Even though there are hundreds and thousands of MMOs spanning several decades, only a small handful were so incredibly influential that they changed the course of development for games from then on out. DikuMUD is one of these games, and it is responsible for more of what you experience in your current MMOs than you even know.
Of course, that doesn't mean everyone knows what DikuMUD is or how it shaped the MMOs that came out after it. You might have seen it used as a pejorative in enough comments that you know it is loathed by many gamers, but I find that there are varying degrees of ignorance about DikuMUD in the community. What is it, exactly? Why is it just the worst? And is it really the worst if we like the games that can point to this text-based MMO as a key ancestor?
Today we're going to dispel the mystery and myths of DikuMUD to lay it out there as it was and is today.
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 Destiny, Eternal Crusade, Elder Scrolls Legends, Hearthstone, Pokemon Go, MU Legend, Lineage II, ARK, Ultima Online, Sword of Shadows, Ghost Recon Wildlands, Ragnarok Online, Heroes and Generals, Elsword, and Dota 2, all waiting for you after the break!
Did you realize before you saw this headline that the granddaddy of all graphical MMORPGs is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year? Yes, we are all that old, but it's not necessarily a bad thing.
This week's Ultima Online newsletter is short but packs a punch. The team reports that it has loaded Publish 97 onto the test servers with a huge focus on animal taming and pets. There are a ton of new pets to gather, including dinos, beetles, and dragon wolves.
The Ultima Online team is planning a 20th anniversary celebration in meatspace this September in Virginia, but if you can't make it, there's plenty of in-game surprises coming too.
Producer Bonnie Armstrong teased what's coming later this year: "We are starting the planning stage for Publish 98 that includes a 20th Anniversary Event arc, Halloween, and Anniversary rewards [...] One small teaser I will announce is one of the new items we are offering for the 20th Anniversary -- a jewelry box!"
Blogger Tobold recently wrote a provocative piece on social play in MMOs, as pointed out to us by our dear tipster Sally. In a piece cheekily titled "Why I can live without other players in my games," he writes that far from being the foundation or glue of MMOs, guilds are actually one of the worst bits of the genre, being platforms for selfishness and drama.
"Guilds were never designed for positive social interaction, they were always a means to an end of individual character progress. You needed those other people to get the most powerful gear in the game. And the way there wasn't exactly a constant stream of friendship and happiness. Look at what MMORPG blog posts have been mostly about when talking about their guilds: First people complain if others aren't investing as much as they do and become a hindrance to killing raid bosses, and then when the raid boss is finally dead they complain that somebody else got the loot."
"The people most loudly complaining about the lack of other players being forced to play with them," he finishes with a zinger that resonated most for me, "are the kind of people with the most predatory play styles."
I've presented Tobold's piece to our writers for this week's Overthinking. Do they -- and you -- agree with his thesis? Let's Overthink it.
Even if you can overlook the expense, the current lack of games, the potential for nausea, and the annoyance of wearing a clamshell on your sweaty face, virtual reality has a looming problem: trolls.
Turns out that the same internet jerks who ruin online spaces and games via text and avatar show up to do the same in virtual reality too.
As MIT Technology Review wrote yesterday, part of the point of socializing in virtual worlds is to feel the "presence" of other people -- but the very benefit that makes "virtual reality so compelling also makes awkward or hostile interactions with other people much more jarring," such as when people invade your private space or try to touch your avatar without permission.
The publication highlights AltSpaceVR, a startup building tools to help people deal with trolls. The company has some of the basics already -- like a way to make obnoxious people invisible with a block -- but it's also working on a "personal space bubble" to stop people from groping your virtual self without permission, which they would otherwise do because people are gross and have no shame.
Wanna feel really old? Ultima Online is turning 20 this year. Another year and it can legally drink!
Broadsword is throwing a real-world party for the anniversary event on September 22nd and 23rd in Herndon, Virginia, just outside of Washington, DC. The studio is asking fans to register for the event in order to help it determine the scope of the room rate block required. Admission is free.
Food, guest speakers, an Ultima Online panel, raffle, mixer, BBQ, and trivial contests are all on the agenda.
Anybody thinking of going?
During the first couple of years I played MMORPGs, I was a pretty timid gamer in terms of my comfort zone for actual content. It took me a good while (and a lot of pressure from guildies) to mentally gear up to kill people and cut off their heads for my collection in Ultima Online. In EverQuest, I picked an alt to force myself to practice pulling (pulling was more of a skilled thing back then). In Camelot, my puller was my main. And by World of Warcraft, I was main tanking for my guild. (She's up in the screenie above, circa 2004. D'awww.)
It seems like a silly progression now, I'm sure, but I had to force myself to play out of my comfort zone to get good at new things -- and to appreciate them. Now, in my two main MMOs, I'm playing up-close-and-personal tanky melee as a matter of habit, when as a teenager I would have made a beeline for the nearest healer class to hide. (Although I still like healers too!)
How about you? How often do you play outside your comfort zone in MMORPGs?
Personally, I prefer science fiction over fantasy nine times out of ten, even though most of the MMOs that grace my desktop are fantasy games. Sci-fi has had an awfully difficult time making headway into the field of MMOs, with plenty of underperforming or canceled titles littering the way. I've heard it explained that the fantasy genre is easier for the common person to grasp because it uses elements of our past -- primarily the medieval period -- to provide a familiar baseline, whereas sci-fi's futuristic setting requires world-building from scratch.
Whatever the case may be, Earth & Beyond never really caught on the way that EVE Online did just a couple of years later, and its miniscule population was not enough for Electronic Arts to keep it running. But between 2002 and 2004, Earth & Beyond reached for the stars and gave its own spin on how a space-faring MMO could work. Let's take a look today at what made Earth & Beyond unique, what it gave the industry, and how it may help upcoming space MMOs avoid a similar fate.
As one of Massively OP's resident modding nuts, I am drawn to MMORPGs that offer plugin support and modding APIs. World of Warcraft's modding was a whole secondary game for me, not just playing with other people's work but cobbling together my own (pieces of junk that don't remotely compare to the pros' -- I know my limits!). Lord of the Rings Online, EverQuest II, and Ultima Online likewise helped feed my urges, as did classic Guild Wars and City of Heroes (though that was all unofficial).
Now, I have The Elder Scrolls Online's plugin community to keep me busy, and while it's no single-player modding folder monstrosity (hundreds of gigs of files across the three big TES games!), it's still fun!
But I was reminded the other day that there are some mods that are still pariahs in the MMORPG community when commenters joked that gearscore addons are worse than murder and slavery.
So, do you use plugins for your MMORPG? If not, is it because you have something against plugins or because the game doesn't properly support them?
Ages ago on the MMORPG subreddit, a player made a bold statement: MMORPGs are designed for low-skill gamers.
"I remember being dazzled by EverQuest and Ultima as a child," he wrote, reminiscing about his memory of high difficulty old-school games. "I recently loaded up [Star Wars: The Old Republic] again, and I'm shocked. Piss easy. Everything. XP falling from the sky. Mobs dead in one GCD. Brainless. The same reason I quite every MMO. I never meet people, I never feel challenged. I just feel bored. 'Wait till endgame' isn't gonna cut it anymore. I'm over it. I'm done. I feel like I'm just hitting the 'Reward' button again and again and again, solitary and alone, like a stupid little rat in the cage." He then basically blames the perceived shift of the genre on people who don't want games to be "like a job": "The genre just seems to be fueled by mediocre, anti-social "consumers."
I wanted to pull this back out to see whether our staff and writers agree with the claims -- and whether we all have some advice for this fan, who concludes his rant by asking people to change his mind. Howsabout it, Overthinking fans?
MMOs, like any other hobby, have their own terminology. We have the term "newb" for new players, "noob" for players who aren't actually new but still make new player mistakes, and "n00b" if you want to sound like an insufferable weirdo from the aughts. But we also have a lot of terminology that just plain doesn't work any more for a variety of reasons, like "pay-to-win" and "hardcore" and so forth.
That does not, however, mean that we do not need our specialized terminology. Indeed, while some of our older vocabulary is not up to the tasks of modern games, I think a great deal could be accomplished just by adding some new words to our lexicon. So let's create some brand-new terms (or codify existing ones) so that we can, in fact, have shared words to describe scenarios that we encounter on a regular basis.
Ready for sappy questlines, particle effects that look like hearts, and lots -- and I do mean lots -- of pink? Valentine's day has arrived in the real world and many of the pretend worlds inside MMORPGs (for some reason). And who are we to fuss when the events are all about candy and cheap romance? Nobody, that's who. Read on for our guide to Valentine's Day around the MMORPG verse!
Are wedding bells ringing for you and your virtual significant other? Ultima Online wants to whisk you away to the event of your dreams with its new wedding package in the store. This set includes all of the decorations and outfits needed to put on a memorable event, including (and this is quite important) a buffet table.
The wedding package is part of this week's Publish 96, which has gone live on the servers. The patch also increased the challenge (and rewards) of the Doom Gauntlet, just in case you were getting too comfortable being such an elite player.
The team said that there is much more to come with the next update: "We are well underway working on Publish 97. The major feature release for Pub 97 is the long-anticipated pet revamp. More details will be available as we move through the development process, up front I can tell you we have new creatures to tame, new ways to train and customize pets, and new viable options for pets beyond just a greater dragon!"