Massively Overthinking: Paying for MMORPG emulators, legal or otherwise

MassivelyOp reader Bryan recently wrote to us with a fun question about emulators, a topic that will simply never die as long as MMORPGs do.

“I recently viewed some comments claiming that official era servers wouldn’t acquire much of the player base from private servers, due the benefit of private servers typically being free to play. After thinking about it though, I actually know many people who have donated money or purchased cash shop items on private servers. And I have been in guilds that paid for guild website hosting and guild voice chat hosting for their private server guild. Free stuff is always nice, of course, but it seems as though while the benefit of free to play private servers is there, there’s still a decent amount of people willing to pay out of their pockets for them. I am wondering, how many MOP readers have donated or would be willing to spend real money on a private server?”

So let’s tackle the emulator question in this week’s Massively Overthinking. Have you ever played on an emulator? Under what circumstances? Which ones are you OK with, and which ones do you stay far away from? Are you OK with emulators raising money, and for what purpose? And have you ever donated money to or spent money on an MMO emulator?

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First impressions of the newly launched ARK Park

By the time you read this dear reader, I’ll already be dead… dead tired, that is, from running around the Game Developer’s Conference talking to developers from such companies as Snail Games about upcoming games like ARK Park. Ahead of my meeting about the game, I was granted a review copy so I could get some time in with the real thing before my interview and end of the media embargo. As my Oculus Rift set-up isn’t exactly travel-friendly, and I can be prone to motion sickness, I only had enough time to jump into the game for a few scant hours. It was an interesting experience, since the game wasn’t simultaneously available to the public, and that meant I was probably missing out on the critical social factor for my impressions. Nevertheless, I think they’re worth hashing out. Let’s dig in.

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Trion plans Defiance 2050 closed beta for April – here’s how to sign up

Defiance players itching to give the game’s reinvention as Defiance 2050 a spin are going to get that chance in April.

“We’re thrilled to announce that the Defiance 2050 closed beta test runs April 20 to 22 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC,” the studio posted. “Team up with players in co-op events to explore this partially terraformed world and accomplish compelling story missions or battle it out against fellow Ark Hunters in fast-paced PvP combat.”

It sounds as if testers will be playing the Assault class specifically during this leg of the beta. Signups are on the official site.

Trion announced the console-friendly reboot back in February; the MMORPG studio has since promised it won’t abandon the original game and can’t support full crossplay but will credit classic Defiance players in the new title.


ARK: Survival Evolved is coming to the Nintendo Switch

Nintendo’s one-year-old Switch is starting to pick up more and more online titles as it matures and gains in popularity, and its latest coup is in securing the popular ARK: Survival Evolved for the platform.

Studio Wildcard announced that it will be bringing ARK to the Switch this fall as both a retail and digital product. The Switch version promises to host all of the content and animals that exist on other platforms. And it sounds as if the studio is taking advantage of the unique hardware: “With this new version, Switch players can go directly from hunting and taming while sitting on the couch, to forming online tribes and searching out new conquests when on the bus, waiting in line, or wherever they happen to be,” said Lead Designer Jeremy Stieglitz.

Meanwhile in the current PC version, ARK has updated to Patch v279, which comes with visual upgrades to six of the creatures (including the Raptor and Triceratops). This update will arrive on consoles in mid-April.

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GDC 2018: Rend is looking to ‘WoW’ the survival genre

I’m already old and bitter when it comes to survival games. I’ve killed zombies, dinosaurs, infected bears, maybe even infected dinosaurs, and people. Lots of people. Even for food, and I don’t mean apples. I’ve been been forced to hand over my clothes in the freezing cold, drowned myself to escape imprisonment, and endured beaches full of dead, starved naked men on a PvE server that was unable to provide food for its citizens. It’s been the worst parts of The Walking Dead when I’ve been looking for the “It’s going to be OK!” moments. All this during what’s largely proven to be an unending “Early Access” period.

To say I’m critical of the survival genre at this point may be an understatement. By all accounts, someone might think I hate them, and they’d be half right. I hate most of what I’ve played. There’s cool stuff, but it’s like finding a $1 bill in what you hope was a pool of mud. It’s cool, but not really something you want to do a lot of. You mostly want the good stuff. Frostkeep’s upcoming survival MMO, Rend… well, it’s hard to not get excited, but my time talking to the developers actually gave me some faith for the future.

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GDC 2018: Hearthstone’s Witchwood goes monster hunting

Massively OP is at GDC 2018 this year, and like Hearthstone, we’re kicking things off with a bang: with monster hunting! No, not the dino-esque kind Matt and I have been doing, but the kind Gilneas are doing in HS‘s upcoming expansion, The Witchwood. I got to sit down and talk with Lead Mission Designer Dave Kosak and Associate Designer Dean Ayala about the new expansion, RNG, and more.

What the Witchwood brings

First, the best part: Just logging in after Witchwood launches grants you not only three free packs, but a random legendary card as well. In fact, we’ve seen a few new cards and card mechanics in the past week or so. The Rush mechanic, essentially Charge without letting creatures attack players on their first turn, isn’t exactly new, and I was told it wouldn’t be retroactively added to any cards, including the warrior move “Charge,” which essentially just adds Rush to a creature. Echo is kind of cool, allowing the player to cast an Echo card as many times as they can afford that turn. And then there are the Worgen cards, which switch their attack and HP each turn add some flexibility to your decks depending on what you need. The latter two feel more interesting for an old CCG fan like yours truly since those are the kinds of things that are hard to do in a physical CCG.

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The MOP Up: Enter the Phantom Halls — if you dare! (March 18, 2018)

The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!

Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from Mu IgnitionLineage 2 RevolutionRevelation OnlineEarthfallLegacy of AtlantisDC UnchainedSoul ArkBattle CarnivalWorld of WarcraftOld School RuneScapeAionWar ThunderArtifactPokemon GoThe Black DeathAstroneerEVE OnlinePhantom HallsMU Online, and Heroes of Newerth, all waiting for you after the break!

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The Stream Team: Cave diving for ARK glowtails

The last big ARK expedition Massively OP’s MJ took was to the surface. What goes up, must also go down, right? So this time, she delving the depths of a cave. The gang is on the hunt for new light pets, the elusive glowtail lizards. Will this journey end better than the first time MJ wandered into this cave? (Hint: She was lured to her death by a once-trusted tribe member!) Tune in live at 2:00 p.m. to see how successful this second trip into the cave is.

What: ARK: Aberration
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 2:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday, March 17th, 2018

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Take a trip through Funcom’s 25-year history

From 1994’s A Dinosaur’s Tale to 2018’s Mutant Year Zero, Funcom has blazed its own path through the video game genre as a developer and publisher of all sorts of titles. These, of course, include some of MMORPG fans’ most beloved games, such as Anarchy Online, Age of Conan, and The Secret World.

To celebrate the studio’s 25th anniversary, Funcom put together a quick video that takes players from the 16-bit console generation to the modern day, showing off its various logos and a montage of its games.

“Since those humble beginnings back in March of 1993, we’ve released over twenty-five games across a wide range of platforms,” Funcom said. “We’ve survived major shifts in the gaming industry and we’ve had to adapt to an ever-changing market. We’ve had our ups and we’ve had our downs. We’ve weathered many storms and we’ve earned our battle-scars.”

The journey starts below. What are you waiting for?

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ARK Survival Evolved is coming to mobile in full, with a beta beginning today

You know what the world needs? Obviously, it’s another version of ARK Survival Evolved, duh. PixARK and ARK Park, nevermind Jurassic World Alive, aren’t enough! ALL THE DINOS.

Ahem. Yes, apparently Studio Wildcard has tapped War Drum Studios to build out a mobile version of the game called just ARK Mobile. It’s the real deal, the real game, not some wimpy spinoff.

“Based on the genre-defining adventure from PC and console, ARK: Survival Evolved challenges you to survive and thrive on a mysterious island, where you start out alone and unarmed. Gather resources and craft tools to build shelter and hunt. Expand your domain while capturing and taming dinosaurs to do your bidding. Make new friends online, form tribes, and build mighty structures to defend against man and mega-predators alike!”

The closed beta begins today on iOS; signups are on the official site. Launch – on iOS and Android – is expected this spring, though we haven’t gotten any clues about crossplatform play just yet.

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Snail’s voxel survivalbox PixARK launches into early access on March 27

Voxel fans, dinosaur fiends, and survival sandbox freaks have surely had their eyes on PixARK since its original announcement last summer. It’s one of Snail’s many (many!) ARK Survival Evolved spinoffs, and the company has just hardened up its early access release date: March 27th. That’s for both Steam and Xbox One. “PixARK will be coming to retail and digital on Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Xbox One X later in 2018,” Snail says.

We previously noted that in spite of its cutesy graphics, it seemed like much more of a cutthroat survivalbox than its closest MMO cognates, but development on Steam suggests plenty of sandbox builder goodness too. Snail is touting both single-player and online multiplayer, collections, base-building, character progression, character customization, procedurally generated worlds, a sandbox mode, eight biomes, and 100 dinos and critters to “tame, train, and ride.”

There’s a new trailer to celebrate the occasion, naturally. It’s down below.

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The Stream Team: ARK Aberration surface expedition

Have you seen the surface of ARK: Aberration? Massively OP’s MJ hasn’t, and she’s excited to go. Today she and the team are gearing up for a quick surface expedition — even though she is assured it is most certainly a suicide run for most of the gang. With any luck, at least someone will make it back with some sort of treasure. Tune in live at 12:00 p.m. for MJ’s first run topside.

What: ARK: Aberration
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 12:00 p.m. EST on Saturday, March 10th, 2018

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Massively Overthinking: Is battle royale a fad?

This week in Massively Overthinking, I want to talk about something out on the fringes of our genre: battle royale games. We’ve been watching BR take off, first with H1Z1, then the explosion of PUBG last summer and fall, and now Fortnite has taken the crown, becoming even more popular and raking in even more money, at least on console and potentially overall. And yet less than a year ago, we were embracing Fortnite as a PvE building game – see how blazingly fast Epic pivoted to catch this trend? I remember when PUBG started to plateau in the west even as it continued it climb in China, and I wondered then whether anything could ever dethrone it – and I have to say, I didn’t think it would be Fortnite.

So let’s talk about battle royale. Is it bleeding an online subgenre – MMOs, shooters, MOBAs, or survival sandboxes, or is it just something everyone’s tacked on top of existing gameplay? How will mobile keep up? And most importantly, is it a fad that’s destined to eventually fade away, or is it here to stay?

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