You know how when it’s patch day in your favorite MMORPG and you’re skimming the patch notes trying to figure out what exactly changed, but it’s all cryptic hints and vague comments, and you’re pretty sure when they say “has been changed” they mean “has been nerfed into oblivion,” and you have no idea where the new stuff is so you can log in and find it?
Saga of Lucimia is not planning to alleviate any of that. A new dev blog and vlog from the indie studio argues that it prefers to leave discoveries, especially about new and moved NPCs, events, and activities to the players to encounter on their own, with no teases in the patch notes.
“While we’ll certainly be including notes regarding bug fixes and the like in our patches, one thing you won’t see from us are patch notes for updated or new content in the Saga of Lucimia,” write the devs. “It will be up to the players to discover those changes and events just as they would in a real adventure setting: by actually going there, exploring, following the lore and the storylines, and immersing themselves in the world. […] We want to keep players in the dark regarding content changes and try to avoid, for as long as realistically possible, a full-fledged wiki from being created.”
The uphill struggle to rebuild Glitch has hit a rather significant snag in Children of Ur.
“It saddens us to bring you this news, but Children of Ur is no longer working in Google Chrome, our browser of choice,” the team said on Facebook. “This is because Chrome is no longer supporting a feature that Polymer (which we heavily rely on) uses. CoU will not run on Chrome for the indefinite future, as resources are very limited. From this point on, Mozilla Firefox is the browser to use in order to play CoU. Unfortunately, the game is very choppy and somewhat slow in their browser.”
This notice was the first development post about the game since May 2017. Children of Ur is one of two indie community projects that have been attempting to bring back Glitch in some way, shape, or form, the other one being Eleven.
Back in January, we expressed concern for the brilliant one-man space indie sandbox MMORPG called Ascent: The Space Game (not to be confused with that other Ascent). Talks with an investor were supposed to come to fruition in December, when a studio liaison (the in-game president) reported that developer James Hicks was also working on a second game, changing Ascent’s engine, and building out the new update and client. And while the game could run in maintenance mode indefinitely, according to the dev, that’s obviously not ideal for what remains of the entrenched playerbase.
But in February, hope arrived. Fluffy Kitten Studios posted a market update on Steam and said the “new client [was] at last approaching beta.” And over the last few weeks, Hicks told forumgoers through the surrogate that the patch does indeed switch the game to Unity and the new client as well as adds terraforming, NPC commands, and camera tweaks.
If you’ve been following the MMO industry for a while, chances are you’ve seen the name Sanya Weathers pop up from time to time. Weathers has been both an MMO reporter and a community manager for various studios, including Undead Labs, Metaverse, and Mythic Entertainment. Now she has a new job at Legends of Aria’s Citadel Studios, and she’s bringing her experience and energy to this indie MMO.
It sounds as if Weathers is pretty stoked to be back working on an MMO: “Being part of a world like Legends of Aria is like coming home for me. This is going to be amazing, y’all. There is a lot going on behind the scenes, and I’ll be able to share some of it soon.”
She did say that she’s spending a lot of time right now preparing for Legends of Aria’s appearance at PAX East next month, where the game will have a small booth.
What’s going on in the online video games business this week? Let’s dig in.
Steam, toxicity, and Kartridge
The Center for Investigative Reporting (via Motherboard) has a scathing piece out on Steam toxicity this week. Valve has traditionally maintained a hands-off approach with Steam groups, which means that the groups can easily become a toxic cesspit. The platform is accused of being loaded with hate groups, many of which support racist agendas or promote school shootings. Motherboard notes that Valve has refused to respond to questions on this topic since last October.
Meanwhile, Kongregate is launching Kartridge, a potential Steam competitor that says it will embrace indie “premium” titles and small-fry developers. “Our initial plan is that the first $10,000 in net revenue, one hundred percent will go to the developer,” Kongregate’s CEO says. “We’re not coming in just to build another store. No-one needs that. This is about building a platform that is focused on creating a very fair and supportive environment for indie developers” – as well as on social and community tools.
This week’s dev-written Saga of Lucimia blog asks everybody over the age of 35 to think back to bygone days “when reputation used to mean something” and miscreants were blacklisted by the community.
“For the most part, there is little cooperative spirit in most modern-day MMORPGs, even on the so-called PvE servers,” the indie sandbox’s creative director Tim “Renfail” Anderson asserts. “Instead, it’s a free-for-all storm of mayhem where play-nice-policies are no longer enforced, and player toxicity is allowed to run rampant in favor of generating the most amount of money possible to satisfy investor needs.”
“In a group-based game where you couldn’t really solo anything, reputation was the most important currency anyone had. If you did something bad enough to justify your name being posted in the forums, you very quickly found that no one would group with you. If no one would group with you, your forward momentum was halted; you couldn’t progress through the game. The bad apples of the community were quickly rooted out, and either rage quit, changed to a new character, or learned how to play nice with others.”
Even if you’re not a Darkfall fan or Darkfall New Dawn player, you should take a peek at the incredible roadmap Ub3rgames has posted. Instead of being a vague paragraph of waffle words and half-promises, this puppy is a wall of bar graphs showing exactly, to the feature, what’s being worked on and how far along in that process it is.
“You’ll notice that most of our coming projects are focused around the economy and the reward structure it creates,” the indie studio writes. “Currently, trade is not fluid enough and feels punishing to many players, and holding on to territory is not worth the effort. These are major concerns we share with the community. The world is still in its build up phase, and we aim to give reasons to fight for when that is done. This means valuable locations and watchtowers to control them.”
A further tweet noted that “a naval update will surely be planned” in the longer term after warfronts are live; indeed, warfronts were actually bumped up in the process thanks to player demand, so expect that system sooner rather than later.
February was a big month for MMORPG sandbox Wild Terra. Developer Juvty Worlds heavily overhauled the taming and mount system in the game as of its 0.9.50 patch, as well as added new spear types, new damage types for metal armor, destruction mechanics for buildings, new projectile animation graphics, and improved territory control mechanics.
In celebration of the update, Juvty has issued Massively OP a bundle of keys for the B2P game, worth $14.99 apiece on Steam, to distribute to our readers.
Eagle-eyed readers will recall that we tried granting these to commenters earlier today but ended up DDOSed by keyseller bots, so we’re dispatching those that remain in a manner a bit more friendly to site uptime!
There are no regional restrictions, other than the caveat that the game must be available to you on Steam for you to use the key. Read on to enter to win!
If the term “endgame” elicits a particularly nasty reaction in you, you’re not alone. The indie team behind Saga of Lucimia say that it has the same allergic reaction to the concept of an endgame and claims that this MMO isn’t going to pour its resources into making one.
“The concept of the ‘real’ game content not beginning until you reach the ‘endgame content’ is something that we find ridiculous,” the devs said, “and it’s the primary reason why, at least in our MMORPG, we’re entirely focused on the world and the richness of the lore, stories, and adventures to be had within it.”
So how is Saga of Lucimia going to accomplish this? The idea is that the sandbox will revolve around “continual exploration and adventure” of a much deeper and more nuanced game world. Another point of consideration is that Saga of Lucimia is being constructed with a “definite end” after the base game and its planned three expansions. After it reaches this point, the team will either sunset the title or hand it off to the community to operate.
Out of all the titles that I’ve played for Choose My Adventure, Project Gorgon is probably the earliest in its development cycle. It’s also, by a sizable margin, the best in show. If you’re looking for a quick ringtone-style clip to take away from this column, that would be the one.
That doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot of criticisms of the game, nor does it mean that this is a game which will delight and amaze everyone who plays it. I have a somewhat biased starting point anyway because I talk about this subgenre for a living, and thus I have certain tastes that not everyone is going to share. That isn’t meant as a brag; that’s meant as a self-admonishment because these are things no one should really care about all that much.
Still, here I am, here this game is, and I am happy to pronounce it the best of all the Choose My Adventure games that I’ve played for this feature so far – albeit with the slight caveat that it won’t be able to hold onto that title forever if it doesn’t actually address some of the issues that I noticed while playing.
At the end of the game’s life, when the lights are going out and the developers drifting off to different positions, the most interesting thing that can be said of Perpetuum Online is that it was a minor miracle this MMO made it out the door in the first place.
One of the lead developers of this indie project posted a farewell notice on the site this week, looking back over the past 14 years of the game’s creation and operation.
“We started working on the game (then just called “GenXY”) in around 2004 — we genuinely had no idea what we were doing, we had no idea of the scope of it, we had no idea what it’d become or what we’d WANT it to become; we just had a faint idea that it was possible, and we started on it because we didn’t know better. Turns out, that was kinda really we needed to get it done — because if we would’ve known what’s coming, we probably never would’ve started.”
Massively OP reader Yuri has posed us an interesting chicken-or-the-egg question for this morning’s Daily Grind. “People got burned on paying for unfinished games and are waiting until proper release, but developers shut down projects saying they didn’t see enough support,” he writes. “How can that circle be broken?”
I suspect anyone who’s ever backed a Kickstarter, contemplated buying a game in early access, or followed an indie MMO from inception has struggled with this issue. With rare exceptions, I do my best not to buy anything in early access to protect myself from both heartbreak and frustrating financial loss, but I still want to support great indie games. Then when we see games crumble in alpha or beta because they couldn’t get that critical mass of players, testers, backers, or attention, I always wonder whether people like me are making things worse. I get wanting to let the market sort it out, but the market keeps sorting out the stuff I wanted to play. I’m not sure that’s winning.
How do we solve the problem? Or is it an issue that we players should consider not our problem to begin with?
With so much going on while you attempt to manage your own space economic empire, you’re going to need a little help to stay informed. That’s why the small dev team behind Prosperous Universe is putting a priority on hacking out a useful notification system that will deliver regular updates on projects and events that impact the user.
The devs said that they’re taking a cue for this system from social media: “It pretty much looks and works as you’d expect from a site like Facebook… and that’s on purpose: Many smart people have thought a lot about this problem in the past and there is no point in reinventing the wheel.”
Another project in the works is to rebalance the game so that it rewards specialization strongly enough that it will tempt players away from creating self-sustaining bases that don’t require any external interaction.