So the other day, the Massively OP staff is hanging out in Slack while we work, and Justin says, “Bree, you know Guild Wars 2 a lot, so I have a question: Orr was submerged for a while and all of the zombified animals and people were too, right? Well my question is, if that’s the case, why didn’t the chickens float away? They’re pretty light and all.”
And I roll my eyes at Justin because that’s just what we do and I tell him I’m totally going to email ArenaNet with his Very Important and Serious lore question. And then Tina comes in like, “The post-cataclysm chickens were missed by Zhaitan when he culled creatures from the unsunken peripheries to join his Risen, lol. Who wants a Risen chicken?”
All of this silliness reminded me that I am not a lore person in MMORPGs. It’s not that I dislike lore; it’s that I like very specific chunks of lore that contribute to my immersion and the feel of the game. Most lore doesn’t do that, so it kinda goes in one ear and out the other. The Elder Scrolls series, for example, always manages to take root in my brain, but World of Warcraft? I don’t remember much or even feel I need to.
Is lore super important to you in MMORPGs? Or is it something you could do entirely without?
Quantic Foundry researcher and long-time MMO academic Nick Yee has an intriguing blog post out this week titled Dispelling Myths about Female Gamers in which he purports to do just that. Yee has been shuffling the data from over 300,000 submissions to the Gamer Motivation Model project to see what they reveal about female gamers. “Over and over again, we have noticed that cursory examinations of the data often support a gender-normative narrative,” he writes, “but diving deeper into the data reveals far more surprising (and interesting) relationships between gender and gameplay.”
For example, consider the lazy stereotype that women are innately averse to violence or competition in online games, a claim often used to dismiss female-dominated games as casual or not “real” games.
“At first glance, gaming motivations among men and women seem to align with gender stereotypes: Men are primarily motivated by competition and destruction, while women’s primary motivations are completion and fantasy. But this is only part of the story. For example, consider competition—the motivation that varies the most between male and female gamers – for which, it turns out, age accounts for twice the statistical variance than gender does. Or, to put it another way, the delta in the appeal of competition between younger men and older men is much bigger than the delta between men and women.”
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!
Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from Gloria Victis, Path of Exile, Breakaway, Dauntless, Splatoon 2, DarkEden Origin, EVE Online, World of Warcraft, Ultima Online, Skyforge, Trove, Final Fantasy XI, Elder Scrolls Online, Overwatch, and Path of Exile, all waiting for you after the break!
Here at Massively OP, we like to give you a great deal on news, which is why we’re offering this special three-for-one news post on a trio of Asian MMORPGs. Wow! What savings!
Let’s start with Dark and Light, which in addition to having launched on early access last week looks set to spawn a mobile game called Tales of Gaia. This game has been run through the testing circuit this summer and will release for iOS and Android sometime in 2017. Players who pre-register have a shot at grabbing some in-game goodies when it launches.
Moving on to Elsword, an ancient capital is opening up for business. “Travel with the El Search Party as they enter the Water Dragon Sanctum, only to find traces of someone else who entered before them. Who could have been here before the El Search Party?”
Finally over at MapleStory, a crystal rush is going on right now through August 25th, giving players a chance to harvest precious items and gain gobs of experience points. But beware of the Flappy Churmbles, which are no doubt as fierce as their name suggests!
So we’ve gotten another post from a developer saying that they’re going to really 100% be better about rooting out toxic players from their games. Seriously, we mean it this time. The latest one is from Blizzard, but let’s be real, this is something that’s always happened. We always get periodic statements from companies that this time they’re really going to address toxic behavior, someone links that inevitable Penny Arcade strip, nothing really changes, play laugh track, roll curtains.
I’d like to be happy about this, I really would, but it’s so much empty posturing, and it came out only shortly before the announcement that everyone who plays the game can now be signed to the Overwatch League. I think the two are pretty closely connected. And I think we need to actually start talking about this because this sort of darkly toxic problem is at the core of the designs of these games, even though on some level it’s entirely separate. The problem isn’t that these games are designed to be toxic; it’s that they’re designed to encourage toxicity.
Getting rid of individual toxic players, as Blizzard purports to do, is merely treating the symptom. We need to discuss the disease.
You just know that whenever another MMO is attempting to have a bright and bold day full of announcement joy, Blizzard is compelled to come along and slap you until your attention turns back to its games. So forget everything else that’s going on today and revel in the fact that World of Warcraft’s third wing of Tomb of Sargeras, Chamber of the Avatar, is now unlocked on the raid finder. That’s a lot of green!
Over on the patchy side of the game, the dev team hotfixed several class tuning changes for PvP and PvE. The big winners of the buffing roulette are Frost Death Knights, Protection Paladins, and Retribution Paladins. The team also decreased the health of Kil’jaeden and the Fallen Avatar in the new raid to help players clear mythic difficulty.
On this week’s show, Justin and Bree talk about a beloved MMO going mobile, the end of Guild Wars 2 (in a manner of speaking), the start of Dark and Light, LARPing at Disney World, and more!
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:
Time and again, we here at Massively OP have noted how RuneScape seems to be incredibly underestimated by the larger MMO community. For how popular it is, it never seems to get the respect and attention from the core MMORPG community that its online contemporaries do.
That is, until you head over to Twitch. According to the June viewing charts over on NewZoo, the fantasy MMORPG drew in an astounding 6.7 million hours of viewership over that month alone. This is enough to put it in 11th place, well ahead of titles like Destiny, Minecraft, Black Desert, and H1Z1: King of the Kill. It’s RuneScape’s world — we only watch it from afar.
The top 10 of the viewership chart is filled with the usual suspects, including much of Blizzard’s roster (World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Overwatch, and Heroes of the Storm) and the dominant MOBAs of our time (League of Legends and Dota 2).
SuperData’s global digital games revenue summary for June 2017 is out, and it’s a strange melange of huge shifts and no changes at all.
On the PC front, there’s been movement at the bottom of the list, as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and ROBLOX (seriously) have kicked CSGO and New Westward Journey Online II to the curb and knocked World of Tanks and Overwatch down a few pegs. World of Warcraft remains at #6, thanks to last month’s recombination of east and west. It’s a weird saga.
On consoles, however, Overwatch inched up a place and Grand Theft Auto V surged to take the top spot, in spite of its messy modder confrontations this summer. “Despite negative press over community-created-mods decisions, Grand Theft Auto Online experienced its most successful month this June on the back of [its] newest DLC,” SuperData says.
The mobile category has seen a huge shakeup as well, as Honour of Kings leaped from 10th place to 1st, pushing down Clash of Clans and Clash Royale — the firm estimates Honour of Kings made over $150 million in June. Pokemon Go remains noticeably absent from the top 10 lists this summer, but SuperData gives it a nod anyway.
Well, what did you think was going to happen?
As they have no legal legs on which to stand, MMORPG emulator projects operate on the hope that they’re under the radar enough that the actual owner of the intellectual property won’t notice or care that such activities are transpiring. Unfortunately for operator Gummy and his team over at Burning Crusade, Blizzard wasn’t about to let this fly on its watch.
The studio issued a cease-and-desist letter to the World of Warcraft emulator just weeks after the game started to become more public with open beta testing. This shutdown echoes the great drama that we saw last year with the closure and fallout of the Nostalrius vanilla WoW emulator.
If you love to hate on brightly colored cartoony-stylized graphics of games like World of Warcraft, League of Legends, and even Wildstar, know that the tide’s against you.
So goes the argument of Motiga’s Vinod Rams, who compares MOBA Gigantic’s graphics to candy during a recent Gamasutra livestream. The idea, he says, was to combine styles popularized by Disney and Hayao Miyazaki with bright plastic toy looks rather than photorealism — and consequently, that Gigantic is in the Nintendo ARMS/Splatoon family of games because it looks like candy.
“You wanna reach in and grab one of these guys and just pop ’em in your mouth. Like… candy is completely engineered to entice you to pick it up. It’s an unnatural color sometimes. Why would I want to eat something that’s bright green?”
But of course, we do because it catches our attention.
The design conversation begins around 15 minutes into the video and resumes again around 35 minutes if you’d like to hear the whole thing.
Publishing a video game globally is a monumental task, more so if it is a live online game such as what you’d find with MMORPGs. With different countries and regions come various traditions, prohibitions, language barriers, government restrictions, playstyle expectations, and financial models that must all be sorted out and overcome for these games to come out.
One of the most famous examples of adapting an MMO for use in another country is how World of Warcraft had to make significant graphical changes to its death-themed imagery (including its Forsaken race) in order to get approval to operate in China. Censorship aside, many studios have adjusted their games to include elements appealing to a certain country in order to get more fans (such as WildStar’s panda explosion).
Today we’re going to look at a short-term oddity in EverQuest II’s history, when SOE attempted to expand the game into the east — and how that rebounded back to impact the west.
From zombies to demons, game designer Harrison G. Pink is no stranger to bizarre apocalypses. Pink formerly worked on Telltale Games’ hit Walking Dead and Tales from the Borderlands titles, but nowadays he has a new address: Blizzard Entertainment.
Pink announced on Twitter this week that he was snapped up by the studio to work on Diablo III as a senior game designer. The action-MMO could certainly use a shot of new blood as it dealt with a shaky Patch 2.6 rollout and questions about the game’s future in the studio’s portfolio.
Meanwhile, Gamasutra reports that Blizzard’s in-house senior audio director has been let go by the studio after 12 years of service, apparently in favor of freelance contractors. Russell Brower explains that “as the company has grown, the topography of the Sound team has adjusted accordingly, and the last couple of years have been no exception. With the success of a ‘sound de-centralization’ initiative, my current position of overall Sr. Audio Director/Composer is no longer relevant and is being eliminated.”