When it comes to text-based MMOs created in the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s, the sheer number of them would blot out the sky. There are certainly more multi-user dungeons (MUDs) than I’ve ever been able to get a handle on when I’ve tried creating lists of the most important to know, but I will say that there are a few that seem to pop up more than others. The original MUD1, created by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw, was certainly a watershed moment for online roleplaying games. Learning about DikuMUD is pretty essential, considering its impact on graphical MMORPGs that we still play today.
But there’s another title that often goes unnoticed, unless you keep an eye out for it. It’s a MUD that keeps popping up when you look into the history of the MMORPG genre, one with ties to key players and design concepts that are still active today.
It’s the MUD that shaped the MMO industry, and it was called Sceptre of Goth.
I’ve been playing a lot of Ultima Online the past few weeks, but so many times I’ll be doing something that is objectively tedious (like taming or shuttling boxes of junk loot to the community trash box to turn in for points) and realize it and think to myself there is no freakin’ way that anyone who started playing MMOs in the last decade would put up with some of the quirks and conventions of the game. That’s no judgment on gamers, just the realization that it’s probably way too late to get into now if you’ve grown up under altogether different game design systems.
It’s not the only MMO I feel that way about; I’ve often felt that EverQuest II was too opaque and convoluted to return to, and oddly enough World of Warcraft has felt that way to me since Draenor.
Are there any MMOs you think are just too late to start playing?
Last week, a guildie of mine mentioned that he’d been interested in Crowfall until he realized he couldn’t be a gerbil (Guineacean) of the class of his choosing. It was a total coincidence that the Crowfall devs had literally that same week announced they were nuking their race/class-locked archetype system and disentangling races and classes, so I got to tell him his wish had been granted.
I think this pushes the game more solidly into MMORPG territory, so I’m happy to see it: More customization and choice and variety is what I’m all about. But I was going to play it before, too. For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’m presenting the idea of locked vs. unlocked archetypes to our staff to mull over. How important is it to you to be able to play any race/class combo in a game? Is it something you see as critical to MMORPGs? Is archetype-locking more the domain of MOBAs and ARPGs? When do you let it slide to play a fun game?
EverQuest II recently introduced a new feature with the release of GU103 back on May 10th called the Proving Grounds. That place is no joke. I can assure you that it is pretty aptly named; this little instance is all about showing you and your group what you are made of.
When this feature was first announced, I was pretty excited. Who doesn’t like new content, especially something with replayability? It sounded fun. Initially I had thought (hoped?) that the new Proving Grounds content would be a feature enjoyable by the majority of the population. What I learned — quite quickly — was that my hopes and reality were two very different things. And I learned that the hard way. Hard as in double-digit-death-counter hard. Instead of sinking my teeth into this content, it sunk its teeth into me! Now that’s not necessarily a problem. I enjoy a challenge, and I do so look forward to conquering this one and exacting some revenge. However, I just wish my first experiences with the Proving Grounds didn’t come with more disappointment and frustration than fun because I do think it’s a good idea filled with promise. Read more
Last week Daybreak pulled a switcheroo (or more accurately, didn’t switch!), keeping the Felwith map in EQII’s new Proving Grounds instead of changing. But Massively OP’s MJ wanted pirates, and she still wants pirates. Today, she gets pirates! She’s heading back in to the sure-to-be punishing instance to show off the second map in this new feature. How far will her group get this time? Tune in live at 9:00 p.m. for a look at the Battle on the High Seas.
What: EverQuest II
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 9:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017
If you haven’t hopped back into EverQuest II since the launch of The Menagerie update earlier this month, you might want to do it today: Today is the very last day to redeem a free level 100 character boost for an existing or brand-new toon. All accounts that existed before April 20th can log in and grab the boost (and its concomitant 320 AAs and properly leveled gear) for nothing; accounts newer than that will need to sub first. The promo runs out at 3 a.m. EDT tomorrow morning (midnight tonight PDT).
MOP’s Stream Team recently hopped back into the game to check out the newly introduced Proving Grounds; you can see that below!
We’re sorry to report this evening the passing of an MMORPG genre veteran, John Tessin, who worked for SOE for 13 years, most extensively on EverQuest II.
John’s daughter told friends and family that he’d been suffering from cancer but that his death was nevertheless sudden. She asked for a small donation through GoFundMe to handle burial expenses not being covered by veteran’s benefits; as I write this, that fundraiser has already exceeded its ask thanks to the generosity of developers and gamers.
Big hugs go out to John’s family and colleagues from all of us at MOP.
EverQuest II just opened up a new type of content to players: the Proving Grounds. Each week for two weeks there’s a new competition where two teams race to complete a challenge first. Massively OP’s MJ went in to the first challenge last night with friends, and it was quite the eye-opening experience. Today the group is going to try the new pirate-themed version that just opened. There will likely be much feeding of the Death Counter! Join us live at 9:00 p.m. for a peek into this new feature.
What: EverQuest II
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 9:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, May 16th, 2017
Kind of a weird and fascinating week for MMOs, as an expansion has a legal showdown with a charity, a western MMO is announced, and Vvardenfell decided to come to us two weeks early. Is the industry shaping up for the most explosive June on record? It might just be!
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If you’ve wanted to get back into EverQuest II but felt overwhelmed by how far behind the curve you’d be, it’s your lucky fortnight! Now you can be totally overwhelmed by all the max-level skills instead! With yesterday’s launch of GU103 The Menagerie, Daybreak is offering all players free boosts to level 100. And this gift isn’t just for All-access members: From now until May 23rd at 2:59 a.m. EDT, anyone with an account created before April 20th, 2017, can log in and claim a free bauble that will grant 100 levels, 320 AAs, and a set of ready-to-wear gear. Brand-new accounts can also get the bauble if they subscribe. That boost will definitely come in handy if you want to participate in the new update as well as the latest expansion!
EQII’s GU103 update offers new quests (the Kunark Ascending epilogue quest and a new heritage quest), introduces familiars (unique pets that bestow powerful buffs), and opens up the first cooperative competition zones (accessed via the multi-server battlegrounds server). Called Proving Grounds, these first limited-time experiences are Race to Completion challenges, pitting two groups against each other to see who finishes first. First up is Battle for Felwithe, running until May 16th. The second, Battle Upon the High Seas, will then go from May 16th through the 23rd.
EverQuest II players know the game suffered some unanticipated and lengthy downtime this week. Daybreak says it was dealing with “technical issues with [its] servers” and thinks it has those licked, but it’s delaying GU103: The Menagerie (as well as the planned level 100 boost promo) to May 9th all the same.
The good news is that today and tomorrow, the game is making up for all that with a massive experience buff.
“To thank you for your patience and support, we’ll be activating Triple XP (AA, Adventure, Tradeskill) for ALL players and ALL servers starting now. This will run until Sunday, April 30, 2017 at 11:59PM PDT (07:00 UTC),” Daybreak writes. “In addition, we’ll be activating Double Ascension Scrolls starting on Monday, May 1, 2017 at 12:01AM PDT (7:00 UTC). This will run through Sunday, May 7, 2017 at 11:59PM PDT (07:00 UTC).
Are you cooperative or competitive in EverQuest II? Do you like to work with others or work against them? The good news is that according to the newest producer’s letter, you’ll have an opportunity to do both with the game’s new “co-opetitive” challenges. (That’s their term, not ours.) You’ll work together with your group to clear content, and in the process you’ll be hindering and trying to go faster than other groups doing the same challenge. The rewards are new loot, including the upcoming Familiars, companions that can allow you access to stat boosts and the like.
The game is also offering a free level 100 boost token for players with accounts existing before April 20th, or players who make a subsequent account with paid membership time before the promotion starts up on May 2nd. There are also plans in motion for the game’s upcoming expansion and a new time-locked expansion server with special Heritage quest rewards. So there’s a lot to look forward to on the game’s live servers for the next couple of months, whether you like being part of a team or working against a team. Or both.
Did you participate in EverQuest II’s Beast’r Egg hunt live event this past week? If not, I’m sorry to say you missed your chance; it ended a few hours ago at 2:59 a.m. EDT. However, that doesn’t mean you’ve totally missed out! And that’s the beauty of this particular live event. Today’s musing are less a guide and more a love letter to a live event done oh so right.
While the event unfolded as I participated, it struck me how practically perfect the event was. So kudos to Daybreak for this one. EQII really knocked it out of the park with this Easter-themed event. Hopefully, we can see more like this in the future, both here and — if other studios take notice — in other titles. What’s so great about it? I am glad you asked! (Though honestly, I was going to tell you anyway!) Here are the winning elements: