This particular part of September is loaded with MMORPG and MMO birthdays. In addition to ArcheAge, whose corgipocalypse we’ve been covering already, and Ultima Online, doomed to ding 20 by Monday, there are a few more we’ve not mentioned yet. Let’s remedy that!
is turning eight today, and it’s putting on a pretty sweet party
, plus a different one in the EU
. US players can look forward to bonus experience, cake, and Kroemede’s Revenge; through the weekend in the EU, expect a Cake Hunt, in-game boots, gifts, and temporary mounts, plus an event about poppys. I don’t know, it’s Aion
, man, just go with it. We’ll be streaming some of the US festivities on Saturday, so stay tuned!
Fallen Earth also turns eight today, though you won’t find any hoopla on the official site, where there’s been no news since last year. MOP’s Justin judged it in maintenance mode as of at least this past summer. It’s OK, Fallen Earth. We’ll have a slice of cake in your honor.
People seemed to quite like my piece last week about how my wife and I wound up married in no small part due to World of Warcraft. Of course, I also alluded in the column to the fact that World of Warcraft was hardly our final destination, and we’re currently playing Final Fantasy XIV quite happily together. We’ve also gone into Final Fantasy XI, City of Heroes, Guild Wars, Fallen Earth, Star Trek Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic… a lot of different games, in other words. And I’m just counting the ones we’ve tried together.
I don’t think that there’s any one surefire way to always find the right game for a couple to enjoy, but I have had a fair amount of experience with it now, and it’s helped that we’ve both spent a lot of time working on finding what works and what doesn’t in this field. So here’s some (hopefully) helpful tips about finding a game that you and your romantic partner of choice can enjoy together.
The one thing that I thought we could all count on forever was that the MMO life cycle was pretty easy to understand. A game is launched, then it runs for a certain amount of time, then it shuts down. That last part kind of sucks, but the point is that you know when it’s time to move on. The life cycle is clearly one of creation, then life, then death, like a potted ficus or a cheap desk chair you get at Target.
But then sometimes you have a cheap desk chair that breaks in a crucial way, but you manage to screw the right sort of braces together so you can keep using it for another year after it should have been thrown out. And sometimes an MMO is born, and then it lives, and then it… doesn’t live, but it’s not actually shut down or in maintenance. Or it isn’t clear what’s going on with it, due to what seems to be total abandonment. Or it updates more than games which are supposedly live.
That’s what this column is all about. MMOs in a weird sort of limbo, where some facts are clear, but the results or the overall trajectory make no sense. Sometimes it’s not even clear if the game has actually launched or not. It’s weird.
It’s hard to look at an MMORPG and imagine them without dungeons. For some people, these instances are the core of their game experience, offering challenging (well, hopefully) and rewarding group experiences that can be repeated for fun, profit, and optimal performance.
Dungeons and I have a strange history in MMOs. For me, it all depends on the game in question. There are MMOs that don’t really feature compelling or rewarding dungeons (Guild Wars 2), or make grouping up and getting into them difficult, or what have you. Yet in other games, I’ve run dungeons so many times that I could probably pathfind through each one blind. If done right, they can be really fun and offer me a chance to show off my stuff and feel like I’m part of a team.
For today’s list, I want to share with you my favorite MMO dungeons. I’m going to limit myself to one per MMO for diversity’s sake, which might make it a little challenging, but there you go!
Massively OP reader Suikoden wrote this great question to the podcast — too good to let just Justin and me answer it. It’s a two-parter!
“Back when I used to be a hardcore MMO gamer circa 2000-2010, I felt that MMOs of that era were designed more toward the hardcore gamer and even catered to us more. Within the last 5 years, I’ve had to develop into more of a casual player. However, I now feel that games once again cater to me and my current playstyle. Did the MMO genre evolve alongside me, from a more hardcore-centric genre to a more casual playerbase? Or is it the same as it always was and I just feel that it caters to me because it’s designed to feel like it caters to all playstyles? And if there was a change, do you feel it is for the better or for the worse for the genre?”
I posted Suikoden’s questions to the team for this week’s Massively Overthinking!
It bears repeating that here on Massively OP, we cover an immensely wide field of live games — so many that it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of what’s happening in each one (which is why our readers are invaluable in winging us tips about their favorite MMOs!). And while there’s never any shortage of news and happenings in the field of MMORPGs as a whole, once in a while we realize that it’s been a good long time since we heard anything about certain games that we used to discuss a lot in the past.
When that happens to me, I’ll often head off on a little fool’s errand to scout the website, Twitter feed, forums, and Reddit to see what’s going on. I hate to be out of the loop on games, especially ones that used to be more prominent in the news, but more often than not, the lack of news is because there’s been a lack of news.
You ever caught yourself going, “What ever happened to the original Darkfall? Or Runes of Magic? Or Fallen Earth?” I totally have, which is why I went on expeditions to see what I could uncover. So let’s catch up with these three games and see what is up!
Last month, I wrote a column on several MMOs that walked on the weird side. Even though many online games play it safe with genre and theme, once in a while we do get very odd, very doofy, and very bizarre MMORPGs that go a whole different direction.
My question today is, what’s the strangest MMO you have ever tried? Do you play it safe yourself and stick to classic fantasy lest your imagination be stirred and your perceptions of reality start to warp and bend? Or have you dipped your toes into some of the more eccentric online worlds out there?
I think one of the strangest MMOs I’ve ever played was actually Fallen Earth. The whole post-apocalyptic setting gave the team an excuse for rewriting society to include really whacked-out holidays and myths based on before it all went to pot. Also, there were giant, mutated prairie chickens and hermit crabs wearing old CRT monitors, so my nightmares had some fuel for a few months there.
One of the most common questions that I’m asked from my adoring throngs on the street is, “Justin, where oh where can I get some of these marvelous MMO soundtracks that you talk about all of the time?” OK, that just never happens (on the street, that is), but people are often curious how they can go about starting to amass an MMO soundtrack collection or where to find their favorite album.
The sad truth is that so much music from these games is never officially released in any capacity, which is why I scour YouTube for fan rips of the music files. However, every so often I do discover a studio release somewhere, and I try to keep an up-to-date log on these to help others in their quest for video game scores.
So in the spirit of Christmas and sharing, today I’m going to show you how you can get your ears on more than 120 soundtracks and scores from MMOs, MOBAs, and other online titles — some of which are free and legal for the taking. You’re welcome; don’t mention it!
Not all MMORPG mounts are created equal. For starters, some are horses, some are mutated pig-things, and some are Road Warrior deathmobiles. My favorite was always Fallen Earth’s prairie chicken. It might have been ungainly, but boy was there nothing else quite like it!
Anyway, today I want us to talk about different features that we appreciate in mounts. These include, but are not limited to, mount persistence in the world, mounting speed, flight capability, combat durability, additional inventory space, and the ability to bite the head off of a passing orc.
What features do you like in MMO mounts? Which game gave you the best in these?
For a long time now, I’ve had a very minor wish for an MMO feature: the ability to set up camp and have my tent be customizable in the same way that housing is elsewhere in many games. It makes more sense to me that, as an adventurer always on the move, I’d bring my home with me instead of making frequent return trips to a house on a different continent.
I love this idea. Why aren’t we seeing it more often, really? Star Wars Galaxies and Fallen Earth both let you drop down camps across the world, and Trove’s cornerstones went further with full-on customization while letting you pack up and relocate everything at a moment’s notice. Really, all I want is a tent that has a few basic services, a roaring campfire, and a place to hang up a few trophies from my trip while passers-by drop in for a chat.
Is portable housing in MMORPGs of any interest to you? If so, what would you like to see in it?
“Wait a minute,” you say out loud to your computer. “Western MMORPGs aren’t a thing, except in my fondest dreams. How can you write an entire column on music from these imaginary games?”
It is true, there really aren’t many (if any) “wild west” MMOs, but that isn’t to say that we are lacking for western areas and themes in our games. The American west makes for a great backdrop when its fictionalized into games, whether they be fantasy or sci-fi, and composers do love to sneak in a western-sounding track or two into their albums as well.
Today we’re going to be listening to a wide range of MMORPG soundtracks that would be comfortable on the frontier. So pull a log up to the fire, take our your harmonica, and think of a home on the range!
This week’s Massively Overthinking was inspired by a reader who decided to go by Sandboxless in Seattle when he penned this note of frustration to us.
I have been playing MMOs for more than half a decade now, and in that time, I’ve tried numerous MMOs — old and new, Western and Eastern — and developed what I would like to think is a very broad understanding and appreciation of the genre. However, I will confess to a blindspot. I have next to no experience with sandboxes. Most of them are just fundamentally unappealing to me — usually due to non-consensual PvP — but thanks to MassivelyOP’s trial key giveaway, I’m now giving Black Desert
a try. And I just don’t get it.
The general consensus among the MMO community seems to be that sandboxes are the superior breed of MMO. I’ve spent years seeing praise heaped upon the virtual world as the pinnacle of MMO design. I’ve yet to encounter a themepark that did not have a large and vocal group of players wishing it was more of a sandbox, but I have never once heard anyone (other than myself) wish a sandbox was more of a themepark.
Yet when I play Black Desert, I’m not feeling the magic. I see nothing special about the experience. Intellectually I understand the appeal of sandboxes. It’s usually something about player freedom and greater immersion. But I don’t feel any freer in Black Desert than in any other game (in fact I felt much more freedom to go and do as I wish in Guild Wars 2 and The Elder Scrolls Online). Nor do sandboxes seem any more immersive to me. Indeed, focusing on (often very complex) systems ahead of structured content is quite unimmersive to me. In a themepark, I can lose myself in the story and adventure and learn the game systems at my own pace along the way.
Yet clearly I am alone in feeling this way, so I throw myself upon the mercy of the Massively team: What’s wrong with me, and how do I fix it?
This is gonna be a fun one to unpack. Let’s talk sandboxes! Is Sandboxless broken beyond repair, or are sandboxes the problem?
I’ve seen a lot of desperate requests in my day in which players are asking for games outside of the normal sphere of popularity and MMO mainstream (such as it is). We all know what the big games are, the ones that get the lion’s share of the publicity, press, and popularity. But all of that attention can easily blind us to those titles that are quite good if not as well-known, and I believe it’s those MMOs that many players are seeking when looking for an alternative to the games they’ve been playing for years.
So today we’re going to explore a list my top 10 recommendations for “obscure” MMOs. These are games that might not be on the tips of everyone’s tongues but have earned a solid reputation in some way and might offer a different experience than the same-old that you’re used to seeing. For this list I’m mostly sticking with released or playable titles that have good word-of-mouth behind them, are still in operation, and have generally run under the radar for most of their lifespan.