virtual world

The MOP Up: Osiris New Dawn’s terrifying space ghosts (November 19, 2017)

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!

Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from Dragon NestTERA MMabinogi MobileIcarus MSummoner’s WarStar Trek OnlineOsiris New DawnLord of Vermilion ArenaPUBGStardew ValleyWarframeOverwatchPath of ExileAstroneerKurtzPelRuneScapeDota 2Second Life, and Renaissance Kingdoms, all waiting for you after the break!

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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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Virtual Earth Online looks like a Minecraft and Second Life mash-up

So you’re tired of visiting far-flung post-apoc space stations, fantasy ghost castles, underground slime lairs, and zombie grottos on Mars. What’s next? How about… Earth?

Aussie MMO Virtual Earth Online may be up to that challenge, at least if you can handle the graphic style. It looks like a mash-up of Minecraft and Second Life, with the whole world (even, apparently, your house) built out with voxels. Developer Gavin McDonald told us that building mats were on the docket for insertion over the weekend and the game has just gotten a new graphics engine after six years of development (it was Greenlit back when that was still a thing). While the original game is properly an MMORPG, or perhaps a massive online virtual world, a new single player survival mode is also rolling out (check out the video of that in action down below).

The game appears to be freely downloadable, but the trading post is offering microtransaction buildings and items for as little as 5 cents.

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Brad McQuaid: MMO devs are ‘making the very, very early foundations of the Holodeck’

Pantheon and MMOs like it are bringing our dream future one step closer (or at least, Lt. Barclay’s dream future), Brad McQuaid suggests in a new interview this week. MMORPG veterans know McQuaid as a pioneer of the genre, first with EverQuest, then with the stalled and now sunsetted Vanguard, and now with the upcoming MMO Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen.

“I want to be immersed, I want to escape into a fantasy or sci-fi world. [MMO developers are] making the very, very early foundations of the Holodeck. Letting people recreate the 1930s or build new virtual worlds – that’s what MMOs are, they’re the genesis of that. Because they involve real people and that social aspect, because they’re so immersive – and will be even more so in the future, with VR coming – I lose myself in them. I don’t sit there thinking I’m playing a game; I’m really there. And that’s what interests me.”

McQuaid says the MMO is not dead and that he’s working to change that perception by catering to an “underserved” audience of virtual world gamers and “abandoned MMO fans.”

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Happy 20th birthday, Ultima Online! Here’s how to get caught up on the OG MMORPG

Just about 20 years ago, my boyfriend and I were wandering through Media Play (heh) when he picked up this box for some new online subscription video game with a cheesy Hildebrandt cover. I was skeptical. He bought it anyway. The next morning, after I’d played all night and totally bogarted his new game, we figured we should probably get a second account. And so we did, in spite of being clueless teenagers who could barely afford one sub, let alone two.

That game was Ultima Online, and it’s the game that birthed the term MMORPG and quite literally dragged me into the realm of virtual worlds. Without it, I wouldn’t be right here where I am talking to you today, having married that dude in the interim. And as of yesterday, that game is 20 years old.

Last autumn, when the game was turning 19, I did a fairly in-depth video on the coolest parts of UO, the parts you can still play today, as I do frequently dive back in and am playing this month too! It’s Massively OP’s best-performing video to date, proving that the game is very much not dead and done. Pretty much everything in the video is still accurate, except for the part on the business model (spoiler: UO is kinda going free-to-play), so I’m going to include it below, but then I’ll recap some of the important bits from the last year and answer a few questions anybody reading is sure to have.

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The Daily Grind: What one lesson do you wish MMO developers would learn?

MMORPG veteran Raph Koster went on a glorious Twitter tear last week, and I’m sure some of you can relate. In response to a thinkpiece on augmented reality, Koster argues that AR developers are worried about the wrong things – they’re worried about the tech and not putting sufficient effort or research into social systems.

“The essay skates over this in one paragraph saying, ‘It’s sort of like an MMO,’ but that’s wrong. It is an MMO, in every single way. Make no mistake, a mirror world is just an MMO server with phones as avatars. That means every social pattern you ever saw in an MMO will be present, from the WoW plagues to the client hacks to the parties killing monsters to debates over who owns what slice of virtual land to yes, harassment reporting and godlike gamemasters who effectively police the space with panopticon level awareness of history. Those servers will swallow activity, not just point clouds, to a degree beyond what people fear now with stuff like maps apps tracking your location.”

“Frankly, just about no AR people I have met grasp that this is what they are building,” he concludes, suggesting it’s a “terrifying” notion that developers aren’t learning from the lessons taught by games like “Habitat, LambdaMOO, Ultima Online, EVE Online, Second Life, [and] Habbo Hotel,” which already laid the groundwork for how virtual worlds work (and don’t) when players run amok.

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EVE Evolved: How much toxic, antisocial behaviour should MMOs tolerate?

The EVE Online community is aflame this week after alliance leader gigX was permanently banned for making threats of real-life violence against another player following possibly the biggest betrayal in EVE history. Some players don’t want to accept that gigX crossed a serious line and deserves his ban, and others have been asking why The Mittani’s similar actions in 2012 resulted in only a temporary ban. CCP’s official stance is that its policies have become stricter since 2012, but it’s still not entirely clear exactly where the line is drawn.

Another side to the debate is that the internet itself has evolved over EVE‘s 14-year lifespan, and a lot of toxic behaviour that was accepted or commonly overlooked on the early internet is now considered totally unacceptable. Many of us have grown from a bunch of anonymous actors playing roles in fantasy game worlds to real people sharing our lives and an online hobby with each other, and antisocial behaviour is an issue that all online games now need to take seriously. The lawless wild west of EVE‘s early years is gone, and I don’t think it’s ever coming back.

So what’s the deal? Does EVE Online tolerate less toxic behaviour today, has the internet started to outgrow its lawless roots, and what does it mean for the future of sandboxes?

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Massively Overthinking: What keeps you from playing mobile MMOs?

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?

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Maguss is a mash-up of Pokémon Go and Harry Potter

It might be the closest you will ever get to living out your Harry Potter fantasies without heading down to Universal Studios in Orlando. Maguss is a Pokémon Go-style ARG that draws heavy (but not copyright-infringing) inspiration from the Wizarding World — and it’s about ready to hit the public stage.

A shade more complicated than Pokémon Go, Maguss has player wizards use a phone and wand to interact with a virtual world overlaid on the real one. By casting spells, players can gather important ingredients, battle imaginary monsters, brew potions, and duel between one another. It is being made for iOS and Android, is coming out later this year, and doesn’t require a wand accessory to play. But seriously, if you’re going to do this, you might as well do it right.

On August 30th, the team indicated that the public beta is right around the corner: “We need approx. one more week to be done with monetization features […] There is still a lot left but we are making good progress each day and getting closer and closer to what we imagine public beta version will look like. Hopefully we can manage to add all we want before we release it for public and for you to enjoy. The next update will be huge!”

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One Shots: I think I’m turning Japanese

I’ve got your picture of me and you
You wrote “I love you,” I love you too
I sit there staring and there’s nothing else to do

We’ve all been there when a “good” Japanese demon of legend has a legit crush on one of the leaders of the Illuminati. How else to express that unrequited love than with a commissioned painting and some headless mannequins?

“In honor of Secret World Legends’ Kristen Geary,” posted reader Koshelkin. This is exactly how court restraining orders get started.

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Massively Overthinking: Female characters and gender-locked classes in MMOs

One of the reasons I gravitated to and stick by the MMORPG genre in spite of its many ups and downs (oh, so many downs) over the last two decades is the fact that I can play more or less exactly the character I want to play, which is usually female characters. Other genres, even RPGs, have been relatively slow to catch up to what we’ve had here in MMO land right from the start. The idea of a serious MMORPG launching without female toons of some sort is almost unheard of.

I bring this up because of Quantic Foundry’s latest blog post, which delves its Gamer Motivation Profile for data on how gamers feel about being able to play female protagonists. Unsurprisingly, three-quarters of female gamers and a third of male gamers, irrespective of age, consider that option very or extremely important!

For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I asked our mixed-gender staff three questions: what they think about Quantic’s findings, whether they stick to the gender they personally identify as when rolling toons in MMOs, and whether the lack of gender options — or in MMOs’ case, things like gender-locked classes — drive them as nuts as they drive me.

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The Game Archaeologist: Furcadia

Let’s face it: There isn’t really a huge pool of MMORPGs from the 1990s to explore in this column. By now I have done most of them, including some of the more obscure titles. Yet there has always been this one game that I have shied away from covering, even though it (a) was an actual MMO from the ’90s and (b) is still operating even today. And that game is, of course, Furcadia.

So why my reluctance? To be honest, I suppose it was my reluctance to tackle anything in the “furry” fandom without knowing how to handle it. I don’t quite get the fascination with wanting to pretend to be an animal, and some of the expressions that I’ve seen in the news and online from this community have made me uncomfortable. Thus I kept away because I was worried that a piece that I wrote on Furcadia would devolve into a nonstop stream of jokes to cover that personal disquiet.

But I’ve tiptoed around this MMO long enough, and I have come to realize that there is virtue in earnestly trying to understand a subculture that is outside of my bubble, even if I don’t end up appreciating or liking it. Casting off preconceptions and simple snark, let us take a look at this unique title and see what it has to offer for the larger genre.

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Darkfall: New Dawn releases state-of-the-game roadmap, says it’s 76% done

Darkfall: New Dawn, one of a pair of indie-led player efforts to keep MMO sandbox Darkfall going after original studio Aventurine abandoned it last year, has a gorgeous new roadmap out this week addressing the current state of the build. Studio Ub3rgames says it believes it’s more than three-quarters of the way done with the game since last summer, with most of the work going toward PvE, combat, PvP, quality-of-life upgrades, and performance. The economy and virtual world, the team admits, has seen the least focus so far. The active players seem pretty pleased!

Most recently, Ub3rgames released patch 3.13, “switching into a higher gear” with what it dubbed “the great magic overhaul.” It’s essentially a complete do-over for the magic system that revamps secondary spell effects as well as adds a preliminary king-of-the-hill village control system, guild perks, armor durability retooling, collision system updates, performance upgrades, and dynamic tombstones, which sound festive and might be worth a relook if you’ve been standing on the sidelines of development.

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