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?
Last month, we introduced our readers to Fractured, yet another SpatialOS MMO currently under construction since this past January. Its chief claims to fame include planetary colonization, crafting, housing, skill- and reflex-based combat — and most interestingly to players bored of stock MMO tropes — no grind and no forced PvP.
This week, the team behind the game, Dynamight Studios, has released what it’s calling a feature spotlight on one of its “design pillars” — character races — arguing that the “potential of the concept has never been exploited in full” by the genre.
Dynamight CEO Jacopo Gallelli contends that “races have been used to add variety to combat, questlines and, at best, environments” in MMOs, but that “no one has ever strived to employ them to immerse players in a different culture and society, and to make them feel that they are playing a whole different game if their character is a Demon instead of a Human.”
Getting confused over Fractured and Fragmented? Me too! Let’s add another into the mix: The Foundation! Actually, no, let’s back up. Fractured is a relatively new SpatialOS MMORPG sandbox, with planetary colonization, crafting, housing, skill- and reflex-based combat, and — critically — no grind and no forced PvP. While it’s been in production since January, it didn’t leak out to us until a month ago.
The Foundation is a new program Fractured’s developers at Italy’s Dynamight Studios have integrated into the game’s forums (so all you need to do to participate is create an account there). On the surface, it’s a “community engagement program,” which sounds either awful or mundane, but MMO vets who look more closely will find that it more resembles the incentivized fluff from direct crowdfunding — only you’re not paying for it. It’s meant to reward players for doing things like posting feedback and ideas, chatting with fellow fans, and sharing game updates, and it amounts to a minigame before the game is even out. Says the studio,
On this week’s show, Justin and Bree talk about the huge revelation of Cryptic’s Magic: The Gathering MMO, the premature demise of Bless Online, World of Warcraft’s new launch, and more!
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The burgeoning SpatialOS empire has a new member state this week, as Italy-based Dynamight Studios announced that it is making Fractured using the world-building platform. Fractured is a relatively new project, having started back in January, and promises to combine action RPGs and sandbox MMOs to great effect.
Key features for the project include a skill- and reflex-based combat system, world colonization, player-driven economy, scads of crafting, housing, and characters who are effective from the get-go after choosing strengths and weaknesses. Equipment and levels are being severely downplayed in Fractured, with the emphasis on players expanding their knowledge and reputation during adventures.
Fractured’s knowledge system actually sounds pretty neat: “Say goodbye to the conventional RPG level and skill systems you’ve seen way too often and embrace the power and flexibility of the Knowledge System. It’s about time you get rewarded for your courage and cleverness, not for the hours you’ve spent hunting zombies or punching a training dummy!”