By now, many of you probably know that I’m the curator of the MMO Timeline on my personal blog. On this page, I’ve attempted to catalog the launches, expansions, business model shifts, reboots, platform transitions, and sunsets of MMOs by year. It certainly helps me to get a high-level overview of certain eras of online gaming history as well as to trace the development of certain titles.
For fun, because that’s a lot of what Perfect Ten is about, I wanted to start with the year that MMORPGs really took off and select one title per year over the next two decades that I felt had the best debut and was the most exciting title to launch that year. Some years it’s going to be really easy to pick, while others… man, I am setting myself up for some hate mail, aren’t I?
Let’s turn our time machine back to 1997 and get this show on the road!
This week, Daybreak is grieving over the loss of one of its key developers, David “Sarge” Carter. Carter worked as an animator on a couple of the MMOs for the studio and was instrumental in the industry over the last quarter-decade.
“You probably haven’t heard his name but if you played PlanetSide 2 or H1Z1 you’ve seen his work,” said Twitch’s Jimmy Whisenhunt. “Incredibly talented animator. We worked together for a few years at SOE, tremendous dude.”
“This really made me sad,” said former Daybreak CEO John Smedley. “David was amazing to work with. Always an optimist and a true pleasure to work with. He will be missed!”
It’s patch week for PlanetSide 2’s PC servers, which is always a nice thing to get to be able to say, don’t you think? Daybreak has pumped out the “construction reconstructed” update as promised with some pretty major changes for the classic MMOFPS sandbox.
Let’s start with the construction changes themselves. Daybreak says they’re intended to “encourage more interaction for builders and less frustration for attackers” with a “group building mentality.” Most constructables will cost less to unlock and place; rules on spacing have been relaxed; friendly fire has been reduced; and structure repairs should be faster (to reduce the impact of swarm attacks). On the other hand, you’ll have to take more care when it comes to monitoring and funding your objects to make sure they don’t decay.
Players can also expect the revivification of facility control alerts, a new aerial anomaly event, new faction-themed weapons, squad improvements, UI tweaks, and an influx of Player Studio trinkets.
Even though the original PlanetSide has been dead and in the ground for going on two years now, Daybreak isn’t going to pass up an opportunity to exhume its corpse for an easy shot at publicity. As this week would have marked PlanetSide’s 15th anniversary, the studio is running an event in PlanetSide 2 to mark the occasion.
Through May 25th, PlanetSide 2 is enjoying double XP (quadruple XP if you’re a subscriber), a construction sale, a free “bending beacon” device that triggers a meteor shower. Players can also log in every day to get a free throwback bundles containing classic PlanetSide gear, camo, and vehicles.
While you’re celebrating the 15th anniversary, make sure to reminisce about classic PlanetSide with our Game Archaeologist retrospective on this MMORPG shooter!
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.
While Daybreak producers are spelling out their games’ future, a now-deleted post over at Reddit by an alleged former employee of Daybreak Games purports to spill the beans on a lot of the behind-the-scenes developments, projects, and decisions at the troubled studio.
This rumor is interesting and largely lines up to what we have heard and discovered over the past week, which could mean it’s true or could just mean someone’s making guesses to perpetrate a hoax on the community or force Daybreak’s hand. The bad news is that the unnamed ex-employee claims that Just Survive “is on its last legs” and likely to sunset, while the two current EverQuest titles are due for their last expansions this year. The first EverQuest may be creating “nostalgic raids” for the 20th anniversary.
On the upside, two interesting projects are alleged to be in development, both of which align with past rumors and hiring notices. The post claims that PlanetSide 3 is in its early stages as a team-based battle royale-style game while EverQuest 3 has been in development for a year as it was “being rebuilt from the ground up” to also focus on battle royale-style PvP.
Not counting Standing Stone’s titles, Daybreak currently develops and publishes six of its once massive stable of MMOs: Both EverQuests, DC Universe Online, PlanetSide 2, H1Z1, and Just Survive. As last week’s bizarre corporate shenanigans and mass-layoffs unfolded, some of the reps for these games addressed their playerbases (with more than a rote denial that anything was wrong).
DC Universe Online’s Executive Producer Katnikov says that “nothing has changed in DCUO’s development schedule” and “these events have not limited [the team’s] plans for the game and future development” as the Deluge update overperformed and there are two episodes and more style unlocks in development. A huge three-parter Superman birthday tie-in apparently begins on May 16th.
PlanetSide 2 Producer Nick Silva reiterates the statement made earlier on Reddit that nobody from his team had been laid off. “PlanetSide 2 has not been negatively impacted by any of the recent reorganization at the company,” he writes. “Our plans for the rest of this year have not changed and we are excited to continue to bring amazing new systems, features, and content to the game we all love. In the coming month we will be celebrating the 15th anniversary of PlanetSide as a franchise. There will be new content, some promotional events, and a new alert type added to the game. We’ll also continue to put out game updates at a regular cadence, as we have been previously.”
You know the story of Roanoke, right? That early American settlement that abruptly went missing with only the word “Croatoan” carved into a tree for later colonists to find? It’s a big mystery that might not be much of a mystery at all, but I’ve always been fascinated with it and other similar tales. There’s just something about an abruptly vanishing thing or people to arrest the imagination.
So what about an entire MMO that one day just went “poof” and vanished into thin air? And what if it had the ironic name of Lost Colony? And what if I were so bored as to scour the internet for clues as to what happened to it? I think you’re going to find out.
Lost Colony came to my attention during a recent trip to Planet Wikipedia, where the natives are interesting if not always fully sourced. I was reading through an article on vaporware when this game caught my eye. An MMO I never heard of that just disappeared? I felt a Scooby Doo mystery coming on!
How about those Red Sox? Seriously, that’s a conversation I’d rather be having than the one that has cropped up this week — and I don’t even follow the Red Sox. Instead, we’ve got the Columbus Nova fiasco and Daybreak’s disasterous response. I feel as if I am witnessing my favorite game studio hang itself.
As I sit here watching as this story all unfolds, I almost wonder if I’ve stumbled into some crazy movie plot or scripted prank show. Is this seriously happening? It doesn’t seem real, and yet here we are; I’m right with you, following each new step in the saga as it happens. Sadly, in this narrative there are no winners, only losers. The studio, the developers, the players, the industry — we’re all losers. No matter how this ultimately turns out, much damage has been done. The hopes that my favorite game will continue are crashing and burning alongside the last vestiges of trust I had in my favorite studio. How did it come to this? These are my thoughts and feelings as a long-time fan on the matter, basically my WTF reaction to it all.
Over the last couple of days, we’ve been covering the Daybreak scandal – specifically, how concerns over the impact of government sanctions on Daybreak’s parent companies would affect the games, which spiraled into Daybreak publicly denying that it was ever owned by the company it said repeatedly bought it in 2015 and scrubbing its website and wikipedia of references to Columbus Nova’s acquisition. We’ve all watched on, eyes wide, dutifully recording gaslighting in progress.
But then I have that luxury: I don’t play any Daybreak games and haven’t played any of them seriously since SOE shuttered the best MMORPG ever made. So I can look at the whole situation as the dumpster fire it is, and not as the doom of my favorite MMO, since it already killed that.
Many of you are not in my position. You play DCUO, EverQuest II, PlanetSide 2, even EverQuest. You might even be playing H1Z1, although that’s less likely if you’re reading Massively OP. Or maybe the Standing Stone games Daybreak publishes, LOTRO and DDO, are your thing, and you’re not convinced by yesterday’s vague Twitch sidenote that everything’s probably fine. You are watching on in horror, wondering what will happen to your MMO homes if Daybreak implodes. You might even be pretty sure the games will be OK but aren’t so sure you want to put your own money into the mess.
So as you may know, I’m an MMORPG guy – not really a battle royale guy. There are some cool ideas for people who like the combat of survival games turned up to 11, but that’s not my thing. I like community building, crafting, negotiating, and generally using my words to avoid direct combat. So when Automaton games announced Mavericks and said it’d be adding MMO elements to the battle royale genre, I got a bit excited. However, after having some hands-on time with the game and talking to Automaton Games’ CEO James Thompson at this year’s GDC, I’ve come to the realization that it’s much more for the battle royale crowd than the MMO crowd, and this will be especially true at launch.
Do you play PlanetSide 2? Do you have opinions about the game’s construction system? Then you’ll probably want to let your opinions be known in a new thread started by the game’s newest designer overseeing the construction project. He’s already discussing plans to change the way module exclusion zones work and to start adding more objects to the system more quickly, but he’s also looking for input from the playerbase about what the system is doing well and where it could stand to go from here.
“We spent some time standardizing the construction system so we have a flat area to ‘build’ it up,” he writes. “Now from a design perspective, the system is a bit tighter, and much easier to iterate with. This opens up the possibility of creating more objects, faster. This also helped me learn a lot of our systems and get me up to speed to further our goals for this year.”
Last week, it became clear that H1Z1 has forfeited a ton of ground in the battle over battle royale games as it’s lost 90% of its Steam playerbase since July. Now, I’m gonna be honest: I don’t really care about H1Z1 for its own sake. Even if the game didn’t make me internally cringe at the “Star Wars Galaxies fans can come home” silliness, I really dislike zombie settings, I find battle royale modes dull, and the game has been a mess for years, with missed launches, missed ports, and more marketing do-overs and renames than I can shake a sawed-off shotgun at.
But I’ve nevertheless had the impression that H1Z1 was propping up Daybreak quite a lot, which made it hard to bear it any ill will. It really was a popular game on Steam for the last few years and had to have made quite a bit of dough. We’ve already noted this year that Daybreak’s down to a bare handful of titles, and I have to wonder whether DC Universe Online’s console crowd, the vets stretched thin over the EverQuest and PlanetSide franchises, and the Standing Stone publishing hustle are enough.
Are you worried about Daybreak?