retro

The Game Archaeologist: Warhammer Online

When it comes to notable years in the MMORPG genre’s history, 2008 stands out as one of the most significant. World of Warcraft’s debut onto the scene in 2004 caused an upheaval in ways far too numerous to go into detail here. Suffice to say that its overwhelming popularity drew the attention of game designers who looked at the staggering numbers of players and found themselves envious of the potential to grab a slice of that money pie.

Many projects went into high gear following WoW’s launch, with plenty of them trying to copy the formula and structure that Blizzard established in the hopes of making it at least partially as big as that game. So-called WoW clones began to pepper the market and there was a sense that gamers were ready to move on from World of Warcraft to the next generation of MMOs. In many players’ minds, this would be either 2008’s Age of Conan or Warhammer Online, two big-budget MMOs with strong IPs that carried a lot of the weight of expectation.

Little did anyone realize that 2008 represented a bubble that was about to burst on the industry and the WoW clones that followed — including Warhammer Online. Today, we’re going to take a look at “bears, bears, bears,” the high hopes of Mythic Entertainment, and how WAR became a casaulty on its own battlefield.

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Trove’s exploration-centric Geode expansion is launching June 26

Remember last week when Trion Worlds announced that its popular voxelbox Trove is getting a battle royale mode called Bomber Royale? The studio is on a roll because now it’s announced that Bomber Royale will be part of a whole expansion dubbed Geode, which Trion says is the “next step in Trove’s evolution.”

“Geode sends players on a journey of exploration and discovery to a brand new planet filled with oodles of wonders and remarkable sights. Explore Geode’s intricate network of caves, reveal new lore about Geode and its people, and be a part of story-driven adventures in an enormous all-new world!”

The studio is talking up exploration this time, saying “combat takes a backseat” to new collectibles, companions, and “story-driven quests through Geode’s maze of tunnels and cave systems.” Looks like new biomes to me in the screenies below too! Expect both Geode and Bomber Royale on June 26th on PC and console.

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Trove hauls out a small patch while the community goes crazy over gem rumors

Trove’s May update is here and threatens to undo the very foundations of the game, starting with the change from cube voxels to geodesic spheres. Oh, the blockmanity!

Actually, the real patch is nothing quite so radical. Trion decided to retire some items from Chaos Chests, added a new set of dream dev allies, provided more information on the welcome screen for events and changes, and made a number of other adjustments to the crazy sandbox.

While that’s happening, the playerbase is trying to sort through rumors that Trion is doing… something with gems. Adding a new tier? Introducing a different type? Giving players alternative ways to make and collect them? It’s not completely certain, but there is movement on this front. Check out the video below for more speculation on the matter!

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 170: Mild West Online

On this week’s show, Bree and Justin do their darndest to shape the MMO industry by holding up Wild West Online as a cautionary tale and talking about how studios need to think before applying real-world labels to games.

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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The Daily Grind: Is it possible for an MMORPG to offer an optional sub that isn’t pay-to-win?

Last week, in the comments under the Bless optional subscription brouhaha article, I made an offhand comment that apparently got MOP commenter Sally’s gears grinding. I was trying to sort through why Bless fans are mad, and I wrote, “Neowiz has been promising no P2W for months, but it’s really hard to have an optional sub that isn’t pay-to-win.”

Sally didn’t disagree but said it was a “shock” to see it spelled out on Massively OP of all places: “In the current free-to-play climate, I see [the MOP] community as one of the last bastions for subscriptions. So a shot at subs from here struck me as ‘et tu, Brute?'” And Sally’s right! A lot of MMORPG vets enjoy F2P and B2P games but also hate double-dipping, and the subscription, or at least a mandatory sub without the usual gamblebox and pay-to-win trappings, is one way to guarantee healthy game design for the players.

On the other hand, if I’m honest, I truly cannot think of an MMORPG with an optional subscription that isn’t pay-to-win in some way. They’re trying to incentivize you to sub, after all, so they have to make the perks worthwhile, and very rarely do they stop at cosmetics. My Trove sub makes experience and drops fall from the sky. My Ultima Online sub lets me own a house and run vendors and hoard most everything. I’d say that games like Elder Scrolls Online, which hands out generous amounts of cash-shop credit for subbing, are on the better end of this argument, but then there’s that pesky crafting bag to contend with.

What do you think: Is it possible for an MMORPG to offer an optional sub that isn’t pay-to-win in some way? Got a contender in mind?

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The Daily Grind: Do your MMORPG characters primarily wear in-game armor or cash-shop cosmetics?

Take a look at your main character in your main MMORPG right now. What is he or she wearing? And did you get it through play or from the cash shop?

This topic came to me as I was surfing the Guild Wars 2 Reddit earlier this week; a Redditor was polling players on whether they thought there was a good balance of cash-shop cosmetics vs. cosmetic gear acquired through actually playing the game. It’s a tiny bit hard to answer this one for Guild Wars 2, as multiple people pointed out, as you can convert the gold you get while playing legitimately into gems to buy cash-shop cosmetics (or just buy lockbox skins with gold from the gamblers). Plus, GW2 isn’t called Fashion Wars for nothing. But still: Almost all of my characters are running around in cash-shop cosmetics there. I may complain about the lack of new skins and the overabundance of buttcapes, but I like to spend money on games I want to support, and cosmetics are one of the least objectionable ways to do it. And GW2’s are still slick (vs. a lot of the in-game armor, which is grindy or group-centric).

In Trove, which is another of my favorite games lately, most of my characters are running around wearing at least core outfits from ancient Steam pack sales.

Do your MMORPG characters primarily wear in-game armor of cash-shop cosmetics? And do you see that as a problem, one way or another?

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Wild Mage: Phantom Twilight mixes together Final Fantasy IX, Minecraft, and Fruit Ninja

Want to explore everything, destroy everything, and cut everything in half? Want to do all of that while riding around on a boss airship? Then you’re going to need to pick up Wild Mage at some point.

Wild Mage: Phantom Twilight is an open-world ARPG set in a gorgeous-looking world that has thousands of those impractical floating islands and was somewhat inspired by Final Fantasy IX. Combat and environment interaction sound like the key hook: “The environment in this game is completely destructible. Monsters can be sliced into pieces (think Fruit Ninja). Fire propagates dynamically. Terrains and structures can be altered and destroyed (think Minecraft).”

Right now, Wild Mage is running a small but strong Kickstarter campaign. It’s already blown through its $10,000 target goal and has been hitting a few stretch goals in the first few days (such as bringing it to Nintendo Switch). If it reaches $60,000, the title will offer a multiplayer co-op mode with between four and six players exploring a world together.

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Even Trove is getting a battle royale mode – it’s called Bomber Royale

Trion’s voxelbox Trove is getting its very own battle royale mode, after a fashion. It’s called Bomber Royale, and its plain aim is to revivify the game’s wilted PvP, complete with destructible terrain and the now-classic playfield shrink as the match wears on.

Trove Bomber Royale brings a new spin on the game’s competitive combat, allowing for throwdowns of up to 20 people in an exciting and chaotic new twist on battle royale gameplay, whipping bombs at each other, collecting power-ups, and wrecking the terrain until only one Trovian is left standing! In Trove Bomber Royale, the gameplay is fast and frenetic, where players are placed onto one of three different maps together, and must throw bombs at each other in order to be the sole survivor of the skirmish. There are several different bomb types at your disposal, including bouncing bombs, sticky bombs, and more. Players can also utilize a variety of moves and power-ups, including a grappling hook to zip away from (or towards) danger and healing-based items.”

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 169: Farscape and RuneScape

On this week’s show, Bree and Justin look ahead at the next generation of MMORPGs in development while saying farewell to a couple of the old guard. It’s a podcast full of conspiracies, time magic, debates over subscriptions, and way too much talk about Farscape!

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 168: MMOs all higgledy-piggledy

On this week’s show, Bree and Justin go western for Wild West Online’s release date, sci-fi for EVE Online’s employment woes, fantasy for World of Warcraft’s expansion testing, and goofy for pretty much everything else.

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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The Stream Team: A day in the life of Trove

What’s it like to just level in Trove? Massively OP’s MJ has no idea! She has hopped from holiday to event to new content and has never even completed her introduction quest line. Today, she’s reentering the voxel world simply to continue that beginning task. Join us live at 2:00 p.m. as she experiences a regular day in the life of…

What: Trove
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 2:00 p.m. EDT on Monday, April 30th, 2018

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The Game Archaeologist: Red Planet’s Lost Colony vaporware

You know the story of Roanoke, right? That early American settlement that abruptly went missing with only the word “Croatoan” carved into a tree for later colonists to find? It’s a big mystery that might not be much of a mystery at all, but I’ve always been fascinated with it and other similar tales. There’s just something about an abruptly vanishing thing or people to arrest the imagination.

So what about an entire MMO that one day just went “poof” and vanished into thin air? And what if it had the ironic name of Lost Colony? And what if I were so bored as to scour the internet for clues as to what happened to it? I think you’re going to find out.

Lost Colony came to my attention during a recent trip to Planet Wikipedia, where the natives are interesting if not always fully sourced. I was reading through an article on vaporware when this game caught my eye. An MMO I never heard of that just disappeared? I felt a Scooby Doo mystery coming on!

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The Daily Grind: What has been the best MMO expansion or update of 2018 so far?

We are about to put four months of 2018 in the can, and during that time there has been quite a lot of movement in the MMO field with a few launches, reboots, and plenty of updates.

So far this year, Trove busted out its Heroes expansion, Skyforge added a new class with Overgrowth, TERA made the jump to consoles, and RIFT tried its hand at a progression server. That’s just scratching the surface, because it seems like every week we see several major updates come through.

Looking at the four-month start to this year, what would you say is the best MMO expansion or update so far? Yes, there is plenty coming, but what about content that’s already been released?

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