On this week’s show, Bree and Justin cleans up after Guild Wars 2’s PR disaster, chew over the survivability of Shroud of the Avatar, and commiserate about Camelot Unchained’s delay. It’s not all downer news — there’s some really great stuff happening in the MMO industry, and that makes an appearance on this extra-long episode!
Special note: If you want to skip the ArenaNet discussion for the rest of the news, go to the 50-minute mark (yeah, we talk about it a lot!). Also, please note that this was recorded before the Polygon article that came out Monday night, so it’s missing some the additional commentary on Mike O’Brien’s second formal statement.
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.
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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).
As I’m off on vacation this week, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to cull through the previous One Shots comment section for great pics like I usually do. So I’m going to have to beg your forgiveness for a little indulgence here, because in this edition, I’ll be sharing nothing but my own screenshots. Feels like a cheat, because I do that all the time in normal news articles and columns, but why not?
First up is my tribute to the late, great Marvel Heroes. However sad it went out, I had some great times in that MMO and loved the crazy superhero encounters. Such as, in this instance, Captain Marvel giving Carnage a little something to think about before he swings that hand-axe around.
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.
By the time that World of Warcraft came on the scene in 2004, the MMORPG industry had already gravitated toward standard when it came to the interface — specifically, the camera angle. MMO players and devs seemed to prefer third-person views that either peered over the shoulder of avatars or followed right behind them. For decades now, we’ve grown used to watching our characters’ rears as they jog along, and we can’t really imagine the experience otherwise.
Yet when you think about it, while this camera perspective is overwhelmingly used in the genre, it’s not the only one that crops up in MMOs. We’ve seen both old and new titles experiment with the camera angle, sometimes out of style and sometimes out of necessity (here’s a great Gamasutra article on the subject).
For today’s list, we’re going to look at 10 MMORPGs where the camera is positioned in a different way than you’d normally expect, especially if you are coming from modern games.
If you’ve been finding yourself missing Marvel Heroes – but not all the drama and lies – you might want to mosey on over to Steam today, where former Gazillion CEO David Brevik is launching his new sidescrolly pixelart RPG, It Lurks Below, into early access.
“It Lurks Below is a fun new one-man indie game project from myself, David Brevik, the creator of Diablo and Diablo II. Although the game is already engaging and addictive, I want to use Early Access to make the project even better. I’m a big believer in actively communicating with your community, getting feedback and improving the final product. This has already been going on in a small closed beta, but I’m ready to open it up and make the best possible game.”
Launch is expected later this year; the current version is just shy of 20 bucks. As we’ve previously reported, it’s not an MMO, and it’s not even multiplayer, so you won’t see much coverage of it here going forward, but Brevik is a big name in MMOs, so there you go – consider yourself duly notified about a cool thing he’s doing.
Kotaku put out a piece this week on how to game without wrecking your body, something that’s probably bound to come up in the average MMORPG player’s life. It’s filled with basic tips like “drink water, ya moron” and “sit up straight” and “don’t eat garbage” and “look at stuff other than the screen” but there are also some useful tips in there like “stretch before you binge” – including your hips and wrists, which you might otherwise overlook.
For this week’s Overthinking, I’ve asked the writers to expound on two things: first, the most unhealthy video gaming moment or habit they’ve ever had, and second, one specific thing they do to keep themselves from completely destroying their bodies when their hobby has become their career.
(We’ve updated below with MMOBomb’s detailed investigation into this Indiegogo – short story, don’t go handing over your dough.)
With Marvel Heroes dead and gone, most fans have moved on to other gaming pastures. After all, it would take a miracle to bring it back, right? Turns out that miracles are pretty expensive in this modern age, but there are always those who will take a shot at the near-impossible.
Enter Paragon Institute, a new non-profit that says it wants to purchase Marvel Heroes for $450,000 (or more) and form an indie studio to operate it. Even more interesting, this group says it wants to use Marvel Heroes and other titles as “learning labs” to train developers and preserve abandoned video games.
“Our goal is to establish ElderMage Studios as a learning lab to partner experienced professionals with aspiring game developers to help them gain the skills and hands-on experience necessary to work in the field,” the group posted on IndieGoGo. “This may include time spent supporting or enhancing existing titles to create entirely new ones. A secondary mission is to preserve games that are no longer supported so that those who have licensed them may continue using them and so others may learn from them.”
Diablo, Hellgate: London, and Marvel Heroes creator David Brevik has just announced his newest game — and it’s both similar and unlike anything he’s done before.
It Lurks Below is a 2-D lovechild of horror, Diablo, and Terraria, sending a lone player into a gloomy, pixelated world filled with terrors and spelunking. The game will make heavy use of procedural generation and randomization to create the maps on which players will explore, scavenge, loot, fight, and build. Brevik made the entire game by himself, including the art and music, and he promised fans that it will be coming out later this year with a limited closed beta starting this weekend (which is full, sorry to say, but you can watch Brevik stream it).
How much is too much?
To some, that might seem like a reasonable question. But I knew. I knew. There is no such thing as too much!
There was a question raised on Massively OP this past week about in-game hoarding. I answered… boy did I answer. I kept answering. It was just like my virtual bags: I filled the space to overflowing. And I just kept going. And now, it’s even spilling over to The Soapbox! It’s not my fault games make cool things I like and want to keep, or make getting stuff so much fun (searching through every box and barrel, anyone?). But there is much more to it than that. Yes, I admit I am a serial hoarder. But I am also an unrepentant hoarder! It’s not a problem. Others may think I have a problem.
I see it as item security.
A couple of months ago, after we learned about the sunset of Marvel Heroes but before it actually happened early, we asked our local Marvel fans which MMO they planned to play next to fill the hole left by the end of the popular MMOARPG. DC Universe Online and Champions Online were offered as contenders, of course, with the bigger crowdfunded games – Ship of Heroes, City of Titans, and Valiance Online – all getting mentions too.
But since many of those games aren’t actually out yet, and two of them are on the older side, I’m wondering where you actually went – and if it’s outside of the superhero world, what was it that made you trade in your capes and tights. We asked this same question when City of Heroes closed down, for example, and a lot of folks had scattered to some surprising destination rather than the superhero games – Secret World and Star Trek Online, as I recall, led the pack.
Me, I just logged into and swooped around in the City of Heroes Paragon Chat a few times and got it out of my system for another few weeks.
Marvel Heroes players, where did you actually go?
Lies piss me off. I have had MMO developers look me in the eye and lie right to my face. I have had PR promise something and then intentionally break that promise with a shrug. I have had studios mail me statements that are not just playing loose with the truth but dropping it on the ground and driving their boot heel right into it. I’ve had studios claim they never said a thing right up until I produce the recording where they very clearly did (always save your recordings, folks). I’ve been doing this a long time, but nevertheless, just when I think I’ve seen everything, I’m confronted with even more shenanigans.
You folks see plenty too! Just last year, in the midst of what was apparently a furied license negotiation, layoffs, community team silence, missed patch dates, and sexual harassment scandal – some or all of which ultimately led to the abrupt end of Marvel Heroes – Gazillion reps claimed to us that “the company is functioning normally.” And don’t even start me on the “sense of pride and accomplishment” line.
Which MMO studio told the biggest fib last year, and what was it?
Fresh off of its “largest” alpha test to date, Saga of Lucimia and its team are gearing up for a busy 2018. In a new video (complete with ambient bird noises), the project lead outlined some of the target goals for this year, starting with an intention to widen the pool of testers on a monthly rather than quarterly basis.
Other upcoming plans include more regular developer diaries, more streaming, work on the tabletop edition of the game, and finding a publisher for the official Saga of Lucimia novel.
The team also posted a manifesto on its “play nice policies” that it intends to enforce during testing and post-release. These policies are drawn from the olden days of EverQuest and its contemporaries, where social mores were upheld by the community and the GMs.
“Players will be expected to play nice with each other, respect camps, and generally ‘get along’ and treat each other with respect,” the team said. “Toxicity will not be accepted in any form, and we will absolutely be holding players to a certain standard of general niceness when it comes to playing alongside their fellow gamers.”