One of the frustrating bits about our end-of-the-year content rollouts is that sometimes predictions and story roundups can come across as negative. It’s way too easy to assume that if someone is predicting game X will flop, she wants it to happen and is gleefully steepling her fingers and cackling madly over its future demise. Which is just not so! I never steeple my fingers.
But all the same, for tonight’s Massively Overthinking, we’d like to take a moment to set aside our fears and expectations and just talk about our hopes and wishes for 2018 in an MMORPG context. That was what we think will happen. This is a summary of our most optimistic daydreams.
We’re taking a time-machine back through our MMO coverage, month by month, to hit the highlights and frame our journey before we head into 2018!
Blizzard took the month of November with huge announcements for World of Warcraft, specifically the Battle for Azeroth expansion and vanilla-flavored WoW Classic servers.
Meanwhile, we saw the sunset of Motiga, the sunset announcement for Master X Master, and the abysmally handled and abrupt end of Gazillion and Marvel Heroes.
In happier news, Kakao took the wraps off its next mega-MMORPG, Ascent: Infinite Realm, specifically targeting western players.
And lockboxes continued to drive conversations around the law, the cost of games development, the press, and gambling, and not just because of EA: Guild Wars 2’s mount lockboxes and Star Citizen’s land claims sales reminded MMO players that monetization problems aren’t just for mainstream gamers. Still, we doubt anyone will be forgetting the ol’ claim that lockboxes create a “sense of pride and accomplishment” any time soon.
Read on for the whole list!
Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2017 awards continue today with our award for Most Anticipated MMORPG, which was awarded to Star Citizen last year for the third year in a row, though it was an incredibly close vote. (And yes, we recognize the irony of Star Citizen mopping up both negative and positive awards.) This year’s discussion on most anticipated was close too, but there’s more a sense of frustration since a lot of the games we’re picking from here year after year are the same – because they still aren’t out.
Don’t forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end!
The Massively OP staff pick for Most Anticipated MMORPG of 2018 and Beyond is…
Fishing in MMOs: You either really get it or you really don’t. Ancient Gaming Noob Wilhelm is among those who enjoys taking every opportunity possible to cast his rod and reel in search of slimy, scaly adventure under the waves — and he’s shared how he assigns an alt the joy and responsibility of fishing in each one of his games.
“If there is fishing in a game, I’ll be there. But fishing really only needs one character,” he writes. “I generally pick somebody to be my fisherman and send them out to fish around the world, following whatever plans the game happens to have for the vocation.”
Oh my cod, you say, this column has already started to flounder. Well, fear not, we have a porpoise for everything we post, and we’re sure that you’ll get hooked on one of these MMO essays and end up trouting its virtues.
Massively Overpowered’s end-of-the-year 2017 awards continue today with our award for Biggest MMO Story, which was awarded to the death of EverQuest Next last year. This isn’t an award based on popularity as measured by hits or comments, and it’s not for a single article; it’s an award for an ongoing narrative or event of deep importance and significance for the genre in 2017. Don’t forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end!
The Massively OP staff pick for Biggest MMO Story of 2017 is…
One thing you can say for the MMO industry: It never ceases to surprise all of us. No matter what predictions we may make at the beginning of a year, by December we will all be proven fools who lack vision and foresight.
Although 2017 isn’t quite over yet, we here at Massively Overpowered wanted to count down the biggest news stories that crossed over into our neck of the woods so far this year. We witnessed controversies and delights, shockers and sadness. We saw launches and shutdowns, expansions and bugs.
So before we move into 2018, let’s take a look at the year that was and remember the biggest stories that dominated headlines.
Few people are happy to see an MMO go down, especially in the manner that Marvel Heroes is going from a popular and well-liked game to a neglected title that’s been stripped of its relationship with the IP holder. A couple of MMO bloggers marked the somber occasion of the news with their own thoughts.
“Gazillion released the game as a steaming hot mess, but they diligently cleaned it up and made it a bright spot in the MMO world, particularly that they were at an intersection point between all of the Marvel characters,” said Parallel Context.
“Of all the MMOs I have played over the years, I never would have guessed this would be the first to go,” Occasional Hero wrote. “It’s never been one of my main games, but it’s always been something I come back to from time to time.”
Don’t ever test Raph Koster on MMORPG history, because you’ll probably lose.
The Star Wars Galaxies and Crowfall designer challenged a recent Rolling Stone article and a resulting Reddit thread on its portrayal of World of Warcraft back in its earliest days as the community prepares for WoW Classic. In particular, Koster takes umbrage with the “minimal storytelling” that the piece attributes to the vanilla game.
“[World of Warcraft] launched with probably literally 100x the story of any preceding MMO ever,” Koster said on Twitter. “Helped, no doubt, by spending a minimum of 4x the budget of any other MMO except Sims Online. Anyway, it’s just funny to read an argument that the great STRENGTHS of WoW at launch were its weaknesses.”
It’s kind of hard to be thankful this year. Sure, some good things have happened this year, but we also have some things that, to put it politely, are unqualified messes. There’s everything around Star Wars: Battlefront II. There’s the shuttering of Master x Master and Marvel Heroes (the latter I actually flagged a year ago as being robust and healthy). There are titles like Lord of the Rings Online and ARK: Survival Evolved that have doubled down on methods to enrage players. And last but certainly not least, there’s still no sign of a sequel to the Warcraft film.
That one might be a grey area, actually.
But the year hasn’t been devoid of light, and there’s still stuff to be thankful for. So rather than being bitter and cranky about it, I want to focus on what we do have to be thankful for even while I hope for better in the future. Let’s talk about some stuff that’s good to be thankful for, even if it doesn’t tickle your particular fancy, and be a little more hopeful.
Early on in all the WoW Classic hoopla, I’d been thinking of World of Warcraft legacy servers as the sort of gimmick servers that a lot of older games put up. Ultima Online, EverQuest, RuneScape – their hardcore servers, progression servers, old-school servers are sort of sideshows, literally, to the “real” game in the center ring.
But the day the Classic WoW subreddit went up and I watched the playerbase neatly conduct its semi-orderly self-partition, my thinking changed, such that I don’t really think it’s just a gimmick anymore. WoW Classic is going to be a whole new game. I’m not even sure Blizzard realizes it yet, given how weird and slapdash the BlizzCon announcement was, but if WoW Classic releases in the next couple of years, it’ll easily be one of the largest and most successful “new” AAA MMORPGs to come out in quite a while. It’ll be up there with AIR and New World. That’s a sobering thought – but maybe not all that surprising.
Are you thinking of WoW Classic as a totally new MMO? How will you be approaching it?
Right out of the gate in the recent World of Warcraft Q&A, Game Director Ion Hazzikostas said that WoW Classic wasn’t going to be the focal point of discussion, as the team is only “at the beginnings of this process.” However, he did confirm that Blizzard isn’t looking to monkey around with too many changes.
“We know Vanilla means Vanilla,” Hazzikostas said. “We know that it’s about community and that means some inconveniences, that means some of the rough edges. That’s not something we’re looking to move away from. It’s more which version of that experience… is it the 2005 version? The 2006 version?”
The rest of the Q&A session primarily focused on the upcoming Patch 7.3.5 and next year’s Battle for Azeroth expansion. If you’re curious what’s going to be in the next patch, the highlights include a preview of the Seething Shore battleground, zone level scaling, Legion epilogue quest content, and Ulduar Timewalking.
Icy Veins has a great roundup of the main points form the hour-long talk, although you could settle in to watch the whole thing yourself after the break.
Are you ready to play the most anticipated MMORPG from 2004? It turns out that, yes, many of you are. The frenzy over World of Warcraft Classic is probably nowhere near its zenith yet, as the announcement of the server has sparked enormous amounts of conversation among the community.
While we most likely have a while to go before Blizzard’s time travel machine is complete, it is not too soon to start thinking about the logistics and reality that a legacy server will entail. The existing emulator community and a look at the past development and operation of vanilla World of Warcraft can give us an idea of what WoW Classic will be like, although Blizzard’s vision may differ in format, business model, and features.
What will it be like to jump back to the first year or two of World of Warcraft and play that version of the game? It’s going to be a drastic shock to veteran and new players alike, especially those who might have forgotten how MMOs used to operate back in the day. Here are 10 things to expect when you log in to Classic for the first time.
It’s a really weird and interesting time to be a World of Warcraft fan. While the announcement of WoW Classic has revitalized discussion about the launch version of the MMO, it seems just about nobody can agree on what Blizzard should do when it implements the legacy servers.
For their part, WoW’s devs are still sifting through ideas. Two of the game’s community managers spent some time discussing class balance while the dev team continues to be formed. “Should class balance be left as it was, or should it be tweaked within a certain margin, or should it be constantly tuned and worked on?” one CM posted. “I’m not so certain that any specific one is the default, correct choice.”
It sounds as though Blizzard is trying to elicit feedback before it makes any decisions: “If folks want a true 1:1 Vanilla experience, then we want to see the discussion of that. If people think there should be changes here or there, then we’ll want to see that too.”