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Perfect Ten: MMOs obsessed with the floating islands trope

One of the fun things about this hobby is that certain tropes repeat themselves constantly. And they’re usually weirdly specific tropes, too. Poop quests, for example. So many MMOs have one quest or another that make you dealing with poop. Someone has a fixation that is probably not entirely healthy, and that someone keeps getting hired to design quests.

But sometimes you try to come up with a trope that’s so specific that it has to be unique. Or at least rare. “MMOs that feature a zone full of floating islands requiring flight to travel around.” At least one zone, and it is traveled around via flight. That cannot be common, that has to be…

Wait. How did I not only get a full list but actually have to decline some entries? How the heck did this happen? There are this many MMOs using this astonishingly specific trope? How did this happen and why?

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Guild Chat: What to do if drug use impacts your MMO guild

Welcome along to Guild Chat, the column through which we all band together to help someone get on top of his or her guild-related issue: While I give my two cents here in the article, plenty of useful advice and different perspectives on the matter at hand emerge in the comments section. This time, reader Michael has a rather challenging issue to deal with that hinges on his guildmates’ drug use. Michael’s guild centres around an online friendship group that began in MOBAs and has recently been adversely impacted by the behaviour of several members of the group who live close to one another. These members have, for as long as Michael has known them, taken recreational drugs while gaming, but recently Michael has noted some personality changes and volatility that is uncharacteristic of his friends. He wants to know how best to deal with the issue and bring back positive relations in his guild.

You’ll find my two cents in the comments, but this is a massive topic that needs a measured approach. The submission does not include specifics of what drugs the friends are consuming and whether or not those substances are controlled or otherwise legally restricted in their country. I am in no way qualified to give professional advice about drug consumption and all advice given is in support of seeing a medical professional who specialises in drug dependence and addiction. Add your own thoughts in the comments, of course, and see Michael’s full submission below.

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The Game Archaeologist: EverQuest Online Adventures

In the pantheon of SOE’s (now Daybreak) flagship EverQuest franchise, there used to be a whole family of MMOs gathered around the table every evening. There was Papa EverQuest, looking a little wrinkled and worn but also radiating fame and authority. Next to him was Mama EverQuest II, a powerful  matron of entertainment. And EverQuest Next used to be a twinkle in their eyes before it was extinguished.

Then, in the next room over was a cabinet. The cabinet was locked. Inside that cabinet used to be a weird abnormality that certainly looks like a member of the family, but one that hadn’t seen the light of day in quite some time. This member subsisted on the scraps of an aging console and the fading loyalty of fans, hoping against odds that one day he’d be allowed out for a stroll or something. His name was EverQuest Online Adventures, the EverQuest MMO nobody mentions.

EQOA was a strange abnormality in SOE’s lineup. While it was one of the very first console MMOs and heir to the EverQuest name, it was quickly eclipsed in both areas by other games and left alone. Yet, against all odds, it continued to operate on the PlayStation 2 for the better part of a decade before its lights were turned off. Today, let’s look at this interesting experiment and the small cult following it created.

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Massively Overthinking: Is the popularity of small-scale co-op games hurting MMORPGs?

Gamasutra has an unusual piece from an Ubisoft developer this week arguing that co-op gameplay is the industry’s rising midcore trend, one that he believes will ultimately outstrip team competitive games. “It’s all about all the big data and stats that are finally available and can be mined,” author Andrii Goncharuk says, “and no surprise that it’s showing that players who played co-op mode have much more play hours, and players who played co-op with friends have even more play hours.”

He may be right, though first you’d have to believe co-op ever went anywhere to begin with (and console players would probably tell you nope!). But as I read the article, I couldn’t help but see MMOs in most of the arguments he’s making about what makes co-op games sticky, and yet MMOs are being edged out all the same. And while I don’t like to think of the MMO genre’s space in the industry as a zero-sum situation, the reality is that when people tire of MMORPG baggage but still want social play, co-op is exactly the sort of game they retreat to.

For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I asked our writers to reflect on the rise of co-op PvE games outside the MMO label. Do we play them? Do we prefer them, and when? How can we learn from them? Is the popularity of smaller-scale co-op hurting MMORPGs?

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Overwatch finally incorporates a deathmatch mode

While resistant for a long time about adding the game mode, Blizzard has finally acquiesced to bringing deathmatch to Overwatch.

Game Director Jeff Kaplan explained in the announcement video that this became possible thanks to the Overwatch arcade, which allows for some interesting gameplay variants. Deathmatch will feature a specially designed scoreboard and will feature either 1v7 or 6v6 fights on many of the game maps. There will also be a brand-new map revolved around Widowmaker’s France family estate created just for free-for-all mode.

Meanwhile, Twitch Prime members can enjoy five standard lootboxes in Overwatch if they are subscribed between August 10th and October 10th.

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Paris Olympic committee considers e-sports for 2024

The AP is reporting that the leaders of the Olympic Games are at least considering bringing video gaming on board for the 2024 program in Paris.

The co-president of the Paris Olympic bid committee, Tony Estanguet, told the AP, “We have to look at [e-sports] because we can’t say, ‘It’s not us. It’s not about Olympics.’ […] The youth, yes they are interested in esport and this kind of thing. Let’s look at it. Let’s meet them. Let’s try if we can find some bridges. […] I don’t want to say ‘no’ from the beginning. I think it’s interesting to interact with the IOC, with them, the esports family, to better understand what the process is and why it is such a success.”

This shouldn’t come as too much of a shock; the 2022 Asian Games have already announced e-sports as a medal event, citing the inclusion of e-sports at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, though as we reported last month, multiple countries had bailed out of this year’s AIMAG e-sports events, citing health concerns, poor regulation, and “governance concerns.”

Source: AP via Destructoid. Thank you, Sally!

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Crunch mode caused a young Netmarble game developer’s death, Korean government says

South Korean MMO studio Netmarble is being criticized this week for contributing to the death of an overworked game developer in 2016.

The Korea Times is reporting that the government agency Korea Workers’ Compensation and Welfare Service has acknowledged that the Netmarble employee “died from a work-related cause” when he passed away from coronary arteriosclerosis (heart disease).

“The employee had been subject to irregular night-time work and excess duty in the 12 weeks before he developed the symptoms and it has been confirmed that the employee had worked 89 hours a week in seven weeks prior to developing symptoms,” the government documents state. “Considering the worker was in his 20s and that his health checkup did not show any underlying symptoms, the correlation between the worker’s death and work is recognized.”

The game developer’s family’s filing for compensation has consequently been approved. According to the paper, there were two other deaths the same year. As MMO Culture reports, Netmarble now forbids excessive overtime work in its substudios.

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Battle Bards Episode 102: Pure joy

Is it even possible for pure joy to be derived from MMORPG music? Whether or not, the Battle Bards are going to take a serious stab at it in today’s episode! Each piece is hand-picked and home-brewed to distill joy for the listener, coated in sparkling hopes and drizzled with fond memories. No matter what, you’re in for an uplifting show!

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 iTunesGoogle PlayTuneInPocket CastsStitcher, and Player.FM.

Listen to Episode 102: Pure joy (or download it) now:

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Black Desert switches to biweekly maintenance, adds Terrmian Waterpark events

Happy patch day, Black Desert folks. Did you enjoy getting maintenance patches every week? Not anymore.

“Due to the changes in service maintenance, the next maintenance will occur on August 16th, 2017,” Kakao noted in today’s patch notes. “Duration of the biweekly maintenance is to-be-determined. Please check the relevant maintenance announcement for the exact duration. As service maintenance will occur biweekly, guild/ family/ character name change will be processed every other Wednesday. In addition to regular service maintenance, temporary maintenances and hotfixes may occur and as always, we ask for your generous understanding and patience.”

There is a bit of fun news in today’s patch, however, as the studio is building on the Terrmian Waterpark that went live early this summer. Expect four new event quests in the park, plus Terrmian stuff in the cash shop, the retirn of the Black Spirit’s Adventure event, and a few bug fixes for horses and the Arena of Arsha. MOP’s own MJ Guthrie checked out the waterpark a few weeks back; you can watch her travails down below.

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Elder Scrolls Online puts a high hall on the market

Sure, you could be content with your little one-room cell for the bare minimum of comfort and space, but if you’re going to be investing in Elder Scrolls Online’s housing market, why not move into something worthy of your status?

This month, the MMO is introducing one of its grandest player housing options yet: Hakkvild’s High Hall. It’s a roomy and spacious building with a great view at the top of the town. Not sold yet? It also has convenient access to the family crypts. Perfect for Halloween. The hall is coming to computers on August 14th and consoles on August 28th.

ESO has a few other new options in the crown store coming in August, such as a few new costume sets, a Daedric Set of Azura package of housing decor, a wolf mount, a mechanical spider mount, a handful of pets, and the neat-looking ebony epidermis skin.

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Anthem lead gameplay designer Corey Gaspur passes away

The official BioWare blog announced last night that Anthem lead gameplay designer Corey Gaspur has passed away. Gaspur had been a staple of the studio for most of the last decade, known best to our audience for his work on Dragon Age: Origins, the Mass Effect series, and of course Anthem, the last of which was only just recently revealed at E3 and already has MMO and multiplayer fans champing at the bit.

The studio didn’t elaborate on the circumstances of his death, but as VG247 points out, BioWare employees have intimated it was sudden and unexpected.

Our heartfelt condolences to all of his family, friends, and colleagues.

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Gigantic devs liken their graphics to candy and plastic toys

If you love to hate on brightly colored cartoony-stylized graphics of games like World of Warcraft, League of Legends, and even Wildstar, know that the tide’s against you.

So goes the argument of Motiga’s Vinod Rams, who compares MOBA Gigantic’s graphics to candy during a recent Gamasutra livestream. The idea, he says, was to combine styles popularized by Disney and Hayao Miyazaki with bright plastic toy looks rather than photorealism — and consequently, that Gigantic is in the Nintendo ARMS/Splatoon family of games because it looks like candy.

“You wanna reach in and grab one of these guys and just pop ’em in your mouth. Like… candy is completely engineered to entice you to pick it up. It’s an unnatural color sometimes. Why would I want to eat something that’s bright green?”

But of course, we do because it catches our attention.

The design conversation begins around 15 minutes into the video and resumes again around 35 minutes if you’d like to hear the whole thing.

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MMO Burnout: Nintendo’s ARMS and the Switch in public and private

It won’t surprise anyone who reads our WRUPs that a lot of my free time gaming has been mobile-based as of late, especially if it has local multiplayer. While I still prefer PC gaming for the most part, it’s hard for me to bring a mouse and keyboard with me to a convention and play while the line is moving. MMOs with local multiplayer are even harder. Recent conventions have made jumping into traditional MMOs harder, as has the summer heat that magnifies the heat I feel when playing on ol’ lappy (although that could just be a result of the airless storage space I call home!).

At any rate, I decided to bust out my Nintendo Switch a bit more, bringing it with me to try to recreate Nintendo’s questionable marketing ploy and so I can play in a room where open windows don’t pose a risk to my papers and electronics. My weapon of choice? ARMS.

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