As this year’s GDC coverage is winding down, I am finally coming to the topic I saved for last: community. MMOs are more than just multiplayer. We attract the “alone together” people more than the “FPS hero” crowd in our comments section for a reason; MMOs are virtual worlds. They’re a digital space inhabited by other people. We may not talk to them, but we watch and listen. Maybe we engage, maybe we group, maybe we guild. We do stuff in a shared environment because we think, or hope, we’re part of a larger system.
And this is why we need to talk about cross-platform communities and the strength of in-game, embedded community tools. As social media rises and mobile crashes against our PC fortress, increased console cross-play should be a reminder that we’re all gamers, and (some) developers are finally getting that.
Prime progression server enters into its second month of existence, questions have loomed above the community that’s making its way to level 50: How fast should we be going? When is Trion Worlds going to unlock additional content, and what does that schedule look like?
When we reached out to Trion, CM Linda Carlson gave us the scoop: “Dev has just assembled the second challenge for players, tailored to where folks are in game and will be soon — we expect to start talking progression more later this month, once the overall population progresses together. I should also mention that the second challenge will be posted SOOOOOON. This week.”
Meanwhile, a small hotfix to Prime’s Vigil server last week adjusted classes, zones, dungeons, and warfronts. Many of the class changes were nerfs, so expect some players to be shifting their builds around in response.
According to a thread on RIFT’s official forums today
, a new lead systems designer is apparently on order in the flagship Trion
MMORPG as Andy “Vladd” Kirton has left his post. Vladd is still at Trion “working on another title that needed his expertise,” Archonix posts, in coordination with Trion’s usual method of “rotating people to different projects.”
It is not immediately clear who at Trion will be filling Vladd’s shoes on RIFT, which is currently in the midst of controversial plans for a progression server. In response to player questions about the state of the game’s staff, Linda “Brasse” Carlson said Trion wasn’t going to grant a “full-on employee list and flow chart” and had no wish to spread “undue panic.”
“In this case, as Vladd was such a high-profile fellow, we needed to explain that he was not just swallowed up by the earth. The earth is not match for our golden viking demigod,” Brasse writes. “In a Dev studio, game needs and assignments change over time. If you check the Trion careers page, you’ll see that we have several jobs posted… movement is good.”
Back in 2013, when Linda “Brasse” Carlson still fronted SOE’s community branch, she made headlines for making SOE’s anti-toxicity policies very clear. “If we know who you are and you’re abusing somebody on Twitter, we will ban your game account and we will not accept you as a customer ever again,” she told trolls. “It’s not always possible to identify people [in that way], but we take that seriously.” At the time, MMORPG players were divided on whether that was an overall plus for online game communities or a creepy invasion of privacy.
But it’s 2018 now. Times and sentiments have changed, and Blizzard is trying a similar approach now in Overwatch, where toxicity has taken root and blossomed in spite of Blizzard’s apparent efforts to prune it.
In Overwatch’s latest developer update, Jeff Kaplan says fighting toxicity is still a “major initiative” for the studio and that recent additions – like console reporting and suspension warnings – have cut chat toxicity by 17%. Another effective tactic? They’re watching toxic players on social media, particularly in video.
We were talking on the podcast this week
about how Trion Worlds tends to aggressively pursue different revenue streams in its MMOs — and how those actions sometimes cross the line and land the studio in hot water with the playerbase. For example, RIFT’s pay-to-win shortcut
a week or so ago.
So consider the following and tell us if it’s a smart or silly move on Trion’s part. Apparently the studio is now selling a $100 box that pays out one of 42 random premium mounts to the purchaser. As some players have noted, it’s not a smart buy, especially considering that you can obtain some of the mounts in-game for much, much cheaper.
CM Brasse dropped a comment on the Reddit discussion of this box, saying, “I do appreciate how you state the obvious for us… you really, really do NOT have to buy these. They are entirely cosmetic and it’s a pure choice for customers. Vote yea or nay in accordance with your thoughts and wallet. I am not one for mount fever either, but some are all about the stables!”
. Thanks Greaterdivinity!
Reacting to massive community pushback over what is perceived to be pay-to-win packs
in the RIFT
store, Trion Worlds announced that it is pulling the items
— at least for now — to reevaluate the situation and ask the community for more feedback.
“We’ve seen the feedback on the limited time Collected Intel packs and have decided to take the short term action to switch them off for the time being (the holiday packs remain up),” CM Linda Carlson said. “Taking them offline now gives us time to review ALL the feedback, together with in-game data, next week when the dev team is back in office, and make careful, reasoned decisions.”
The Collected Intel packs in question involve a currency that is bought with real money and can be used to purchase endgame gear, which some saw as breaking through the P2W barrier. Trion is asking for players to submit all feedback to this thread, although we will not stop any of our readers from sharing their thoughts on this move below.
Are we witnessing the death throes of EverQuest II? Of the whole EverQuest franchise? These questions have been at the forefront of my mind lately. Today’s EverQuesting started as a guide to EQII’s expansion prelude event, but I kept coming back to these questions. (The guide will come next week!)
Yes, I know that there are folks who have cried that EQ and EQII have been dying or all-but dead for years — and Next and Online Adventures are already deceased and buried. Yet during those years we’ve still seen some life in the first two games. They have persevered!
But now, I feel like I am witnessing the franchise’s final breaths. Me, the eternal optimist; me, who subsists on hope. And I started losing that hope because Daybreak’s actions lately appear to indicate that there’s no love left for one of my all-time favorite games, EQII. Between less dev interaction, less content, less communication, and just less enthusiasm for these two titles — yet a preponderance of attention on others — it’s hard to hold onto hope. At no other time has it felt as if Daybreak was turning its back on and all but abandoning the IP that gave it life more than it does right now. The IP that still has many fervent fans. My final two straws? The lack of any exposure at PAX West and the lack of enthusiasm for this year’s expansions.
isn’t the only game at Trion Worlds
that’s shuffling around its community team these days. RIFT
announced last Friday that it brought on board Jennifer “Yaviey” Bridges
to be the new community manager for the fantasy MMO.
Bridges said she has worked on several MMO community teams to date including EverQuest II, WildStar, and Lineage II and was a RIFT player back in the early days of the title.
“If you couldn’t already guess, MMORPGs are my jam,” Bridges wrote. “They’re my absolute favorite type of game for a variety of reasons. I love the communities in them, I love that you can constantly strive to be better at something, and questing in general always feels so epic.”
This move doesn’t mean that Linda “Brasse” Carlson is out as a RIFT community manager. Bridges confirmed that Carlson will continue to manage the team while doing “cool creative stuff” in the meantime.
Surprise! Niantic brought Pokemon Go to E3 2017 and invited members of the gaming press outside the sacred halls of the Los Angeles Convention Center to check out the upcoming raid system at a nearby gym. We were granted not just some juicy details on upcoming changes but a rare chance to interview several key members of the team, including Senior Product Manager Tatsuo Nomura, Global Product Marketing Lead Archit Bhargava, and a bit of time with Niantic Director of Engineering Edward Wu.
Perhaps more so than the Generation 2 update, summer feels like it’s bringing an expansion-like update to the free to play game.
A slightly ambiguous Facebook post had some RIFT
players worried that the game was finished with its current expansion cycle altogether.
In a discussion about RIFT’s proposed challenge servers, CM Brasse commented that “the final expansion update comes this summer. This includes the remaining Primalist souls for those who bought the calling. We think it’s worth waiting for.”
She later clarified on the forums that this wasn’t saying that RIFT was done with the Prophecy of Ahnket cycle but that the update fulfilled the remainder of formerly announced content for the expansion.
Holy smokes! EverQuest is old enough to vote! The world of Norrath just turned 18 years old on March 16th. In the US, that is old enough to cast a ballot in elections, and in some countries it is old enough to legally start bar hopping. Of course, in Norrath, age doesn’t matter when it comes to a good pub crawl, but level can; players can participate in the 16th anniversary Pub Crawl only if level 75.
Of course, as you might expect when a major birthday comes around, there is plenty of partying to be had. EverQuest has a number of events to help players celebrate as well as gifts to procure. One of the highlights this year is a free level 85 heroic character for everyone who has ever played EQ! This character has to be claimed by the end of the month (before 2:59 a.m EDT on Saturday, April 1st to be exact). It will come in handy for participating in anniversary events that are level locked at 75.
Speaking of anniversary events, this year boasts both new and returning quests for folks to take part in until all the way until May 11th at 2 am EDT. Additionally, bonus XP is available from now until the end of the March (so jump on that fast if you want to take part!).
Read on for all the details on that and our chat with Executive Producer Holly Longdale and Producer Lauren McLemore!
just cannot catch a break. Disappearing NPCs
prompted another complete restart of the North American servers yesterday, which didn’t solve the problem. Trion community dynamic duo Brasse and Celestrata spent the afternoon keeping players updated on the outages as Trion and XLGAMES whipped up new builds.
“The primary reason the NPCs are disappearing is due to the massive number of NPCs and interactable items (harvestables) spawned in the world,” Khrolan explained last night.
“This state is occurring more now than previously due to land being established (primarily Auroria) and a high number of dungeon instances being open. To help diffuse the problem, we’re deactivating the third instances of the Ayanad Library (on each floor), reducing the number of arena and mirage island instances and disabling a large number of the Warborn starting instances. If we reach the item limit again, dungeons will be affected first, followed by the overworld. A more permanent solution will be provided by XL Games overnight, but we’ll be applying these changes shortly, in an attempt to restore the service this evening. On a side note, the issue originates from Reckoning and Vengeance due to high server loads, but it is spreading to all NA legacy servers, because they all share the same environment back end.”
Early this morning, a first-time Reddit poster alleged that he or she had run a “basic web security evaluation” on Trion World’s game websites, including ArcheAge’s, discovering “multiple security risks surrounding [its] authentication system.” The poster claimed he or she had contacted Trion multiple times on December 12th and 13th, only to receive no response, prompting the poster to recommend that players remove payment info from their accounts and threatening to send in “attorneys in Texas” and disclose the vulnerabilities publicly should Trion not reply and address them.
We immediately reached out to Trion Worlds, which rebutted the claims, reassuring players that their payment information would not be at risk even if there were a vulnerability and explaining that the Redditor’s accusations about PCI non-compliance are simply inaccurate.
“Yes, we investigate all reports. We reached out to the poster of the thread within minutes of seeing it this morning,” Trion Worlds Director of Community Relations Linda “Brasse” Carlson told us.