Your favorite game is going to die. I wrote about that. Some games are never even going to get to launching in the first place, unfortunately. But then there are these titles: games that went the distance when it came to development, marketing, promotion, testing… but somehow didn’t quite manage to stick the landing past that. These are the games that, in Transformers terms, are the hi-then-die cast of the MMO space.
That doesn’t always mean the games are bad, mind you. Some of these games were great fun. But through a combination of business model issues, publisher issues, player population, and just general weirdness, these titles couldn’t make it to a year and a half in the wild. Heck, some of them couldn’t even make it to a year and a quarter. And if you want to peruse this list and wonder why all of these titles are gone but Alganon is somehow still operating… well, we’re just as confused as you are.
MMORPG blogger and MOP commenter Isarii (@ethanmacfie) recently published an excellent video positing that the MMO industry is facing a “massive identity crisis.”
“The MMO genre has sort of walked away from the things that made it unique and has faced an identity crisis since then as MMOs have reinvented themselves as these big giant titles trying to appeal to as many people as possible,” he argues. “As a result, you end up with MMOs that try to do things that smaller scale games tend to do better while not doing any of the things that make MMOs themselves unique.”
The whole video is worth a look-and-listen as he pins down what exactly does make MMOs unique and which MMOs have excelled as actual MMOs (protip: It’s everything from EVE to SWG to WoW, so don’t think this is about subgenre elitism at all). What do you think? Is Isarii right? Is the genre facing an identity crisis? And how do we solve it? That’s what our writers will be debating in this week’s Massively Overthinking.
We’ve been speaking with NCsoft West
off the record this week, agitating for publicly printable answers on the Master X Master decision to implement City of Heroes characters
(to the loud outrage of disgruntled City of Heroes
players). But apparently we won’t have to, as some of the answers have been published today.
Lorehound quotes NCsoft MXM Brand Manager Sean Orlikowski as saying that adding Statesman to the MOBA was his personal “passion project for the last two years.”
“I saw it as a way to incorporate a character from a beloved title into our universe. Myself and the producer for MXM were both big fans of City of Heroes (I was more on the CoV side, myself) and we worked together to make sure we got his skills, look, and even his VO right since he’d only ever been voiced for a single sentence of a single trailer in the past. The bottom line for me was that nearly all of NCSOFT’s properties were being represented in the game; Aion, Blade & Soul, Lineage II, WildStar, Guild Wars 2, even Death Knight from the original Lineage MMO are in the game. I wanted the West to have proper representation, so we started brainstorming ideas for Western characters to add to Rytlock and Mondo Zax who were already in development. I made the argument for Statesman because the MXM universe offered a way he could be prominent again, and the rest is history.”
Have you had a chance to pick up and read Richard Garriott’s memoirs yet? Whether or not you have, you might want to check out this interview that the Shroud of the Avatar creator did on his life adventures to date.
Speaking of the in-development MMO, the interviewer pointed out some of the bad reviews that Shroud of the Avatar has garnered so far and asked if the project might not be going as hoped. Garriott replied by saying, “I don’t think so at all. We’ve had naysayers since the beginning. But I think what you’re seeing is a side effect from open development from day one […] Everything was pretty hunky dory until we went up on Steam. Then we found a different type of customer who hadn’t been with us from the beginning. They see that the game looks unfinished, unpolished, with only a few weapons and an obtuse UI and we get a backlash.”
Garriott said that Shroud of the Avatar should officially launch by the middle of 2017.
Ralph the Wonder Llama kicks off today’s community screenshot gallery with a salute to the late, great Tabula Rasa.
“Yes, Tabula Rasa ended up being rushed to market, and many of its features were pretty rough around the edges when the game first released, but this was 2008! Can you imagine what Tabula Rasa would have been like if it had survived and gotten a couple of expansions under its belt? The mind boggles. Here’s a shot of my Grenadier at Foreas Base, taken just a few days before shutdown. You can’t really tell with the helmet on, but I’m pretty sure my character is crying.”
On that happy note, let’s see what else you all have cooked up for us today!
When you’ve lived a life as wacky and full as Ultima creator Richard Garriott, it only stands to reason that you’d probably want to share your stories and lessons with those who aren’t multi-millionaire game designers.
Garriott’s new memoir, Explore/Create, hit the bookshelves this week. The book is co-written by David Fisher and talks about Garriott’s many real-world adventures and his experiences in the games industry. In the book he also talks about how he connected his various interests to game creation, such as his fascination with languages that fed into Tabula Rasa.
In an interview, the Shroud of the Avatar creator said that he and other ex-Origin employees such as Chris Roberts and Warren Spector, still stay in touch and have shared elements between their projects to connect their game worlds. “We all support each other and love each other. Maybe us old Originites might find a way to get back together,” he said.
There are two things to know about Halloween and MMOs. The first is that just about every online game in the known universe puts on a festival or seasonal promotion of some sort, because devs can’t resist the urge to indulge in a return to their childhoods. The second is that pretty much every said event involves some sort of pumpkin-headed scarecrow, because that is apparently the mascot of the holiday now.
Oh, and one more thing to know? Not every MMO Halloween returns from years past due to the sinister and often premature demise of the game. When an MMO goes down, it takes all of its holidays with it, leaving players with only memories of seasonal activities in those games.
In the interest of preserving the efforts that the developers poured into these events and the fondness that some players had for them, today we’re going to take a tour through six holidays from, ahem, buried MMOs.
Seattle claims another MMO dev: TERA
Producer Patrick “Treeshark” Sun
told players that he’s leaving En Masse
“In my stead, Matt ‘Denommenator’ Denomme will take over primary TERA duties, with Spacecats and his team helping out a lot more. You may even see a few more familiar faces step up their involvement in the coming weeks as well. I promise that you all will be in great hands, and I’ll be keeping a close eye on everything as well.”
Sun has worked in the MMORPG industry for over a decade on games including City of Heroes, Guild Wars, Tabula Rasa, and Lineage II during his NCsoft days. “I got the opportunity to start at En Masse back in 2010, when we were still doing focus beta tests and the entire team fit (albeit cramped) in a very, very tiny room,” he writes. “We were still in launch mode at the time, and I still remember getting to showcase TERA at E3 and PAX and meeting all the players excited at the new action MMO they were getting to play. Since then I’ve seen this game through its transition to free, and the launch of multiple content updates since then.”
In happier news, En Masse has announced the start of Halloweeny Night of the Mandragora — tonight, in fact, and running through Tuesday in two-hour chunks.
Unlike fantasy, the sci-fi genre has had a rocky relationship with MMORPGs. While studios have tried just as hard to make and promote them, there seems to be a curse that hovers over some of these games. From the canceled (Earth & Beyond, The Matrix Online, Tabula Rasa) to the radically retinkered (Star Wars Galaxies) to the relatively niche (Anarchy Online), sci-fi has struggled to be seen as relevant and embraced as its bigger brother.
That isn’t to say that these games or the genre is worthless, just that it’s a harder sell in many areas of entertainment. Fortunately, studios haven’t given up on these games, and some of these titles — such as EVE Online or Star Trek Online — have proven that they’re worth pursuing.
Enter PlanetSide, circa 2003. While sci-fi MMOs, multi-faction PvP, and online shooters had been done separately at that point, PlanetSide stepped up to the plate to combine all three into a persistent war on an alien planet. Today we’ll be setting our sights to the far reaches of the galaxy and beyond as we explore one of the more unique MMOs in existence.
Think back to 2007: Statistically, you were probably playing World of Warcraft’s The Burning Crusade, or maybe even Lord of the Rings, Vanguard, or Tabula Rasa, all brand-new that year. Me, I was deep in classic Guild Wars. And some of you maybe have been playing gPotato games like Flyff or Rappelz. I’m not judging you! But I do have some bad news for you all the same: Hacker watchdog Haveibeenpwned.com reports that gPotato suffered a major account data breach in 2007.
“In July 2007, the multiplayer game portal known as gPotato suffered a data breach and over 2 million user accounts were exposed. The site later merged into the Webzen portal where the original accounts still exist today. The exposed data included usernames, email and IP addresses, MD5 hashes and personal attributes such as gender, birth date, physical address and security questions and answers stored in plain text.”
When a beloved MMORPG is canceled, it doesn’t entirely vanish without a trace. After all, there are thousands (if not millions) of eyewitnesses with long memories, screenshot folders filled to the brim, videos, articles, and — of course — music.
The way I see it, the enduring soundtrack is one of the most pure aspects of the late game. It can be enjoyed today the same way it was back then, albeit with fewer visuals and furious mouse-clicking. This orphaned score holds a torch for the game that was by triggering memories and keeping the atmosphere and story beats alive.
Today I’m going to look at great tracks from deceased MMOs, some of which aren’t even that cold in the ground. I’m also going to try not to rehash the most popular (and perhaps overplayed) tunes from these games but instead branch out to others that are terrific if not as recognized.
When the world of private and illegal emulators comes crashing down upon the heads of thousands of gamers, how will they ever express their anguish? Bree and Justin sift through the emotional wreckage of the Nostalrius shutdown during this week’s show, tackling once again the topic of emulators and their place and purpose in the MMO industry.
It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.
It’s finally here! This is truly the holiday I wait for all year, and The Secret World has the MMO event I anticipate all 12 months! And now through the 17th of November I can immerse myself in Halloween done right with an all-new mission that brings together many parts of the past in a whole new way. And it ups the creepy factor of my holiday a few notches.
Called The Seven Silences, this year’s mission is tied to Funcom’s TSW offshoot, The Park. Now, as much as you may want to jump in and experience the new content ASAP, Lead Designer Romain Amiel issued me this warning: “You should really play The Park before you play the Halloween event; storywise, it’ll link better.” He went as far to tease that he’d suspend my account so I didn’t peek! Luckily, there are the previous year’s events to tide me over. If you can resist the urge to jump in, or if you are new to TSW (or simply missed events in previous years due to illness, travel, or not being able to access certain zones), you have the chance to complete The Broadcast, Spooky Stories, and The Cat God now for all the thrills, achievements, and goodies.
Oh man, whom am I kidding: I can’t wait! Holding out until Halloween night to stream The Park is hard enough. I am not going to deprive myself of The Seven Silences as well. So in I go! Here’s a slightly-spoilerish-but-not-a-full-walkthrough guide to get you going. For full spoilers, watch our
Stream Scream Team mission walk through on Thursday, October 29th, at 8:00 p.m. on OPTV.