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Austin company announces brand-new BrightLocker gaming platform

If you’re fed up with the messes that are Steam and Android and the Apple Store, BrightLocker might be for you. Announced just this morning, the portal is being billed as

“the only platform for game discovery, community interaction and funding that bridges the connection between game developers and players in ways not seen before in the industry. Supporting all types of game developers, from early concept to post launch, as well as all platforms including PC, console, mobile and VR, BrightLocker launches with a line-up of both new and established games designed for every type of player.”

The first games to launch on the Austin-based platform include a few MMOs and other games we cover — Life is Feudal, Descent Underground, and Fractured Space. The company lists World of Warcraft, FIFA, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and the Sony PlayStation Network as its team members’ credentials.

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The Daily Grind: When was the golden age of MMOs, or has it happened yet?

A year ago, we all tackled an Overthinking topic on the golden age of MMORPGs — whether there ever was one, and when precisely it might have been. One thing we didn’t much discuss? Whether the golden age hasn’t actually happened yet.

That idea bubbled back up in my brain this past week, when Microsoft exec Phil Harrison told GI.biz that the golden age of games — “democratisation of platforms, democratisation of technology to make content” — is yet to come.

“When I started out, 80% of your development budget would be writing your 3D engine, and you’d have to throw that way every time you make a new game. It’d almost be like a filmmaker throwing away the Panavision camera and reinventing another one each time they went to make a film. We’ve got to the point where the reach is there, the tools are there, the distribution is there, the ability to stand up an online service is there. And we can now start thinking about what happens when you have very believable worlds, very believable graphics, very sophisticated AI, what happens when those things co-exist? That’s a very interesting future.”

Harrison is talking about the gaming industry on the whole, of course, but we can drill down — MMOs are all about believable worlds and AI. What do you think? When was the golden age of MMOs? Or is our golden age yet to come?

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Gloria Victis’ patch this week adds desert-themed region and crafting changes

Gloria Victis is gearing up for a big patch tomorrow: The indie hardcore sandbox will debut a brand-new desert-themed territory packed with a new racial city and quests.

“Prepare yourselves for the upcoming update, which will include the long-awaited Azeb nation, along with their very own city and questlines. With the new city and nation, there will of course be new areas to see and explore on this ever-changing map!”

Black Eye Games is further promising new roaming mobs and bosses spawning randomly, retool AI system, new NPC animations, new strafing and blocking mechanics, a new Glory ladder season, and — yay — crafting stuff.

“We will also be implementing new crafting items and features,” the devs write, “such as the possibility for players to disassemble their items, which will recover some scrap materials for crafting, 70 new items to loot and craft, and some changes based on community feedback, such as lowering the necessary fuels for crafting and taxes.”

Source: Official site, press release

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RuneScape is a massive hit on Twitch

Time and again, we here at Massively OP have noted how RuneScape seems to be incredibly underestimated by the larger MMO community. For how popular it is, it never seems to get the respect and attention from the core MMORPG community that its online contemporaries do.

That is, until you head over to Twitch. According to the June viewing charts over on NewZoo, the fantasy MMORPG drew in an astounding 6.7 million hours of viewership over that month alone. This is enough to put it in 11th place, well ahead of titles like Destiny, Minecraft, Black Desert, and H1Z1: King of the Kill. It’s RuneScape’s world — we only watch it from afar.

The top 10 of the viewership chart is filled with the usual suspects, including much of Blizzard’s roster (World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Overwatch, and Heroes of the Storm) and the dominant MOBAs of our time (League of Legends and Dota 2).

Source: NewZoo. Thanks Sally!

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SuperData June 2017: ROBLOX, GTAV, and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds are making bank

SuperData’s global digital games revenue summary for June 2017 is out, and it’s a strange melange of huge shifts and no changes at all.

On the PC front, there’s been movement at the bottom of the list, as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and ROBLOX (seriously) have kicked CSGO and New Westward Journey Online II to the curb and knocked World of Tanks and Overwatch down a few pegs. World of Warcraft remains at #6, thanks to last month’s recombination of east and west. It’s a weird saga.

On consoles, however, Overwatch inched up a place and Grand Theft Auto V surged to take the top spot, in spite of its messy modder confrontations this summer. “Despite negative press over community-created-mods decisions, Grand Theft Auto Online experienced its most successful month this June on the back of [its] newest DLC,” SuperData says.

The mobile category has seen a huge shakeup as well, as Honour of Kings leaped from 10th place to 1st, pushing down Clash of Clans and Clash Royale — the firm estimates Honour of Kings made over $150 million in June. Pokemon Go remains noticeably absent from the top 10 lists this summer, but SuperData gives it a nod anyway.

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The Soapbox: The disastrous Pokemon Go Fest was just Niantic being Niantic, and that has to stop

I know I complain a lot about Pokemon Go in my articles here, but there’s a reason for this. I’m a huge fan not just of the Pokemon series but of what Niantic is trying to do with its game on a basic level. The idea of getting games outside with the rest of the world instead of hidden in our rooms and offices is hugely appealing. I’ve even applied to work at Niantic before (though obviously I wasn’t selected), so for me especially it’s frustrating to see a company I want to succeed repeatedly making the same kinds of mistakes. These are mistakes that plagued the game’s launch, several events, feature reworkings, and now not one, but two birthday celebrations within the same year. 

I actually got sucked into the hype recently and even said that the events surrounding the festival might give people a reason to come back. I’ve finally removed my foot from my mouth after previously downing some crow, but I’ve realized that, now more than ever, Niantic needs some tougher love, and here it is.

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Secret World Legends begins posting weekly news roundups, says GM team has grown by half

Without official forums for Secret World Legends, the team is apparently utilizing Reddit as an acceptable substitute. It’s here that any fan of this rebooted game should go to learn about what’s happening in the game, especially now that the community manager has started to post a weekly roundup of news and developments for the title.

In the roundup is a list of hot issues that the team is addressing and some incoming changes. These include reducing the auction house listing duration, overhauling problematic missions, reducing client crashes, and perhaps removing the current auction house posting limit.

The team said that it’s working to get player support tickets under control: “Due to a very high volume of incoming requests, customer service wait times may still be longer than expected. We recently expanded the GM team by ~50%, which should help a ton moving forward. Wait times are improving!”

Source: Reddit

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The Daily Grind: What’s your biggest pet peeve about early access MMOs?

Early access is kind of a garbage system for the vast majority of gamers. Yes, yes, I know, some games and game types just wouldn’t be made without it, and this is probably better than having no options at all. But the whole system is saddled with bullcrap, from unpaid testing and exploits and wipes to scope creep and content cuts and delays and outright abandonment. And, ahem, charging for expansions and housing plots and cosmetics while supposedly still in a test phase. It feels like perpetual amateur hour and I’m sick of it.

And yet for all that, there are a couple of things that really bug me more than anything else, and one of them is putting paid demos out there without female characters, with extra frowny-faces for making female avs a stretch goal. Even if a team says the male character is just a placeholder and that it’s working on the ladies, it still bugs me, as if we’re afterthoughts. Sure, non-transparent, non-early-access games do this (or related sins), but somehow it seems more obnoxious when gals are left out (and men are treated as generic/default) in tandem with the studio asking us for cash upfront.

That’s just one frustration among many, however, and obviously those of you who don’t play primarily women aren’t going to care quite as much as those of us who do. So what’s your biggest pet peeve about early access MMOs?

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One Shots: Hail to the victor!

Have you ever been able to capture a truly victorious moment in your MMORPG journeys? Rees Racer did, and he is not above showing off (fortunately for us!).

“No spoilers, so I’ll just pass along a TERA cutscene shot from a meeting with Priestess Ciebel after the defeat of a traitorous threat to the Alliance,” Rees writes. “Of course, my Gunner is issued new orders almost immediately as there are seemingly always other harbingers of doom to confront…”

You save the world once, everyone wants you to keep on doing it, over and over again. My advice? Start charging per apocalypse and put aside a portion for retirement in another dimension.

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The Game Archaeologist: EverQuest II East

Publishing a video game globally is a monumental task, more so if it is a live online game such as what you’d find with MMORPGs. With different countries and regions come various traditions, prohibitions, language barriers, government restrictions, playstyle expectations, and financial models that must all be sorted out and overcome for these games to come out.

One of the most famous examples of adapting an MMO for use in another country is how World of Warcraft had to make significant graphical changes to its death-themed imagery (including its Forsaken race) in order to get approval to operate in China. Censorship aside, many studios have adjusted their games to include elements appealing to a certain country in order to get more fans (such as WildStar’s panda explosion).

Today we’re going to look at a short-term oddity in EverQuest II’s history, when SOE attempted to expand the game into the east — and how that rebounded back to impact the west.

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WRUP: Fine ways to waste your life edition

Acquire the world’s largest collection of unopened expired mayonnaise jars. Start a band with the goal of having the world’s best cover of 4’33”. Develop an extensive database and software designed to allow people to see which state comptrollers through history would win in a boating contest. Run for president of your bedroom by campaigning around the neighborhood. Use a dedicated scientific experiment to determine exactly how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. Devote your life to finding an insult that upsets owls.

Sent letters to celebrities using cut-out magazine letters indicating that you hope they are all having great days. Translate “Baby Got Back” into Aramaic. Find out which Whole Foods in the nation will let you stand in the produce department while yelling out the names of Transformers for the longest period of time before you are thrown out. Write nonsensical introductions to What Are You Playing. Learn how to install and have passionate opinions about various versions of Linux.

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The Daily Grind: What’s the appeal of tanking in MMOs?

Do you live the tank life? Do you suit up in your oversized, overpowered, overprotective armor and strut out onto the front lines of combat every day in game? Do you lead your dungeon group with vision and confidence? Do you feel like you’re babysitting a group of eccentric toddlers who can barely keep from wetting their own pants, nevermind pull it together to take down the next boss?

Then we want to hear from you today!

For the tankers out there, what’s the appeal of this role in MMORPGs? Why do you assume the mantle of one of the more difficult and less flashy positions in a group? Is it for the leadership? The power trip? The fact that you’re always in demand? Let’s hear from you burly bashers today!

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MMO Burnout: Nintendo’s ARMS and the Switch in public and private

It won’t surprise anyone who reads our WRUPs that a lot of my free time gaming has been mobile-based as of late, especially if it has local multiplayer. While I still prefer PC gaming for the most part, it’s hard for me to bring a mouse and keyboard with me to a convention and play while the line is moving. MMOs with local multiplayer are even harder. Recent conventions have made jumping into traditional MMOs harder, as has the summer heat that magnifies the heat I feel when playing on ol’ lappy (although that could just be a result of the airless storage space I call home!).

At any rate, I decided to bust out my Nintendo Switch a bit more, bringing it with me to try to recreate Nintendo’s questionable marketing ploy and so I can play in a room where open windows don’t pose a risk to my papers and electronics. My weapon of choice? ARMS.

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