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Massively Overthinking: Disentangling MMO classes and races

Last week, a guildie of mine mentioned that he’d been interested in Crowfall until he realized he couldn’t be a gerbil (Guineacean) of the class of his choosing. It was a total coincidence that the Crowfall devs had literally that same week announced they were nuking their race/class-locked archetype system and disentangling races and classes, so I got to tell him his wish had been granted.

I think this pushes the game more solidly into MMORPG territory, so I’m happy to see it: More customization and choice and variety is what I’m all about. But I was going to play it before, too. For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’m presenting the idea of locked vs. unlocked archetypes to our staff to mull over. How important is it to you to be able to play any race/class combo in a game? Is it something you see as critical to MMORPGs? Is archetype-locking more the domain of MOBAs and ARPGs? When do you let it slide to play a fun game?

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Portal Knights launches across multiple platforms

It’s full steam ahead for Portal Knights, which launched yesterday on Steam, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. For those wondering if early access periods ever truly end, here’s one example of a definitive launch!

The dev team said that this is a nerve-wracking and exciting time: “You know, leaving early access is scarier than you think… What will new players think? Will our community think this is the end? So many questions! Be rest assured, just because we’ve now left early access, that doesn’t mean anything will change. Going forward, we fully intend on updating Portal Knights, like we always have done, and filling those updates with community requests.”

For those unfamiliar with the game, Portal Knights is a multiplayer RPG member of the extended Minecraft family. Players adventure through linked sandbox worlds while returning back to their own virtual homes every so often to build and craft. There are three classes available, and players can create teams of up to four to traverse these worlds. Portal Knights is priced at $20.

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 118: Crowfall breaks up the band

Just when you think the MMO industry is predictable, it jukes and jags all over the place, tossing out surprises left and right in an attempt to shake you off its tail (or to pull you in, we haven’t decided on that one yet). Marking one of the most unpredictable news weeks of 2017, Bree and Justin ride out westerns, space operas, and fantasies with aplomb.

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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Crowfall explains the logic and breadth of passive powers

It is reasonable to assume that anyone who has spent a bit of time playing MMOs is familiar with the basic concept of passive powers. They’re powers you don’t click to operate, they just… work. But Crowfall is taking the concept a bit further with its passive powers, as players will start with a variety of passives from race, class, and any disciplines chosen. At this time, three can be slotted, but these powers are not limited to selections like beating things up with more power.

For example, are you just starting to gather? You can equip gathering passives which will allow you to gather more resources when you’re just starting out. Have an otherwise great weapon with an awful power cost modifier? Equip a passive to drop your power costs again and balance it out. Invested a lot of points in leadership? Equip the Group Leadership skill and unlock powerful buffs as long as you’re in the lead of the party. It’s a multi-faceted system, in other words, and there should be no shortage of interesting combinations to build for dedicated players.

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Wynncraft fashioned a free MMO out of Minecraft

Love MMOs? Have a hankering for Minecraft? Your desire for the two aren’t mutually exclusive in the case of Wynncraft!

If you haven’t heard about it already, Wynncraft is a really impressive community-made MMO using Minecraft as its bones and sinew. The free game takes place on one of the largest seamless maps in Minecraft and has all of the staples that you’d come to expect from a fantasy F2P MMO: quests, dungeons, loot, crazy cosmetics, leveling, events, exploring, and all manner of aggressive mobs.

Wynncraft’s team boasts that the game has already seen over one million players pour through its gates in the four or so years that the project has been active. Get a brief glimpse of what it looks like below!

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Crowfall wraps up marathon seven-hour stream event, promises open beta by the end of 2017

Following Crowfall’s titanic reveal of expanded and new features earlier this week, the dev team sat down for a seven-hour livestream event yesterday to go in-depth on the race/class pairings, powers special effects, disciplines, and environment improvements.

On the off-chance that you don’t have seven hours to spare to comb through all of the streams for important information, one kind player cobbled together a list of highlights from the team. Of particular interest was confirmation that Crowfall’s open beta will launch by the end of the year. The OBT will proceed the game’s soft launch, so expect 2018 to be a big year for this PvP MMO.

You can watch part of the stream event after the break.

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Massively Overthinking: Being Uncle Owen in MMORPGs

Ever since the tone-deaf SOE proclamation that nobody wanted to play Uncle Owen in an MMORPG, contrary me has consciously fought that very stupid idea. A whole lot of people wanted to play Uncle Owen, then and now, there and elsewhere. Star Wars Galaxies was a game half full of Uncle Owens. I spent a lot of time literally becoming a moisture farmer as my own form of rebellion. And yet, as I realized while debating with my husband a few weeks ago, the person I really wanted to be was freakin’ Lando. And most MMORPGs don’t allow that either — it’s Luke or GTFO.

Such is the argument made by a recent PC Gamer article, which in its own precious mainstream way argues that “MMOs need to let you be an average Joe” to get out of the clear “creative slump” they’re in.

“With their scale and permanence, MMOs give us the chance to be citizens in a make-believe world we create with the help of our fellow players. When it’s left up to us what kind of role we want to fill in that world, everybody’s immersion benefits from being surrounded by all types of characters with vastly different stories.”

For this week’s Overthinking, I asked the staff to chime in on the concept of Uncle Owen in MMORPGs. Do you play this way? Do you wish you could? And is it the way forward?

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Crowfall fans create mix-and-match class survey

After the astonishing reveal yesterday that Crowfall is decoupling its races and classes to offer more build freedom, what will you make? This burning question prompted one player, Tinnis, to put together a survey on the forums that allows fellow fans to construct their own class and then compare it with the rest of the crowd.

By choosing race, class, and disciplines, players can start to plan what they’re going to make when Crowfall officially launches. There are certainly a lot of options, and so far it’s fascinating to see what the community is choosing. You can take the survey yourself or skip ahead to view the results!

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Crowfall is shifting away from race-bound class archetypes

Crowfall’s teaser week is over, so what was the tease? “Massively expanded character customization options,” ArtCraft says, confirming some of the earliest hunches that the game will break up the race/class paradigm. It’s also getting a hefty graphics upgrade.

“ArtCraft Entertainment is pleased to announce that it will be adding one of the most requested additional features for their sandbox ‘Throne War’ MMO Crowfall: massively expanded character customization options. The developer has also overhauled the graphics in partnership with the Unity Spotlight team. […] With the new character customization players will now have the freedom to choose their character’s race and class combination from a wealth of options, rather than the original system of specific ‘archetypes.'”

OK, that was actually worthy of a week of teases. Check out the videos! (Also — sandbox, eh?)

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One Shots: MMOs are serious business

As we all well know, MMORPGs are a Serious Business indeed. We must treat them reverently and with our utmost due diligence as we perform tasks vital to saving the world. No frivolity and mirth-making is allowed within these virtual worlds; we toil, we strive, we forge the future in sharp lines of progress.

Oh what am I kidding: We’re totally goofballs. If you can’t cut loose in an MMO and have fun with your friends, what’s the point? I feel that Kenji Takeda has it right with this week’s headlining picture from Final Fantasy XIV, as you can sense the high spirits and laughter that were driving this moment.

Next week, we’ll get totally serious again. Probably. Maybe. Possibly. Well, there’s an outside chance, you never know.

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Ashes of Creation meets Underrealm stretch goal, eyes $2M in crowdfunding

With well over two weeks to go in its Kickstarter campaign, Ashes of Creation has already outpaced similar efforts from Chronicles of Elyria ($1.36M raised) and Crowfall ($1.76M). In fact, with over $1.84M raised so far and 19 days to go, it looks increasingly probable that the project is going to easily clear two million and surpass the Kickstarters of Shroud of the Avatar ($1.91M) and Camelot Unchained ($2.23M).

This also means that the $1.75M stretch goal to include an underground area is now sealed in stone. The team teased this subterranian zone by saying, “The Underrealm will be a rich environment where bioluminescence abounds in the fauna and flora that exist here.  These deep caverns and underground valleys will provide new destinations for civilization to develop.  Bringing the node system into the depths of the world, may awaken darker creatures than the surface. Be careful…”

The next funding stretch goal is to include social organizations such as thieves guilds at $2M. If you missed our Friday livestream interview with the Ashes of Creation team, make sure you rectify that!

Source: Kickstarter

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NetEase has a smashing good first quarter 2017 thanks to mobile sales and Hearthstone

Chinese operator, developer, and publisher NetEase posted its Q1 2017 financial report this week, and the news is quite good for the company. NetEase made $2 billion in revenue during the quarter, out of which $1.6 billion can be attributed to game sales. This marks an astonishing 78% increase from Q1 2016 and sent U.S. stocks of the company up 3.6% this past Wednesday.

The end result? NetEase is enjoying nearly $570 million in profit thanks to its performance.

NetEase operates many of Blizzard’s games in China and has its own line of mobile and PC games. It attributed its Q1 success to the launch and huge popularity of Onmyoji in Japan, the release of several new mobile titles, and the juggernaut that is Hearthstone. The report singled out the latter for praise: “Achieved record number of quarterly active users for Blizzard Entertainment’s Hearthstone.”

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Broke Protocol is Minecraft meets Grand Theft Auto

If you took Grand Theft Auto and molded it into the visual style of Minecraft, would it have crowd appeal? Cylinder Studios sure hopes so because that’s the premise of the open world multiplayer game Broke Protocol.

In Broke Protocol, players can take the role of a police officer trying to maintain law and order, a criminal trying to maintain havoc and destruction, or the single person who decides to play as a farmer and wonders when everyone will stop shooting him long enough to harvest a field of crops. There are cars to be driven recklessly, prisons to be filled, banks to be robbed, black markets to be exploited, and innocents to be kidnapped. It’s a very wholesome game indeed.

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