Ever since the tone-deaf SOE proclamation that nobody wanted to play Uncle Owen in an MMORPG, contrary me has consciously fought that very stupid idea. A whole lot of people wanted to play Uncle Owen, then and now, there and elsewhere. Star Wars Galaxies was a game half full of Uncle Owens. I spent a lot of time literally becoming a moisture farmer as my own form of rebellion. And yet, as I realized while debating with my husband a few weeks ago, the person I really wanted to be was freakin’ Lando. And most MMORPGs don’t allow that either — it’s Luke or GTFO.
Such is the argument made by a recent PC Gamer article, which in its own precious mainstream way argues that “MMOs need to let you be an average Joe” to get out of the clear “creative slump” they’re in.
“With their scale and permanence, MMOs give us the chance to be citizens in a make-believe world we create with the help of our fellow players. When it’s left up to us what kind of role we want to fill in that world, everybody’s immersion benefits from being surrounded by all types of characters with vastly different stories.”
For this week’s Overthinking, I asked the staff to chime in on the concept of Uncle Owen in MMORPGs. Do you play this way? Do you wish you could? And is it the way forward?
Here’s another reminder that we really shouldn’t take our eyes off of Improbable Worlds, even for a second. The five-year-old software company, which is specializing in creating massive virtual worlds for simulations and games, just received over a half-billion dollar investment from a Japanese telecommunications corporation.
SoftBank injected $502 million into Improbable this week in one of the largest U.K. venture capital deals of all time. This investment puts one of SoftBank’s members on Improbable’s boards and sees SoftBank create a non-controlling stake in the company.
To make a good week even better for Improbable, venture firms Andreessen Horowitz and Horizon Ventures also committed additional funds to the tech startup and its SpatialOS software. “Having backed Improbable from the start, we continue to see huge potential in the application of its technology, both for solving real-world problems and in changing the future of the games industry,” said Horizons Ventures founder Solina Chau.
During last week’s podcast, Justin and I bumped into a tangential topic about competitive PvE and how relatively rare it is in MMORPGs, which seems weird, right? It was once the nature of MMOs to make us scuffle with other guilds in open-world dungeons, but with the dawn of instanced PvE content, devs didn’t replace that type of content the same way they’ve embraced raiding and PvP. You’ve got achievements, sure, and gear show-offs, but outside of Guild Wars-esque challenge missions and WildStar PvE leaderboards, it’s just not something most MMOs bother with.
Why is that? Should they? And how do you want to see it done? I posed all these questions to the Massively OP team this week for Massively Overthinking!
Update: The devs have shifted the ETA to April 25th; we’ve updated below.
While Elite Dangerous’ community should be celebrating over the addition of player-created avatars and multi-crew ships with Horizons Update 2.3, instead they’re dealing with one of the buggiest updates to date for the space sim. Even following a rollback last week of the background sim data that manages political factions, there are still numerous issues that have yet to be resolved.
The good news is that there’s a patch coming to take care of much of this. The bad news is that players are going to have to wait until next month to see fixes for the login bugs, stability issues, weird errors, and frame rate drops.
“We’ve seen your feedback with regards to a number of bugs in the latest update,” Frontier reported on the forums, “and the development team have been busy working on a release that focuses on fixing a large number of the common complaints. The release is currently scheduled for early May.”
Call it “Sitting in Cockpits.”
No longer will your in-game representation in Elite Dangerous be a mere hunk of space metal with a flaking coat of paint. With Horizons Update 2.3: The Commanders today, all players will be able to create their own avatars to counter the loneliness of space exploration with a humanizing touch.
The avatar will be used extensively in the game, as players will be able to see their creation in the cockpit and have their likeness show up on-screen when chatting with others. If that’s not enough to make you feel chummy, then hook yourself up with one of the new multi-crew ships that allow several friends to join you in your adventures.
Other patch changes include ship names, ID plates, vanity cameras, and asteroid bases. Frontier CEO David Braben fielded a lot of questions about the update and the future of Elite Dangerous in a recent Reddit AMA, just in case you wanted to glean more information. For the rest of us, check out the commander creator feature after the jump!
Though it’s fun for the broader industry, GDC has been a bit of a dud for our genre for years now. If you’re willing to expand your horizons past pure MMORPGs, however, there’s plenty of juice. Exhibit A: Funcom’s Conan Exiles presence at the show. PC Gamer has a report out today on Funcom’s plans for the game, including the clothing and armor dye system (coming this month), mounts and taming, PvE purge events stuffed with iconic Conan NPCs, better thrall micro-management, a lush foresty biome (bring your warmer clothes!), trebuchets that hurl rocks and dead bodies, and a new sewer dungeon.
Funcom’s Joel Bylos even sneaked in a dig on unspecified games that launch early access and linger there indefinitely while charging for DLC. Conan, of course, has vowed to launch by this time next year and has promised to avoid paid DLC during early access.
Massively OP will be meeting with Funcom at this weekend’s PAX East, so stay tuned for more, and in the meantime, check out the videos below.
For those that felt titillated and intrigued by the original announcement of Rebel Horizons a year ago (if you can remember back that long), movement has been spotted on the project after many months of relative silence. The team is planning to make an appearance at GDC this spring and has a new trailer to show off to the public.
The trailer for the sci-fi sandbox shows a man on another world, taking a jet bike across the desert to a settlement. There, he buys some gear and then steps into a teleporter, destination unknown.
Rebel Horizons is making a shared persistent universe in which players can forge their own destinies and make their own living. Possibilities include trading, crafting, bounty hunting, mining, harvesting, and traveling to other worlds, each with their own ecosystems and economies.
Catch a glimpse of the future in the GDC 2017 trailer after the break!
Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2016 awards continue today with our award for Best MMORPG Studio of 2016, which was awarded to Square-Enix last year.
We asked our writers to consider major MMORPG studios in 2016, not just their pet favorites, and judge the studios on what they did within the MMORPG genre this year specifically. All of our writers were invited to cast a vote, but not all of them chose to do so for this category. Don’t forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end!
The Massively OP staff pick for Best MMORPG Studio of 2016 is…
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, Warface brought a little holiday cheer into its relentless warzones. We’ve got that plus stories and videos from Overwatch, Elder Scrolls Online, Minecraft, and more, all waiting for you after the break!
There be a red moon tonight. A blood
moon, so the ancient mariners called it. ‘Tis a bad omen indeed. Ye best be sharpening your swords and limbering up your clicking finger if ye hope to live to see the sun come up over the horizons, maties!
Starting tomorrow, Neverwinter will come under assault by a band of raucous pirates with its Storm the Keep event. This is actually a good thing, as it allows players to prove their heroism and snag some choice loot during the invasion. The top prizes include a swashbuckler companion, a pirate dye pack, weapon transmutes, and even a peg leg. Who wouldn’t want a peg leg?
The event kicks off on December 1st and runs through December 5th. Happy hunting!
While some of us are toiling away on the ground in plate armor while fighting furry monstrosities, there’s a whole world of internet spaceships STO-ing, EVE-ing, and SWTOR-ing their way through MMO space. Check out some of this year’s gift offerings for the best space pilot on your friends list!
Elite Dangerous is busy rolling out The Guardians expansion today, free for folks who already own the Horizons season pass ($29.99 on Steam) and featuring multi-person crewing, NPC ferrying, new planetary discoverables, an improved map — the works.
“Elite Dangerous: Horizons 2.2 – The Guardians introduces ship-launched fighters, passenger gameplay and a host of new features and quality-of-life upgrades for Frontier’s award-winning space epic,” declares the press release. “The Guardians changes the dynamics of combat, trading and exploration in Elite Dangerous, and unlocks new opportunities for every Commander to enrich their experience in the massively multiplayer galaxy, however they choose to play.”
There’s an AMA ongoing on Reddit right now, plus screenshots and an expansion trailer below. Big day!
Frontier announced this afternoon that Elite: Dangerous’ Guardians update will roll out on Tuesday, October 25th.
“We hope you’re geared up and ready for ship-launched fighters, the Beluga liner, VIPs, passengers, alien archaeology, volcanism, and much more, because the Guardians and Elite Dangerous 1.7 updates will be blasting out of the Frontier Developments’ fighter bay on Tuesday October 25,” the studio told players via newsletter. “If you own Elite Dangerous: Horizons, or the Commander Deluxe Edition, in less than a week you’ll be able to download the 2.2 update and hire fighter pilots to assist you in combat situations, build smaller ship-launched fighters in your larger vessel and send them in to battle and pilot and carry passengers in the beautiful and vast Beluga liner to new and exciting tourist destinations.”
Base-game players will see a number of free updates as well, including nav filters, starport interiors, passenger ferrying, module storage, vessel transfer, and shady fences who can nuke bounties.