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.
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?
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.).
Have you ever noticed that while there’s an entire world out there, most all of the MMORPGs we discuss and play tend to either be ones crafted in the USA or imports from China or Korea? We even have a shorthand for this: “western” and “eastern” MMOs. We’re usually not talking about entire hemispheres with these references, but rather about categorizing three countries that are big into the MMORPG business.
But what about the rest of the world? Are all of these other countries so uncaring about this genre that they’ve never tried their hand at making an MMO? Of course not; as I’m about to show you, there are plenty of online RPGs that have been made in countries other than China, the USA, and South Korea. It’s just that for various reasons, those three countries ended up fostering concentrations of video game developers who knew how to create these types of games.
So let’s take a tour around the world and see if we can’t give some credit to other countries for their contributions to the MMORPG genre past, present, and future. Before you click the link, see how many you can name off the top of your head!
You can stop fidgeting about what might or might not arrive in Star Citizen this year: Cloud Imperium has released its promised development roadmap for the rest of 2017. The studio stresses that quality will trump everything, that estimates are merely estimates, and that the schedule isn’t all-encompassing, but the words “3.0” and “persistent universe” and “planetary tech” have been enough to send Reddit into a tizzy of excitement.
It’s also sent the community into a tizzy of concern, as it appears the original plans for 3.0 have been trimmed down to get it out the door this summer, with many of its features pushed off to later patches later in the year. According to the newsletter, this is partly the result of Behaviour Interactive ending its subcontract for Cloud Imperium (you MMO folks will know it as the studio behind Eternal Crusade).
Check out the whole shebang below.
If there’s one thing that has always been associated with the Warhammer franchise, it’s the terrible and overwhelming crusades that its greenskins occasionally unleash. Eternal Crusade is in the midst of one of these right now, offering players an opportunity to experience a waaagh! up close and personal.
From now through April 23rd, players can take part in a new Ork campaign called “A New Waaagh!” Participants should be forewarned that it will most likely be loud and chaotic, because that’s just the way that the bloodthirsty Orks like it.
Players can follow the progress of the campaign over the next week, and when it concludes there might just be a reward waiting for all of those who survived.
Thanks to this past week’s introduction of a free-to-play model, Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade saw a massive jump in its player population. The team reports that concurrency doubled practically overnight while daily active users tripled to 44,619.
While this is certainly a cause for celebration among the team, the huge influx of players caused some technical issues that required a weekend of hard work to sort out. There’s still more to be done, as some guild services and the world map are being reworked to accommodate the larger crowd.
The team also said that it’s making a few adjustments to its Steam offerings, such as bundling together the four DLCs into a single purchasable package. Also: “Steam is working on the giftable version of the game for all players that bought the game before we launched the free version. Apparently, this is not straightforward but we’ll figure out something, or an equivalent.”
Roll for initiative! Bree and Justin are getting all kinds of nerdy with this week’s show, in which they talk about Dragon-people, the return of a long-abandoned sci-fi game, a momentous anniversary, and the viability of sandbox MMOs.
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:
It is important to note that the official Eternal Crusade line is that the upcoming free-to-play option is not a full conversion to free-to-play, and that’s largely accurate. Free players will still be limited in what they can access. But it does mean that you will be able to play the game for free, while those who already have bought the game and are playing not for free get some fun stuff. For example, you get a bunch of in-store credit for the game, all four factional DLC packs, unique Venerable items, and something else as-yet-undisclosed to offer another little bonus.
Free players, of course, will have access to all of these things for purchase separately (aside from Venerable items) and can jump in to fill out the game’s queues, so they win as well. This also coincides with another patch to the game trimming up balance issues and outstanding bugs, so whether or not you’re already a player or just look to jump in when the game goes free, you can know you’re playing the most polished version of the game possible.
A new patch rolled out in Eternal Crusade earlier this week, making it easier than ever to plot your grand revenge upon those who wrong you. This is thanks to the new death camera, which will graciously show you the player who killed you so that you can burn that image onto your retina as you reincarnate looking for a little payback.
The patch isn’t merely about revenge, of course. The game now has a new map, Fortress Ronan, for players to fight over. Lag issues should also be much improved, and players who pick jump and support units will see a marked increase in their survivability.
The Eternal Crusade team also answered 15 community questions about the early access title, although it is being closed lipped about how it might be expanding the campaign system and its rewards in the future.
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.
In the near future, Eternal Crusade is offering a free option for players to jump in and start playing without any need for purchase, although there will be limitations on the speed of advancement for free players. A new state of the game letter explains the limitations and why they allow free players access to a fair portion of the game. In short, restricting free players to a single class and faction wouldn’t give free players any reason to come back, and it wouldn’t actually lead to a population surge for paying players; more relaxed restrictions works out better for everyone.
Current players will be receiving the benefits of the full version right away, of course, and the letter stresses that the team is still focused on the same overall priorities of balance, bug fixes, and content improvements. Testing keys will be going out within the next few weeks thanks to a partnership with Alienware, so you can look forward to seeing the new wave coming in sooner rather than later.
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!
This week we have stories and videos from Dragon Nest 2, Vainglory, Wild Terra, Heroes and Generals, Overwatch, Armored Warfare, Blade and Soul, Cloud Pirates, Pokemon Go, Eternal Crusade, Final Fantasy XIV, and Elsword, all waiting for you after the break!