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Massively Overthinking: Would you want to play a League of Legends or Diablo MMORPG?

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve had some tantalizing rumors and teases that both Riot Games and Blizzard are building something new: Riot’s dangled some questions about maybe making an MMORPG – might it be a League of Legends MMO? – and Blizzard’s outright said it’s returning to the Diablo franchise for multiple projects (one of which is the Switch port announced this morning). Can we hope for an MMO from one of the big studios again – and should we?

That’s what we’re pondering in this week’s Massively Overthinking. Do you think either of these companies is actually working on a new MMORPG using an old IP, what might it look like if so, what are they working on if not, and what do you actually want to see happen? Read more

Battle Bards Episode 126: Out of this world

It’s time to boldly go where no podcast has gone before — by exploring MMO space themes! It’s perhaps the flat-out goofiest and silliest Battle Bards episode to date, so you’re going to have to excuse a whole lot of diversions, arguments, and giggles. Because that’s what space does to people? We do not know. This episode is also notable for Syl’s all-time greatest quote, “Planets are usually in space.” Usually.

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 iTunesGoogle PlayTuneInPocket CastsStitcher, and Player.FM.

Listen to Episode 126: Out of this world (or download it) now:

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Global Chat: Everybody’s burning up about that Sylvanas thing

Yes, just about every MMO blogger was sharing heated opinions about last week’s World of WarCraft WarCrime. “It’s such a sad event and I’m particularly mad at Blizzard at the way they chose to write this,” wrote Aeternus.

Moonshine Manor was equally appalled, saying that she was “not sad at the story, but at having to mourn my fandom.”

“The storyline strips players of agency, it’s not a good feeling,” wrote Mmosey.

And Leo’s Life couldn’t make sense of it: “The lore nut in me sees no logic in this.”

In An Age sympathized with the outrage but noted, “This cinematic short is amazing in isolation.” And Atheren doesn’t want this to be the beginning of the end of Sylvanas: “I hope she gets a redemption arc.”

And Wolfy felt that the community reaction was too much for an outsider: “The level of the freak-out was above and beyond what I’ve had the misfortune of experiencing as someone barely remotely associated with the WoW playerbase.”

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Take a peek at the development of Shroud of the Avatar’s player-designed dungeon system

Drama seems to plague Shroud of the Avatar, but if you can look past it, there’s some fun innovation going on inside Portalarium in regard to MMO mechanics. Portalarium Technical Director Chris Spears, for example, has been slowly revealing a massive new player-generated dungeon system for the game, hidden away in the bowels of the forums until this week’s newsletter.

If you’re a fan of City of Heroes’ old Mission Architect, Star Trek Online’s Foundry, or even Star Wars Galaxies’ ancient Chronicles system, you’ll see remnants of all of those in this system. Basically, you buy blueprints for individual pieces from NPCs, then combine them with mats to build your dungeon space chunk by chunk, on a housing lot, out in the real world. Eventually, you’ll populate “encounter rooms” with mobs and make it a real delve for other players.

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Global Chat: Is it worth your time to alpha test MMOs?

Taugrim raises a very interesting question this week on his blog. Namely, is it really worth your time to alpha test MMOs these days? For him, at least, fickle players and unresponsive developers don’t make it a beneficial activity.

“A decade ago, I used to get super excited about upcoming MMORPGs,” he said. “And then I experienced those games losing their playerbase in droves while the developers/publishers failed to meaningfully address the concerns of the community.”

If you’ve been burned one too many times by alpha, beta, and early access testing, perhaps you can relate. Read on for more essays from the MMO blogosphere, and don’t forget to check out this month’s exciting Blaugust Reborn event that’s raging across blogs!

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Discord has launched its own video game storefront into beta, and it kinda looks like a Steam-GOG mashup

We all rolled our eyes when Valve’s new Steam chat client borrowed heavily from Discord‘s proven best practices for chat, but most people didn’t seem particularly inclined to switch. Wonder if the same will hold true now that Discord is aping Steam’s core business?

Yep, this week Discord revealed its new mission to “bring the games to you” via Discord Nitro, which is basically a video game storefront built right into your chat. Its chief difference appears to be its marketing; Discord says it’ll be offering a “curated” approach, a “cozy neighborhood book shop vibe” when it comes to sales, with what sounds like a cross-platform launcher too. So maybe more like GOG than Steam, but with the Steam look. And it’s working on publishing specific indie titles with temporary exclusive launches too.

The company says the platform is currently in beta for some 50,000 Canadian participants. It promises that “Discord’s voice, text, and video chat will continue to be a primary focus for” the team.

Source: Discord blog

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Massively Overthinking: Should MMORPGs incentivize exploration – and how?

Our Daily Grind on exploration last week sparked an intriguing follow-up from MOP reader Miol.

“When asking about sightseeing and exploration in MMORPGs, you also mentioned the lack of rewarding incentives for exploring those worlds, or worse, a poor implementation of such features, as you pointed out by Guild Wars 2’s vistas. Many of Wander’s mechanics also come to mind for me. You and many commenters in that article stated that their exploration mostly happened by their own initiative!

“So what features would you all wish in an exploration-heavy MMO? Is Trove’s Geode with its non-combat spelunking on to something? Would exploring other players’ curation and display of art already be enough for you, a la Occupy White Walls? What would an MMO need to simulate a fun road trip? Would looking for that one place with those until-then-unmatched resource stats, be a definite must for you, as in Star Wars Galaxies? Or is open-world housing more of a priority, so you can find that perfect spot for your porch? Purely just survival features? Or maybe even, as Andrew once mentioned, a certain mechanic for dying, as in Project Gorgon?”

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Black Desert and Ascent Infinite Realm publisher Kakao is investing in esports

Kakao is a massive South Korean company, and as most MMO fans reading blogs probably know, video games are just one element of that business spread. The company owns internet subsidiaries covering everything from chat programs and blogging to fashion and even an Uber clone. Its gaming sector, however, has been one of its most prosperous, having picked up over $131 million in investment this year from companies including Tencent, Netmarble, and Bluehole. Now it’s putting some of that dough to work by investing almost $17M into an e-sports developer, Neptune, apparently believing in the “growth potential of the esports market.”

A year ago ahead of its IPO, Kakao merged all of its games-related holding into one outfit, Kakao Games Holdings. It currently runs MMORPG Black Desert, holds publishing rights on PUBG in South Korea, and is set to serve as the western publisher for Bluehole’s steampunk MMO Ascent: Infinite Realm, which you’ll recall went on a tear tweeting concept art this spring but has been silent since.

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Chronicles of Elyria on character family influences and playable instruments

The latest production update from Chronicles of Elyria is going to make those of you who are super into detailed and meaningful character creation perk right on up. Elyria is a bit unusual in that characters can be linked to other characters through biological families, and those families influence where you’re “born” as well as what characteristics, appearances, and even religions you “grow up” with.

“Even if [you’re] wearing a disguise, the Child Contract records who you really are because your true genetics are used (your physical body is involved in baby-making). While the child created with the contract would only be aware of the identities their parents were using when they made the contract, their genetics will be based off of the True Identity. If you want to create secret children, you totally can, but they’ll still resemble you and not your disguise.”

There’s more to the dev blog, including a chunk on interaction with the world (like using tools to craft the elements of survival). That might someday include playable instruments too, though Soulbound says they “may not be playable at launch.”

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LOTRO Legendarium: Is Lord of the Rings Online aging well?

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?

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Global Chat: The ‘We Don’t Play World of Warcraft’ Club

What do you do when you don’t play World of Warcraft but everyone else all around you does and won’t stop talking about it because there’s a new expansion coming out? You try to find like-minded souls and start up a club, that’s what!

“If you do not play WoW or at least have some sort of history with it, you can find yourself in some kind of quasi MMO community minority group. It’s an ‘odd’ phenomenon,” said Contains Moderate Peril.

“I really don’t even know what the story other than Alliance vs. Horde,” admitted I’m Not Squishy. “Sometimes it can feel like I’m there’s a big gap in my gaming vocabulary.”

Believe it or not, this whole column isn’t just about World of Warcraft today, so dive in to read some gamer essays on Wizard101, Dark Age of Camelot, Elder Scrolls Online, and more!

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Elder Scrolls Legends’ new studio is ‘rebuilding Legends from the ground up’

Back in May, Bethsoft surprised Elder Scrolls Legends players with a big announcement: It was ending its partnership with Dire Wolf Digital, which was the original dev studio behind the Elder Scrolls flavored online card game. In its place, Bethsoft would be bringing in a studio dubbed Sparkypants to handle the “future development and ongoing support for the game.” At the time, Bethsoft was promising new features and “competitive scene support,” and then, just a few weeks later ar E3, the company announced a graphics overhaul and port to Xbox One, PS4, and the Switch.

According to a new dev blog out today, Sparkypants’ rework is far more extensive; the companies say they’re “rebuilding Legends from the ground up with brand-new code,” though existing accounts will retain all their progress and achievements. The studio is also focused on a new story expansion and a “new thematic set of standalone cards that will add some interesting new wrinkles to the game’s meta and get players trying new deck compositions” with a focus “on designing ‘big’ cards that will see a lot of play.”

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Dauntless previous expansion weaponry, plans to roll out expansion chunks as they’re ready

If you like the way Blizzard rolls out WoW expansions – in chunks – then you’re going to appreciate Dauntless for much the same reason. Phoenix Labs says in its most recent dev blog that it’s planning on meting out “pieces of The Coming Storm as they become ready” to give the studio “the flexibility to work with your feedback.”

The Coming Storm was announced a few weeks ago with a target date of August 9th, which we presume now will actually be the first leg; its chief claim to fame is a massive rework of Ramsgate, the game’s central hub, thanks to the invasion of an Ostian Dreadnaught, an event that heralds new gear themes and weapons too. Those weapons – and the new Behemoth himself – are the subject of the rest of the blog piece.

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