I really like abandoned places in games. One of my favorite articles ever was about Glitch, after it sunsetted, when I recapped my experience touring the abandoned secret places that were inexplicably built into that MMO.
That article popped into my brain again last week when Kotaku wrote about abandoned modes in GTA Online. GTAO is one of the biggest, most lucrative online games in the world, a top-10 game even last year – and yet there’s so much to do, Kotaku argues, that most of the game is suffering from the old MMO problem whereby old content is a ghost town as everyone is in the new stuff. Hence, abandoned modes.
Of course, MMORPGs are constantly struggling to fix that problem by giving us reasons to go back into old content, but they’re not always successful. What’s the most unused place or feature in your favorite MMORPG?
Fortnite’s 2.4.0 patch was supposed to release today, but last night, Epic announced a delay to “further improve stability and hammer out some remaining bugs.” That apparently includes the building bugs that have plagued the game.
“You may have noticed in the patch notes that there’s no fix in to solve the building issues players have been experiencing,” the studio tweeted. “We are aware that some of you are being affected by these problems and are working to solve this ASAP. […] Please continue reporting this and providing examples and we’ll keep you updated as we make progress on a solution.”
Players were also compensated for all the downtime and bugs of 2.3.0 with 1600 seasonal gold and 20 battle stars.
When it does finally launch, 2.4.0 will include the new minigun, cozy campfires and new expedition types in Save the World mode, controller tweaks, 3-D resolution preferences, performance adjustments, and UI updates.
A comment on Reddit about the current size and viability of Kritika Online got me thinking about MMO playerbases in general lately. We all know that there’s a stigma attached to little games; the big games with big servers and millions of players feel safer, and nowadays people just assume a small MMO has one foot in the grave. But it isn’t always true. We could also rattle off some smaller MMOs that seem to be moving along just fine, with bills paid. Sure, they’d like to be bigger, but they’re holding steady and know how to work the playerbase they do have rather than constantly alienate their current customers in search of new customers. And some MMO gamers actually prefer those sorts of titles. After all, if the game has just a few thousand people, it’s much easier to get to know a large slice of them, plus have your voice heard by the developers and actually influence the gameworld.
For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked the writers to reflect on the smallest MMOs they have played, and then consider how big an MMO has to be in terms of playerbase that they’d consider playing it now. What’s the smallest MMO you’re willing to play, and why?
As the Secret World Legends community continues to hold its breath in anticipation of what Funcom is planning for 2018, movement arrives in an unexpected quarter.
Over on Twitter, there have always been several in-character accounts for several of the game’s NPCs that used to chatter back and forth between each other. They’ve been silent for quite some time, but this has all changed in the past 24 hours. Now… they’re talking once more. Does this mean we could be seeing some updates soon?
“Time passes. First in seconds. Then in aeons. If time exists. Two sweetlings awaken,” The Buzzing said.
“This thing working? Feel weird. Like a glitch in the Matrix. @Innsmouth66 you get that?” asked Danny.
Most MMORPGs have the core sandbox problem: Whoever gets there first, controls all the toys and has the power to drive everyone else away. Even in a themepark, the “richest” players, whether they control the gold or the dungeons or the gear or the PvP, eventually help kill the game.
That’s the subject of a Raph Koster blog that recently popped back up on my radar. Koster, known for ecosystem-oriented virtual world MMOs like Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies, is subtly making the case for MMOs that end, even if that end starts a new beginning. It’ll sound familiar to A Tale In The Desert players, surely, or anybody watching Koster’s latest MMO, Crowfall.
In the service of his argument, he references a blog post about the age of the world’s best tennis players, which just keeps rising. Is it because the olds are innately better at tennis? Nope. It’s because the “winners” are entrenched in a rich-get-richer situation that ensures “the typical person in the system ends up below average.” The more the winners win, the more money they have to ensure they win more, whether that’s with better coaches, better equipment, better medical treatment, or just plain more time to train, which makes it progressively more expensive (on all fronts) for newcomers to compete… until the newbies stop trying and the olds start retiring.
And then? The whole system collapses.
As Glitch fan remake Eleven reemerges on the scene with more alpha developments, the team has a plea that it is making to the community: Help us remember all of the details of Glitch before they are forgotten forever.
The team said that accessible information sources such as the old strategy wiki and a port of the old game are “erratic” in details and that it needs more accurate info to help recreate the game. Thus, the team has started up the Glitch Forever Wiki and has asked the community to aid in fleshing out all of the missing links.
“This is the alpha version. Many pages are still outdated. A lot of details from the end of Glitch — new recipes especially — are missing,” the team said. “But it’s here, and it’s ours, and we can fill in the gaps and add pages for all the post-Glitch activities and Glitch revival projects. Join us.”
After over a year of silence, the volunteer team behind one of Glitch’s remakes has emerged for an update. Eleven’s team let the community know that while it hadn’t given up on resurrecting Tiny Speck’s unique MMO, it has been slow going.
“We’re still hard at work on this, but the current focus of development effort involves a bunch of server-side reliability and data consistency work which isn’t particularly shiny or fun to write about,” the team said. “Other eventual work involves recreating the locations (190 or so) that weren’t in the Tiny Speck asset release and figuring out the future of the client.”
Eleven’s team encouraged fans to hang out on the alpha forums for more up-to-date information and project announcements. Meanwhile, fellow Glitch reboot Children of Ur has been quiet ever since its last blog post back in May.
“Looks like it’s that time of year again!” says Ryuen.
And so it is. The Halloween season has come upon us and it is inescapable. You can try to hide in a cave or bury yourself in a mountain of theorycrafting, but before you know it, you’ll be trick or treating in MMORPGs with the rest of us.
And I say, why fight it when you can ride it? Sure, wearing a pumpkin on your head and driving a bike powered by 85% gasoline and 15% souls of the damned might not be street legal, but trust me, no cop is going to stop you. Just ask Ryuen… if you can catch up to him in Secret World Legends.
Massively OP’s Justin Olivetti has a provocative article on his personal gaming blog, Bio Break, this week on MMORPG housing.
“I once again wonder why open world housing is this holy grail that some players and developers seem hellbent on chasing,” he writes. “It’s an ideal, a beautiful mirage couched in the notion of players inhabiting the very world they play, allowing them to stroll through neighborhoods of fellow adventurer’s homes and basking in the connectivity of it all. Yet it’s a failed experiment, one that is proven time and again to have far more drawbacks than benefits.” After listing off his complaints with the mechanic, he ultimately concludes that “we simply don’t need fixed open world housing, even in sandboxes.”
But being Justin, he also asked for feedback on why the joys are worth the drawbacks – and how to fix the system so it works instead of running off the rails. That’s just what we’ll do in this week’s Overthinking. Is he right about not needing this type of housing? And if not, how would you fix open world housing?
Here is a fun bug indeed: Overwatch has a glitch that’s been accidentally slinging seasonal bans at players who did not deserve them. It’s not a particularly widespread issue, having only impacted about 200 accounts, but it has concerned Blizzard and stirred the team to resolve it and restore affected players to their glory.
“We recently identified a bug that, in extremely rare cases, can cause players to lose their skill rating progress and receive a seasonal ban from competitive play without any prior penalties for leaving early or being kicked for inactivity,” Game Director Jeff Kaplan posted in the forums. “This bug is a high priority for our team, and we’re working on a fix to prevent further instances of it occurring as we speak. In the meantime, we’ll be removing the seasonal ban for all players affected by this bug as well as restoring their skill rating.”
On a happier note, Blizzard published a new 12-page comic starring everyone’s favorite Russian heavy hitter, Zarya. Keep your eyes open; another Overwatch hero or two might be popping in to say hi during this one.
Here is a question for you to ponder: Do MMOs make you feel more productive than your main job or school? If so, it might not be an accident.
In an essay over at the Talk Amongst Yourselves Kinja, author @CleonWrites notes how video games have started to fill people’s needs for productivity and world fulfillment when they can’t get it in the real world. And you might be getting a hit of this emotional high when you jump into your favorite MMO.
“Using MMORPG’s as an example, [game designer Jane] McGonigal notes that games can offer a certain satisfaction in doing work,” the essay says. “‘Work’ in games commonly take the form of quests, or objectives, which the player is asked to complete. On completion of these tasks, players can be rewarded through experience points, better armour, and in particular, more quests. This constant repetition of easily completable tasks, and increasingly common rewards, drives home a feeling of productivity in the player.”
It’s not hard to imagine the Camelot Unchained fan as a curious and excitable prairie dog popping up whenever the word “beta” is mentioned. The wait has been long, the promises many, and the development of this RvR MMO seemingly never fast enough for both the fans and the devs.
But could the Beta 1 test actually be nearer than we think? There are certainly a lot of mentions of the test itself in this week’s newsletter, including a revised Beta 1 document on the official site. The team also discussed how it’s drafting up designs for siege battles to take place during the test and provide an important stepping stone to the future: “These battles are being designed primarily to be fun, and importantly, to test our work in Beta 1 and beyond.”
It saddens us to report that Camelot Unchained has killed Superman. Well, the “Superman” bug, that is. Apparently there was a glitch that kept player characters stuck in a falling/flying pose while moving around, but now that’s a funny memory rather than an awesome reality.
Every MMO tells a story through the run of its life. A lot of those stories are pretty happy, too. Ultima Online may not be the most happening place in the world right now, but its story is about launching a genre and then running for two solid decades. That’s a pretty great story. However much it’s become a tale of mismanaged expectations, World of Warcraft kind of became the most popular thing for a long while and brought in tons of new people to the hobby. Even titles with sad endings often have bright stories; the end bit for City of Heroes sucks, but everything leading up to that was a gas.
And then you have these 10 titles. These are titles where the whole story is a tragedy, start to finish, and in many cases the tragedy isn’t necessarily over, but the story is still just plain sad. There are reasons, of course, maybe even good ones, but the result is that the narrative for these titles is pretty sad all the way through.