non combat mmo

The Daily Grind: What exactly defines an ‘indie’ MMORPG studio?

Earlier this week, I happened to see a mainstream website refer to ArtCraft as an indie studio, and it jolted me. ArtCraft, as anybody reading MOP knows, is working on Crowfall, which at least in my estimation is a high-quality, graphics-intensive MMORPG from hardcore MMORPG veterans who’ve been in the business as long as anyone alive. The game has raised at least $12M or maybe $15M, at least counting up what we know about.

When I think of indie studios, I think of the tiny outfits working on games like Project Gorgon, Ever, Jane, and Ascent the Space Game. But of course Crowfall is also an indie, right? It’s not running a $500M budget; it’s not ensconced under a cozy AAA publisher umbrella. It crowdfunds.

Then again, aside from the budget/wealth, its profile looks like a bit like Epic Games’ – it even has an engine to vend now. So is it really just about money? Is Star Citizen, with its multiple studios and AAA budget, an indie because of crowdfunding? Camelot Unchained studio CSE has multiple studios – does that factor in?

I’m curious what you folks think. What exactly defines an indie MMO studio? What characteristics must an indie studio have or not have?

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The Game Archaeologist: Raph Koster on MUDs and Privateer Online

The release of Raph Koster’s monster book of game essays, Postmortems, was of high interest to Bree and me for different reasons. For her, it was because Koster was a creative driving force behind two of her favorite games, Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies. For me, it’d because Koster shares my passion for MMO history and has some unique stories touching on topics that no one has heard before.

So I combed through his collection of essays to see what I could find out on two topics of interest to me: MUDs and the elusive Privateer Online. Chances are that many of you reading have never touched a text-based multi-user dungeon, and none of us save Koster and his coworkers, ever got to even peek at Privateer Online.

Here’s a few quotes that popped out at me, and if you’re interested and have $35 to drop on a Kindle version, you can read Koster’s full collection of essays in Postmortems.

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Fortnite: Pollsters and academics examine purchases, pay-to-win, and motivation vs. addiction

Remember the old adage that less than 10% of a free-to-play playerbase pay for the other 90%? A poll conducted by LendEDU and Pollfish attempts to cast some shadow on that assumption. The groups say they surveyed 1000 hardcore Fortnite players and determined that almost 70% of them had spent money on the game – an average of $84 apiece for those who did, the majority of that on outfits and characters. More than a third of them had apparently never spent money on a game before.

However, it seems to have been a self-reported survey of highly invested people who identified Fortnite as their primary game, so it’s not really a fully random cross-section of all Fortnite players; one might assume that the type of people who consider themselves Fortnite fanatics and would answer a survey like this would be exactly the type to pay into the game and thereby skew the results.

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Final Fantasy XIV’s community is rocked by a fansite sexual harassment scandal

When it comes to ranking friendly, warm, and welcoming MMO communities, Final Fantasy XIV is right up there near or at the top of the list. Yet that doesn’t mean it is free from some of the corrupt and evil influences of the world, as evidenced in a recent scandal that involves a fansite, blackmail, and sexual harassment.

The fansite in question is The Moogle Post, one of the largest FFXIV community sites on the internet and which was led by an editor-in-chief known as Oldbear Stormborn. Nine women — part of a group of 15 called “Anonymous Janes” — came forward to PC Gamer to accuse Oldbear of “blackmail, coercion, and extensive emotional manipulation” of those he grew attached to in game and through the site.

Some of these accusations include Oldbear’s alleged use of nude photos as leverage to blackmail the women. In all of the situations, his accusers say, he would form a bond with women and then attempt to manipulate them, make unwanted advances, and isolate them from others.

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Ever, Jane just gave you a personal butler. You’re welcome.

One of Ever, Jane’s biggest advantages is providing a social gameplay experience that is unlike what you’ve experienced in other MMOs. And while your fancy games may have striking graphics, action-packed combat, and expansive worlds, do they give you butlers? Because Ever, Jane just did that.

Personal butlers came with this week’s Open Beta 4 update to facilitate morning calls between players. Who wouldn’t love to drop in for a visit and gossip over tea? It’s how the Massively OP staff starts every day, to tell the truth, along with a spot of sabotage (which has also come back with this patch).

The patch also added some new NPC AI, as well as fixes to “misbehaving” furniture and roaming bands of horses. The team notes that this build will see a slight frame rate decrease and still hasn’t reactivated the Mac version, which remains broken.

Source: Patch notes

 

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Global Chat: The MMO expansion lifecycle

With the ever-developing, ever-growing nature of MMORPGs, the expansion truly has a life of its own. By now we are well acquainted with the cycle that runs from gestation to obsolescence and can usually point to where any particular expansion is on this chart.

The Lazy Goldmaker outlined the typical progression of MMO expansion packs with a six-step cycle that focuses heavily on the economy and raiding: “After the final raid of the expansion we will enter the last content drought. This is typically the longest period with nothing exciting added to the game. We are in the middle of this phase of Legion currently. Most of the markets from the live expansion will still be viable, but profit margins will be decreasing, as will prices on all goods.”

Read on for more MMO blog essays, including ones that cover EVE Online, Wizard101, SWTOR, and LOTRO!

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A glitch in Shadow’s Kiss freaked out its own developers

When you’re building a game about bloodsucking undead sex monsters, you probably need to sport a hearty demeanor. But even the makers of Shadow’s Kiss ended up creeping themselves out when some ragdoll physics went awry while placing corpses. Also, “placed corpses” should be an automatic hire on anyone’s résumé.

“We had some challenges with the corpses in the scene,” the team admitted. “The first screenshot shows that when the corpses went to ‘ragdoll’ mode, something terrible happened. It looks like something out of a Clive Barker novel or a failure of the Philadelphia Experiment.”

Steel yourself for the PURE HORROR that awaits you below!

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Perfect Ten: MMOs with different (camera) perspectives

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.

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World Adrift posts its public roadmap, improves climbing so it doesn’t kill you

The veil of secrecy has been lifted from Worlds Adrift, and now every Tom, Dick, and Jane will be able to know what the team is working on, thanks to the new public roadmap posted on the website.

Soon-to-be-released projects include male haircuts, beards, an updated hotbar, beginner assistance, the Kioki region, alliances, and a public test server for all founders.

Another bit of good news is that an improved version of climbing is now in the game. So how is this new version of climbing better than the old one? “It doesn’t kill you,” said the devs. “We had to make people feel confident that they weren’t going to die.”

Smashing.

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The Game Archaeologist: A Tale in the Desert

Once asked what he thought was the most innovative MMO from the last decade, Dr. Richard Bartle, the creator of MUD, gave a succinct answer: “A Tale in the Desert. Note that ‘innovative’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘successful.'”

Right there is the crux of A Tale in the Desert’s unique position in the MMO industry. Instead of storming down a path well-traveled, it took a machete and made its own trail — a trail down which few have followed. It is an “odd duck” of a game, skewing as far away from combat as possible to focus instead on crafting and politics. Even though its focus pegged it as an eternally niche game, the MMO proved that constant fighting isn’t the only thing that can draw an online community together.

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The Game Archaeologist: World of Warcraft’s Corrupted Blood pandemic

It began with an exploitable glitch. It exploded into an uncontained nightmare of death. It established a meme as strong as Leeroy Jenkins. It even saved lives.

One of the most notorious events in World of Warcraft’s history didn’t emerge from the design of Blizzard’s controlling developers, but rather from players looking to grief the community. In a prank that briefly grew out of control, a pandemic was set loose upon the game’s world that decimated the population and changed the landscape overnight.

This was the Corrupted Plague incident, and it would go on to leave a mark upon World of Warcraft that remains to this day.

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Glitch-inspired Children of Ur abandons Google Chrome due to incompatibility

The uphill struggle to rebuild Glitch has hit a rather significant snag in Children of Ur.

“It saddens us to bring you this news, but Children of Ur is no longer working in Google Chrome, our browser of choice,” the team said on Facebook. “This is because Chrome is no longer supporting a feature that Polymer (which we heavily rely on) uses. CoU will not run on Chrome for the indefinite future, as resources are very limited. From this point on, Mozilla Firefox is the browser to use in order to play CoU. Unfortunately, the game is very choppy and somewhat slow in their browser.”

This notice was the first development post about the game since May 2017. Children of Ur is one of two indie community projects that have been attempting to bring back Glitch in some way, shape, or form, the other one being Eleven.

Source: Facebook. Thanks Xanward!

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Ever, Jane eyes a new update, overhauls forums and website

We haven’t checked in with pre-eminent roleplaying MMORPG Ever, Jane in a long time – since last summer, in fact – but the game, as it turns out, has been humming right along in in beta.

You’ll recall that in autumn of 2016, the Jane Austen-themed social MMO had launched into open beta with loads of quest and lag bugs repaired, special events in October, proximity chat, login stability, and new content. In December of that year, studio 3 Turn Productions rolled out the 3.1 update with the home ownership system. A year ago, update 4 hit the server with even more housing as well as horseback riding and carriages. And then… well, that’s the last newsletter on the official site, though we covered the card-playing update this past summer.

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