive, built by studio Ludia, is a mobile MMOARG that tasks Android and iOS players with catching ’em all collecting and murdering dinos, snagging DNA samples, and then tinkering in lab mode to create new species – because what could possibly go wrong? There’s also a PvP arena mode where you make your dinos fight.

Registration on both platforms is up and running on the official site; you can check out the trailer down below.

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First impressions of ‘wizarding world’ MMOARG Maguss

If it weren’t for my promise to write this article, I would have given up on Maguss in less than 15 minutes had I been a consumer.

I understand the game’s in open beta, but from the start it was repeating issues I’ve seen too many times: bad tutorial, terrible UI, and aggressive monetization the likes of which I’ve only heard of in terrible games and dating apps. Like many of you, I grow defensive when seeing industry terms used as shields against bad design when developers (actually) need funding to continue. I’m jaded, I’m suspicious, and I don’t want to be nice or patient about it, especially when my money is on the line. What sounded like a great Pokemon GO challenger left me once again questioning why I bother with video games as a hobby at all.

But then I got past it. I found some things I genuinely liked that were in and functioning (mostly) as advertised. No, I’m not a convert, but I’ve dug through the dirt and found a bit of gold, and if the developer, Mawa, is able to make some changes to the game before really trying to attract a launch playerbase, Niantic may actually have a rival in the location-based alternate reality game genre.

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Milwaukee settles lawsuit over Pokemon Go-inspired park ordinance

The Milwaukee lawsuit sparked by Pokemon Go is finally over.

Back in February, Milwaukee County in Wisconsin issued an ordinance requiring video game developers like Niantic to obtain park permits before using those parks as MMOARG destinations, as Pokemon Go does. That was because the influx of visitors Niantic effectively sent to the parks caused thousands of dollars in damage, and taxpayers had had enough. The ordinance required ARG devs to follow the same rules as geocachers when developing game nodes within the park: purchase a permit and carry $1,000,000 in liability insurance for damages resulting from its players’ park use.

But a few months later, developer Candy Lab AR filed a lawsuit against the county, alleging that the ordinance violated and restricted the company’s “right to free speech” via regulation, that it was “unconstitutionally vague,” and that it held companies legally and financially responsible for the actions of players on park lands, the last of which Candy Lab said would be “financially prohibitive.”

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Harry Potter ARG won’t drag down Pokemon Go’s development, Niantic says

Now that we’re all waving around sticks and shouting garbled Latin in preparation for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, it is entirely possible that players in Niantic Labs’ other mobile ARGs might feel concerned that they are about to be benched in favor of the Boy Who Lived.

Not so, says Niantic Labs: “Just like many of you, we’re super excited about Harry Potter: Wizards Unite and are working hard with our partners at Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and WB Games San Francisco’s development team to bring that to life. However, we — the Pokemon Go development team — want to say that we are 100% committed to creating an ever-changing and growing game that gets our players exploring, meeting each other, and deepening their connection to the Pokémon universe. We’re actively expanding the Pokemon Go development team to build many more amazing features in 2018.”

There’s potential in this game to be a smash hit: The Harry Potter franchise made $25 billion in 2016 alone, showing that its fandom is still alive and thriving. However, few specifics and no screenshots of the game have been revealed so far.

Wonder what we think of the Harry Potter: Wizards Unite announcement? Tune in to yesterday’s podcast or read our essay about the implications of a smartphone Wizarding World!

Source: Niantic Labs

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 144: Harry Potter and the Deathly ARG

On this week’s show, Justin and Bree wrassle a mess of eastern mobile MMOs that are leaping onto the scene, imagine a world full of Harry Potter gamers wandering about, discuss SWTOR’s server merges, and take Guild Wars 2 to task for lockbox missteps.

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.

Listen to the show right now:

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Divining the details of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite from a Pokemon Go player’s perspective

When we first heard rumors about a Harry Potter version of Pokemon Go, I said I could barely imagine what the game might be like before listing several other IPs that would translate better as AR games. It’s not that I don’t like the Harry Potter series (I do) or Niantic (someone’s got to push the envelope). My issue is that I can’t see how their respective styles could combine to create something great.

So I’ve gone back to some of my pre-POGO notes about Ingress and what would need to change before it went live and, well, Niantic clearly thinks differently than I do because this game is very much happening. I thought it might be useful to consider Niantic’s past and how it may affect its upcoming game Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. Let’s dig in.

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Niantic accios a Harry Potter mobile MMOARG

Like the idea of a mobile augmented reality game (ARG) but aren’t really keen on Pokémon? Niantic, the operator of Ingress and Pokémon Go, is branching out to include an additional franchise that should rope non-muggles into its community.

The company announced that it working with WB Games to make Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, set in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite uses state-of-the-art augmented reality technology to reveal the magic all around us,” the teaser site says. “Explore real-world neighbourhoods and cities to discover mysterious artifacts, learn to cast spells, and encounter legendary beasts and iconic characters along the way!”

Niantic CEO John Hanke said that this game will give fans of the series a real-world outlet for their passion: “The beloved Harry Potter stories have captured imaginations worldwide for more than 20 years, and soon we’ll turn the fantasy into augmented reality, allowing fans and their friends to become wizards and witches.”

Wizards Unite is one of several titles being developed by WB’s Portkey Games for mobile and console. More details about the game will be forthcoming in the new year.

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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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