You know what gets me excited about upcoming MMOs? It’s certainly not the list of expected systems and features that have since become standard for most games in this genre. Good-looking fantasy online RPG? Neato, that’s terrific, but what else are you selling?
No, what truly grabs my attention is when a dev team uses its imagination and comes up with a creative feature that makes me sit back and say, “Wow, I wish they all had this!”
It’s a shame that we have seen plenty of these systems over the years that were tried maybe once or twice but never adapted into the greater sphere. Today we’re going to come up with 10 examples of such features that truly did try something revolutionary (or at least pretty cool) but haven’t seen follow-ups in games since.
By now, to me, Lord of the Rings Online
is a comfortable, well-worn friend that always offers a very predictable and enjoyable experience whenever I return to the game. It’s absolutely bizarre to me to consider that we’re now in the Post-Ring era of the MMO’s storyline, yet it is all still going strong in its own way.
One thing I cannot deny is that LOTRO is what most people would consider to be an “older MMO.” It’s been in live operation ever since April 2007, and once the game tipped over the decade mark, it joined other long-running titles that had long since shed their youth for maturity and stability.
As I was exploring Northern Mirkwood and going through the new Christmas quest recently, I found my thoughts had turned to evaluating the game’s status as an aging MMORPG. I mean, all MMOs age (if they’re fortunate enough to launch), and not every title can remain young, hot, and popular forever. But that doesn’t mean that they become irrelevant and unengaging when they’ve entered into the middle age of their lifespan. So, I thought, how is LOTRO aging as an 11-year-old product? What is going for it at this point and what is starting to show signs of wear and tear?
About nine people showed up at a GenCon Pathfinder Online panel this past weekend, during which Paizo CEO Lisa Stevens gave an update on the status of this struggling sandbox MMO.
Stevens said that with 15 major updates under its belt to date and two employees working on the game, Pathfinder Online is on the final stretch to open enrollment. This means a marketing push to get more people into the game, thanks to the hiring of a new marketing director at Piazo with experience promoting games like LOTRO and ArcheAge.
Future milestones for Pathfinder include an enchanting system, various cool factions (river pirates? Sign us up!), deity groups, a new player experience, new art, 30 or 40 additional monsters, more classes (Paladins, Barbarians, and Sorcerers were floated as possibilities), upgrading to the latest version of Unity, rules from Pathfinder 2.0, and a free trial option.
On this week’s show, Bree and Justin celebrate MMORPG communities with how fantastic and passionate they can be (when they’re not complaining, that is!) and how disturbing children can be (when they’re not cuddling with you, that is!). There’s a lot of praise in this episode for the redemption of No Man’s Sky, better subscription values, and plenty of MMO updates.
It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.
Listen to the show right now:
Last week’s Trion Worlds layoffs
appeared to have hit ArcheAge
particularly hard, with the loss of a well-known producer to the eliminated positions, on top of the unrelated loss of a public-facing community manager week before. Merv “Khrolan” Lee Kwai
, the Senior Producer on the game, addressed players on the forums yesterday to try to assuage some of the playerbase’s concerns about the safety of the game.
“I realize that some of you have concerns about the state of ArcheAge and that news of any departures only serves to compound them,” he writes. “I would ask you pause for a moment and know that many people at Trion pour their hearts into supporting the game, even though you only see a few of us in public. Other members of the ArcheAge team you might know like Tinen, Socke, BigDataDude, and I are still very much involved and care deeply about the game. Another 60+ people at Trion and the entirety of XLGames remain committed to delivering and improving the game and world you love.”
As for the future of the game? Kwai promises a big update on the next milestone after a planned meeting with XLGames.
Trion has confirmed the layoffs – we’ve updated below.
Trion Worlds in general and ArcheAge
in specific are going through a turbulent time this week as the studio has levied layoffs in the studio that have affected an unknown number of employees. Among those affected include ArcheAge
Associate Producer Seraphina Brennan and Customer Support/Environmental Artist Jessica Pate
Despite the slightly awkward name — “Phase 4: Reign, Part 1
,” really, Trion? — this week’s ArcheAge content update
is chock-full of fun for both fresh start servers and those on the well-worn shards.
Fresh start servers have increased the level cap to 55, finally received both the Dwarves and Warborn, and rolled out cars, boats, and farm freighters.
Players can attempt to tackle Mistsong, which the team says is “absolutely the hardest dungeon” in the game. Lots of risk, lots of gear rewards, you know the drill! The patch also updated the trade pack system, made some big gear updates, and fiddled with the Kraken. Fiddling only makes him upset, though.
Three years in, a player-led lawsuit against Trion Worlds concerning false advertising and lockboxes in ArcheAge continues to bounce around the California court system.
The suit, filed back in 2015 by Aaron Van Fleet, Paul Ovberg and James Longfield, alleged that Trion violated consumer laws, falsely advertised a 10% founder perk discount for its cash shop, and went against California laws concerning illegal lotteries. While Trion tried to move the case to arbitration, the courts decided that there were some worrysome discrepancies between ArcheAge’s EULA and TOU and so kept the suit going.
MMO Fallout posted an update on the case, mostly to say that the lawsuit is still going, that Trion is still trying to get it taken out of court, and that the plaintiff had amended the complaint with a very minor update. The article expresses concern over the one and only exhibit for its case, which is a series of screenshots showing player dissent in the forums over these issues.
Ever since Trion Worlds announced that it had snapped up all of the remaining assets from Gazillion
and Marvel Heroes
, we have wondered what the studio was planning to do with them. Now we know at least in part, as Trion is handing out free MMO promotional packs
to Marvel Heroes
refugees as a way to welcome them to the fold.
This promotion is a “limited-time offer” and only applies to former Gazillion players who register to Trion Worlds with the same email address that they used for Marvel Heroes. If this applies to you, you can pick up a promo pack to one of the five games that Trion is running.
Pick Trove and you’ll get both a super starter pack and a square necessities pack. Go with ArcheAge, and you’ll enjoy 30 days of patron time, a mount, and other goodies. RIFT’s deal is pretty good, with a month of subscription time, all of the game’s souls, two more bag slots, and a mount. Alternatively, you may choose Atlas Reactor (and get all freelancers the game has and ever will make) or Defiance (which includes a legendary shield and chip).
has announced that the next phase of ArcheAge’s
fresh-start progression servers will soon begin, boosting the level cap to 55 and unlocking a new dungeon, two additional races, and a slew of quest chains. The update, titled Reign: Part 1, will unleash the Dwarf and Warborn races and allow players to access their starting areas — Airain Rock, Aubre Cradle, and Sunbite Wilds — as well as the various quest lines contained within. It will also unlock the Mistsong Summit dungeon, where players can earn a variety of loot, including the newly redesigned Mistsong armor set.
On top of the new fresh-start server content, the update will introduce a number of new features for legacy servers, including the addition of Paloth’s Crystals, which will give free-to-play players the opportunity to earn rare mounts through “entirely in-game means.” Moreover, the new phase will introduce “a more powerful new tier of Hiram gear, an overhaul to Sport Fishing, and adjustments to the trade system,” the details of which can be found in the latest dev blog on the game’s site. Expect the whole shebang on July 18th.
Source: Press Release
Are you itching to set off some colorful explosives but your hometown won’t allow it? ArcheAge
is offering a vicarious solution: in-game fireworks. And they are free! You’ve got the chance to snag some free daily gift packs in celebration of… well anything you want to celebrate. And here’s a twist: You don’t even need to log into game to get them! Until July 5th, players can log straight into their Glyph account and claim these numbered packages on one character that contain:
- 5x Dragon Fireworks
- 5x Heart Fireworks
- 2x Bound Lucky Quicksilver Tonics
- 2x Bound Greedy Grimoires
So even if you can’t light up your own sky this week for the holidays, you can grab some and do it in game. (Sorry, said fireworks will not cause any harm to enemies — not even light their hair on fire.) Grab a new one each day and either stock up on one character or share the wealth by picking a different one to receive them each time.
Did you see this one coming? VentureBeat has a piece out this morning interviewing Trion Worlds CEO Scott Hartsman, who’s apparently just revealed that Trion’s bought up all of Gazillion Entertainment, or what’s left of its assets, anyway.
Gazillion, of course, infamously shuttered along with its core MMORPG, Marvel Heroes, last autumn following weeks of missed content, an apparent failed contract renogotiation, a sexual harassment scandal, and ultimately Disney’s rescinding of the Marvel license, driving the studio into bankruptcy. At the time, we called it the worst-managed MMORPG sunset of all time.
It looks like the goal for Trion here isn’t necessarily to save or remake Marvel Heroes (although that would be fun, and VB notes Trion has picked up an isometric game engine as part of the package) but to bolster its publishing for MMOs specifically, something MMO players will recall Trion’s been working on for the last few years with Glyph, where Trion’s existing games – including RIFT, Trove, ArcheAge, and Defiance – currently dwell.
In peaceful villages and bubbly burgs, you just know that there’s bound to be an abundance of happy music! Whenever the Battle Bards regroup to lick their wounds and drink the terrors away, they often find that happy town music is perfect to soothe jangled nerves and re-center one’s heroism. There’s plenty of those tunes in today’s episode, so recoup with them as they listen to the songs of the common folk.
Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and Player.FM.
Listen to Episode 122: Happy town (or download it) now: