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.
If you are currently enjoying Final Fantasy XIV
, you probably don’t want the game to massively change and rewrite the systems that you are currently enjoying. Good news, then; a recent interview between Kotaku and producer/director Naoki Yoshida
confirmed that Yoshida is still staying on the course and playing to the game’s current strengths. The combat system will not be wildly changed to be more action-oriented, the game has no plans of going free-to-play to compete with games that are free-to-play, and the weekly gates for content are still meant to keep the game balanced between various types of playstyle. These are considered good things.
That’s not to say that there’s nothing that Yoshida wants to change or expand upon; he still wants to consider adding blitzball from Final Fantasy X to the game as more of a team-management simulator, and he’s still devoted to both continuing to work on the game’s housing situation (which he describes as being better but not yet fixed) and the exact balance for weekly gates. Check out the full interview for more details.
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.
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.
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.
Apparently, GDC was good to Funcom, The Bearded Ladies, and Mutant: Year Zero. The teams had originally thought to skip E3 this year, but after the reveal led to even one developer’s mail attendant in Sweden fanning out a bit, it became clear that an appearance at the Expo might be in order (and to maybe not wear developer t-shirts in public).
The Bearded Ladies developers said that they’ve received nothing but positive comments so far, and I can’t say I’ve been able to give them more critical feedback either. Part of that is because my tactical RPG experience is limited to super casual Fire Emblem outings that never end with my finishing the game. Admittedly, I also didn’t have a ton of questions to bring with me this time because the guys were just so open at GDC. It’s probably for the best, though, as I was finally able to get my hands on the game. Spoiler alert: Not only did I fail my mission, but so did almost everyone else!
When I met Frostkeep Studios’ CEO Jeremy Wood and crew at GDC earlier this year, I walked away impressed. I finally felt like I understood why other MOP staff are so excited about this flying-under-the-radar title. And this year at E3, I not only saw a more finished build of Rend but got some hands-on time with the game. I can’t say the floor demo did the game any justice, but what I heard from Wood and co-founder Solomon Lee sounded like the kind of forward thinking that only comes from developers who know the history of the genre and their playerbase.
Although I think I could start a hype train, I’m going to try to try to reserve judgment for a little longer. Rend may not be an MMO (it’s a moddable survival game with factions), but it has the potential to feed that MMO hunger we know you’re craving.
You know how sometimes, when nosy press asks you a question with no good answer, you’re better off shutting up? And when they don’t ask you about a tricky subject, you probably shouldn’t go out of your way to run into it head-on?
Nintendo didn’t get that memo at E3, apparently, as during an interview with Bloomberg, it broke ranks with more diplomatic game studios to basically defend lockboxes and lootboxes.
“Loot boxes, broadly speaking, have gotten a bit of a bad rap,” Nintendo exec Reggie Fils-Aime told the publication (via GIbiz), in answer to a broad softball question about digital revenue.
In an alternate universe, Dragon Quest X got ported to western shores in 2012 when Square Enix launched the MMORPG in Japan. Sadly, we’re stuck in this crap universe, where that’s still never happened.
But it’s not off the table. According to a Game Informer interview from E3, during which Square was ostensibly there to talk Dragon Quest XI, the studio still hasn’t written off the idea of bringing the cutesy sub-based cross-platform MMO here.
“We wanted to release it in [North America; I still want to release it,” producer Yuu Miyake says. “However, with the MMO, it was based on a five-year plan of service, so if we were going to release it in North America, there’s the question of how we would rearrange that.”
Pearl Abyss’ Kyungin “Robin” Jung isn’t just a CEO. He’s also got a background in engineering. He may not have developed any game-saving tech for Black Desert
, but at least he’s the kind of boss that understands when his developers’ plans don’t quite work as intended.
Maybe that’s why he was also unaware of the Hysteria Hackers problem we’ve previously discussed. It’s something the community managers and customer support should be handling, rather than the CEO himself. Nevertheless, Jung and Senior VP (and translator) Jin “JJ” Jeonghee said they’d look into it after our interview. With the team preparing for E3 and the Xbox One beta, there’s a lot for a CEO to be dealing with.
Debuting in 1996, The Realm Online (or, as it is sometimes shortened, The Realm) became one of the first online RPGs to overlay graphics on top of its MUD core. The game’s flat 2-D graphics were simplistic, even for the time, but the novelty of the massively multiplayer environment sparked enough curiosity among players to keep it populated and running for 22 years now.
It’s no secret that The Realm has fallen into near-obscurity, particularly with the current owners performing little in the way of development or promotion. Emerging from the emulator scene, Jordan Neville and a group of fellow IT geeks took it upon themselves to help The Realm experience the rebirth that it sorely needed.
This is coming to a head with June’s re-launch of The Realm Online, a new and improved version of the classic MMORPG that will run in parallel with the older and largely abandoned edition. We sat down with Neville to talk about the challenges and delights of giving The Realm another shot at life — and why you may want to check it out for yourself.
GamesIndustry.biz has a fantastic piece illuminating the Entertainment Software Association’s apparent game plan on lockboxes going forward. The publication recaps a lengthy talk ESA president Mike Gallagher gave at the Nordic Game Conference seemingly designed to both incite concern over lockbox regulation and extol the virtues of the free market.
Gallagher primed the audience by comparing the lootbox controversy to the WHO’s so-called “gaming disorder” crusade and the US government’s unfounded attempts to link gaming and gun violence, then moved on to arguing that the gaming industry’s “right” to self-regulation and the “instantaneous feedback” of consumerism are what we should be trusting to keep lootboxes properly in check, not governments like Belgium’s and the Netherlands’, which have already curbed gambleboxes in their countries.
Last week, Guild Wars 2’s Crystin Cox gave a monetization interview to Gamasutra during which she made one specific argument I wanted to pull out and re-examine. She was trying to explain why lockboxes can provide a “value” to players that they can’t get any other way.
“When we talk about cosmetics, there’s a demand for every individual cosmetic. Like maybe I love cowboy hats, I just want to buy cowboy hats. But there’s also a demand, and a lot of players feel this way, for just cosmetic options. I like cowboy hats sure, but I also like bandanas, and I like clown hair, I like everything. I don’t really have a super strong preference. I just want more things to put in my dress-up box. That demand can be satisfied a lot better sometimes with just giving you a random thing because that can be done a lot cheaper. If you don’t care about which one you get and you just want one, you can get it for a lot cheaper. When you’re talking about games that have rarity, and rarity’s a big part of that game, then lootboxes can be done to distribute something on a small scale, so that not everybody has access to it but some do, as sort of a jackpot item. And then that gets into a little more complexity around the economy and your game, and whether not this is an enjoyable part of your game for people to play, play with the economy of some such. But if it is, then you can use lootboxes to be a pretty good distribution for something that’s very rare.”