Although the Asheron’s Call series has now been dead for exactly one year today, it’s far from forgotten by fans. It was admittedly a cult classic, and as the youngest of the “Big Three” graphical MMOs, it was the easiest to ignore, especially as it used an original sci-fi/fantasy setting rather than, well, something with elves.
MMO AC converts I’ve met regularly said the game was more solo-friendly and more story-driven than Ultima Online and EverQuest, receiving monthly updates that felt like downloadable content before DLC was a common industry term. These weren’t simply automated addons but events that were often curated in a fashion that is similar to Game Masters in tabletop RPGs, meaning that those who built the scenario sometimes participated as their own lore characters, placing themselves at the mercy of their own game and community. While several events in both AC1 and AC2 made use of this kind of interactive story-telling style, none is better recalled than the first event: The Shard of the Herald.
Things looked very bleak for SkySaga and its parent company Radiant Worlds last August when the upcoming multiplayer game shut down production following Smilegate’s decision to pull out as publisher and leave Radiant without funds to finish the game. However, hope for the studio blossomed following a statement today by UK media developer and publisher Rebellion, in which it was announced that the company had acquired Radiant Worlds for an undisclosed sum.
The publisher said that Radiant Worlds will now become a sister studio called Rebellion Warwick and “will immediately transition on to current projects including the 1930s co-op adventure Strange Brigade.”
Unfortunately, this acquisition did not include SkySaga, so don’t put too much stock in a resurrection. “As much as we loved working on SkySaga, the game belongs to Smilegate, so any future development plans would be from them, not us,” Radiant tweeted.
When we moved over here to Massively Overpowered, some of us transplanted our long-running columns to the new space. I perhaps felt most devastated that I was going to lose all of the Game Archaeologist articles that I had painstakingly researched over the years. So my mission with this space became two-fold: to rescue and update my older columns while continuing to add more articles to this series on classic MMOs and proto-MMOs.
I’ve been pleased with the results so far because TGA is a series that I really don’t want to see vanish. As MMORPG fans, we should consider it important to remember and learn about these older titles and to expand our knowledge past the more popular and well-known games of yesteryear.
Now that we have quite a catalogue of Game Archaeologist columns, I thought it would be helpful to end the year by gifting this handy guide to you that organizes and compiles our continuing look at the history of the genre. Enjoy!
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.”
Still finding yourself pining away for Hellgate: London on occasion — or perhaps you missed out on it the first time around? This 10-year-old multiplayer ARPG is making an unofficial return thanks to a fan project dedicated to its revival in the west.
Essentially an emulator for the long-dead (yet often resurrected) game, London 2038 seeks to restore the Hellgate multiplayer experience for both old and new generations of players. The title has been progressing through alpha patches this fall, with the test open to everyone who has a copy of the original game.
“All of the 2038 team missed the amazing, ahead-of-its time ARPG Hellgate: London and wanted to bring it back to the passionate, dedicated, and friendly community the game has fostered after all these years,” the project leaders wrote. Check out some of the boss battles from the alpha after the break and then head back to read our weird and somewhat sad history of this game.
Still bummed over the loss of World of Darkness and Revival? Shadow’s Kiss may be for you. Last year, we covered the vampire fantasy MMO when it set up shop on Patreon. This week, it’s landed on Kickstarter proper, with all the accoutrements vampire fans will expect.
“Shadow’s Kiss is a game of darkness, adventure, passion, and horror, set in the fictional city of San Cipriano. The game casts you as a vampire (or possibly other supernatural creature…) who goes on quests, faces off against other supernatural factions, and gains items of power to rule the night. While Shadow’s Kiss incorporates many of the classical elements of a Massively Multiplayer Game (MMO), it also seeks to innovate, especially in ways that make for an interesting gaming experience within a society of vampires and supernatural creatures. Parlay and diplomacy are critical parts of the experience, including building your influence in vampire society through intimidation, bribery, and seduction. You cooperate or compete with other players to rule the various aspects of the city, including law enforcement, organized crime, and the media. Your rise to power, and your story, are built around your Rogue’s Gallery, also known as your Cast of Characters, which are the allies, enemies, thralls, spies and blood dolls you’ve acquired through questing and exploration.”
Has enough time gone by to start erasing memories of Revival, that ambitious but troubled horror MMO that was canceled back in March 2016? While the project is dead, its developers have forged on — and one has made the jump to another indie MMORPG.
Chronicles of Elyria announced this past week that it picked up Adam Maxwell to become the game’s new lead designer. Previously, Maxwell worked on RIFT, Star Citizen, World of Tanks, and Revival (in addition to almost a dozen other titles). Hopefully this new berth will be a good fit for him and Soulbound Studios.
Maxwell says that it was an easy jump from Revival to Elyria: “Half my fun getting to know everyone here has been in asking questions like, ‘So how did you all handle…’ and then randomly picking a feature from Revival. Weather, NPC memory, narrative dynamics… every answer is different from Revival, but they always hit the same mechanical goal. I feel like the two projects are siblings separated at birth. It’s both awesome and eerie at the same time.”
Last year, almost three years after SOE shut down Free Realms for good, a group of players announced that it was resurrecting the title in emulator form. Last March’s alpha test came and went, and now a second test is on the way, expected to include character creation and customization, NPCs, female toons, and a new spawn location. The player devs are also celebrating 5000 members organizing on Discord.
“This Discord server has reunited a decent portion of the community that was nearly lost after the game closed. The continued support from both the FRS staff team who work as volunteers, and the community makes it apparent that the sunset of Free Realms was not left ignored. All the community support for the revival of Free Realms really motivates us as a team to keep moving forward! Things have been a bit quiet lately, but don’t fret. We are still hard at work preparing Alpha 2, and once that happens, we’ll open the game up to a lot more people! We would like to thank everyone here who is supporting this project and being patient with us while we continue to develop the game.”
It doesn’t appear Daybreak has given its legal blessing on the project, but the studio has traditionally turned a blind eye to emulators for all of its games and indeed has endorsed one for the EverQuest franchise.
PAX West 2017 has come and gone, and though MJ is still feverishly working on her last few articles, we wanted to pause a moment to reflect on everything we’ve seen and read and recapped so far. So for today’s Massively Overthinking, I asked our writers to tackle three topics from an MMO player’s perspective: the biggest surprise of the show, the most disappointing bit, and the games that grabbed them and won’t let go.
The latest video for Snail Games’ early access revival of Dark and Light is about houses, but not the kind of housing you’re thinking with a thatch roof and cute little doorway. No, this is the Game of Thrones kind of house, and the video shows would-be lordlings just how to pilot the interface that all guild leaders surely know is a game (and job) unto itself.
According to the video, leaders can use the interface to bestow and rescind all the hierarchical permissions you’d expect from a stock MMO in 2017, like whether the player is allowed to blow up your buildings or raid your fridge inventory. But the system also allows admins to grant special permissions to members, like riding specific mounts on guild property, seeing who died, and declaring war on the DNL equivalent of the Lannisters. Leaders can also create and place house seals to protect certain buildings from other players — in fact, the seals in the video are apparently an advanced version not yet in the game, so it’s a bit of a sneak peek. Worth a look below!
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.
In the pantheon of SOE’s (now Daybreak) flagship EverQuest franchise, there used to be a whole family of MMOs gathered around the table every evening. There was Papa EverQuest, looking a little wrinkled and worn but also radiating fame and authority. Next to him was Mama EverQuest II, a powerful matron of entertainment. And EverQuest Next used to be a twinkle in their eyes before it was extinguished.
Then, in the next room over was a cabinet. The cabinet was locked. Inside that cabinet used to be a weird abnormality that certainly looks like a member of the family, but one that hadn’t seen the light of day in quite some time. This member subsisted on the scraps of an aging console and the fading loyalty of fans, hoping against odds that one day he’d be allowed out for a stroll or something. His name was EverQuest Online Adventures, the EverQuest MMO nobody mentions.
EQOA was a strange abnormality in SOE’s lineup. While it was one of the very first console MMOs and heir to the EverQuest name, it was quickly eclipsed in both areas by other games and left alone. Yet, against all odds, it continued to operate on the PlayStation 2 for the better part of a decade before its lights were turned off. Today, let’s look at this interesting experiment and the small cult following it created.
Following Disney’s announcement of the Star Wars Hotel in the Galaxy’s Edge Disney subpark this weekend, my MMO guildies were joking about using the location for a guild meet-up in a few years. (Well, they were joking; I was serious! Teenage Bree would literally be shrieking incoherently over this thing. I practically still am.) The new bit is basically a Star Wars LARP hotel where you walk around in costume (and presumably in-character).
“It’s unlike anything that exists today. From the second you arrive, you will become a part of a Star Wars story! You’ll immediately become a citizen of the galaxy and experience all that entails, including dressing up in the proper attire. Once you leave Earth, you will discover a starship alive with characters, stories, and adventures that unfold all around you. It is 100 percent immersive, and the story will touch every single minute of your day, and it will culminate in a unique journey for every person who visits.”
So basically, it’s an MMORPG that skips right past VR and into real life. Will it be awesome? It’s going to cost a fortune, so probably — although if Westworld is any guide, people will still pay fortunes to show up and be idiots. My guildies will probably just spend all their time playing sabacc in the cantina, so we may as well just stay home and save the dough.
But Star Wars is my particular obsession; I’m sure you folks can think of other IPs, specifically MMO IPs, that would work even better for a bajillion-dollar vanity LARP. Which MMO IP should Disney themeparkify next? (Points to whoever says Revival first!)