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Impressions of Project Gorgon from an Asheron’s Call player

It’s finally time for me talk about Project Gorgon as a released product. As you might have guessed, I was avoiding the game prior to launch. I’ve spoken out against early access a lot and have realized that, at this point in my gaming/career, playing games I’m passionate too early can be a threat to both work and play. I wanted a relationship with PG, but I didn’t want to rush into anything pre-release. I wanted it as complete as possible.

MJ’s streamed it a bunch of times, including the day before launch. Eliot’s comments from his pre-release CMA feel spot on still post-release. However, as the resident old-man Asheron’s Call fan with a review copy, I think I can add a few comments about how Project Gorgon compares to AC1&2, plus how developer Eric Heimburg’s infused PG in AC-esque ways.

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Bless Online outlines key changes for its Steam release

When Bless Online launches on Steam early access next month, the version that western players experience won’t be identical to the client that is already running in Korea and Japan. This is because Neowiz is making a few important changes to tailor the game to a different audience, and in a new dev blog, the developer explains exactly what those changes will be.

Bless’ combat system has received the most attention in the transition. Neowiz revamped how rhythmic combat works, giving players a choice of skills to make up their combo rotation. Generally, combat will be more action-oriented and become “more difficult.”

Other adjustments include restructuring how skill acquisition and leveling works, adding more ways to obtain skill-leveling gems, choosing party benefit buffs to incentivize grouping, adding newbie friendly tutorials, giving monsters special skills, and improving the content pacing.

Source: Bless Online. Thanks Brother Maynard!

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The Soapbox: Three augmented reality game problems (most) MMOs don’t have – and one thing they do so much better

I’d like to think that I’m kind of a healthy gamer. While MMOs take a lot of time, the nice thing is that their downtime can lead to forming bonds, or give you time to exercise. Augmented reality games can give you both at once, especially Pokemon Gosince it’s the best-known ARG we have (and the mountains of merchandise make it easier to stand out as a fellow player).

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and I’m not just talking about game mechanics that have plagued Niantic games since at Ingress. I remember playing that title and thinking, “Man, this game is dangerous! There’s no way they’ll just clone this for POGO, right?” And yet, here we are. But I can’t put all the blame on Niantic, especially after my time with ARG competitor Maguss. Some things just seem inherent to the genre.

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The Game Archaeologist: Lineage

If we judged MMOs by their numbers alone — and I’m not suggesting we do so — then the original Lineage would be the crowing rooster strutting about the hen house. It’s also been one of those games that I’ve always intellectually acknowledged was a huge hit for some reason but never gave much attention. I think it’s because, contrary to many western MMOs, Lineage is primarily an Asian phenomenon. That doesn’t mean it should be shunned, of course, but just that it may be difficult to understand when you’re on the outside of it.

So let’s back up the memory truck to September 1998, when a then-fledgling NCsoft rolled out a Diablo-style isometric MMO and struck virtual gold in South Korea. At the time, gaming rooms were becoming a huge thing in the country. A recession had hit, giving people a lot of time with nothing to do, and the government was rapidly expanding the broadband network. In the face of this perfect storm, titles like StarCraft and Lineage became overnight household fixtures — and remained so for decades to come.

Even if you haven’t played Lineage and you don’t know anyone who does, trust me: Millions and millions of players have. As former Senior Producer Chris Mahnken once said, “Lineage keeps going because it’s just plain fun.”

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Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV and the horror of the Live Letter

It’s easy to miss one of the worst bits of news about the next Final Fantasy XIV Live Letter because it’s tucked in the very bottom of the announcement. But there it is, plain as day. No more translations on the forums, just the important points on Twitter. That isn’t going to be annoying as hell from start to finish, I tell you what. It’s not like we don’t already have hasty and inaccurate translations floating around with at least something to point to, but now we can be sure that there’s even less to offer a common reference point!

The irony is that the next Live Letter is coming about a week after the PAX East panel in which one of the major points of discussion was in ensuring that the experience for all players across the world have the same reaction to the game. For the most part, that’s correct; it’s something that Square-Enix in general and Naoki Yoshida in particular has worked hard to ensure. But when it comes to the Live Letters, it’s a principle that doesn’t even pretend to get followed, and it leads to a simmering frustration that might be best served by leaving the whole thing out for good.

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Pokemon Go is mustering players to clean up the planet for Earth Day

In all my years working for Massively and Massively OP, we’ve never had enough Earth Day events for a proper roundup. That isn’t changing this year either. But there are a few here and there worth pointing out, and one of those is Pokemon Go’s.

In spite of all the stories about how POGO players are wrecking up cities and parks and nature preserves in their quest to catch ’em all, the MMOARG is almost uniquely positioned to be a force for good for the planet, given that Niantic can point millions of people at a thing and grant them digital candy for doing whatever. This year, that “whatever” is going to be cleaning up. Literally.

“Niantic, Inc. and Playmob are teaming up to host the first ever Pokémon GO Earth Day Clean Up on April 22. The Pokémon GO Earth Day Clean Up initiative is a series of events that will take place across locations around the world, inviting the Pokémon GO community to join together to clean up the environment and their local areas. Trainers will also have an opportunity to donate to the Mission Blue Foundation, a global coalition united to inspire public awareness, access and support for a worldwide network of marine protected areas.”

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Massively Overthinking: How do you maintain your health while binging MMORPGs?

Kotaku put out a piece this week on how to game without wrecking your body, something that’s probably bound to come up in the average MMORPG player’s life. It’s filled with basic tips like “drink water, ya moron” and “sit up straight” and “don’t eat garbage” and “look at stuff other than the screen” but there are also some useful tips in there like “stretch before you binge” – including your hips and wrists, which you might otherwise overlook.

For this week’s Overthinking, I’ve asked the writers to expound on two things: first, the most unhealthy video gaming moment or habit they’ve ever had, and second, one specific thing they do to keep themselves from completely destroying their bodies when their hobby has become their career.

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GDC 2018: Yokozuna, big game data, and the future of MMO monetization

GDC isn’t E3. It isn’t PAX. It’s not even what I think stereotypical gamers can appreciate. But I think the Massively OP crowd is a different sort, and because of that, we can give you some content the other guys might not be talking to you about. Like data collection and monetization. They’re necessary evils, in that we armchair devs can generally see past mistakes rolled out again, but know those choices are being made in the pursuit of money.

So how do you make better games and money? Maybe try hiring some data scientists, not just to help with product testing and surveys, but with some awesome, AI-driven, deep learning tools. Like from Yokozuna Data, whose platform predicts individual player behavior. I was lucky enough to sit down with not only Design and Communication Lead Vitor Santos but Chief Data Scientist África Periáñez, whose research on churn prediction inspired me to contact the company about our interview in the first place!

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GDC 2018: Funcom’s Tor Egil Andersen on Conan Exiles’ early access, launch, and beyond

My initial impressions of Conan Exiles, written just about a year ago, weren’t exactly glowing. While I know not every game I play needs to appeal to me, so much of the genre just felt like a repetition of what we’d already seen countless times before: a survival game in early access filled with bugs, naked people killing each other, and nothing that really made living in the game world feel worth it. Character progression felt bland, building was significantly harder than destruction, and the guild recruitment button on day one resulted in axing people in the face.

But that was a year ago. MJ has covered in-depth what the game’s done right since then, but even I’ve noticed just how much Funcom’s done to bolster the title. It made buildings more difficult to destroy. More emotes came in. More PvE content. Climbing. New zones. And then the launch announcement about a year after EA, with February’s honest look at the game’s future. Promising that no EA features that come later will be behind a pay wall is quite refreshing.

Still, I had some questions I wanted to pose to Community Manager Tor Egil Andersen at GDC 2018, so let’s get to them.

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The Game Archaeologist: Shattered Galaxy

War. War never ends. Especially if it was designed and encouraged to wage forever.

One of the most popular computer gaming genres of the late 1990s and early 2000s was real-time strategy (RTS). Players found the combination of resource collecting, base building, and mass combat a heady mix, and titles like Dune 2, the Warcraft series, and the Command and Conquer series did extremely well both as single-player and limited multiplayer titles.

But with the advent of the MMORPG, game developers looked at the RTS and wondered if this genre would do well in a massively multiplayer environment. Well, there was only one way to find out, and that’s where Shattered Galaxy came in.

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Phantasy Star Online 2 is coming to the Nintendo Switch… which does not have region locks

We had really thought that after the never-updated website finally shut down last year we would be done talking about Phantasy Star Online 2, which at this point is Sega’s never-ending routine of dangling a steak in front of American fans before punching them in the throat. But, see, the game is coming out for the Switch! That matters because there are no region locks on that particular console, so you could easily import it and play it on your American console!

And, of course, you could then be baffled because you presumably don’t speak enough Japanese to muddle through any of the game’s menus or interfaces or dialogue prompts. But the game would run, and it would even never need patches due to running entirely on the cloud. Which is kind of cool, and the sort of things that fans have been hoping for since the title was first announced, released, and then ran for years in Japan. Still, if you want to get your hopes up again, we can’t stop you.

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Final Fantasy XI finishes off its new Dynamis areas with Jeuno

The final round of content for the Dynamis – Divergence maps is arriving in Final Fantasy XI in March, and to the surprise of no one who has followed the maps thus far, it’s sending players to the nightmare dreamscape of Jeuno. Of course, players can use this area to seek out the reforging items for the second to last piece of relic armor, while the final piece will use items dropped by notorious monsters scattered through the four new Dynamis areas.

Players can also look forward to adjustments for gaining spheres on the Escutcheon quest line, based on balance feedback. This update also marks the 24th incarnation of Ambuscade, with two years of monster battles to fight through and the according new set of rewards. The update coincides with the end of the fiscal year in Japan, so in a sense it’s really the final update for a given cycle of the game’s life; let’s see how things advance when April rolls around.

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Taking a tour of the global Monster Hunter World community on PS4

While I’m not nearly the hardcore veteran our illustrious hunter Matt Daniel is, I can at least admit to physically living among the Japanese hunting community. While we both can speak a bit of Japanese, I enjoyed a solid chunk of time playing Monster Hunterface-to-face with Japanese players, plus a smidge of some other MH games being demoed at Japanese game conventions. International communities are certainly different, but what western players (and especially those watching from the sidelines) may not realize is how different the series is in Japan, as it’s largely a portable title that can be played anywhere. Japan’s console market is vastly different and the PC gaming scene is probably as niche as our VR scene.

Monster Hunter World’s Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC announcement was huge since it sent the message that this would be a title aimed at western players, who enjoy the series but not nearly at the same levels as Asian players, who already have two MMO entries in the series. While MHW certainly makes the game feel more accessible for a western audience that doesn’t even have an arcade culture to make public gaming feel normal, I sadly feel like something isn’t clicking with the western Monster Hunter community in the same way the Japanese have taken it.

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