So you’re tired of visiting far-flung post-apoc space stations, fantasy ghost castles, underground slime lairs, and zombie grottos on Mars. What’s next? How about… Earth?
Aussie MMO Virtual Earth Online may be up to that challenge, at least if you can handle the graphic style. It looks like a mash-up of Minecraft and Second Life, with the whole world (even, apparently, your house) built out with voxels. Developer Gavin McDonald told us that building mats were on the docket for insertion over the weekend and the game has just gotten a new graphics engine after six years of development (it was Greenlit back when that was still a thing). While the original game is properly an MMORPG, or perhaps a massive online virtual world, a new single player survival mode is also rolling out (check out the video of that in action down below).
The game appears to be freely downloadable, but the trading post is offering microtransaction buildings and items for as little as 5 cents.
MMORPG veteran Raph Koster went on a glorious Twitter tear last week, and I’m sure some of you can relate. In response to a thinkpiece on augmented reality, Koster argues that AR developers are worried about the wrong things – they’re worried about the tech and not putting sufficient effort or research into social systems.
“The essay skates over this in one paragraph saying, ‘It’s sort of like an MMO,’ but that’s wrong. It is an MMO, in every single way. Make no mistake, a mirror world is just an MMO server with phones as avatars. That means every social pattern you ever saw in an MMO will be present, from the WoW plagues to the client hacks to the parties killing monsters to debates over who owns what slice of virtual land to yes, harassment reporting and godlike gamemasters who effectively police the space with panopticon level awareness of history. Those servers will swallow activity, not just point clouds, to a degree beyond what people fear now with stuff like maps apps tracking your location.”
“Frankly, just about no AR people I have met grasp that this is what they are building,” he concludes, suggesting it’s a “terrifying” notion that developers aren’t learning from the lessons taught by games like “Habitat, LambdaMOO, Ultima Online, EVE Online, Second Life, [and] Habbo Hotel,” which already laid the groundwork for how virtual worlds work (and don’t) when players run amok.
I’ve got your picture of me and you
You wrote “I love you,” I love you too
I sit there staring and there’s nothing else to do
We’ve all been there when a “good” Japanese demon of legend has a legit crush on one of the leaders of the Illuminati. How else to express that unrequited love than with a commissioned painting and some headless mannequins?
“In honor of Secret World Legends’ Kristen Geary,” posted reader Koshelkin. This is exactly how court restraining orders get started.
Let’s face it: There isn’t really a huge pool of MMORPGs from the 1990s to explore in this column. By now I have done most of them, including some of the more obscure titles. Yet there has always been this one game that I have shied away from covering, even though it (a) was an actual MMO from the ’90s and (b) is still operating even today. And that game is, of course, Furcadia.
So why my reluctance? To be honest, I suppose it was my reluctance to tackle anything in the “furry” fandom without knowing how to handle it. I don’t quite get the fascination with wanting to pretend to be an animal, and some of the expressions that I’ve seen in the news and online from this community have made me uncomfortable. Thus I kept away because I was worried that a piece that I wrote on Furcadia would devolve into a nonstop stream of jokes to cover that personal disquiet.
But I’ve tiptoed around this MMO long enough, and I have come to realize that there is virtue in earnestly trying to understand a subculture that is outside of my bubble, even if I don’t end up appreciating or liking it. Casting off preconceptions and simple snark, let us take a look at this unique title and see what it has to offer for the larger genre.
Earlier this week, MOP’s Justin expressed frustration over lockboxes, feeling especially provoked. “As both a player and a journalist, I find it insulting when an MMO studio wants me to get excited about its lockboxes,” he tweeted. “They are poison.”
MOP reader and gamer Iain (@ossianos) wants to hear more about poison! “I’d be interested to read an article on your thoughts, and those of the MassivelyOP staff, on how MMOs could otherwise make money,” he tweeted back.
Challenge accepted! And perfectly timed for this week’s Massively Overthinking topic. Imagine (or just remember) a world without lockboxes. How would MMOs and other online games survive without lockboxes here in 2017? What should they be doing instead, and what might they have to do when the inevitable gachapon regulation comes westward?
We’re willing to bet that some of you visit Massively OP because you are keeping an eye out for new conquests: games you have never heard of, hidden titles that beg to be brought to your attention. Well, today is that day because we have a list of five MMOs for you to check out and see if they warrant your attention and devotion.
The list begins with Metin2, an Asian martial arts MMO chock-full of wicked fighting moves, demon lords, and Chinese aesthetics. Another free Steam game to check out might be Orake, a 2-D MMO that looks like it would be at home in 1997.
The creators of Second Life have made a sequel of sorts with Sansar. This virtual world is a build-anything, do-anything sandbox, and Kotaku has a hands-on with the closed beta. It should be available in open beta testing later this summer.
The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
This week we have stories and videos from MechWarrior Online, Guild Wars 2, EverQuest II, Cabal Online, EVE Valkyrie, Paragon, Second Life, Luna Online, Atelier Online, Final Fantasy XI, Legend of Ancient Sword Online, No Man’s Sky, Heroes of the Storm, Art of Conquest, Dreadnought, Overwatch, SINoALICE, Blade and Soul, Pokemon Go, and Eternal Crusade, all waiting for you after the break!
If Second Life had a mascot, other than a pile of soiled sex toys, it might just be Ozimals. These are adorable little bunnies that can be bred to produce all kinds of rare and interesting patterns and could interact with AI scripts. There’s apparently been a thriving industry and subculture raging around these fluffy hareballs that’s involved marketplaces and real-world money.
Well all of that activity — and many of the Ozimals themselves — is coming to a sad end today. Earlier this week, the operator of Ozimals received a cease-and-desist letter ordering the market to be shut down. It turns out that the bunnies were cobbled together using intellectual property from different owners, leaving the critters vulnerable to such legal maneuvering.
I’m certain I’m not alone in having been ill and injured several times over my life, once when I couldn’t walk without considerable effort and crutches for many months thanks to a busted ankle — and online games were a window to the world for me during each of those times, even more so than they are now.
Now imagine that you’re permanently disabled — or maybe you already are. That’s the topic of a Backchannel article published last week on 2003 virtual world Second Life. Author Kristen French dug into the apparently large — estimates begin at 20% of the game’s 800,000 monthly active users — disabled community in the “hugely profitable” Second Life world, where activists run social groups and events for people with everything from mobility issues to speech and hearing disorders and even autism.
Of note, one of the players profiled in the piece is getting more than comfort.
A few weeks ago, the Massively OP writers were hanging in the news room on a tear about mohawks. We’re not against mohawks. Mohawks are cool. But when we open up a character creator and see 50 different types of mohawks and little else? Not cool — just lazy.
So it’s with excitement that I pass along this City of Titans forum piece that profiles Hunter Robins, the 3D developer working on the indie superhero game’s hairstyles, who says he got into game design after catching the team’s eye with his self-taught Sims modding, which he eventually turned into a revenue stream in Second Life, and then into ARK: Survival Evolved modding.
“My job is to deliver a set of quality hairstyles to give the player a variety to choose from, hoping to guarantee at least one they will really enjoy,” he writes.
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?
“Two things I did on Hallows Night: / Made my house April-clear / Left open wide my door / to the ghosts of the year.” ~ “All Hollows Night” by Lizette Woodworth Reese
Is your door open to the ghosts and ghouls of MMORPGs this season? They are definitely shambling up your walkway, looking to tell you of the grim delights of the holiday in your favorite online games. Indeed, Halloween season is upon us, which means that MMOs have an excuse to break out their favorite yearly festivities.
With so much to look at and do, you might be in a terrible fright trying to figure out what to do first. We consulted our Massively OP gravedigger Bram (he’s on retainer), who offers surprisingly good advice for sorting out the Halloween season in MMOs and getting the most out of the holiday. We recorded his words in this guide, although beware to the soul that reads them all — Bram might be seeing you before the week is up. MUAHAHAHA.
There are always going to be differences in opinion about what should be done with an IP based upon a franchise. That’s just natural. The same core universe could be used to make a sprawling sandbox with weak combat but a robust non-combat market and profession system, or it could be used to make a combat-focused experience that focuses on energetic fights, nifty story moments, and little else. In both cases, even if you don’t like the end result, you can understand exactly why the IP was used for this.
Our column today is not about those games. No, this is about games that completely failed to make use of their licenses to IPs, produced totles that did not in any way logically follow from the license that was given, or otherwise took pure gold and turned it into something… less than gold. There’s room to debate whether some of these IPs would ever make good MMOs, but boy, the uses we have were pretty bad.