Soft-launching today on both the iOS and Android markets is a new mobile MMORPG from Netease dubbed Crusaders of Light. It was originally released as Land of Glory overseas last month (and was tremendously popular in China), but it’s gotten a name-change and a spruce-up for the western market. You’ll notice immediately that it seems to have an awful lot in common with vanilla World of Warcraft, from its stylized graphics to its 40-man PvE raiding endgame. It boasts 25×25 battlegrounds, small-scale ranked arenas, guild ladders, mounts, and loot out the wazoo too.
As I write this, it’s not yet up for download publicly on either platform for me in the US; it looks to be trickling out to Oceania first today, then Europe, Russia, Brazil, and North America in time for the official launch this summer. You can preregister on the official site, and yes it’s free-to-play with plenty of stuff to buy on the side.
It’s starting to get serious now.
As we well know, people are highly opinionated about everything, but when it comes to music, there seems to be a (pardon the pun) higher pitch to the passion of those arguments. I’ve been doing an MMO music podcast for over three years now, and believe me when I say that there have been countless times when myself and my cohosts were aghast when someone hated a tune we liked and vice-versa, even though we shouldn’t have been surprised.
So as we head into the top 10 of the best MMO theme songs, as voted on by the Massively OP community, expect a lot of opinions and controversies. You may not like the picks, the order, or the comments, but hopefully one or two of these will make you happy (and there’s always room to be pleasantly surprised by a track you never heard before!). Suck it up and jump with me!
Last week we were off to a great start as we listened to the first batch of player-voted favorite MMO themes. As I said then, the results of the voting, in which I asked players to nominate up to 10 of their favorite main themes from online games, were both predictable and surprising. Nostalgia and familiarity obviously play a strong role in many of these votes, but no one was asking for objectivity here!
Today we’re going to continue our countdown to the top spot by looking at numbers 18 through 13 of your favorite MMO themes. I think there’s a good mix here, perhaps with tunes that I would have placed a little higher, but overall it’s gratifying to see each one of these make the list.
Enough jibber-jabber, let’s get to it!
I don’t really like survival games, typically — I understand why a lot of people do like them, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t care for them myself, for a whole forest of reasons. To make a survival game that I want to play, you have to really come at the genre from a side angle, which can be hard to do while retaining the things that people like about the genre.
At this early juncture, I can’t say that Rend (official site) will do all of that. But I can say that the groundwork is in place for something that might be worth getting excited about.
I was incredibly fortunate to be granted one of the first meetings with Frostkeep Studios and a first look at Rend itself, in a conspiratorial PAX meeting on the second floor of a fish restaurant on the Boston piers. It felt a bit as if I were being shown something that should not be seen, some artifact of great power that had been hidden away from prying eyes. Perhaps that’s as it should be.
“Welcome to the world of Ember, or as star charts designate it, Em-8ER (‘E-M-Eight-E-R’),” says a new dev blog from Mark Kern’s Em-8ER MMO shooter. Yes, it’s a lore blog, which is going to make teasing it for its ’90s leetspeak name that much harder. It turns out that Em-8ER is the code name for a newly discovered planet in a vast network of systems discovered through humanity’s use of D-shift travel gates — and Em-8ER is haunted by and home to a hostile and ghostly sentient species.
The lore piece is massive, clocking in at just under 7500 words, and worth a look if you’re into spooky sci-fi built atop WWII alternate history where the Nazis win (or just wanted some assurance there’s more to the game than navels and guns).
Kern is a decidedly controversial (his word) figure to MMORPG genre veterans thanks to his involvement with Firefall and the vanilla WoW community, among other internet movements. He has previously discussed his plans for this shooter, including “serial Kickstarting” and a Firefall-esque foundation that doesn’t “drift over to ‘WoW with guns’ again.” Studio Crixa has raised $23,000 to date through crowdfunding and last month offered Firefall players credit toward the new game.
The Elysium World of Warcraft private server community is in total meltdown, so popcorn at the ready.
Most MMORPG players would probably have never heard of Elysium but for Nostalrius, the WoW emulator that was C&D’d by Blizzard last year and then went on to agitate for official vanilla servers, blowing its momentum after BlizzCon by handing its source code and characters over to Elysium to run from the Ukraine, only to then change its mind last month and ask for the code back.
Elysium agreed to Nostalrius’ requests, but things have gone south for its own game this past week when an emu YouTuber and concomitant agitators accused the top echelons of the Elysium team of everything from manipulating loot tables and unbanning hackers for under-the-table cash to participating in Chinese gold selling and botting schemes and being shadow-run by (former) network partner Crestfall. They probably also did Watergate, I don’t know.
(Incidentally, Crestfall has already cut ties with Elysium as of this afternoon, citing “strong evidence of corruption in high-ranking members of [Elysium’s] staff.”)
In order to talk about WildStar, we kind of have to talk about Firefly. And no, not in the obvious way where we talk about how dearly the game wants to be able to claim the heritage of Firefly for its own.
There’s a thing dubbed the Firefly Effect (I’m not linking TV Tropes here; y’all know where it is, look it up if you want to) that describes a kind of vicious cycle. You see something new and interesting previewed. However, you also see that it’s on a network that is unlikely to allow that interesting thing enough run time to really finish working itself out. So, to spare yourself any heartache when it gets cancelled, you don’t watch it. Later, it gets cancelled… because no one was watching it because everyone expected it would be cancelled.
The reason I bring that up is that WildStar is currently waist-deep in the Firefly Effect. Sure, it’s not a show, but the same operating principles are at work. People are afraid to commit for fear that it’ll be canned, and that makes any forward momentum for the game incredibly difficult.
One of the largest and most enduring arguments of the MMO genre is the purpose, legality, and profitability of so-called lockboxes in games. We’ve certainly railed against them pretty hard here on the site.
MMO Bro takes an interesting position this week by saying that, yes, lockboxes are annoying, but we need to move on from grousing about them: “If I may play devil’s advocate here for a moment, I think the time may have come for us to take a step back and examine whether all the furor over lockboxes is really productive. It’s clear that lockboxes are here to stay, so perhaps it’s time for us to learn how to live with them.”
Agree? Disagree? That’s why we have the comments section. Now that you’re fully awake, why not check out the rest of our roundup from the MMO blogosphere, including essays on early access stumbles, costumes, multiplayer mounts, and — everyone’s favorite — geography!
The next expansion or adventure for Hearthstone
might have been spotted, thanks to eagle-eyed fans who apparently spend their free time combing through resumes of voice actors.
Indeed, in the resume for Lani Minella is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it mention of a Hearthstone expansion we have yet to see: Lost Secrets of Un’Goro. Minella lists previous work on Hearthstone and is credited with voicing several dinosaurs and beasts for the possible upcoming release.
If true, this means that Hearthstone will be diving into one of the more famous (and infamous) locales from vanilla World of Warcraft. Un’Goro Crater was a jungle zone filled with primeval creature, including one aspiring T-Rex who liked to jump out of the shadows and bite your head off when you were just trying to quest in peace.
Em-8ER, the Mark Kern-led “massive planetary wargame” shooter formerly known as (and still pronounced like) Ember, has a new video out today showing off the THMPR — don’t look at me like that — model in Unreal Engine.
“The model you see here is being rendered in real-time in the Unreal Engine. We use a texturing/material technique called PBR or Physically Based Rendering to make materials like metal look much more realistic,” the team writes in the blog post. “Now that the THMPR is modeling, we’ll need to animate it and build a background scene.”
Kern is a decidedly controversial (his word) figure to MMORPG genre veterans thanks to his involvement with Firefall and the vanilla World of Warcraft community, among other internet movements. He has previously discussed his plans for this shooter, including “serial Kickstarting” and a Firefall-esque foundation that doesn’t “drift over to ‘WoW with guns’ again.” Studio Crixa has thus far raised $23,000 in the first of its planned miniature crowdfunding campaigns, exceeding its goal.
So here’s a twist in the Nostalrius saga that we didn’t see coming: The group has changed its mind about supporting its code on the Elysium servers and in fact has asked Elysium to stop using it, which would effectively shut down the new legacy servers.
The group originally ran a large vanilla World of Warcraft emulator under the name Nostalrius, which shut down last year following a C&D letter from the IP owner, Blizzard. Its admins sought to turn the voluntary closure into a catalyst for eliciting official legacy servers from Blizzard itself, drafting a 276,000-signature petition and meeting with Blizzard’s top brass in an attempt to convince the studio to serve that fanbase.
But as BlizzCon drew near after the launch of Legion, the Nostalrius admins turned to threats. “If Blizzard doesn’t make an announcement to honour their own core values, be sure that we will,” they famously wrote. Blizzard didn’t talk legacy at BlizzCon, so Nostalrius announced it would release its code to the community and allow the (much more legally inaccessible) Ukraine-based Elysium group to restart a PvE and PvP Nostalrius emu under its banner, which is precisely what started up in December, with the most recent server launching this past week.
Now Nostalrius says that it believes its actions ran contrary to its goals.
The pro-vanilla World of Warcraft community is fond of flinging Blizzard’s “you think you do, but you don’t” around as a defense for the existence of illegal emulators. But how big is the demand out there for such servers when you get past the noise and bluster of the most passionate fans?
Last weekend, the Elysium Project turned on a new vanilla World of Warcraft PvP server, and apparently it’s already getting slammed, with queues causing hour-long waits to access the game. This marks the third emulator shard for returning Nostalrius players, and now it looks as though there is to be a fourth.
The team apologized for the long queue times and announced that it will be opening up a new PvP server today called Zeth’kur. See how bad the queue has gotten in the following short video.
Yesterday, the World of Warcraft Senior Game Designer Paul Kubit sat down to take on a question-and-answer session about this week’s Patch 7.1.5 and all of its changes and additions.
Blizzard Watch has a summary of the Q&As, with Kubit tackling topics such as professions, the micro-holidays, and the Brawler’s Guild. He was asked which fights didn’t make it into the Brawler’s Guild, and Kubit revealed that the team had been fiddling with both a Mario and Mega Man “tribute” that didn’t make the cut.
Kubit said that there aren’t current plans to include vanilla WoW’s dungeons in the timewalking program, but he also admitted that it is possible and doable. Another possibility are timewalking raids, although some of the raids would have to be rebuilt to fit this format.
You can watch the full Q&A session after the break!