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

Pokemon Go: Michigan couple sues over game’s impact on private property

Pokemon Go is the subject of yet another lawsuit: A Michigan couple is suing Niantic, Nintendo, and the Pokemon Company in federal court. The pair say that a Pokestop and Pokegym in the park next to their home has caused hundreds of players to invade their yard on the daily, destroying landscaping, peering into vehicles, and preventing anyone from sleeping. They petition the court in their class action to force Niantic et al. to block its GPS-bound virtual locations when they are on or near private property and share profits with private citizens who have been terrorized since the game’s launch.

In other Pokeymans news,

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The Daily Grind: Should MMORPGs have special areas for paying players?

I was poking around in the Guild Wars 2 cash shop this weekend when I realized that ArenaNet is selling teleports to Noble’s Folly. Like the Captain’s Airship and the Royal Terrace before it, Noble’s Folly is basically a mini-zone cordoned off just for players who’ve purchased intermittently available temp or perma tickets to get in (I think they drop too — I managed to snag a freebie one for the Airship long ago). There’s nothing particularly overpowering about the locations; they’re all about convenience, with city gates, crafting stations, banks, guild banks, merchants, the mystic toilet all in a really cool, condensed spot. Regular players miss out only on the atmosphere (and they might have to run a few extra steps between the important NPCs).

This isn’t the first or even the most notable example of special locations for paying players; City of Heroes, for example, famously created an entire server for VIPs (subscribers). Daybreak does the same for the EverQuest franchise. And then there’s a more extreme version in the form of Star Citizen’s Million Mile High Club for backers who’ve dropped 10,000 bucks on the game.

Does this sort of thing bother you, or do you chalk it up to a trivial acknowledgement of the players who pour the most monetary support into an MMORPG? Should MMORPGs have special areas for paying players, be those payments in subs, donations, or cash shop purchases?

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LawBreakers returns to development following alpha

Boss Key’s CliffyB and Rohan Rivas star in a new dev vlog today rounding up the results of LawBreakers’ recent alpha playtest and offering an explanation of what’s next for the studio. In short? More iteration, more feedback, and more testing.

“We’re only at like 65 to 70 people right now,” CliffyB says. “Essentially right now the time period is back in the lab. So you’re hearing like [sound effects] hammers and drills and whatnot as everyone’s opening the game back up, opening the patient, kind of reoperating and retuning everything.” We’re glad he’s a game designer and not a doctor!

The duo have big plans in particular for the Enforcer, the Assassin, matchmaking, game modes, and maps. Expect to be able to play it at GamesCom too. The whole vlog — and a new infographic from the team — is below.

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Dual Universe: How many players can fit in one universe?

Dual Universe’s server-tech teaser trailer out this afternoon poses one simple question: How many players can fit in one universe? If you’re tired of the problems of sharded MMOs, then you’re going to like the developer’s response.

“The answer is limitless,” Novaquark’s PR declares.

The studio has promised a fuller dev diary on the game’s foundational tech tomorrow. The game hit the ground at E3 running, revealing itself as a builders-first sci-fi sandbox. A Kickstarter is planned for later this year.

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Pokemon Go: Corporate espionage, bots, and Uranium

There are a lot of unofficial Pokemon games out there on the internet, including MMOs, games that filled the gap Nintendo left. One such fan-made, non-profit title was called Pokemon Uranium. In development for nine years, it launched on August 6th… and has already closed down, or at least will stop distributing copies officially. In spite of seeing 1.5M downloads since launch, the developers wrote that they wanted to respect Nintendo’s wishes (though they hadn’t received any legal notices themselves). The game, however, is still functional for those who have copies, and it’ll keep on getting updates too.

Here’s what else happened in Pokemon Go over the weekend:

  • Volkswagen joins the roster of companies sending around internal memos to employees warning them not to play Pokemon Go — indeed, to strip it from their phones — lest they unwittingly engage in corporate espionage via location tracking, camera activation, and data sharing.
  • If you think bots cheapen the fun of Pokemon Go, cheer a little cheer: Polygon reports that in the wake of Niantic’s new FAQ, which states that players using bots or location spoofers will be banned, many of the larger bots are shutting themselves down voluntarily, even before a takedown notice has been received.

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Black Desert promises Awakening weapons ‘quite soon after GamesCom’

In response to a player requesting hints about when Black Desert’s Awakening weapon systems might drop, Kakao has dutifully produced a teaser.

“Not next week, but quite soon after GamesCom,” the company replied on Friday. The trade show begins this coming Wednesday. The game itself has most recently dominated headlines thanks to its rapidly pivoting business model; in fact, the MOP community were polled over the weekend about whether they believe a free-to-play conversion is imminent.

The Gamescom trailer’s tucked below.

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Riders of Icarus plans ‘new banning initiative,’ will name and shame cheaters

Riders of Icarus’ latest producer’s letter makes a grim admission: “Since Head Start, Riders of Icarus has been riddled with spammers and bots.”

“We understand that you are wondering why we’re adding more content when many of you are still frustrated by bots and spammers operating throughout the game,” writes Nexon’s Han Sol Junger, apologizing for being insufficiently transparent. “I want you to know that our team is aware and cares deeply about the overall health of our community and our game. […] Our intent was to quietly clean out those who hurt our community, while providing you with the experience you deserve. We understand now that we must have more open communication with you about the actions we are taking on these important issues.”

Consequently, Nexon says it’s embarking on a “new banning initiative” to take out spammers, farmers, botters, and hackers. To date, over 5000 bad accounts have been actioned. The initiative will include new game masters to fight in-game exploits, a reporting tool for players to use, and an automated system for catching hackers. The team is working on a real-time chat filtering system to squash spammers as well.

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No Man’s Sky tops the UK sales charts

Whether it’s acknowledged as multiplayer or not — and whether you experienced bugs and unplayability over the weekend — No Man’s Sky is already setting records and pushing GTA V around.

GamesIndustry.biz reports that thanks to its launch last week, the game sits at the tippy-top of the UK retail charts — that makes it Sony’s biggest launch for a new IP ever. (Uncharted 4 was bigger, but it wasn’t a new IP.)

Yesterday, MOP’s Tina Lauro Pollock examined the game’s mechanics and procedural generation through an MMO player’s lens, declaring it “mechanically genius.”

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The Daily Grind: How do you decide when MMORPG class revisions have gone too far?

A bunch of my guildies flocked back to World of Warcraft during its pre-Legion festivities. One of them mentioned in passing that he’d been toying with a frost mage alt and thought it was even more stripped down than the last time he’d played. That made my husband, who mains an ice mage when we play, flip out. “WHAT?!” he said to me. “It was already so stripped down before that they may as well just give us a button that says MAGE, and we’ll just press the MAGE button over and over until it’s done. MAGE MAGE MAGE MAGE MAGE.”

He was not happy. Then again, I’m still bitter about totems, so I’m empathetic.

He also plays a lot of SMITE and Overwatch, which prompted him to argue that Blizzard seems to be MOBA-fying World of Warcraft. “We’re slowly creeping to the point that we select a premade character from a list, trading off customization for ease of play,” he insists. “Want to play an elemental mage? You might as well just pick Janus instead of building your own.” That struck me because usually MMO players believe studios are catering to the busy olds (if you’re a youngin’) or the short-attention-span kids (if you’re a vet). I hadn’t taken seriously before the idea that Blizzard might be tuning WoW as an MMORPG-lite specifically for the MOBA market.

I thought that was all worth discussing! Do you think Blizz is courting MOBA players with its character development choices? How do you decide when MMORPG class revisions have gone too far into the realm of over-simplification? Where exactly do you draw the line?

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MMO Week in Review: One man’s sky (August 14, 2016)

Were you too busy gaming this week to pay attention to MMO news? Get caught up every Sunday evening with Massively Overpowered’s Week in Review!

No Man’s Sky launched this week for PC and console, mystifying players with inconsistent statements about multiplayer and stonewalling the press.

Meanwhile, we scoped out World of Warcraft’s latest patch, weighed in on Guild Wars 2’s living story season start, and cheered at WildStar’s apparent comeback in NCsoft’s latest financial report.

Read on for the very best of this week’s MMO news and opinions.

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Ultima Online’s latest patch heralds Eodon event, 19th birthday gifts

“Publish 94 is out the door,” wrote Ultima Online Producer Bonnie “Mesanna” Armstrong in a newsletter earlier this week. Broadsword has added fresh anniversary gifts — primarily recipes and decorations — to the game in celebration of its 19th birthday in September. The trick or treating event will begin in October, while the Treasures of the Kotl City event is live now. Also expect updates to tinkering, mortal strike, champ spawns, and necromancy skills.

In a brief Q&A, Mesanna explained said the team has no plans to add recall mechanics to the Ilshenar landmass or a house search to help packrats find all their stuff, but the team is working on UI tweaks for the classic client and a bulk-order deed overhaul. Publish 95, expected by Thanksgiving, should include the new tier of vet rewards.

Broadsword has said repeatedly, most recently in April, that it has no plans to go free-to-play. The Steam launch, however, is something that the team still wants – as soon as EA gives its “final approval,” which at this point looks unlikely.

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Leaderboard: Is Black Desert destined for free-to-play in the west?

On this week’s podcast, Justin and I discussed the general MMO blogger sentiment that Black Desert’s recent business model drama — specifically, the addition of an optional sub and the entry of cash-shop items on the in-game auction hall — heralds a plan to drop the game’s box fee and essentially go free-to-play. I suspect it’s an eventuality, but whether the team’s recent actions reveal a plan in action or just affirm a desire to make more money in the short-term? That I don’t know for sure. What do you think — is Black Desert destined for free-to-play in the west? To the pollmobile!

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Make My MMO: Project Gorgon plans early access, Dual Universe plans Kickstarter (August 13, 2016)

This week in MMO crowdfunding news, Project Gorgon announced that it’s revving up for its Steam early access launch. Wipes (and nerfs) will continue as testing does throughout the early access. The blog post is a long piece about the future of the game — worth the read!

Meanwhile, Worlds Adrift got a massive investment (well over a million bucks) from a venture capital firm; sci-fi sandbox Dual Universe told us it’s busy preparing its Kickstarter; 3001SQ ticks down to the last days of its crowdfunding campaign; Shroud of the Avatar continues its rollout of housing claims; and one of Star Citizen’s leads was allegedly driven off social media thanks to harassment.

Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding this week and the roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’ve got our eye on!

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