Andrew Ross

Andrew Ross usually covers E3, MOBAs, MMO-ish multiplayer games, and game related studies for Massively OP. He's a hardcore PvPer who delivered pizzas to shard defender supply runners in Asheron's Call's Shard of the Herald event, fried fish during Darkfall's World War 1 and 2, and killed many alliance members in World of Warcraft for picking "his" flowers. He is a terrible jungler, but can usually stay on the road in Mario Kart.

Pokemon Go 2 Day Community Event for Eevee, tons of content this weekend and on the horizon

It looks as if the upcoming Pokemon Let’s Go games are affecting Pokemon Go once again. I doubt it’s a coincidence that the next Community Day Pokemon is Eevee, the second, non-Pikachu version of the upcoming Switch games. Even better, Niantic may finally be listening to players (including our staffers), as Community Day will be held on two days this time: August 11 and 12.

As some people have noticed, the text mentions that Eevee and its evolutions will receive a new move, in addition to the longer lures and bonus stardust for catching Pokemon. There’s just one problem: Umbreon, the Dark-type Eevee, can be obtained only through the naming trick during the day. Espeon and Umbreon are normally earned by walking an Eevee 10 kilometers or more and evolving it when it’s your buddy, but the time of day matters: It becomes Espeon during the day and Umbreon during the night. As Community Day is only three hours long and still seems to be during its usual hours (11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the west coast), that sounds like Umbreon won’t be available.

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Exploring Pokemon Go’s real-life communities: MOP staffers revisit the game from opposite corners of the world

It’s year two of Pokemon Go. While there’s always room for improvement, enough has changed that I feel comfortable recommending the game to at least pre-World of Warcraft MMO fans. Why them and not the greater MMO community? Glad you (hopefully) asked! Unlike most true MMOs, POGO is still in its early infancy in terms of in-game community. Much as in early online games, players may be able to have a friend’s list, but not only is basic chat lacking but so is guild/clan support. There’s no party system, which means no group finder, let alone instanced content that lets you join in with little to no effort.

Like old school MMOs, POGO players have to use a lot of out of game tools for their communities, but there’s enough going on that fellow Massively OP reporters Brendan Drain and Tina Lauro Pollock have renewed their interest in the game. While Brendan had previously attempted some casual raids, both he and Tina had quit entirely. As the game just had not one but two events this weekend as part of its second year anniversary, we decided to try moving out of our comfort zone and looking at the game’s community from new perspectives. Brendan and Tina tried jumping in for the events for the first time, while I tried playing outside my usual community, with mixed results.

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Today in why we can’t have nice things: How a No Man’s Sky griefer exploits design flaws to screw with communities

No Man’s Sky griefer purporting to roleplay an evil emperor, monologuing and all, decided to up his griefer game by taking it out of game and erasing a 400+ member strong Amino community cafe.

As Kotaku reports, the streamer, SGX, had a history of this sort of play.

“Erasing a base in No Man’s Sky is pretty easy to do. Each planet can only have a certain number of bases that are visible to other players. In many communities, it’s considered polite not to claim a base on a planet that has other bases on it already. What SGX did was go to planets in civilized space, meaning communities like Cafe 42 or the Galactic Hub, travel to places where he knew player-made bases existed, and claim bases at the same site, effectively destroying them. He’s also left some rude comments in his wake, all in keeping with his evil overlord persona. In one stream, he re-words a comment a couple of times because the profanity filter won’t let him submit his desired message: “I pissed at your door.”

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Pokemon Go’s second anniversary report card sees high marks for content and innovation

Today is Pokemon Go’s second-year anniversary. Last year’s report card had to grapple with things like the game’s rapid rise and fall as a fad, its severe lack of promised content even with its first major update, crimes associated with the game, and being somewhat anti-social – and that was before the disaster known as Pokemon Go fest 2017. It was probably the worst way to start off a new year for your game, and it’s probably no surprise that our coverage of the game waned after the fallout.

But something happened. Whether it was because series Director/Producer Junichi Masuda was there to witness the horror or because some internal change in Niantic’s process changed, we’ll probably never know. But change came. Generation 3 became Pokemon Go’s One Tamriel. Suggestions I’d made previously happened and are still happening. The numbers are showing that the improvements are paying off, as the game’s playerbase is at the highest it’s been since its 2016 peak, after having gone through a brutal 80% dropoff. I thought I was being overly optimistic with my 2018 predictions for the game, but so far, so very good!
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It’s the battle of the cephalopods in Splatoon 2 as it pits squids against octopi for its birthday bash

It’s almost been a year since Nintendo released Splatoon 2 on the Nintendo Switch. The frequent Splatfests – casual tournaments that decide winners by popularity, singleplayer performance, and team-based performance – have seen interesting tweaks of late, like a longer-form, team-elimination format that eliminates a voting option while letting everyone continue playing. North America and Europe experienced this with a Ninja Turtles-themed event.

However, for its one-year anniversary on July 21st, the game will be hosting an event partially based on its new DLC: Squids vs. Octopi. Much like the small change to ink color, t-shirts, and other tweaks Nintendo’s done for other Splatfest, this one also comes with a twist: While DLC players have access to the octolings (octo-kids) once they complete the rather challenging new storyline (or allow one of the characters to “hack” any level you’re stuck on), the new Splatfest will let any player who chooses Team Octopus play as an octoling for the duration of the event. As you might have guessed, Team Squid is stuck as the default but more varied inklings. While the choice may be tough, we’ve included a Very Serious discussion between the differences between squid and octopus advantages, care of Zoo Tier.

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Confirmed: The Squirtle squad may finally be coming to Pokemon Go

Niantic, don’t play with my heart like this. After enduring years of Pikachu hats for various events in Pokemon Go, there may be a chance that Niantic will finally give some ascetic love (beyond shinies) to a Pokemon outside the electric mouse family: Squirtle.

Since the announcement of Squirtle Community Day, people have flooded the official Pokemon Go twitter announcement with demands that Niantic do more than it usually does with other Pokemon, giving rise to the hashtag #SquirtleSquadorRiot. While there’s been no official announcement, fans are hoping that the above header image may be a clue that the team has heard fans’ cries, though I remain skeptical at this point. (Update– It’s been confirmed).

Casual Pokemon fans just need to know that the original manga and anime had a gang of Squirtle in sunglasses that causes mischief, which naturally the hero must put right, eventually causing the gang to turn over a new leaf. The gang has been referenced in the game series as early as Pokemon Yellow and remains a fan favorite.

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Interview: Worlds Adrift’s Bossa Studios on giving, griefing, and gittin’ gud

After the launch of Worlds Adrift but prior to E3, we sent off an interview to Bossa Studios and recently received our answers, complete with current news about how the studio is trying to address griefing, adding countermeasures, and yes, “gitting good.” Maybe the phrasing there could be better, especially given the brutality of the Steam launch, but Bossa Studios Co-Founder Henrique Olifiers and Game Designer Luke Williams were kind enough to talk to us about why they pursue the seemingly less profitable PvP crowd, building PvPvE experiences, and the road to release.

Let me be upfront with my biases for those unfamiliar with my coverage: I love open world PvP as a concept, not as a ganker but as the guy trying not to get ganked. I love the concept of virtual worlds, but as Bill Roper and I discussed, players aren’t developers and don’t always understand the tech that gives them the games they love.

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ArenaNet on Guild Wars 2’s living story, Heart of Thorns vs. Path of Fire, security, and momentum

Though ArenaNet was technically at E3 this year, the group representing Guild Wars 2 was chiefly a marketing and business one, so they carted our interview questions back to team members more suited to answer. ArenaNet Brand Manager (and former Massively columnist) Lis Cardy, Design Manager Crystal Reid, Systems Team Lead Irenio Calmon-Huang, and Game Director Mike Zadorojny weigh in on the living story, security, gaining “momentum,” and more, just in time for the launch of the next episode later today. Let’s dig in.

The ever-living story

While I haven’t personally played much GW2 since the arc about the fall Lion’s Arch, I’ve liked the concept of an ever-evolving story. It’s actually what got me into MMOs thanks to the Asheron’s Call series’ monthly updates. When I asked how the ArenaNet team felt players were reacting to the current living story, especially in terms of pacing, Mike Zadorojny said the studio has “seen players become more engaged with the releases.” Apparently, they’re happy to see the connections players making to the stories and characters they’ve developed and especially with the discussions across Reddit and the forums.
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E3 2018: Hands-on with Mavericks, the MMO battle royale hybrid

Automaton Games CEO James Thompson came along with Improbable, Bill Roper, and Mavericks to this year’s E3, where I got a second chance to see how everything in the battle royale/MMO hybrid is doing since GDC. I know battle royale is a hot topic around here, and the reaction we saw at GDC did have me worried about Mavericks’ potential audience.

Thompson was quite eager to talk about Mavericks, especially its battle royale side, but as someone who’s much more of an MMORPG player, I felt the one key thing we found common ground on was that Mavericks is aiming to be less of a simple genre game and more of a “platform” to build on, not because of any strength of the BR or even MMO genre but because of its ability to run a simulation. For virtual world fans, this is something I feel we should be paying more attention to.

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E3 2018: Bill Roper on gaming’s smoke and mirrors, Worlds Adrift, and building on SpatialOS

For MMO players, Improbable brought some interesting ideas to GDC this past spring. It also brought some games I wasn’t expecting, and the ones I was expecting were kind of downplayed. On the ground floor, developers from some of our favorite MMOs hadn’t heard of SpatialOS, a platform that allows games to be “bigger” by running multiple game engines in an innovative way, with a few developers being exceptions. I was set up for a meeting with Improbable CCO Bill Roper to help figure things out, but soon into our physical meeting he was pulled away and we had to follow up with emails, which rarely goes as well.

Fortunately, Roper had time to sit and chat again with me at E3. With SpatialOS’s first game out in the wild and more on the way, I felt like there was a lot Roper could explain about SpatialOS, MMOs, and Improbable’s role in it all.

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E3 2018: Hands-on with Descent, the future of space mining

Fallout 76 wasn’t the only Interplay throwback at E3 2018: Descent, one of the games that defined the six degrees of freedom genre, is no longer underground. That is, the former title has changed because Interplay’s embraced the game and given the developers full support.

Descendent Studios team is hard at work on launch, Little Orbit CEO Matt Scott met with us to discuss what’s been going on in the past several years of development. Nostalgia aside, I went in expecting the worst: long-abandoned IP, Kickstarted game, indie team, extended public development, and fairly quiet presence on social media. However, I came out very pleased. While the game may not be an MMORPG, what I saw and heard makes me think that this may be the space experience I’ve been waiting for.

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E3 2018: Hands-on with ReEvolve, Perfect World’s new mobile sandbox MMORPG

Remember how we learned that Perfect World would be showing off some new games at E3? Well, things happen at conventions like this – they don’t always go to plan. My FarSide didn’t materialize, for example. However, ReEvolve did happen, just not without setbacks. Our PR contact, Michael Meyers, did his level best to help me understand what was up with the game, despite the realization that PWE’s Chinese branch hasn’t pushed much information westward just yet. All this could have ended with my not writing anything, but despite it all, enough of the game showed through, and I’m definitely intrigued.

If a sandbox version of something like Adventure Quest 3D exclusively on mobile sounds like your thing, read on.

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E3 2018: Hands-on with the superb (and hopefully Switch-bound) Black Desert Mobile

While I’ve had kind words to say about the potential for mobile in the past – particularly MMOARGs – I just haven’t been able to get into mobile MMORPGs. The point of view, the auto-follow, the lack of chat, and a generally cheap feeling leave me feeling a bit ill. However, I was fortunate enough to get my hands on Black Desert Online’s mobile port this year at E3, which might just change my mind.

Now, let me preface this by saying I am not an active player of the PC version of the game, and my brief time with the console version of the game only confirmed to me that Pearl Abyss has competently adapted controls and UI for console, but oddly enough, the work on the mobile client stood out to me as particularly superb. And as Pearl Abyss CEO Kyungin “Robin” Jung told me during our interview, the company is indeed considering porting the title to the Switch. While it sounded interesting (and a bit odd considering Nintendo’s general status as an online-outsider), it wasn’t until I personally played BDM that I seriously started to consider the possibility.

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