richard garriott

Richard “Lord British” Garriott on Wikipedia

Make My MMO: Star Citizen’s procedural cities, Camelot Unchained’s beta tester rewards (October 28, 2017)

Ever wanted to walk around on Coruscant? Star Citizen may be granting your wish, or at least a solid approximation. During this weekend’s CitizenCon, Cloud Imperium’s Chris Roberts demoed a slice of the persistent universe mechanics, showing off detailed cityscapes and procedural generation at work on planetary surfaces. It’s truly stunning for sure, especially in conjunction with Roberts’ announcement that the studio will be switching to a “date-driven content release schedule,” and it’s taken the backer community’s mind off of the 3.0 alpha (still in Evocati testing) and Squadron 42 (more news promised in December) as people pour more money into the game (163M and counting now).

Meanwhile, Camelot Unchained delivered a new chunk of its beta doc with its “plans for making the rest of Alpha and then Beta 1 a much more fun and rewarding activity than it has been to date.” Specifically, CSE is implementing what it’s calling “The Dragon Circle,” a proper testing framework featuring focused tests and weekend siege events that will reward beta participants with everything from “temporary cosmetic items to permanent items, tier upgrades, and even cash rewards.”

In other MMO crowdfunding news, City of Titans showed off its animation blending, Valiance Online teased its latest update, Richard Garriott threw shade on EA’s historical business practices, and Pantheon surprised MMO players with it hefty price on pre-alpha testing.

Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last couple of weeks and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.

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The Game Archaeologist: Ultima Worlds Online Origin

While the heady days of Ultima Online’s dominant position over the industry are long gone, the MMORPG continues to operate and expand, and many players have fond memories of the unique experience that game offered. In fact, some titles like Legends of Aria and (obviously) Shroud of the Avatar are doing their best to claim the unofficial title of “Ultima Online spiritual successor” in the hopes of reuniting veteran MMO players with the special qualities that made this game great.

These aren’t the first games to try to grasp the holy grail of an Ultima Online sequel. There were actually two such projects that went into heavy production in the late 1990s and early 2000s — both ending with premature cancellation and frustration on the part of developers and fans.

The second of these, Ultima X Odyssey, I covered a while back. Today, we’re going to take a look at the first MMO that attempted to mix the Ultima Online formula with a few new twists. Ultima Worlds Online Origin might not be as well-known (or as well-titled), but its history is just as fascinating as UXO’s.

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Happy 20th birthday, Ultima Online! Here’s how to get caught up on the OG MMORPG

Just about 20 years ago, my boyfriend and I were wandering through Media Play (heh) when he picked up this box for some new online subscription video game with a cheesy Hildebrandt cover. I was skeptical. He bought it anyway. The next morning, after I’d played all night and totally bogarted his new game, we figured we should probably get a second account. And so we did, in spite of being clueless teenagers who could barely afford one sub, let alone two.

That game was Ultima Online, and it’s the game that birthed the term MMORPG and quite literally dragged me into the realm of virtual worlds. Without it, I wouldn’t be right here where I am talking to you today, having married that dude in the interim. And as of yesterday, that game is 20 years old.

Last autumn, when the game was turning 19, I did a fairly in-depth video on the coolest parts of UO, the parts you can still play today, as I do frequently dive back in and am playing this month too! It’s Massively OP’s best-performing video to date, proving that the game is very much not dead and done. Pretty much everything in the video is still accurate, except for the part on the business model (spoiler: UO is kinda going free-to-play), so I’m going to include it below, but then I’ll recap some of the important bits from the last year and answer a few questions anybody reading is sure to have.

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Ultima Online preps for 20th anniversary bash, updates players on enhanced client fixes

Ultima Online isn’t considered the progenitor of the MMORPG genre for nothing: It’s closing in on 20 years of operation next week, to be celebrated at a real-life event outside of Washington, DC, this very weekend, with Broadsword devs and original Origin devs, including Richard Garriott and Starr Long, in attendance.

“The team and I are working hard to finish up the second part of Publish 98 which includes Holiday gifts, new Artisan Festival Rewards and new Veteran Rewards as well as several bug fixes,” Broadsword Producer Bonnie “Mesanna” Armstrong writes in this month’s newsletter. Some of those fixes revolve around the enhanced client, the current version of the upgraded client that Armstrong has said half of the playerbase uses; specifically, performance during live, studio-run roleplay events is an issue, both in terms of graphical effects and loot.

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Shroud of the Avatar stuffs in more dragons, preps for Halloween

Shroud of the Avatar’s Release 46 is right around the corner, and when it arrives, so do the dragons. For the patch, the team has rebuilt the Northwest Blackblade Mountains zone, giving it a taste of flame and fire. The area is now described as “a devastated arid landscape of dragon bones, mesas, sand, and possible dragon encounters.” So kind of like your younger brother’s room.

The team is keeping its eyes on Halloween as it approaches, as well. Themed decorations, a wicked scythe, and a new grim reaper statue is in the works, but the highlight of this year’s holiday will be the construction of a special “prison home” for players who… want to lock up their guests? We guess?

To mark the recent passing of Richard Garriott’s mother, the team created an in-game Exodus portrait that players can purchase for $15. Some of the proceeds will go to a children’s museum that she supported in her life.

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Relive the final moments of Tabula Rasa

February 28th, 2009, was a dark day for MMO players, as crowds flocked to Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa in the hopes of hitting level 50 and seeing the return to Earth before the game was closed forever.

YouTuber GaminGHD said that he remembered it “like it was yesterday,” and in a new retrospective, he recalls the final hours of Tabula Rasa while sharing the many screenshots he took on a European server. He said that seeing the players swarm into the battle was a “beautiful sight” that was nevertheless bittersweet.

We’ve shared this video of the last day of Tabula Rasa with you after the jump along with a bonus interview with Garriott that explains why the MMO was mishandled and ultimately canned by NCsoft.

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Choose My Adventure: Starting completely fresh in Shroud of the Avatar

I really know pretty much nothing about Ultima.

This is only partly my fault. Way back when the Ultima games were a big deal on PC, I was still decidedly locked to consoles, where the options for getting into the series were rather limited. Aside from that, it was years before I really acquired much of a taste for the Western style of RPGs as opposed to the Japanese style… and considering that the roots of that style are half-buried in Ultima (along with Might & Magic and Wizardry, to be very broad and avoid overburdening this header), you can see why I’d kind of give things a pass.

All of this is pretty relevant when it comes to Shroud of the Avatar because you kind of can’t separate the two. No, Shroud of the Avatar is not an Ultima game, but it’s Richard Garriott building the game and inserting himself into the proceedings. It’d be like George Lucas making a new movie based off of Buck Rogers and Akira Kurosawa’s filmography; it might not bear the title, but you know you’ll wind up with something pretty close to wars what are waged across the stars.

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Choose My Adventure: Get out of here, DC Universe Online

So this is an unusual situation for me: I’ve never actually played a game for Choose My Adventure that I’ve disliked this much.

Those of you who have followed my writing for a while know that I’ve played some games I didn’t much like before, but that’s different. Lord of the Rings Online and Black Desert, for example, are games that were not my cup of tea but still had obvious merits I could praise. I’ve played games that I dislike or ones that deserved more criticism than praise when I played them (Ryzom, TERA, the beta period of The Elder Scrolls Online), but still had positive sides. (And in the last case, ESO turned itself around quite well and earned plenty of kudos from me.) Heck, I played Scarlet Blade with as open a mind as I could possibly have.

But not so DC Universe Online. No, this game deserves a pretty thorough drubbing. I can understand why it has fans, but it’s still just not a good game. I can only hope it’s an outlier rather than the norm on Daybreak’s overall catalog, because… wow. This is not fun.

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Shroud of the Avatar: Equity crowdfunding passes $500K, studio plans monthly telethons

Shroud of the Avatar’s equity crowdfunding venture has gone rather well: Portalarium declared last night that it has “exceeded [its] SeedInvest target and [is] now reaching new heights,” meaning it’s raised $570,913 toward its original $500,000 target minimum ($465,000 from small-scale investors and $105,000 from higher-end accredited investors), with a potential round size of $2M. There are just over three days left for investors of all stripes to jump in. Don’t miss our interviews with Richard Garriott and Starr Long if you’re still on the fence!

Meanwhile, Portalarium has announced that with the release of R44 last week, it plans to “experiment with extended postmortems that are also Mini-Telethons.” If it proves popular, it’d potentially mean a switchover from the exhausting 12- or 24- hour telethon stream the team does quarterly to a monthly 4-hour fundraising session as the team delivers its release recap and Q&A.

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Make My MMO: Valiance Online’s founder alpha has begun (July 29, 2017)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, Valiance Online took everyone by surprise by announcing the launch of its investor alpha on PC for Friday, though it didn’t actually launch until today thanks to some unforeseen tech issues. “If you donated to our old website campaign or Kickstarter, you might not be in Alpha today,” Silverhelm tweeted. “We’ll be working over the weekend to get you in!” Folks who donate right now through the official site should also have immediate access.

Over in the newly launched Albion Online, developers calmly responded to criticism of its large-scale battle system, explaining the upsides and downsides of diminishing returns from zergs. (Thanks, David!)

Meanwhile, Project Gorgon promised tweaks to its Poetry Appreciation skill (<3), Saga of Lucimia demoed its Pyrography skill, OrbusVR welcomed more players to its open alpha, Shroud of the Avatar rolled out R44 and cracked down on insider trading exploits, Chronicles of Elyria posted a whopper of a roadmap, Global Adventures’ Kickstarter ends tomorrow, and Star Citizen clarified (sort of?) the number of planets it will launch with and effectively announced another 3.0 delay.

Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’ve got our eye on.

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MMO dev and astronaut Richard Garriott hosts a Reddit AMA on /r/space today

Curious about astrophysics? The Massively OP Podcast brought on a special guest for a fun holiday bonus ‘cast back in 2015 to answer a ton of listener questions on the topic!
Don’t call him a space tourist, but if you want to pick his brain, Richard Garriott is all yours for the afternoon.

Lord British himself will sit for a Reddit Ask Me Anything this afternoon on /r/space as space enthusiasts ask him all about his experiences being a private astronaut. The AMA’s being promoted by NBC’s science wing, which last week hosted a long-form piece by Garriott in which he discussed his lifelong space flight dreams and how he finally realized them, though he shut down the “space tourist label” pretty hard.

Garriott is of course best known to MMO players as one of the founding fathers of the genre thanks to Ultima Online; he’s currently leading Shroud of the Avatar at the helm of his company Portalarium. Most recently, he published a memoir and publicly committed SOTA to Neverdie’s peer-to-peer online money trading venture.

The AMA kicks off at 3 p.m. EDT today, just as this post goes live.

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Make My MMO: Albion Online joins the list of launched crowdfunded MMORPGs (July 22, 2017)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, indie sandbox Albion Online — whose 250,000 founders reportedly crowdfunded the game for almost $10,000,000 — formally launched. The buy-to-play isometric game has hardcore old-school flair with a potentially alienating PvP template, but it’s brought plenty of PvE content along for the ride in an attempt to woo a more diverse playerbase.

Meanwhile, Project Gorgon made progress on its 64-bit test build, OrbusVR plans to open its alpha next weekend, City of Titans released a new lore piece, Camelot Unchained showed off more of its UI, Ashes of Creation demoed arenas, Path of Exile picked a date for Fall of Oriath, and Crowfall pushed its very first trial campaigns to testers. Oh yeah, and some Star Citizen drama.

Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’ve got our eye on.

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Shroud of the Avatar’s Richard Garriott backs Neverdie’s ‘etherium blockchain gaming’ venture

I often joke with our readers that Massively OP is not an MMO uptime monitor, but darn if we don’t feel like a Richard Garriott uptime monitor lately — love him or hate him, the man is on one hell of a PR tour for his book and Portalarium’s crowdfunding. So what’s one of the founding fathers of the MMORPG genre and the current boss at Shroud of the Avatar doing today? Boosting Neverdie Studios.

So let’s back up. Remember back in 2005 when when a Project Entropia player bought an asteroid in the game for $100,000 and then flipped it a few years later for more than six times that, ultimately setting a Guinness record and claiming to be the “first gamer to make a million dollars inside a virtual world”? That player was Jon “Neverdie” Jacobs, and Neverdie Studios is his real-world secure bitcoin-like-trading venture promoting “Etherium Blockchain Gaming,” which amounts to peer-to-peer online money trading and is of particular to interest to online gaming studios. The company has apparently already raised $2 million in a pre-sale and has now launched an “initial coin offering” (ICO) whereby people can invest in the tech.

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