Brianna 'Bree' Royce

Editor-in-Chief

Bree is an unrepentant escapist with a predilection for MMOs. When not compulsively proofreading cereal boxes and newspapers, she can be found modding, PvPing on the auction hall, and touring the Next Big Thing with her guild on a quest for the elusive perfect game.

Working As Intended and Ask Mo are her pet op-ed columns, but she also pens Daily Grinds and compiles both Massively Overthinking and the Week in Review. You can hear her ramble about MMOs every week on the Massively OP podcast. If you're nice, she'll even talk about something other than Star Wars Galaxies.

Personal blog: Skycandy
Twitter: @nbrianna
Favorite MMOs: SWG, CoH, Glitch, GW2, GW1, WoW, MH

Sea of Thieves’ July 31 Cursed Sails update adds creepy skeleton ghost ships and a three-man vessel

Who doesn’t love a good ghost ship story? I’m a sucker for them, so Sea of Thieves’ Cursed Sails, the game’s second major update, definitely has my eye. According to the new trailer and blog post, players are getting that promised new ship, some new story lore, and the three-man Brigantine, along with the hinted-at multi-boat alliance system and the NPC skeleton ships that will be popping out of the sea to wallop your crew as the “emergent threat” they are. Nothing like watching a ship helmed by skellies literally dive into the depths and drag everything with it. Reddit is freaking out (in a good way) over the crab sighting too.

“Cursed Sails will change things forever on the Sea of Thieves, as the sails you see cresting the horizon are no longer guaranteed to be other players making their own way through the world. The decks beneath those masts may now be manned by skeletal marauders returned to the seas from their restless graves. All that sustains these grinning terrors is a thirst for battle that leads them to terrorise Outposts and call out defenders to face them on the tides…”

The update launches on July 31st; you can watch the preview trailer down below. Arrr!

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No Man’s Sky’s Next update drops next week with absurd amounts of space and land content

Don’t call it an MMO yet, but Even More Multiplayer is making its way to No Man’s Sky with its “Next” update. Hello Games today dropped a new trailer showing off how the “limitless procedural universe” is coming along. In fact, you haven’t got long to wait to play it yourself, as it’s rolling out next week on July 24th (Europeans have to wait an extra three days to the 27th for some reason).

“The new mode will be added to the limitless procedural universe across all platforms next week via the No Man’s Sky NEXT update, coinciding with the game’s launch on Xbox One, in a publishing partnership with 505 Games for physical retail. With this launch, players across Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Steam for PC will be able to explore, fight and survive with friends as they voyage across the vast celestial sandbox.”

Hello Games is touting a whole slew of features, including small-group exploration, the chance to “prey on others to survive,” building shelters and colonies, exocraft racing, custom race track creation and sharing, “epic space battles,” unlimited base building, fleet control, capital ships, “challenging multiplayer missions,” and a massive visual upgrade. Holy crap. Maybe that’s why the game’s recent reviews on Steam are pretty positive, eh?

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Check out all of the Warframe’s TennoCon 2018 videos

If you missed out on the glory of TennoCon 2018, you can take in most of the Warframe experience thanks to the cache of videos of the event Digital Extremes posted last night. Probably the most important bits are the Railjack and Fortuna previews, but there are several other vids, including the art and sound panels and the cosplay contest.

Massively OP’s MJ Guthrie was on-site for the event; if you’re not into lengthy videos, check out her written coverage and interviews!

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PUBG is testing custom matches, so you can roll your own zombie survival game… hey wait a second…

It’s a big day for PUBG as its latest patch has just hit the test server, and it’s a doozy: It’s the one that finally allows custom matches. Players will be able to combine their selected game mode with other presets, like weather, spawn types, and maps. Apparently “zombie mode” is the one to watch; according to RPS, regular players have been jonesing for this option ever since influencers started streaming it. Now everyone can whip up a humans-vs.-zombies match in PUBG, and we have finally come full circle in the world of survival/battle royale games.

Over on Steam, players are ascii-spamming – is there a better word for filling a comment section with word-art of your demands for the devs? – about the game’s ongoing desync issues. There are new weapons and beat-up ol’ trucks in testing now too; you can preview those down below if that’s your thing.

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The Daily Grind: How can we solve Reddit’s gaming ‘tragedy of the commons’ problem?

In dealing with the ArenaNet fallout over the last couple of weeks, I started giving serious thought to the Reddit problem in gaming, and I’m not just talking about the overt hate groups allowed to fester there. You know how one of the rules of thumb for MMORPG communities for the longest time was never go to the official forums because you’d come away feeling depressed and dejected, believing the game community was a hot mess and your class was most assuredly the most broken? Reddit is like that, only nobody there cares enough about fixing it to see it through, and so we’ve got a tragedy of the commons problem playing out in cyberspace.

When game companies owned their own discussion spaces, most of them at least made some modicum of effort to keep them respectable. Oh, sure, some took that way too far and deleted criticism, but most, barring the very biggest, tamped down on toxicity because that space reflected on them. They cared. This is how I feel about our own comment section, incidentally, because our team owns this site and cares about the conversations we have here, unlike many other sites owned by corporate groups that don’t even care if comments exist at all.

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What made Fortnite so ridiculously popular? Anticipation is baked into both the loot and the gameplay, says one psychologist

Over the weekend, I was chatting with the mom of my son’s friend and let slip that I’m a video game blogger. Her reaction? “What do you think of Fortnite? Is it so big because it’s free-to-play?” Our kids aren’t even old enough to play this game, and she knew all about it and wondered about its runaway success.

The truth is, there are lots of reasons for Fortnite’s success, more than I had time to mumble out in small talk. Jamie Madigan on The Psychology of Video Games blog took a stab at answering the same question this week, and his answer is probably not what anybody is expecting.

“I think Fortnite Battle Royale’s secret sauce has to do with something that’s kind of obvious once you think about it: random chance. I don’t mean that Fortnite’s success is due to luck. Rather, I mean that Epic smartly leveraged the power of random rewards in their design for the game, and that’s one of the main reasons it’s so popular.”

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Shroud of the Avatar’s newsletter covers the mysterious comet and player-created dungeon tools

Strange sights abound in Shroud of the Avatar right now. “Astronomers across New Britannia have noted that the approaching comet has agitated the creatures of Novia and Hidden Vale, making many bolder and more ferocious,” the game’s latest newsletter teases. “Rumors suggest that the aether surrounding the comet has been mutating some of the most powerful creatures into new monstrous variations.” That’s all in the lead-up to next week’s Release 56, so best get in there and try not to die. Portalarium further notes that it’s planning another stream with more info about what’s inbound to the game, including more tools for player-generated content.

“One of the new features we plan to discuss is a set of new building tools including dungeon creation (player property) and defense building (player property, castle defenses and control points). These are part of a larger effort to increase the community’s ability to craft their own adventures that includes existing tools like notes and signs but is also expanding with other new features like advanced container settings (locks, place/take settings, etc.) along with craftable/purhasable/placeable traps and spawners (spider eggs, skeleton crypts, etc.). When you put all of these things together your ability to craft adventures will be limited only by your imagination! Last livestream we also did not get a chance to talk another cool thing coming for Episode 2 which is the ability to ‘un-nest’ and/or transfer your Player Owned Town into the new lands!”

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Ubisoft is not here for Rainbow Six Siege players’ toxic behavior

Remember last spring when Ubisoft said it was getting serious about cracking down on toxicity in Rainbow Six Siege? The company said it was improving upon its existing chat monitoring system to “ban players that use racial and homophobic slurs, or hate speech, in game,” booting players for at minimum two days and at maximum eternity for “language or content deemed illegal, dangerous, threatening, abusive, obscene, vulgar, defamatory, hateful, racist, sexist, ethically offensive or constituting harassment.”

In response to one player complaining he’d been banned for using a variation of the N-word, the Rainbow Six Siege twitter account replied, “Good. […] Games have rules, and we’re just asking you to follow them.” Of course, trolls then began responding to the Twitter thread with the same sorts of slurs and variations on the slurs intended to get around chat filters and slip past Twitter blockers. There are also plenty of folks thanking Ubisoft for cleaning up the game.

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German courts rule against companies using ‘coming soon’ marketing for preorders

Making its way through the German court system right now is a case that could be of considerable importance to consumer protections, and not just in Germany.

As German website Computer Base reports (via TechPowerUp and some Google translate because my German has gotten too rusty), a Munich Regional High Court ruling in a consumer lawsuit against MediaMarkt effectively argues that vague promises like “coming soon” are off-limits for dealers of preorder items. In October, the judges ruled in favor of the consumer in a case over a Samsung Galaxy preorder; this past May, the higher regional court upheld that judgment, and an appeal to the top court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) was rebuffed.

“In the view of the judges, this information was too vague to comply with the statutory information obligation of the providers. According to this, potential customers should know before the end of the ordering process how long the delivery time will be at the maximum.”

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Colony simulation MMO Seed blasts you into space in its brand-new pre-alpha teaser

We’ve been keeping an eye on Klang Games’ MMO Seed since at least last year, when the studio revealed its single-shard simulation mechanics and use of SpatialOS. It looks as if the game is making some progress, as Klang has a fresh blog post up today with a “teaser” of the game’s current pre-alpha build.

The video shows tiny colony vessels shooting out from earth and setting up camp on other worlds as the humans spread out and build civilization from scratch, from tents to villages to big cities across the new planets. It’s cute and might remind you of a cross between The Sims and Spore, in an EVE Online-like setting, which won’t surprise you as its founders have CCP Games pedigrees.

The company further announced today that it’s raised another $8.95M in Series A investor funding, bringing its total investment to $13.95M.

As of autumn last year, external testing was planned for this summer; it’s not clear whether that’s been delayed or this teaser is a precursor to a test. A few months ago, the devs “no comment”-ed on the topic of release.

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Nintendo bans Splatoon 2 greyhat who begged it to address the hackers and exploits destroying the game

I’m not gonna lie, watching my kid and his cousin play Splatoon 2 on said cousin’s shiny new Switch made me reaaaalllly want to get a Switch. But maybe Splatoon 2 could use a little rethink. That’s because, as Polygon reports, the game is becoming “increasingly overrun with hackers, who have figured out ways to not only claim an easy win, but also circumvent the game’s abuse report system.” The publication reports that the multiplayer modes are riddled with the equivalent of god-moding speed-hackers abusing hardware exploits, and Nintendo apparently prefers to take a reactive rather than proactive approach, asking players to report cheaters after the fact.

Last week, a greyhat hacker and game fan brought matters to a head by hacking the game’s leaderboards with a demand that Nintendo fix the exploits and get rid of the cheaters itself. Oh, and then that guy trying to raise awareness for the problem was summarily banned while the hackers he was complaining about continue on. How dare he impugn the good name of Splatoon 2! Reddit is calling him a martyr and a saint, as they should.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

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Star Citizen backer took CIG to small claims court over his refund request – and lost

The Star Citizen refunds subreddit is often the home of big words and tall tales, but Redditor firefly212 did more than just talk: He actually tried to take Cloud Imperium to court over his refund request. Unfortunately for him, he lost in small claims court and the case has been sent to arbitration, as the judge apparently agreed with CIG that its retroactive policy regarding refund arbitration should apply even to donors and package-buyers who began contributing to the game before that policy existed.

“In mediation, CIG/RSI would not agree to refund the portion of my account not covered by the arbitration agreement. Though lawyers aren’t permitted, CIG/RSI lawyers drafted and submitted statements that were permitted. The judge declined to hear anything about the conscionability or lack of consideration in the TOS. Despite the top sentence on the TOS, CIG/RSI successfully argued that the arbitration clause should be applied to transactions even before the clause existed. CIG/RSI repeatedly argued that there is a playable game and that funds have been earned, but the judge did not rule that either. Following application of arbitration clause to transactions outside covered dates, court orders matter to arbitration, case is dismissed without prejudice.”

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The Daily Grind: Which online game has suffered the most from its own hype?

I’ve still got hype on the brain. We’ve talked about the length of hype cycles and under-hyped MMOs. Now I want to talk about games that have actually suffered from their own hype specifically.

No Man’s Sky and WildStar pop to mind immediately for me as games we cover that were grievously wounded by hype. Both games effectively promised and teased far more features and more interesting features that they actually delivered, causing hype for the game to turn into venom post-launch. And in both cases, the game studios have made considerable effort to turn it around, but the grudges linger.

PUBG strikes me as another game that was heavily hyped last year but quickly succumbed to a prettier, cheaper, more accessible, and more polished game.

And howsabout Destiny 2? A contender, right?

Which online game has suffered the most from its own hype?

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