It seems that it really wasn’t too long ago that I was filling in the time between night classes by boning up on video game news. I was drinking up all of the hot up-and-comers, such as Age of Conan and Warhammer Online, when I caught word that the maker of Diablo was trying to do the same thing again, only more online, in 3-D, and with a cool modern-day/futuristic/horror vibe.
There’s no better way to put it than to say that from the start, Hellgate: London looked all kinds of cool. Oh sure, you can scoff now with your perfect 20/20 hindsight, but I’m betting that more than a few of you thought the same with me around that time. Diablo but with guns and an online persistence — how could we not be intrigued? One of my most vivid memories was being torn between the idea of buying a lifetime subscription deal for $150 or not (again, this was before the free-to-play era, but also before the era of us spending the same money on alpha access. I’m just saying that you can’t judge me.).
If you were a little bit puzzled by Trion’s announcement this week that it was changing the name of RIFT’s latest expansion from Starfall Prophecy to Prophecy of Ahnket because it had “recently become acquainted” with a children’s charity called Starfall, welp, get in line behind us. It turns out that there’s more to the story.
Massively OP tipster Clowd dug up a lawsuit that sheds light on what happened behind the scenes. A trademark lawsuit – Starfall Education Foundation v. Trion Worlds, Inc. (CN 1:2017cv00650) – was filed in a Colorado district court back in March but was apparently settled out of court at the tail end of April. Connecting the dots, one might assume Trion had been sued over the name and decided to change it as part of the settlement agreement, in a decision that wasn’t quite as amicable as the producer’s letter implied.
We reached out to Trion’s PR yesterday to ask whether it wished to amend its statement about the motivation behind the decision; in particular, we asked whether the trademark was checked prior to Starfall Prophecy’s launch, whether Trion believed it might have prevailed had it not settled, whether the free giveaway of the expansion was part of the settlement or merely a marketing move, and why, if Trion was prepared to change the name, an agreement wasn’t reached prior to the filing of a lawsuit.
Evil rumors and foul deeds continue to ramp up in Dark Age of Camelot. The RvR MMO moved into the second chapter of its A Dragon’s Cruse campaign on Tuesday, expanding the open world dungeons that debuted in the first chapter.
Chapter two unlocked the full potential for these new dungeons, giving players more to do and see as they seek to uncover the truth behind recent events. There are several new dungeon quests available, including solo quests, small-group elite quests, large-group battlegroup quests, variable group size campaign quests. The vendors servicing these dungeons have new offerings as well.
A Dragon’s Curse is a planned year-long story arc in DAoC that will conclude in December. The third chapter is scheduled to arrive on May 30th.
Deep in the comments of the MMOs-vs.-survival-sandboxes thread from last week, reader miol_ produced a beautiful comment about how MMO players have become a minority in their own genre, which he then expounded upon for us in this provocative email.
“I’ve reached the opinion, that since the launch of WoW and its clones, the ‘original’ MMO-playerbase became a minority in their own genre. Before, we were but hundreds of thousands of MMO players, but then came Blizzard with WoW and its legions of fans in the dozen of millions at its peak, starting to dictate what the new success of MMOs should look like. Even if we others tried to vote with our wallet and feet, we became a minority, having only a fraction of our initial influence, while many devs tried desperately time and again to find ways to get at least a portion of the new Blizzard playerbase.
“Am I wrong with that perception of history? Am I totally missing something? Or are ‘we’ are slowly becoming a majority again, now that WoW and its clones are seeing steadily declining numbers (instead of us winning more players to ‘our side’)? How do we lobby better for ‘our cause’? Or can we only wait and see, until the genre is small enough again? Or is it too late? Have we ourselves grown too far apart into our even more niche corners of personal taste since SWG, while production costs and our demands for production value have skyrocketed at the same time? How could we come closer again?”
Let’s tackle miol_’s questions in this week’s Massively Overthinking.
Broadsword’s keeping fans of its MMORPGs Dark Age of Camelot and Ultima Online busy this week!
Dark Age of Camelot is running a Come Back to Camelot campaign this spring — former players may already have gotten invites in their inboxes. The caveat is that your account must have been off for 60 days for you to pick up an invite, and you get your free 30 days only if you reactivate.
Meanwhile, Ultima Online has announced in its most recent newsletter that publish 97, which we wrote about just a few days ago and includes the huge overhaul for the popular animal taming skill set, is now set to go live on April 27th. In fact, work has already begun on publish 98:
One of my favorite early MMORPG PvP memories is from Dark Age of Camelot, where I liked to position my Huntress atop my side’s keep battlements to fire down on the Hibbies and Albies swarming below. But of course, we didn’t build that keep; we just claimed it, so losing didn’t hurt much beyond our pride. In Crowfall, however, you’re going to have to rebuild and hold the strongholds you’re fighting over in the game’s Dying Worlds campaigns.
ArtCraft Associate Producer Max Lancaster has a dev blog out today explaining just how it’ll work. “Strongholds will use a capture-and-rebuild mechanic,” he says. “In these worlds, players will fight over the ruins of existing castles and will need to collect resources from neighboring ‘points of interest’ (POIs), specifically mines, mills and quarries, to rebuild the defensive structures in those strongholds. These POIs will be heavily disputed, so be prepared to fight to gain (and maintain) control of them. This is done by ‘feeding’ resources into what we call hungry spawners.”
An undead threat. A clutch of dragon eggs. Buried treasure. An unnerving disturbance.
All of these are portents of Dark Age of Camelot’s latest campaign, A Dragon’s Curse. As with DAoC’s past campaigns, this one is being rolled out in stages over several weeks. Currently, players can go through the prologue and first chapter. Each faction has their own storyline and take on the events, and soloers should find that pretty much all of the campaign is doable by a single player.
As part of the first chapter of the campaign, DAoC has opened up a trio of new open world dungeons (one per faction). Heroes can plunder the depths of these for Aurulite, which can then be spent at vendors for new rewards.
It sucks when you have a great idea for a character, but all of the names you’d like to use have been taken. That’s a problem particularly affecting Dark Age of Camelot at this point, but the developers confirm in the latest community Q&A that the team is definitely considering freeing up unused names on unplayed or particularly old characters. The staff is also holding off on another Come Back to Camelot campaign until more balance concerns have been addressed, with a potential new rulest server in the works to give player population a shot in the arm.
The developers also addressed some mechanical questions, laying out the soft and hard caps for various stats and pointing out that many understood soft caps really do allow for more variation. There are also more hidden skills for some dual wielding lines, although those hidden skills shouldn’t substantially alter damage dealt. Check out all of the answers for the full rundown.
I was pretty well taken by multiplayer survival sandbox Rend as soon as I saw it at this year’s PAX East 2017, as I wrote yesterday. The concept immediately spoke to me as taking a lot of the cool ideas from other survival games while making the game as a whole into something very different. But I also entirely understand that sometimes you can look at the game and wonder what makes it so different. After all, it’s hardly the first time that we’ve had a game using a lot of the building blocks. So why am I over the moon about Rend but not its obvious inspirations and close cousins?
The answer is that in some cases, I am over the moon about its close cousins. But it’s also important to understand the distinction and the fact that Rend is not, say, Crowfall or Conan Exiles or any other game. So what makes Rend different? Not necessarily better, but how does it stack up to the obvious points of comparison?
I’ve read all the impressions from the PAX East show that I could find, and they were all overwhelmingly mild — including ours. As you hopefully know by now, Elder Scrolls Online showed off its instanced PvP battlegrounds, and the media consensus is that they are… coming. And that’s it. This really surprised me. It’s superficially hard to tell whether people have come to expect one thing from battlegrounds (because so many other games already have them) and ESO really isn’t changing the formula — or the battlegrounds really aren’t anything to write home about.
If you were to take Lead PvP Designer Brian Wheeler’s word for it, battlegrounds will change PvP in ESO forever because they’re a type of PvP that ESO has never had before, which is true. Personally, I do believe not only that battlegrounds will bring something special to Elder Scrolls Online but that other games should pay attention to ESO because it’s actually doing something innovative without drawing too much attention to it.
Battlegrounds aren’t perfect; there will be some drawbacks, but let’s take an honest look at what this new PvP type means for Elder Scrolls Online and maybe other MMOs in the future.
The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
This week we have stories and videos from Heroes and Generals, Faeria, City of Heroes, Lineage M, Armored Warfare, Wakfu, Ark Park, Dauntless, Dark Age of Camelot, Overwatch, Blade and Soul: Table Arena, League of Legends, Strikers Edge, and Final Fantasy XI, all waiting for you after the break!
I have long been of the opinion that there are few more terrifying animals on this planet than bears. Sure, there are sharks, the mighty kraken, and that little fish that may or may not swim up your urethra and summer home there, but as I live primarily on the land, I think that the odds are greater that a rampaging bear might ruin my day.
True story: When I lived in Colorado Springs, one morning I left home to drive to work and there was a black bear sitting in the middle of the road. I looked at it, nonplussed, and then sloooooowly backed up into my driveway and called in a sick day. Bear days should totally be a thing, however.
I have also been of the opinion that bears are consistently underestimated in MMORPGs. They’re low level trash mobs or pets that finger players as complete noobs for not picking something more exotic. More exotic? Son, if you have a bear on your side, you have won the game. Period. One swipe of its paw and any raid boss’ head should pop right off.
There is a plague of bears in MMOs. Today, let us delve into the ursine horror that curses our genre.
There’s a whole lot to digest in this month’s Dark Age of Camelot producer’s letter, but perhaps the most significant is the move by Broadsword to introduce a microtransaction system into the game some time this spring.
Initially, the cash microtransactions will be used for cosmetic appearances, although the devs said that it will be expanded to include other, non-pay-to-win options: “Once this system is in place and working smoothly, we’ll be able to work on the much-requested quality-of-life features like race, gender, and name respecs as well as potentially account to account character transfers!”
The team admitted that it may have pushed out game changes “too far, too quickly” last year and promised to revisit those this year. Other early 2017 projects include nerfing pet classes, retuning several hybrid classes, launching a new PvE campaign next month, and getting out the new forums and website by this summer.