retro

One Shots: Through the portal?

The other day, Bree was complaining about how so many screenshots from modern MMORPGs suffer from a bland and monochrome palette. Coming to the rescue, then, is our team of expert One Shotters, scouring online games for vibrant looks and colors!

Zulika Mi-Nam kicks us off with this delectable piece of Portal Knights scenery: “The last few days I have been playing Portal Knights. I guess it is like a Stargate/Minecraft combo? It scratches the same itch that EQ Next did for me, not that I was a builder. I just like exploring and some type of progression. This is more combat oriented though.”

How’s that doggy going to get down, Zulika? Throw that dog a bone already!

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Massively Overthinking: Are MMORPG players a minority in their own genre?

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.

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Battle Bards Episode 97: The sound of magic

“Magic can be ANYthing!”

The forces of magic run deep within MMORPGs, casting shadows of wonder wherever we look — and listen. In today’s show, Syl sparks a musical revolution as her fellow Bards struggle to rise to the challenge of defining what, exactly, constitutes a “magical” track and evokes that particular feeling. Did we nail it? You’ll have to join us for the journey to find out!

Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunes, Google Play, TuneInPocket CastsStitcher, and Player.FM.

Listen to Episode 97: The sound of magic (or download it) now:

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RuneScape DDoS hacker gets two years in U.K. prison

Ever hear that expression, “His name is mud?” It applies on every level to the incarceration of one Adam Mudd this week, who received two years of jail time in the U.K. for his hacks and attacks on Minecraft and RuneScape.

When he was 16, Mudd created a distributed denial of service (DDoS) program called Titanium Stresser that he then sold to other hackers to the tune of nearly a half-million dollars. Hackers then used Mudd’s program to perform 1.7 million DDoS attacks on games like RuneScape, programs like TeamSpeak, and other Sony and Microsoft products.

Defense for Mudd said that he had been bullied at school and was looking for online notoriety rather than financial gain. Mudd, who is now 20, was convicted of facilitating 17 million hacks, laundering money, and personally carrying out 584 DDoS attacks. He was sentenced to serve three simultaneous jail sentences (two for 24 months each and one for nine months).

Source: Gamasutra

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 114: Moving to the big city

What does a week where the news douses us in a shower of smaller stories look like? Bree and Justin wring out of their clothes, shaking loose tales of metropolises in the planning, console features, anniversary parties, and dance studios. Maybe it won’t flood the world of MMOs, but it definitely waters the lawns of our interest!

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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Guild Wars 2 announces Flashpoint living story episode, price drop for Heart of Thorns

Super Adventure Box departed Guild Wars 2 last week, so you had to expect we were on the brink of seeing another episode of the living story. Indeed, ArenaNet has just announced that very episode: It’s called Flashpoint, it’s apparently the next-to-last episode of season three, and it’s launching in just one week on May 2nd.

“Flashpoint finds the forces of good fighting a battle on two fronts. The fight against the now more powerful Elder Dragons seemingly has turned in their favor with news that Taimi’s research has resulted in a machine that can stop them with a single decisive blow. Meanwhile, the powerful mursaat Lazarus – who returned mysteriously purporting to be an ally – has been revealed to be an imposter. Marjory Delaqua attached herself to him to investigate and is now headed back to Rata Novus without discovering much about the truth of his identity. Both paths converge as Lazarus is on his way for a confrontation; in Flashpoint, players will uncover shocking secrets and come face-to-face with a threat unlike any they’ve seen before.”

ArenaNet is also permanently dropping the price of Heart of Thorns by 20 bucks, meaning that the cheapest buy-in for the game’s first expansion is now $29.99. (Maybe it’s another hint that the under-construction expansion isn’t that far away, eh?)

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Maclaine Diemer opens up about composing Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns

Today we are sitting down with ArenaNet Lead Composer Maclaine Diemer, who players might best know from his work on Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns and Living World Season 3. Diemer picked up the baton from Jeremy Soule, the original composer for the base game, and has been pumping out terrific music for the MMORPG ever since.

Massively OP: At this point in your career at ArenaNet, how many pieces of music have you composed for Guild Wars 2?

Maclaine Diemer: I think about this from time to time, but I honestly don’t know. I’d say it’s in the “several dozen” range, between all the holiday festivals, Living World content, Heart of Thorns, and other miscellaneous stuff like cinematics and marketing videos. It’s exhausting just thinking about it!

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 113: Avatar vs. toon

Do you want to date my space avatar? She’s a star and she’s hotter than a supernova by far. Or maybe you’re a loony tooner? What’s the socially acceptable way to reference your character in an MMORPG without coming across like some weirdo from another gaming era? Bree and Justin will devote their lives to figuring out this question.

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: Which MMORPG has seen the most improved graphics over the years?

In each of our articles about Black Desert’s upcoming graphics upgrade, there have been a slew of comments about how the game doesn’t really need it, puzzled remarks that the game is already pretty enough, and hopeful requests for Pearl Abyss to tone down the lens flares or at least allow us to turn off all the bells and whistles. It’s been interesting to witness — I know we’re still in the middle of a massive renaissance for retro graphics, but in general, hardcore MMORPG players are total graphics snobs, to the point that many older games, from Ultima Online and Anarchy Online to World of Warcraft and EVE Online, have all taken a stab at improving their graphics (and in some cases, adjusting their art styles too).

Not all of them have done so successfully, of course; many City of Heroes players, for example, couldn’t make use of the upgrades, and Ultima’s Kingdom Reborn was plagued with issues.

For today’s Daily Grind, I’m wondering: Which MMORPG has seen the most improved graphics over the years?

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The Daily Grind: What’s the best old-school MMORPG feature that has never made a comeback?

A couple of weeks ago, Justin and I fielded an epic podcast question from a listener (heya Josh!) about guild systems, specifically about the Asheron’s Call monarchy system. As far as we know, that specific system — a pyramid-like system of patrons and vassals whose social interactions created experience and benefits for everyone without the formal hierarchical structure of a stock guild — has never been fully duplicated. It’s a damn shame because it was amazing. Turbine solved the guild problem in 1999: Instead of dumping people into military-style guilds to be just another worker bee for the queen, it incentivized individual, personal relationships, upward and downward.

That got me wondering what else hasn’t ever been duplicated. It seems like it could be a pretty short list, as so many retro MMORPGs have popped up in the last few years promising to resurrect a ton of old-school features, good and bad. So you help me fill in the gaps: What’s the best old-school MMORPG feature that has never made a comeback?

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The Game Archaeologist: SOE’s The Agency

The graveyard of Sony Online Entertainment and Daybreak Game Company is certainly full enough to be considered a threat if there was ever a zombie uprising among MMORPGs. From PlanetSide to Free Realms, there are plenty of live games that were disposed of in this grim fictional burial ground. But there are also those stillborn titles that never had the change to make or break in a live environment. EverQuest Next might be the most fresh in our minds, but go back a handful of years and you might have seen players lamenting the loss of a different promising SOE game: The Agency.

The Agency seems like a natural fit for the studio’s focus on first-person shooters and a willingness to branch out from strictly fantasy territory. Instead of dragons or stormtroopers, players in this game were to face off against terrorist organizations and dastardly spy agencies, all in the pursuit of living out the ultimate James Bond fantasy.

But instead of sitting on our desktop, The Agency exists only in a forgotten corner of this imaginary cemetery. Today, let us tenderly brush off its worn tombstone and remember what we can about this canceled spy shooter.

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RIFT, Trove, and ArcheAge start accepting Razer zGold

There’s a new way to pay in Trion Worlds’ games, and that way is Razer zGold.

Trion announced this week that all of its games, including RIFT, ArcheAge, Trove, and Defiance, now accept Razer zGold as a payment option. Razer zGold is a virtual payment and rewards currency that can be used in several games while helping players earn special gifts on the side.

Trion is encouraging players to try out zGold with a pair of gifts of its own. Players who buy the RIFT Ascended Essentials Pack with zGold will get the Intermediate Pack for free. Additionally, a free month of patron status will be handed out to anyone who purchases a 3,250 credit pack with zGold. These can only be claimed once each per account.

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Retro-themed Kingdom of Loot goes into early access

Are you a sucker for pixel art and retro JRPGs? Then here’s a nice little treat for you: Kingdom of Loot will launch tomorrow in early access on Steam. It’s expected to stay in early access for the next two-and-a-half years while development continues.

Self-described as “the love child of Secret of Mana and Diablo,” the ARPG Kingdom of Loot marries the 16-bit era to the MMORPG genre… and it actually looks pretty cute and fun. It’s divided up into social town hubs, an open world map, and private instances. Players will take up arms to do some Zelda-style hack-and-slashing while going on quests and hanging out with their guilds.

Kingdom of Loot seeks to bring back the timeless feel of these classics while answering the question: How would they have been if based in a global mass multiplayer system?” the team describes. “An immersive persistent world to explore, tons of loot to collect, new friendships to forge and adventures to live and strongly focuses on collecting, crafting and sharing in-game loot. You decide whether doing it on your own, with a small group of friends, a guild or joining hundreds of other players on your quest for epic gear.”

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