We are on a roll with the epic questions for Overthinking lately! “The recent article about monetization got me thinking about just how much most modern MMOs are still trying to replicate real-world capitalist economies,” MOP Patron Avaera begins.
“Virtual currency is usually earned proportional to various measures of virtual effort that are intended to be wealth-generating activities – selling loot earned from skillful PvE hunting, selling crafted goods made from resources gathered over time, owning items or land that generates tradeable material over time. However, virtual effort doesn’t have the quite the same limitations, scarcity, and creativity as real-world effort, and these systems seem prone to exploitation by users/bots that can easily outmatch casual players in terms of how much virtual effort and time they can expend, leading to various RMT problems and artificially distorted economies. How would you go about avoiding this problem, if you had the god-like powers of a game designer? Is there a way to set up a virtual economy so that it isn’t prone to exploitation by bots or gold-farmers, and will we ever see a virtual game currency that can truly be exchanged with a real one?”
I posed Avaera’s question to our staff to mull over.
has a new dev blog up today on the Eternal Chasm
, one of its level 59+ multiple-mode instanced dungeons.
“Shinji – after the events of Darkfall – is particularly interested in what resides within this decrepit cave, believing the Eternal Chasm contains clues regarding the fate of his own father. Whether to aid your prince in his investigation, or to simply test your mettle against a huge array of threats and environments, the mouth of the chasm is eager to swallow all visitors and cast them down into madness. This vast map, ripe for exploration, is littered with nodes that render adventurers into a dream-like state, eliciting visions of what lies ahead. From fiery pits and voracious volcanos, to spine-chilling snow lands and sea-faring shenanigans, the Eternal Chasm is teeming with promising rewards and devious challenges to test yourself against, ever increasing in difficulty as you progress.”
Skill Cultivation Books, Equipment Blueprints, Duskcloud Nyx Treasures, and purple gear top the list of loot inside the dungeon. My.com says only two of the dungeons modes are unlocked at the moment; three more will be opened up in later patches.
In case it slipped your mind, Darkfall: Rise of Agon launched a whole two months ago now. With the fresh car smell of this reboot slowly fading away, attention for both devs and players have turned to the eternal question of “what’s next?”
The team said that with launch craziness behind it, focus can shift to the promised monthly updates for the fantasy sandbox. To wit, a Q3 2017 roadmap was posted with a brief outline of the content that’s planned over the next three months.
This month, Rise of Agon is going to beef up player vendor abilities, add over 100 new tasks, and throw in champion spawn chests, among other features. August’s update is going to take the form of deployable control towers and the ability for players to change their names (witness protection program?). Then looking ahead to September, expect to see armor and weapon dyes arrive.
Massively OP reader and Patron Avaera has a thoughtful question for the team and readers this week. “I wish more virtual world games thought deeply about what impact they can have for the better,” he writes.
“It seems to me we are living in a time when tribalism, intolerance, and lack of empathy are increasing, with online trolling, harassment and simple nastiness on the rise even before considering where real-world politics seems to be heading. Yet research continues to show that immersive virtual worlds (including MMOs) have significant potential to change us through the type of experiences they offer, with recent examples being that a VR out-of-body experience can reduce fear of death
and that social exclusion in a game environment carries a negative effect on real-world emotions
. Do you think any MMOs are already using this incredible power to change us as people through pro-social
mechanics, activities or narratives? Can you think of any examples where you have been moved or changed by game experiences, for better or worse, and do you think this was a deliberate act by developers? As our genre continues on a trajectory away from massively social roleplay towards cliquish competitive skirmishing, are there any signs that there are still companies willing to test whether virtual world games can be more than just moment-to-moment fun or entertainment?”
I posed Avaera’s question to the whole team for an intriguing Overthinking.
Over the last couple of weeks, the monetization of unreleased games has become a pervasive and uncomfortable theme for the MMO genre. Just in brief:
The frustrating bit is I could go on, and this is just for games that aren’t even formally launched yet. So for this week’s Massively Overthinking, I want to take the temperature of alarm regarding these types of business models for unlaunched games. Is this all par for the course, in line with what we expect from the new MMO market? Have they gone too far yet? If not, what’s too far? How do we feel about this type of pre-launch monetization run amok?
This time last year, I polled the Massively OP writers for their opinions on which MMOs had had the best year, or half year, up to that point in 2016 — which games were the most influential and important specifically in that time period. I was pretty surprised at the spread of answers too. Since we’re nearing the midpoint of 2017, I thought we should renew that question and see whether anything’s changed. So as last time, I’m asking everyone to pick three games that represent the MMORPG zeitgeist, using whatever combination of criteria they wish – revenue, playerbase size, hype, anticipation, update cycle, and so forth. What should we be paying attention to? Which games are a sign of the times? And just who is dominating now in 2017?
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?
Is Ashes of Creation destined to be the Kickstarter event of the year? Today on the ‘cast, Bree and Justin talk about this crowdfunding tsunami, several MMO patches, a superhero preview, and even a launch. Also, Bree is selling the entire contents of her virtual garage. It was a busy week!
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:
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!
This week we have stories and videos from Skyforge, EVE Online, Ingress, War Thunder, World of Tanks, Wakfu, League of Legends, SMITE, GTA Online, Elsword Online, Wurm Online, Darkfall: Rise of Agon, Worlds Adrift, Counter-Strike, SEAL Online, and Warspear Online, all waiting for you after the break!
Hardcore sandbox Darkfall: Rise of Agon officially launches this afternoon. The story of the game is a victorious one, as it’s one of two games being built by player-organized studios out of the ashes of Aventurine’s original Darkfall, which vanished without much of a goodbye just about a year ago. But don’t take our word for it: The Big Picture Games team has a 13-minute video out today taking gamers through the history of its development.
In conjunction with the launch, the Rise of Agon team joined up with OriginPC for a rather large giveaway for this type of indie game:
“We’re giving 1 fan a grand prize of an ORIGIN PC CHRONOS gaming desktop valued at $2,400, featuring an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti, 30 Days of Game Time in Darkfall: Rise of Agon, and a $50 Domino’s Gift Card! 2nd and 3rd place winners will receive 30 Days of Gametime in Darkfall: Rise of Agon, and a $25 Domino’s Gift Card! Seven runner-up winners will receive 30 Days of Gametime in Darkfall: Rise of Agon!”
The giveaway ends on May 18th, so go enter!
I have sort of an odd relationship with “story” in gaming. JRPGs really got me into gaming and inspired me to focus on my writing voice(s). Though the quality of narration in MMOs are just bad, some of my early experiences with the genre (particularly Asheron’s Call‘s GM driven story arcs that gave players a way to interact with lore as a group) opened up the possibility of group narratives, especially for those who roleplayed. In fact, as odd as it may sound, I think RP PvP in general showed me just how strong of a feature it can be for someone like me, from virtual Darkfall pirates trying to steal my boat to Star Wars: The Old Republic Jedi fighting for alignment while my bounty hunter simply struggles to make the most money while making the fewest enemies.
Still, sometimes we don’t want to go grind through 20 mobs to get to the next part of the story, or suffer through a raid dance to choose the fate of a character we’ve been interacting with solo. It’s one of the reasons I figure MJ and Larry’s Choose My Alignment is so popular: You still get that story vote without having to be a member of the actual group. It’s odd, being an older MMO player who still sometimes struggles with accepting solo play in MMOs, but the story aspect is the part I get. It’s actually the main thing that kept me in SWTOR.
But there are other options for this kind of play, primarily through TellTale Games and its Crowd Play feature and new game, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series. Don’t worry story fans, as I’ll keep this article spoiler free!
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!
As you might recall, Darkfall: Rise of Agon is set to launch in early May, which means that its beta program is currently winding down. Before the beta ends entirely, the team is inviting anyone who wants a look at the game to try it out for free. All you have to do is to create an account and download the game through Steam, and free play is yours until the beta shuts down on Monday, April 24th.
Free access isn’t the only topic on the table, not by far. Rise of Agon’s online store is now live, with subscriptions and currency on sale at 10% off. The standard subscription is set at $9.99 for 30 days of game time, with discounts for multiple months purchased. Players who previously purchased a Legend pack can now reserve their character name for the May launch.
Finally, the launch trailer and overview video are here, so give them a watch after the jump and see if it kindles your interest in the MMO reboot!