indie

MMOs you’ve never heard of: Rogalia, Lazarus, Dead Maze, We Ride, and SOS

Welcome back to our intermittent series on MMOs and other multiplayer games you you’ve never heard of! Let’s run down five more floating to the top of the pile this month.

Rogalia

First up is a Russian indie MMO called Rogalia that I first heard of thanks to former Massively columnist Jeremy Stratton (heya Jeremy!). It’s cute and cartoony and will definitely appeal to old-school isometric sandbox players with its crisp cartoon graphics and detailed UI. Combine all that with the gameplay and it’ll remind you more of Ultima Online than most games that namedrop it! It’s currently $12 on Steam, though it’s set to launch out of early access at some point this month, when the price will likely increase.

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Meta: Patreon has rolled back plans to change fee structure

Hello MOP readerbase! As you are likely aware, Massively OP’s funding is a hybrid, coming both from advertising and from reader donations, most of the latter through Patreon. Last week, Patreon announced changes to its fee structure that had us all scrambling, as it would have affected sites and donors like ours and moved transaction fees from us to you in a way that would’ve made it hard to justify small monthly donations, which are the majority of our contributions and those for other indie creators on the platform. We alerted our backers on Patreon about the proposed changes last week and were as concerned as you about the future of the platform and whether it was in our and your best interests to stay on it.

I am relieved to report today that Patreon heard the public outcry over the changes and announced today that it will not be implementing those changes.

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Perfect Ten: 20 upcoming MMOs to watch in 2018

It has become a long-standing tradition as Massively OP and our former site that we like to end the year by creating a list of titles that we anticipate for the coming one. It has always been a devilish list to create, full of loose dates and fast guesswork about which titles will and won’t be releasing during a 12-month window (just read last year’s list to see how spot-on I was).

This year we’re changing things up a bit by tossing out the qualifying factor of “will see a hard launch in 2018.” Instead, I drafted up a list of 20 MMOs that have the potential to do or be really interesting next year, whether that be a launch, a long-anticipated beta test, or some other significant development. Plus, hey, you get 20 for the price of 10, so no complaining now!

As an aside, this list isn’t going to cover some other exciting-looking multiplayer games that are arriving in 2018, like Sea of ThievesThe Crew 2Monster Hunter WorldDayZRed Dead Redemption 2Stardew Valley, Conan Exiles, and State of Decay 2. And you old school fans won’t want to forget that Ultima Online has a new free-to-play option coming this spring.

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Pantheon’s begins pre-alpha testing for high-end backers

It’s a big day for indie MMORPG Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, as it’s the first day the gates open to external pre-alpha testers to help test the game.

“Our testers are starting off in Thronefast, but not a complete, fully-polished, ready-for-shipping Thronefast,” Visionary Realms wrote this morning. “They’ll get to literally see the game grow around them as they help us squash bugs, offer feedback and be a part of the development of this grand MMORPG, arguably earlier than public has ever been invited into an MMO – while there’s still grayboxing!”

As we’ve previously covered, you do need to have purchased the Originator’s package to get into this stage of testing; it’s currently a thousand-dollar package, so it’s not for the casual tester but rather the hardcore backer. “Originator’s packages are still available until December 20th, after which they will no longer include Pre-Alpha access,” warns Visionary Realms.

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Ship of Heroes recaps 2017, teases Christmas event, and looks ahead to 2018’s beta

Who says you have to have launched to have holiday events? Not Ship of Heroes. The City of Heroes-inspired indie superhero MMORPG has a new video out this afternoon teasing what will eventually become its Christmas event once the game is in a playable state.

“Meltdown is collecting Christmas gifts by racing around Apotheosis City,” Heroic Games explains. “As he finds each one, he opens it and receives both in-game money (Dust), and a gift that goes into his inventory. We’re also showing picture-in-picture clips of the most important milestones SoH has achieved in each of the last twelve months. Through the PiP, we are sharing an overall tale of success, of moving from a website with a bit of concept art and story, to our current working game prototype.”

The studio is also reminding fans that it’s still planning on launching open beta by the end of 2018 and that donations – with their associated rewards, including access to the alpha – are still open.

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Shadow’s Kiss ends Kickstarter with 300% funding and several stretch goals

Expect some vampires to be popping bottles of the red bubbly today.

The team behind Shadow’s Kiss is celebrating the conclusion a modestly successful Kickstarter run, the funds from which will help to get this indie vampire MMORPG made. The game passed 300% of its target goal for funding, ending up at the $80,414 mark thanks to the efforts of 884 backers.

Fans and backers will be pleased to see that all of this overachieving has resulted in numerous stretch goals, including last-minute ones such as a “frenemy” system for seducing enemy groups and a demolitions expert who will train you in making things go ka-boom.

Congrats from the Massively OP team for a good run! It will be interesting to see what this small team can do with 80 grand in the future.

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Shadow’s Kiss devs interview vampires as their Kickstarter nears finish line

Even though it’s looking more like Christmas than Halloween around these parts, Shadow’s Kiss is taking its Kickstarter all the way to the bank. The blood bank.

The indie vampire MMO is about to finish a successful fundraising campaign, having raised over $67,000 of its initial $25,000 goal. This means that the community has unlocked a number of stretch goals, such as crafting, a ritual magic system, a soundtrack from Midnight Syndicate, and demolitions.

“We’re honored and a bit overwhelmed by the support from the community,” said Clockwork Throne President Thomas Sitch. “This Kickstarter is going to allow us to finally bring the world a vampire-themed MMO, with gothic story elements, horror, and the ‘coolness factor’ of being a vampire set on ruling the night.”

Flush with all of that future cash, the team apparently funded a trip to the city to interview real vampires during which all of the devs were killed. Or so the following mockumentary videos would have you believe.

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Are rank-and-file devs benefiting from MMO publisher ‘money-grabs’? Camelot Unchained’s Mark Jacobs weighs in

Last week, Massively OP’s Eliot Lefebvre wrote a (fantastic) Soapbox editorial arguing that Star Wars Battlefront II (and its concomitant monetization dust-up) is merely a symptom of the “long tail” trend of the games business. As he put it, it’s not a bad thing that game companies seek to make money; they need money to make games, and games make us happy. We’re happy to pay fair prices for good games! But EA, he argues, is merely undertaking a “blatant cash grab” over and above the rising costs of making games, and the worst part is that the game developers themselves aren’t reaping the benefits of the publishers’ increased revenue.

“The programmers and art staff don’t wind up seeing much, if anything, from these increased profit margins, still being subjected to an awful volume of crunch time and demanding workloads with ever-growing headcounts,” Eliot asserted. “And the people making these games aren’t seeing any benefit from all of these increases; salaries aren’t going up except for the people at the top end.”

But that might be true for only a segment of corporate developers. In conversation with Massively OP, Camelot Unchained boss-man Mark Jacobs suggests that over the last five years, developer salaries – specifically programmers – have increased significantly.

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Albion Online’s next update, Kay, launches next week with tons of fresh PvP content

This summer’s sole indie sandbox MMO launch, Albion Online, is rolling out its second post-launch update. It’s called Kay. As in Sir Kay, one of the Knights of the Round Table, but don’t let that stop your jokes. The update is set for December 6th and focuses on game performance, maps, hardcore expeditions, the updated tutorial, battle mounts, and the new GvG season (which technically begins December 9th, probably). Territory raiding is going to be a big deal too for those of you who prefer a purpose to your pillaging and PKing.

“The Territory Raids provide a constant opportunity for guilds to compete in PvP battles,” Sandbox Interactive explains. “So far, players were able to raid the territories of enemy guilds to capture resources or even the entire territory. Now, the guilds can directly fight the energy-gathering mages of their opponents. That way, they can weaken the enemy, deprive them of valuable energy which they can purchase new weapons or items with, and in addition gain big points for the season rating.”

Catch the video down below for a deeper look at the fightin’ mounts!

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Slay-to-win: Massively OP’s hands-on with the Dauntless closed beta

The end of September marked a major milestone for Dauntless, the upcoming monster-slaying action-MMORPG from indie developer Phoenix Labs, as it officially concluded its Founder’s Alpha event and made the jump into closed beta. Since then, legions of would-be Slayers have stormed the Shattered Isles, taking up arms to defend the last bastions of human civilization from destruction at the hands (and talons, fangs, or similarly sinister appendages) of the marauding monstrous beasts known as Behemoths.

And as it so happens, I was one of them. As a long-time fan of Capcom’s venerable Monster Hunter series, which pioneered the “kill-carve-and-craft” action-RPG subgenre upon which Dauntless aims to build, I’ve been eager to check it out for some time now. So when closed beta rolled around, I shelled out for a Founder’s Pack and joined my fellow prospects in the frontier settlement of Ramsgate, where I hoped to prove worthy of the Slayer mantle, or failing that, then at least to avoid dying horribly.

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Exclusive: Indie sandbox El Somni Quas state-of-the-game dev diary

It’s been a hot minute since we heard from El Somni Quas, the indie sandbox from a Czech studio that cut its teeth on Ultima Online emulators and is porting its ideas into its own game with 3-D sensibilities. There are two reasons for that, as developers Jiří Wallenfels and Zbyněk Juračka explain.

“We have promised to produce a functional alpha test till the end of the year, so we are trying to finish off individual steps needed for launching the first gaming client,” the team says. “Secondly, regarding the world, not that many things are being built to create new scenes. We’re trying to perfect the scenes already built; the roads, rivers and most of all, we are trying to maximize FPS. Right now, we’re writing from our ESQ team meeting in Prague, trying to optimize the next steps.”

Wallenfels has kindly granted Massively OP another exclusive dev diary that’s a sneak peak into the current state of the game. We’ve included the whole piece down below!

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Raph Koster on the cost of making games from the industry side

All of this talk about the price of making games and the price of playing games thanks to Star Wars: Battlefront II has meant getting a pretty decent peek behind the curtain. Case in point: a lengthy discussion and explanation by Raph Koster about how expensive games really are. While Koster outright says that it’s wrong to say games are “too expensive to make,” he also points out that it’s undeniable that costs on making a game have risen hugely while box price has proportionally fallen. And as he points out, that’s because there’s no real market for second best.

The key thing to understand is that the public doesn’t buy B games. A game with stellar gameplay and less than state of the art graphics is generally simply left on the shelf. Yes, indie games with distinctive art have managed to break through so everyone will cite counterexamples, but looked at statistically, it’s something like 99.9% don’t.

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Saga of Lucimia dev argues that minimaps destroy MMORPG immersion

Saga of Lucimia has made a name for itself during its long development as a hardcore old-school indie MMO with a focus on grouping (there’s no solo content at all), corpse runs, and no LFG tool in sight. So if you thought the game would kindly tell you where you are with a minimap, you’ve got another thing coming.

As dev Tim “Renfail” Anderson explains today in his latest forum post, he thinks minimaps are bad for MMORPGs as he believes they cause players to not bother to learn (and therefore, recall) specific places in the game world.

“At no point was I ever invested in the game world with my mental faculties,” he says of his time in Star Wars: The Old Republic. “I never had to learn my way around the game world, commit anything to memory. Convenience was (and is) the name of the game, because convenience sells lots of copies to the masses and makes games accessible to the everyday person.” That’s in contrast, he says, to older games, like EverQuest, where “players eventually created and posted maps up in EQ Atlas, but prior to that point, we all had binders where we drew our own maps to help us get around.”

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