time travel

Perfect Ten: Time travel in MMORPGs

Over the years, I’ve been fascinated with the concept of time in MMORPGs. It’s one of those things that developers probably don’t want you thinking about too closely, since it could create a crack in the world illusion that they’ve created. But really, how does time work in these games? Are you forever frozen in the same fixed point in history, advancing only to a new era when a patch or expansion releases? Does the timeline advance only as you go through new quests and hit arbitrary milestones?

Even more fascinating is when developers decide to have a little fun with their storytelling by throwing players into the past and future via time travel. It’s not even strictly for science-fiction games, either; plenty of fantasy MMOs work in time travel at one point or the other. It can be a great way of expanding upon the game’s lore and giving players an insight into events that led up to the modern era.

Today we’re going to look at 10 instances of how MMORPGs have used time travel with reckless regard to paradoxes and splintering the world into millions of alternate universes.

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Star Trek Online shows off the rewards for temporal captains in Agents of Yesterday

So let’s break this down very simply. There’s a crisis in the future of Star Trek Online, which is leading agents further in the future to go into the past and recruit agents that come to the present (which is the past for the recruiters) to fight the problem in the future (also the past for the recruiters). Does that make sense to you? Of course not. Time travel is bonkers. But creating a captain of the 23rd century who can become a temporal agent will lead to rewards, and that part of Agents of Yesterday‘s path is very straightforward.

Players who create a new 23rd century captain will be eligible to receive specialized traits and bundles of faction-appropriate marks; progressing far enough through the game’s story arcs with your time-lost captain will even enable you to spread those traits to every character on your account. You’ll also be able to advance through all of the same content that’s existed in Star Trek Online for some time, combining the best of all possible worlds. So get ready to make yourself a temporal agent when the expansion launches, and try not to think too hard about the chronological implications. Down that road lies madness.

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Star Trek Online previews the Temporal Operative primary specialization

The Temporal Operative is the newest primary specialization for player characters in Star Trek Online. Or perhaps it’s the oldest. Things get really wonky when you start diving heavily into time travel, after all; you go to bed thinking everything is fine, then you wake up and find that you already did something to someone you haven’t met yet. And now you can be the person who screws that heavily with the flow of time! Hooray!

Obviously, the game cannot give you actual control over the timestream, but it can allow you to employ all sorts of fun tricks like teleporting and immobilizing enemies who hit you, regenerating your ship’s health while you wheel around in reverse, and warping back to an earlier point in the battle if things start going south. The specialization will be available with the launch of Agents of Yesterday, so you should get ready to see it being used time and again.

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The Daily Grind: Could a time travel MMO work?

A week or so ago, we reported on the release of an eastern title called Dark Era that was largely unremarkable save for the fact that it allowed players to travel to six different eras in time, to meet historical and fictional characters.

Personally, I didn’t hold great hopes for the game, but it cheered me up slightly to see an MMO — any MMO — tackle time travel as a core theme instead of a fun side quest. It also made me wonder if a time travel MMO on a large scale was actually possible. Thematically, Otherland might be the closest we’ll ever get, but it’d be cool to be able to jump through the centuries, from the past to the future, and even dabble in a bit of paradoxes and cause-and-effects.

That’d be a headache to program, of course, and it would always be compared to the perfection that is Chrono Trigger. As a thought exercise, do you think a time travel MMO could work? How so?

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Get your time travel on with Dark Era

While time travel has certainly been done as part of MMO quests, could an entire game revolve around the sci-fi concept? Dark Era, a new title from Game 321, thinks it can indeed.

Launched this past week, Dark Era puts players in the role of Chrono adventurers who can hop through six time eras that span both eastern and western mythos. Stops include 1307 AD with King Arthur in Camelot, 1203 AD with Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest, 629 AD in Emporer Li’s camp and the Tang Dynasty, 44 BC in the Roman Empire, 1174 AD in Ancient Egypt, and 1420 AD with Joan of Arc in France. The game offers three classes and can be played through a browser or a client.

Check out the trailer after the break and see if this could be a quirky gaming possibility for your weekend!

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LOTRO’s 2016 roadmap

Everyone always wants to know what’s coming next for their favorite game. As Lord of the Rings Online players are nearing the cusp of Mordor itself, it’s understandable that there are many questions that are out there concerning the game’s future.

Enter the 2016 producer’s letter, with the team discussing the “major initiatives” that are planned for the new year. On the deck for the game is the move to the new datacenter (which was delayed from 2015), a level cap increase to 105, more instances, a 12-player raid, and the start of a collection system.

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Lineage II goes Underground on October 14

Suit up, Lineage II players, because you’re about to embark on your most amazing adventure yet.

On October 14th, NCsoft will be releasing the game’s Underground update. Underground not only continues the year-long storyline that began back in April, but adds one of the most intriguing locales in the game: the Mystic Tavern. This bar not only serves excellent ale but also the ability for parties to travel back in time and experience three of the game world’s most historic moments first-hand.

The patch also includes a revamp of Lineage II’s soul crystal system. Korea, which is ahead of the eastern version, already put out the second part of the Underground update called Hymn of the Soul.

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The Daily Grind: What MMO would you tell your younger self about?

If I could travel back in time and talk with Past Eliot in the year 2000, I would… well, actually, I would tell him lots of stuff, none of which is particularly relevant to this site. But if I could only tell him about video games for some reason, you’d better believe I would be telling him about Final Fantasy XIV. And he would inform me that MMOs are dumb and boring and that I should go away, and I would laugh bitterly and tell him what he’s been doing for a living for six years.

Past me is in for interesting surprises.

Let’s say you had a similarly limited portal to the past for some reason. What would you tell your past self about? What game would merit a mention? City of Heroes? Guild Wars 2? What sort of game would you have even been interested in when you were that much younger? What game would you tell your younger self about?

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