See: Mythic Entertainment

The Game Archaeologist: How Sceptre of Goth shaped the MMO industry

When it comes to text-based MMOs created in the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s, the sheer number of them would blot out the sky. There are certainly more multi-user dungeons (MUDs) than I’ve ever been able to get a handle on when I’ve tried creating lists of the most important to know, but I will say that there are a few that seem to pop up more than others. The original MUD1, created by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw, was certainly a watershed moment for online roleplaying games. Learning about DikuMUD is pretty essential, considering its impact on graphical MMORPGs that we still play today.

But there’s another title that often goes unnoticed, unless you keep an eye out for it. It’s a MUD that keeps popping up when you look into the history of the MMORPG genre, one with ties to key players and design concepts that are still active today.

It’s the MUD that shaped the MMO industry, and it was called Sceptre of Goth.

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The Game Archaeologist: Mark Jacobs on Mythic’s early online games, part 1

When you bring up the name “Mythic Entertainment,” chances are that most gamers are going to immediately think of the studio’s two major MMOs, Warhammer Online and Dark Age of Camelot. Perhaps Imperator Online might come into the conversation, perhaps not. But what is fascinating to me is that Mythic had a lot more than a pair of MMOs under its belt.

Since the formation of the studio in the mid-1990s, Mythic’s team developed well over a dozen titles, many of which featured online multiplayer and other elements that would eventually lead into the company releasing DAoC to widespread acclaim in 2001. I’ve been curious what these older titles were like and how they contributed to the formation of Mythic’s MMOs, and so rather than get all of my information from second-hand sources, I went straight to City State Entertainment’s Mark Jacobs to ask him about games like Aliens Online, Spellbinder, and Darkness Falls. Considering that the man is still working on spiritual successors to the games he was involved with decades ago, I thought it would be great to get his perspective.

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Perfect Ten: What you need to know before you play an older MMORPG

I cut my teeth on MMOs with the launch of Final Fantasy XI in America. My roommate in college was interested in the game, so I went with my girlfriend at the time, headed to the mall, bought two copies of the game, and spent most of the night downloading patches and getting the whole thing set up. For years I thought things like the archaic half-functionality of things like PlayOnline constituted a feature rather than a drawback solely because of that title.

There are a lot of older games out there, older even than FFXI in chronology and in design. There are games that launched later that feel older. And after a discussion about exactly that, I found myself thinking about the things you may not realize if you go back to play an older game. If you cut your teeth on more modern games, stuff designed and launched in a more recent environment… there are elements to consider before you download the client and start playing.

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Leaderboard: MMO RvR versus FFA PvP

Last month, we did a little post on MMORPG PvP asking about two-faction PvP and whether it was really suited for all the MMO themeparks that seem to jam it in. But there are other types of PvP out there, and today’s Leaderboard will pit them against each other.

In one corner, there’s RvR — realm vs. realm (vs. realm!), and I don’t mean instanced World of Warcraft battlegrounds and largely irrelevant Guild Wars 2 WvW. I mean games built from the ground up to focus on RvR combat: Think Camelot Unchained, Dark Age of Camelot, even Warhammer Online, where the RvR isn’t a tacked on PvP side-game; it’s the game.

In the other corner, there’s FFA PvP — free-for-all PvP. Sometimes pejoratively called gankboxes, these games may or may not allow or encourage actual ganking; they employ different rulesets to govern player behavior, from heavy-handed justice systems to laissez-faire blank slates where players can do whatever they want, but one thing’s usually for sure: There are no predetermined sides. Think classic Ultima Online and games inspired by it, like EVE Online, Darkfall, and Revival.

Let’s say you have to choose a PvP-oriented MMO to play. Which style would it be?

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Global Chat: Oculus Rift, GW2’s philosophy shift, and emulator exploration

The high cost of Oculus Rift brought a lot of discussion to the MMO blogosphere recently, with writers taking sides for and against the price, the platform, and the possible future of virtual reality gaming.

“I guess for me virtual reality has been this failed promise for so long that I have doubted that it would actually really arrive,” Tales of the Aggronaut wrote. “It gets even more risky when you start thinking back to horror stories of peripherals touting new and interesting ways to play games that didn’t make it,” Overly Positive cautioned. “VR is a part of the future, not the future,” In An Age noted.

When the dust settles, will people buy? Nobody can seem to agree on this. “I am more concerned with it being the price of ‘scare away adoption’,” Sagacyte said. “The Oculus Rift goal to make VR more of a mainstream thing seems to contradict its pricing,” The Tankquisition stated. “That price, for all the loud complaints it has yielded, doesn’t seem to be hurting the popularity of the pre-orders,” The Ancient Gaming Noob observed.

Beyond virtual reality, our round-up of MMO blog posts today includes an exploration of emulators, a criticism of Guild Wars 2’s philosophy shift, and more!

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Dark Age of Camelot is coming down hard on cheating

If you’re going to play Dark Age of Camelot, here’s a bit of friendly advice: Don’t cheat. We’re not talking about relationships (you shouldn’t cheat there either, but the game won’t penalize you for it), we’re talking about all of the lovely ways that people have devised to cheat in the game as outlined in the latest producer’s letter for the game. If you’re using third-party programs to get an advantage, odds are you got caught in the most recent wave of cheat-sweeping described in the producer’s letter, and even if you didn’t, the letter assures you that you will be caught in the future.

Also classified as cheating now are multiboxing players, described in the letter as “macro” groups. If you’re running around controlling multiple characters on a single computer, you can expect penalties in battlegrounds or frontier maps, although pure PvE regions won’t kick you for playing that way. These policies are not being hard-written into the game’s rules of conduct as the developers try out the new set of rules, but you can be sure that the basic advice remains solid. Don’t cheat.


Dark Age of Camelot temporarily disables its housing zones

Ask any homeowner: The biggest headache is having to keep up with all of the things that keep breaking around the house. Broadsword knows this all too well, as it’s had to take Dark Age of Camelot’s housing system offline to fix some unspecified issues.

“As most of you know, we’ve had some issues with the housing zones and have had to disable them temporarily,” Producer John Thornhill posted. “We’ve been hard at work testing and re-testing our fix and still feel confident that we’ll be able to restore/fix the missing and incorrect housing data. However, after testing some more today, we’ve found some additional issues that need to be accounted for as well. These issues will take most of tomorrow to implement into our fix, which then needs to be tested some more.”

Thornhill said that the devs will be correcting the issue next week. To make it up to the playerbase, the team is extending both the Midwinter Event and RvR bonuses for a week or more and is looking into “additional compensation” for those affected.


Perfect Ten: The MMORPGs to watch in 2016

A long time ago on another website far, far away, I held a tradition of kicking off the new year by listing the top 10 MMOs that deserved attention and were likely to launch that year. These days, however, the industry has changed quite a bit, most notably with early access, open development, soft launches, and crowdfunding blurring the lines of testing and play.

Therefore, I felt that a slight change was needed with 2016’s list. Instead of rattling off 10 titles that I think are going to release in the following 12 months, I’m going to mention games that strongly bear watching in the new year. Some of them will undoubtedly release, while the rest remain in alpha or beta testing, but all could have an impact on the industry and in our online communities.

Because I’m limiting the list to just 10 entries, some up-and-coming games won’t be mentioned. I have my reasons (secret, dusky reasons), but if you disagree about these or the exclusion of any title, pipe up in the comments!

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The MOP Up: A look behind A Realm Reborn (December 27, 2015)

The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!

This week we’ll take a trip behind the scenes of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, celebrate Flyff’s anniversary, enjoy holiday celebrations, and more!

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Camelot Unchained’s Mark Jacobs on economy, crafting, and Star Wars Galaxies inspiration

In anticipation of the today’s livestream, Camelot Unchained boss Mark Jacobs spoke with us about the implementation of crafting and trade in the game as explained on the website on today’s stream. It’s Jacobs, so you know the answers aren’t bullshit.

Massively OP: Regarding merchant stalls in lieu of an auction hall: From other MMOs, I know that there will inevitably be one really great, convenient spot for stalls, and if you’re not there, you’re sunk without a search system. So first, is there going to be a “vendor search” system so people can tell what’s for sale and where? And second, how are you going to deal with demand for the stalls in the “best” spot? And if the answer to this is bidding wars and auctions for the best stalls, how are you going to stop uberguilds from dominating all serious trade? If the answer is extremely high rents, how are you going to ensure that people still sell the “cheap” stuff (like lowbie gear and consumables) that isn’t worth it to stock in high-demand, high-rent areas (this is also a serious problem in modern Ultima Online, for example, like reverse food deserts).

Mark Jacobs: Great question, but I hope you’re prepared for a long answer. However, since you and your readers know me, you knew going in that it would be hard for me to write a short answer to a question like this one.

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Massively OP’s Best of 2015 Awards: Most Anticipated for 2016 and Beyond

Massively OP’s end-of-the-year awards continue today with our award for most anticipated MMO for 2016 and beyond.

In 2013 and 2014, EverQuest Next and Landmark took home this award. In fact, it was a bit of an upset in 2013, as WildStar had won it several years running before that. This year, our future is filled with more well-funded indies than AAA-budget games, and choosing a most anticipated from that field proved extremely hard, one that we continued debating long after the votes were cast (and changed and cast again). Best expansion was close. This was even closer.

All of our writers were invited to cast a vote, but not all of them chose to do so for this category. Don’t forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end.

The Massively OP staff pick for Most Anticipated MMO for 2016 and Beyond is…

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The MOP Up: GTA Online makes every bullet count (December 13, 2015)

The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!

This week GTA Online players got to play a new ammo-limited mode, two Lineage games were announced for mobile, Eternal Crusade streamers made fun of their own mistakes, Hearthstone talked about basic cards, and more!

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The MOP Up: Players choose Lineage II classic server name (December 6, 2015)

The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!

This week the Lineage II community nominated names for the new EU classic server, Marvel Heroes’ Kitty Pryde got a new look, an April Fools joke came to life, and studios started giving away presents for the holiday season!

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