Arrrr! If Sea of Thieves isn’t doing it for you, maybe you should board a more classic ship, like Puzzle Pirates – specifically, Puzzle Pirates Dark Seas. Puzzle Pirates, of course, has been around for 15 years as an adorable puzzle-oriented MMORPG. Developer Grey Havens has been hard at work on a more PvP-centered version of the game with a new ocean map and a clean economy, and that version, dubbed Dark Seas, has just formally launched on Steam after a stint in early access. Notably, this version is Steam only, whereas the “classic” game also works in-browser; the devs have plenty of fun lined up to get the game’s initial economy rolling.
“In celebration of our Full Release Launch we’re going to have a series of blue grey tournaments and competitions. These festivities will culminate in the opening of the first large island, Melanaster, for blockade on July 14th. We suggest you start recruiting mates and making plans in Parley.”
Did we mention it’s free-to-play? You can dive in right now!
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!
With a rapidly expanding studio and Alpha One coming later this year, Ashes of Creation is shaping up to be one of the great hopes of the MMORPG industry these days. PCGamesN has a piece on the technical development of Ashes of Creation, in which the team talks about using Unreal Engine 4 to create the persistent massively multiplayer environment. Currently in Alpha Zero, 2,500 players are romping around in a 16×16 kilometer zone that offers limited progression. This is due to expand, however.
The team also discussed how Ashes will be similar to EVE Online in terms of its economy: “A similar aspect with regards to our economy is that we don’t have a global auction house. We don’t have a global warehouse for resources, so while you may be able to put your staff or your sword in your warehouse and grab it somewhere else, you can’t put iron ore [in there] and grab it somewhere else.”
The dev team recently posted a new video showing off some of the environments that future lucky Alpha One testers will enjoy. Might as well tantalize yourself by viewing it after the jump!
Star Citizen’s alpha 3.2 has finally and formally released to all comers, CIG announced this weekend.
“In the new patch, Star Citizen players can use the Prospector ship’s mining arm to gather and sell resources harvested from the three moons, adding new gameplay and a huge resource to the game’s burgeoning economy. This economy comes into play in an entirely new way: 3.2 dramatically expands the number of items players can purchase at in-game kiosks with their hard earned in-game currency. On the technical side, Alpha 3.2 dramatically improves upon the grouping system, delivering on the Star Citizen community’s most requested feature stemming from a vote in March of 2018. This new feature enables up to fifty players to travel the universe together as they enjoy the game’s more than thirty varying, procedurally-generated, mission types. NPC ship AI has also been improved with new behaviors that give in-game enemies a lot more teeth.”
Also worth noting is that the update includes five playable ships, both updates to older ships and brand-new paid pixel ships that are no longer just pixel ships.
Star Wars Galaxies is 15 years old now, and it was just about seven years ago that SOE announced it was slated for execution. Naturally, it’s been a big topic for us this week; several of our staff even joined together on the largest emulator to stream it on Tuesday. Smed even dropped by to show his support for the game and the emu.
At the end of our stream, MJ and I were chatting about why we don’t really play the emulator more. For MJ, it was the lack of a strong social environment, and if you saw how many people were botting in the cantina, you’d understand why the emu is superficially lacking in that area. For me, it’s the lack of permanence for that server, as well as the lack of features and the lack of what I’d consider a functional economy in its current state.
And yet, if a company legally released Star Wars Galaxies again right now, with all the features it had at its sunset and a clean economy and enough players to make the server ecosystem work properly, I would pretty much head right on over and get busy living, and there’d be a big fight on Massively OP over who got to helm the weekly column on the game. To this day, it’s still the MMORPG experience I am searching for, and I am clearly not alone.
Would you play Star Wars Galaxies if it relaunched today?
A massive thread on the Warframe
subreddit this weekend shows just the sort of problems MMO studios have waded into in their haste to crack down on goldsellers in order to run cash shops themselves.
Apparently, Digital Extremes is tracking platinum sent around the community, and that includes platinum that has been tracked coming from the accounts of people actioned for platinum reselling. The issue is that the Warframe team isn’t just stopping at banning goldsellers and chargeback abusers; it’s also punishing people who traded with those goldsellers, even if those players had no way of knowing the money was tainted.
Redditor lazarus2605 posted an in-game mail from Warframe support that essentially chides him for trading with a plat reseller, warns him that he could have been banned, and informs him that DE is deleting all of the “fraudulently obtained” plat from his account, with no apparent recourse. Worse, when DE reclaims the plat and drives a victim’s account into the red, the victims say they are then expected to pay DE the difference to regain account access.
Staxel took over the playtime of a bunch of my Twitter buddies this past winter when it hit early access on Steam. We described it as a cross between Stardew Valley and Trove, with sandboxy content that’s more focused on farming, fishing, and growing a village than on being a murder hobo. At the time, we noted that it wasn’t full-on MMORPG but that multiplayer at least was happening.
Since then, the game’s seen several updates, as I realized when I caved and bought the game on the Steam sale yesterday. March saw tweaks to the camera and economy; April touched on the mod manager, achievements, crop quality. Most recently, the team posted its plans for the 1.3 update, which further fleshes out the NPCs of the world, adds a pet shop, and integrates festivals into gameplay.
When you’re enjoying a game, the last thing you want to be told is that it’s time to stop playing for a while because the game is too tired. So it’s for the best that Closers is yanking that mechanic with the removal of the game’s fatigue system with the game’s next patch. But how will that affect the game as a whole? Why, the FAQ will answer all of those questions!
In terms of overall balance, it shouldn’t affect too much; there are already limitations to entering dungeons and those won’t be changed, and the team is keeping a close eye on the overall balance of items and economy. Players will likely have their existing fatigue potions converted to credits for the Matter Mixer (exact amounts are still being determined), and other consumables will replace stamina potions in starter packs. Similarly, stamina potions found as rewards will be replaced with equivalent rewards. Check out the full rundown for more answers on what the system’s removal will mean.
On the prowl for an undiscovered indie MMORPG these days? You might want to check out Gran Skrea Online, as it just went into early access this past weekend.
According to the team, Gran Skrea “combines a desire for new player-defined MMORPG mechanics with influences from classic RPGs like RuneScape, Ultima Online, and The Elder Scrolls.” It’s $9 right now through June 23rd, which isn’t the most exorbitant price we’ve ever seen, and there’s an official Discord set up already.
The sandbox MMORPG sends players “to create their own destiny in an original world of medieval fantasy.” This apparently means a mixture of quests, “ruthless” PvP combat, guilds, and economy. There are already quite a few features in place, including player housing, a criminal flagging system, lots of crafting, and a game world with plenty of lore. There’s more to be added in the early access program, so features such as territorial warfare, auction houses, and naval warfare are still in development.
Get an early look at Gran Skrea after the jump!
I was a wide-eyed, naive kid when I first stepped into Ultima Online in 1997, and as it turns out, the developers were too.
That’s my takeaway from reading through the Ultima Online chunk of Raph Koster’s new book, Postmortems. Koster, as any dedicated MMORPG fan will recall, went by “Designer Dragon” back then as the creative lead on the game. Having come from a MUD background, he and his wife Kristin Koster were instrumental in shaping Richard Garriott’s seminal MMORPG and therefore the genre as we know it.
Koster kindly sent us a preprint of the book, unwittingly robbing himself of $35, as I was going to buy it anyway, and it’s massive, folks: over 700 pages spanning three decades and the majority of the online games Koster’s worked on during his long tenure in the gaming industry. Some of those games are definitely of more interest to our readers on Massively OP, in particular Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies. It’s the Ultima Online chapters I aim to cover today.
Flunked out of interstellar academy? Left your parents’ home on Mars at 17 and decided to make it on your own? Enjoy lugging stuff around or breaking things? Then you have a future in Dual Universe, thanks to an increased focus on space truckin’ and ore minin’.
Today’s big update to the pre-alpha program added a few new tools that allow players to scan for and mine that precious ore that can be found literally under your feet on the planets you visit. With the hand scanner, the directional tool, and the mining tool, you’ll be digging up your fortune in no time.
Once players get that ore, they’ll be helped out by the other features of this update, which are an improvement to the maneuverability of transport vehicles and the ability to easily transfer your goods to owned containers over a distance. You will need to be mindful of how much you’re carrying, as containers now have volume limitations.
Unless you’re a hardcore Darkfall player from way back in the day as MOP’s Andrew was, you probably look at the sequels and spinoffs with pure confusion. What’s the difference between Darkfall, Darkfall: Rise of Agon, and Darkfall: New Dawn? That’s at least partly the subject of a new infographic out from the New Dawn team. For starters, you can’t actually play the original Darkfall. After launching in 2009, rebooting amidst much controversy as Unholy Wars in 2012, and toying with plans for a more classic reboot, its dev team abruptly vanished without much of a goodbye in 2016, saying it hoped the service disruption would be temporary. It wasn’t. Aventurine wound up licensing the game out to two different player-led studios, which separately put together their own takes on the game to keep it alive.
New Dawn, as the infographic touts, focuses more on group PvP than the original, with less grind and griefing and a more realistic economy and trade, as well as combat that’s less “ping-dependent.” Its most recent dev blog talked up improving PvE and soloability. Rise of Agon, on the other hand, boasts housing, no safe zones, twitchy combat, large-scale warfare, and a heavier crafting focus; it just got an update to PvP. Both spinoffs harken back to the original Darkfall more than to Unholy Wars, and both games are in a launch state.
My only nephew is something of a math prodigy, and the fact that he wants to be a game designer when he grows up (and has even been to game dev camp) fills me with the creeping horror that only someone who’s been living in or chronicling the game industry for years can know. The industry is awesome, and it is also a meat grinder that chews amazing people up and spits them right back out. He deserves a better future than that. Everybody does.
Such is the subject of a lengthy piece on Gamasutra this week. Author Simon Parkin interviews multiple developers about their experience making games – and their obvious relief when they finally escape. They’re not just talking crunch; they’re discussing relatively low pay, contract positions, nepotism, instability, post-launch exhaustion, sexism, and actual corruption driving people away.