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!
This week we have stories and videos from Conan Exiles, Osiris, Final Fantasy XI, Ultima Online, Tree of Savior, Lineage II, Warface, Games of Glory, Elsword, Splatoon, Skyforge, all waiting for you after the break!
Deep in the comments of the MMOs-vs.-survival-sandboxes thread from last week, reader miol_ produced a beautiful comment about how MMO players have become a minority in their own genre, which he then expounded upon for us in this provocative email.
“I’ve reached the opinion, that since the launch of WoW and its clones, the ‘original’ MMO-playerbase became a minority in their own genre. Before, we were but hundreds of thousands of MMO players, but then came Blizzard with WoW and its legions of fans in the dozen of millions at its peak, starting to dictate what the new success of MMOs should look like. Even if we others tried to vote with our wallet and feet, we became a minority, having only a fraction of our initial influence, while many devs tried desperately time and again to find ways to get at least a portion of the new Blizzard playerbase.
“Am I wrong with that perception of history? Am I totally missing something? Or are ‘we’ are slowly becoming a majority again, now that WoW and its clones are seeing steadily declining numbers (instead of us winning more players to ‘our side’)? How do we lobby better for ‘our cause’? Or can we only wait and see, until the genre is small enough again? Or is it too late? Have we ourselves grown too far apart into our even more niche corners of personal taste since SWG, while production costs and our demands for production value have skyrocketed at the same time? How could we come closer again?”
Let’s tackle miol_’s questions in this week’s Massively Overthinking.
On the Morrowind subreddit a few days ago, a player was recounting a particular roleplay-slash-griefing episode on a hardcore-roleplay Ultima Online emulator. The player explains that he spent months roleplaying as a bartender serving drinks to the adventurers he befriended. But he was actually planning something far more nefarious:
“For over a year I roleplayed with these people as a simple barman, pretended to be their friend and confidant, and then during a harvest festival where every player on our server was in attendance and I was [paid] to provide the food and drink… I poisoned every last morsel of food, every drop of drink, and after the [regent] delivered his speech and all of these fools raised their goblets for the toast and took that deadly sip, I stepped onto the stage and revealed what had happened. They [were] all going to die, and die they did. Now this was a permanent death server (hardcore RPers, mind you), and some had been playing those characters for 8 years, and there they all were, collapsed and dying. Soon they were all unconscious, as you could only die if you went unconscious three times in one day or if a certain psychotic bartender came and cut off your head… which I did to every player in our group of 38. They were all there, and unfortunately so was I.”
Broadsword’s keeping fans of its MMORPGs Dark Age of Camelot and Ultima Online busy this week!
Dark Age of Camelot is running a Come Back to Camelot campaign this spring — former players may already have gotten invites in their inboxes. The caveat is that your account must have been off for 60 days for you to pick up an invite, and you get your free 30 days only if you reactivate.
Meanwhile, Ultima Online has announced in its most recent newsletter that publish 97, which we wrote about just a few days ago and includes the huge overhaul for the popular animal taming skill set, is now set to go live on April 27th. In fact, work has already begun on publish 98:
In the ultimate battle for your dollar in the MMO industry, two MMOs with rabid fan bases duke it out by serving you a deep and engaging narrative. Star Wars: The Old Republic and The Elder Scrolls Online both want to draw you in with the worlds they have to offer, but each does so in a unique fashion: One gives you interesting characters build up your ego by making you the most power being in the galaxy, while the other tempts you in with a wondrous world to discover.
In Massively OP’s latest video, we’ll examine these two games and ask which is more appropriate for an MMORPG: story or lore. It’s a tough question — there might not be a satisfying answer!
One of the best parts of Wurm Online’s Unlimited version is that players can run wild with their own custom servers, tailoring them to their every whim. That’s exactly what MMO gamer and Ubisoft artist Andrea “Malena” Fryer has done: She’s combined two of the best MMORPG sandboxes of all time into one by recreating the Ultima Online map in Wurm.
“The most nostalgic MMO players I know (myself included) are old Ultima Online players,” Malena began on the Wurm forums earlier in April. “So I’ve named the server accordingly and will do my very best to set it up, build and decorate just like good old UO. When the day comes that it’s ready to be made public, I hope you’ll share a little moistness in your eye, remembering back to the good old days in the lands of Sosaria!”
The project’s even won the admiration of former Ultima Online lead designer Raph “Designer Dragon” Koster.
Over the last week or so, ZeniMax Online Studios opened up parts of The Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind test servers to the press and public, allowing us to hop in and take a long and unfettered look at the developing expansion. In fact, that’s why I shied away from saying anything about the Elder Scrolls Online patch notes controversy — I’ve been buried in the real thing all week. Although I can now talk about the negative, I can also finally talk about the positive bits Morrowind has to offer.
I want to be fair about my analysis of ZOS’ depiction of the island of Vvardenfell and the Dark Elf culture, so I will have to put aside some of my nostalgic feels and take the experience for what it is: a solid entertaining MMORPG with a handful of flaws. I’m not going to pull any punches, but I should let you know that I really like this next chapter for ESO.
I’m not going to give everything away, but there is an interesting story involving a god, a priest, and a giant crab.
Just because you happen to be a humanoid frog doesn’t mean that you’ve lost at the lottery of life. On the contrary, you have all sorts of advantages, such as being able to install and replace light fixtures very high in your underground cavern. Also, you can eat flies.
Reader Finyar starts us out this week with a stunning interior location from a fan-favorite MMO: “I’m currently playing Guild Wars 2 again and I’m always impressed with how beautifully crafted the game world is.”
Art matters, people. Also, why can’t we play more frogs in online games?
Funcom’s Joel Bylos features in a Twitch interview on Gamasutra this week talking up Conan Exiles and explaining the core difference between server-based survival games versus Funcom’s “old MMOs,” as the interviewer put it. Bylos’ answer actually makes a lot of sense.
“[In] The Secret World, we focused very strongly on making really cool and interesting content and story, and the idea was to make it interesting to play. The thing is, with an MMO, a lot of focus goes into repeatable content. A lot of focus goes into things like ‘I’m gonna run this dungeon six times’ or 20 times or 200 times, right? So we need reward systems that give you tokens, that let you build or buy better items. There’s a lot of itemization discussion in MMOs. In a game like Conan Exiles, people are going to lose stuff, and we know that. We need to make it so that they can keep rebuilding stuff, keep creating stuff, keep progressing in the game, but not necessarily wanting them to go, ‘Oh, I want you to go grind this dungeon 50 times so that you can do the next dungeon – slightly harder.’ So [Conan Exiles] is not so much about this very small percentage of power increase to increase your character’s progression. That’s what I would say is a big difference in these type of games.”
Here’s a welcome shot of publicity for Star Wars: The Old Republic
this week. Knights of the Eternal Throne’s
“Betrayed” trailer was nominated for a Webby Award
for the Long Form (Branded) category alongside companies such as BMW and Chipotle. The public can view and vote for whichever short film they think is the best, so obviously SWTOR would appreciate your help
in propelling it to the top.
The trailer, created by Blur and directed by Dave Wilson, was released to promote last fall’s expansion. It shows the backstory of a powerful Force-using family and the separate paths that certain members took over the course of their lives. Also, it has a girl Force-crushing an armored soldier like he was a soda can, so that’s pretty awesome.
If you need a refresher on the trailer in question, we’ve got it for you after the break.
Broadsword has been putting the final touches on Ultima Online’s 97th publish all month, and as of yesterday, the release is on the guinea pig shards, which means the full launch isn’t far away, though Broadsword is still saying “later this month.”
The core of the update is a massive overhaul of the animal taming system, which has been one of the dominant skill sets in the game since its original launch. Expect 20 new tameable creatures (some of which are new to the game), new hues for existing critters, a new quest, and tons of new options for training pets in different skills and schools. The downside is that all the extra damage output will be met with a hefty nerf for pets in PvP.
Ultima Online turns 20 this autumn and will celebrate with a real-life party near Washington, DC. Since someone’s gonna ask: The studio has said repeatedly that it has no plans to go free-to-play. The planned Steam launch, however, was held up by EA’s “final approval” and at this point looks unlikely.
Massively OP’s Larry and MJ have reached a major culminating part of the story in the SWTOR
Choose My Alignment adventure — the end of Knights of the Fallen Empire’s
first act. The duo are on the way to talk to the Scion of Zakuul, Heska. How will things unfold? That all depends on you, the viewer! Join us live at 2:00 p.m. to direct the choices during this act one conclusion.
What: Star Wars: The Old Republic
Who: Larry Everett & MJ Guthrie
When: 2:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 19th, 2017
When I took the trip to ZeniMax Online Studios to check out Morrowind a couple of months back, I was sitting at a table with other games press and a handful of ZOS developers, including Creative Director Rich Lambert and Lead PvP Designer Brian Wheeler. The conversation wasn’t exactly off the record, but it wasn’t really an interview setting either. We were just talking, mostly about our lives: how Brian had to leave soon because he might get in trouble with his girlfriend and how Rich spent many overnights at the same hotel that the press had been staying in because he was at the office late and had to be there again early the next day.
During the course of the conversation, we ended up talking about how the press had originally received the Elder Scrolls Online and how it received it since the console launch. It’s not a big secret that I said some pretty critical things about ESO shortly after its PC launch. Rich pointed out during the conversation, possibly not knowing the outlet I was from, that he was surprised at how the opinions had turned around, especially Massively’s. And when he said “Massively,” I don’t think he realized that it was specifically my opinion that had that changed, drastically, since I’ve been the site’s ESO columnist since before the game’s launch.