Just about 20 years ago, my boyfriend and I were wandering through Media Play (heh) when he picked up this box for some new online subscription video game with a cheesy Hildebrandt cover. I was skeptical. He bought it anyway. The next morning, after I’d played all night and totally bogarted his new game, we figured we should probably get a second account. And so we did, in spite of being clueless teenagers who could barely afford one sub, let alone two.
That game was Ultima Online, and it’s the game that birthed the term MMORPG and quite literally dragged me into the realm of virtual worlds. Without it, I wouldn’t be right here where I am talking to you today, having married that dude in the interim. And as of yesterday, that game is 20 years old.
Last autumn, when the game was turning 19, I did a fairly in-depth video on the coolest parts of UO, the parts you can still play today, as I do frequently dive back in and am playing this month too! It’s Massively OP’s best-performing video to date, proving that the game is very much not dead and done. Pretty much everything in the video is still accurate, except for the part on the business model (spoiler: UO is kinda going free-to-play), so I’m going to include it below, but then I’ll recap some of the important bits from the last year and answer a few questions anybody reading is sure to have.
This week in MMO crowdfunding, Ship of Heroes continued proving itself worthy as a City of Heroes successor with a new video demo of its character creation — which ought to look pretty familiar to fans of the pre-eminent superhero MMORPG.
In the realm of Star Citizen drama, we speculated on the game’s post-launch monetization plans and posted the team’s new count of bugs yet to fix before alpha 3.0 reaches the Evocati. (It’s 7.)
Meanwhile, War of Conquest has already achieved its Kickstarter goal, Project Gorgon teased its next patch, we learned about Pantropy, Crowfall stirred dissent over its harvesting plans, and Guardians of Ember, which raised $77000 in funding from players on Indiegogo, formally launched out of early access.
Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.
Yesterday, ArtCraft posted a live Crowfall Q&A video showing off what the devs are calling “action harvesting” – and it caused a surprising amount of uproar in our comments. Essentially, the game will simply put players into a harvesting mode with a special skill bar. Instead of clicking, grabbing, and darting off, you’ll be finger-dancing skills on the node.
Incidentally, it’ll also leave you exposed to enemy attack, but the chief complaint was actually that it’ll be a boring timewaster, the sort of things other MMOs have tried in crafting and rejected because they’re fun a few times and then, a chore.
Today, the studio’s gone into more depth on the system, explaining that the changes “mesh” with the game’s action combat and were actually inspired by the game’s ongoing power tray redesign as the devs played around with trying to build harvesting that wasn’t just a click to get stuff.
With Patch 5.3 on the horizon, Crowfall is striving to add more than just race and class options. One feature that’s going to be worked into this newest alpha build is what the team is calling “action harvesting.”
Basically, this means that harvesting will become a lot more involved than running up to a node and jamming on the F key. Instead, players have a new survival tray — a dedicated hotbar — that stores all of a player’s harvest-related items and skills. When players switch into harvesting mode, this bar will pop up and they will “attack” nodes by left-clicking, a process that is augmented by the abilities and items they use.
Check out the hour-long development team Q&A on this revised system after the break!
Probably my greatest and most constant gripe about fantasy MMORPGs is that for all of the freedom and imagination that this genre supposedly boasts, game designers keep going to the same boring well of tropes and limit themselves instead of exploring possibilities.
Nowhere do you see this more than in races. Dwarves and Elves? We’ve got bushels and barrels of them, all on sale at discount prices. There are regular humans, of course, and Slightly Bigger Humans, and Half-Sized Humans, and Blue Humans. But what about getting outside of this been-there-played-that cookie cutter design to offer some interesting playable choices?
Like fairies, perhaps?
I could never understand why we don’t see fairies more in MMOs. They are widely recognized in the fantasy genre, they seem to have popularity, and they even share some cross-over with Elves. But the poor fae have been unrepresented, so much so that it took a lot of digging to come up with a mere 10 MMOs that allow you to play as one, whether it be as a race or class. Let’s take a look!
This week in MMO crowdfunding, Star Citizen’s Chris Roberts gave an interview that seemed to express understandable frustration with the constant barrage of demands for alpha launch estimates, scam accusations, and “fan trolling” he encounters.
“I am fed up of giving someone an estimate – I’d rather say, here’s the data I have, here’s the schedule I see,” he told Eurogamer, arguing that CIG is already providing progress reports for the massive crowdfunded MMO. “There’s a subset of people who say ‘this thing is never going to come out, it’s a scam’. Which is plainly not true. It would be the worst scam in the world. We’re hiring all these people, we’re working really hard. We’re showing what we’re doing every week.”
Meanwhile, we wrapped up our tour of Shroud of the Avatar, Elite Dangerous announced its September 26th update, we chatted with Ashes of Creation at PAX, Kickstarter began welcoming Japanese creators, Albion Online kicked off playtests for its arena mode, AdventureQuest 3D is going all out for Talk Like A Pirate Day, and Dogma: Eternal Night continued hammering out its combat system (thanks, DDOCentral!).
Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.
Good news for Crowfall fans this week because there’s plenty on the docket about the game’s development. You might not consider a whole lot of discussion about how the game succeeded at crowdfunding to be new content, but you’ve also got the full list of race/class combinations at launch and a dangerous beachhead for players to fight around. So there’s lots of good stuff happening for fans, yes?
The remainder of the beta news… well, there’s some good stuff in there, too! And one thing that’s perhaps not so good. Let’s head right in.
- In fact, let’s start by diving into one of the most ill-considered quotes of the week, in which Chris Roberts of Star Citizen declared he was “fed up” with providing launch estimates for patch 3.0. We imagine backers are a bit “fed up” with waiting for the patch, especially the ones who claimed a refund and then lied about the amount of said refund.
- Happier news time for Wild West Online fans, as the alpha test begins this weekend. There isn’t much of an NDA in place, either, so if you’re testing it feel free to say whatever you’d like down in the comments (with the proper alpha caveats, of course).
- The second closed beta for Lost Ark is on its way, and we’ve got the video full of happy frolicking animals listening to music to prove it. If you’ve never seen an owlbear soothed by a calming tune, well, that’s your entry for today’s list of things you never knew you wanted before now.
- Good news for Worlds Adrift developer Bossa Studios, too, as the studio picked up lots of investor cash this week. That should fund a fair number of islands.
- Do you remember Seed? No, not the MMO that crashed and burned in a short span of time, the other game named Seed? It’s not due for any sort of serious beta until summer 2018, but we’re already seeing signs of how the game will deliver its AI-focused design.
- Last but not least, why not take a gander at what’s coming for phase two of the OrbusVR closed beta? You can read that update even if you’re in not-virtual reality, aka actual reality, aka… you know, the real world.
Meanwhile, we’ve got that full list of games down below with all of the information you could possibly expect at this point from our regular weekly column. Did something jump to a new phase of testing without us noticing? Let us know down in the comments, we find that fascinating and only marginally annoying. (And the annoyance is with the studios who don’t let us know, mind.)
Now that Crowfall has split with the whole fixed-archetype thing, it’s a world of possibilities over at this PvP title. And while there will be plenty of possible class and race combinations available to choose at launch, it won’t be anything goes.
The team said that it had to make decisions on which combos to include: “Our initial list was derived based on a number of factors. It took into account the cost to support this combination, the balance of races for each class and classes for each race, and of course the cool factor of each particular combination.”
One brand-new combination that Artcraft announced this week was the Elken Cleric, or “Holydeer” as we are now calling it. When you roll one, you don’t become celibate… you go stag.
We’ve got the full chart for you after the break. The team said that black cells are currently implemented combinations, white are ones that are planned but not finished, half-and-half are ones that only have a single gender so far, and blank won’t be there at launch but perhaps afterward.
September looks to be busy for the Crowfall team, as it continues to expand the campaign world and its related testing process. This week, it triggered a small patch that should assist players in getting right to the fun: “Along with bug fixes, we added armor racks to streamline the process of getting geared up so you can jump right in.”
But that’s not all! Coming soonish to the game are several improvements and additions to the environment, including a new beachhead, ground vegetation, rocks, trees, and the like. Also moss! And better snow!
There are plenty of other changes coming, such as some spring cleaning for forts and eventual damage to enemies who spend too long hanging about their foe’s beachhead. The game’s environmental artist previewed these changes and took some questions from fans, all of which you can see below.
As an MMO enthusiast, I have this tendency to cheer games on and be interested in all sorts of titles — even the ones that I know deep down to my bones are not for me. For example, I am not a great fan of PvP-centric MMOs. I don’t resent their existence, but that gameplay is too stressful and fraught with drama for my taste.
Yet I can’t help but be attracted to some of these games because I like the art, the passion, or some of the non-PvP mechanics involved. Crowfall looks gorgeous and I’m all about its eternal kingdoms housing system. Camelot Unchained has such a great team and talent behind it that I feel wistful they aren’t making a PvE game. And I’ve even gone on record as saying that Albion Online’s art style and cross-platform accessibility is pretty cool. What is wrong with me?
Are you ever attracted to MMOs that you know you’ll hate? What do you do with that?
With $2.7 million raised from fans and $12.5 million total in its pockets from multiple sources, ArtCraft has a wealth of money on which to build Crowfall. The studio also has a wealth of experience with crowdfunding, and in a new interview, Gordon Walton shares what he and the other leaders at ArtCraft have learned from running one of the more successful MMORPG Kickstarter campaigns to date.
The five key lessons that Walton shared were: Crowdfunding is a test of a product’s market viability, that it’s important to sell a product and not a dream, that different crowdfunding platforms require different approaches, that studios need to bring their loyal fans out for these campaigns, and that it’s vital to communicate clearly and often.
“The real trick is always about finding the right customers, who want to be part of your business, they want to support you,” said Walton. “A lot of entrepreneurs are more focused on their product than their customers. If I have any advice for people, it’s ‘always think about the customer first.'”
Remember a few weeks ago when Star Citizen confirmed survival mechanics like eating and sleeping? Welp, add pooping to the list. This week in MMO crowdfunding, Star Citizen’s Around the Verse focused on the game’s stamina system, which touches on the character’s needs and risks and notifications about them, including “getting drunk, needing to go to the toilet, all the little things that can affect the player temporarily, and then we can expand this to go even to stuff like long-term diseases, depressurization sickness, radiation sickness – all these things that won’t be something the player can get rid of instantly.”
Meanwhile, the three City of Heroes spiritual successors teamed up for a panel at PAX, Shroud of the Avatar honored a player’s father, Dual Universe hit 10K backers, Dogma: Eternal Night implemented combat, and Chronicles of Elyria demoed jousting, plus so many goodies from PAX! Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last couple of weeks and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.
Do you like dragging yourself out of bed at three in the morning because something has finished in a game and you need to immediately address it? Probably not. That would be insane. But Crowfall recognizes that it’s a possibility with its skill training system, which is why the game has time banks. If a skill finishes training and you’re offline, time starts to fill up in the bank, and you can immediately spend it on whatever you want to train next, with VIP players able to bank up to 30 days of accumulated time. Players will also be able to use skill tomes to transfer banked time, thus ensuring that newer players can catch up with veterans.
VIP players will have the edge in terms of how many things can be trained at once, but they won’t be able to progress faster than other players while training; a VIP player can train two separate skills at once, but not the same skill twice as fast. You can catch the full overview on the official site so you know exactly how the game will help you train up your skills over time and how you can be sure to balance the demands of your time.