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

Trove celebrates three years with the interplanetary Sunfest event

If you were looking for a reason to get back into Trove to check out Geode, this week is it. Trion’s voxel sandbox is celebrating three years since launch with the return of its annual event, Sunfest, although this one is a bit special since it involves Geode too.

“Residents of Trove and Geode alike will join together to celebrate the luminescent power of the Sun Goddess during our first ever interplanetary Sunfest,” says Trion. “[Eight] new adventures will take you on a journey across Trove and beyond! That’s right, you’ll be able to complete several of the celebratory adventures on either Trove or Geode. Complete them all and earn your very own Golden Vale Dragon Pup ally.”

Keep a eye out for special Shadow Piñata Invaders with sweet loot across all open-world biomes, plus extra daily login rewards. Trion is also offering a stat reroll event, so hardercore players ought to at least pop in to take advantage of that. On Monday, we checked out the anniversary in person, so take a peek at that too!

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Want to try Legends of Aria? We’ve got trial keys just in time for the closed beta 2 launch!

It’s a big day for indie MMORPG Legends of Aria, as its second closed beta official kicks off with a server wipe and a juicy patch. CB2, as we’ve previously covered, revamps the game’s art, adds detail to the cities, adds a diurnal cycle, backer rewards, new encounters, better shops, a more realistic map, new tameables, saddle storage, new music, secure house trading, crafting orders, the dungeon revamp, and better fast travel.

“It feels like a different game, and we need to gather as much feedback as we can to get things just right for Open Beta and the Early Access launch,” Citadel Studios’ Derek Brinkmann opines in his letter to testers today, and that is where you come in: The Aria team wants you to test and has ponied up a bundle of trial keys to get the MOP readers in and playing. Click the Mo button below (and prove you’re not a robot) to grab one of these keys!

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The Culling 2 appears to be dead on arrival thanks to quality issues and angry Culling fans

Does the industry need more battle royale games? Allow me to play devil’s advocate for a second and say that it does. After all, if you want a genre to become its best self, it needs scrappy underdogs redrawing the lines and pressuring the leaders toward innovation. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean people actually want to play those scrappy underdogs, and we may be in just such a situation with the newly released The Culling 2.

Xaviant Games’ The Culling 2 billed itself as a new-and-improved sequel to The Culling, described as “the world’s first built-from-scratch Battle Royale experience” with a “lush island arena, brutal melee combat, and a long list of perks to help you define your playstyle.” Here’s the official description of the new title:

The Culling 2 expands on every aspect of its predecessor: The arena is now a massive space, with 20 square kilometers in which to explore, loot, and fight. In addition to the established melee combat system, a wide range of firearms are now on offer, from 9mm pistols to high-caliber sniper rifles. All ballistics have been carefully tuned to match real-world equivalents, making for tense and tactical firefights. With 50 players, the matches are set to be fast and brutal, while still accommodating players who prefer a more cautious approach.”

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Black Desert launches a cross-regional ‘Global Lab’ test server

So many games have test servers of one form or another that we seldom even need to spell out the acronym PTS – and now one more MMORPG is moving itself to that pile. Black Desert has opened up its “Global Lab,” and it actually reminds me more of something like Ultima Online’s multi-region free-for-all temporary servers, as it’ll include boosts and other tweaks for characters being played there. Nope, you can’t transfer existing characters there.

“We are launching the first Global Lab server to help improve the stability of new updates on the live servers,” Kakao says. “Through the new server we will open game content in development earlier so that we can test them as well. Thus the Global Lab server will already have characters pre-created depending on the test purpose and some game money will be provided so that you can test the characters fully. The servers settings may also be changed so that you can gain items and raise your character faster. Similarly, the Global Lab server may be reset or the service may be suspended at any time in order to analyze the feedback as quickly as possible so that we can apply the feedback as much as we can into live service.”

The test environment does require a separate client download, and apparently it won’t work for EU players, in spite of the fact that Kakao is located in the EU. Expect a reset every two weeks.

Source: Official site. Thanks, Arktouros!

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Blade & Soul’s False Idols update includes two endgame raids

Among the highlights of Blade & Soul’s upcoming False Idols update are two raid dungeons for endgamers to explore. NCsoft’s lightly previewed both in its most recent dev blog on the game.

“Everyone in the Earthen Realm knows of the vengeful Grand Celestial Emperor’s formidable clockwork guardians that lurk within Nightfall Sanctuary. As his last, dying command, the Grand Celestial Emperor ordered two of his living idols to exact his demands for fear and respect from his people, even after his body turned to ash. Years have passed and no one has paid tribute in some time. Activated by the Kuranos Cube, the Barrier Keeper and Templar will now be seeking restitution—in blood. Focus your chi and prepare to meet the challenge!”

Both raids are for 12-man level 55/Hongmoon 12 teams on a weekly Wednesday refresh timer, gated by the players’ having completed Emperor’s Tomb chapter 5. “Like the automatons that have come before them, The Barrier Keeper and The Templar resemble the Nightfall Sanctuary bosses, The Peacekeeper and The Shield Bearer, with each guardian residing in their own dungeon—the Hall of the Keeper and the Hall of the Templar,” says the studio. “Though these two raid bosses are not as formidable as their Nightfall Sanctuary counterparts, they are not to be taken lightly.” The updated launches on July 25th!

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Interview and excerpt: The ‘Braving Britannia’ book preserves Ultima Online’s oral history

Earlier this week, we wrote about the launch of a new book that’s right up MMORPG fans’ alley. Dubbed Braving Britannia: Tales of Life, Love, and Adventure in Ultima Online, the book gathers together 35 interviews with players and both former and current Ultima Online devs to effectively become the first published oral history of the MMORPG that started it all.

Author Wes Locher was kind enough to answer a bunch of our questions about the book and provide us an excerpt to help you folks understand what you’re getting into if you decide to pick it up. Read on for the whole scoop!

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Fortnite rolls out season 5 as Epic Games retroactively grants modders a bigger profit cut

Fortnite’s season 5 is live now with its all-new battle pass to turn your free-to-play experience into dress-up battle royale. We know that’s what you’re really all about. Epic is touting the new all-terrain go-kart, flintlock weapons, rift content for battle royale players, and the Challenge the Horde mode in on the PvE-oriented Save the World side of the game in today’s patch.

On the business side of things, Epic Games will be surprising contributors to the Unreal Engine Marketplace, as it’s changing up how much of a cut those player modders are receiving from their submissions. No, Epic isn’t taking money away; it’s actually increasing the player profit percentage from 70% to 88%, and it’s doing so retroactively, going back four years and paying modders the difference from those years. Now that’s a smart way to engender goodwill for one of the biggest games in the world.

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Sea of Thieves’ Sunken Curse Event is live with today’s patch

Sea of Thieves is pulling another patch out of drydock today, this one with a fresh event for players of the pirate pseudo-MMO.

“Cursed Mermaid Statues are the latest addition to Sea of Thieves. Hidden in the shallows around island shores, they radiate, cursed with ancient magic. For this adventure, the Bilge Rats are challenging all brave pirates to seek out and destroy the statues. Not all statues are bound by the same curse but they all regenerate health over time and while some will require more firepower than others to destroy, no more than four players will be required to destroy even the toughest statue.”

Of course, there’s plenty more to the update, including new sunken items, new titles, new cosmetics (even a tattoo set), more useful loading screens, UI tweaks, crash fixes, and a few bug fixes too – for example, “cannonball knockback no longer causes unintended damage to fellow crew members.” Check out the developer update and other goodies down below!

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Former Guild Wars 2 developer criticizes ArenaNet boss for ‘solicitation of harassment’ and minimization of her work

Former ArenaNet developer Jessica Price has just made a string of new statements on Twitter discussing some of the issues surrounding the ongoing Guild Wars 2 PR nightmare, in which she and fellow developer Peter Fries were booted from ArenaNet following a Twitter altercation that mobilized a Reddit mob. Her primary complaint seems to be her allegation that ArenaNet – especially Mike O’Brien – “escalated” her (and Peter Fries’) firing, knowing what the mob’s response would be.

“The announcement was an escalation. The company could have chosen to say ‘their remarks don’t represent the company, we don’t agree with what they said, and they’re no longer with the company,'” she writes. “That’s not what they did. They framed an interaction on my personal social media in which I told a few individuals who (I thought) were being assholes that I wasn’t on the clock and wasn’t going to feign affection for people who are being assholes as ‘attacks on the community.'”

Consequently, she argues, O’Brien effectively provoked the mob, knowing what harassment would follow after she and Fries had been painted as “enemies of the community”; she calls it “active solicitation of harassment,” using the mob as punishment and then maintaining “silence in condemning the harassment,” which she says is “profoundly telling.”

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Interview: ArtCraft’s J. Todd Coleman on prepping Crowfall’s Artisan Engine for the broader industry

Yesterday, Crowfall studio ArtCraft announced it was spinning off a brand-new company dubbed ArtCraft Technologies that would basically turn Crowfall’s engine into a marketable product for other studios, “providing game developers with turnkey technology solutions for creating large-scale Massively Multiplayer Online games.” We had opportunity to chat with ArtCraft Creative Director J Todd Coleman about the move and what it means for the studio and genre. Read on!

Massively OP: So to start, we’re curious about the “why” behind the new studio. Is ArtCraft thinking of this venture as an extra revenue stream for the company? Or is it trying to encourage more MMORPGs – or maybe both?

J. Todd Coleman: This wasn’t originally part of our plan. In the last 12 months, we’ve had a few different studios contact us to see if we would consider licensing our technology. The more we looked into it, the more it made sense. The additional revenue stream is great, obviously, but that has to be balanced against the potential distraction. We wouldn’t have done this if we didn’t see it as a great strategic move for the company, and a chance to leverage what we’ve built into something much bigger.

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Ship of Heroes’ teeny-weeny robot nanites ensure smooth sailing for the superhero starship

Ship of Heroes has a fresh dev blog up today on stuff you can’t even see. I’m talking, of course, about nanites, ridiculously tiny robots that work in unison to make big stuff happen across the literal spaceship your superheroes are flying around on in the game. Of course, what the different nanites do depends how they’re programmed. Some of them are effectively magic clean-up crew, fixing busted infrastructure and scrubbing away graffiti. Others serve players in combat.

“Nanites are also useful for combat, though not as much as one might think. They are completely ineffective for offensive purposes, because everyone carries standardized counter-nanites for personal defense in their bodies. Counter-nanites have been around and standardized for more than a century, and the common models are rugged, reliable, and simple enough to be unhackable. The Justice requires immigrants to get counter-nanites as part of the citizenship process if they don’t already have them, and children get them from their parents. The ship itself also has counter-nanites in case of any attempt to attack its systems.”

Check out the whole piece on the official site (and the new screenies below!).

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New Ultima Online book gathers developer and player interviews to document oral history

Old-school MMORPG players, heads-up for you: If you’re a fan of Ultima Online or wanted to hear more about the seminal MMORPG after reading our take on Raph Koster’s book, there’s another book out there you’re bound to love. We’re talking, of course, about Braving Britannia: Tales of Life, Love, and Adventure in Ultima Online by Wes Locher, whose marketing blurb describes it as

“the first nonfiction book to collect interviews with 35 of the game’s players, volunteers, and developers over more than 300 pages, revealing what they did, where they adventured, and how their lives were shaped, changed, and altered through experiences in Ultima Online’s shared persistent world. […] In a fantasy world of limitless potential, the only thing players seem to enjoy more than playing the game is talking about it, and yet, the true stories behind the avatars have largely gone unpublished for the past twenty years.”

Among the devs interviewed? Bonnie Armstrong, Raph Koster, Starr Long, Rich Vogel, Gordon Walton, and plenty more. The book is due out later this week; you can sign up on its official site to be notified when it releases.

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IGDA calls for transparent guidelines on game studio social media and harassment following Guild Wars 2 dust-up

Regardless of who you believe had the right and wrong of the ArenaNet Twitter fiasco last week, game developers have expressed concern over the way it was handled and the potential impact on the greater industry. As Gamasutra noted, the International Game Developers Association has put out a blog post urging developers to demand that companies “clarify the guidelines and expectations around social media use, both in professional and personal accounts,” specifically referencing the recent Guild Wars 2 firings. Moreover, IGDA says, companies should be transparent about how they will “protect [their] talent from internet harassment mobs.”

“Game developers are also frequently targeted for harassment, particularly if they are members of under-represented communities,” IGDA Executive Director Jen MacLean writes. “Companies must plan for how they will support their staff members in the event of online harassment, and should clearly communicate the resources they will make available to their team to have safe, productive, and positive interactions online, especially if they are expected to do so in their roles.”

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