Did you know about all the MMOs I hate? I sure as heck didn’t! I mean, I knew there were a few games I hated (Scarlet Blade, Alganon) and some that I have pretty poor feelings toward for various reasons (Star Citizen, EVE Online, League of Legends, H1Z1: Kash of the Kow), but those are also games I discuss only in particular circumstances.
Yet thankfully, I have been informed over the near-decade of writing about MMOs that there are a number of games I thought I liked but that I do, in fact, hate. This was a surprise to me, but I think that for purposes of comprehension, it’s best for me to list for reference all the games that I apparently utterly despise. It’s all very confusing to me, but I’m confident that by sharing and making the occasional off-color joke, I’ll be able to decipher it all.
Here’s a musical episode that you can really sink your teeth into! Your… ear teeth? In any case, the Battle Bards are evaluating our Dark Masters this Halloween season to see which has the best music: vampires or werewolves. It’s a sinister, gothic show with several first-time MMO appearances for the podcast, so check it out!
Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and Player.FM.
Listen to Episode 108: Vampires and werewolves (or download it) now:
MOP reader Sally Bowls is on a roll with the good questions lately! She lobbed us one this past weekend that seems a good follow-up to a comment thread discussion about the problems inherent in unregulated three-way factional PvP/RvR (and how a game like Camelot Unchained will regulate it). By way of example, she noted that a certain MMO griefer famously argued in favor of strategy that basically made the opponent not want to log in, using tactics like creating timesinks and hassles in a sandbox. “Should the dominant faction on a RvRvR server ‘camp’ the smallest to try to drive them off?” she wondered.
“If it’s about fair PvP, then that is anathema. But if you see the game as being about your faction being at war with other factions, then not doing your utmost to win that war is incompetence. Neither is bad design per se, just a conflict in understanding of the goals. And will Camelot Unchained really be RvR, doing everything legal for your realm to win? Or will it be about PvP battles, with the RvR rhetoric being more marketing fluff than von Clausewitz and Machiavelli? If camping a mine hurts your kill/death ratio but makes the opponent weaker due to hassles or crafting, is that winning or losing? Is an RvR game really about realms vs. realms or is it just another BG?”
I’ve pitched Sally’s comments to the team for consideration in this week’s Massively Overthinking. Is RvR just a more carebear-friendly way to market FFA PvP? Do you play RvR or factional PvP to win or to have fun, and how does that differ from a more open FFA sandbox? How would you design three-way factional PvP to keep people from quitting and stop griefing before it starts?
MOP reader Tobasco da Gama pointed us to a recent Reddit
thread about why EVE Online
persists, even in a weakened state, where other hardcore PvP sandboxes fail. The thread OP posits that in spite of what he calls “CCP’s criminal level of mismanagement and incompetence,” EVE
has outlasted other games of its ilk, from Darkfall
and Mortal Online
to Albion Online
and pre-Trammel Ultima Online
. The reason? He argues it’s because the vast majority of players who don’t quit outright never leave high-sec and aren’t actually playing the “hardcore” PvP game that New Eden is known for at all. In other words? Most people playing EVE
Fightin’ words, right? It makes a lot of sense to me, frankly, and since my husband still plays EVE, I’ve seen the phenomenon in action, that the toxic part of the playerbase perpetually eclipses the majority of normal folks just happily space mining and killing pirates and watching their skill bars go up.
Why do you think EVE survives where other PvP sandboxes stumble?
Ever played Epic Tavern? Massively OP reader Uli though it would make an interesting point of comparison for MMO content. “Epic Tavern is a single player game where you run a fantasy tavern frequented by heroes for a drink, food, bed for the night, and you can try to persuade those NPC heroes to go on a quest for you, sharing the spoils,” he explains.
“A comment I read suggested that would be great for MMO taverns: player running a tavern being able to give quests in the game to players frequenting the tavern. I know there are options for player run quests, but this would be different: pre-existing or otherwise player-made and engine-supported quests that are bestowed on player to match their group or skill level. And of course it would mean that visiting a tavern and meeting other players would finally have a point beyond mere chatting/RP. Ensuring people spent time in taverns to interact with would really help the socializing/third-space-in-virtual-rooms issue. But could it work in a MMO? Would that be abused for loot/rewards, biased quest assignment/withholding based on favors? Or what other problems could that cause?”
A lot of our writers and readers have experience with player-generated content, so I thought it would be fun to build on the ideas of Epic Tavern for Uli in this week’s Overthinking. Which MMOs have (or desperately need) great PGC, and when have you seen it go wrong? Could a formal, mechanical system for quest-giving like Epic Tavern’s work in an MMO, or is it something best left to the roleplayers?
Right now it is not hard to keep the two Darkfall reboot projects separated. While Rise of Agon launched earlier this year, New Dawn is still working toward its own official release. At least with this week’s Patch 4.0, the PvP MMO will have made significant progress toward that goal.
There is a lot that the developers crammed into this patch, so let’s tick off the salient details. There is an improvement in the mob artificial intelligence (in part, to head off exploits), new tailor robes, the removal of bindstones for a local resurrection option, a beefed up alignment system, quest kill sharing, and better player progression and combat balance.
The team also improved the visuals a bit: “We have implemented post-processing effects that allow us to tweak color saturation and image contrast. The current settings will not fit all locations in game, but individual environments are being tweaked for the next patch.”
Get a quick overview of the update and a look at some of these snazzy new outfits after the jump!
As promised back in July, the team behind Darkfall: Rise of Agon are taking drastic measures to reorient the fantasy sandbox to a more fun direction. Ergo, the main focus of Tuesday’s patch is “reducing tedium and also reducing the power game between players” in the game.
This is being accomplished in part by rejiggering stats and skills. All races now start out with a baseline of 20 in all stats, and a single attribute potion will take a stat up to 100 right away (do not pass go). It has also become a lot easier to see what spells and skills you can unlock and what you need to do to get them. There are more ways to level skills through use, although the team said that scrolls remain the fastest way to boost your abilities.
The patch also added in a faster way to equip gear from inventory, something called “remote crafting,” and name change tokens for players who sneezed while typing their alter ego and added an unnecessary umlaut or that fun Danish Ø.
Every MMO tells a story through the run of its life. A lot of those stories are pretty happy, too. Ultima Online may not be the most happening place in the world right now, but its story is about launching a genre and then running for two solid decades. That’s a pretty great story. However much it’s become a tale of mismanaged expectations, World of Warcraft kind of became the most popular thing for a long while and brought in tons of new people to the hobby. Even titles with sad endings often have bright stories; the end bit for City of Heroes sucks, but everything leading up to that was a gas.
And then you have these 10 titles. These are titles where the whole story is a tragedy, start to finish, and in many cases the tragedy isn’t necessarily over, but the story is still just plain sad. There are reasons, of course, maybe even good ones, but the result is that the narrative for these titles is pretty sad all the way through.
A few weeks ago in Massively Overthinking, the team discussed the resurgence in popularity of small-scale co-op games and whether that has impacted the MMORPG genre negatively or positively — if at all. This week, I’d like to aim that same question at the survival genre, so everything from ARK: Survival Evolved to Citadel Forged With Fire.
The question was sparked in part by a VentureBeat piece that points out SuperData’s numbers: Non-massive survivalboxes pulled in $400 million in the first half of the year. This is a lot of money that is not going into MMOs and MMORPGs that could be, which was the same thing we suggested about online co-op RPGs — only this subgenre is attracting builders and PvPers. Is it attracting them away from MMOs directly? I’ve asked our writers to reflect on the rise of survivalbox games: Do we play them? Do we prefer them, and when? How can we learn from them? Is the popularity of smaller-scale co-op hurting MMORPGs?
Darkfall: New Dawn, one of a pair of indie-led player efforts to keep MMO sandbox Darkfall going after original studio Aventurine abandoned it last year, has a gorgeous new roadmap out this week addressing the current state of the build. Studio Ub3rgames says it believes it’s more than three-quarters of the way done with the game since last summer, with most of the work going toward PvE, combat, PvP, quality-of-life upgrades, and performance. The economy and virtual world, the team admits, has seen the least focus so far. The active players seem pretty pleased!
Most recently, Ub3rgames released patch 3.13, “switching into a higher gear” with what it dubbed “the great magic overhaul.” It’s essentially a complete do-over for the magic system that revamps secondary spell effects as well as adds a preliminary king-of-the-hill village control system, guild perks, armor durability retooling, collision system updates, performance upgrades, and dynamic tombstones, which sound festive and might be worth a relook if you’ve been standing on the sidelines of development.
From the sound of things, it doesn’t appear that Darkfall: Rise of Agon is doing quite as well as its indie team was hoping. The PvP sandbox launched in May and posted a roadmap just a few weeks ago, but now Big Picture Games is acknowledging that a drastic course correction might be needed.
In a short and slightly unnerving post on Rise of Agon’s site this week, the team acknowledged that the game’s direction is “underwhelming” to many players and is reassessing the MMO from the top down and bottom up.
“We came to the conclusion that much of what we have been trying desperately to hold onto were the roots of what Darkfall had become,” the team wrote. “This was a game that involved a heavy time sink, required perseverance, and tolerating insane amounts of tedium. What we attempted to do was walk a line between casual and hardcore play times, and we now know this was a mistake.”
Big Picture said that it will be evaluating how it can remove grind and inaccessibility, starting with “a series of design discussions” this weekend.
We are on a roll with the epic questions for Overthinking lately! “The recent article about monetization got me thinking about just how much most modern MMOs are still trying to replicate real-world capitalist economies,” MOP Patron Avaera begins.
“Virtual currency is usually earned proportional to various measures of virtual effort that are intended to be wealth-generating activities – selling loot earned from skillful PvE hunting, selling crafted goods made from resources gathered over time, owning items or land that generates tradeable material over time. However, virtual effort doesn’t have the quite the same limitations, scarcity, and creativity as real-world effort, and these systems seem prone to exploitation by users/bots that can easily outmatch casual players in terms of how much virtual effort and time they can expend, leading to various RMT problems and artificially distorted economies. How would you go about avoiding this problem, if you had the god-like powers of a game designer? Is there a way to set up a virtual economy so that it isn’t prone to exploitation by bots or gold-farmers, and will we ever see a virtual game currency that can truly be exchanged with a real one?”
I posed Avaera’s question to our staff to mull over.
has a new dev blog up today on the Eternal Chasm
, one of its level 59+ multiple-mode instanced dungeons.
“Shinji – after the events of Darkfall – is particularly interested in what resides within this decrepit cave, believing the Eternal Chasm contains clues regarding the fate of his own father. Whether to aid your prince in his investigation, or to simply test your mettle against a huge array of threats and environments, the mouth of the chasm is eager to swallow all visitors and cast them down into madness. This vast map, ripe for exploration, is littered with nodes that render adventurers into a dream-like state, eliciting visions of what lies ahead. From fiery pits and voracious volcanos, to spine-chilling snow lands and sea-faring shenanigans, the Eternal Chasm is teeming with promising rewards and devious challenges to test yourself against, ever increasing in difficulty as you progress.”
Skill Cultivation Books, Equipment Blueprints, Duskcloud Nyx Treasures, and purple gear top the list of loot inside the dungeon. My.com says only two of the dungeons modes are unlocked at the moment; three more will be opened up in later patches.