Official Site: WildStar
Studio: Carbine Studios/NCsoft
Launch Date: June 3, 2014
Genre: Sci-Fantasy Themepark
Business Model: F2P as of September 2015
Platform: PC

Massively OP Podcast Episode 135: PAX in the P.M.

On this week’s show, MJ arrives to give her report on PAX West and how much swag she smuggled back on the plane. Bree and Justin touch base with the major news stories of the week, including Destiny 2’s launch, ArcheAge’s mergers, and WildStar’s housing happiness.

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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Perfect Ten: MMOs that changed their names

Names and titles fascinate me. While sometimes they have no deeper meaning than to sound pleasant and be memorable, a label can indicate purpose, history, and connection. MMORPG names are, of course, as varied as the stars in the sky, with many of them slapping “online” or “age of” somewhere in there to designate their category. But every so often, we witness a game that changes its name as part of its development and business evolution.

Today I wanted to run down 10 MMOs (well, nine MMOs and one expansion) that received notable name changes over the years. I’m not going to talk about games that created a weird rebrand for a business model shift but mostly stuck with the original title afterward (such as DDO Unlimited or WildStar Reloaded), but instead games that had vastly different names than what they ended up using.
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WildStar doubles-down on housing with today’s Homecoming update

Don’t change that channel, kiddos: It’s time for the WildStar patch show! On today’s episode, “Homecoming,” the planet of Nexus gets overtaken by redecoration fever, and spontaneous communities crop up all over the place.

Homecoming’s crown jewel is the long-anticipated, much-discussed feature that allows several players to band together to build homes and other creations on a shared island. To continue with the theme of housing, there’s a new monthly residential renovation event that panders to decorators with themed tasks and decor rewards.

And to cap all of this housing craziness off, the update triggers the beginning of a collaborative contest: “The Community Showdown is the preeminent competition for seasoned architects, landscapers, and interior designers to flaunt your elite skills and let vanity be thy true tape measure. But this isn’t your mama’s House of Haunts contest. This time, through the foundation of a community, you’re in it to win it with a full five conjoined housing plots fashioned to elegant perfection!”

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Elder Scrolls Online and WildStar throw contests for crowns and cash

WildStar and Elder Scrolls Online walked into a bar, where they drank in companionable silence until one said, “You know what, pard’ner? We should fling out some contests to promote our sizzling updates!” Then more drinking, some karaoke, ESO called a taxi, morning headaches, and the contests happened.

WildStar wants to get some promotion behind its upcoming Homecoming update, which is why it’s challenging player teams to collaborate on a striking a neighborhood community. The winning team will split a $2,500 cash prize (insert WildStar budget joke here), while seven honorable mentions will benefit from their teammates being able to nab 10 items of their choice from the housing section of the cash shop.

As for Elder Scrolls Online, the team is selecting five random players who enter its Horns of the Reach giveaway to receive a gift pack containing 11,000 crowns and a mount of his or her choice. Not too shabby for a little effort!

Source: WildStar, Elder Scrolls Online. Thanks Derek!


Battle Bards Episode 104: Something wicked this way comes

And lo, as the Battle Bards walk through the zone of the shadow of death, they will fear no evil, but they will listen to evil’s soundtrack because that is what they do! In today’s episode, the crew looks at the darker side of MMORPG soundtracks, dwelling in the wicked, the profane, and the deliciously macabre. Also, Syp does his Cookie Monster voice.

Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunesGoogle PlayTuneInPocket CastsStitcher, and Player.FM.

Listen to Episode 104: Something wicked this way comes (or download it) now:

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Perfect Ten: The 10 saddest MMORPG stories

Every MMO tells a story through the run of its life. A lot of those stories are pretty happy, too. Ultima Online may not be the most happening place in the world right now, but its story is about launching a genre and then running for two solid decades. That’s a pretty great story. However much it’s become a tale of mismanaged expectations, World of Warcraft kind of became the most popular thing for a long while and brought in tons of new people to the hobby. Even titles with sad endings often have bright stories; the end bit for City of Heroes sucks, but everything leading up to that was a gas.

And then you have these 10 titles. These are titles where the whole story is a tragedy, start to finish, and in many cases the tragedy isn’t necessarily over, but the story is still just plain sad. There are reasons, of course, maybe even good ones, but the result is that the narrative for these titles is pretty sad all the way through.

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WildStar explains the operation of communities

Everyone lives with everyone else with the next WildStar update; you form a community and everyone gets to be together. Although perhaps it’s not quite that expansive, as the latest development dispatch on the official site explains that there are slots for five personal lots on the shared community lot. Still, that means many places for players to work together and form a shared community space, and considering the fact that there’s a whole Community Showdown on the way, you’ll want your best and brightest to be front and center.

Communities work functionally like guild membership, but the two do not overlap, so you can be part of a different community than the rest of your guild. It does, however, still have the aspects of distinct privileges and rights within the community, including who can access what on the shared lots and which lots are allowed to be linked. You also won’t be able to access your lot separately if it’s part of the community lot, although it’s an open question about why you might want to. Check out the full rundown to get a better picture of living together in a model community.


WildStar’s Homecoming update arrives on September 6

When you play WildStar, you have a house. It’s pretty much automatic. But wouldn’t you like to be able to have that house be part of a whole big gathering of houses with all of your friends? If you said yes, we’re pretty sure you’ll love the heck out of the game’s Homecoming update arriving on September 6th, which introduces the game’s Communities feature to allow everyone a chance to group up to form a neighborhood, even going so far as to occupy shared land space.

The game is also introducing a new Residential Renovation event to offer you more chances at redecorating your home along with expanded offerings for Prime content. It’s mostly going to be about the housing, but those of you more attuned to dynamic and challenging content will still have space to shine, so that’s all good. What’s not to enjoy?


Massively Overthinking: Is the popularity of small-scale co-op games hurting MMORPGs?

Gamasutra has an unusual piece from an Ubisoft developer this week arguing that co-op gameplay is the industry’s rising midcore trend, one that he believes will ultimately outstrip team competitive games. “It’s all about all the big data and stats that are finally available and can be mined,” author Andrii Goncharuk says, “and no surprise that it’s showing that players who played co-op mode have much more play hours, and players who played co-op with friends have even more play hours.”

He may be right, though first you’d have to believe co-op ever went anywhere to begin with (and console players would probably tell you nope!). But as I read the article, I couldn’t help but see MMOs in most of the arguments he’s making about what makes co-op games sticky, and yet MMOs are being edged out all the same. And while I don’t like to think of the MMO genre’s space in the industry as a zero-sum situation, the reality is that when people tire of MMORPG baggage but still want social play, co-op is exactly the sort of game they retreat to.

For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I asked our writers to reflect on the rise of co-op PvE games outside the MMO label. Do we play them? Do we prefer them, and when? How can we learn from them? Is the popularity of smaller-scale co-op hurting MMORPGs?

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The Daily Grind: Is there any hope for WildStar?

It’s no secret that WildStar has, for the duration of its existence, underperformed and struggled to find a large and steady audience. Even with the free-to-play transition, multiple updates, and a softening up of its super-duper hardcore approach, WildStar has not been able to succeed in the way that the studio and its community had hoped.

In fact, it surprises a lot of people that it hasn’t been given a pink slip by parent publisher NCsoft, especially after seeing the MMO slip in revenue consistently over the past couple of years. Yet it survives, and for as long as it does, there might be hope for a future for this sci-fi game.

What do you think? Is there any hope for WildStar in 2017? Do you think that NCsoft is holding off on the execution order because it has actual plans for the game? What do you think Carbine needs to do to grow and nurture this title so that it may escape the shadow of perceived doom?

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WildStar says housing communities are coming soon, begins testing Prime Genetic Archives raid

Maybe it slipped under your radar, but WildStar has been quietly and diligently at work preparing the next two content updates for the game as well as activating several events for the month of August.

According to this month’s Dev Connect, Patch 1.7.3 is “nearing completion” with its new communities feature, a “Residential Renovation” monthly event, and a couple of prime difficulty dungeons. Following that later this year is Patch 1.7.4, which will roll out the Genetic Archives Prime Level 1. This raid is currently on the test servers.

So what will this Residential Renovation event include? The team briefly discussed it in a recent article: “Players will help housing designer and renovator extraordinaire, Sara Conavius, by completing a variety of activities to earn currency which can be traded for rewards.”

Next up for events in WildStar is Sim-Chase from August 14th through the 21st, followed by a double XP weekend on August 25th through the 28th.


One Shots: Sacred space

Anyone a little excited about Guild Wars 2 these days? Probably not, but on the off-chance that there’s a glimmer of hype and hope alive, here’s a reminder that there’s some stuff that was put out for the game and other stuff that’s coming for the game. Deserty-stuff.

“I don’t want to spoil much about the latest Guild Wars 2 episode, so here is just a shot from inside of Divinity’s Reach palace temple, where it begins!” Miol submitted.

I wish I could un-spoil myself from that screenshot, because now I know the game’s design plans for the next seven years, all from the subtle clues that are contained in those stained glass windows. How I wish I could erase that knowledge and experience it as a wide-eyed child would!

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Battle Bards Episode 102: Pure joy

Is it even possible for pure joy to be derived from MMORPG music? Whether or not, the Battle Bards are going to take a serious stab at it in today’s episode! Each piece is hand-picked and home-brewed to distill joy for the listener, coated in sparkling hopes and drizzled with fond memories. No matter what, you’re in for an uplifting show!

Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunesGoogle PlayTuneInPocket CastsStitcher, and Player.FM.

Listen to Episode 102: Pure joy (or download it) now:

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