Massively Overthinking: Could bots save dying MMORPGs?

Last week, a reader named Chris, who is writing a paper on the MMO industry and revivifying sunsetted games, dropped an intriguing question into my inbox. It’s about bots – but not the sort of bots EVE Online is constantly fighting. The good kind.

“Do you think people would be interested in coming back to ‘closed’ MMO games if they were populated with AI bots instead of real players (to make them feel alive/populated)?” he asked me.

Let’s ponder that for today’s Overthinking. Certainly we’ve seen bots put to work in games like Camelot Unchained, which uses them to test massive numbers of players on the battlefield. Would you want to see them in live play? Would they help the feel of the world in ways that default NPCs simply would not? Is the AI even doable? Could AI bots take our place to make MMORPGs even better – or even to keep them viable and save them from destruction?

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Tamriel Infinium: Where will the next Elder Scrolls Online ‘chapter’ take place?

In case you missed it, a couple of weeks back there were a couple of spoilers datamined from the testing files that seem to point in one direction for the next chapter of Elder Scrolls Online. By chapter, of course, we mean the next Morrowind-tier expansion, not just the regular and ongoing DLC and updates. And let’s be honest, we have long suspected that we would eventually see the location mentioned in that article open up as an explorable; it was just as obvious as Morrowind itself. But it’s not the only possibility! There are other more interesting locations that could eventually be on the ZeniMax agenda, either this year or beyond.

As I speculate on the possibilities for the next chapters and what these locations have to offer, imagine what would be the most interesting story and offer the most potential for content. There is also the aspect of nostalgia and attachment to new players that have to be considered, too; after all, one of the reasons that the Morrowind chapter worked so well was because of its strong connection to Elder Scrolls III.

If we look at the map of ESO as it currently stands, thanks to the Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages, we can see five major areas that have not been filled in yet. Those areas could probably be separated further, like the east and west banks of the Nibenay Bay. The Nibenay Basin and the Blackwood on the east side and Elsweyr on the west. But those are not the most likely areas to open up next. I’ve narrowed my picks down to three.

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Elder Scrolls Online breaks out its fourth soundtrack album

Soundtrack lovers, here’s a pleasant surprise for the end of the week: A brand-new album from Composer Brad Derrick and Elder Scrolls Online.

Derrick continues his reign over the game’s score, delivering a 36-track album that includes music from the Thieves Guild, Dark Brotherhood, and Clockwork City DLC. You can pick it up at iTunes, Google Play, or Amazon for $9.

The Elder Scrolls Online soundtrack was one of Massively OP reader’s top 20 picks a while back. We reviewed the Morrowind expansion score not too long ago, calling it “a much more memorable and moving soundtrack with plenty of nostalgic elements.”


Tamriel Infinium: Three things MMORPGs could learn from Elder Scrolls Online

Looking at the title, you might think that I believe Elder Scrolls Online is the perfect MMO, and in that case, you’d be incorrect. Elder Scrolls Online might have won the Massively OP MMORPG-of-the-Year award, but if you read my post in that article, you will notice that ESO won my vote for that award from me because it didn’t have any major blunders – not because it did everything the best way possible.

That being said, there are a lot of things that other MMOs can do to rise to the level of competency where ESO currently sits. I would like to spend a few moments here at the beginning of a new year to talk about the things that ESO consistently gets right and that other MMOs can learn from.

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Elder Scrolls Online’s Dragon Bones DLC hits the PTS, free sub trial begins today

It’s almost time to get your Skyrim nostalgia on! ZeniMax announced last night that the Dragon Bones DLC and accompanying freebie update 17 have both taken over Elder Scrolls Online’s PTS and are testable right now. The patch notes are live too, including a list-out of the new gear, the new storage collectibles, the complete details on the new outfit customization system, and three new houses: Coldharbour Surreal Estate, Princely Dawnlight Palace, and The Erstwhile Sanctuary.

This update will also mark the end of 32-bit client support, so if you’re running on an older version of windows, heads-up.

Wondering what all the fuss was about when both the staff and the readers voted Elder Scrolls Online MMO of the year? Maybe take advantage of the game’s latest “ESO Plus Bonus Event” to preview it in more depth.

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Massively OP’s 2017 awards debrief and annual recap

As we did in 20142015, and 2016, today I’m going to recap our annual awards and other meta articles from the end of 2017. We gave out 19 formal awards this past year, all in addition to dozens of other recaps, roundups, listicles, predictions, bloopers, oddities, polls, provocations, and retrospectives. It was by far our biggest content dump to date, even bigger than last year!

Following our deep-dive into our awards and the attached reader polls, I’ll be recapping all of the end-year articles in one convenient place in case you missed something over the holidays – enjoy!

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Perfect Ten: The best MMO updates and expansions of 2017

Last year was positively stuffed with updates, expansions, and cool stuff. A lot of years I struggle to remember which major updates happened in the past year, due partly to my own faulty memory but due largely to the simple fact that not a lot of them really stuck out for me. This year? We were awash in updates. Some games literally gave me multiple choices about which update I thought was “the best” just because, well, there were so many.

So the list that follows is, honestly, a fragment of what could be chosen. At least one of them is something you will probably disagree with. And that’s fine, because thankfully, last year (as mentioned) contained tons of great updates for people to enjoy. So without further ado, let’s delve into the best updates of 2017 and gush for a bit about how many cool things got added to games last year.

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MMO Year in Review: Morrowind, Stormblood, and Secret World Legends (June 2017)

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 2018!

Easily the high point of the year, June saw the launch of The Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind and Final Fantasy XIV’s Stormblood, along with the relaunch of The Secret World as Secret World Legends.

Meanwhile, Shroud of the Avatar launched a controversial equity crowdfunding campaign, Cryptic announced a Magic the Gathering MMORPG, and we got a look at Skull & Bones, Sea of Thieves, and Anthem at E3. We also confirmed that Neowiz and Aeria had cut ties, leaving the former to bring Bless Online westward alone.

Read on for the whole list!

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Massively OP’s Best of 2017 Awards: Best MMO Expansion of 2017

Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2017 awards continue today with our award for Best MMO Expansion or Update of 2017, which was awarded to World of Warcraft: Legion last year. And like last year, 2017 had plenty to choose from! Every update and expansion to an MMORPG was eligible, as long as it launched in this calendar year, although honestly we had so many strong full-scale expansions that the updates barely stood a chance!

The Massively OP staff pick for Best MMO Expansion or Update of 2017 is…

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MMO Year in Review: Ashes of Creation vs. Wild West Online (May 2017)

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 2018!

Ashes of Creation blew up on Kickstarter in May, weathering concerns over its CEO’s history and referral plans to easily meet its crowdfunding goal and truck onward through multiple stretch goals.

Wild West Online fared just as well, reportedly canceling its Kickstarter after announcing it as a result of outside investment and weathering its own drama.

Meanwhile, Marvel Heroes landed on console, Black Desert moseyed over to Steam, we delivered an absurd amount of Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood preview coverage, and Morrowind hit early access.

Read on for the whole list!

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MMO Year in Review: A home of your own in Elder Scrolls Online’s Tamriel (February 2017)

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 2018!

February saw the launch of housing The Elder Scrolls Online’s Homestead patch – a quality addition to a game that once declared MMO housing too hard to implement – and continued teasing Morrowind, both of which drove the game to a new high of 8.5M registered players.

Meanwhile, SOE/Daybreak’s former John Smedley, fresh off the death of Hero’s Song, set up shop with a new studio under the Amazon Games umbrella – with all the same people.

And Funcom declared it had recouped all its costs on Conan Exiles and would reboot The Secret World (while letting its other MMORPGs slide).

Read on for the whole list!

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MMO Year in Review: Landmark is wiped off the map (January 2017)

December’s many article roundups and awards always remind us that it’s hard to remember what happened last month, let alone what happened way back at the beginning, so this year (as in 2015 and 2016), we decided to poke through our MMO coverage, month by month, to hit the highlights and frame our journey before we launch into 2018.

If you were still reeling from the devastating loss of EverQuest Next in 2016, the announcement in January of this year that Landmark was being kicked the curb too was salt in the wound. In fact, the beginning of 2017 was a dark spot for MMOs, with Firefall in limbo, Marvel Heroes rolling out an unwelcome patch, The Repopulation being sold to the company that almost snuffed it out, and the Asheron’s Call series on the chopping block. Even Nostalrius had regrets! We did, however, see the launch of Conan Exiles and get our first whisper of Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind.

Read on for the whole list from January of this past year.

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