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See: Ultima Online

Legends of Aria faces down closed beta testing

Ultima Online spiritual successor Legends of Aria is preparing to go through a major transition over the new year as it winds down its crowdfunding campaign and gears up for closed beta testing.

The team announced that it will stop selling founder’s packs on December 29th and transition to selling pre-orders instead. Fans are advised to buy into the packs now if they want any of the crowdfunding tier rewards, especially physical items.

Far more exciting is Legends of Aria’s 2018 development roadmap, which kicks off with Closed Beta 1 on January 15th. This first test will add a new adventure area, two cities, re-open the catacombs, and add in a notoriety system.

Past that is March and Closed Beta 2, which will focus on the new player experience and a whole lot of polish. Then, if all goes well, Steam early access will follow in April 2018. Exciting times we live in for sure!

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MMOs you’ve never heard of: Rogalia, Lazarus, Dead Maze, We Ride, and SOS

Welcome back to our intermittent series on MMOs and other multiplayer games you you’ve never heard of! Let’s run down five more floating to the top of the pile this month.

Rogalia

First up is a Russian indie MMO called Rogalia that I first heard of thanks to former Massively columnist Jeremy Stratton (heya Jeremy!). It’s cute and cartoony and will definitely appeal to old-school isometric sandbox players with its crisp cartoon graphics and detailed UI. Combine all that with the gameplay and it’ll remind you more of Ultima Online than most games that namedrop it! It’s currently $12 on Steam, though it’s set to launch out of early access at some point this month, when the price will likely increase.

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Perfect Ten: 20 upcoming MMOs to watch in 2018

It has become a long-standing tradition as Massively OP and our former site that we like to end the year by creating a list of titles that we anticipate for the coming one. It has always been a devilish list to create, full of loose dates and fast guesswork about which titles will and won’t be releasing during a 12-month window (just read last year’s list to see how spot-on I was).

This year we’re changing things up a bit by tossing out the qualifying factor of “will see a hard launch in 2018.” Instead, I drafted up a list of 20 MMOs that have the potential to do or be really interesting next year, whether that be a launch, a long-anticipated beta test, or some other significant development. Plus, hey, you get 20 for the price of 10, so no complaining now!

As an aside, this list isn’t going to cover some other exciting-looking multiplayer games that are arriving in 2018, like Sea of ThievesThe Crew 2Monster Hunter WorldDayZRed Dead Redemption 2Stardew Valley, Conan Exiles, and State of Decay 2. And you old school fans won’t want to forget that Ultima Online has a new free-to-play option coming this spring.

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Massively Overthinking: Taking risks in MMORPGs

Last weekend, Brendan wrote a great column on how to stay safe from gankers in EVE Online, noting that the newbies are commonly given what he considers bad advice to just stay in high-sec; indeed, he smartly quoted Shedd: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”

The article prompted a discussion in our work chat about risk-taking in MMORPGs. “After every one of Brendan’s (excellent!) tips, I keep mentally adding, ‘or alternatively, don’t play EVE,'” Eliot joked. And they’re both right. If you’re dead-set on being a “ship” in the risky gameworld of New Eden, staying in “harbor” defeats the purpose of playing EVE. But this is a real world where you don’t have to be a ship – you don’t have to play EVE. You don’t have to risk it all just for some pixel gratification.

For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked the writing staff to dish on risk-taking, in EVE or elsewhere. Are they into it? What kinds of risks are they willing to take, PvE or PvP? What do they think about risk-vs.-reward in MMOs?

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Exclusive: Indie sandbox El Somni Quas state-of-the-game dev diary

It’s been a hot minute since we heard from El Somni Quas, the indie sandbox from a Czech studio that cut its teeth on Ultima Online emulators and is porting its ideas into its own game with 3-D sensibilities. There are two reasons for that, as developers Jiří Wallenfels and Zbyněk Juračka explain.

“We have promised to produce a functional alpha test till the end of the year, so we are trying to finish off individual steps needed for launching the first gaming client,” the team says. “Secondly, regarding the world, not that many things are being built to create new scenes. We’re trying to perfect the scenes already built; the roads, rivers and most of all, we are trying to maximize FPS. Right now, we’re writing from our ESQ team meeting in Prague, trying to optimize the next steps.”

Wallenfels has kindly granted Massively OP another exclusive dev diary that’s a sneak peak into the current state of the game. We’ve included the whole piece down below!

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 145: Farewell Marvel Heroes and Master X Master

On this week’s show, Justin and Bree bid a sad farewell to Marvel Heroes (and Master X Master while we’re at it). It’s not all depressing news; Secret World Legends is killing it, there’s a new Path of Exile expansion, and Guild Wars 2’s fourth living world season is on its way.

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:

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The Daily Grind: Do you want to see the return of experience-loss-on-death in MMORPGs?

Last week, I mentioned experience-loss-on-death in EverQuest that was particularly irritating when caused by so-called GM events. Yes, that was in the long long ago, and even annoying stepping stones like vitae penalty are far in the past. Even Ultima Online penalizes only your title of nobility when you fall. Modern MMORPGs simply don’t diminish your character that way when you die anymore. It’s obnoxious and silly in a gameworld where you have little control over things like lag, trains, and flaky group members.

And yet something my husband mentioned last night reminded me that other games do still punish you for failure, including games like Overwatch, where your rank (and your recent wins and losses) determine your future placement. As he pointed out to me, when he loses enough to slip down a tier numerically, the game gives him five more losses before stripping his rank entirely. This annoys me, and I don’t even play.

It sounds incredibly antiquated, but for ranked non-MMO games, I suppose it makes some sense. But maybe it’s just me. Would you want to see the return of experience-loss-on-death in MMORPGs?

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The Daily Grind: Are you thinking of WoW Classic as a totally new MMO?

Early on in all the WoW Classic hoopla, I’d been thinking of World of Warcraft legacy servers as the sort of gimmick servers that a lot of older games put up. Ultima Online, EverQuest, RuneScape – their hardcore servers, progression servers, old-school servers are sort of sideshows, literally, to the “real” game in the center ring.

But the day the Classic WoW subreddit went up and I watched the playerbase neatly conduct its semi-orderly self-partition, my thinking changed, such that I don’t really think it’s just a gimmick anymore. WoW Classic is going to be a whole new game. I’m not even sure Blizzard realizes it yet, given how weird and slapdash the BlizzCon announcement was, but if WoW Classic releases in the next couple of years, it’ll easily be one of the largest and most successful “new” AAA MMORPGs to come out in quite a while. It’ll be up there with AIR and New World. That’s a sobering thought – but maybe not all that surprising.

Are you thinking of WoW Classic as a totally new MMO? How will you be approaching it?

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Leaderboard: What do you expect out of live MMORPG events in 2017?

Earlier this month, Black Desert GMs ran a live in-game event. I was super excited to hear about something like that in a newer MMORPG until I saw some of the complaints. Apparently, the event amounted to a “mysterious stranger” played by what I assume is a GM, who arrived on Valencia 6 and started “gathering souls,” i.e., murdering everyone in sight with a scythe, until players took him down.

To me, that’s not really a live event. That’s the sort of obnoxious thing GMs used to do in classic EverQuest, inhabit sand giants and just start massacring newbs (less funny back when deaths cost you experience).

I’m jaded; I’ve seen live events in Ultima Online for so long that my bar is way higher than just powertripping GMs on a god character. I expect a long-running storyline, discussion, choices, a purpose to the interaction that elevates it above, well, a world boss. What do you expect out of live MMORPG events in 2017?

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The Daily Grind: How old should an MMO be to consider classic servers?

Last week, Justin and I were chit-chatting about legacy servers in MMORPGs when he said that Trion should really get moving on classic servers for RIFT. My first reaction was what, really, that game is way too young to need vanilla servers! But then I remembered playing on Ultima Online emulators within a year or two of launch. RIFT, which came out in 2011, isn’t exactly old, but it’s not brand-new either. It’s old enough to have weathered a lot of changes, some of which were probably wide-ranging and contentious enough to have created plenty of players who’d rather see them undone and the game returned to a more primordial state.

What’s the cut-off – or is there one? How old should an MMO be to consider classic servers? And if age isn’t the determining factor, what exactly is?

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Ultima Online suspends ‘advisor’ program ahead of F2P conversion

Back in 2014, Ultima Online revived its classic “counselor” program as a new “advisor” program — essentially, it roped in community-minded, expert players to serve as official guides for new players and intermediaries between the support team and the playerbase, sporting very light GM powers (like being able to help people get unstuck). But in the game’s latest newsletter, Broadsword says it’s suspending that program – at least temporarily.

“I am looking into revising how the Advisor program operates and I am also looking for dedicated people that want to help others, so when we publish Endless Journey we can also restart the Advisor program,” Producer Bonnie “Mesanna” Armstrong told players today. “This is not meant to be anything negative to the current Advisors and most of them will return if they would like to.”

Endless Journey, of course, is the upcoming free-to-play conversion for the game slated for publish 99 next spring. And one of the game systems due for revamp is the in-game town crier system.

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EA has put the kibosh on a player-run Battlefield emulator – are MMOs next?

We don’t cover the Battlefield games much on Massively OP, but this particular story caught my attention anyway because of the company and subject involved. According to a piece on Gamasutra, EA has effectively stymied a player-run effort to resurrect several Battlefield games, including Battlefield Heroes, as de facto emulators with online services, which have attracted significant fan support.

Revive Network says it was issued a polite request – not a formal cease-and-desist demand – by EA’s legal team, casually asking the site-runners to put an end to distrbuting the clients that make the resurrection possible.

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Massively Overthinking: Is open-world housing really a ‘failed’ MMORPG experiment?

Massively OP’s Justin Olivetti has a provocative article on his personal gaming blog, Bio Break, this week on MMORPG housing.

“I once again wonder why open world housing is this holy grail that some players and developers seem hellbent on chasing,” he writes. “It’s an ideal, a beautiful mirage couched in the notion of players inhabiting the very world they play, allowing them to stroll through neighborhoods of fellow adventurer’s homes and basking in the connectivity of it all. Yet it’s a failed experiment, one that is proven time and again to have far more drawbacks than benefits.” After listing off his complaints with the mechanic, he ultimately concludes that “we simply don’t need fixed open world housing, even in sandboxes.”

But being Justin, he also asked for feedback on why the joys are worth the drawbacks – and how to fix the system so it works instead of running off the rails. That’s just what we’ll do in this week’s Overthinking. Is he right about not needing this type of housing? And if not, how would you fix open world housing?

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