aventurine

Greek outfit known chiefly for sandbox Darkfall.

What ever happened to Darkfall, Fallen Earth, and Runes of Magic?

It bears repeating that here on Massively OP, we cover an immensely wide field of live games -- so many that it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of what's happening in each one (which is why our readers are invaluable in winging us tips about their favorite MMOs!). And while there's never any shortage of news and happenings in the field of MMORPGs as a whole, once in a while we realize that it's been a good long time since we heard anything about certain games that we used to discuss a lot in the past.

When that happens to me, I'll often head off on a little fool's errand to scout the website, Twitter feed, forums, and Reddit to see what's going on. I hate to be out of the loop on games, especially ones that used to be more prominent in the news, but more often than not, the lack of news is because there's been a lack of news.

You ever caught yourself going, "What ever happened to the original Darkfall? Or Runes of Magic? Or Fallen Earth?" I totally have, which is why I went on expeditions to see what I could uncover. So let's catch up with these three games and see what is up!

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Massively Overthinking: That moment when your MMO looks like a 'fire sale at an exotic pet store'

Massively OP Podcast listener John recently sent us a really great question that saw Justin and me sharply divided in terms of our responses, so naturally, we decided to kick it to the whole team and the readers too.

"When you walk through a city in WoW, you very rarely see two adjacent characters riding the same species of mount," he wrote. "I just walk by, thinking, 'Unicorn, griffin, dragon, wyvern, skeleton of a horse, motorcycle, floating-on-a-cloud, mammoth, turtle, rocket, sparkle pony, rancor, miniature TIE fighter,' and so on. Once there’s a cash shop, special instance rewards and PvP mounts, a flood of new (and increasingly implausible) mounts hit the scene. It makes it hard, for me at least, to imagine that I am in any kind of a coherent setting. Why not add an optional checkbox for 'Traditional Mounts' that would cause other people's mounts to render as normal mounts for their race? Everybody else would be able to see what they want to see, and cities wouldn't look like a fire sale at an exotic pet store. I also propose the same solution for people who find female gear too revealing and impractical: Give me a 'Sensible Armor' checkbox as well!"

Why not indeed? Let's hear it!

(With apologies to Trove, whose screenshot I just had to use above but is actually wholly justified in being wacky.)
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Massively OP Podcast Episode 107: Dark Knight rises

This week on the show, Justin and Bree celebrate a couple of hearty MMO updates, argue about mandatory mount viewing, celebrate the soft launch of Revelation Online, and extol the virtues of the PC Master Race.

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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Darkfall: Rise of Agon launches on May 5

Remember how Darkfall: Rise of Agon's team mentioned last month that the game was roughly four months away from launch? That seemed kind of crazy. But it turns out that wasn't hyperbole, as the team has announced an official launch date of May 5th, 2017. That's a bit under three months away from now... and yes, just about four months away from the initial launch date. You can't fault the team for lack of punctuality.

While you can play the game right now in early access, an official launch means that the game is ready for the game to be live consistently and with no possibility of further wipes. It's good news if you're anticipating the project and had nothing major on your schedule in May... or if you did but are now frantically trying to clear out your schedule just for this. We won't judge.

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Massively Overthinking: Are MMOs designed for 'low-skill gamers'?

Ages ago on the MMORPG subreddit, a player made a bold statement: MMORPGs are designed for low-skill gamers.

"I remember being dazzled by EverQuest and Ultima as a child," he wrote, reminiscing about his memory of high difficulty old-school games. "I recently loaded up [Star Wars: The Old Republic] again, and I'm shocked. Piss easy. Everything. XP falling from the sky. Mobs dead in one GCD. Brainless. The same reason I quite every MMO. I never meet people, I never feel challenged. I just feel bored. 'Wait till endgame' isn't gonna cut it anymore. I'm over it. I'm done. I feel like I'm just hitting the 'Reward' button again and again and again, solitary and alone, like a stupid little rat in the cage." He then basically blames the perceived shift of the genre on people who don't want games to be "like a job": "The genre just seems to be fueled by mediocre, anti-social "consumers."

I wanted to pull this back out to see whether our staff and writers agree with the claims -- and whether we all have some advice for this fan, who concludes his rant by asking people to change his mind. Howsabout it, Overthinking fans?

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In appreciation for Dereth: The life and times of Asheron's Call

Imagine a game where magic was actually rare, complicated, and often underwhelming in terms of time vs. efficiency -- a game where players actually needed to study a language to figure out how to casts spells and magic words were often kept secret.

Imagine a game with little to no fast travel, a game where you need to raise your jump skill in order to get into certain locations, where death meant losing your gear. Imagine a game where you might actually have to ask another player for help, not only retrieving your corpse full of lost items from a physical space, but to kill the monster that'd repeated gained levels as you futilely tried to do it yourself.

Imagine a game where quests start as rumors from barkeeps, scraps of paper found on corpses in the wild, or just something you stumbled on in a random dungeon; a game where lore knowledge was needed just to find a newly released quest; a game where the developers and game masters took control of lore characters and during monthly updates would interact with players to help guide them through the game world's narrative.

Now realize that this game existed, exists. That game is Asheron's Call, not just at launch but for months and even years afterward.

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Massively Overthinking: Tab-target vs. action combat in MMORPGs

Massively OP patron Duane is kicking the new year off right: with a brawl over combat types in MMOs.

"Tab-target, action, or hybrid combat, for many MMO gamers the combat system, regardless of whether it is a well-made, is a deal maker or breaker," he writes -- I like to imagine he wrote it with a mischievous glint in his eye. "What is the superior combat system, and why is it superior (please give examples)? Let the battle-lines be drawn!"

I posed his question to the MOP writers for this week's Overthinking. Here we go!

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Darkfall: Rise of Agon is now four months away from launch

"We are roughly four months away from the official launch of the game."

Darkfall: Rise of Agon laid out its 2017 roadmap this past weekend with the upcoming release at the center of it all. There's a lot to be done post-launch, so keep your expectations in check, but it is definitely a measured step forward for this classic Darkfall reboot.

The team listed several project areas, including expanding on its task system, improving alignments, adding in a teleportation network, making object persistence a thing, and beefing up crafting.

"Launch will not be the end of development for Darkfall: Rise of Agon. We will be shifting to monthly patches where we can focus on key areas at a time to be able to accomplish larger system implementations and overhauls," the devs said.

Source: Darkfall

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Darkfall: Rise of Agon team updates community on progress

Transparency is vital to smaller, indie MMO projects, especially ones driven by a volunteer team. The crew over at Darkfall: Rise of Agon have no problem being as open as possible with the community, as evidenced by the team's recent AMA on Reddit.

Much of the AMA tackled what the team was doing to different features and how Rise of Agon would differ from classic Darkfall: "We are also in the process of making enhancements to the in-game textures to make them look more modern as well as enhancing the capabilities of the engine itself. With all that said though, as a team we believe it is more important to make a great game than a pretty-looking game, although we understand the importance of the latter to many modern gamers."

You can check out an overview of all of the closed beta progress and get ready for the upcoming early access launch with the developer video below!

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RIFT has a 'mind-blowing' housing update planned for Patch 4.1

If you'd rather be fiddling around with player housing in RIFT than out fighting in the field, you're our type of homebody. Also, you might want to check out Dimension Gallery's new interview with Trion Worlds Senior Game Designer Chris Cates, who has a lot to share about crafting, minions, fishing, and the housing system in Starfall Prophecy.

Cates said that there are a lot of new decorations coming in Patch 4.1: "I wasn’t originally planning on doing that much new for 4.0, but got a bit carried away when I saw the wealth of new assets available. So… I ended up making a lot. But when I saw all the assets available for Alittu… I knew there was a basis for a mind-blowing 4.1 update themed around that hub. So that is coming, and I cannot wait to see what craziness the dimension community creates out of it."

He did confirm that there are at least five new dimensions and one guild diimension in the works, although all of these might not come out in 4.1. He also explained why Trion decided to put a hard cap on the amount of aventurine that players could gather through minion missions (the short answer is that it will allow the studio to offer better rewards).

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Darkfall: New Dawn shows a stress test from the devs' point of view

What does an MMO stress test look like from where the developers are sitting? You can satisfy your curiosity in this area by watching a video of Darkfall: New Dawn's November 20th stress test event from the perspective of the devs.

"What worried us going in was the AI server and the physics server that serves as a bridge between AI and players," the team concluded. "From monitoring the whole evening, going from spawn to spawn we did notice some avenues of improvement. On the client side, it was rather smooth for many players, understandably lower than normal play but still above 40 FPS for the good part."

You can get in on the action after the jump.

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Darkfall: New Dawn kicks off free-play stress test through the holiday

Darkfall: New Dawn is currently in the middle of a free stress test, so if you're looking for a brutal sandbox to call home over the holiday, Agon beckons -- at least until November 29th.

"We have recently implemented Spawn Scaling, one of our top 3 features initially planned for launch," Ub3rgames wrote earlier this month. "In our opinion, and from the feedback we've already gathered, it changes the game to become a much more social and enjoyable experience. It is a considerable milestone but it still needs to be tweaked, and more importantly, be stress tested, which is why we're opening up the server."

The team also has a new dev blog out this week that highlights some of the brand-new music the indie devs are implementing.

New Dawn is one of two spinoffs of Darkfall that began with Aventurine's blessing following the original game's abrupt and mysterious maintenance mode last spring. The other, Darkfall: Rise of Agon, has likewise been steadily patching and stress testing since July.

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Darkfall: New Dawn holds another free stress test, boasts 10K community members

There is no shortage of good news flowing out of Darkfall: New Dawn this week, so let's get right to it. The team announced that it will be holding another free stress test now that New Dawn "finally feels like an MMORPG."

Anyone interested can check out the game from November 15th through the 29th. One of the reasons for the stress test is to show off New Dawn's major improvements: spawn scaling and a new player progression experience.

"We have recently implemented spawn scaling, one of our top three features initially planned for launch," the team posted. "In our opinion, and from the feedback we've already gathered, it changes the game to become a much more social and enjoyable experience. It is a considerable milestone but it still needs to be tweaked, and more importantly, be stress tested, which is why we're opening up the server."

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