Back in February, Valve took action on MMO studio Insel Games, which published hybrid MMOs Wild Buster and Guardians of Ember, booting the company off Steam having determined that the company had tampered with reviews by coercing employees to buy and positively review the game. While Insel Games denied any wrongdoing, its games have been accessible to new players only through its official website for the past few months. For Wild Buster in particular, updates had been scant.
Now, an update has finally arrived. Insel Games told the Steam community that Wild Buster had “failed to attract enough players to provide a sustainable service and a big enough community to enjoy the game.” Rather than shut down the game, however, Insel Games says it’s transferring publishing rights to IDC Games, which will relaunch the game as Champions of Titan with new accounts and a server wipe. Not coincidentally, this will also allow the companies to get the game back on Steam.
Although City of Heroes is not coming back (I think we all need to come to terms with that), many successors are waiting in the wings with their own vision of how a superhero MMO should be. Valiance Online, City of Titans, and Ship of Heroes all have claimed inspiration from City of Heroes and claim that they will be replicating some elements of what made that title work so well.
But what did work well about City of Heroes? Why did it succeed when Champions Online, a title modeled after it and created by the same studio, failed? Why is City of Heroes so beloved, even years after its demise?
Let’s hash it out today in the comments. Break down City of Heroes for us and see if you can’t put your finger on what made this particular MMO fly high.
What was your first? Not necessarily the first MMORPG you ever played, but the first that made you fall in love with that game and the genre at large? Probably for me, that would have to be City of Heroes, a title which just clicked on all levels and ushered me into a new age of gaming.
I’ll let Katriana tell you hers: “My first MMO, and first MMO love it’s probably fair to say, was EverQuest. I have many memories of my time there, but sadly I don’t have many good screenshots from that time still that aren’t just character selfies. The image below was taken circa early 2003 and is one of the better ones I still have. It represents the crowning achievement of the guild I was in there, the slaying of the first-born dragon Klandicar. It was far from being new or even necessarily notable content at the time, but it was quite an achievement for our little guild.”
is really not going to stop reminding everyone that it’s become the “longest running superhero MMO of all time,” chiefly by simply refusing to close down as the playerbase and content dried up (and not ever having to either since Cryptic wisely bought the IP rather than licensed it). It’s earning its keep a bit today, however, as well as some deserved respect, by actually releasing some new content in the form of a new alert. It’s called Save the Earth.
“In this epic adventure, your Champion’s personal nemesis has commandeered a satellite high above the orbit of Earth! You’ll have to fly there and do battle with them to… wait for it… Save the Earth! Are you up to the challenge, Champions? Complete this new Alert to gain exciting rewards like the Threaten Emote, a Ray Gun, many different visors and more!”
Cheesy, yes, but what do you expect from a superhero MMORPG? Good on ya, Champs. Let us know if you’re going to be checking it out!
Tabletop games and MMORPGs seem like they would go well together, but remarkably they often don’t. That’s true for several reasons, but one of the main reasons is that we have a lot more games adapting different source material separately. You can certainly run a Star Wars: The Old Republic-themed game with a Star Wars tabletop system, but neither one is based on the other. (Technically there was a supplement published for it, but that was covering the first two single-player games, which themselves were based on that tabletop system.)
But there have still been incursions from MMOs into the tabletop space, and MMOs which pluck that fertile ground for the seeds of inspiration. So let’s spend today looking at these games, when you can log off of your favorite MMO, gather around a table with your friends, and keep playing your favorite MMO. More or less.
Perfect World announced two sunsets yesterday: Four-year-old Swordsman Online and nine-year-old Jade Dynasty will close down in June. Here’s the official announcement for Swordsman players posted yesterday evening.
“It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we announce the shutdown of all Swordsman (SWM) servers on June 5th, 2018. On that day, your SWM character will no longer be accessible. This was a very difficult decision to make, but we are grateful for everything that you have put into the game and all the wonderful communities that have come from SWM. We no longer feel there is room for SWM to grow, but the development teams are moving on to bigger and better things! As amends to our most dedicated fans, we are making sure to offer refunds for the last few months.”
The Jade Dynasty announcement is nearly identical, with the same shutdown date and promise of refunds. Cash shop currency is no longer available for purchase; currency purchases made since February 1st will apparently be converted into Arc credit for your account.
It occurs to me that it is very difficult to find MMOs that I have literally never played before in some capacity. There are titles on the list, of course, but it’s a short list. Which amuses me, since anyone who listens to me on a regular basis knows that I have a small number of games that I consider “my” games, and usually there are just two that are fairly consistently on that list. But it’s part of the job; back when I first got this job in the time when dinosaurs roamed the Earth (the late aughts), my lifetime game count was at four. Maybe four and a half, if you want to count the Champions Online beta that talked me out of playing it at launch.
Of course, that’s one of the interesting elements not just of this job but about MMOs in general. You react differently depending on how many MMOs you’ve played, and considering that these games are big, long-term time commitments, that can produce some interesting dynamics. So let’s go ahead and take a look at what your personal lifetime count says about you and your understanding of the genre.
You are no doubt aware that Champions Online
is still running, although the game has been in unofficial maintenance mode for half of forever. What you may not be aware of is the fact that at this point, it is the longest-running superheroic MMO on the market. That’s right, it edged out its closest competitor
by just about a month.
If that strikes you as the sort of thing that should not have been permitted to happen, well, you aren’t alone in that. But that’s the world we live in.
You can argue whether it’s the longest-running steadily updated superheroic MMO, but you can’t argue that it’s been in operation longer than anything else. Collectively, it turns out that players have had about 5500 years in-game, which is more than twice the age of the Great Wall of China. Those are your fun statistical factoids for the game, but we’re sure that some other unintentionally depressing fact will come along before too long.
Blizzard fans, this year’s BlizzCon has a date, and that day is November 2nd and 3rd, almost three months after the launch of World of Warcraft’s Battle for Azeroth, meaning you won’t even be missing much grinding time to attend, and you can count on lots of post-mortemy-type panels rather than endless teasers. On the other hand? E-sports, e-sports, e-sports.
“This year’s event will again commence with the esports action of BlizzCon Opening Week, taking place at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles from October 25 to 29, where the initial rounds of the StarCraft II World Championship Series Global Finals, the Heroes of the Storm Global Championship Finals, and World of Warcraft Arena World Championship Finals will unfold. The competitions will culminate in Anaheim on November 2 and 3, where the champions of these tournaments along with those of the Overwatch World Cup and Hearthstone Global Games will be crowned.”
Last year’s event was sold out, so if you’re aiming to go, jot down these even more important dates: May 9th and 12th, when tickets will go on sale.
At this year’s PAX East, I discovered that my mental picture of Casey McGeever did not match the actual man in person, but that was a positive thing; meeting the man himself, he projects an aura of warmth and earnestness that’s almost impossibly infectious. Not that it should be all that surprising, as he’s spent so much time talking about the strength of community when it comes to building up the base behind Ship of Heroes as a whole.
McGeever and I had an opportunity to speak about a number of issues surrounding the City of Heroes-inspired superhero MMO, starting with some talk about the game’s roadmap moving through the remainder of the year. The roadmap covers the past few months and recent known developments, but it had to be delayed slightly while the team pushed through the early stages of pre-alpha, engine upgrades, and the associated tasks. Now we’re into April, and it’s time for the community to see what’s on the docket for the next three months.
Believe it or not, there are studios out there still trying to break into the heavily cornered MOBA market. For Korea’s Reloaded Studios, the strategy is simple: Make a MOBA that cuts out the fat and delivers a lean experience.
Meet The Day Online, a free-to-play third-person action MOBA that throws players into close quarters, gets rid of excessive farming, eliminates personal resources, and speeds up the gameplay cycle.
The title just went into early access this week and features three battle arenas and four game modes. There are already 28 champions from which to play, and the team has plans for even more heroes as well as a massive 25v25 arena.
What’s the last thing you’ve ever done in an MMORPG before it was shut down? If you have ever found yourself in this unfortunate position, chances are that you went on a whirlwind tour of the game and took as many screenshots and videos as possible.
Today, we’ll begin with one of the last things that Amorey ever saw in the belated Landmark: pies. Well, there are worse ways to go out!
“During my last few hours in Landmark before the final sunset, I visited my friends, and then I built a small ship ready to sail into the west with everything I needed for the last journey,” Amorey writes. “Oh how I miss this game.”
Around the time I started working at Massively-that-was, there was an article that I quite liked talking about how four high-profile MMO failures were not necessary. It was a product of its time, but the point was made that these games didn’t have to wind up in the state they were in. The mistakes that were made were not unexpected problems, but entirely predictable ones that anyone could have seen. Heck, some people did see them and pointed them out, but nothing was changed.
I think about that a lot when I think about other MMOs and online games because there are a lot of titles that, even if not entirely failed, are in states they never needed to be in. These stories are, at the very least, stories of some failures where the failure was not an inevitable end state, nor are they messes that had to be made. The writing was on the wall, the warnings were given, and someone just kept on keeping on and ignored all of the signs. And here we are.