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.
Battle Bards, the world’s first and only MMO music podcast, takes to the apocalypse with this week's look at Fallen Earth's soundtrack. What kind of music do you listen to after the end of the world? Turns out that it's a bit westerny, a bit actiony, and very atmosphericy.
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 Olivetti co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunes, Stitcher, and Player.FM.
We’ve got Episode 65: Fallen Earth for you after the break!
In anticipation of the today's livestream, Camelot Unchained boss Mark Jacobs spoke with us about the implementation of crafting and trade in the game as explained on the website on today's stream. It's Jacobs, so you know the answers aren't bullshit.
Massively OP: Regarding merchant stalls in lieu of an auction hall: From other MMOs, I know that there will inevitably be one really great, convenient spot for stalls, and if you're not there, you're sunk without a search system. So first, is there going to be a "vendor search" system so people can tell what's for sale and where? And second, how are you going to deal with demand for the stalls in the "best" spot? And if the answer to this is bidding wars and auctions for the best stalls, how are you going to stop uberguilds from dominating all serious trade? If the answer is extremely high rents, how are you going to ensure that people still sell the "cheap" stuff (like lowbie gear and consumables) that isn't worth it to stock in high-demand, high-rent areas (this is also a serious problem in modern Ultima Online, for example, like reverse food deserts).
Mark Jacobs: Great question, but I hope you’re prepared for a long answer. However, since you and your readers know me, you knew going in that it would be hard for me to write a short answer to a question like this one.
No MMO can be in the spotlight eternally. Even some of the biggest names out there -- your World of Warcrafts, your Guild Wars 2s, your Star Stables -- wax and wane in the amount of press and attention they get depending on what they're doing and how well their PR department is functioning.
It doesn't take much for a title to fall off of practically everyone's radar. In some cases it's merely a matter of passing time and slipping popularity, but in others it's just that the game or its marketing team hasn't done anything of note in a long, long time. So that's when you get MMOs that, when mentioned, cause the listener to cock an eyebrow and say, "Huh. That's still around?"
Today we're going to look at 10 such titles -- not to demean them or laugh at some misfortune but to call attention to MMOs that are still humming along even though they're not headlining news or ripping up Steam charts.
The western has been limping along for decades now, occasionally rearing its head to produce a well-loved movie or game smash hit before disappearing once more. It's certainly one of the most-cited genres when it comes to speculating about largely unexplored spaces for MMOs, but how feasible is doing an online western RPG really?
We've seen some titles tap into the western feel without being a true period game, such as WildStar and Fallen Earth, but no major attempt has been made to create an MMO in the wild, wild west of legend. Still, you look at how gamers flocked to Red Dead Redemption and you have to wonder if there's potential there for something more persistent and massively multiplayer.
Today I'm going to mull over the finer points as to why making a western MMO would be an incredibly challenging feat -- and why it would be totally worth it if done right. Giddyup, cowpokes!
Massively OP Kickstarter donor xenaphex wants to hear about our dream MMOs. What really makes you tick? What would you build with a million-bajillion buckaroos?
"If you were to design an MMOG, what would be your dream game? Please be specific on the setting, major features, style, etc. You can use existing games as an example as long as you mention the game and the specifics about it that you like."
I posed xenaphex's question to the staff for this week's edition of Massively Overthinking.