MMO Cartographer: Reminiscing on the MMOs we toured in 2019

Plus MMO resolutions for the decade to come


It is that time of the year when retrospectives abound and people set their resolutions for the upcoming year. That seems like exactly the kind of bandwagon I’d climb onto here in MMO Cartographer. I am glad to have the opportunity to share these with you, my dear readers. I was one of Massively OP’s new hires for 2019, a significant milestone in my gaming life and a blessing. My husband, who does not play games, is happy that you are the audience for my MMO ramblings instead of him.

For the column this year, I wrote about Project Gorgon, Shroud of the Avatar, Tree of Savior, Runes of Magic, Riders of Icarus, Aura Kingdom, World of Warcraft classic and retail, and Trove. That’s a wide variety of game experiences, and I hope that I have been able to give you some idea of the flavor of each.

If I were to issue MMO Cartographer awards, Project Gorgon would win for “Best Effort by a Small Indie Developer.” It is innovative, yet also a call back to an older style of MMORPG. It hasn’t become my main game at any point (yet), but I appreciate what Elder Game has accomplished so far. I hope this isn’t too much of a hot take, but I think some other indie studios would benefit from the model of releasing something playable and developing it over time. At least people would know for sure that there’s a game and that it is improving.

Shroud of the Avatar had an eventful year, with many changes coming after my time in the game. I have not been back to the game since Catnip Games acquired the game from Portalarium, but I do watch the news here on Massively OP, and updates continue to roll out. It wasn’t the game for me, but it does have its passionate fans. I guess that would be the “Not My Thing, Maybe Yours” award.

The “Game I Liked A Whole Lot More Than I Expected” award would go to Tree of Savior. I tend to avoid isometric games as if they carried a combination platter of bubonic plague, malaria, and ebola, but a friend with thousands of hours into the game recommended it repeatedly, so I gave it a try. Well, strip my gears and call me shiftless! It was fun! Lesson learned: Don’t write off an entire section of the genre over one single superficial feature.

Runes of Magic wins the “Decade Survivor” award, following its 10th anniversary in 2019. Its longevity can probably be credited to being one of the better WoW clones from the era when games that looked and played suspiciously like World of Warcraft were being released every week. Many of the terrible WoW clones have disappeared, while a few good ones continue even today.

Riders of Icarus was my main game for several months. I love pets and mounts, and that is the big hook for that game. Resistance was futile. Unfortunately, I drifted away. The game was previously published by Nexon but moved to VALOFE in Nexon’s Great Shedding of Games in 2019. I was able to migrate my account without a hitch, but a number of my guildmates had a great deal of difficulty getting moved over, even after weeks under the new management, and that’s when I wandered away. Still, the elements that attracted me to the game would justify a win for “Best in Breed for Pet/Mount-centric Games.”

The next game I looked at after Riders of Icarus was Aura Kingdom, a cute anime-style game from 2013. There aren’t too many games in that vein being released at this end of the decade, but they were, once upon a time, a big chunk of new releases. That makes Aura Kingdom another survivor that continues to be updated; Gamigo/Aeria even released a new class this year, the Rock Star. It wins the “Kawaii Desu” award.

What can I say about World of Warcraft in either of its current incarnations? Leaving aside all of the Blizzard controversies, there are plenty of people still talking and writing about WoW. It remains a staple of streaming sites. Love it or hate it, it is still one of the very biggest MMORPGs. Congratulations, WoW (of both flavors), on the “Still an 800-pound Gorilla” award.

The Trove article is hot off the news feed, so you can just pop over there and see what I had to say about that just days ago. Better yet, go try it and see if it is your kind of game. I will just say that I took my own advice and didn’t judge it by its looks alone, and I am glad I gave it a chance. Having set a precedent in this piece already, it would be wrong to leave Trove out, so we’ll give it the “Block of Gold” award.

Thus ends the retrospective. As we slide into the new year, I will set some gaming resolutions, even beyond those in the recent Massively Overthinking, but I will do my best to not make predictions.

I resolve to play and write on a more regular schedule in 2020. Conveniently, having a more structured and regular schedule is one of my general resolutions for the coming year. I know I can do this because I have done it before; the chaos of 2019 was exceptional in both duration and intensity. While I am at it, I am going to try to get into more games that fall in the middle of the recognition scale, games you’ve heard of but may not have played. I may stray toward more popular or more obscure games here and there, but I am aiming for something in the Project Gorgon or Shroud of the Avatar range. I am open to suggestions for games to play as well.

That brings me to my other major resolution (that you would have any interest in at all as a reader of MMO Cartographer): I want to be more involved and engaged with not only my readers but the entire MOP community. I comment and reply to comments here and there now, but look for me to be all over the site in the coming year.

With that, I wish you all good health and prosperity in 2020. May you achieve all that you set out to do. I believe in you. You can do the thing.

Every other weekend, Massively OP’s Mia DeSanzo opens up her satchel of maps and decides where to go next in MMO Cartographer, Massively OP’s journey through MMO worlds, be they old or new, ordinary or unusual, or well-loved or long-forgotten. Expect the eclectic!
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