carbine

An NCsoft studio known primarily for WildStar.

Citadel Studios and Nexon are recruiting talent

If studio job postings get your blood pumping with the thoughts of what could be, here are a couple of tantalizing tidbits that perhaps hint at future development.

Legends of Aria developer Citadel Studios posted a job listing for both a digital marketing specialist and a game programmer. By the way, if you happen to be testing Aria right now, you should know that the NDA was lifted earlier this week.

Nexon — which you may have heard of — put out a notice with the hopes of recruiting a game director for its Nexon OC Studio. The specific game in question was not mentioned, although the description does ask for candidates that have worked on previous AAA titles.

If that last post sounds a little familiar, perhaps it is because you are remembering that former WildStar and World of Warcraft developer Stephen Frost went to work as a game director at Nexon OC last year.

Source: Gamasutra, Legends of Aria. Thanks Pepperzine!

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Perfect Ten: The tabletop GMs behind MMOs

One of the advantages to computer RPGs, I’ve always thought, is that you don’t need a friend who you can alternately sucker or bribe into taking on 80% of the work that’s involved in making a tabletop RPG fun. You just turn on the game and it goes. The downside, of course, is that you also don’t have the advantages of having a GM in charge of the game, so you don’t get that personal connection and that sense of familiarity.

Except that’s not entirely accurate, is it? Yes, these games do not have a person eagerly perched behind a screen explaining how your characters have screwed everything up forever, but you still do get the same sense of a specific GM guiding the game over time. Because there are certain quirks, certain constants, and over time a feel to the game that informs what sort of GM you’ve got running the game. So let’s talk about the GMs running some games.

I warn you that if you’ve never played any sort of tabletop game, this column may not make a whole lot of sense. But if you’ve never played any tabletop RPGs I don’t understand how you live and thus cannot promise to target you reliably. Sorry.

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Massively Overthinking: Which MMORPGs should stay away from legacy servers?

Legacy, vanilla, classic, progression – call them what you like, but alternative server rulesets, particularly of the nostalgia-driven kind, are all the rage in 2018. Just since the dawn of the new year, we’ve gotten a new server type for Age of Conan, with RIFT’s on the way – not to mention World of Warcraft’s looming in our future. And those are just the new ones! Games like RuneScape, EverQuest II, and Ultima Online already run similar servers.

That said, does every MMORPG need one? Aren’t some MMORPGs already in pretty good shape without needing a spin-off for nostalgia’s sake? Is it in every MMO’s best interests to prioritize, on some level, the very older ideas it intentionally left behind? That’s the question I’ve posed to the writers this week: Are there any MMORPGs that should stay far, far away from legacy servers, and if so, why?

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Perfect Ten: RIFT features that deserve praise

Maybe it will be short-lived, but it is exciting to see attention and excitement return to the sphere of RIFT following the announcement of the upcoming Prime server ruleset. I’ve gone from not thinking much of this title in my absence to somewhat missing it to absolutely craving it within the span of a week, and I’m sure that’s only going to get worse.

Seeing friends and commenters talk about RIFT has reminded me of just how many incredible features and qualities this MMO has. Sure, it’s made a lot of missteps and just about nobody really loves the business model, but there is a genuinely good game here that has a feature set that most MMOs could only dream about having on the back of the box.

So whether you’re thinking about returning to RIFT this spring or perhaps taking it up for the first time, here are 10 features from the game that I feel deserve public kudos.

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO has the most creative fauna?

Perhaps I’m in the minority, but I am always fascinated with the beasts, creatures, and enemy NPCs that developers create for MMORPGs. While there are always very standard critters (such as the feared Giant Spider and completely unique Dragon Boss), many artists and designers whip up original and fascinating fauna for us to ogle (and, you know, fight).

I think that creative beasts is a sign of a well-developed fantasy realm that isn’t trying to ape Earth but is truly attempting to develop a world with its own special feel and ecology. Asheron’s Call was renowned for bucking fantasy tropes with its creatures, and WildStar always pleased me with every alien encounter.

What do you think? Which MMO has the most creative array of beasts, insects, and monsters?

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 154: A Prime experiment

On this week’s show, Bree and Justin hit up a week of huge MMO news, including Camelot Unchained’s investments, RIFT’s new subscription server, Devilian’s demise, and more!

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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WildStar pens a retrospective on the game in 2017 while looking ahead to 2018

How would you rate the year 2017 for WildStar? As far as director Chad Moore is concerned, it went pretty well as a whole. And he certainly does make his case, as the year saw the rollout of Communities, the Prime Matrix, a number of new bits of content at Prime difficulty, and a new Expedition and Dungeon alike. So there was a lot on deck for players, all things considered, even if much of it did involve content players are likely familiar with by now.

As for the next year, the letter is thin on specifics for 2018 plans, but it does assure players that the game is still being supported and that there’s no reason whatsoever to worry about its future. Whether or not that makes you less worried or more worried is left to the individual player to decide, but at least you know that there’s been some life in the game from last year, and there’s the hope of more for the year ahead.

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Perfect Ten: The MMOs with the most uncertain futures in 2018

This is, bar none, the column I hate doing most on a regular basis. None of the games I highlight in here is something that I actually like pointing to; they’re games that people like, games that may very well be someone’s absolute favorites, and yet they’re also games where the future looks difficult if not outright bad. A cloudy future is never a good thing, and this particular column does not make it all right.

But we’re still here in the early days of 2018, and that means it’s still the right time to look at the games we might not see around next year. For various reasons, these are the games that already look like they’re in trouble, instead of absolute face-shattering surprises like a couple of the shutdowns last year.

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The Daily Grind: What MMO zone biome puts you in an adventuring mood?

Two of my favorite MMORPG zones are World of Warcraft’s Mulgore and WildStar’s Algoroc. Both managed to catch some of the spirit and flavor of the American west that I absolutely loved when I lived there, including the vast views, the towering mesas, and the feeling of isolation and expanse. Whenever I find myself in an MMO region like this, I feel inflated with the spirit of adventure.

I think we all feel that. Some zones make us feel less enthusiastic about playing in them while others make us drag our feet because we never want to leave. Western zones, wintry biomes, and coniferous forests are among my favorites in games.

What about you? What type of MMO zone or biome puts you in an adventuring mood?

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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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Choose My Adventure Year in Review: Elder Scrolls Online, LOTRO, WildStar, Black Desert, and Neverwinter

So I’ve been writing this column for a year now. A little more than a year, as it happens, but last year there was no point in doing a whole-column recap because… well, it would be one game long and it had just happened. So I’m doing that now, with a trip back through the last year of Choose My Adventure (plus one month because I would rather not leave out The Elder Scrolls Online). We all make compromises.

There’s a lot to be said about this particular set of games, but to be fair, a lot of it was already said in a series of weekly columns about the games because that’s… well, how the column works. Still, the benefit of hindsight does mean that some things I have seen since have produced a different picture for some of these titles. So as we move into the holidays and the new year, let’s hit some high marks, remember the past, and consider the future.

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Choose My Adventure: Secret World Legends in review

Earlier this year, when we had yet to actually get much information about Secret World Legends, I posted a piece in which I discussed at length how Funcom didn’t seem to quite know what it was doing with the whole reboot thing. On the one hand, the development team didn’t seem to know if SWL was actually a reboot of The Secret World or just a new structure for it; on the other hand, it was certainly positioned as a hard reboot, considering how it jettisoned more or less everything players had previously accomplished.

So the question, for me, was always whether or not the game could justify its reboot and still be fun in and of itself.

The answer to the former question, I’m sorry to say, is an unambiguous “no.” There’s a lot of reasons thrown around for why the game absolutely needed a reboot, but none of them actually succeeds at justifying a whole drop-and-rebuild. Partly because, well, the game didn’t rebuild anything. It patched in a few new systems and called it a day, and it did absolutely nothing to address the core problems that kept people from being turned off from the game in the first place.

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