Ever pause during your day and find yourself wondering, “Whatever happened to that game?” With hundreds upon hundreds of online titles these days, it’s surprisingly easy for MMOs to fall through the cracks and become buried as more aggressive or active games take the spotlight.
Well, every so often we here at Massively Overpowered find ourselves curious what has transpired with certain MMOs that we haven’t heard from in quite a while. Have we missed the action and notices? Has the game gone into stealth maintenance mode? What’s the deal? What has it been up to lately? That’s when we put on our detective hats and go sleuthing!
In this special pirate edition of the column, we’ll be visiting the fates ‘n’ fortunes of Pirates of the Burning Sea, Pirates of the Caribbean Online, and Puzzle Pirates. Yo ho!
Last week, a reader named Chris, who is writing a paper on the MMO industry and revivifying sunsetted games, dropped an intriguing question into my inbox. It’s about bots – but not the sort of bots EVE Online is constantly fighting. The good kind.
“Do you think people would be interested in coming back to ‘closed’ MMO games if they were populated with AI bots instead of real players (to make them feel alive/populated)?” he asked me.
Let’s ponder that for today’s Overthinking. Certainly we’ve seen bots put to work in games like Camelot Unchained, which uses them to test massive numbers of players on the battlefield. Would you want to see them in live play? Would they help the feel of the world in ways that default NPCs simply would not? Is the AI even doable? Could AI bots take our place to make MMORPGs even better – or even to keep them viable and save them from destruction?
Forgettable ambient noise or entrancing space sounds? This is the debate that’s at the core of today’s episode, as the Battle Bards take on EVE Online’s beloved and perhaps misunderstood soundtrack. It’s a journey that goes far beyond our galaxy to one full of intrigue, industry, and space discotheques!
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 115: EVE Online (or download it) now:
Is your Valentine’s day about love, friendship, or free candy from mom? In MMORPGs, it’s about questing, murder, and free loot! So, yeah, kinda the same. Enjoy Massively OP’s guide to this very pink not-a-holiday across the MMORPG genre – and some not-quite-MMOs too!
It’s not exactly love
that’s in the air in EVE Online
for the Guardian’s Gala. For one thing, there’s not really any air out in deep space; for another, it’s more about celebrating treasured business relationships and people who haven’t stabbed you in the back much. It’s also one of the centerpieces of the game’s February release
, patching in several new paint jobs for ships as a reward. Check out the Agency menu to find out what events are available to celebrate the season in that uniquely EVE
The patch also brings a variety of quality-of-life improvement for Upwell structure owners and players piloting assault frigates, so even if you’ve got no time for love you should have something new to enjoy. There are even new moon mining mechanics to improve that particular style of gameplay. Whatever you choose to engage with for the rest of the month, you can really feel the love.
One of the advantages to computer RPGs, I’ve always thought, is that you don’t need a friend who you can alternately sucker or bribe into taking on 80% of the work that’s involved in making a tabletop RPG fun. You just turn on the game and it goes. The downside, of course, is that you also don’t have the advantages of having a GM in charge of the game, so you don’t get that personal connection and that sense of familiarity.
Except that’s not entirely accurate, is it? Yes, these games do not have a person eagerly perched behind a screen explaining how your characters have screwed everything up forever, but you still do get the same sense of a specific GM guiding the game over time. Because there are certain quirks, certain constants, and over time a feel to the game that informs what sort of GM you’ve got running the game. So let’s talk about the GMs running some games.
I warn you that if you’ve never played any sort of tabletop game, this column may not make a whole lot of sense. But if you’ve never played any tabletop RPGs I don’t understand how you live and thus cannot promise to target you reliably. Sorry.
If you’ve been paying any attention at all to EVE Online
over the past few months
, you know that the playerbase’s anger over the botting problem in the game – which has been a factor for much longer than the past few months – is reaching a fever pitch. Last week, CCP Peligro vowed CCP
was “coming for the bots
” and told players not to take his word for it, to “just wait and see.”
Now CCP’s Team Security is trying to make good on that promise. A new dev blog out today claims that CCP banned over 1800 accounts in January for botting – mostly mining bots, followed by ratting bots. A third of those were repeat offenders receiving permanent bans, while the rest were merely temp-banned. In March, the botting policy will be updated to inflict a mandatory 3-day temporary ban on the first offense, with permabans on the second.
When you think of MMORPGs, I wouldn’t blame you if your mind stayed rooted firmly in the past decade or so, perhaps taking a brief vacation to 1997 before returning to today’s 3-D polygonal glory. But it’s not like people just woke up in the late 90’s, looked at each other, and said, “Hmm. Online multiplayer RPGs. Let’s make it happen!”
On the contrary, history had been building up to that moment for quite some time. Tabletop RPGs and computer MUDs (multi-user dungeons) were both important ancestors of modern MMOs, just as was a mostly forgotten piece of software lore: the bulletin board system, also known as the BBS.
In layman’s terms, BBSes were like pocket internets — host computers that allowed anyone to dial up and use special programs remotely. While BBSes weren’t (initially) tied together like the world wide web, they featured a lot of the elements that would make the world wide web so popular, such as email, forums, and, yes, online games.
Today’s special Game Archaeologist will take a brief look at the history of the BBS, as well as a couple of its games that could be considered “MORPGs” (the “massively” part would be a while in coming). Dial up, gentle readers, and make your hissing modem noises!
Legacy, vanilla, classic, progression – call them what you like, but alternative server rulesets, particularly of the nostalgia-driven kind, are all the rage in 2018. Just since the dawn of the new year, we’ve gotten a new server type for Age of Conan, with RIFT’s on the way – not to mention World of Warcraft’s looming in our future. And those are just the new ones! Games like RuneScape, EverQuest II, and Ultima Online already run similar servers.
That said, does every MMORPG need one? Aren’t some MMORPGs already in pretty good shape without needing a spin-off for nostalgia’s sake? Is it in every MMO’s best interests to prioritize, on some level, the very older ideas it intentionally left behind? That’s the question I’ve posed to the writers this week: Are there any MMORPGs that should stay far, far away from legacy servers, and if so, why?
Maybe it will be short-lived, but it is exciting to see attention and excitement return to the sphere of RIFT
following the announcement of the upcoming Prime server ruleset
. I’ve gone from not thinking much of this title in my absence to somewhat missing it to absolutely craving it within the span of a week, and I’m sure that’s only going to get worse.
Seeing friends and commenters talk about RIFT has reminded me of just how many incredible features and qualities this MMO has. Sure, it’s made a lot of missteps and just about nobody really loves the business model, but there is a genuinely good game here that has a feature set that most MMOs could only dream about having on the back of the box.
So whether you’re thinking about returning to RIFT this spring or perhaps taking it up for the first time, here are 10 features from the game that I feel deserve public kudos.
What’s coming in EVE Online’s
February 13th patch? The game’s latest development preview explains that Upwell structures
will finally be getting the promised revamp, which makes abandoned structures easier to blow up and active ones more defensible as well as seeks to find balance between attackers and defenders in structure combat (namely, by nerfing said defenses).
Meanwhile, PC Gamer has a fresh piece out on the same ol’ botting problem that we covered a few weeks back; the publication builds out the argument that botters are seriously disrupting the EVE Online economy, not to mention upsetting the playerbase’s faith in CCP Games, which is already low thanks to the dissolution of the community team following financial hardships at the studio late last year.
Throughout its almost 15-year lifetime, EVE Online
has walked a fine line between developing new features and iterating on existing gameplay. Development has to push forward on new features to keep the game fresh and attract new players, but balance issues can emerge in existing gameplay that equally make the game stale or less enjoyable. CCP Games
hasn’t always responded to these issues in a timely manner, at times leaving known balance issues in the game for months or even years because development resources weren’t available to tackle those specific issues.
This strategy has been challenged recently by Council of Stellar Management member Jin’taan in his article “Balance is not optional,” in which he argues that CCP shouldn’t even be making balance changes compete for development time with other features. Player Capri Sun KraftFoods followed up with a look at EVE‘s modular item attribute system, arguing that almost any balance change can be implemented quickly and easily just by tweaking the right attributes. Could it be that easy to iterate on EVE‘s frequent balance issues, or does the nature of the game necessitate caution?
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I break down the case for quicker iterative updates on balance issues, look at some of the challenges with balancing a game like EVE, and look at CCP’s new balance team.
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 EVE Online, CSGO, Fortnite, EverQuest II, Star Wars Battlefront II, Black Desert, War of Rights, Armored Warfare, Dota 2, Hellion, Elder Scrolls Online, Overwatch, Fortnite, Final Fantasy XI, and Pokemon Go, all waiting for you after the break!