flagshipped

A reference to the sorry state of Hellgate: London as originally released by Flagship. “To have been flagshipped” is to have been screwed over by the studio in some way.

Project TL replaces Lineage Eternal’s website

So… it looks like NCsoft is really sticking with the “Project TL” name, huh? The game developer replaced the old Lineage Eternal site with a new Project TL teaser page, further cementing the name and game direction change into its public vision.

Last week, NCsoft announced that Lineage Eternal was going back to the drawing board to receive a new Unreal 4 engine, add more MMO mechanics, and change its name in the process (TL stands for “The Lineage,” which just stumbles off the tongue).

Lineage Eternal has been in the works for years now, but it seems that NCsoft is playing it as safe as possible with the third main installment of its flagship MMORPG franchise. Steparu reports that current and previous Lineage Eternal testers will receive some sort of compensation from NCsoft for the delay and change-up.

Source: Steparu

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NCsoft’s 3Q 2017 financials: Lineage M drives record profits, Guild Wars 2 Path of Fire isn’t too shabby either

NCsoft had an exceptionally good third financial quarter this year, reaching a record high in sales and operating profit for the company, and it’s almost entirely thanks to the mobile MMORPG Lineage M, which didn’t even bleed the rest of the Lineage franchise as you might have expected (Lineage and Lineage II held remarkably steady this quarter compared to last, as did Aion and Blade & Soul).

Good news for Guild Wars 2 as well; NCsoft notes that ArenaNet’s flagship brought in over $20B Won, “an increase of 49% [quarter-over-quarter], driven by the second expansion pack sales” that saw US and European sales figures in particular increase 13% QOQ “on the back of Guild Wars 2 performance.” $20B Korean Won is about $18M US. So Path of Fire at least performed well enough for NCsoft to gloat about it, twice, and it’s a big boost to GW2, especially considering Q2 2017 was the game’s worst ever – but it didn’t top Heart of Thorns’ huge showing two years ago.

Before you ask, no, we don’t know how well WildStar is doing; NCsoft doesn’t report it separately anymore. But it’s still flying. That’s enough.

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Hellgate: London revival project opens its alpha to everyone

Still finding yourself pining away for Hellgate: London on occasion — or perhaps you missed out on it the first time around? This 10-year-old multiplayer ARPG is making an unofficial return thanks to a fan project dedicated to its revival in the west.

Essentially an emulator for the long-dead (yet often resurrected) game, London 2038 seeks to restore the Hellgate multiplayer experience for both old and new generations of players. The title has been progressing through alpha patches this fall, with the test open to everyone who has a copy of the original game.

“All of the 2038 team missed the amazing, ahead-of-its time ARPG Hellgate: London and wanted to bring it back to the passionate, dedicated, and friendly community the game has fostered after all these years,” the project leaders wrote. Check out some of the boss battles from the alpha after the break and then head back to read our weird and somewhat sad history of this game.

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So here’s what’s going on with EVE Valkyrie now that CCP’s downsized

Yesterday, MOP’s Brendan reported on the startling news that CCP Games, long known for its flagship MMORPG sandbox EVE Online and more recently known for its persistent probe into the virtual reality space, is closing down two of its studios, letting over 100 employees go, and essentially putting the kibosh on its plans in the VR market in the short term.

One of the substudios affected, the Newcastle studio now being sold off, was specifically focused on EVE Valkyrie, the VR dogfighter spun out of the EVE universe. But it doesn’t appear that game, which last month launched on Steam with apparently lukewarm reception from the PC crowd, is over. In fact, CCP is calling it “the beginning of a new chapter.”

“We can confidently confirm that EVE: Valkyrie – Warzone is not going away,” writes the company. “We love the game just as much as we love our players, so you can rest assured that we’ll continue to support the product into the future. The development team at the Newcastle studio will remain intact and complete work on the upcoming Winter Update for EVE: Valkyrie – Warzone. So don’t panic! You’ll still receive in-game support for custom matches, tournament tools and a spectator mode before the end of this year.”

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PAX West 2017: SMITE’s new conquest map, Paladins Strike, and the fate of SMITE Rivals

Just because SMITE and Paladins weren’t available to play at PAX West doesn’t mean that there wasn’t stuff to learn about the games from Hi-Rez!

I got the low down on Hi-Rez projects from Scott Zier, who is VP of Design at Hi-Rez as well as executive producer of Hand of the Gods. We touched on multiple topics, from the flagship MOBA and the shooter to the MIA mobile title and the new mobile title. As Zier said, the studio always has a number of projects going at any one time: “We’re very much a multi-game studio.”

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Battle Bards Episode 104: Something wicked this way comes

And lo, as the Battle Bards walk through the zone of the shadow of death, they will fear no evil, but they will listen to evil’s soundtrack because that is what they do! In today’s episode, the crew looks at the darker side of MMORPG soundtracks, dwelling in the wicked, the profane, and the deliciously macabre. Also, Syp does his Cookie Monster voice.

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 104: Something wicked this way comes (or download it) now:

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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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Perfect Ten: EverQuest’s EverExpanding franchise

When Daybreak announced last year that it was cancelling the highly anticipated EverQuest Next project, the series’ forward momentum lurched to a halt. This wasn’t helped by other EverQuest entities that have been retired over the past few years, leaving only the two aging flagship MMOs to carry on the legacy of the franchise.

For franchise it is. It might be fuzzy in people’s memories (or simply absent from them), but there was an era where EverQuest was the MMORPG at the top of everything, and Sony Online Entertainment wasted no time in capitalizing on its popularity. Spin-offs, sequels, and alternative versions spawned into being, creating a library of EverQuest games.

In fact, there are more than enough to fill up a full list of 10 titles — and then some! So today let’s look at some of the lesser-known entries in EverQuest’s ever-expanding franchise and muse about what might come to this series in the future.

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Perfect Ten: MMORPGs that died too soon

Your favorite game is going to die. I wrote about that. Some games are never even going to get to launching in the first place, unfortunately. But then there are these titles: games that went the distance when it came to development, marketing, promotion, testing… but somehow didn’t quite manage to stick the landing past that. These are the games that, in Transformers terms, are the hi-then-die cast of the MMO space.

That doesn’t always mean the games are bad, mind you. Some of these games were great fun. But through a combination of business model issues, publisher issues, player population, and just general weirdness, these titles couldn’t make it to a year and a half in the wild. Heck, some of them couldn’t even make it to a year and a quarter. And if you want to peruse this list and wonder why all of these titles are gone but Alganon is somehow still operating… well, we’re just as confused as you are.

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The Daily Grind: Are social hubs and chat windows enough for your MMO needs?

The other day I was reading up on how the upcoming Dauntless will feature a social hub where players congregate en masse and do their business before heading off for much smaller co-op missions on instanced maps.

It’s certainly not the first game to do this sort of lobby multiplayer setup; Destiny, Hellgate London, and Guild Wars are just some of the other online games that use this format. Heck, Secret World Legends is about to reshape and reboot the game to be just that.

It got me thinking: Is this enough for my MMO needs? If I have a social hub and a chat window wherever I go, do I really need maps with dozens of random players possibly crossing my path? Honestly, I kind of like that massively multiplayer world experience, but as long as I’m connected to other players in some respects, I can still enjoy these more limited multiplayer games.

What do you think? Are social hubs and chat windows enough for your MMO needs?

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MMO veteran Bill Roper joins SpatialOS dev Improbable

MMORPG fans know well the name Bill Roper: He’s the former Blizzard developer who went on to helm Flagship’s Hellgate: London and Cryptic’s Champions Online before landing the gig at Disney Interactive. Now, he’s moving on to Improbable and SpatialOS, the distributed computing platform that seems to pop up in our feeds constantly nowadays and is allegedly worth a billion bucks.

Roper told Gamasutra that he’d been interested in SpatialOS for a few years but became a convert during this past GDC before accepting the role of Chief Creative Officer. “The possibilities for not just massive worlds, but highly detailed and truly persistent worlds built on SpatialOS are exciting. I believe the games that will define AR and VR are yet to be realized, and the type of simulation that can be achieved with our platform can be an integral part of these new experiences,” he explains.

Improbable’s tech is being used as a base for multiple incoming MMOs, including Chronicles of Elyria and Worlds Adrift. Most recently, CEO Herman Narula revealed that his long-term goal is to “literally create other worlds” and rescue to MMO industry from what he called “nuclear winter.”

Source: Gamasutra

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David Brevik says Hellgate London was ‘a game ahead of its time’

If you were harboring some sort of secret hope that David Brevik would return to the battered and bruised Hellgate London to realize its full potential, it’s probably best to put that notion to rest.

Responding to a question about revisiting this past project, Brevik said, “Not anytime soon. It’s owned by Hanbit. A game ahead of its time. Such a shame we couldn’t work out the business and made some bad mistakes.”

Brevik is currently an advisor for Path of Exiles with Grinding Gear Games. For a full history of Hellgate London, check out our Game Archaeologist column on the interesting Diablo offshoot.

Source: Twitter

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The Game Archaeologist: When Hellgate London got Flagshipped

It seems that it really wasn’t too long ago that I was filling in the time between night classes by boning up on video game news. I was drinking up all of the hot up-and-comers, such as Age of Conan and Warhammer Online, when I caught word that the maker of Diablo was trying to do the same thing again, only more online, in 3-D, and with a cool modern-day/futuristic/horror vibe.

There’s no better way to put it than to say that from the start, Hellgate: London looked all kinds of cool. Oh sure, you can scoff now with your perfect 20/20 hindsight, but I’m betting that more than a few of you thought the same with me around that time. Diablo but with guns and an online persistence — how could we not be intrigued? One of my most vivid memories was being torn between the idea of buying a lifetime subscription deal for $150 or not (again, this was before the free-to-play era, but also before the era of us spending the same money on alpha access. I’m just saying that you can’t judge me.).

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