When it comes to text-based MMOs created in the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s, the sheer number of them would blot out the sky. There are certainly more multi-user dungeons (MUDs) than I’ve ever been able to get a handle on when I’ve tried creating lists of the most important to know, but I will say that there are a few that seem to pop up more than others. The original MUD1, created by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw, was certainly a watershed moment for online roleplaying games. Learning about DikuMUD is pretty essential, considering its impact on graphical MMORPGs that we still play today.
But there’s another title that often goes unnoticed, unless you keep an eye out for it. It’s a MUD that keeps popping up when you look into the history of the MMORPG genre, one with ties to key players and design concepts that are still active today.
It’s the MUD that shaped the MMO industry, and it was called Sceptre of Goth.
I’ve been playing a lot of Ultima Online the past few weeks, but so many times I’ll be doing something that is objectively tedious (like taming or shuttling boxes of junk loot to the community trash box to turn in for points) and realize it and think to myself there is no freakin’ way that anyone who started playing MMOs in the last decade would put up with some of the quirks and conventions of the game. That’s no judgment on gamers, just the realization that it’s probably way too late to get into now if you’ve grown up under altogether different game design systems.
It’s not the only MMO I feel that way about; I’ve often felt that EverQuest II was too opaque and convoluted to return to, and oddly enough World of Warcraft has felt that way to me since Draenor.
Are there any MMOs you think are just too late to start playing?
Last week, a guildie of mine mentioned that he’d been interested in Crowfall until he realized he couldn’t be a gerbil (Guineacean) of the class of his choosing. It was a total coincidence that the Crowfall devs had literally that same week announced they were nuking their race/class-locked archetype system and disentangling races and classes, so I got to tell him his wish had been granted.
I think this pushes the game more solidly into MMORPG territory, so I’m happy to see it: More customization and choice and variety is what I’m all about. But I was going to play it before, too. For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’m presenting the idea of locked vs. unlocked archetypes to our staff to mull over. How important is it to you to be able to play any race/class combo in a game? Is it something you see as critical to MMORPGs? Is archetype-locking more the domain of MOBAs and ARPGs? When do you let it slide to play a fun game?
EverQuest II recently introduced a new feature with the release of GU103 back on May 10th called the Proving Grounds. That place is no joke. I can assure you that it is pretty aptly named; this little instance is all about showing you and your group what you are made of.
When this feature was first announced, I was pretty excited. Who doesn’t like new content, especially something with replayability? It sounded fun. Initially I had thought (hoped?) that the new Proving Grounds content would be a feature enjoyable by the majority of the population. What I learned — quite quickly — was that my hopes and reality were two very different things. And I learned that the hard way. Hard as in double-digit-death-counter hard. Instead of sinking my teeth into this content, it sunk its teeth into me! Now that’s not necessarily a problem. I enjoy a challenge, and I do so look forward to conquering this one and exacting some revenge. However, I just wish my first experiences with the Proving Grounds didn’t come with more disappointment and frustration than fun because I do think it’s a good idea filled with promise. Read more
If you’re looking for the authentic classic MMO experience, shouldn’t a rough launch be part of it? That’s kind of the sour joke you hear being said concerning the start of EverQuest’s Agnarr progression server. Agnarr opened its doors yesterday to a crowd eager for a time-arrested experience, and yet was immediately besieged by crashes, broken character creation, zone lockouts, queues, and an allegedly rampant duping situation.
The dev team continued to post updates on the forums concerning some of the issues: “The enormous number of players attempting to create characters on Agnarr is straining our systems. We are currently managing the heavy load with a reduced maximum population cap, which we are increasing manually as players get through character creation and into the world.”
When it comes to EverQuest, it turns out you can go back again — over and over again, in fact. This fantasy MMO has earned a reputation for launching and operating progression servers, and a new one is unlocking for the populace today: Agnarr.
So why a new progression server? What sets Agnarr apart from EQ’s other time-locked shards is that Agnarr will only progress through content to a certain point and then stop then and forevermore, giving the community a “classic” server that is forever arrested at 2003. This means that by the middle of next year, the core game through Lost Dungeons of Norrath will be released and then nothing more. This is obviously aimed at players who want a more old-school experience without all of the later additions.
With the Vanguard scattered to the interstellar wind in Destiny 2, it will be up to player characters to travel to different planets in an attempt to rally them back together. This means new worlds, new maps, and new places to explore.
“Now you can actually go from one planet to another planet without going into orbit first,” the team said in a video. “We want to remove as many barriers as we can between your gun and the enemy’s face.”
The team promised that all of the maps will have a lot more in the way of secrets and treasure for the attentive explorer. These locales include the European Dead Zone, the methane oceans of Titan, a planetoid named Nessus, and Io.
Check it out after the break!
Last week Daybreak pulled a switcheroo (or more accurately, didn’t switch!), keeping the Felwith map in EQII’s new Proving Grounds instead of changing. But Massively OP’s MJ wanted pirates, and she still wants pirates. Today, she gets pirates! She’s heading back in to the sure-to-be punishing instance to show off the second map in this new feature. How far will her group get this time? Tune in live at 9:00 p.m. for a look at the Battle on the High Seas.
What: EverQuest II
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 9:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017
If you haven’t hopped back into EverQuest II since the launch of The Menagerie update earlier this month, you might want to do it today: Today is the very last day to redeem a free level 100 character boost for an existing or brand-new toon. All accounts that existed before April 20th can log in and grab the boost (and its concomitant 320 AAs and properly leveled gear) for nothing; accounts newer than that will need to sub first. The promo runs out at 3 a.m. EDT tomorrow morning (midnight tonight PDT).
MOP’s Stream Team recently hopped back into the game to check out the newly introduced Proving Grounds; you can see that below!
See if you can follow the chain of progression here. In APB Reloaded’s most recent dev diary, the team says that it’s about done ironing out issues and fighting DDoS attacks in its console versions (problems that have been going on since early April). Once that is done, the devs want to bring some of these improvements and optimizations to the PC and figure the best way to do that is… by creating a new game mode. Because stress testing or something?
Honestly, it sounds like they’re trying hard to emulate the popularity of other titles: “Seeing the success of Battlegrounds and H1Z1 survival mode, we realized we have almost all the ingredients in APB to create a gangland survival game, and we want to your help to make this event as fun as possible.”
Jump on that survival bandwagon! If the proposed event is popular enough, APB hopes to incorporate it as a regular game mode following the summer.
There’s some positive word-of-mouth bubbling out about this summer’s Wonder Woman feature film, which, if true, would be a boon to the bruised DC movie franchise. While the film is set during World War I, the team over at DC Universe Online
is preparing its own retro story, this one set during World War II.
The Age of Justice update is scheduled to arrive globally on June 1st, teleporting players back to the beginning of the Justice Society of America in the 1940s. Alternate histories will be explored, including a time-ravaged Area 51 and a European village under the thumb of Axis leader Baron Von Savage. There will also be plenty of four- and eight-player instances to overcome.
Free players who are not subscribers and haven’t purchased the episode will be treated to a one-month preview of the war-torn village map with limited rewards. Speaking of rewards, there are several “time-torn energy” styles and gear sets, as well as base items, feats, and titles.
Ever since the tone-deaf SOE proclamation that nobody wanted to play Uncle Owen in an MMORPG, contrary me has consciously fought that very stupid idea. A whole lot of people wanted to play Uncle Owen, then and now, there and elsewhere. Star Wars Galaxies was a game half full of Uncle Owens. I spent a lot of time literally becoming a moisture farmer as my own form of rebellion. And yet, as I realized while debating with my husband a few weeks ago, the person I really wanted to be was freakin’ Lando. And most MMORPGs don’t allow that either — it’s Luke or GTFO.
Such is the argument made by a recent PC Gamer article, which in its own precious mainstream way argues that “MMOs need to let you be an average Joe” to get out of the clear “creative slump” they’re in.
“With their scale and permanence, MMOs give us the chance to be citizens in a make-believe world we create with the help of our fellow players. When it’s left up to us what kind of role we want to fill in that world, everybody’s immersion benefits from being surrounded by all types of characters with vastly different stories.”
For this week’s Overthinking, I asked the staff to chime in on the concept of Uncle Owen in MMORPGs. Do you play this way? Do you wish you could? And is it the way forward?
H1Z1: King of the Kill has gotten lots of love from Daybreak this week with the release of a brand-new update as teased last month; it includes major improvements for combat, lag, hit registration, line of sight, and shotguns, plus three new points of interest on the Pleasant Valley map.
The update also sees the return of skirmish matches, weekend affairs whose rules switch up on rotation. “The inventory screen and crafting system have also been simplified, resulting in a more accessible and user-friendly experience,” says Daybreak. “The crate screen has also been reworked providing a more streamlined menu, where players can view all of their crates in one place.”
Check out the dev video down below — anybody still playing in with the zombies?