holy trinity

Perfect Ten: RIFT features that deserve praise

Maybe it will be short-lived, but it is exciting to see attention and excitement return to the sphere of RIFT following the announcement of the upcoming Prime server ruleset. I’ve gone from not thinking much of this title in my absence to somewhat missing it to absolutely craving it within the span of a week, and I’m sure that’s only going to get worse.

Seeing friends and commenters talk about RIFT has reminded me of just how many incredible features and qualities this MMO has. Sure, it’s made a lot of missteps and just about nobody really loves the business model, but there is a genuinely good game here that has a feature set that most MMOs could only dream about having on the back of the box.

So whether you’re thinking about returning to RIFT this spring or perhaps taking it up for the first time, here are 10 features from the game that I feel deserve public kudos.

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Choose My Adventure: The return to Guild Wars 2

Many moons ago, when I was first hired on Massively-that-was, my fellow hire at the time was a lady by the name of Rubi Bayer. We hit it off pretty well and became friends. She was also very excited about a title that had yet to come out at the time, a game by the name of Guild Wars 2. For those of you coming to this story without knowledge of names, she’s now working for ArenaNet on that exact same game, along with two other former writers from our staff, all of whom are people I consider friends of mine.

So perhaps it’s a bit odd that I’ve not played Guild Wars 2 since well before Heart of Thorns launched. I have some history with the game, but it’s never been one of my main titles. And now that I’m heading back into it for its second major expansion, I think it’s a fine time to walk back through my experiences there, what I hope to find, and also ask a few reader questions along the way. Because that’s how polls work, after all.

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Secret World Legends is improving patron benefits, weapon unlocks, and more

Do devs listen to feedback? They did this week: During today’s Secret World Legends dev livestream Creative Director Romain Amiel announced some changes to patron benefits, weapon unlocks, inventory, XP, loot rates, and more — all in response to player feedback from the first week of play. The following changes will take place on July 5th when the next patch goes live:

  • Patrons will receive 20% more Marks of Favour, double AP and SP, and free teleports across playfields.
  • Weapon unlocks will now include both active and passive abilities in single unlock.
  • The first weapon unlock will be significantly cheaper.
  • Base inventory is increasing from 25 to 35 slots.
  • Sprint 2’s cost has been reduced.
  • Adding glyphs and signets will no longer cost MoF; however, recovering them still will.
  • Elite dungeons (which open at level 50) will have 10 levels, each increasingly difficult.
  • Every player can trade once they reach level 15; patrons can trade at level 1.
  • AP and SP earning rate will increase at level 50.
  • Dungeons will grant XP every time, not just on the first run.
  • Dungeons will have a higher extraordinary gear drop rate.
  • The first dungeon mission of the day will grant one guaranteed extraordinary piece of gear.

Amiel also discussed the downtime compensation that was promised when the servers went down to fix the Aurum exploit. All players who had an account as of last Sunday, June 25th, will receive 25 AP, 25 SP, 10,000 MoF, 4,000 anima shards, and 1 blue talisman fusion booster. Amiel also noted that the roadmap for content release is expected next week. Funcom is also looking at adding more payment options ASAP, as many players are requesting the ability to subscribe using Paypal. You can watch the full stream embedded below.

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The Game Archaeologist: How DikuMUD shaped modern MMOs

Even though there are hundreds and thousands of MMOs spanning several decades, only a small handful were so incredibly influential that they changed the course of development for games from then on out. DikuMUD is one of these games, and it is responsible for more of what you experience in your current MMOs than you even know.

Of course, that doesn’t mean everyone knows what DikuMUD is or how it shaped the MMOs that came out after it. You might have seen it used as a pejorative in enough comments that you know it is loathed by many gamers, but I find that there are varying degrees of ignorance about DikuMUD in the community. What is it, exactly? Why is it just the worst? And is it really the worst if we like the games that can point to this text-based MMO as a key ancestor?

Today we’re going to dispel the mystery and myths of DikuMUD to lay it out there as it was and is today.

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Massively Overthinking: The classes MMORPGs never do

No one wants to play Uncle Owen, a certain MMORPG exec famously said — except, you know, for all the people who really, really do. Including me!

Massively OP Patron Duane has a juicy question in keeping with that theme this week:

“What are some class/job/profession archetypes that you have never seen in an MMO that you would like to see? You can include include combat, crafting, gathering, or any other professions you like!”

I posed Duane’s question to the Massively OP writers this week — feel free to add to our list in the comments!

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Indie MMO Sacrament follows failed Kickstarter with Patreon bid

Indie studio Ferocity Unbound Core Studios, the group behind hardcore sandpark MMO Sacrament, has today kicked off a Patreon campaign designed to raise money for game development. The authors of the studio’s latest press release say that they are

“… quite certain that in Ferocity Unbound’s Business Plan they’re using a SWOT [context] model where the most profound ‘Weakness’ listed is ‘Unfunded.’ Anyone who believes they can build something using hopes and dreams doesn’t truly understand business, and Ferocity Unbound has shown [the authors of the press release] that they are fully aware of this issue. Layenem talks about it from time to time, and with a failed Kickstarter some thought they’d just humbly bow their heads and return to the realm of gaming, and leave game making to the AAA studios.”

Sacrament’s devs launched a Kickstarter earlier this spring that ended in failure with only $3,155 pledged toward a $250,000 goal and a vow to return on Patreon, now met; the creators seek a minimum of $850 per month. The game promises 20 tiers of progression in place of levels, an end to the holy trinity, 28 classes, full voice acting, group-centric PvE, heavy PvP, and “almost 200 raid boss fights.” It has previously billed itself as “the evolution of EverQuest.”

Source: Press release


The Game Archaeologist: The sad saga of Stargate Worlds

In 1994, a science-fiction movie called Stargate took the idea of alien portals that allowed people to travel instantaneously across the universe and turned it into a modest success. The notion (and box office gross) was sufficiently interesting enough to be reworked into a hit television series that then became a major franchise.

Stargate SG-1 ran from 1997 to 2007, and was soon spun off into Stargate Infinity (2002-2003), Stargate Atlantis (2004-2009), Stargate Universe (2009-2011), and a pair of direct-to-DVD sequels in 2008. Books, video games, amusement park rides, and even a pinball machine spawned from this series, which by the mid-2000s had a sizable crop of very loyal fans.

So why not an MMORPG? The popularity of the IP would help bolster interest in the game, and the idea of hopping across the galaxy to different planets went hand-in-hand with the virtual world setup of MMOs. In 2006, at the height of Stargate’s fame, work began on such a game — work that would soon enough lead to ruin and heartbreak. This game was Stargate Worlds.

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Global Chat: What is Daybreak thinking with H1Z1?

Daybreak’s announcement earlier this month that it will be splitting H1Z1 into two games triggered a flood of responses from the MMO blogging community, some pronouncing doom while others offering insight into what might be going on behind closed doors.

Healing the Masses considers the move part of an ongoing scam with the game and “abnormally idiotic.” The Ancient Gaming Noob predicts that Daybreak will further change at least one of these games’ names to avoid confusion. Inventory Full notes that splitting MMOs up into two or more games or parts is hardly new. Tyrannodorkus said that the different game modes probably warrant separate development but selling them as two titles is a “scummy move.” And Me vs. Myself and I finds himself confused, bewildered, and losing faith in Daybreak.

We’ve got more captivating discussion from the MMO blogosphere after the break, including a look at World of Warcraft’s impermanence, an exploration of Otherland, arguments over the holy trinity, and more!

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Massively OP’s sneak peek of Atlas Reactor, Trion’s turn-based strategy MOBA

I first experienced Atlas Reactor just before Trion made its big announcement at the PAX Prime party last summer. At the time, I didn’t really know what to think of it. First, it’s clearly set in some futuristic timeline, but then it has come fantasy elements like gremlins and cat-people. I’m on board with that. I’m frankly tired of high fantasy. The characters, which Trion calls Freelancers, are similar to what we find in League of Legends or maybe closer to the upcoming Blizzard shooter Overwatch.

So far, so typical, except it’s turn-based. What? Yes, turn-based. I was thrown, too.

Senior Producer James Karras and Lead Designer William Cook called us up to talk about how Altas Reactor works and what makes it stand out, and then they demonstrated a few rounds of the game over a private livestream. One thing I’m sure of is that Atlas Reactor is an interesting concept definitely worth a second look.

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The Game Archaeologist: Asheron’s Call 2

MMO sequels are funny animals. Sequels (along with prequels and “reimaginings”) are ingrained into the entertainment industry so deep that it makes sense that MMO studios would follow suit. And yet these types of games — with their ever-growing nature and heavy involvement with loyal playerbases — are not always conducive to such projects. More often than not, a sequel to an online game becomes its predecessor’s main competition, which is not a desirable outcome for the studio.

Perhaps back in the early 2000s, studios simply didn’t know better. There’s good evidence that the typical “hit video games need a sequel” mindset ran rampant across the industry, from the multiple attempts at Ultima Online 2 to the release of the don’t-call-it-a-sequel sequel of EverQuest II. Perhaps developers didn’t realize that MMO players didn’t necessarily want to be uprooted and moved to a new game every few years.

While sequels, spin-offs and remakes are still present, the genre learned a hard lesson with Asheron’s Call 2: Fallen Kings in the first half of the decade. Asheron’s Call was a minor success for Microsoft and Turbine, and a sequel — with vastly improved graphics and deeper gameplay — seemed like a logical next step. Unfortunately, it was a Greek tragedy in the making, destined for a short but memorable life in our world.

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ArenaNet’s Steven Waller discusses Guild Wars 2’s raiding foundation

Following my playtest of Guild Wars 2’s raiding, which I chronicled earlier today, I had the opportunity to fire some quick questions across to Guild Wars 2 Associate Game Director Steven Waller, and I think it helps explain the inspiration and reasoning behind the new endgame content direction that’s come along with Heart of Thorns. Read on!

Massively Overpowered: Tell me a little about the inspiration for that first raid tier, whether or not you looked at other raids to get a sense of what you desired, and whether you looked at community feedback to solidify your concept.

Steven Waller: What we normally start with is something that could fanatically connect to our game’s lore so that it feels like you’re more connected overall with the Guild Wars 2 universe. In terms of the individual encounters, basically we have a lot of people who play a lot of other games and raid in other games and things like that.

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Hands-on with Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns’ first raid

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, raiders of all professions: I’m delighted to finally be able to spill the beans about all things raiding after playtesting another raid boss last week in preparation for the raid launch today! If you know me at all, you’ll be aware of how difficult it must have been for me to hold my tongue about my experience, especially since I adore raiding in general and am hoping that the Guild Wars 2 offerings will be no different.

I had already tested my toons against the first raid boss during the beta weekend, so I was happy to see a different boss encounter this time around. Read on to find out more about my experience with the second raid boss, see a little bit of teaser footage, and stay tuned for my follow-up interview with Associate Game Director Steven Waller later this afternoon. If you’re worried about spoilers regarding the bosses included in the raid’s first wing, please leave this one out until you’ve seen it all for yourself.

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Massively Overthinking: WildStar, Guild Wars 2, and MMO raiding in 2015

Here we are in October, sandwiched between WildStar’s F2P conversion and Guild Wars 2’s Heart of Thorns launch, and it seems as if we’re getting some very mixed messages from the MMO industry with these titles.

WildStar went F2P as a result of flagging sales and plummeting subscriptions, brought on — if you ask the commentariat — by the game’s insistent focus on hardcore, endgame raiding to the near-exclusion of other content. Today’s more well-rounded WildStar isn’t very much like what launched in 2014, presumably having learned that lesson.

Guild Wars 2, on the other hand, will introduce with its expansion tomorrow a brand-new raiding scene, and a particularly challenging one at that.

So what’s the deal here? Is ArenaNet out of touch or calculatedly gambling for a niche it doesn’t already have? Is raiding over or on the way back? Let’s talk about the state and importance of MMO raiding in 2015 for this week’s Massively Overthinking.

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