Time and again, we here at Massively OP have noted how RuneScape seems to be incredibly underestimated by the larger MMO community. For how popular it is, it never seems to get the respect and attention from the core MMORPG community that its online contemporaries do.
That is, until you head over to Twitch. According to the June viewing charts over on NewZoo, the fantasy MMORPG drew in an astounding 6.7 million hours of viewership over that month alone. This is enough to put it in 11th place, well ahead of titles like Destiny, Minecraft, Black Desert, and H1Z1: King of the Kill. It’s RuneScape’s world — we only watch it from afar.
The top 10 of the viewership chart is filled with the usual suspects, including much of Blizzard’s roster (World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Overwatch, and Heroes of the Storm) and the dominant MOBAs of our time (League of Legends and Dota 2).
ARK and Conan aren’t the only survivalboxes in town — in fact, several of the modern contenders in the subgenre have updates and videos this week demonstrating their progress.
Today, we’ll start with Next Day: Survival, a new game to our coverage here on Massively OP and one that’s just hit early access today. It’s touting its storyline, questing, “sophisticated crafting system,” car restoration system, repitation, and multiple game modes, including pure PvE and a single-player mode.
“Next Day: Survival is a multi-player survival game with elements of RPG. Its action takes place in an imaginary country within the Eastern Europe, a large part of whose territory is contaminated with toxic fog. The player’s main task is to survive, to develop his game character’s skills, and to interact with the surrounding world, other players, and non-player characters (NPCs). In the course of the game, the character earns a reputation, which gives him the chance to join various factions of survivors, each with their own features and limitations.”
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.
After some ups and downs this afternoon — everybody loves the “try again later” message, right? — Valve’s summer Steam sale is finally underway and stable. Here’s what we’re looking at in our corner of the gaming world.
Sometimes you have to ask yourself why developers fix bugs that are clearly awesome. And so it is with H1Z1: King of the Kill’s recent patch, which mentions that the team “fixed at least one major cause for vehicles appearing to sink into the terrain and explode when approached.” At least there’s the hope that there are other causes, right?
Anyway, yesterday’s patch was relatively small, mostly focused on a few small adjustments, infrastructure improvements to better handle the load of players, and the addition of laminated armor to airdrops.
Meanwhile, the sadly neglected H1Z1: Just Survive is getting a little bit of attention with this afternoon’s stronghold livestream. “Exciting changes are coming to Just Survive this summer and we want to kick that off with a livestream discussing the new stronghold system,” the team posted. Watch it after the break!
Soloers and team players alike are invited to put their skills to the test in H1Z1’s newest tournament, the Elite Series. Debuting at DreamHack Atlanta on July 21st, the Elite Series will throw some of the best players in the world against each other in single-elimination bouts, all fighting for a slice of the $100,000 prize pool.
A million bucks is on the line for each event in the Elite Series, split between single and team players. It sounds as though the DreamHack event will be the first of a batch of Elite Series tournaments, although Daybreak is being coy on announcing future dates.
Daybreak Director of E-sports Mark Tuttle thinks that this will be a must-watch event: “It’s an arena for the best head-to-head H1Z1 action and will undoubtedly have viewers and players on the edge of their seat. There is nothing that can match the scale or intensity of an H1Z1 tournament where everyone is dropped in together, competing amidst the mayhem to be the last one standing, and we are excited to continue to develop this new genre of e-sports.”
Amazon Game Studios continues to lure talented developers away for its new multiplayer projects. Sebastian Strzalkowski became the latest to defect to the new studio, saying that he is joining the San Diego team after 13 years of work at SOE and Daybreak.
Strzalkowski’s portfolio covers a wide swath of Daybreak projects, including being art director for H1Z1 and having worked on Free Realms, EverQuest Next, and Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures.
“Grateful for 13 rewarding yrs at SOE/Daybreak, honored to work with such talented folks,” Strzalkowski posted on Twitter. “Starting new job @AMZNGameStudios later this month!”
As Ashes of Creation takes aim at the $3M line for its Kickstarter campaign, Intrepid Studios announced that it has made several significant hires to its development team, some of which come from the Daybreak fold.
The hires include Lead Economic Designer Rocco Scandizzo (Psyop Games), Lead Programmer Kevin McPherson (EverQuest, PlanetSide, Vanguard, and Shadowbane), Lead Technical Designer Akil Hooper (EverQuest II, Fallout: New Vegas), Senior Character Artist Mat Broome (H1Z1, DCUO, PlanetSide 2, EverQuest), and Alex Khudoliy (Amazon).
Another interesting announcement is that Intrepid is partnering with Panopticon Labs to develop fraud detection and prevention tools for the game to make it as secure as possible.
Ashes of Creation devs will be on hand this evening at 6:00 p.m. EDT for a final Kickstarter livestream. The team also posted a brief video showing some of the winter effects in the different game environments, which you can watch below.
The first MMO hit of the summer is already upon us, as Black Desert’s debut on Steam has paid off in dividends. Thanks to the high-profile release and a 40% off sale, the fantasy title has moved over 127,000 copies to interested players.
It’s not just people purchasing the game but playing it as well. Steam charts note that there’s been high interest in Black Desert ever since it came to the platform, and the existing community said that it has seen an increase in the game’s population. BDO’s all-time record concurrency on Steam so far is 18,894. For comparison’s sake, H1Z1 peaked at 137K and Ark: Survival Evolved reached a little over 100K.
In its patch notes for today’s update, Kakao told players it has added an additional trio of servers. It’s a fairly modest patch by BDO standards, but it does introduce a nifty new travel event.
See if you can follow the chain of progression here. In APB Reloaded’s most recent dev diary, the team says that it’s about done ironing out issues and fighting DDoS attacks in its console versions (problems that have been going on since early April). Once that is done, the devs want to bring some of these improvements and optimizations to the PC and figure the best way to do that is… by creating a new game mode. Because stress testing or something?
Honestly, it sounds like they’re trying hard to emulate the popularity of other titles: “Seeing the success of Battlegrounds and H1Z1 survival mode, we realized we have almost all the ingredients in APB to create a gangland survival game, and we want to your help to make this event as fun as possible.”
Jump on that survival bandwagon! If the proposed event is popular enough, APB hopes to incorporate it as a regular game mode following the summer.
H1Z1: King of the Kill has gotten lots of love from Daybreak this week with the release of a brand-new update as teased last month; it includes major improvements for combat, lag, hit registration, line of sight, and shotguns, plus three new points of interest on the Pleasant Valley map.
The update also sees the return of skirmish matches, weekend affairs whose rules switch up on rotation. “The inventory screen and crafting system have also been simplified, resulting in a more accessible and user-friendly experience,” says Daybreak. “The crate screen has also been reworked providing a more streamlined menu, where players can view all of their crates in one place.”
Check out the dev video down below — anybody still playing in with the zombies?
The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
This week we have stories and videos from MapleStory, Heroes of the Storm, Ingress, Wurm Online, DCUO, Hellion, Life is Feudal, Skyforge, Overwatch, H1Z1, Final Fantasy XI, all waiting for you after the break!
Fresh off its TV e-sports debut, H1Z1’s King of the Kill branch is on the verge of an update that’s expected to optimize its hit registration code, which’ll build on region-locking to fine-tune the game’s performance. In the upcoming test server patch, Daybreak will also revamp the shotgun, add skirmishes back to the game, update arena play, tweak the UI, and swap in new vehicle skins.
“We are making tremendous strides towards our goal of delivering you with a game that is consistent, competitive, fair, and fun to watch,” Daybreak says. “Our next big priorities are ranked team games and overall gunplay and gameplay balance. We will be sharing more on our future plans soon.” There’s still no word on the launch of the game and its console port.
Meanwhile, stuff is happening over in Just Survive too! Really! Daybreak has wiped the live servers again, fixed a ton of bugs and exploits, and released some (genuinely beautiful) concept art. It also fixed some anti-exploit policing — the one “where anti-exploit code could falsely register and kill players jumping on rooftops.” Back to the rooftops with you.