visionary realms

Brad McQuaid’s studio working on Pantheon.

The Game Archaeologist: EverQuest Online Adventures

In the pantheon of SOE’s (now Daybreak) flagship EverQuest franchise, there used to be a whole family of MMOs gathered around the table every evening. There was Papa EverQuest, looking a little wrinkled and worn but also radiating fame and authority. Next to him was Mama EverQuest II, a powerful  matron of entertainment. And EverQuest Next used to be a twinkle in their eyes before it was extinguished.

Then, in the next room over was a cabinet. The cabinet was locked. Inside that cabinet used to be a weird abnormality that certainly looks like a member of the family, but one that hadn’t seen the light of day in quite some time. This member subsisted on the scraps of an aging console and the fading loyalty of fans, hoping against odds that one day he’d be allowed out for a stroll or something. His name was EverQuest Online Adventures, the EverQuest MMO nobody mentions.

EQOA was a strange abnormality in SOE’s lineup. While it was one of the very first console MMOs and heir to the EverQuest name, it was quickly eclipsed in both areas by other games and left alone. Yet, against all odds, it continued to operate on the PlayStation 2 for the better part of a decade before its lights were turned off. Today, let’s look at this interesting experiment and the small cult following it created.

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Path of Exile: The Fall of Oriath launches today

It’s the largest single-day release of new content since the game’s launch — and unlike a lot of expansions mentioned lately, it’s all free, free, free. Path of Exile: The Fall of Oriath launches today, bringing the game up to Patch 3.0.0 and vastly expanding the single-player campaign.

The expansion brings up the number of acts to a total of 10, adds a truckload of new skills and items, and introduces the pantheon system to make your character even more god-like.

“Best the ancient gods of Wraeclast in battle and you can claim a portion of their power,” the studio explained. “There are four major god powers and seven minor god powers to be claimed in The Fall of Oriath. You can have one major and one minor power active at a time, and can return to any town or hideout to change which powers are active at no cost.”

As you wait for your computer to download the 7.1 GB update and for the patch counter to tick down to 4 p.m. EDT, you can read up on the patch notes and re-watch the official trailer below!

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Path of Exile posts Fall of Oriath patch notes prior to Friday’s launch

Is this expansion week here at Massively OP or what? In just two days, Path of Exile will be rolling out its hotly anticipated Fall of Oriath pack to PC players (Xbox One folks are still waiting to hear about a release date).

While the waiting might be hard, at least there is a wall of patch notes to dig through in preparation of the big event. The tentpole of the expansion is its half-dozen additional acts, the new pantheon system, and the new help panel — but that’s by no means all there is.

“The Fall of Oriath is our largest content expansion ever,” the team said. “In addition to six new acts of content, it includes new skill and support gems, unique items, our new water renderer, improvements to world environments, the minimap, game performance, and much, much more!”

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Path of Exile’s Fall of Oriath has just begun Xbox One beta

Hey, Path of Exile console fans. Have you been moping on the sidelines throughout the long PC beta for Fall of Oriath? Were you sad to find out it’s launching on PC on August 4th? Then I have good news for you!

“Grinding Gear Games has announced today that its highly anticipated massive expansion, Path of Exile: The Fall of Oriath, will launch its beta for Xbox One at 2pm pacific on Wednesday, July 26th.”

That’s literally right as this post is going live; you can run over and register right now. “Space is limited and players selected will receive their Xbox One beta keys via email,” warns the studio.

As we’ve previously covered, the expansion adds literally new everything, from new skills and bosses to new locations, plus the new pantheon system, five new acts, and the difficulty level system. Just getting caught up? Don’t miss our February preview and reveal, our steam and hands-on with the PC beta, and our E3 interview on the expansion!

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SMITE’s Bear Goddess Artio reveal, Hand of the Gods’ Mayan pantheon, and Paladins’ Jenos

Hi-Rez is busy doing all the things, with hoopla in all three of its modern games today. (Sorry, Global Agenda and Tribes.)

Over in SMITE, the studio is getting ready to reveal Artio, the Bear Goddess, on its afternoon livestream, along with the next phase of Project Olympus, the MOBA’s far-reaching overhaul patch series that began implementation earlier this summer.

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Skyforge celebrates its second anniversary with giveaways, trivia contest

While you weren’t looking — or maybe you were — Skyforge tucked two years of live operation under its belt. The sci-fi action MMORPG is celebrating its second anniversary this month, starting with daily login rewards that dole out, among other things, actual halo and angel wings. Don’t let it go to your head (literally).

The team’s also hosting a Trivia of the Gods contest to anyone who wants to take a stab at answering all things Skyforge. This takes place online, and while there are special prizes for the winners, everyone who completes it will get a participation prize. Aww.

When you’re done getting drunk on golden mead or whatever it is that unpredictable gods do, you can leap back into the Pantheon Wars in the game. The team recently elaborated on the win conditions of this epic struggle, so make sure you read that if you’re participating.


Pantheon’s Brad McQuaid elaborates on designing for an audience

Did you know that Brad McQuaid’s Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen is not meant to be for everyone? Probably, because the game sort of likes to offer a mission statement to that effect on a semi-regular basis. McQuaid’s most recent post about the MMO industry and developing games counts on that spectrum, too, as it serves as a lengthy diatribe on where he feels the industry went wrong and why the game needs a game with a very narrowly defined target audience.

The core assertion is that changes to the MMO genre have largely been a matter of making the game more accessible to audiences who didn’t already like the genre, and it’s past time for games to be devoted to very narrow audience slices more suited to specific playstyles.

“That’s the big hump I think the MMO genre really, really needs to get over. In the ‘post-WoW‘ world the genre really moved towards trying to become even more mass-market than WoW itself. Looking at WoW, Vanilla-WoW (the game that was released) is a lot different than WoW is today. Some of that is natural evolution, polishing, the implementation of new features, races, types of content, etc. In other words, all good stuff. But then some of it is merely a result of Blizzard trying to make WoW appeal to an even larger group of gamers — even though they were already, by leaps and bounds, the most popular and profitable MMO on the face of the earth.”

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SDCC 2017: Pantheon invites you to ‘Bring Friends’ in its new trailer

San Diego Comic-Con hasn’t been known for much of an MMORPG presence in years, but Pantheon is showing up with a trailer in tow, showing off pre-alpha footage from the game, including its landscapes, characters, and group combat. Because let’s be honest: If you’re following a game like Pantheon, you’re probably in it for the group combat.

“In a world of adventure and magic, where peril lurks in every corner and the elements themselves present a danger, rise up and take arms!” the narrator says. “But… bring friends.”


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Pantheon’s Brad McQuaid on skill memorization, mana management, and combat prep

When an MMO is deep in development, it’s natural for players to want to know the answers to everything, down to the tiniest detail, like can I have a purple mohawk, can I build an empire doing nothing but selling pie, and can I gank elves with impunity?

I don’t know the answers to these questions when it comes to Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, and if Brad McQuaid does, he’s probably not going to tell you either. In fact his latest dev blog explains why it’s pointless to get too deep into the details right now, in spite of the fact that the community is antsy to know everything about spells and abilities and how it all works.

“It makes more sense to discuss the high-level vision and the philosophy and goals regarding these systems than the specific details and mechanics,” he writes.

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Pantheon’s Brad McQuaid on ‘vertical interdependence,’ WoW killers, and attracting nontraditional MMO players

Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen’s July newsletter is one of its better ones, featuring a Q&A with Visionary Realms’ Brad McQuaid himself. A few highlights:

  • McQuaid is touting vertical interdependence, the idea that lowbies and highbies in a game have something to offer each other and can even play on some level together “in a way that’s not exploitative, but still meaningful.”
  • Community is at the core of his game’s value system; it sounds as if he believes large communities erode that small-town feel and make relationships too easy to shirk, and consequently, Pantheon’s servers will be sized to be both “lively” and the kind of place where everybody knows your name (and takes into account your bad reputation).
  • He even weighs in on the purported shift from group-centric gameplay to solo gameplay, pinning it on the mass-market appeal of World of Warcraft and the subsequent industry me-toos. “These mega-expensive attempts to create a WoW killer did indeed harm the MMO gamespace and MMO developers,” he writes. “The player who is really focused on community, challenge and long-term investment has been orphaned.”

The newsletter also includes a peek into the game’s AI design as well as a bit on the challenge on just how to “explain to all of the other gamers what kind of game Pantheon will be” — in other words, how to reach out to non-MMORPG players, including the “younger players who are gravitating to [Visionary Realms’] type of game”:

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Pantheon catches fans up on its 2017 progress

Feel like you’re a little behind on what’s being done over at Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen? The hardcore MMORPG team put together a newsletter to sum up all of the major developments that have happened for the project, including the recent addition of two new members to the team.

So what’s everyone been working on these days? The Pantheon team members are, in various capacities, writing lore for several zones, designing terrain, placing NPCs, refining combat, and figuring out crafting and harvesting. All of these projects (and more) are being funneled into the eventual pre-alpha test.

Words are words, and sometimes you need pictures too. We’re funny visual creatures that way. Check out nearly a dozen screenshots highlighting the progress that’s being made on the MMO:

Source: Pantheon. Thanks Reht!


Path of Exile preps Fall of Oriath beta amidst technical problems

The beta for Path of Exile’s Fall of Oriath expansion is expected to launch today, but it hasn’t been without its technical issues. On Monday, Grinding Gear Games had to roll back the 2.6.1 microtransaction system for fixes. The same thing happened last night, causing the team to once again roll back to 2.6.0.m and inform players that the microtrans system won’t be included in today’s 2.6.2 patch.

The beta is anticipated to include acts 5 through 7, the visual upgrades for earlier content, balance changes, item changes, the Labyrinth restructure, new minimap, and the Pantheon feature for acts 6 and beyond. Act 8 will be added to the beta later (9 and 10 won’t be); there are no unique items to test right now, nor any new support or skill gems. And of course, the microtransaction system won’t be live.

GGG has also warned players that Atlas of Worlds supporter packs and their exclusive bits will vanish forever once this beta begins, so grab one while you can.

Stay tuned for more coverage from us on the expansion, and in the meantime, check out this video of an act seven boss!

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Pantheon explains acclimation and recaps the Monk class in May’s newsletter

Indie MMO Pantheon’s latest newsletter recaps the past month, so if you’re paying plenty of attention to the game, you’ve already seen the featured Monk stream. But Visionary Realms has also put out a bit more information on both the new class and the acclimation system. The studio is damn proud of acclimation in particular:

“Acclimation is a method of dealing with the harsh environments you will find in the world of Terminus. By using various infusions on different parts of the body, characters can help mitigate the external forces that may impact them. These infusions are on a tier based system, with lower tiers being more common and the highest requiring more advanced gameplay to attain. As with most of the systems planned for Pantheon, a measure of player interaction will be present in the form of craftable infusions. Another level of complexity is achieved by allowing more than one environmental system to be active simultaneously. Players will be able to use multiple infusions at once to help counteract their effects.”

Pantheon’s Monk is also on display; old-school EverQuest players are going to feel right at home with the class, which designed “not as just a fantastic pulling class, but also as capable melee DPS, short term crowd control and as a suitable offtank.”

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