warhammer online

Official Site: Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning
Studio: Mythic Entertainment/EA
Launch Date: September 18, 2008
Sunset Date: December 18, 2013
Genre: Fantasy RvR Themepark
Business Model: Subscription
Platform: PC, Mac

MMO Mechanics: Making healing interesting in MMORPGs

I was reading a recent Daily Grind article on the topic of unique healing classes and it prompted me to think about the variety of mechanics on offer for healing in MMOs that go beyond the World of Warcraft model. There are few MMO mechanics that run the risk of being diluted down by mods and add-ons in the way healing mechanics can be, which makes the area a fantastic area for a thought exercise in keeping healing interesting in MMORPGs.  Pair the lack of immersive interaction with the mechanics presented by the existence of click-heal and other ‘easy-heal’ overlays with many people’s general wish to be the more extroverted hero character instead of the less flashy but also very much needed party healer and it’s easy to see the need for more incentives to be presented by development teams.

In this edition of MMO Mechanics, I’ll take a look at some of the class suggestions from the Daily Grind article mentioned and will attempt to summarise what makes those classes so unique and interesting, hopefully in order to find a commonality between some that goes beyond the basic healing mechanics we know from more traditional MMOs.

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The Game Archaeologist: How Sceptre of Goth shaped the MMO industry

When it comes to text-based MMOs created in the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s, the sheer number of them would blot out the sky. There are certainly more multi-user dungeons (MUDs) than I’ve ever been able to get a handle on when I’ve tried creating lists of the most important to know, but I will say that there are a few that seem to pop up more than others. The original MUD1, created by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw, was certainly a watershed moment for online roleplaying games. Learning about DikuMUD is pretty essential, considering its impact on graphical MMORPGs that we still play today.

But there’s another title that often goes unnoticed, unless you keep an eye out for it. It’s a MUD that keeps popping up when you look into the history of the MMORPG genre, one with ties to key players and design concepts that are still active today.

It’s the MUD that shaped the MMO industry, and it was called Sceptre of Goth.

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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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The Game Archaeologist: When Hellgate London got Flagshipped

It seems that it really wasn’t too long ago that I was filling in the time between night classes by boning up on video game news. I was drinking up all of the hot up-and-comers, such as Age of Conan and Warhammer Online, when I caught word that the maker of Diablo was trying to do the same thing again, only more online, in 3-D, and with a cool modern-day/futuristic/horror vibe.

There’s no better way to put it than to say that from the start, Hellgate: London looked all kinds of cool. Oh sure, you can scoff now with your perfect 20/20 hindsight, but I’m betting that more than a few of you thought the same with me around that time. Diablo but with guns and an online persistence — how could we not be intrigued? One of my most vivid memories was being torn between the idea of buying a lifetime subscription deal for $150 or not (again, this was before the free-to-play era, but also before the era of us spending the same money on alpha access. I’m just saying that you can’t judge me.).

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The Perfect Ten: A plague of MMO bears

I have long been of the opinion that there are few more terrifying animals on this planet than bears. Sure, there are sharks, the mighty kraken, and that little fish that may or may not swim up your urethra and summer home there, but as I live primarily on the land, I think that the odds are greater that a rampaging bear might ruin my day.

True story: When I lived in Colorado Springs, one morning I left home to drive to work and there was a black bear sitting in the middle of the road. I looked at it, nonplussed, and then sloooooowly backed up into my driveway and called in a sick day. Bear days should totally be a thing, however.

I have also been of the opinion that bears are consistently underestimated in MMORPGs. They’re low level trash mobs or pets that finger players as complete noobs for not picking something more exotic. More exotic? Son, if you have a bear on your side, you have won the game. Period. One swipe of its paw and any raid boss’ head should pop right off.

There is a plague of bears in MMOs. Today, let us delve into the ursine horror that curses our genre.

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Perfect Ten: Ranking MMORPG combat pets, from best to worst

It’s an objectively known fact that Warhammer Online’s squigs were the peak of MMORPG pet design and functionality. Giant balls of attitude and appetite with a mouth to match, squigs made me proud to be a gamer. Before and since, there have been no better combat pets in existence, which is why it is a tragedy that they went down with that particular sinking ship.

Yet as an MMO pet expert and the best-selling author of “For the fiftieth time, turn off your pet’s taunt, Kevin!” I am here to share my wisdom about the rest of the companions that may trot, fly, or slither alongside your character in games. Which are best? Which are worst? Why are you picking on Kevin? These are the questions that I will answer today as I rank common MMO combat pets from best to worst.

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Chronicles of Elyria hires SWTOR programmer, works on PAX East demo

The small but scrappy Chronicles of Elyria continues to pick up experienced MMO devs for its ambitious sandbox project. Earlier this month we reported that Soulbound Studios had hired on a previous City of Heroes animator, and now the studio announced that it has snapped up Steve Hoelle, a programmer with experience on SWTOR, Vanguard, and Warhammer Online.

Soulbound said that work is progressing on the offline prologue with an eye for the future of the online game: “The team is focused on the playable demo for PAX East, which is ultimately a subset of things that will be available in the Prologue […] Something else that is in progress, but without an obvious way to show it, is our integration with SpatialOS. We are crafting an online game, and we are building our foundations now.”

A nice surprise for fans is that even though the stretch goal was not reached for a map feature that will allow players to dig and bury, the team is going ahead and including it anyway.

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One Shots: Tabula Rasa’s 21-gun salute

Ralph the Wonder Llama kicks off today’s community screenshot gallery with a salute to the late, great Tabula Rasa.

“Yes, Tabula Rasa ended up being rushed to market, and many of its features were pretty rough around the edges when the game first released, but this was 2008! Can you imagine what Tabula Rasa would have been like if it had survived and gotten a couple of expansions under its belt? The mind boggles. Here’s a shot of my Grenadier at Foreas Base, taken just a few days before shutdown. You can’t really tell with the helmet on, but I’m pretty sure my character is crying.”

On that happy note, let’s see what else you all have cooked up for us today!

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Why and how Warhammer Online failed

It might be hard to remember at this point, but back in 2008 there was a fever-pitch excitement for Mythic’s Warhammer Online. The RvR MMO was poised to be not only a successor of sorts to Dark Age of Camelot but a rival to World of Warcraft. It drew from the dark Warhammer fantasy universe and had a lot of neat little ideas, including trinkets, wild classes, and public quests.

Unfortunately, WAR never managed to live up to these lofty expectations and eventually closed three years ago in December 2013. In a new video, a fan examines the history of the game and why and how it failed to live up to its potential.

Settle in for this 39-minute video below and let us know your favorite Warhammer Online memories in the comments!

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Massively Overthinking: The best MMORPG developer quotes of 2016

One of the fun things we implemented on the site this year is a database of quotes from developers (among other entries) that are relevant to the MMORPG industry. In the spirit of the end-of-the-year posts that we’ve begun rolling out, today’s Massively Overthinking is a simple but fun one: I asked our writers to submit a favorite or memorable MMO developer quote from 2016 and explain why it matters. When we’re done, we invite you to do the same in the comments! (And yes, the best ones will be chucked into that widget for posterity!)

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Global Chat: Recapturing the MMO magic

I suspect that much of the willingness of players to pour money into MMO Kickstarters is out of a strong desire to see games emerge that recapture the spirit of the games that originally caused us to fall in love. But can that be done?

Former EverQuest II designer Ryan Shwayder said that while the desire may be simple, the execution is hellishly complex: “So, there’s quite a bit you can do to reproduce elements of the magic of old school MMOs. But, the truth is, there is that nostalgia element there still that is impossible to reproduce for people who have played other massively multiplayer games. After they’ve played one, they are no longer an MMO virgin, and you’ll never make an MMO the same as their first love. What you can do is make your MMO their great love; the one they will marry.”

Join us as we take a tour of some of the most interesting MMO blog posts from the past two weeks, including an analysis of BlizzCon, trying Star Citizen for the first time, how to utilize life skills in Black Desert, and more!

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The Game Archaeologist: Mark Jacobs on Mythic’s early online games, part 1

When you bring up the name “Mythic Entertainment,” chances are that most gamers are going to immediately think of the studio’s two major MMOs, Warhammer Online and Dark Age of Camelot. Perhaps Imperator Online might come into the conversation, perhaps not. But what is fascinating to me is that Mythic had a lot more than a pair of MMOs under its belt.

Since the formation of the studio in the mid-1990s, Mythic’s team developed well over a dozen titles, many of which featured online multiplayer and other elements that would eventually lead into the company releasing DAoC to widespread acclaim in 2001. I’ve been curious what these older titles were like and how they contributed to the formation of Mythic’s MMOs, and so rather than get all of my information from second-hand sources, I went straight to City State Entertainment’s Mark Jacobs to ask him about games like Aliens Online, Spellbinder, and Darkness Falls. Considering that the man is still working on spiritual successors to the games he was involved with decades ago, I thought it would be great to get his perspective.

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The Game Archaeologist: Six Halloween holidays from buried MMOs

There are two things to know about Halloween and MMOs. The first is that just about every online game in the known universe puts on a festival or seasonal promotion of some sort, because devs can’t resist the urge to indulge in a return to their childhoods. The second is that pretty much every said event involves some sort of pumpkin-headed scarecrow, because that is apparently the mascot of the holiday now.

Oh, and one more thing to know? Not every MMO Halloween returns from years past due to the sinister and often premature demise of the game. When an MMO goes down, it takes all of its holidays with it, leaving players with only memories of seasonal activities in those games.

In the interest of preserving the efforts that the developers poured into these events and the fondness that some players had for them, today we’re going to take a tour through six holidays from, ahem, buried MMOs.

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