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Massively Overthinking: Forced socializing in MMORPGs

Massively OP Patron Jackybah has a question for this week’s Massively Overthinking that’s probably going to kick up some dust. He wonders whether MMO developers recognize and “serve” a particular subgroup of their players enough — specifically, the group of players that do not want to actively participate in social grouping (for dungeons) or social banter (in guild chat) but still want to contribute to and participate in an online world.

“In quite a number of games I feel that the game forces a player to group up to be able to see content and/or get higher-level gear,” he writes to us.

There’s a lot of layers to unpack here — non-social gamers in social spaces, the current state of MMO group content, and even the fundamentals of MMORPGs. Is our Patron right, and if so, is it a problem studios should be addressing? Let’s get to it.

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Trove’s Megalithic update lands on PS4 and Xbox One June 27

Way back in April, Trion teased a “mega” 2017 update for Trove intended to bring the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of the game update to speed with the PC version. Now, that update’s got a date, and it looks like the features are intact too:

“On June 27, Jurassic Era dwellers stampede their way into Trion Worlds’ epic block-building adventure Trove on PlayStation® 4 and Xbox One with the release of the game’s first major update on consoles. The Megalithic Update adds hours of new content with the Dino Tamer class, Jurassic Jungle biome, minigames, custom maps, and other features that expand the open world feel of Trove, which now has over 5 million players on consoles.”

There’s a trailer and new screenshots down below too. PC players, don’t despair; the same dev stream back in April promised another update after this one, PC included, featuring sub-classes, club upgrades, mastery rank tweaks, and plasma fishing. There’s a big bonus event running this weekend as well!

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Black Death is building out some nasty PvP hotspot content

What’s indie survival sandbox The Black Death been up to since it began taking “drastic action” to reorient its early access state this spring?

Pillaging. Specifically, the team has been building a new pillage area dubbed Fort Doom, a revisit of what are effectively risky PvP hotspot. They’re “bottleneck areas that players must venture into, to gain certain key crafting components that are required for the best recipes.” These spots may even eventually include environmental hazards; plague, of course, given the game we’re talking about, is already in, but maybe expect spike bits and destructible walls too.

The game’s latest dev blog also discusses the ongoing progress on its component-based crafting system, the inventory system, and door locks. The latest patch, 0.15, is due out at the end of June, so stay tuned, and maybe someday you too can roleplay as a plague-ridden locksmith.

Source: Dev blog

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Here’s how Albion Online’s open-world raid bosses work

In anticipation of the upcoming launch of Albion Online, Sandbox Interactive has posted a fresh dev blog on the big bads of the game, known as Guardians. Pro tip, they’re guarding the world… from you. Naturally, you’re going to kill them and take their stuff. They were right about you!

“Guardians are the true protectors of Albion, brought alive by the land’s ancient and powerful magic and now tasked to protect its natural riches,” explains the studio. “These big world bosses can be found in Tier 6 resource hotspots and randomly respawn between 12 and 48 hours after being defeated. There is no way to know when a Guardian has spawned, so scout the area if you want to take one down.”

Don’t be thinking you’ll be soloing these; you’re going to need around 10 people at minimum to take them on, but if you bring too many people, you’ll scale down accordingly. It gets worse: You pretty much have a 15-minute timer before the boss enrages, and other players can interfere by attacking you. On the upside, the guardians become resource nodes when they due, “providing a whopping 2,560 Tier 6 resources.”

Good luck.

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Amazon’s Breakaway revamps warriors, confirms more upgrades on the way

Last September, the internet was buzzing about Amazon Game Studios’ big reveals, including Breakaway, which the company teased for weeks ahead of time. It turned out not to be an MMO — we’ve got New World for that fix — but a “mythological sport brawler,” a 4v4, third-person MOBA-lite built from the ground up for streaming. Since then, the game’s run a few alpha tests and put the feedback to work, overhauling the characters one by one. Jarra was first up among the warriors, and now AGS has a huge dev blog out detailing changes to the rest.

For starters, several of the warrior-archetype characters got renames (Spartacus to Argus, Anne Bonny to Kyra, and Morgan Le Fey to Korryn) and style buffs; the studio tweaked power ranges, control, strafing, buildables, text chat, replays, the relic running system, and the gold economy.

“Don’t worry – Breakaway’s still about fast action, strategic teamwork, and dunking on fools,” AGS says. “We listened to your feedback and made changes we believe only refine what makes Breakaway great.”

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Massively Overthinking: The best MMOs and multiplayers of E3 2017

E3 is drawing to a close, with its reveals over and done with — all that’s left is processing our interviews and hands-on pieces. But in the meantime, we decided to take this week’s Overthinking to consider the field. MMORPGs haven’t shined brightly at E3 in a long time, so our expectations are usually low — the con is interesting to us more for what’s happening on the multiplayer front.

So that’s what we asked our staff: What’s the most interesting or grabby-hands MMO or MMO-ish thing from E3 this year? Which game would get your best in show and why? There’s also an extra bonus section on the con itself courtesy of our writer on the floor.

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Crowfall’s AI is about to get a huge makeover

Hey, look over there — a shiny!

Crowfall Principal Programmer Chris Ledwith, the newly dubbed “AI Guy,” explains in a dev blog today that the shinies of Crowfall’s Big World development have distracted the team away from AI — and now he’s on a mission to rectify that.

“The problem that we faced was that the code was in dire need of an update to make everyone’s prior work on the AI shine,” Ledwith writes. “The code was originally written for simpler, relatively flat maps, with no dynamic placement of buildings or props, in a very static world; it made a lot of convenient assumptions about the environmental conditions an AI could find itself in. This system was written pre-Big World, with Band-Aids applied over time in an attempt to keep it ‘just good enough’ in lieu of spending too much time away from more immediately pressing work. Finally, we decided that we had to turn it off for at least a couple of core reasons: behavior and performance were not up to par.”

Wait, don’t get distracted by shinies again! Ledwith gives a couple of examples of beasts whose pathing needed work before laying out his grand plans for parcels, building placement, and baby gates for mobs. Take a peek at the whole outline on the official site.

Source: Crowfall

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Bless Online isn’t canceled in the west after all; Neowiz will self-publish

Last week, both Neowiz and Aeria Games confirmed that Aeria is no longer serving as the western Bless Online publisher — worse, Bless appeared to be entirely canceled for our region. “Gamigo announces that the MMORPG Bless Online will not be published in Europe and North America,” read the formal announcement. “The collaboration had to be cancelled because after extensive testing the game did not meet the quality standards of both Neowiz Games and the gamigo group. […] Together with Neowiz we have come to the conclusion that the technical difficulties cannot be overcome, so we agreed not to complete the game for our respective markets.”

Done deal, right? Apparently not so much. “The game will not be published” turns out to mean “we will publish the game ourselves.”

“You must be curious about future Bless in EU/NA as we ended our contract with AG,” Neowiz told MMORPG.com. “NBS believes the EU/NA Bless fans are very valuable to us so we commit to deliver game updates directly to you. We will surely present you with improved Bless in the future.”

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Battle Bards Episode 100: Centennial spectacular!

After four years and over 700 MMORPG music tracks, the Battle Bards have arrived at their 100th show! For this centennial spectacular, Syl, Steff, and Syp reminisce about the most notable shows, their best soundtrack discoveries, and their favorite tracks. This super-sized show gets wrapped up with a bout of listener emails and a promise of another amazing hundred episodes!

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, TuneInPocket CastsStitcher, and Player.FM.

Listen to Episode 100: Centennial spectacular (or download it) now:

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E3 2017: Dauntless founder’s alpha begins August 18

At E3 today, Phoenix Labs announced that Dauntless’ founder’s alpha will begin on August 18th, not coincidentally the same day the NDA drops and player streaming is a go. How do you get into the founder’s alpha? With a founder’s pack, of course. The cheapest one will run you $39.99, on up to the top tier at $99.99, which is the one you’ll need to get into that alpha. (Do note that to see the founder pack details, you have to create an account on the official site first.)

The studio is also putting together a “Partner Program” for content creators, so streamers should keep an eye out for that. The E3 trailer is down below.

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Global Chat: Why FFXIV is the most newbie-friendly MMO

What’s the most newbie-friendly MMO? According to Pete at Dragonchasers, it’s Final Fantasy XIV. He’s been pretty impressed by the support structure that the game has in place for new and returning players.

“I don’t usually interact with other players in MMOs (ironic, I know) but when I was randomly invited into the Novice Network I accepted,” he wrote. “It’s a pretty active channel and at least for the short time I’ve been in it, quite civil […] This experience drew me out of my shell a bit, and by Sunday afternoon I’d dug out a bluetooth keyboard so I could talk in the Novice Network more easily. Overall the way FFXIV welcomed me as a player kind of re-kindled my love of MMOs.”

In this week’s MMO blogger roundup, we have essays on LOTRO’s attention span, the thought behind soloing in online games, and first impressions of Black Desert. Read on!

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Siltbreaker, the first chunk of Dota 2’s co-op PvE campaign, is now live

It seems co-op multiplayer campaigns are the thing for MOBAs to do lately, if SMITE and Master X Master and Dota 2 are any judge, bringing the whole MMO and ARPG industry full circle. Dota 2’s attempt at adding PvE content into games built around PvP arena battles launched this week, in fact. Act I: Siltbreaker is live now and includes loot and de facto achievements and ranks.

“Each playthrough of this campaign offers the chance to earn in-game Artifacts that can be used each time you play the campaign during the Battle Pass season. Comprised of all-new items to the Dota universe, Artifacts are mythic objects of power that can be equipped in your inventory as you progress through the challenges of the campaign. […] As you battle through multiple play zones in search of Rhyzik, you’ll earn completion stars based on your performance level. The first time you complete a zone with one or two stars will net you Battle Points rewards, and delivering a three-star zone performance will grant a treasure from Siltbreaker himself.”

It’s not technically a free update; you’ll need to own Valve’s Battle Pass to access it, which’ll set you back about 10 bucks. Act II: A Vault in the Deep is slated to release in July.

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CD Projekt Red claims Cyberpunk 2077 design docs are being held hostage by thieves

CD Projekt Red, the maker of the acclaimed Witcher RPG series, claimed that cyber thieves have made off with “internal files” and “early designs” for its upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 and have reported the theft to Polish police. What’s more bizarre is that the thieves are allegedly holding the documents ransom until the studio pays up.

The studio released a statement on Twitter about the crime, saying that the documents are old and should be ignored if leaked: “An unidentified individual or individuals have just informed us they are in possession of a few internal files belonging to CD Projekt Red. Among them are documents connected to early designs for the upcoming game, Cyberpunk 2077. A demand for ransom has been made, saying that should we not comply, the files will be released to the general public.”

We have had our eye on Cyberpunk 2077 since last year when the game’s description made us wonder if this title will be an MMORPG in disguise. You can read the full CD Projekt Red statement after the break.

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