While the heady days of Ultima Online’s dominant position over the industry are long gone, the MMORPG continues to operate and expand, and many players have fond memories of the unique experience that game offered. In fact, some titles like Legends of Aria and (obviously) Shroud of the Avatar are doing their best to claim the unofficial title of “Ultima Online spiritual successor” in the hopes of reuniting veteran MMO players with the special qualities that made this game great.
These aren’t the first games to try to grasp the holy grail of an Ultima Online sequel. There were actually two such projects that went into heavy production in the late 1990s and early 2000s — both ending with premature cancellation and frustration on the part of developers and fans.
The second of these, Ultima X Odyssey, I covered a while back. Today, we’re going to take a look at the first MMO that attempted to mix the Ultima Online formula with a few new twists. Ultima Worlds Online Origin might not be as well-known (or as well-titled), but its history is just as fascinating as UXO’s.
Ever since Bluehole threw down a gauntlet at Epic’s feet over the similarities between PUBG and Fortnite’s battle royale mode – or more specifically, over Epic’s conflicts in regard to the Unreal Engine it furbishes and on which both games run – I’ve noticed the mainstream narrative is about whether it’s “illegal to rip off” a game mode that’s existed for decades. I suspect MMO players may see it differently.
See, Bluehole isn’t some new studio to MMO players; it built TERA in Korea. It was also the studio that was sued civilly and prosecuted criminally (successfully) for ripping off NCsoft years ago. Multiple Bluehole employees were accused and convicted of stealing trade secrets, “copious amounts of confidential and proprietary NCsoft information, computer software, hardware, and artwork relating to Lineage 3” from NCsoft.
Moreover, MMO players have already seen how conflicts just like this one between studios and engine developers can absolutely sink games. At the end of 2015, the MMORPG sandbox community watched helplessly as it appeared the studio behind Hero Engine held The Repopulation studio hostage, ultimately forcing the game offline and then buying out the game from its original developers in what seemed an unwelcome, hostile takeover acceded to in desperation.
So with all that in mind, this morning’s Daily Grind is multifold: Where do you stand on the Fortnite-vs.-PUBG feud? Who’s in the right, legally and morally, and does it concern you for engine/game relationships in the future?
Tested and proven over in South Korea, Netmarble’s Lineage 2: Revolution is about to sweep over the globe and enslave your children and your children’s children. Or at least to entertain a bit while mommy and daddy are at the bank.
Pre-registration for the mobile MMORPG is now open wordwide in 48 countries including those in North America and Europe. As a bonus for signing up this early, players will secure a hero’s starting pack and full equipment set for when the game goes live. The pack includes “a full gear set, in-game currency, and various loot.” There is also an option to claim a character name now, an act that rewards a player with an exclusive “First Explorer” title.
Lineage 2: Revolution is purported to be a fully featured MMORPG with open-world environments, giant PvP battles, and gorgeous Unreal 4 graphics. The game is supposed to launch in the west later this year.
SuperData’s July 2017 revenue report isn’t going to surprise anyone, I suspect, but it’s worth a look. On the PC side, there are no new entries since last month, and though League of Legends still tops the list in terms of global revenue, the rankings have been reshuffled, with World of Warcraft moving up to 5th, Dungeon Fighter Online displacing Crossfire, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds holding steady in the middle of the pack, and Dota 2 slipping down several places. (Expect Dota to resurge next report.)
On mobile, Pokemon Go has returned to the list for the first time in several months, landing at #7. Lineage M debuts at #3 for mobile, but Honor of Kings and Fantasy Westward Journey retain their top spots.
The analysis firm throws nods to Grand Theft Auto V, still riding in the front car of the console train. “Grand Theft Auto V stands strong for another month,” SuperData says. “Through its microtransactions model, GTA Online grew significantly year-over-year for the month of July across console and PC. It did not outperform its record-breaking numbers in June.”
When Lost Ark was first announced back in 2014 as basically the next generation of Diablo-clone in an MMO, I remember being straight-up grabby-hands about it. But Smilegate’s splashy isometric MMO, like its soulmate Lineage Eternal, has been delayed significantly, with a beta landing last year (a year behind schedule) and continuing even now. Fortunately, this summer we’ve had a trickle of news crossing the Pacific thanks to the translation efforts of Steparu, who today has another update.
And it’s got boats.
Steparu reports that the game has improved significantly since the first round of closed beta testing. The new screenies demo sailing content, islands, treasure chests (looks like they’re being hauled up from the depths of the sea from a boat crane), an ocean storm, marine life — it’s gorgeous. Even if you aren’t an isometric viewpoint fan, it’s worth a look.
Steparu is reporting on a Korean-language piece today that suggests Lineage Eternal is once again in do-over mode. According to the report, NCsoft has gutted the game’s engine plans, switching from the Guild Wars engine originally used and porting over to Unreal 4. This follows the replacement of the team lead on the game back in March, all of which is delaying the game (again). The report also floats the idea that the game may launch as a mobile game, not as a full-fledged MMOARPG as originally envisioned.
Lineage Eternal has been floating around in our field of view for years. First announced in 2011, it saw its first closed beta almost exactly three years ago. But following several focus group tests in 2015, the game skipped G-Star that year and resurfaced with yet another beta just before Christmas last year. A global beta was planned for this year until the previous quarterly report, during which it was revealed that NCsoft had overturned the development leadership, suggesting that the closed beta failed to “reflect NCsoft’s characteristics.”
Another interesting bit from NCsoft’s conference call? There’s a supposed Guild Wars 2 mobile game that may or may not go forward.
Ready to take high Asian fantasy to your home console? You’d better because NCsoft recently announced that it is working on adapting Blade and Soul to such platforms. The video game developer and publisher didn’t specify which consoles, exactly, are due to get the full Blade and Soul treatment, but during its investor call this morning, it did reveal that this version would get the same updates as the PC edition and is being made in North America. Bringing Blade and Soul to consoles is only the start of a major initiative by NCsoft to bring more MMOs to that slice of the gaming market. Blade and Soul recently announced a round of server merges while rolling out a series of high-profile patches this summer and fall.
It also saw another drop in revenue for the quarter, along with all of the company’s other MMORPGs, including Lineage and Guild Wars 2, the latter of which saw its fifth straight quarter of dropping sales, marking its worst quarter ever. NCsoft doesn’t appear to be too worried, however, as it’s now reporting its mobile games division as an IP, where it’s making up those losses in large part because of Lineage M (which is likely where a lot of those missing Lineage 1 sales went).
Motherboard has a fun-slash-depressing piece out this week on an unnamed hacker who claims he’s been cheating at MMORPGs to make a living for almost two decades.
Prior to his recent Def Con hacking conference talk, the hacker dubbed “Manfred” seemingly demoed via video a hack performed in WildStar, one he used to help him accrue nearly 400 trillion gold, which he then allegedly sold to players through various black markets. He argues he wasn’t hacking — he was providing a service by “finding unintended features in the protocol.”
At least some of his claims don’t even seem particularly outlandish, especially if you’ve been around in MMORPGs for a long time and have an understanding of how rampant duping and RMT markets have been over the last 20 years. Manfred claims he got his start in Ultima Online illegally deleting other players’ houses and selling his own on Ebay, funding his days in college. Since then, Motherboard says, he cheated and duped his way through the “wild west” of Lineage 2, Shadowbane, Final Fantasy XI, Dark Age of Camelot, Lord of The Rings Online, RIFT, Age of Conan, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Guild Wars 2.
Goodies from this week’s ChinaJoy are already trickling back to us. Notably, Snail Games has posted a new trailer and screenshots for ARK Park, its VR-based ARK: Survival Evolved spinoff.
“The new trailer revealed a first look of the tower defense combat system in ARK Park,” Snail relates. “After players collect enough resources, unlock engrams and forge their weapons, they can head out to defend the attacks of raging dinosaurs. Players enter the world, first arriving at the Space Station, where they will customize their avatar and choose between single and multi-player experiences. They’ll participate in a multiplayer tour, so they can share the visceral gameplay and the thrill of witnessing dinosaurs up-close and personal.”
The PR reiterates that the game is still coming by the end of the year on the Vive, Rift, and PSVR.
The Lineage franchise continues its unstoppable runaway train force in South Korea — this time with Lineage M.
Korea’s Pulse News reports that Lineage M now counts over 10 million players in its first month. The game launched overseas just a month ago with 5.5 million preorders; as of two weeks ago, it had already earned $89 million in revenue, what Pulse calls the “rapidest gain in the Korean game industry.”
Intriguingly, Pulse quotes a WiseApp stat that 70% of Lineage M’s launch-day users were over 30 years old, compared to 29% under 30. Is it a shift in the MMO market, a shift in the mobile market, or a marker for Lineage’s overall base?
SuperData’s June report doesn’t include Lineage M, but the Netmarble-backed Lineage 2 Revolution made the top 10 for mobile revenue in May and indeed set monthly revenue records in Korea — which Lineage M aims to break.
Expect NCsoft’s next quarterly report next month.
isn’t the only game at Trion Worlds
that’s shuffling around its community team these days. RIFT
announced last Friday that it brought on board Jennifer “Yaviey” Bridges
to be the new community manager for the fantasy MMO.
Bridges said she has worked on several MMO community teams to date including EverQuest II, WildStar, and Lineage II and was a RIFT player back in the early days of the title.
“If you couldn’t already guess, MMORPGs are my jam,” Bridges wrote. “They’re my absolute favorite type of game for a variety of reasons. I love the communities in them, I love that you can constantly strive to be better at something, and questing in general always feels so epic.”
This move doesn’t mean that Linda “Brasse” Carlson is out as a RIFT community manager. Bridges confirmed that Carlson will continue to manage the team while doing “cool creative stuff” in the meantime.
It has been nearly 10 years since Massively OP’s MJ has played Lineage II regularly, but she’s heading back in now in honor of the anniversary. What sights can she see, and what trouble can she get into? Will she even recognize the game? Tune in live at 3:00 p.m. as OPTV‘s infamous Stream Team brings you a 13th anniversary look at…
What: Lineage II
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 3:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, June 27th, 2017
With Pokemon Go trying to avoid explicitly calling itself an MMO, Massively OP once again has room for a top contender in the realm of mobile MMOs. There’s just one problem: We’ve got mostly Western readers for a genre that seems to appeal much more to the East. I was given the opportunity to see top global mobile MMO Lineage 2 Revolution and up and coming dino-sandbox Durango at E3 2017. I can see the appeal of both games, but also some limitations. Let’s dig into both.