PAX West 2017 has come and gone, and though MJ is still feverishly working on her last few articles, we wanted to pause a moment to reflect on everything we’ve seen and read and recapped so far. So for today’s Massively Overthinking, I asked our writers to tackle three topics from an MMO player’s perspective: the biggest surprise of the show, the most disappointing bit, and the games that grabbed them and won’t let go.
Official Site: Ascent: The Space Game
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 Planet of Heroes, The Black Death, Mu Legend, Roblox, Cabal II, Portal Knights, Master X Master, Hellion, Elsword, Soulworker Online, Ar:piel Online, Caravan Stories, Sword of Legends Online, Vainglory, and Aion, all waiting for you after the break!
Elite Dangerous’ David Braben has a big spread in Rolling Stone’s Glixel blog this week, and it’s a fun read as he zips around discussing Trappist-1, Roman slavery, Star Wars, ant society, Shakespeare, Ursula Le Guin, computer science jobs, and the future of humanity. It’s a whirlwind, but he does eventually get around to talking about Elite itself, admitting that while the game will never achieve “perfection,” it’s “definitely approaching” his ideal space game, as “accurate as we can possibly make it.”
“When we first greenlit Elite: Dangerous, there were no other major space games since Freelancer,” he says. “Now, there are dozens. So, I think we’ve succeeded. We’ve brought the genre back to life. And we’ve proven there’s quite a lot of demand for this sort of game. Yes, it’s niche, but it’s quite a big niche. And we’ve got [Star Citizen’s] Chris Roberts coming along now, and so many other games that look interesting. No Man’s Sky, even.”
He also argues that free-to-play is a “challenge” to online communities and instancing in MMOs.
An unexpected environment and a shocking revelation about a key character lays in wait for adventurers who continue to scale Wakfu’s Mount Zinit.
The team posted a dev blog about the next stage of ascent up the monumental mountain. “In Mount Zinit part two, we decided to finish one aspect of the narrative before you even had time to explore the whole mountain,” the devs said. “Acting as if this is all totally normal, we arrive at the end of the main quest!”
To finish their ascent, players will need to explore other zones and gear up even further. In other news, a small patch yesterday added rewards for Wakfu’s leaderboard. So what are you waiting for? Go earn, son!
Holy crap sci-fi MMOers are grumpy. All we want is an absolutely perfect simulation of a space-going future for nearly nothing. How hard can it possibly be?
Apparently pretty hard, hence why Elite Dangerous players are grouchy over several new revelations from the weekend. For starters, Frontier admitted during the game’s weekend livestream that “Space Legs” — that is, the Elite equivalent of Walking in Stations, a fully realized avatar movement outside of ships — is way off on the distant horizon. Players had their hopes up following the tease of the “Holo-Me” character creator, but since “Space Legs is effectively dovetailing a whole new game into Elite,” it’s “a long away off.”
“Crushed my dreams,” one Redditor wrote.
Meanwhile, monetization is another sore spot in the space game. Apparently, some players believe Frontier is going back on its original monetization Kickstarter FAQ promise (“Everything in the game will be purchasable with in-game Credits, earned from trading, bounty-hunting, etc.”) regarding ship name decals, which will be in fact be buyable only with real cash with no free or in-game-money option. There’s even an email campaign to try to get Frontier to change its mind.
Sometimes even the most die-hard MMORPG player finds him or herself a little tired of constantly looking at the back of a head and a running butt. We yearn to slip the surly bonds of the world to explore the cosmos in our very own rocket ship to see what is out there. E.T., are you taking house calls? Can we hang for a little while? I brought Reese’s Pieces!
Getting this experience isn’t quite as easy as, say, finding an MMO that caters to the dragon-slaying crowd. It’s well-known that sci-fi MMORPGs are in the minority, and only a fraction of those center around or contain some element of space flight and combat. However, over the years we’ve seen online games here and there allow us to live out our fantasies of being a space jockey, whether in the form of a trader, a fighter pilot, or an explorer.
Today, let’s look at 10 MMOs, past and present, that helped us get our spaceship on!
You have to be crazy, inspired, skilled, ambitious, or all of the above to attempt to create an MMO all by yourself. Here at Massively OP, we confess to an admiration of micro-team projects, from Ascent: The Space Game to Project Gorgon. Now we have another to add to the list: Blades of Orterra.
Mostly developed by a single person, Blades of Orterra is a melee-focused MMO inspired by the Sword Art Online anime series. The official site succinctly outlines the scope of the title: “Set in a world floating in the sky, Blades of Orterra is a multiplayer RPG that seeks to craft an unparalleled immersive experience where players can adventure across 100 different worlds to master the art of the blade.”
The project is aiming to get its free combat module up and running in 2017 for the public to test. Past that comes alpha and feature goals, including PvP, a skill tree that expands by finding certain books, player vendors, and openworld exploration. You can get a glimpse of some of this game’s potential in the trailer below.
With Pathfinder Online, The Repopulation, and TUG all back in the news this week either hunting for money, being acquired, or undergoing a total do-over, Kickstarted MMOs are getting more side-eye than usual from the MMO playerbase.
It isn’t as though MMOs never crowdfund and launch successfully; Elite Dangerous, Ascent, and Guns of Icarus are just a few of the ones that have done just that. But I’m willing to bet that any of you who’ve ever Kickstarted a game have a regret or two. I sure do.
Which MMO do you most regret Kickstarting, and why?
“2016 was a formidable year for Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen and its fans,” Visionary Realms declares in its latest newsletter, which includes two chunks of interest for readers this week. The first is a run-down of 2016’s best moments as chosen by the team; they include revised pledge tiers, multiple class and race reveals, convention presence, new staff hires, the massive August AMA, and the big Twitch streams that demoed gameplay for players, including the most recent one in December (though the March pre-alpha reveal stream was VR’s favorite).
Moving into 2017 proper, the Pantheon team has posted a dev diary on Amberfaet, one of the old strongholds of the Dwarven race that’s now a group-centric dungeon bedecked in treasure and boss fights as well as crafting tools. “If the capital city of Khadassa is a sun to their people, then Amberfaet is a dark moon cast adrift by dueling gravities,” it explains.
Ascent: The Space Game isn’t the only MMORPG dryly commenting on today’s US elections: Guild Wars 2 has a “doomsday preparation pack” in the cash shop today. Oh sure, it’s ostensibly in-character and in-lore:
“Yeah, yeah, we know dragons are bad. They’re going to destroy us all, sure. I’m all for being prepared, but some of this speculation is getting a little out of hand. Why not have a look at some of my new stock and take your mind off the scaremongering? […] If the rumors of dragons rising has you down, and you’re expecting the worst, why not cut loose? Dress up in our Raiment of the Lich outfit, dye it in fearsome colors with a Shadow Dye Kit or a Flame Dye Kit, put your brand-new Watchwork Mining Pick in a shared inventory slot, and burn off some of that stress. Startle your friends and neighbors!”
But we’re not fooled.
Among the fun quirks of sandboxes is the political intrigue they can spawn. One such drama is currently unfolding in indie sci-fi sandbox Ascent: The Space Game, which boasts a full-fledged political election system. Players can run for colonial mayor, planetary governor, star system senator, and even president of the entire playerbase. Such players actually claim powers within the PvE game, such as the ability to rename planets, control terraforming efforts, and even approve gates. I think you can probably see where I’m going with this.
“We’re faced with a stark choice for their latest Presidential elections,” Fluffy Kitten Studios writes tonight, on the final eve of the in-game election.
“A candidate by the name of Donald Trumpet, or a more established player named Leprosi. Donald Trumpet aims to ‘Make the Inner Nine Systems Great Again!’ by building a wall to keep pirates out and making the pirates pay for it. He plans to fix the economy ‘I have the best economic plans’ although it is unclear how any of these goals will be achieved. Promising to grab Developers Fluffy Kitten Studios ‘by the kitten’, Trumpet suggests he will force the developers to fix more bugs. Previously completely unknown to the playerbase and with no apparent government or political experience, Trumpet is pitching against against establishment candidate Leprosi, who has been a Star System Senator for several terms and has numerous achievements and alliances within the community.”
Facebook plainly misses the days when everyone sat around playing FarmVille and Mafia Wars through its laggy blue-and-white pages, even if no one else does. Yesterday, the company gave a hint about how it plans to recapture that lost market post-Flash: A new gaming platform called Gameroom, built in Unity.
Gameroom is clearly aimed at the casual desktop market rather than the mobile or hardcore PC market with games like Cooking Mama and Texas HoldEm Poker. I gave it a spin this morning and see nothing in it that would be considered a traditional MMORPG, though there are a handful of games happy to label themselves that way for search purposes (Darkstar Legends, Guns and Magic, DivoSaga II, and other little games MMORPG players have never heard of). The RPG category is loaded with OARPGs, multiplayer fighters, and online strategy titles that sit on the outskirts of our genre (like Oz: Broken Kindgom, Game of Thrones Ascent, and Bleach Online, which we know is your favorite). In other words, even if it’s not mobile, it pretty much looks like a mobile store… or the cheapie bin on Steam.
Anyone spy anything in there worth a look for the MMORPG playerbase?
When you take a step back and look at the broad MMO genre, you see some common threads that run through most games. One of these is that pretty much every character we control is a humanoid, albeit in many shapes, sizes, and ear configurations. This makes sense, as we ourselves are human and have the easiest time strongly identifying with an avatar that correlates to our own bodies.
Yet there are plenty of exceptions to the rule, and I’m not just speaking of fantasy races that give you four legs instead of two or two heads instead of one. Some MMOs plop you into a nuts-and-bolts vehicle as your primary avatar, encouraging you to bond with this hunk of soulless machine over the course of incredible adventures.
Today we’re going to count down — or count up, or count sideways — through 10 MMORPGs that stuffed your brain into a machine and then encouraged you to live your new life as a ship, car, or very violent automatic can opener.