Speaking of moving forward, there's certainly a lot of exciting things on deck for RIFT, starting with the imminent Patch 4.1. This update will add eternal weapons, a planar crafting revamp, a 10-player raid, and new weekly quests. Following that is the return of Carnival and the release of Patch 4.2 with its brand-new level 70 zone, Vostigar Peaks.
Studio: Trion Worlds
Launch Date: March 1, 2011
Genre: Fantasy Themepark
Business Model: Hybrid F2P (Optional Sub, Cash Shop)
Blogger Tobold recently wrote a provocative piece on social play in MMOs, as pointed out to us by our dear tipster Sally. In a piece cheekily titled "Why I can live without other players in my games," he writes that far from being the foundation or glue of MMOs, guilds are actually one of the worst bits of the genre, being platforms for selfishness and drama.
"Guilds were never designed for positive social interaction, they were always a means to an end of individual character progress. You needed those other people to get the most powerful gear in the game. And the way there wasn't exactly a constant stream of friendship and happiness. Look at what MMORPG blog posts have been mostly about when talking about their guilds: First people complain if others aren't investing as much as they do and become a hindrance to killing raid bosses, and then when the raid boss is finally dead they complain that somebody else got the loot."
"The people most loudly complaining about the lack of other players being forced to play with them," he finishes with a zinger that resonated most for me, "are the kind of people with the most predatory play styles."
I've presented Tobold's piece to our writers for this week's Overthinking. Do they -- and you -- agree with his thesis? Let's Overthink it.
You might not notice, since the servers are fine and customer service is operating from Austin, but Trion's Redwood Shores studio is packing up and moving "just a stone's throw away" over this coming weekend.
"Your RIFT team will be out of office from 5:00 PM PST on Thursday, March 16 until 10:00 AM PST on Monday, March 20!" says the studio. "All of Trion is excited to be moving into a new space, one that looks more like a game studio than a cube farm – plus it saves us money!"
That does mean there won't be the usual round of Friday livestreams for those lucky folks who can watch livestreams on Fridays, but somehow we figure there are thousands of other streams to watch if you're in that lofty position. Good luck on the move!
I've read all the impressions from the PAX East show that I could find, and they were all overwhelmingly mild -- including ours. As you hopefully know by now, Elder Scrolls Online showed off its instanced PvP battlegrounds, and the media consensus is that they are... coming. And that's it. This really surprised me. It's superficially hard to tell whether people have come to expect one thing from battlegrounds (because so many other games already have them) and ESO really isn't changing the formula -- or the battlegrounds really aren't anything to write home about.
If you were to take Lead PvP Designer Brian Wheeler's word for it, battlegrounds will change PvP in ESO forever because they're a type of PvP that ESO has never had before, which is true. Personally, I do believe not only that battlegrounds will bring something special to Elder Scrolls Online but that other games should pay attention to ESO because it's actually doing something innovative without drawing too much attention to it.
Battlegrounds aren't perfect; there will be some drawbacks, but let's take an honest look at what this new PvP type means for Elder Scrolls Online and maybe other MMOs in the future.
Beam Overload is becoming slightly less powerful, while targetable kinetic weapons like torpedoes will be harder (but not impossible) to shoot down and no longer will be affected by abilities like Tyken's Rift. Several profession abilities are also being buffed up significantly to have a greater impact on combat, like a big boost to Miracle Worker's effects and a new Science ability to improve healing and exotic damage. The full list of changes will be detailed point-by-point in an upcoming test patch, so players can look forward to the full set of shifts with the upcoming change for feedback.
A week ago, we told you about OrbusVR, a full-scale VR MMORPG built for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift -- and today, the Kickstarter for the game is live. "OrbusVR is the first MMORPG designed from the ground-up for room-scale virtual reality, including the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift + Touch," declares the crowdfund. "Explore, socialize, and fight online with thousands of other players from around the world, as we create and conquer a virtual realm together." Crafting, group dungeoning, socializing tools, a massive map, and endgame PvP are all on tap.
Founder Riley Dutton of Ad Alternum Game Studios seeks $10,000 and hopes to raise it in a week -- one of the shortest MMO Kickstarters we've seen in a long time, as well as smallest, as Dutton says the game is already funded (by the founder) and is seeking more money to improve the art and writing quality.
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 11:00 a.m. EST on Wednesday, March 1st, 2017
If you count yourself among gamers actively seeking out MMORPG virtual reality experiences, you should probably take a peek at OrbusVR, currently in production for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.
Ad Alternum Game Studios is building a full-scale MMORPG with all the bells and whistles -- questing, combat, open-world zones, and crafting -- with a few more unusual features, like hybrid instanced dungeons, hidden and "feat" quests, player bounties, and tiered safety zones for PvP. Raids aren't expected to make it in for launch.
Most recently, the game held a pre-alpha test with 700 participants and should move to alpha before late March. Founder Riley Dutton posted to the official blog that the team will be running a "modest" Kickstarter campaign starting March 6th, to run just one week, so keep an eye out for that.
"With two options available: launch as is and just deal with it in 'post,' or delay a few weeks to avoid some of the issues we've run into in the past, we've chosen the option that will result in what we hope is much more polished update," Trion posted. "We get the question all the time: 'Why can't you just hold it until it's ready?' Whelp, we are!"
This decision may be reflective of Trion's goal to "bring back the quality" to the game in 2017. RIFT's Patch 4.1 will contain a new raid, eternal weapons (and associated quest line), the looking for raid tool, an intrepid challenge, and hundreds of additional housing options.
A couple of weeks ago, I was puzzling over the fact that besides a few golfing and racing games, we don't have many sports games inside the MMORPG genre -- we leap right from sandbox sport fishing to full-scale murder with little in-between.
I dunno whether CCP's new VR venture will count, since it's multiplayer but not MMO exacty, but it's definitely in the ballpark, pun intended: It's called Sparc, and the MMO studio is calling it a "unique virtual sport" where "players connect online to compete with each other in fast and fun full-body VR gameplay." Unlike CCP's other games, this one won't be set in the EVE Online universe in any way.
"Sparc's skill-based, full-body gameplay makes for a fast-paced and fun physical sport. Players use their motion controllers to throw projectiles at their opponents from a distance, and in turn defend themselves by dodging, blocking, or deflecting the incoming attacks. Players can join one-on-one matches with friends online or find opponents via matchmaking. Sparc enables players to connect and compete in an online community. [...] Sparc includes multiple two-player game modes as well as single-player challenges and training modes, plus a range of customization and personalization options for competitors."
Dimension Gallery has rounded up all of the details and images for professional and novice interior designers. At least five new dimensions will be added to the fantasy MMO: Volcanic Playground (sounds safe), Wyrd Hut, Alittu, Saint Taranis, and the wonderfully named Fortress of the Apocalypse.
Hundreds of additional housing items are coming as well, including banners, candles, building blocks, music blocks, and at least 35 buildings. If you primarily get your housing decor through minion missions, you'll be happy to hear that 4.1 will increase the number and types of dimension rewards that your followers bring back from associated quests.
The big screenshot challenge last week was to capture action, not just still shots, in MMORPGs. This is tricker than it sounds, because you have to be quick with the screenshot key and manipulate the camera just right to get the perfect picture. It is easier to do this with other characters, obviously, including those in cutscenes.
Borghive gets headlining honors with his "final showdown" between the Witch King and Éowyn from Lord of the Rings Online. She looks a little outmatched, what with being smaller and having an actual head, but I think she's going to come out just fine. After all, she is no man.
Ready for sappy questlines, particle effects that look like hearts, and lots -- and I do mean lots -- of pink? Valentine's day has arrived in the real world and many of the pretend worlds inside MMORPGs (for some reason). And who are we to fuss when the events are all about candy and cheap romance? Nobody, that's who. Read on for our guide to Valentine's Day around the MMORPG verse!