interviews

Interview and excerpt: The ‘Braving Britannia’ book preserves Ultima Online’s oral history

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!

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Interviewing Frostkeep’s CEO as Rend announces July 31 early access

Are you looking for a new way to survive? It’s coming. We’ve watched as Rend wandered down its closed alpha path since May, but now the unique survival game is inviting everyone to join in the journey as it makes the turn to beta. Starting on July 31st, Rend launches on Steam early access. Those who want to try the three-faction, pet-taming, base-building, win condition experience can grab the buy-to-play title for $29.99 and dive right in.

What will that one-time purchase get you? I sat down with Frostkeep Studios CEO and co-founder Jeremy Wood to talk a bit about the experience players will have jumping into early access.

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Interview: ArtCraft’s J. Todd Coleman on prepping Crowfall’s Artisan Engine for the broader industry

Yesterday, Crowfall studio ArtCraft announced it was spinning off a brand-new company dubbed ArtCraft Technologies that would basically turn Crowfall’s engine into a marketable product for other studios, “providing game developers with turnkey technology solutions for creating large-scale Massively Multiplayer Online games.” We had opportunity to chat with ArtCraft Creative Director J Todd Coleman about the move and what it means for the studio and genre. Read on!

Massively OP: So to start, we’re curious about the “why” behind the new studio. Is ArtCraft thinking of this venture as an extra revenue stream for the company? Or is it trying to encourage more MMORPGs – or maybe both?

J. Todd Coleman: This wasn’t originally part of our plan. In the last 12 months, we’ve had a few different studios contact us to see if we would consider licensing our technology. The more we looked into it, the more it made sense. The additional revenue stream is great, obviously, but that has to be balanced against the potential distraction. We wouldn’t have done this if we didn’t see it as a great strategic move for the company, and a chance to leverage what we’ve built into something much bigger.

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New Ultima Online book gathers developer and player interviews to document oral history

Old-school MMORPG players, heads-up for you: If you’re a fan of Ultima Online or wanted to hear more about the seminal MMORPG after reading our take on Raph Koster’s book, there’s another book out there you’re bound to love. We’re talking, of course, about Braving Britannia: Tales of Life, Love, and Adventure in Ultima Online by Wes Locher, whose marketing blurb describes it as

“the first nonfiction book to collect interviews with 35 of the game’s players, volunteers, and developers over more than 300 pages, revealing what they did, where they adventured, and how their lives were shaped, changed, and altered through experiences in Ultima Online’s shared persistent world. […] In a fantasy world of limitless potential, the only thing players seem to enjoy more than playing the game is talking about it, and yet, the true stories behind the avatars have largely gone unpublished for the past twenty years.”

Among the devs interviewed? Bonnie Armstrong, Raph Koster, Starr Long, Rich Vogel, Gordon Walton, and plenty more. The book is due out later this week; you can sign up on its official site to be notified when it releases.

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TennoCon 2018: Why Warframe will never launch (and why that doesn’t matter)

There’s a question that floats around our Massively OP office discussions occasionally, especially when updating which game is labeled what: Will Warframe ever launch? Or did it? We’ve even been known to hunt back through the years to make sure we didn’t miss a clandestine launch somewhere, and we always come up empty. Then we theorize why the game is still technically labeled beta and wonder if the swap to the label “launched” will ever happen in the future. Thanks to TennoCon 2018 and Live Operations and Community Producer Rebecca Ford, we now have the answer to the question, “When will Warframe leave beta?”.

Eternal beta

Wait, Warframe has never launched?! That might come as a shock to a few. Some folks, especially newer players, may not realize that Warframe is not technically a launched game — at least as far as nomenclature is concerned. After all, the game has all the earmarks of being launched (regular expansion updates, cash shop, etc.). So for all intents and purposes, it is launched, it is just happens to missing that moniker. So does that even matter?

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TennoCon 2018: Warframe expands into open-world Venus plus space

Eidolon expanded the scope of Warframe immensely, but that doesn’t hold a candle to the content coming. The playable universe is growing by open-world leaps and bounds… and rocket thrusts!

Digital Extremes announced the next two major updates coming to the game at this year’s TennoCon 2108. First up this fall is Fortuna, a massive open-world environment on the surface of Venus. How big is it? Game Director Steve Sinclair said that the entirety of Eidolon would fit just on the first base in The Orb Vallis. That was the one folks had surmised parts of thanks to datamining. However, no one expected the second announcement: to play in space!

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ArenaNet is working on inventory tweaks and bug fixes for Classic Guild Wars – yes, a real patch!

ArenaNet isn’t giving up on Classic Guild Wars, it seems, and it’s not stopping at the basics.

“In the spirit of cupcakes, here’s a sneak peek at some upcoming changes,” ArenaNet programmer Bill Freist teased Reddit yesterday. “And no, the construction dude isn’t new items, just temp dev art for test items.” The tease includes a screenshot of what looks to be a much larger player inventory, complete with item rarity coloring.

Freist, you’ll recall, is one of the pair of ArenaNet devs basically keeping the lights on for the maintenance-moded original Guild Wars (the other being Stephen Clarke-Willson). This past spring, the duo made waves with a tech update that essentially buffed the heck out of the game’s graphics capabilities. They even went on a brief interview tour.

A third dev, Laevateinn, suggests there’s even more on the way. “I don’t have any good teasing images like Bill, but there’s a years-late bugfix or two making their way through the dev servers that I hope you’ll like.”

Hey ANet – howsabout a whole new campaign? We’re here for it.

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Bless Online’s 4th of July patch adds new PvE dailies and a PvP battleground this evening

Live in Bless Online on the holiday today is the 1.3.0.0 patch as promised, with its two big chunks of new content. PvE players are getting a new series of dailies called Royal Quests, at least if they’re level 45. Neowiz says you can finish off 15 per day to max out your rewards. As for PvPers, Basel Gorge is about to be your new haunt. It’s a “highly contested centerpoint of the conflict between the Union and Hieron factions.”

“While in Basel Gorge, players are able to gain more Combat Points from engaging in PvP than they would in other open world zones by controlling neutral bases. Gaining control of a neutral base will grant all members of that faction currently in Basel Gorge a ‘Gorge Occupier’ buff. This buff can stack up to three times, once for each neutral base in the area. Each stacked buff grants a 7% increase in movement speed and increases the amount of Combat Points gained from killing another player by 50%, making faction PvP within Basel Gorge extra rewarding. However, keep a close eye on the bases! Once a base is captured, it will only belong to that faction for twenty minutes before it reverts to neutral and can be contested by the opposing faction once again.”

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Bless Online’s 4th of July patch offers content for PvE and PvP players

It’s a big week for Bless Online, as Neowiz is prepping an update due to hit right smack in the middle of the 4th of July holiday here in the States. The good news for folks whose primary beef with the game is content-related is that the update injects the endgame with a much-needed dose of stuff to do.

PvE players will find a helping of daily quests. “Royal Quests are a new daily quest series that will be available to characters starting at level 45,” Neowiz says. “Players will be able to find an accept these quests in multiple locations around the world; they will be marked by purple quest icons on the world map. Players will be able to complete a total of 15 Royal Quests per day to get the most rewards possible.”

If your interests are more aligned with violent delights, however, you’re going to want to check out PvP-oriented Basel Gorge, which Neowiz characterizes as “the highly contested centerpoint of the conflict between the Union and Hieron factions.”

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Interview: Neowiz on Bless Online’s tech, class balance, gems, PvP, and more

Neowiz’s Bless has been the subject of much chatter lately (not least of all my own), with its troubled, let’s say, launch raising a bevy of questions and concerns among the game’s community. And as it just so happens, we recently had the opportunity to ask the Bless dev team at Neowiz some questions of our own.

In the exchange, conducted via email (and helpfully translated between Korean and English by the Bless PR team), the devs answer questions on a variety of topics, including the game’s performance and balance issues, chat limitations, and what players can expect from upcoming content updates. If you’re curious to know what they had to say, then read on for the full interview.

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Todd Howard blames Fallout 76’s lack of cross-platform play on Sony

The reason you won’t be able to play Fallout 76 with your friends on consoles is because of Sony, according to Bethesda studio director Todd Howard. A recent interview with a German site had Howard claiming that while Bethesda would like to do cross-platform play, “Sony is not as helpful as everyone would like.” Bethesda declined to elaborate on the statement when asked for further clarification by Polygon.

Cross-platforming issues have been in the news quite a bit recently, with Fortnite’s launch on Nintendo Switch being coupled with the surprising lack of cross-platform play for PlayStation 4 players. The last statement from the company was that it was “looking into possibilities,” so it remains to be seen both whether or not those possibilities will bear fruit and whether or not they’ll be resolved in time for everyone to enjoy Fallout 76 together.

Source: GameStar.de via Polygon

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Ion Hazzikostas on World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth’s design philosophy

If you felt like World of Warcraft: Legion hit the random chance button too hard (likely as one of the many players who waited for a random legendary for a spec that never dropped), you will likely be happy to see that recent interviews with Ion Hazzikostas feature the game director admitting that the expansion was too random at the start. The two-part interview is helpfully summarized on Wowhead, and Hazzikostas hopes that the new Azerite armor will alleviate that randomness by dropping in consistent spots. Assuming that it drops there, anyhow.

Hazzikostas also revealed that the Burning of Teldrassil will be available over roughly a week or two, while the Battle for Lordaeron will likely be a bonus for those who purchased Battle for Azeroth a week before release (which certainly does hint at the order in which these events occur).There’s also a bit more detail on splitting up profession leveling between expansions and offering separate skill levels. You can check out the summary, or you can pick through each individual interview.

Source: Forbes (1, 2) via Wowhead

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World of Warcraft gets its epic ducks in a row for Battle for Azeroth

With the Midsummer Fire Festival roaring through July 5th and artifact weapons on their way out of the game, World of Warcraft is heating up this summer. Additionally, the nearly 16GB Battle for Azeroth pre-patch is now available to download in the launcher background.

In the second part of a Forbes interview, Game Director Ion Hazzikostas has a few suggestions for what players should be doing to get ready for the expansion. His suggestions include grabbing your class mounts, running Chromie’s time hopper events, securing artifact appearances, running the Mage Tower, capping your crafting skills, and getting your Keystone Master achievement for mythic+ dungeons.

And to keep your anticipation stoked for Battle for Azeroth, check out MadSeasonShow’s excellently produced history of World of Warcraft video that takes players through the history of the game from 1999 to today.

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