illfonic

The studio behind Revival.

Massively Overthinking: The best and worst MMOs of 2017’s PAX West

PAX West 2017 has come and gone, and though MJ is still feverishly working on her last few articles, we wanted to pause a moment to reflect on everything we’ve seen and read and recapped so far. So for today’s Massively Overthinking, I asked our writers to tackle three topics from an MMO player’s perspective: the biggest surprise of the show, the most disappointing bit, and the games that grabbed them and won’t let go.

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Dark and Light demos how guild leaders will manage their groups and homes

The latest video for Snail Games’ early access revival of Dark and Light is about houses, but not the kind of housing you’re thinking with a thatch roof and cute little doorway. No, this is the Game of Thrones kind of house, and the video shows would-be lordlings just how to pilot the interface that all guild leaders surely know is a game (and job) unto itself.

According to the video, leaders can use the interface to bestow and rescind all the hierarchical permissions you’d expect from a stock MMO in 2017, like whether the player is allowed to blow up your buildings or raid your fridge inventory. But the system also allows admins to grant special permissions to members, like riding specific mounts on guild property, seeing who died, and declaring war on the DNL equivalent of the Lannisters. Leaders can also create and place house seals to protect certain buildings from other players — in fact, the seals in the video are apparently an advanced version not yet in the game, so it’s a bit of a sneak peek. Worth a look below!

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Perfect Ten: The 10 saddest MMORPG stories

Every MMO tells a story through the run of its life. A lot of those stories are pretty happy, too. Ultima Online may not be the most happening place in the world right now, but its story is about launching a genre and then running for two solid decades. That’s a pretty great story. However much it’s become a tale of mismanaged expectations, World of Warcraft kind of became the most popular thing for a long while and brought in tons of new people to the hobby. Even titles with sad endings often have bright stories; the end bit for City of Heroes sucks, but everything leading up to that was a gas.

And then you have these 10 titles. These are titles where the whole story is a tragedy, start to finish, and in many cases the tragedy isn’t necessarily over, but the story is still just plain sad. There are reasons, of course, maybe even good ones, but the result is that the narrative for these titles is pretty sad all the way through.

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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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The Daily Grind: Which MMO IP should Disney themeparkify next?

Following Disney’s announcement of the Star Wars Hotel in the Galaxy’s Edge Disney subpark this weekend, my MMO guildies were joking about using the location for a guild meet-up in a few years. (Well, they were joking; I was serious! Teenage Bree would literally be shrieking incoherently over this thing. I practically still am.) The new bit is basically a Star Wars LARP hotel where you walk around in costume (and presumably in-character).

“It’s unlike anything that exists today. From the second you arrive, you will become a part of a Star Wars story! You’ll immediately become a citizen of the galaxy and experience all that entails, including dressing up in the proper attire. Once you leave Earth, you will discover a starship alive with characters, stories, and adventures that unfold all around you. It is 100 percent immersive, and the story will touch every single minute of your day, and it will culminate in a unique journey for every person who visits.”

So basically, it’s an MMORPG that skips right past VR and into real life. Will it be awesome? It’s going to cost a fortune, so probably — although if Westworld is any guide, people will still pay fortunes to show up and be idiots. My guildies will probably just spend all their time playing sabacc in the cantina, so we may as well just stay home and save the dough.

But Star Wars is my particular obsession; I’m sure you folks can think of other IPs, specifically MMO IPs, that would work even better for a bajillion-dollar vanity LARP. Which MMO IP should Disney themeparkify next? (Points to whoever says Revival first!)

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Global Chat: Learning from Master X Master

We’ve certainly remarked several times on Massively OP how much like an MMO Master X Master is, even though it firmly checks the “MOBA” box on its census form. With so much similarity and bleedover between the gameplay genres, is there something that MMOs can learn from this title?

Occasional Hero seems to think so and has pulled out three lessons from his experience, including altaholic pride: “As someone who loves playing an army of alts rather than a single character, I really like the idea of a game with a whole bunch of characters that I can switch between as I feel like it. It’s one of the reasons why I love Marvel Heroes so much, despite the fact that the gameplay revolves around doing the same content over and over. And the reason why playing a bunch of different characters/classes is fun in a game like Marvel Heroes or Master X Master is that they each have a unique gimmick.”

Join us for more interesting MMO discussions from gaming blogs after the break, including a strange revival for EverQuest Online Adventures, a new way to experience World of Warcraft, and first steps into Secret World Legends!

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E3 2017: Dark and Light touts graphics tech in new trailer

Snail Games has released a fresh Dark and Light trailer at this week’s E3, demonstrating the company’s NVIDIA Ansel tech. “With NVIDIA Ansel, players can take staggering 360° screenshots, as well as studio-quality 2D screenshots, as they make their way through Dark and Light’s world,” Snail says. “The technology works with supported GeForce GTX graphics cards, and will be available to use in Dark and Light upon its Steam Early Access release.”

While the company has not confirmed the unlikely rumors that Dark and Light is launching alongside the Steam summer sale later this month, it did open closed beta sign-ups last week. We do know the game, the graphics-intensive revival of an abandoned mid-aughts sandbox, is slotted for early access at some point this year.

The E3 trailer is down below!

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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 Game Archaeologist: How Sceptre of Goth shaped the MMO industry

When it comes to text-based MMOs created in the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s, the sheer number of them would blot out the sky. There are certainly more multi-user dungeons (MUDs) than I’ve ever been able to get a handle on when I’ve tried creating lists of the most important to know, but I will say that there are a few that seem to pop up more than others. The original MUD1, created by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw, was certainly a watershed moment for online roleplaying games. Learning about DikuMUD is pretty essential, considering its impact on graphical MMORPGs that we still play today.

But there’s another title that often goes unnoticed, unless you keep an eye out for it. It’s a MUD that keeps popping up when you look into the history of the MMORPG genre, one with ties to key players and design concepts that are still active today.

It’s the MUD that shaped the MMO industry, and it was called Sceptre of Goth.

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Snag a Twin Saga key from Aeria and Massively OP in honor of the Monk patch!

Twin Saga rolled out a truly massive patch this morning, introducing a brand-new Monk class to the cutesy Aeria MMORPG, along with a new story quest beginning at level 61, the Sanctopolis: Prismatica zone (think rainbows and floating islands), the Sanctopolis: Constellacia zone, three dungeons (Nabuland, La Catedral Infernal Hell Mode, and Sapphire Keep), a new Senshi Quest, a “Couple” System for getting hitched with a partner, new advanced specs, a new archive tool to collect your mounts and outfits, and a level cap bump to 70. See, massive!

In celebration of the launch, Aeria has granted Massively OP keys for readers to help them get a jump on the new content. Read on to grab the key and learn how to apply it to your account!

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BioWare delays SWTOR 5.2 for a week, might be working on KOTOR 3 and a ‘semi-MMO’

Let’s rip off this band-aid quickly: There will be no SWTOR Update 5.2 today. BioWare announced on the forums that it is delaying the patch, which contains the MMO’s first new raid in two years, to next week. In the meantime, SWTOR will be extending its XP/CXP event through the 18th as compensation.

The studio said that the delay was due to a quality issue with the update: “At this point in time, we are not satisfied with the quality of the Iokath update. For that reason, we are delaying the release of 5.2 by one week, to release on April 18th. This allows the team more time to make improvements to address some of the issues still pending.”

And as one Old Republic game sees a delay, another might be forthcoming. Scuttlebutt this week is that BioWare Edmonton is working on a Knights of the Old Republic game. The rumor’s source said that it is unclear whether this is a remake of the original, a revival of the franchise, or something else entirely, but that BioWare is currently working on Star Wars games exclusively.

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The Game Archaeologist: How DikuMUD shaped modern MMOs

Even though there are hundreds and thousands of MMOs spanning several decades, only a small handful were so incredibly influential that they changed the course of development for games from then on out. DikuMUD is one of these games, and it is responsible for more of what you experience in your current MMOs than you even know.

Of course, that doesn’t mean everyone knows what DikuMUD is or how it shaped the MMOs that came out after it. You might have seen it used as a pejorative in enough comments that you know it is loathed by many gamers, but I find that there are varying degrees of ignorance about DikuMUD in the community. What is it, exactly? Why is it just the worst? And is it really the worst if we like the games that can point to this text-based MMO as a key ancestor?

Today we’re going to dispel the mystery and myths of DikuMUD to lay it out there as it was and is today.

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The Daily Grind: What do you think about slavery as a concept in MMORPGs?

Last week, MJ and I were discussing a stream she was planning on Conan Exiles where she planned to help friends capture “thralls” to bring back to their bases and put to work. The term “thrall” is the game’s way of softening what it really is: slavery. The slaves are NPCs, mind you, not other players, but honestly, the idea creeps me out a little bit anyway, far more than, say, Revival’s long-ago proposed NPC prostitution design.

(But the mechanic is cool. Wouldn’t it be nifty if player modders found ways to replace human slaves with elementals or automatoi or summoned spirits? That would basically negate my squeamishness entirely.)

Interestingly, as I reflect on why I find it mildly unsettling, I am thinking back to folks who roleplayed slaves, usually twi’leks, in Star Wars MMOs, and while I might roll my eyes, somehow that bothers me even less: Even though they were human vs. AI, there was a voluntariness about those storylines, play-acting instead of making an uncomfortable social statement via NPC. Conan actually rewards people for enslaving NPCs — if you opt out on a server with the mechanic, you’re at a disadvantage.

I don’t know. I’m conflicted. What do you think about slavery as a concept in MMOs? Are Conan Exiles’ slavery mechanics something you enjoy engaging in?

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