Interface junkies, gather round, especially if you like detailed old-school-inspired MMORPGs, for Project Gorgon has unveiled a detailed tour of its new UI. It’s been “written to take advantage of the latest that the Unity Engine has to offer,” says the studio, and it’s largely thanks to the programmer hired with your Kickstarter funds.
“To reiterate, the main point of this rewrite is to make it easier for us to add UI features in the future. So in this first version, the most important thing is that we don’t lose any important features from the old UI. But there are some tangible improvements. The new UI’s appearance was designed by a top-rated UI artist. It has a cleaner look while still fitting in a tremendous number of functions and features. And we’ve taken the time to add some improvements — many small ones and a few big ones — that will make your gaming life immediately better.”
The dev blog released o the forums this week shows off collapsible skill trees, copypasting from tooltips, right-click context menus, frame moving and docking, outfit loadouts, chat customization, and maybe most importantly, a “stuff to do” panel that explains, well, what to do when you’re “stuck or confused.”
Just about 20 years ago, my boyfriend and I were wandering through Media Play (heh) when he picked up this box for some new online subscription video game with a cheesy Hildebrandt cover. I was skeptical. He bought it anyway. The next morning, after I’d played all night and totally bogarted his new game, we figured we should probably get a second account. And so we did, in spite of being clueless teenagers who could barely afford one sub, let alone two.
That game was Ultima Online, and it’s the game that birthed the term MMORPG and quite literally dragged me into the realm of virtual worlds. Without it, I wouldn’t be right here where I am talking to you today, having married that dude in the interim. And as of yesterday, that game is 20 years old.
Last autumn, when the game was turning 19, I did a fairly in-depth video on the coolest parts of UO, the parts you can still play today, as I do frequently dive back in and am playing this month too! It’s Massively OP’s best-performing video to date, proving that the game is very much not dead and done. Pretty much everything in the video is still accurate, except for the part on the business model (spoiler: UO is kinda going free-to-play), so I’m going to include it below, but then I’ll recap some of the important bits from the last year and answer a few questions anybody reading is sure to have.
Probably my greatest and most constant gripe about fantasy MMORPGs is that for all of the freedom and imagination that this genre supposedly boasts, game designers keep going to the same boring well of tropes and limit themselves instead of exploring possibilities.
Nowhere do you see this more than in races. Dwarves and Elves? We’ve got bushels and barrels of them, all on sale at discount prices. There are regular humans, of course, and Slightly Bigger Humans, and Half-Sized Humans, and Blue Humans. But what about getting outside of this been-there-played-that cookie cutter design to offer some interesting playable choices?
Like fairies, perhaps?
I could never understand why we don’t see fairies more in MMOs. They are widely recognized in the fantasy genre, they seem to have popularity, and they even share some cross-over with Elves. But the poor fae have been unrepresented, so much so that it took a lot of digging to come up with a mere 10 MMOs that allow you to play as one, whether it be as a race or class. Let’s take a look!
When the history books go to record the development of Project Gorgon, they’re going to have to use terms like “ages” and “epochs” to describe the slow-burning process of this game’s creation. Still, our generation might live to see this indie MMORPG move out of alpha and into a broader market.
The team said late last month that it was hard at work “gearing up” for Project Gorgon’s Steam launch. Previously, it was stated that the Steam early access release would precede Gorgon’s official launch later this year.
The game’s late August patch revised the zone of Serbule Hills, added a poetry podium for oration, and made several changes to augmentation and transmutation. Coming soon, however, is an update to the user interface that will add much-needed context menus for items. Check it out after the break!
If you hear a high-pitched hum coming from somewhere in the heartland of America, pay it no attention. It’s just Project Gorgon drawing immense quantities of electricity to charge up its new client.
The team announced recently that it had switched over to a 64-bit client to take advantage of players with capable hardware. This means that Gorgon will no longer be supporting 32-bit Windows or Mac users, but the team said that there have been so few of them as to not be a huge issue.
Next week Project Gorgon should be pushing out a new “snapshot” build of the game with several improvements, including a renaming of South Serbule to be more clear and “a smorgasbord of little changes to lots of systems.” Bunnies will get a “bun-fu” strike, players can level up poetry appreciation by listening to others spout limericks, and so on. Hey, it’s a weird game. That’s part of its charm.
Indie MMORPG Project Gorgon has a new Kickstarter post up detailing how far it’s come since its successful Kickstarter two years ago.
“Since the Project: Gorgon Kickstarter Campaign ended, we have implemented: New Website and Forums; Multiple new zones; A completely new tutorial experience; Dozens of new skills; Increased skill levels; Complete overhaul of the power system; Complete overhaul of equipment bonuses; New Animal Forms; New Animal items; Created and implemented an Animal Town; Created new quest systems; Created New NPCS; Added Guilds; Added Guild Missions; Added Player Vendors; Added dispensers; Added Work Orders; Added the ability to drown; Updated many game systems and functions; Implemented and Updated the in-game day/night cycle.
It bears repeating that Elder Game is a tiny studio consisting of two people: Asheron’s Call studio vets Eric Heimburg and Sandra Powers.
“We are currently in the process of overhauling the game graphics systems, effects, textures, lighting, and camera functionality. We have implemented such changes in the zone known as ‘Serbule’,” they write. “We are also in the process of internally testing a completely redesigned and coded User Interface.””
Ragequitting. Most of us have probably done it once or twice from groups or single-player games or even MMO sessions in our time. My husband ragequit (disgustquit?) an Overwatch match the other night where his own teammates were spewing toxic slurs in voice chat, leading to a rating hit for him rather than the people poisoning the game (another problem for another column).
But what about ragequitting an MMORPG altogether? A game where you have time and money and friends and loot and achievements, sometimes years’ worth? Have you ever up and just walked out on an MMORPG? If so, what prompted it, and did you ever regret it or change your mind? I posed these questions to the Massively OP team for this week’s Overthinking roundtable!
We are still waiting for the full reveal of Project Gorgon’s promised Bard skill, but in the meantime we can enjoy a sneak peek at what the class has to offer. Or should we say, a sneak listen? That doesn’t rhyme. Oh well.
Project Gorgon Composer Conor Brace posted a new piece of music that demonstrates the Bard healing with tunes while playing alongside the combat theme. Check it out:
One complaints that Project Gorgon testers have expressed during the alpha is that inventory and storage is both limiting and cluttered. The small dev team is well aware of this, which is why it has laid down a few quality of life improvements in this field prior to the upcoming UI revamp.
June 9th’s patch allowed for some measure of linked storage within a zone and a new search command that will span all of a player’s secret holdings. The update also linked a few features to guild levels, including storage and population size. Other changes include adjustments to the food system, a couple of new events, a guild quit command, and actual phases of the moon in the night sky.
Project Gorgon has a rather larger revamp of South Serbule coming up in a few weeks.
Anyone who has ever played Project Gorgon knows that its graphical user interface is as basic and utilitarian as possible. Well, soon that is going to change, and the game will no longer have the look of a 1998-era Windows product.
In a new dev post, the team said that its programmer has finished coding the new GUI which will represent a top-to-bottom revamp of the interface. “It’s important to understand just how big a deal this is,” the lead developer posted. “The ‘new GUI’ isn’t just a new skin. It’s actually a 100% rewrite of our existing user interface — changing over from my old home-brew GUI system to the new Unity GUI system. These two systems work entirely differently.”
The new GUI will go into testing some time in June and contain features such more robust storage options. The team is also working on dynamic weather and a new baking skill, the latter influenced by a developer Netflix binge of a baking show (we can’t make this stuff up, folks).
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.
What does a week where the news douses us in a shower of smaller stories look like? Bree and Justin wring out of their clothes, shaking loose tales of metropolises in the planning, console features, anniversary parties, and dance studios. Maybe it won’t flood the world of MMOs, but it definitely waters the lawns of our interest!
It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.
Listen to the show right now:
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard MMORPG gamers say they love everything about the weird and wonderful sandbox of Project Gorgon… except for the dated placeholder graphics. Welp, that’s what the last couple of crowdfunding rounds were meant to fix, and today we’re getting a fresh look at improved textures and models in the alpha.
“This particular iteration of Serbule is focusing on three things: the textures and models in Serbule city (some of which are already live), the terrain (the grasses, trees, and so on), and the sky,” says Elder Game in its blog post today. “Graphics work always seems to take vastly longer than I hope it will. Part of that is because it needs to be tested on lots of hardware — and we don’t have a full set of testing hardware, so we also have to try to ‘simulate’ low-end machines, which requires some development work. But it’s coming along, slowly but surely. Here’s a few screenshots. They’re a couple days old, and the game already looks a bit different from these, but it will give you an idea of where we are in the process.”
Check out the whole dev post for an explanation of each shot (especially that nighttime image). The tiny team has also been hard at work on crafting skills too, in particular brewing. But I can’t stop looking at those skies.