As it’s been about a year now, I know that pretty much nobody remembers John Smedley’s ill-fated Hero’s Song. For a while there, we were cheering it on pretty hard, even though it wasn’t a full-blown MMORPG. The retro stylings and promised agile development blossomed some excitement, especially for those of us who wouldn’t mind a modern MMO with a 16-bit aesthetic.
There certainly aren’t a lot of these types of MMOs out there, and those that do exist are pretty niche. Guild Wars 2 has its goofy Super Adventure Box sub-game, Realm of the Mad God makes the most of its permadeath world, and the upcoming Dragon of Legends has had my interest for a while now.
Would you be interested in a retro-styled MMORPG, one that would use pixel art, be presumably in 2-D, and yet have most of the features of modern games?
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!
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?)
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!
One of my favorite MMO April Fools of all time is Guild Wars 2’s playable Super Adventure Box. It’s so brilliantly designed and executed that it goes far beyond mere joke territory and became an institution. A fun game-within-a-game.
Reader Little Bugbear took advantage of an initial foray into SAB to take what I consider to be a very arresting picture. It’s almost a silhouette of a character lounging against an 8-bit skybox. “Sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and enjoy a nice day of gaming,” Little Bugbear said.
Before we get into the rest of this week’s lineup, I want to share the news that we’ve made some further improvements to our comment system that should allow you to share your screenshots in bigger and bolder glory, especially when you post one at a time!
If you don’t like tricks and jokes, just stop reading right now, turn the lights off, and go climb back into bed. Nothing on the internet is going to bring you joy today, so just sit this one out. Trust us.
For everyone else, there’s April Fools’ Day! Follow along as we rattle off all the great MMORPG pranks and events we’ve found so far this morning.
Super Adventure Box has returned to Guild Wars 2 today! We’ve previously reported that there is no World 3 this round, but there is a new Crimson Assassin weapon set that you have until April 20th to finish farming.
So far the best addition has to be the new glider in the cash shop, which is the Infantile mode happy cloud with rainbow.
The area outside the zone-in and the hub inside were just as packed as last year when I took a peek earlier this afternoon. I zipped through the first two maps to try to remember my old routine, and I didn’t notice anything too different from usual.
“Awww yisss time to care about GW2 again for a month,” one dude said cynically as I zoned in, but let’s be honest: This is the kind of event you can enjoy even if you no longer play the game itself, which is a rarity in the genre, and it’s genuinely fun (and challenging, especially if you’re not a hardcore platformer!). Welcome back.
If you were holding out hope that this year’s edition of Guild Wars 2’s Super Adventure Box would come with loads of new content… better let go that hope.
The patch notes released yesterday reaffirm that the Super Adventure Festival will begin on Thursday, but there’s no mention of World 3, which honestly does comport with ArenaNet’s longstanding assertions that it was unlikely to expand it further, at least this year, as they’re working on a not-so-secret expansion.
However, if you were hoping for a new round of holographic skins, that seems assured, as the patch notes (and datamining alike) confirm the new Crimson Assassin set (they’re red). It also looks like there’s a fresh reward track for SAB as well as new cash shop buyables, including a new music box.
The rest of the patch is a motley assortment of bug fixes, the return of Basket Brawl, tweaks for SAB, tweaks for fractals, some new crafting mats, and the updated lockbox.
Every time my 5-year-old sees the extra portal in Guild Wars 2’s Rata Sum, I have to tell him it’s for Super Adventure Box and that it’s currently closed. He’s always sad. But next week, I can tell him it’s open! ArenaNet’s announced that SAB is indeed returning:
“It’s that time of year—dust off your best jumping boots, take up your pointy stick, and get ready to experience Tyria’s most cutting-edge technological edutainment system: Moto’s Super Adventure Box! Explore a whole new virtual world in beautifully-rendered, three-dimensional graphics. Go on an epic quest to save Princess Miya. Prove your strength against wizards, assassins, and giant frogs. And if all of that sounds a little too tame for you, prepare to die (repeatedly) in the punishing Tribulation Mode!”
It is not currently clear whether any new stages and new cosmetic weapons will be available, but it’s a good bet. The festival begins March 30th and runs until April 20th.
Protests in the real world dominated this past weekend’s news, and while I surfed around for an in-game equivalent to cover, I couldn’t find much of one (though I found people selling themed accessories in Second Life!). That said, protests in MMORPGs aren’t unheard of, and I mean actual protests, not memorials and vigils. World of Warcraft players will remember multiple protests throughout that game’s history, mostly against the design of the game, but sometimes against Blizzard’s policies. How about the Million Gnome March, for example, which caused game outages and threats from the studio claiming protests were “griefing”? Or the 2006 protests against Blizzard’s stance on LGBT guilds — which the studio reversed? How about the multiple Occupy SAB protests in Guild Wars 2, which ArenaNet allowed to transpire without much fuss?
I’ve never been to an in-game protest that I recall [Edit: I’m wrong. I have! See comments!], but I did stage my own one-woman protest in Star Wars Galaxies, where following the pronouncement that “no one wanted to play Uncle Owen” because moisture farmers were boring, I promptly rolled a character whose primary role was moisture farming on her permanently installed moisture farm. I made a lot of credits and had a lot of fun selling water on that character, right up until the day the servers were sunsetted. Silly? Maybe, but it gave me some life to prove that the suits were full of shit and didn’t really understand the first thing about their own playerbase.
Have you ever participated in a protest in an MMORPG?
I’ve been aching to share more of my thoughts about Guild Wars 2‘s
second Living World instalment for Season 3 and am finally convinced that enough time has passed for most of you to have experienced the story for yourselves. You’ll remember that my last edition of Flameseeker Chronicles
shared my launch day first impressions
, but a fuller breakdown seemed most necessary since I had played such a small proportion of the content in advance of its release and was asked to keep my impressions detail-light to avoid spoilers anyway.
In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll give you a rundown of the goings-on in Rising Flames and will again present the best and worst parts of the story from my perspective. If you haven’t had the opportunity to play Rising Flames in its entirety just yet, I recommend skipping this article for a while until you do unless you’re happy for some major story spoiling to happen: There will be several spoilers throughout the article for those who haven’t played this episode.
If you thought there was a lot of story in the recent Guild Wars 2 living world season 3 reveal, you’re not alone. I had been champing at the bit to learn about new features and ask some questions at E3 as revealed on Tuesday, but story ate up most of my time. While a few questions were answered and woven into my reveal, I also asked some followups after the show.
Now, ArenaNet wasn’t ready to answer everything I asked — I had quizzed the devs on the relationship between legendaries and NCSoft’s Q4 earnings, the potential for feature creep and its affect on updates, and the logistics of the Super Adventure Box nerf — but the answers we did get are worth a read. So read on!
Interestingly enough, there are a few types of video game music that don’t often pop up in MMORPGs for various reasons. One of these are victory fanfares or mission completion tunes, for obvious reasons. While your standard game might congratulate you for completing a level or winning a single battle, MMOs tend to give you a brief pat on the back for a job well done and send you on to the next task.
Yet this isn’t to say that MMORPGs are completely devoid of victory themes. Every so often I come across one, usually from non-standard titles. I kind of wish we’d get more victory fanfares, to be honest, perhaps after downing a boss or winning a battle by the skin of our teeth.
Prepare to get pumped up and celebrate your mighty accomplishments as we herald them with these themes!