Hope you brought your industrial-sized ion cannon, fly boy, because that is one mother of a droid that’s trying to stomp on your face. Izax, the final boss of the God of the Machine operation, goes live today with Star Wars: The Old Republic Game Update 5.8
Izax and its limited-time event is merely a part of today’s content update. BioWare has revamped the conquest system – which we’ve already deep-dived in Hyperspace Beacon – to include a new interface and additional rewards for guilds. Three companions also return for some story content: the Sith Inquisitor’s Ashara, the Imperial Agent’s Vector, and everyone’s hunky Arcann.
For those who play the Galactic Trade Network, it should be noted that BioWare has increased the tax rate from 6% to 8% to “combat credit inflation.”
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 Ignition, Lineage 2 Revolution, Revelation Online, Earthfall, Legacy of Atlantis, DC Unchained, Soul Ark, Battle Carnival, World of Warcraft, Old School RuneScape, Aion, War Thunder, Artifact, Pokemon Go, The Black Death, Astroneer, EVE Online, Phantom Halls, MU Online, and Heroes of Newerth, all waiting for you after the break!
I think that we can all agree that Hirku seems like he’d be a pretty fun-loving dude to hang out with in World of Warcraft. We would all get cooler just by association, and he would take us on these crazy adventures where we’d log in the next day, find ourselves naked in some unfinished expansion, and have no recollection of what happened the night before.
I mean, look at this picture! “Ordinary” does not suit this party pirate’s life at all.
As a side note, I am completely jealous of players who have the ability to take great screenshots using fun emotes. Trying that usually results in me taking a picture of my character’s left ear from an extreme close-up view.
Don’t call it a victory – nobody wins forever in the Star Wars universe – but there’s still reason to cheer in Star Wars Battlefront II today. EA has announced that it’s overhauling the entire progression system for the game. Readers will recall that outrage over the game’s lockbox gambling was the final chunk of kindling in the monetization dumpster fire that finally blazed over into mainstream media coverage at the end of 2017. (The “a sense of pride and accomplishment” line was being quoted in government hearings last month.)
“With this update, progression is now linear,” EA declares. “Star Cards, or any other item impacting gameplay, will only be earned through gameplay and will not be available for purchase. Instead, you’ll earn experience points for the classes, hero characters, and ships that you choose to play in multiplayer. If you earn enough experience points to gain a level for that unit, you’ll receive one Skill Point that can be used to unlock or upgrade the eligible Star Card you’d like to equip.”
Before we start, yes, I’m sure many of our readers are feeling a big wave of “duh” at the statement in the headline, but remember that testable results carry more weight than anecdotal evidence and feelings. And these results are solid.
As researchers Simone Kühn, Dimitrij Tycho Kugler, Katharina Schmalen, Markus Weichenberger, Charlotte Witt and Jürgen Gallinat note in Does playing violent video games cause aggression? A longitudinal intervention study, the paper here is the “first to investigate the effects of long-term violent video gameplay using a large battery of tests spanning questionnaires, behavioural measures of aggression, sexist attitudes, empathy and interpersonal competencies, impulsivity-related constructs (such as sensation seeking, boredom proneness, risk-taking, delay discounting), mental health (depressivity, anxiety) as well as executive control functions, before and after 2 months of gameplay.” While two months may not be that long, it’s pretty good when you consider the number of shortcomings we see in game aggression research.
Portalarium is going all out for Shroud of the Avatar’s formal launch next week – March 27th, for those of you keeping count. Last night, the studio held its launch party in conjunction with SXSW (we’ll have much more on that event when Massively OP’s MJ returns from it!). In the meantime, Portalarium and EU publisher Travian Games pushed out a press release that bizarrely dubs the game a “multiplayer RPG” and releases two brand-new videos. The first is clearly intended to introduce the Ultima Online spiritual successor to newcomers, while the second shows off just how far combat and co-op play have come over the last couple of years.
This week, I’m going to depart a little from the usual insights into the world around Star Wars: The Old Republic
and talk about another studio that isn’t owned by LucasFilm
and certainly isn’t owned by Electronic Arts
. I’d like to talk about Fogbank Entertainment
Some people believe that a studio makes a game what is it. Others believe that it’s the IP that the studio carries that makes the video game unique. I think that IP and the studio name carry weight. I certainly would not play SWTOR as much as I do if it carried an IP like Valérian and Laureline. But one of the primary reasons that I believe that SWTOR performed as well as it did (or didn’t, depending on your opinion) was the quality of the people behind it. For me, some of the most integral people to making a good game are the writers. And many of the SWTOR writers have moved on from BioWare and have effectively started their own studio: Fogbank.
If you recognize names like Daniel Erickson, Alexander Freed, Drew Karpyshyn, and Hall Hood, then you will definitely want to see what they are up to at Fogbank Entertainment. If you don’t know who they are, then give me a moment to explain why they are superstars of the gaming and MMO industry.
Around the time I started working at Massively-that-was, there was an article that I quite liked talking about how four high-profile MMO failures were not necessary. It was a product of its time, but the point was made that these games didn’t have to wind up in the state they were in. The mistakes that were made were not unexpected problems, but entirely predictable ones that anyone could have seen. Heck, some people did see them and pointed them out, but nothing was changed.
I think about that a lot when I think about other MMOs and online games because there are a lot of titles that, even if not entirely failed, are in states they never needed to be in. These stories are, at the very least, stories of some failures where the failure was not an inevitable end state, nor are they messes that had to be made. The writing was on the wall, the warnings were given, and someone just kept on keeping on and ignored all of the signs. And here we are.
Ready for Star Wars: The Old Republic
Patch 5.8’s arrival next week
? It’s OK if not, because the developers are here to bring you up to speed on the latest chapter of this MMO’s journey.
The team popped on a livestream yesterday to cover a half-dozen features that are coming with the update, including the return of two companions (the Inquisitor’s Ashara and the Imperial Agent’s Vector), some screens of the improved conquest user interface, an embedded trailer for Izax, and the lore behind the Gods of the Machine operation.
BioWare said that it is slating class balance tweaks for 5.9, not 5.8, so you’ll have to wait a little while to see what these utility changes will bring.
When we covered Shroud of the Avatar’s newsletter yesterday, one of the tidbits we mentioned was the plan for craftable housing. In response to a question from a player, Starr Long essentially announced that in the launch patch next week, Portalarium is planning to tweak that system, which has long provoked claims of pay-to-win.
“Yes we are going to be expanding the number of craftable houses soon. In R52 in fact we are adding a craftable inn.”
So what exactly does housing entail? A helpful Redditor linked to a helpful thread on the official site just a few weeks ago breaking down how exactly you can buy property without handing over your credit card because you definitely can – that’s the good news. If you’re not a crafter yourself, you just need a specific currency, Crowns of the Obsidians, which you can buy with gold.
A few months ago, we ran a Leaderboard poll asking players what kind of live studio-led events they want out of MMORPGs. By way of example, I compared the types of GM-run live events I saw in Ultima Online and EverQuest. In Ultima Online, we often saw long-running plotlines, mysterious NPCs, decorated special locations, dungeon crawls, and weddings galore. In EverQuest, I saw weddings, yes, but also GMs running around massacring newbies to get the highbies to come take them out (which wasn’t such a grand time as you lost experience on death). In Asheron’s Call, well, don’t take my word for it – just listen to Andrew talk about some of the biggest MMO events that ever took place in the genre.
Such GM events – the good ones, at least – are the subject of Saga of Lucimia’s weekly dev blog, which ought to make the majority of you who voted for plot, roleplaying, and activities other than endless murder in your event happy.
“Over the years, that type of interaction faded away as it became too ‘cost prohibitive’ for companies to maintain the type of staff required to create such unique events, and these days you are hard-pressed to find a GM logged into any game, much less get customer support to answer your emails in a timely fashion,” Lucimia Creative Director Tim “Renfail” Anderson maintains. “Cash shops and loot boxes are the name of the game these days. Game masters? What are those?”
Surfacing at the tail end of last week was the news that multiple former BioWare devs who’d all contributed heavily to Star Wars The Old Republic at one point or another in their careers were moving on to a new studio called FogBank to work on unnamed narrative-centric games. The Fogbank roster includes Daniel Erickson and Alexander Freed, both of whom left BioWare and SWTOR years ago. But it also includes renowned storyteller Drew Karpyshyn, who’d returned to BioWare specifically to work on Anthem, which certainly cast some doubt on the state of that game, which has been delayed at least once (though EA denies it).
On Saturday, Anthem studio boss Casey Hudson address growing player concern on Twitter, suggesting rather ambiguously that Karpyshyn had simply finished his work on the game and was moving on as part of the natural course of development. “Story will always be an important part of every BioWare game,” he wrote. “Drew has wrapped up his work on the project, but Anthem’s Lead Writers and their teams continue to do amazing work developing the world, story, and characters.”
God of the Machine, one of Star Wars: The Old Republic’s
premiere endgame operations, is not a new addition to the game. But it has been incomplete, as BioWare has slowly been adding to its encounters over the past year. Next week when Game Update 5.8
arrives, the final boss will be added and players will be able to go through the complete operation from start to finish.
BioWare teased two images of Izak the Destroyer, a truly gargantuan droid who looks like it also has some sort of protective force field, as a way to generate hype for the March 20th patch. Check them out after the break and brush off your skills — you’re going to need them!
Oh, and it looks as though a plague has broken out on Corellia. Again. So, you know, get on that.