This is, bar none, the column I hate doing most on a regular basis. None of the games I highlight in here is something that I actually like pointing to; they’re games that people like, games that may very well be someone’s absolute favorites, and yet they’re also games where the future looks difficult if not outright bad. A cloudy future is never a good thing, and this particular column does not make it all right.
But we’re still here in the early days of 2018, and that means it’s still the right time to look at the games we might not see around next year. For various reasons, these are the games that already look like they’re in trouble, instead of absolute face-shattering surprises like a couple of the shutdowns last year.
Despite promises earlier this year that both communication and development would be ramping up, TUG seems to have fallen into a well of silence and inactivity.
Nerd Kingdom’s social sandbox was once an interesting and noteworthy project, sporting a stylistic design and boasting all sorts of social and emergent gameplay experiences. Back in February we traced the frustrating progress of this title, which was Kickstarted back in 2013 and has been subject to lengthy delays and project revisions ever since but still managed to raise $8.5M from investors two years ago.
So what’s going on with TUG at the beginning of 2018? Very little, unfortunately. The team’s most recent dev post on the game dates back to September 1st, talking about the material system. There have been no posts, no tweets, and no videos from the studio since then, prompting players (a mix of Kickstarter backers and Steam purchasers) to demand refunds and float the idea of a class-action lawsuit.
Even with massive downsizing and the end of its virtual reality ambitions, CCP hasn’t quite thrown in the towel just yet.
One of our tipsters noticed that the studio is hiring a lead designer for “a new and highly ambitious MMORPG,” suggesting that CCP hasn’t given up on looking past EVE Online to the future. The untitled game in question is being made in CCP’s London studio with a small, dedicated crew.
“We are looking to grow a relatively small, tight-knit team, capable of delivering big ideas through experience, smart process, and world-class tools,” CCP said. “We are looking for a new lead designer to join this growing team, responsible for leading a small team of experienced designers in the development and execution of our game design.”
This game could be one of two known titles in development, the EVE first-person shooter spin-off Project Nova or the mobile Project Aurora. Alternatively, it could be an entirely new MMO, which presents all sorts of exciting possibilities.
. Thanks Kinya!
I didn’t back a single video game in 2017, which is a first for me. The year before, I backed Hero’s Song, and we all know how that ended. I’m looking forward to a few of the games I backed actually coming to fruition this year, like Crowfall and Shroud of the Avatar, while others, like TUG, I just figure represent money I’ll never see paid back in game form. Lesson learned, right?
It’s not as though there weren’t epic games rolling out last year, either; Ashes of Creation, one of the biggest MMOs ever on Kickstarter, owned a lot of headlines last year and it looks really great, but ultimately I decided that I’d just rather wait until it’s actually ready before leaping in. I’m not swearing off the platform on purpose, just more willing to be cautious and patient. Others of you, I know, are over and done with Kickstarter, either because you’re fed up or because you’ve been genuinely burned. And still others are hoping for a revolution in the genre and will gladly throw money at it – if it will just show up.
Will you Kickstart any MMOs in 2018?
The handrubbing intrigue over Stephan Frost’s mysterious project at Nexon ramped up this week with the announcement of another member that has signed up with the untitled game.
“Senior Gameplay Engineer Gabe Paramo joined the crew at Nexon OC today. I’m excited to get to work with this guy again,” Frost announced on Twitter yesterday.
According to Paramo’s LinkedIn profile, he came to Nexon from Double Helix Studios at Amazon where he had been working in various roles since 2008.
Frost raised a few eyebrows last month when he left his seemingly cushy position as a World of Warcraft senior design producer to take up shop with Nexon as the creative and game director of a new and unannounced title.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that everyone has at some point seen the xkcd called Isolation, but if not, there it is. No matter what the age and era, someone’s always preaching that people were more sociable in the long long ago. In this comic, however, Randall Munroe isn’t even contesting that. His point is basically no duh and so what. Yes, we become less sociable with random people in our immediate vicinity as we gain more and more access to ideas, entertainment, and people not in our immediate vicinity thanks to technology. Ultimately, replacing impromptu stranger interaction with the amusements of our choice appears to be what a lot of people wanted all along.
MMORPG players surely see where I’m going with this because we have the same eternal struggle when it comes to in-game socializing, grouping, community, and stickiness, the tug-of-war between the people who want to play alone together and the people who think that forced grouping is the only true path to enlightenment.
For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked our staff to reflect on the alone together vs. forced grouping spectrum, to talk about where they stand on it, whether that position’s changed through the years, which games are addressing the divide the best, and how the two sides can move forward in a dynamic MMO genre.
One of Crowfall’s most important systems — if not the crux of the entire game — is its campaign system. This repeatable PvP experience will come in many varieties and feature a beginning, middle, and end. But its first beginning is coming soon… very soon.
ArtCraft announced on Tuesday that it is preparing to commence its first test of the campaign system on the test server. Campaigns have a lot to offer for players, including the fog of war, a cartography skill, a day and night cycle, forts, keeps, and resource points. The sides will play tug-o-war with a conquest slider, resulting in either a win for order, chaos, or balance.
The team took great pains to stress that this is “more test than playtest” and that bugs, performance problems, and a lack of real balance would be present. “When I say First Campaign Test, please don’t read that as our-first-fully-functional-campaign-that-we-can-all-play-and-it-will-be-like-a-released-game! … because it won’t be that,” the team said.
One of the largest and longest-running collectible card games is about to become a brand-new role-playing video game, courtesy of Cryptic Studios. Cryptic and Perfect World Entertainment announced today that it is ramping up development on a Magic: The Gathering MMORPG in partnership with Wizards of the Coast.
The untitled game is being made “from the ground up” for both PC and console as a top-tier release and is part of Wizards of the Coast’s Magic Digital Next initiative. According to the press release, the RPG will allow players to “fully immerse themselves in the Multiverse.”
“Everything from the graphics to the gameplay is being targeted for a truly unique AAA game,” said Cryptic CEO Stephen D’Angelo. “We’re thrilled to provide Magic fans with an opportunity to explore the game’s worlds and characters through an entirely new lens. Get ready to embark on a brand new journey.”
Back when Lord of the Rings Online
was being developed as Middle-earth Online
in the late 1990s, the original concept was to plop players into the Fourth Age after the fall of Sauron and the destruction of the One Ring. The idea was that this would allow for a lot more flexibility and world manipulation once the game escaped the direct influence of Tolkien’s narrative.
LOTRO, on the other hand, went a different way. The devs obviously felt that more players would want to adventure during the events of the books, especially since the story offered more details, characters, and conflicts. But that left the team with a different problem, which was how to insert player characters into a narrative that was rigidly defined by the trilogy. The solution, as we all well know, was to have the player be “a” hero, just not “the” heroes of the books. And this hero would go off on a story of his or her own that would in many ways parallel the Fellowship’s struggles but not slavishly stick by Frodo’s side as the invisible 13th member.
So how has LOTRO handled this concept of the player as a “second fiddle” over the years? I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, particularly as we turn the bend into Mordor.
Welcome to The Survivalist! Ya’ll might have noticed that I have gravitated a bit from my happy home of deep, immersive virtual worlds (possible due to the lack of them!) and have been tinkering about and enjoying time in various survival games. This isn’t as odd as you might think! One thing I love about sandbox worlds is the ability for your actions to matter in terms of shaping the world and carving out your place in it. Survival games have been allowing me just that with opportunities to build the world, from the society on it to structures in it to the even the physical world itself. And decisions definitely matter, bringing satisfaction and reward or disappointment and destruction.
I’m not alone in this appreciation of the survival genre, either. Many MMO gamers have joined mainstreamers by flocking to it lately as seen by the explosion of the available games. Those of you not on board yet might be wonder just what is so alluring about a genre that has many elements of MMOs but on smaller — and oft times privately managed — scale. As the weeks and months wear on, The Survivalist is going to explore all the nooks and crannies of the survival sandbox genre (and likely die many, many times in the process!), but today, we’re going to look at what players can jump into to test their survival skills. So here’s a guide to many options in the newest genre to take over our gaming sphere.
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.
You might be hearing more about TUG in the near future, as the team said that it will be increasing its communication as development ramps back up on the social sandbox. Updates and videos from the team will be posted twice a month going forward.
Answering questions from the community, the devs outlined a general roadmap going forward: “We are currently working towards a dynamic list of features to support an exciting experience with our sandbox adventure style game. A general list of features would include: building, resource gathering, crafting, combat, weapons, multiplayer, natural AI, companions, large multi biome worlds, portals, and questing.”
However, the really exciting announcements should come some time in mid-June, when the team will have and be ready to show off some of its core gameplay experience. The post hedged on a date for the upcoming alpha, saying that it should be in a better place to make that call in a few months.
Massively OP donor and commenter Tibi sent this epic question to our podcast and kindly allowed me to share it here instead for maximum impact! Tibi wants us to consider the state of the genre and consider that maybe we’re taking a much-needed breather from the hectic chaos of a few years ago.
“Much has been said and written about the decline and even death of western AAA MMOs, but assuming that New World and future games end up coming out, I am actually happy with this quiet period. It can give already launched games the time to mature and grow into what was originally promised. I doubt that if we were still getting the onslaught of games from a few years back, Elder Scrolls Online could have thrived the way it does today or that The Secret World could have kept its smaller but constant playerbase. There are so many good games out there and it’s great to see them able to keep the lights on and welcome new players who would otherwise have gone chasing the new shiny and miss out. What do you think?”
I posed Tibi’s question to the Massively team for this week’s Overthinking, but they were all too busy playing quiet MMOs! Just kidding. Batter up!