My time with Neverwinter
is done, and it’s a game I find myself in an odd relationship with. It’d be fair to say that despite what some members of the audience expected, I never went into disliking the game; even when I was getting a little bit bored, I didn’t find myself desperately wanting to play something else just to be free of the scourge of the game itself. But at the same time… it never really got its hooks in me, either.
And some of that, I think, is that I’ve played it before.
I’m reluctant to say that every game Cryptic Studios makes is the same because every single one has very clear pieces that stand apart. Star Trek Online’s space combat, Neverwinter’s action combat, and Champions Online’s status as the last relic of a forgotten time. (Probably other things, too.) They’re not the same game. But they do all share the same gameplay loop, which is different… and despite my best efforts, there’s a certain point when all of that just winds up getting a wee bit tedious.
Next week, EverQuest II is opening up Fallen Gate, a new “time-locked expansion server” that’s going to function a little bit differently than other progression servers have in the game’s history. Essentially, it’s going to unlock new expansions every 12 weeks and allow players to complete heritage quests to earn rewards for all of their characters across all of the game’s servers.
If you’re curious about the finer details of this new server and are weighing your decision whether to roll a character or not, you’re probably going to want to read the FAQ that the team put out yesterday that clears things up.
The team did mention that combat encounters are going to be a bit tougher on this server. “While items drops are not the same as they were in the early days of EverQuest II, both items and encounter power have been adjusted to approximate the play experience of launch. So while items have more stats, such as DPS, potency, or critical bonus, the encounters have been tuned to expect those stats, so the fight balance should be relatively the same.”
EverQuest II’s Proving Grounds proved to be pretty difficult (as well as littered with bugs!). Even finding a full group was pretty challenging! With the newest Proving Ground, however, Massively OP’s MJ won’t have to worry about that last bit; the Underdepths is a solo experience that also negates class and gear disparities by transforming the player into a powerful avatar. Join us live at 8:00 p.m. as MJ takes on this challenge for the first time.
What: EverQuest II
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 8:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, June 20th, 2017
During this week’s Massively OP podcast (live this afternoon!), Justin and I tackled a detailed question about MMO group makeup, the trinity, and combat, and we took the opportunity to tangent a bit into praising City of Heroes, which not only managed to smash the trinity but did so in a way that increased the number of combat roles in a group over the standard, provided flexible difficulty modes at a time when that was unheard of, and scaled content to group size, meaning that you didn’t really need to take a full group of eight into most of the instanced content. You took what you had and that was enough. It was brilliant.
And while I’m not much of a fan of huge, methodical raids anymore, that’s more because I dislike them as the Only Thing To Do At Endgame. I do love massive group sizes, however, which is why I lamented the loss of the 20-man group in Star Wars Galaxies and adore the casual swarms of Guild Wars 2. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem to matter whether the formal group size is four or five or six; my guildies always seem to be one body short of what we need, and I constantly find myself wishing for City of Heroes’ ruleset.
What do you think is the ideal group size in an MMORPG? And do you base that on social balance or typical class configurations or something else entirely?
EverQuest II is no stranger to Daybreak’s penchant for creating and operating progression servers. But after all of these years, is there a way that such a server can be made in a way that feels fresh and interesting? The team thinks so.
Coming on Tuesday, June 27th, the Fallen Gate progression server is slated to open up to the public and offer players additional incentive to roll up a character. “This will be a time-locked expansion server where expansions unlock automatically. In addition, Fallen Gate will have a new twist on heritage quests. Completing a heritage quest on this server will not only provide the quest reward — but an additional reward on EVERY server you play on,” Daybreak explained.
All races and classes will be available on Fallen Gate, and the server’s expansions will unlock at a steady rate of every 12 weeks. It does require a membership to join in the fun, so free players are not welcome to participate.
After four years and over 700 MMORPG music tracks, the Battle Bards have arrived at their 100th show! For this centennial spectacular, Syl, Steff, and Syp reminisce about the most notable shows, their best soundtrack discoveries, and their favorite tracks. This super-sized show gets wrapped up with a bout of listener emails and a promise of another amazing hundred episodes!
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 100: Centennial spectacular (or download it) now:
What’s the most newbie-friendly MMO? According to Pete at Dragonchasers, it’s Final Fantasy XIV. He’s been pretty impressed by the support structure that the game has in place for new and returning players.
“I don’t usually interact with other players in MMOs (ironic, I know) but when I was randomly invited into the Novice Network I accepted,” he wrote. “It’s a pretty active channel and at least for the short time I’ve been in it, quite civil […] This experience drew me out of my shell a bit, and by Sunday afternoon I’d dug out a bluetooth keyboard so I could talk in the Novice Network more easily. Overall the way FFXIV welcomed me as a player kind of re-kindled my love of MMOs.”
In this week’s MMO blogger roundup, we have essays on LOTRO’s attention span, the thought behind soloing in online games, and first impressions of Black Desert. Read on!
Star Wars Galaxies came close to wrecking my typing skills. Because semicolons functioned as linebreaks in macros and in chat in SWG, I got in the habit of not using them, replacing them with commas. This is a terrible habit to pick up for a writer, as those of you up on your grammar skills know that commas and semicolons do not serve the same function in a sentence. Using commas where semicolons go creates run-ons of doom.
Fortunately, I’ve managed to restrict this bad habit to casual chat and keep it away from my formal writing — like here! — so it only looks ugly when I’m “off the record” in texts or Slack or whatnot. But it’s still a bad habit I picked up for logical reasons in an MMO, and one I wish I could abandon.
Admittedly, this is not the world’s worst habit to have. Can you top me? Have you picked up any bad habits from MMORPGs?
Ahh… smell that? Smells like a new batch of EverQuest nostalgia, served up to us as a fresh progression server. For some of the faithful, the chance to get a hit of that nostalgia is absolutely irresistible.
“I love EverQuest,” blogger Stargrace writes. “I love the excitement that comes with playing on a progression server. I love how busy they are, and watching chat channels fly by. I love the community and the fuzzy feelings I get when I think about that time in my life.”
Kaozz explained why this server was in such high demand: “My son was baffled how many people want to play on this type of server. I’ve been waiting on one for years and keep up with the requests in the forums I have seen for so many years.”
And The Ancient Gaming Noob finds it baffling that Blizzard isn’t cashing in on these kinds of servers with World of Warcraft. “Nostalgia sells, these servers are popular, they offer something people want and, more importantly, something people are willing to pay for,” he said.
From Zulika Mi-Nam’s Adventures in Tale of Toast:
- Log into a game to do some play testing.
- “Hey, look at these cutsie graphics and those childlike animations!”
- Kill some level 1 and level 2 bunnies rabbits and some loot drops right on the ground from time to time.
- Find a treasure chest with a level 5 baddie guarding it.
- Make that baddie chase me around a tree and out run him back to that chest and loot it and get away: “Haha this is easy and I got a badass level 5 sword… gonna save that for later.”
- Go to town sell my trash loot and head back out.
- Take on a level 3 mushroom: “Pfft no problem.”
- Gonna go for this level 4 bat: “Woah this could go either way… depends on who lands the next hit….yah! Loot sound! Wait, he is bouncing away… I’m dead… then what was that loot?”
- Respawns and looks at inventory: “That… that was the sword I was saving, and it is just laying out there on the ground now.”
- Do the walk of shame to retrieve my sword and turn to shake my childlike fist at that bat. “I’ll be back! You… you fooled me with your cutsieness.”
The Dreamcast was a brief but shining aberration in the gaming world. Coming along years after Sega had fallen out of its position as a top-runner in the console market, it represented the company’s last-ditch attempt to reclaim its former glory. While it failed to succeed in that respect and ultimately closed up shop in 2001 (ending Sega’s interest in the console market), the Dreamcast became a gaming cult favorite responsible for some of the most innovative titles ever made. Games like Jet Grind Radio, Space Channel 5, and Shenmue have remained fan favorites long after the Dreamcast’s demise, which shows the legacy that these dev teams left behind.
But perhaps the Dreamcast’s greatest gift to the gaming world wasn’t crazy taxis or space dancing but a surprisingly forward-looking approach to online gaming. In 2000, the Dreamcast took the first steps to bringing an online console RPG to market, and while it wasn’t a true MMO, it certainly paved the way for titles like EverQuest Online Adventures and Final Fantasy XI.
It was bold, it was addictive, and it was gosh-darned gorgeous. Ladies and gentlemen: Phantasy Star Online.
Sometimes you have to ask yourself why developers fix bugs that are clearly awesome. And so it is with H1Z1: King of the Kill’s recent patch, which mentions that the team “fixed at least one major cause for vehicles appearing to sink into the terrain and explode when approached.” At least there’s the hope that there are other causes, right?
Anyway, yesterday’s patch was relatively small, mostly focused on a few small adjustments, infrastructure improvements to better handle the load of players, and the addition of laminated armor to airdrops.
Meanwhile, the sadly neglected H1Z1: Just Survive is getting a little bit of attention with this afternoon’s stronghold livestream. “Exciting changes are coming to Just Survive this summer and we want to kick that off with a livestream discussing the new stronghold system,” the team posted. Watch it after the break!
Over the last couple of weeks, the monetization of unreleased games has become a pervasive and uncomfortable theme for the MMO genre. Just in brief:
The frustrating bit is I could go on, and this is just for games that aren’t even formally launched yet. So for this week’s Massively Overthinking, I want to take the temperature of alarm regarding these types of business models for unlaunched games. Is this all par for the course, in line with what we expect from the new MMO market? Have they gone too far yet? If not, what’s too far? How do we feel about this type of pre-launch monetization run amok?