The last couple of weeks have been really rough week for Star Wars: The Old Republic
from a technical standpoint. The Umbara update itself gave us a handful of bugs, including some that were very difficult to bypass. Then players also noticed a couple of extreme bugs that were deemed exploits. Community Manager Eric Musco
acknowledged the exploits, and for one of them, he emphatically said do not do it. “Following the bug being fixed we will begin to investigate the impact of the exploit and what action is required,” he said on the forum
. In the past, those actions have ranged from a slap on the wrist to a three-day suspension to revoking future access to that account. I don’t think things will get that harsh for this exploit, but I do foresee players losing the items gained. I’ll get to the specifics of that later.
What was most interesting was BioWare‘s handling of the second major bug. Under normal circumstances, if players circumvented the normal rate of character progression, the MMO developers would stop everything they were doing and fix the bug immediately, or at very least, they would tell players to stop lest they be punished. Instead, Musco said on the forum, “Until they are fixed next week, enjoy them. We tried to fix the bug, the bug didn’t want to be fixed.” He actually encouraged people to take advantage of the bug.
Let’s talk about that, why it happened, and why this happy accident is one of the best things that’s happened to SWTOR in a long time.
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 SWTOR, Warframe, Rappelz, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Stardew Valley, World of Tanks, Starcraft Remastered, Armored Warfare, Guild Wars 2, Neverwinter, RuneScape, Pokemon Go, Dota 2, Wakfu, and Skyforge, all waiting for you after the break!
Funcom is hyping Conan Exiles’ free Frozen North expansion up with a new “Bigger & Better” trailer today, which zips through the game’s content-added since its early access release earlier this year. Frozen North will mark “phase two” of the survivalbox’s early access program.
“Since launching into PC Early Access on January 31 st 2017, the development team has been working tirelessly to introduce new content, improve mechanics, and eradicate bugs and exploits. The team has added siege weapons, a new dungeon, a dye system, new armor and weapons, new decorations, avatar defenses, new building pieces, and much more.”
The Frozen North launches next week on August 16th; the game itself is destined for a fall launch on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation early next year. “While the team has been able to expand and improve the game significantly the first six months of Early Access, there are several months left and the team will continue to work side-by-side with the community to realize Conan Exiles’ full potential,” Funcom says.
The new video and new screenies are tucked down below.
A major update to Dark and Light today might serve as an eviction notice for some players’ homes based on where they placed them. The team said that it identified “problem areas” along the Sacred Path that needed fixing, but unfortunately any structures in the areas slated for repair might be demolished.
“We’ve done some work on the terrain in these areas, and it should make for a much better experience while traveling and building a home on The Sacred Path,” the team reported. “Unfortunately, a side effect of these changes is that structures and items on the affected terrain may be damaged or destroyed when the patch goes live.”
The patch also adds health and mana displays for other people and creatures, beefs up the resistances of dragons and elementals, and “temporarily disables the Infernus Dragon’s Fire Breath attack” while the devs works on a fix for this bug. The team said that it’s been identifying exploits and dealing with them, but that it would be taking a zero-tolerance approach with those who abuse these glitches and loopholes.
If you thought ARK: Survival Evolved’s launch this summer couldn’t get any more contentious, go get another box of popcorn as penance. In the middle of the night on Saturday, Studio Wildcard announced a launch delay in its community roundup.
“As of today, ARK has completed its Gold Master and certification for retail release,” the studio says. “This process took a little longer than expected and as a result, our release date has been pushed back to August the 29th. We’re deeply apologetic for those who were negatively affected by the delay; it sucks, it wasn’t what we had wanted, nor planned but where we currently stand. We wanted to address this sooner but did not want to make any statements until we were completely sure of what was going to happen.”
It was meant to launch August 8th, meaning a delay of three weeks, which will also affect the release of the large-scale Ragnarok mod.
The popular dino survivalbox has been in early access for over two years and infamously produced a paid expansion in that time. July hasn’t been the greatest month for the studio; it previously announced a $59.99 base price for the PC version of the game, a fee game dev Dean Hall called “****ing outrageous, then followed that up with a contradictory series of statements about wiping the launch servers in response to rampant exploiting.
Earlier this week, MOP’s Justin expressed frustration over lockboxes, feeling especially provoked. “As both a player and a journalist, I find it insulting when an MMO studio wants me to get excited about its lockboxes,” he tweeted. “They are poison.”
MOP reader and gamer Iain (@ossianos) wants to hear more about poison! “I’d be interested to read an article on your thoughts, and those of the MassivelyOP staff, on how MMOs could otherwise make money,” he tweeted back.
Challenge accepted! And perfectly timed for this week’s Massively Overthinking topic. Imagine (or just remember) a world without lockboxes. How would MMOs and other online games survive without lockboxes here in 2017? What should they be doing instead, and what might they have to do when the inevitable gachapon regulation comes westward?
Those of you who hate long waits and excessive transparency during those waits are getting your wish today, as Citadel: Forged With Fire lumbers into early access on Steam today after surprisingly little preamble. The game will go on sale at noon EDT. Early access is expected to last up to a year, with a formal launch in 2018 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Should you buy it? Well, it’s early access, and by all accounts it deserves that designation. MMO players should note that while it’s been dubbed a “massive online sandbox RPG,” the servers aren’t currently massive at all. On the other hand? Magic, dragons, and a kickass construction system.
Blue Isle Studios says that the launch patch will contain some big changes; the devs have made structures harder to raid, rebalanced XP from building to stop an exploit, removed chest icons from the map, revamped VOIP, fixed tamed critters, nerfed dragon damage and mana regen, tweaked housing, and solved a number of outstanding bugs.
We took a look at the game in person last week while chatting with the studio’s community manager; that’s down below, along with a roundup of our coverage so far!
Early access is kind of a garbage system for the vast majority of gamers. Yes, yes, I know, some games and game types just wouldn’t be made without it, and this is probably better than having no options at all. But the whole system is saddled with bullcrap, from unpaid testing and exploits and wipes to scope creep and content cuts and delays and outright abandonment. And, ahem, charging for expansions and housing plots and cosmetics while supposedly still in a test phase. It feels like perpetual amateur hour and I’m sick of it.
And yet for all that, there are a couple of things that really bug me more than anything else, and one of them is putting paid demos out there without female characters, with extra frowny-faces for making female avs a stretch goal. Even if a team says the male character is just a placeholder and that it’s working on the ladies, it still bugs me, as if we’re afterthoughts. Sure, non-transparent, non-early-access games do this (or related sins), but somehow it seems more obnoxious when gals are left out (and men are treated as generic/default) in tandem with the studio asking us for cash upfront.
That’s just one frustration among many, however, and obviously those of you who don’t play primarily women aren’t going to care quite as much as those of us who do. So what’s your biggest pet peeve about early access MMOs?
Were you anticipating a wipe ahead of the formal launch of ARK: Survival Evolved in August, especially given all the recent exploits? It’s not happening, Studio Wildcard announced today via press release, “despite a recent rash of cheating and hacking within the game,” which is an odd sort of way to put it. But the studio does have a plan, and that plan seems to be to let everyone voluntarily reroll on clean servers:
“In addition to continuing to operate the legacy servers, on launch date the studio will roll out a fresh cluster network of servers running new code and infrastructure explicitly designed to prevent such issues from occurring in the future.”
Update: This move is in apparent contradiction to the game’s original plans (privately announced earlier this week) to wipe it all as both Kotaku and PC Gamer are reporting. (Thanks Ceder!)
Last week, Black Desert’s Reddit erupted with claims that a popular streamer, who been previously banned and unbanned in a spring crackdown, had unwittingly streamed proof that he was still exploiting, causing other players to cry foul. At the tail end of last week, Kakao finally addressed this issue.
“During an investigation into reports of a potential exploit last April, our team determined that it was, in fact, possible for users to send multiple workers to a single node,” Community Coordinator Yukimura explains. “Shortly after, a patch was applied to resolve this bug. However, due to an oversight in the applied patch, some elements of the bug were not fully removed. One such example was the failure to reset all player’s workers, including those that were being utilized in the exploit. It was later discovered that some users’ workers were still designated to a single node. This allowed the continued use of multiple workers on a single node, and has subsequently been resolved as of July 12th maintenance.”
Veteran Massively OP reader Miol says he’s exhausted by a recent string of stories in which MMO companies screw gamers over, one after another: ARK Survival Evolved, Albion Online, Skyforge, and now Black Desert all figure into his list, just from the last week.
“I want to ask what more can gamers do to protect themselves and everyone else as consumers than speak up? It feels exhausting to always stay vigilant and feel upset all the time, since games, as an everchanging medium, give devs so many opportunities to screw us over with every single patch or update. And the worst immediate consequence seems many times a meek apology for what they’ve done, only for them to try out something different that maybe could go over unnoticed.
“You guys have reported about this UK watchdog group ASA, who investigated No Man’s Sky, but even they dismissed the tons of complaints about false advertising. Steam did declare some changes to advertising on their platform, but I still don’t see them taken place. If even those big negative stories don’t have that much of an impact, what hope is there for all the smaller communities, spread thin globally? There was a recent wave of gamers imploring each other to not pre-order, but that ebbed away fast enough, when the next shiny pre-order advantages over other players were presented. But even so, this still can’t protect you from what may happen after the launch!
“As said by Bree many times: Merely quitting won’t help either, as the studio will never know why most of the times. But also sending feedback for nine whole days didn’t help Skyforge players to make its devs to scramble! So what else could we do? Or should we just take rotating shifts to call them out?”
We’ll take the first shift right here in Overthinking.
A Diablo III exploit has caused some stress and rampant cheating within the community lately, leading to a hotfix, rollback, and bonus XP event on the part of Blizzard.
About a week ago, issues arose with Patch 2.6 that led the team to taking measures to make sure that the start of Season 11 would go smoothly. This has led to hotfixes and a wipe of the era leaderboards, as well as a rollback on legendary gem levels following a discovered exploit.
As an apology for the confusion and mess, the devs are activating a double XP weekend in the game that will run from July 14th through the morning of the 17th. This move hasn’t pleased “honest” players, who say this helps rather than punishes exploiters.
In a rare example of informing the community about the details of an exploit, Star Wars: The Old Republic put up a post on the forums
to inform players about a “loophole” allowing for players to circumvent the cartel market and legitimate gameplay to copy weapon tunings and crystals across accounts.
“What happened is some players would add the tuning to a legacy weapon, send to an alt, remove it on that alt, re-add it to the weapon, which would then incorrectly unlock it in collections on that toon,” the devs explained. “They would then send that weapon to all of their toons and perform the same process, thus circumventing the entire collection system and obtaining weapon tunings for their legacy without having to pay for it. As everyone has pointed out, crystals sold via the cartel market could also be collection unlocked this way, and in fact, as players have clearly stated in this thread, they’ve been doing that for a very long time.”
The exploit was fixed yesterday and can no longer be used in this fashion. However, with August’s Update 5.4, the team is including a change that will allow players to transfer crystals and tunings using legacy weapons at no cost.