illfonic

The studio behind Revival.

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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Dark and Light's world map covers 25 regions

The team behind the revival of Dark and Light have a mighty task ahead to convince players to give this fantasy sandbox a second chance, but pumping out great-looking screenshots of this alien world might be a good start.

Dark and Light's main action will take place on just a small part of Planet Alpha called The Sacred Path, which covers 25 unique locations. "The Sacred Path is the center of magic and makes up the main playable area in-game," the team posted. "Elemental magic courses through the landscape causing wild fluctuations in the structure of the land and the environment, resulting in the rapid emergence of floating islands, cursed forests, lost moors, a massive active volcano, snow-capped mountains, and more."

Check out a few of the sights and beasties in the gallery below!

Source: Dark and Light. Thanks Kinya!

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The MMOs we lost in 2016

If you thought we lost a lot of MMOs in 2014 and 2015, wait until you see 2016's list.

It's easy to shrug off some of these, like the non-MMORPGs, the games shutting down in far-flung countries, or even Hellgate, which sunsets and revives at least a dozen times a year now.

But others sting. Asheron's Call, due to sunset in January, is probably the smallest MMORPG on the list, but it casts a mighty shadow over the genre and will be deeply missed by veterans. The cancellations of EverQuest Next and Revival still stings. PlanetSide had a long and storied run, while DUST 514 may yet live again. And our youngins will now miss out on introductory games like Super Hero Squad Online and LEGO Minifigures.

Farewell, old friends.

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Hellgate fan project moves toward an alpha build

Work continues on the fan-powered project to bring back Hellgate: London to the masses. The London 2038 team reported that it is working through some game-breaking bugs but is moving forward to an alpha build.

"We are at a point where a few bugs remain which can cause the game to be instantly unplayable and are working hard to fix them. This means we are not quite to an alpha state stability-wise, but at the same time our server is playable enough to get some productive testing done."

The London 2038 team has added a new member over the past month and is preparing to launch its official website in the near future. In the meantime, you can check out the following video of a recent multiplayer test!

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Perfect Ten: Biggest MMORPG surprises of 2016

Back at the beginning of December, I posted a list of what I considered to be the biggest MMORPG stories of 2016. However, there were notable exceptions in that list of news that fans thought should be included. Unbeknownst to them but knownst to me, I had a second list in the works: the biggest MMO surprises of 2016.

That's right! Today we're going to revisit all of the big news that pretty much nobody saw coming (and if they say they did, they're lying, but let them have it - it's what they live for in this internet age). Being surprised by this genre is one of the reasons why I love writing for Massively OP -- you never quite know what will pop up on any given day.

Sure, some surprises are sour and unwelcome, but others can be delightful and exciting. We've got both on this list, so let's wrap up this year by seeing what stories gave us double-takes and were the buzz on everyone's lips!

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MMO Year in Review: EverQuest Never (March 2016)

This year, we’re taking a time-machine back through our MMO coverage, month by month, to hit the highlights and frame our journey before we head into 2017.

March was pretty much the worst month of the entire year, and March 11th was a particularly bad day: It was the day that EverQuest Next was canceled, WildStar was slammed with layoffs, Colin Johanson announced he was leaving the Guild Wars 2 team, and Zahrym left the WoW team. Our Week in Review summary that week is just called "Sadface." In retrospect, I can see why MMORPG players were shaken to the core. I'm so sorry if March 11th was your birthday.

The rest of March wasn't much better; Revival was more or less canceled, there was that whole Ghillie suit thing, and Guild Wars 2 ended development of legendary weapons.

March was also the month a dev team coined "shitstorm matrix," so there was that.

Read on for the curated list of our favorite posts from the month of doom.

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The Soapbox: Asheron's Call is dead, and Turbine killed it

You'd think recent news about Asheron's Call 1 and AC2 would be easy to swallow. After all, we'd already been warned that Turbine was becoming a mobile company. We lived through the end of AC1 updates and a desire to give players the chance to host their own servers. Heck, AC2 had died and resurrected. We've been living on borrowed time, but anything seemed possible. Despite the fact that Turbine's games were squeaking by (when not getting cancelled), I thought that fan power would lead the company to see what it'd done right (innovating MMOs) and where it had failed (straying from monthly updates and GM lead content).

Clearly I was wrong.

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Gamers are trying to revive Hellgate: London - again again again

We all know that Hellgate: London has been revived and used at this point more than your average CPR training dummy. So while we're not here to tell you that some studio is bringing back this OARPG (again), we do want to point out that some of Hellgate's most loyal community members are attempting to resurrect the game in some form.

First up is Hellgate: Revival, in which a small dev team is trying to bring back the classic multiplayer Hellgate experience while possibly opening up some of its later areas. It sounds like the project is making progress, too: "As seen above, we have a working Hellgate: London multiplayer server running. At this point, Hellgate multiplayer WILL be returning to the community. It has taken months of work, dedication, blood, sweat, and tears to get to this point, but we are at a point where development is accelerating and we are able to actually debug a running MP server."

Another team called Fledgling Studios is attempting to create a similar game called Hellrift, which Fledgling says is a spiritual successor to Hellgate: London. Fans are encouraged to follow Hellrift's progress on Facebook, where there are already pieces of concept art and character models.

We've got a look at Hellgate: Revival's multiplayer test in a video below.

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EverQuest Online Adventures revival project solicits aid

It's been well over four years since EverQuest Online Adventures was unplugged and its servers shut down, as SOE deemed the old hardware (PlayStation 2) and minuscule population not worth supporting.

However, there is the faithful remnant that has been trying during the intervening years to get the console MMORPG back up and running. This week, the revival team put out a call for help with its project to establish an EQOA emulator that works on both the PS2 and PC.

"Unfortunately, the few people who are working on it are also employed and such and no one gets paid working on this," the author writes, "and we are in desperate need of more people who can help on the technical side of things. Moral support is great but we need more technical help."

If you have the skills and the desire to be part of the project, you can contact the team through the Reddit comment thread.

Source: Reddit

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Dark and Light may be a smaller MMO than its previous version

Snail Games' Dark and Light revival project might not be as massive as its earlier incarnation, according to a new interview.

"We’re not quite ready to commit to a hard number, but server population will be far less than traditional MMOs," said Associate Producer Jonathon Stebel to WCCFtech. "Early access is going to help us stress test our servers to see exactly what we can handle in terms of max player cap per server. To help clear things up a little bit, Dark and Light should be thought of more as an open world multiplayer fantasy game with survival/MMO aspects, rather than an MMO with survival aspects."

Those fearing a hardcore survival experience will be glad to hear that Dark and Light won't be as brutal as some other games in the genre. The interview also touched on a few of Dark and Light's features, such as fast travel (via teleportation portals), underwater exploration, and air combat ("Definitely possible," teased Stebel).

Source: WCCFtech. Thanks Stefano!

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Revival's universe developed as Theleston, might return to MMO space

While Revival the MMORPG was "indefinitely suspended" back in March of this year, there's an interesting coda to this story that might be of some comfort to fans. Following the conclusion of the MMO project, the owners of the game universe took hold of the IP and have been working to flesh out this 20-year-old fantasy world ever since.

The continuing project has progressed under the banner of a new website, Theleston.com. Here you can read up on the lore of this setting and follow the development of the IP. The team has four phases planned, starting with a pen-and-paper game and working up to a "multiplayer evolving online world" that sounds suspiciously like an MMO.

"Shifting production priorities at IllFonic meant that Revival was put on hold," the team said, "but Theleston continues in its current form, a fully realized and detailed universe and the perfect setting for strange adventures in any medium, be it tabletop role playing games, fantasy novels, or video games."

Source: Theleston Lives, About Us. Thanks Andrew!

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Battleborn boss denies free-to-play plans

Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford has denied a Kotaku report that Gearbox is about to take its flagging shooter Battleborn free-to-play within a couple of months. The publication had cited an anonymous source familiar with plans for the game, backing it up with the steadily falling price of the game and the revival of Evolve following its conversion.

But Pitchford denounced the story as "reckless" on Twitter.

He also clarified that the company "has some unannounced plans to do a trial version of the game that would be free and from which retail can be purchased along with DLC" and that it was likely not a timed demo but that plans hadn't been finalized.

Source: Kotaku, Twitter

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