broadsword

Spun out of EA as one of the last remnants of Mythic Entertainment, Broadsword now runs Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot.

Massively Overthinking: Tackling our hoarding problem in MMORPGs

By coincidence, two articles in my feeds this past week both centered on video game hoarding – not hoarding the actual games but hoarding stuff inside of them. Blizzard Watch posted a piece on what makes people stop hoarding things like currency in Blizzard’s games, while Gamasutra published an article about how game designers can stop turning us into hoarders in the first place.

For this week’s Overthinking, I thought it would be constructive for the staff and readers to reflect on hoarding in MMOs specifically. Do you hoard, and if so, is it primarily consumables? Currencies? Event items? Something else? Do you think it’s a problem, or only when it’s encouraged as part of a microtransaction loop that ends with your buying more storage?

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Camelot Unchained lands $7.5M investment to hasten development: Our chat with Mark Jacobs on funding, VR, and beta one

If you know one thing about indie MMORPG Camelot Unchained, it’s that CEO Mark Jacobs appears to dwell perpetually in internet comment sections amiably sparring with gamers and attracting loyal advocates.

But if you know two things, you also know that the game is late. Really late. The RvR-centric, PvM-free, anti-lockbox, sub-only MMO was supposed to enter beta three years ago, according to its successful 2013 Kickstarter, but studio City State Entertainment suffered admitted setbacks along the way – both hiring difficulties in the company’s Fairfax, Virginia, location and technical hurdles. Much of that has since been rectified; in 2016, the company launched a second studio in Seattle while continuing to hire engineers and spending the better part of a year completely refactoring its character ability code and polishing up its home-grown engine. But here we are in 2018, still mumbling beta when? at Jacobs and his dogged crew.

Well, we’re finally getting an answer to that question and more, along with a significant blast of hope for the future of the game, as CSE has just received a massive cash infusion to speed up development. I spoke to Jacobs at length – he’s infamous for being effusive – about what’s going on with the game and the studio in 2018. Read on for the executive summary!

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The MOP Up: Monster Hunter World merch (January 14, 2018)

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!

Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from RendSea of ThievesThe Black DeathWarframeHEXFragmentedMU LegendFinal Fantasy XIMonster Hunter WorldPlayerUnknown’s BattlegroundsDota 2Wurm Online, Ultima Online, and Path of Exile, all waiting for you after the break!

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The Daily Grind: What MMO will be the next to change up its business model dramatically?

You may not like it, but the vast majority of MMORPGs are free-to-play or buy-to-play as of 2018. EVE Online went free-to-play at the end of 2016, you’ll recall, and some of the last classic holdouts – Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot – will make the same move this year. That doesn’t leave many games to go free-to-play or alter their business models in a big way. World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV with their subscription-only models lead the way (and have been lauded accordingly).

Do you think any of the remaining sub-only MMORPGs – that are actually launched and live, that is – will yet go free-to-play? What MMO will be the next to change up its business model dramatically?

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Massively Overthinking: What’s the smallest MMO you’re willing to play?

A comment on Reddit about the current size and viability of Kritika Online got me thinking about MMO playerbases in general lately. We all know that there’s a stigma attached to little games; the big games with big servers and millions of players feel safer, and nowadays people just assume a small MMO has one foot in the grave. But it isn’t always true. We could also rattle off some smaller MMOs that seem to be moving along just fine, with bills paid. Sure, they’d like to be bigger, but they’re holding steady and know how to work the playerbase they do have rather than constantly alienate their current customers in search of new customers. And some MMO gamers actually prefer those sorts of titles. After all, if the game has just a few thousand people, it’s much easier to get to know a large slice of them, plus have your voice heard by the developers and actually influence the gameworld.

For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked the writers to reflect on the smallest MMOs they have played, and then consider how big an MMO has to be in terms of playerbase that they’d consider playing it now. What’s the smallest MMO you’re willing to play, and why?

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Raph Koster on MMO ecosystems, the balance of power, and tennis

Most MMORPGs have the core sandbox problem: Whoever gets there first, controls all the toys and has the power to drive everyone else away. Even in a themepark, the “richest” players, whether they control the gold or the dungeons or the gear or the PvP, eventually help kill the game.

That’s the subject of a Raph Koster blog that recently popped back up on my radar. Koster, known for ecosystem-oriented virtual world MMOs like Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies, is subtly making the case for MMOs that end, even if that end starts a new beginning. It’ll sound familiar to A Tale In The Desert players, surely, or anybody watching Koster’s latest MMO, Crowfall.

In the service of his argument, he references a blog post about the age of the world’s best tennis players, which just keeps rising. Is it because the olds are innately better at tennis? Nope. It’s because the “winners” are entrenched in a rich-get-richer situation that ensures “the typical person in the system ends up below average.” The more the winners win, the more money they have to ensure they win more, whether that’s with better coaches, better equipment, better medical treatment, or just plain more time to train, which makes it progressively more expensive (on all fronts) for newcomers to compete… until the newbies stop trying and the olds start retiring.

And then? The whole system collapses.

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Richard Garriott on how players ‘destroyed’ Ultima Online’s ecology

With a couple of months to go before its official launch, Shroud of the Avatar has more than a few challenges to overcome to deliver a solid, full-fledged game that appeals to a crowd outside of the small-yet-loyal community that has been financially floating this title for years now. But challenges are what Richard Garriott is all about, and the video game creator is not shy about sharing his long history of overcoming these in the industry.

In a recent Ars Technica interview, Garriott shared his war stories about the creation of Ultima Online and the surprises that the community whipped up along the way. The story he tells here focuses on the automated virtual ecology that was made for the sandbox. This carefully fine-tuned system was destroyed virtually overnight when player hordes came into the game and slaughtered everything.

Out of this (failed) experiment came a funny story and some useful lessons that the team used to shape MMO sandboxes thereafter. Check it out after the break!

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Massively Overthinking: Our MMO hopes and wishes for 2018

One of the frustrating bits about our end-of-the-year content rollouts is that sometimes predictions and story roundups can come across as negative. It’s way too easy to assume that if someone is predicting game X will flop, she wants it to happen and is gleefully steepling her fingers and cackling madly over its future demise. Which is just not so! I never steeple my fingers.

But all the same, for tonight’s Massively Overthinking, we’d like to take a moment to set aside our fears and expectations and just talk about our hopes and wishes for 2018 in an MMORPG context. That was what we think will happen. This is a summary of our most optimistic daydreams.

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Leaderboard: What’s the best classic MMORPG still running in 2017?

Those of you who’ve been following Massively OP for a while know that many our writers have a fondness for old MMORPGs – that’s how we got into the hobby in the first place. My little secret is that I still maintain one of my original Ultima Online accounts with a house and gardens and a stable of toons (mostly bards!).

And yet come awards season, classic MMOs rarely win awards, which hardly seems fair. Yes, some of them have graphics that have fallen by the wayside, but most have mechanics that can stand toe to toe with anything made in 2017.

Thanks to commenter Agemyth, who suggested this topic last year, we’re going to put it to a vote, again this year including a wide range of “gracefully aging” MMOs that could reasonably be considered classics based on the era of their launch. No, we didn’t include blockbusters like World of Warcraft that are still winning awards in 2017, nor did we list any closed games (the Asheron’s Call games were sunsetted this year, alas). Onward to the future where the past lives on in the present!

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MMO Year in Review: Expansion 2 for Guild Wars 2 (September 2017)

We’re taking a time-machine back through our MMO coverage, month by month, to hit the highlights and frame our journey before we head into 2018!

September dazzled with Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire launch, while indies lit up PAX West, Destiny 2 rolled out to consolers, EVE Online dabbled in drama, toxicity became the new buzzword, and Chris Roberts got fed up. The oldest living games of the genre had their day too, as Ultima Online turned 20 years old and announced free-to-play.

Read on for the whole list!

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The ultimate guide to The Game Archaeologist’s MMO archives

When we moved over here to Massively Overpowered, some of us transplanted our long-running columns to the new space. I perhaps felt most devastated that I was going to lose all of the Game Archaeologist articles that I had painstakingly researched over the years. So my mission with this space became two-fold: to rescue and update my older columns while continuing to add more articles to this series on classic MMOs and proto-MMOs.

I’ve been pleased with the results so far because TGA is a series that I really don’t want to see vanish. As MMORPG fans, we should consider it important to remember and learn about these older titles and to expand our knowledge past the more popular and well-known games of yesteryear.

Now that we have quite a catalogue of Game Archaeologist columns, I thought it would be helpful to end the year by gifting this handy guide to you that organizes and compiles our continuing look at the history of the genre. Enjoy!

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Dark Age of Camelot is developing a free-to-play option for 2018

While many MMO studios wait until January to release their year preview letters (and the lazy ones put it off until Ash Wednesday), Dark Age of Camelot is getting on top of next year’s to do list by laying out its plans for 2018. For starters? A free-to-play version for next fall, because go big or go home.

“We’re thrilled to announce a new way for players to experience Dark Age of Camelot’s iconic realm vs realm warfare for free with Dark Age of Camelot: Endless Conquest,” Broadsword wrote. “The Endless Conquest will be a new account type that allows players to enjoy Dark Age of Camelot through level 50 (and beyond) for free, without a paid subscription, forever. Endless Conquest players will be able to level all the way to 50 on a limited selection of classes, participate fully in RvR, and earn Master Levels, Champion Levels, and Realm Rank — to a point.”

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