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Massively Overthinking: The case for rarity and randomness in MMO monetization

Last week, Guild Wars 2’s Crystin Cox gave a monetization interview to Gamasutra during which she made one specific argument I wanted to pull out and re-examine. She was trying to explain why lockboxes can provide a “value” to players that they can’t get any other way.

“When we talk about cosmetics, there’s a demand for every individual cosmetic. Like maybe I love cowboy hats, I just want to buy cowboy hats. But there’s also a demand, and a lot of players feel this way, for just cosmetic options. I like cowboy hats sure, but I also like bandanas, and I like clown hair, I like everything. I don’t really have a super strong preference. I just want more things to put in my dress-up box. That demand can be satisfied a lot better sometimes with just giving you a random thing because that can be done a lot cheaper. If you don’t care about which one you get and you just want one, you can get it for a lot cheaper. When you’re talking about games that have rarity, and rarity’s a big part of that game, then lootboxes can be done to distribute something on a small scale, so that not everybody has access to it but some do, as sort of a jackpot item. And then that gets into a little more complexity around the economy and your game, and whether not this is an enjoyable part of your game for people to play, play with the economy of some such. But if it is, then you can use lootboxes to be a pretty good distribution for something that’s very rare.”

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Pantheon reveals its Ranger, Rogue, and Monk classes

This month’s Pantheon newsletter is a doozy for folks eagerly awaiting the details of the game’s classes. Visionary Realms has revealed three: the sneaky Rogue along with the versatile Ranger toon, though fans of classic D&D-inspired MMORPGs may be most interested in the Monk.

“[The Monk’s] internal flow of Chakra is held back by a series of six gates, like water behind a sequence of dams. The Monk must learn to open these gates in order to wield their Chakra without limits, releasing it in a torrent of punishing damage, or in the form of powerful defensive and self-healing abilities. The 6 gates are known as: The Gate of Anger, the Gate of Peace, the Gate of Sorrow, the Gate of Joy, the Gate of Balance and the Gate of Release. In combat, Monks will constantly generate Chakra as a percentage of the damage they deal. In addition, certain abilities will increase a Monk’s Chakra by a certain amount when used.”

Racial combos, armor types, weapon types, and even a partial list of abilities are all included with the reveals, so they’re worth a click-through. VR says to expect more class details throughout the summer. The newsletter includes a deep-dive into the Orc tribes, as well.

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The MOP Up: Diablo levels up in Heroes of the Storm (May 13, 2018)

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!

Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from Heroes of the StormElder Scrolls Online, DayZEVE Online, Pokemon Go, Dota 2City of HeroesFinal Fantasy XIVPortal KnightsLineage 2 RevolutionWizard101Ingress, and Reign of Guilds, all waiting for you after the break!

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Choose My Adventure: Ultima Online, we didn’t need to do this

Yes, this is going to come in as the shortest Choose My Adventure series, but I feel it’s got a good reason to be so. I went into Ultima Online with a very simple question: Is the game worth playing now as a free-to-play title for the curious? I very quickly got the answer to that question: No. Definitely not. And writing a whole lot more on it is just going to continue to harp on that point.

That’s not to say that there aren’t at least a few more words to be spared on the subject, of course. There are a lot of games with a free-to-play option that players have said don’t feel like free-to-play titles; you can technically play without paying, yes, but the game doesn’t seem to want you there and keeps hitting you with paywalls. That wasn’t the problem I ran into with Ultima Online, though. If anything, it seemed like the game didn’t want me there at all. Not as a free player, but as a new player.

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Rend starts its first public alpha test today

After all the talk and hullabaloo, we can understand being eager to take on Rend as an actual game instead of a concept. Good news, then! The first alpha test will be playable now! That’s no assurance that you’ll be one of the people playing it, however, since it is an invite-only test and there are no firm numbers on how many people will be allowed in. But you can sign up and have a realistic hope of getting in, that’s good enough.

Rend, for those who have forgotten, is a faction-based survival sandbox focused around a mix of PvE and PvP combat with a time-limited server reset mechanism. We had a chance to peek at the game’s current state at both GDC and PAX East, so check those out if you’d like a refresher about what we saw. (Which, for the record, was good stuff.)

Source: Frostkeep Studios press release

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Ashes of Creation reflects on its post-Kickstarter year

If Kickstarter truly kickstarted the gaming public’s interest in Ashes of Creation, then the team is not complaining. In fact, Intrepid Studios sent out a letter to fans in which it reflected on the past 12 months and how much has happened between May 2017 and now.

It’s probably one of those letters you just want to read yourself, so here you go:

Can you believe it has already been one year since the start of our Kickstarter? We cannot either honestly. It feels like only yesterday that we were in the midst of one of the craziest days of our lives! Ashes of Creation has come a long way since May 1st, 2017, and we are proud to report that the project is on schedule and making remarkable progress.

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Massively OP Interview: Dual Universe demo shows off advances in city building, space travel

When you work in video games, you often get asked what new titles you are looking forward to. While experience has been teaching me to temper my enthusiasm, I do have one that I’m excited to play. I first got to experience Dual Universe in-person at PAX West last September, and since then I’ve been eagerly anticipating its release! Why? That title pretty summed it up well: It’s a persistent, seamless, sandbox universe. More than that even, it is a hotbed of creativity thanks to its voxel foundation. So I’ve had a taste of what can happen in a world that customizable, and I hunger for more!

That meeting with Jean-Christophe Baillie, the president and founder of NovaQuark, was seven months ago. How has development been coming along since then? How does the game look today? I got to sit down with Baillie for an update on progress and a new tour through the universe a few weeks ago. In my first demo, I saw promise. This time, I saw more of that promise realized.

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Massively Overthinking: The best of PAX East and GDC in 2018

The past couple of weeks has been wild as we dispatched writers to GDC in San Francisco and PAX East in Boston to gather up and bring back everything they could on the MMORPGs large and small on the spring convention circuit. In fact, as I type this, we’ve got Brendan in Reykjavik for EVE Fanfest too! So for this week’s Overthinking, we’re rounding up our coverage and then reflecting on the best and worst as we pick out what most excites, surprises, and disappoints us: First the roundups, then our thoughts. Read on!

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Here’s how to playtest Elder Scrolls Online’s Summerset chapter next week

Summerset is closer than you think! The Elder Scrolls Online team announced today that the chapter is expected to hit the test server on Monday. In fact, all of update 18 will be playable there too. Getting in is the tricky part.

“Invites will be sent to a large group of new PTS testers, but if you participated in the ESO: Morrowind PTS beta last year, you’ll be able to log into the Summerset PTS from the ESO launcher yourself, no invite required! Just don’t forget to enable ‘Show Public Test Environment’ from your launcher settings. Note that as always, anybody can install the PTS client, log in, and test the base game changes, but they won’t be able visit Summerset or experience any of the new Chapter’s features unless granted access.”

Do note that the main quest and story are under a strict NDA (agreement, watermarked screenies, the works) that lifts May 1st.

MOP’s Andrew and Eliot got hands-on with the chapter at GDC and PAX respectively, both of them finding it to be basically exactly what Elder Scrolls Online fans want and expect out of a big content dump.

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Ashes of Creation looks back at PAX East while promising a Q4 alpha

If the only thing you want to take away from the latest bit of Ashes of Creation newsletter is information you may not have had before today, here it is: Alpha One is due for fourth quarter 2018, and there will be no NDA in place. You can freely talk with anyone and everyone about what you see in the game. That may sound more like a beta to our definition-minded readers, but let’s not quibble.

If, on the other hand, you’d like to see how the game managed things on the show floor of PAX East 2018, you can check out the video just below that cuts together a 10-minute highlight reel of what took place on the show floor. (It might also give you a decent idea of just how crowded said show floor actually is if you’ve never been.) You could also check out our own hands-on piece from the convention, if you haven’t already.

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Ship of Heroes posts a timeline for the first half of 2018

With a combat alpha under its belt, the superhero MMORPG Ship of Heroes turns its attention to the challenges that lay ahead. The team has posted up a detailed roadmap that included a visual plan of the first half of 2018, including what’s to come over the next three months.

The aggressive development schedule for the near future includes a login and network test, more enemies, more powers, more costumes, a day/night cycle, the addition of PopcornFX, an initial look at Controller powers, and better outdoor lighting are all on the table.

Past that, the team hopes to accomplish a raid test in the third quarter and then move out of alpha testing into the beta by the end of the year. Ship of Heroes’development plans and a talk with its lead designer, check out our PAX East interview with Casey McGeever.

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Pantheon deep-dives the Black Rose Keep dungeon we toured at PAX

There’s a lot to unpack in Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen’s April newsletter. Not only does it cover the Ratkin species from the bestiary and a dev spotlight with CTO and Lead Programmer Daniel Krenn, but it deep-dives Black Rose Keep, the massive multi-level indoor/outdoor dungeon being demoed at PAX this year.

“You will be able to revisit BRK and you’ll want to because the level range is very well spread out, depending on which area of the zone you’re in,” Lead Writer Justin Gerhart writes. “That’s not to say we have fenced off portions that check your level before entering. There’s a fair amount of intermingling between tiers throughout, but with higher concentrations of specific tiers in specific locations. Unless you’ve spent your whole char life outside of this area you should hit sections you won’t be able to progress through your first time in. The goal was to make BRK a memorable and substantial experience for players, and planning for revisitations and diversity of content were a critical part of that.”

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PAX East 2018: An interview with the big griffon statue

Everyone knows that the various people portraying characters at PAX East are just there to portray a character. That’s not who they really are. Just because an attractive young woman is dressed up as a character in a way that cleverly circumvents the event’s ostensible policy against “booth babes” does not mean that she is actually a bounty hunter, for example. (She could be, though. We’ve all got side hustles.) So it should come as no great surprise that the Guild Wars 2 griffon was itself playing a part, just like the other actors on the floor.

I was lucky enough to sit down for an interview with “Feathers” (it specified that its real name would break my eardrums) on the show floor, and since I was sitting very still to avoid triggering its instinctive hunting reflexes, I could also record everything it said perfectly. So please, to cap off our PAX East experience, enjoy my interview with this mythical creature of sand and wind.

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