wander

Official Site: Wander
Studio: Wander MMO
Launch Date: N/A
Genre: Non-Combat Exploration Sandbox
Business Model: N/A
Platform: PC, Linux, PS4

Global Chat: The MMO expansion lifecycle

With the ever-developing, ever-growing nature of MMORPGs, the expansion truly has a life of its own. By now we are well acquainted with the cycle that runs from gestation to obsolescence and can usually point to where any particular expansion is on this chart.

The Lazy Goldmaker outlined the typical progression of MMO expansion packs with a six-step cycle that focuses heavily on the economy and raiding: “After the final raid of the expansion we will enter the last content drought. This is typically the longest period with nothing exciting added to the game. We are in the middle of this phase of Legion currently. Most of the markets from the live expansion will still be viable, but profit margins will be decreasing, as will prices on all goods.”

Read on for more MMO blog essays, including ones that cover EVE Online, Wizard101, SWTOR, and LOTRO!

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The Survivalist: The good, the bad, and the barbaric of Conan Exiles’ launch

If the survival genre is any indication, Early Access is a nigh indestructable beast! Time and time again we’ve seen where so many have failed to defeat this end boss. But that all changed when one mighty barbarian came along and did just that. Conan Exiles strangled the last breath out of the Early Access beast with its bare hands and cast it aside, then strode straight into the waiting arms of launch this week.

Now there is lots to say about this launch, and a good chunk of it is pretty glowing. However, no launch is without some troubles. And sadly, there is also a despicable element as well. Here’s my look at the good, the bad, and the barbaric of the first couple of days of Conan Exiles’ launch.

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Artsy MMO Occupy White Walls patches in new assets, including a bar

Back in April, we first covered in-development MMORPG Occupy White Walls, a “PC sandbox-building, AI-driven MMO where people play with Art” rather than wander around as genocidal axe-murderers, complete with gobs of actual historical art, architectural assets, and a mysterious AI on the loose throughout the strange museum setting. Developer Stikipixels has made available only a solo building mode so far, with plans to develop for “guilds of people” and an anti-lootbox, “fair-to-play” business model.

Most recently, the game has patched up to version 1.666, which is “filled to the brim with fixes, improvements and new assets for you to play with,” the devs write in their email blast. The patch reportedly includes new concrete walls and doorways, turntable assets, trees, modular grass floors, neon text, cabinet assets, and bars – but “no drinks (yet).”

It’s in closed open alpha, so you can sign right up on the official site to go check it out right now.

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The Stream Team: Meet the mind behind AdventureQuest 3D’s new World Tree

Brand-new content just opened up today in AQ3D, and Massively OP’s MJ is excited to jump in and show it off. But even cooler than that, you get to meet the mind behind the World Tree. MJ will be joined by Slifsgaard, the backer whose generous pledge and design ideas made this whole area possible! Oh, and Artix will be there, too. Fun times are in store, so join us live at 3:00 p.m. for a look at this fully fan funded content that all players get to enjoy.

What: AdventureQuest 3D
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 3:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, April 6th, 2018

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Hands-on with Conan Exiles’ launch build: Farming, frolicking in the swamp, and other feature fun

The early access days of Conan Exiles are coming to a close. In less than a month, the survival sandbox will launch. At that time players will get to explore two new regions, experience the new combat, farm, dive into two new dungeons, worship a new god, and summon her avatar on the live servers. But luckily for me, I didn’t have to wait! I joined Creative Director Joel Bylos in the game for few hours of hands-on experience with the new features, then got to keep playing for the evening.

After a farming demonstration and a quick tour of the volcano, I got to witness a Purge, watch the brand-new starter cinematic, wander around the swamp and climb into treehouses, participate in a siege, look over the new attributes and perks, parade around in new armor, and test out the new combat with all the weapon types. My impressions in a nutshell? Most of the additions really up the fun factor and improve the game (the jury is still out on the eating-to-heal mechanic). I’m pretty excited for these features to go live, and not just because I want to build a treehouse base! While there I can’t offer an elaborate play-by-play of everything I experienced during this lengthy play session, I do have additional details for those who want more than one nutshell’s worth of impression.
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Wizard101 plans its 10-year anniversary while Pirate101 grooms Handsome Dan

With the 10th anniversary of Wizard101 approaching, the team at KingsIsle is squirreling itself away behind closed doors to plan a grand soiree. We don’t know the details of this party yet, but fans have the go-ahead to get excited about this “grand celebration.”

Over at sister game Pirate101, the team is adding “a little more flair” to the bulldog Handsome Dan and is promoting the 101 games Fansite Festival that’s taking place on April 15th around both games. You’ll want to check out the events page to see what the community is doing.

The KingsIsle team recently went to SXSW and had a lot of fun showing off its roster of games. Check it out after the break!

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Choose My Adventure: Yes, Project Gorgon is a weird game

I want to start this column by saying the absolute meanest thing I have to say about Project Gorgon, and that one is probably pretty obvious. This is not a pretty game. I’m reluctant to say that it’s outright ugly because a lot of effort has obviously been put into making the game look as pretty as it possibly can, but there is a hard limit to how much you can do under the circumstances. The result? Even with graphics cranked up as high as they will go, this game is not a looker.

That’s the meanest thing I’ve got. In every other respect, it delivered on what I expected or actually provided me with a little bit more.

Character customization, at this point, is also pretty anemic and terrible, but I managed to make a character who looked at least halfway decent. Then my character got immediately fireballed in the face with several NPCs standing (or hovering) over her body, announcing sadly that her will wasn’t going to break, and so one of them would need to take her on specifically as a pet project. And then I woke up on an island.

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Shroud of the Avatar creates the quintessential cozy inn, changes up free trial offerings

When travelers wander in to Shroud of the Avatar’s Release 49 later this week, they’ll find that one watering hole looks much improved than before. The team has been busy remodeling the Soltown inn to make it “cozier and more pleasant” for visitors.

Release 49 has a lot more than just a better-looking rumpus room; players will experience improved framerate, revamped wetlands, the new Elysium Mines, more ore nodes, UI polish, and winter recipes.

The team also notes that it is improving and experimenting with the free trial system (the next of which starts on December 20th). Free players will be marked as visitors, be moved over to the Path of Courage, have a level 50 skill cap, and restrict trade with others.

“Making these changes will allow us to leave the free trial up almost continually therefore maximizing the ability for players to try the game before they buy,” Portalarium said. “We feel firmly that giving players this no obligation opportunity is great for the health of the game and a fair business practice that we wish to pursue.”

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Frontier Expo 2017: Science, history, and gaming make for a great first con

This past weekend was not the first time I have attended a developer’s convention, but Frontier Expo 2017 was one of only a very few times when I have been able to attend the first one of its kind. Last weekend, I got to witness the birth of Frontier Developments’ fan convention, held in London, UK. At 1500 attendees, it may have been a relatively small gathering compared to conventions like PAX or other more established cons, but it was still great. In fact, it offered fans a few firsts of their own! Besides your classic meeting-and-greeting, game announcements with reveals, and after parties (including live entertainment by Jim Guthrie, the musician who created the Planet Coaster music), folks got to try their hand at the studio’s really old games on their original equipment in the Frontier Developments museum.

Even more than that, attendees got to meet and listen to world-renowned experts in the fields of paleontology and astrobiology. Not because these would sell the game, but just because they are subjects of interest to fans. How many studios have offered that?

Now there were understandably a few bumps and learning experiences in this first endeavor, but in all, I say the inaugural FX2017 was a resounding success! It was easily the most chill convention experience I have ever had, and I look forward to next year’s show (and hanging out with the space loach more!). Let’s dig in!

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The Survivalist: How procedurally generated maps stretch the life of survival MMOs

It’s no secret that I love to explore. And exploring the dangerous new worlds of survival games has been something I have really been enjoying this past couple of years. But there is dark cloud looming over each of these experiences: They end too quickly. These games, most of which are still in early access, have a very finite map. Once I’ve poked my head into every nook and cranny, once I’ve built what I wanted, and once I have completed the game tasks, there’s nothing left for me to do. I am not one who likes the whole wipe-and-start-over idea, precisely because there is nothing left to explore for me. And the PvP scene is no long-term draw either. Sure, maybe the studio was happy to have folks for just those few months, but wouldn’t retaining players be better? So how do you keep things fresh and keep players playing?

Different games are exploring different approaches. Currently, Conan Exiles is releasing new areas and expanding its map, offering plenty of new spaces to survey. ARK: Survival Evolved releases expansions that are completely new worlds. But to explore those new areas, you have to buy them. It’s actually a different strategy that ARK employs that I think solves the problem best, especially for games with a smaller map-type. Three words: procedurally generated maps.

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 134: You are my… Destiny

On this week’s show, Justin and Bree deal with a hodge-podge of interesting MMO news, including ARK’s launch, Destiny 2’s PC beta, and what some studios are doing to help players in response to the tragedy of Hurricane Harvey.

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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Exploration MMO Wander quietly died and almost no one noticed

Cast your mind back to 2015 and see if you can recall an odd MMO launching on PC and PlayStation 4 called Wander. It was notable for being a non-combat game that focused on exploration and had you roaming about as a giant tree (at least part of the time). It was also notable for being called the “worst PlayStation 4 game ever.”

It was pretty obvious that Wander wasn’t going to be even a mild success by that fall, and the studio stopped issuing patches and updates for the game in September 2015.  The last Twitter message from the company was in late 2015, saying that there was another update in the works.

The deathknell for the game came in last month, when it was delisted from Steam, as Endgame Variable noticed: “Sorry to say we are now removing Wander from sale. We would have liked to switch it to be free, but alas our agreement with CryTek for use of the CryEngine will not allow that. Thanks to all Wanders and sorry.”

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Choose My Adventure: The why behind Shroud of the Avatar

Finding the fun, I’m sorry to say, was a bit on the fleeting side.

The problem isn’t that Shroud of the Avatar suddenly stopped having any of the redeeming features I noted last week; no, the stuff I found there is still there this week, and it’s not as if I can’t find any of that fun. The problem is the one that shows up reasonably often in situations like this. Having found the fun and gotten the shape of how the game’s mechanics are going to go for a while, the game ran into the related but also different problem wherein there’s nothing to advance for.

It’s not that I lost the fun, then. It’s that the fun was in some ways contingent upon having a reason to level up, and once that tenuous connection of goals was lost it wound up leaving me with the question of why, exactly, I was doing this. I never found much of a solution to that, either, so that’s not a good sign.

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