If you haven’t been paying attention to the television market over the past few years, you might have missed the fact that we are in the middle of a revolution of how shows are made and broadcast. Streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, HBO, Disney, and CBS are greenlighting all sorts of fantastic shows with the hopes of strengthening their audience and luring them to these pay-to-watch platforms.
Game of Thrones, Westworld, The Walking Dead, The Defenders, Star Trek Discovery, and Stranger Things are a few examples of how these companies are getting acclaim and major viewership with ambitious projects. Large amounts of money are being thrown around on both the licensing and production of these shows, and companies are frantically looking around for the next big hit. So while Disney is boldly announcing a Star Wars live action TV series, Amazon went to the fantasy equivalent and nabbed a little thing called Lord of the Rings.
Yes indeed. The big news from this past week was that Amazon bought the rights to produce a multi-season Lord of the Rings series. While the exact cost of this deal wasn’t revealed, industry experts estimate that it was somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 to $250 million. No small po-tay-toes any way you look at it. But what will this series mean for our beloved MMORPG? I have a few thoughts about that.
All other studios, it’s time to pack it in: Sea of Thieves has won the Trailer Olympics, at least for 2017.
In Rare’s newest video, the team crams a shipload of awesome into a minute-and-a-half as it challenges gamers to “be more pirate.” While the trailer doesn’t reveal anything new, it does a great job showing off the various activities and demonstrating the overall tone of the game, bouncing from crew teamwork to swimming with sharks to, er, “banana crunching.” Also, a buccaneer throws up on the camera lens. Give that team an award!
OK, it might not be Oscar bait, but this continues to get us completely hyped for Sea of Thieves’ launch in spring 2018. Anyone want to join the crew of the S.S. Mighty MOP?
The use of the word “toon” to describe MMORPG characters is a contentious one, with fans divided over its annoyance or acceptance. But when it came to one MMORPG, it was nothing but proper terminology to call all characters just this.
Toontown Online was one of those “kiddie MMOs” that you probably ignored unless you happen to fall within its demographical clutches back in the day. While it lasted for about a decade, the game’s operation would be notable for its repeated transformation and uncertain status.
With a silly, cartoon-like look and theme, this MMO attempted to bring a levity to a genre that was often marinating in deep fantasy lore and statistical theorycrafting. But when you wanted to eschew dragon fighting for slapstick pie throwing, there was no better game out there. Let’s take a look!
Didn’t get enough of late October’s CitizenCon 2947? Then settle back with a cup of pumpkin space latte and drink in a retrospective straight from the crew over at Star Citizen in this week’s Around the Verse.
In addition to the recap, RSI gave an update on its 3.0 production schedule. The team said that its current focus on Alpha 3.0 fixes is on missions, ships, vehicles, traversal, MobiGlas, performance, and stability. The good news is that the number of remaining issues are “going down” as work progresses, leaving about 15 line items to address.
“This week, we pushed out four builds to the Evocati testers along with fifteen internal builds to the team,” RSI said. “Our primary focus this week was to fix the critical bugs that were affecting stability for the Evocati which prevented them from discovering any other game issues. The team completed Item 2.0 setup on the Mustang and 300 series of ships, came even closer to closing out the cargo system and continued to polish our two primary Mission Givers; Ruto and Miles Eckhart.”
Dungeons and Dragons Online
fans who find themselves scratching their +2 noggins over the different Mists of Ravenloft
pre-order packages now have an ally in their decision-making process.
DDOcast broke down the contents of each of the three expansion offers and assigned a store point value to each item, coming up with a points-per-dollar ratio at the end. It does bear out that the costlier expansion packs offer a better bang for the buck, provided that the customer wants everything in that bundle. Additionally, the crew compared Ravenloft’s packages to the previous expansion’s pre-orders, finding the Shadowfell Conspiracy a better deal on the whole.
But here is one thing that everyone can get for absolutely free: the new Mists of Ravenloft wallpapers. Standing Stone Games posted a series of Strahd wallpapers in different formats for both desktop and mobile backgrounds.
I remember years ago when then-Massively-columnist Rubi Bayer let loose with a blistering rant on the state of faux beta MMOs. She helmed Betawatch back then, see, and she was fed up with (mostly imported) MMOs claiming to be in beta when in fact they’d soft-launched. A lot of readers didn’t understand her fury at the time, but boy have things changed, right? Now, every game’s in on that very old trick, only they call it early access now, while some are still pushing the boundaries, charging $1000 for pre-alpha.
MOP reader Pepperzine proposed a topic for this week’s Massively Overthinking that’s right on point. “I was thinking it would be interesting if we could discuss when people consider a game to be in alpha/beta versus a final launch as a topic,” he wrote to us.
“Back in the day, this was easy to determine. Selective testers were extended invites into beta who were experienced testers who had the computer hardware to handle the software. The primary purpose of being in the testing phase was exactly that, to test and bug report. When the game was made available to the public at a price, a game was considered launched. Now, players are granted access to pre-launch titles by ‘donating’ or purchasing access. For the most part, the primary purpose of participating in the pre-launch experience for these players is not testing or bug reporting but rather to experience and play the game. The division of purchasing a game and donating to test has become so blurred that it is no longer a valid way of determining if a title is at a state to where it is launch ready. These titles can stay in this pre-launch phase for as long as they deem necessary, easily deflecting criticisms by reiterating it is still in development. So when do you consider a game to be launched? Is it when the producers declare it is? Is it when there is no longer the possibility of wipes? Is it when cash shop monetization is implemented? Is it as soon as the company begins selling access?”
Where’s the line in 2017? Let’s dig in.
The handrubbing intrigue over Stephan Frost’s mysterious project at Nexon ramped up this week with the announcement of another member that has signed up with the untitled game.
“Senior Gameplay Engineer Gabe Paramo joined the crew at Nexon OC today. I’m excited to get to work with this guy again,” Frost announced on Twitter yesterday.
According to Paramo’s LinkedIn profile, he came to Nexon from Double Helix Studios at Amazon where he had been working in various roles since 2008.
Frost raised a few eyebrows last month when he left his seemingly cushy position as a World of Warcraft senior design producer to take up shop with Nexon as the creative and game director of a new and unannounced title.
Console players eager to test out the next addition to The Division are finally getting the chance to do so… in small numbers. The game’s console test server has opened up, but while the PC server lets in anyone who wants to test, only a limited number of players are invited in for the console testing. If you’re not one of those lucky souls, well, you’re just out of luck and will have to wait for a full release to experience everything in patch 1.8.
You can, however, check out the patch notes for the test server on the official site either way. There are a lot more ways to get D-Tech now (even outside of the Dark Zone), bugs have been squashed, quality of life has been improved, new restock points have been added to the West Side Pier… you get the idea. There’s no assurance you’ll be able to test all of that on console, but it is coming.
Instead of looking back at MMORPGs this week, the crew of Battle Bards launches forward into early access! What would a show about music from MMOs that aren’t even officially out yet be like? We’re going to find out in this wild and woolly episode!
Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and Player.FM.
Listen to Episode 106: Early access themes (or download it) now:
On this week’s show, Tina joins the crew to talk about the momentous launch of Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire! There’s plenty more for the crew to discuss, too, with a pair of EverQuest expansion announcements, a launch of an underdog MMOARPG, and more!
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.
Listen to the show right now:
Hey, remember the MMO Book Club? That’s the Reddit-and-Discord group that allows members to vote on a game to play, then organizes a guild and events inside that game over the allotted time period, ensuring that folks who want to try out an MMORPG have a ready-made community of likeminded casual people who aren’t going to immediately scamper off to greener pastures. You scamperers, you.
To date, the Club has dipped into Lord of the Rings Online (which we streamed!), WildStar, The Elder Scrolls Online, and TERA, the reigning champ. As the group enters its second half-year, it’s opened the voting once again; that takes place in Discord to avoid brigading.
“The shortlist of games you can vote on to play with the Bookclub now are: Guild Wars 2, Secret World Legends, DC Universe Online, EverQuest, RuneScape, ArcheAge, World of Warcraft and TERA.” (Voting for TERA extends the current cycle another month instead of moving the crew to a new game.)
Earlier this week, we wrote about Black Desert developer Pearl Abyss’ IPO and its grand plans for the future – among them, four additional MMOs. Sounds great, right? Except that the suspicion, at least in our comments, is that Pearl Abyss will just follow in the footsteps of Nexon, NCsoft, and Netmarble in that the games will mobile MMOs and not “real” MMORPGs at all. That may or may not be true; the games have fairly fast turnaround for a full-scale MMORPG, but then the company talked up the BDO engine for future games and expressed great ambition in the MMORPG market in the west and on console.
But the suspicion seems to turn off so many of us — the stigma is real. So for today’s Overthinking, I wanted to dig into that. Do you play mobile MMOs, especially any of the modern crop that are popular in East Asia and then ported here? What keeps you from playing mobile MMOs, and what would you want out of an MMO for a mobile device that would actually make you consider it a home MMORPG?
Let’s introduce you to Trab. Trab is a PC gamer who really enjoys shooting things, so he’s looking forward to some other shooter that recently released on consoles, with a PC release coming later. What is Trab going to do for this weekend? Perhaps he’s going to jump in and play The Division’s free weekend, which is happening this weekend from September 14th through the 17th. There’s lots of stuff to shoot there, and Trab won’t have to wait for a later PC release.
If you’re in the same boat as Trab or just want to try before you buy the game, you can start pre-loading the game now, so you’ll be all charged up when the free weekend kicks off. Your progress will be saved if you buy the game, and there’s even a 60% discount if you buy from Ubisoft directly during the free weekend. That seems like a pretty good deal for anyone with a need to shoot something on PC.