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League of Legends' Ghostcrawler on diversity vs. politics in gaming

Don't think politics belong in games? Maybe your problem is a mangled understanding of what politics is. That's the gist of a blog piece out yesterday from Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street, whom many MMO players will likely remember from his long stint as World of Warcraft's lead systems designer, though now he's lead game designer over on League of Legends next door.

Street was responding to a gamer worried about his belief that "Liberal politics is forcing [its] way into games." "I just want to enjoy a fun experience, or take part of someone’s artistic vision," the player wrote, seeking validation for his worries.

Street agreed that he would be annoyed if League of Legends "tried to sneak in lessons on how taxes should be structured, or opinions on health care, or state versus federal power" as that would be too political. But the mere presence or acknowledgement of diversity? That's not politics, he argues -- that's reality.

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Ashes of Creation really wants you to grok its node system

We've teased upcoming Ashes of Creation for its "nodes," and apparently Intrepid Studios agrees that they're confusing, as the MMORPG has released a dev blog this afternoon explaining just what they are, again.

"Nodes are a pre-set location, wrapped in a zone of influence, in our world that can form into towns of different sizes. These sizes range from a small camp to a sprawling metropolis. The size of the towns depends on the contribution by players and how far they’ve advanced the Node. Players do not create the footprint of a Node, but within that footprint they do have the ability to own land. Players who are part of the government for a specific Node will have the ability to modify building types and services further, but for the most part, a Node will grow along its own specific path (think about this more as NPCs building these towns out, rather than PCs individually putting buildings and walls up). A Node’s contribution area is larger than the actual town itself, allowing for players to adventure while building upon the town. We call the contribution area the Node’s 'Zone of Influence,' and it’s the area where players help to advance the Node they are in."

Nodes can grow into towns, and players who perform activities within their boundaries contribute back to the node (and vice versa), but the size of the municipalities is limited; there can be only so many huge, sprawling metropoleis at a time, after all. Nodes will also have a determined type -- military, divine, economic, and scientific -- which will provide benefits to the associated activities.

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The Black Death takes 'drastic action' to shore up early access

"Back in November 2016, we were seven months into early access, and it was clear to us the game wasn’t in the state we wanted it to be in. We needed to take some drastic action."

This confession comes from the latest Black Death dev blog, which was penned to bring fans up to speed on the plans for this survival sandbox. The game is getting ready to release its V0.12 update on March 30th, which includes a day/night cycle, revamped player housing, over 10 new music tracks, additional spawn locations, and pillaging areas.

The patch will also showcase its reworked combat system: "Combat has prove to be a very difficult system to fine tune, it has a lot of moving parts and relies heavily on 'game feel.' With V0.12 combat is driven by an improved physics system meaning more accurate swings and hits, better feedback from striking different materials and a generally more responsive game play experience. "

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Massively Overthinking: The City of Heroes Master X Master debacle

On Tuesday, NCsoft announced that it plans to introduce Statesman, from the long-sunsetted City of Heroes, as a playable character in its MOBA, Master x Master.

Complications ensued, as anyone familiar with the history of MMORPGs can probably imagine.

For this week's Overthinking, I asked our team of writers -- both those who loved CoH and those who never much played it -- what they think about the whole ordeal. Are gamers right to be angry? What exactly is NCsoft thinking? Have we seen the end of any hope of the game being resurrected or sold, or should we infer just the opposite?

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CCP's live-action EVE Online ARG looks like the best thing at this year's EVE Fanfest

Got your tix for EVE Online's EVE Fanfest 2017? Ready to set aside your in-game enmity and play nice with your fellow gamers for a few days -- or not, depending on what sort of corp you're in? Decided cowering in your house watching streams is the wiser choice?

Good news for you then no matter which way you roll: CCP has released a detailed blog post today laying out the structure of this year's event. Expect the usual round of keynotes, panels, debates, and player presentations, plus beer, a check-in with the Project Discovery scientists, a 2v2 single elimination tourney, more beer, tours for people who got dragged along and want to see Iceland's beauty, and beer. But the best bit looks to be a genuinely cool live-action game called The YC119 Kyonoke Inquest:

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Legends of Aria begins focused testing, delays Steam launch

Legends of Aria is shaking things up from the old Shards Online paradigm. In addition to the name change and broader focus, the fantasy title announced that it is going to adopt a "more conventional MMO testing platform" going forward.

"Future play-tests will now be conducted in phases of focused testing, geared towards specific areas of gameplay in preparation for final implementation," Citadel Studios said in this week's newsletter. "To accommodate the need for extra testing periods, our Steam launch will coincide with the release of the Legends of Aria Beta instead of Alpha 2."

The current Alpha 1 test will conclude on March 26th, to be followed by Alpha 2's start on April 28th. The team said that its taken a shine to the concept of a single large official server (in addition to the private ones) and that it will start to talk about all of the changes in store for Legends of Aria on March 31st in a new development blog.

Source: Newsletter

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The Daily Grind: What one thing should MMORPGs do to increase player retention?

Zubon at Kill Ten Rats recently spied a lovely tidbit over on Dr Richard Bartle's blog. Bartle, I shouldn't need to type, is considered one of the founding fathers of the MMORPG genre, having inspired through his research the infamous Bartle test. So it should be no surprise at all that he sees online worlds in everything: As his piece explains, he examined a document intended for advising universities on how to improve their student retention rates -- and Bartle realized it read like an "MMO newbie-retention handbook."

"A place where people can hang out between teaching events and make friends? Check. Organised groups led by experienced students that you can join? Check. A communication channel for students just like you? Check. A method of finding other people who are interested in the same things you are? Check. Fun tasks for people with different skills working together ? Check. Easy challenges with small rewards to get you into the swing of things? Check."

It's worth a quick read, especially for the cake joke, but I want to focus your attention on retention and stickiness specifically for the purposes of today's Daily Grind. Do you agree that developers should be spending more time on retention? And what one thing should MMORPGs do to increase player retention?
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Massively Overthinking: When social play in MMOs is predatory by design

Blogger Tobold recently wrote a provocative piece on social play in MMOs, as pointed out to us by our dear tipster Sally. In a piece cheekily titled "Why I can live without other players in my games," he writes that far from being the foundation or glue of MMOs, guilds are actually one of the worst bits of the genre, being platforms for selfishness and drama.

"Guilds were never designed for positive social interaction, they were always a means to an end of individual character progress. You needed those other people to get the most powerful gear in the game. And the way there wasn't exactly a constant stream of friendship and happiness. Look at what MMORPG blog posts have been mostly about when talking about their guilds: First people complain if others aren't investing as much as they do and become a hindrance to killing raid bosses, and then when the raid boss is finally dead they complain that somebody else got the loot."

"The people most loudly complaining about the lack of other players being forced to play with them," he finishes with a zinger that resonated most for me, "are the kind of people with the most predatory play styles."

I've presented Tobold's piece to our writers for this week's Overthinking. Do they -- and you -- agree with his thesis? Let's Overthink it.

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Global Chat: Fare thee well, Landmark

Believe it or not, there were actually people who played and enjoyed Landmark -- and were saddened to see it taken offline. To kick off this week's roundup of interesting MMO blog posts, we turn to those who knew and remembered Landmark with their words.

"The game, once just a bullet point on the EverQuest Next announcement at SOE Live, has been shut down," The Ancient Gaming Noob said. "The web site and forums have been hidden away and the domain resolves to the Daybreak main page. The few remaining fans have had their final look at the lands of… erm… <does Google search>… Lumeria! That was the name of the place."

Superior Realities took a tour on its last day: "That, really, is what was special about Landmark. You could go to any map, walk in any direction, and in no time flat you’d be sure to find something beautiful, fascinating, or awe-inspiring. The traditional wisdom is that if you give players the tools to make their own content, the vast majority of it will be utter crap, but Landmark was stunning refutation of that notion."

Continue our roundup as bloggers dissect problems with The Secret World's combat system, share tips on how to grind LOTRO points, mull over why it's hard to go back to the "olden days," deliver an early access review of Revelation Online, and pontificate on why theme park MMOs simply work.

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Battle Bards Episode 94: Drakensang Online

Do you find the German language to be inherently terrifying? Then you’re going to love the soundtrack to this German MMORPG! Actually, it’s quite lovely and a diamond in the rough, at least according to some of the Battle Bards. Today’s episode ventures into territory marked by a drakensang — a “dragon’s song” — and emerges refreshed and renewed.

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 94: Drakensang Online (or download it) now:

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Sony is going to let you access PlayStation 4 games through your PC

Don't let the lack of a PlayStation 4 in your house stop you from, y'know, playing the console's games. On Monday, Sony announced that it will be paving a path for players to get their hands on PS4 titles even if they're on a PC.

This is thanks to the growing popularity of Sony's PlayStation Now cloud streaming platform, which allows PS4 and PC users to access hundreds of PlayStation 3 titles. With the upcoming expansion to the service, gamers will be able to get their grubby mitts on PlayStation 4 titles as well for those who subscribe for $20 a month.

Obviously, this is good news for MMO players who would like, for whatever reason, to access online titles exclusive to PlayStation. Sony has not revealed how many PS4 games will be available at first or when the studio will be rolling out the expanded service. A "private test" of the new PlayStation Now is set to commence over the next few weeks.

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The MOP Up: Wakfu hikes up a mountain (March 12, 2017)

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 Heroes and Generals, Faeria, City of HeroesLineage MArmored WarfareWakfuArk ParkDauntlessDark Age of CamelotOverwatchBlade and Soul: Table ArenaLeague of LegendsStrikers Edge, and Final Fantasy XI, all waiting for you after the break!

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Geek out with some Elder Scrolls Morrowind lore comparisons

I consider TES III: Morrowind one of the greatest RPGs ever made, due in large part to its gloriously excessive backstory, a significant portion of which is misdirection and propaganda written by the characters themselves. But if, like me, you're anticipating recognizing every detail of the province when you alight from your boat in Elder Scrolls Online's version of Morrowind... maybe think again.

So suggests a new dev blog from ZeniMax, which points out a number of differences between the Morrowind of the "future" compared to the Morrowind we'll be entering in June. 700 years before the player is incarnated as The Nerevar (or not!), the Blight isn't winning, the Ghostfence hasn't been erected, the Ash Storms won't suffocate you, Dagoth Ur's minions aren't creepy-crawling, and the Ashlands are grassy and teeming with wildlife.

Likewise, the cantons of Vivec-the-city aren't fully complete, the The Treaty of the Armistice hasn't been negotiated and signed, Mournhold hasn't been sacked, and the Imperials haven't plunked forts down everywhere yet, so cities like Caldera and Pelagiad and Tel Vos don't exist in their eventual versions. This also means the multicultural Hlaalu are still a smaller house dominated by the Telvanni and Redoran families and that slavery is still practiced heavily in the far east.

Cliffracers, however, are freaking eternal.

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