rvr

RvR stands for “realm vs. realm,” usually a reference to faction-based player-vs.-player warfare, and frequently (though not always) in the context of more than two realms.

The Game Archaeologist: Kesmai’s Air Warrior and Legends of Kesmai

Most studios would be overjoyed to have pioneered one significant advancement in video game history, but then again, most studios aren’t Kesmai. While it’s not a household name today, it’s reasonable to say that without the heavy lifting and backbreaking coding that this company shouldered in the ’80s and ’90s, the MMO genre would’ve turned out very different indeed.

Previously in this space, we met two enterprising designers named Kelton Flinn and John Taylor who recognized that multiplayer was the name of the future and put their careers on the line to see an idea through to completion. That idea was Island of Kesmai, an ancestor of the modern MMO that used crude ASCII graphics and CompuServe’s network to provide an interactive, cooperative online roleplaying experience. It wasn’t the first MMO, but it was the first one published commercially, and sometimes that makes all the difference.

Flinn and Taylor’s Kesmai didn’t stop with being the first to bring MMOs to the big time, however. Flush with cash and success, Kesmai turned its attention to the next big multiplayer challenge: 3-D graphics and real-time combat. Unlike the fantasy land of Island of Kesmai, this title would take to the skies in aerial dogfighting and prove even more popular than the team’s previous project.

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WoW Factor: World of Warcraft’s Battle for Azeroth feels like Cataclysm all over again

It took me a long time to identify what felt off about World of Warcraft’s upcoming expansion. Something was definitely bothering me, but the thing was is that we know exactly what an expansion with the bare minimum effort looks like now, and it sure as heck didn’t feel like Battle for Azeroth was Warlords of Draenor But Again. Yet something kept nudging at me, some comparison that was just slightly eluding me as I dutifully tested new quests, new system revisions, and so forth.

Then I realized that the whole thing was basically Cataclysm and it clicked.

Mind you, I say this not as an indication that the expansion is nearly as bad as Cataclysm was. (There’s still far too much of the actual game to see, for example.) But far from my own optimistic excitement, it feels like the expansion is making a lot of the same missteps as that particular black mark, and it doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.
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Massively Overthinking: What important lessons are MMORPGs failing to impart?

MOP reader and Patron Brett has a burning question about the lessons we’re learning (and not learning) from playing MMORPGs.

“In his book Theory of Fun, Raph Koster suggests that games are really just systems of learning things in a way that we enjoy with fewer consequences. In his words, ‘That’s what games are, in the end. Teachers. Fun is just another word for learning.’ If that’s true, then modern MMORPGs and their narratives would seem to be a pretty mixed bag of lessons – individual power can be accumulated like wealth; evil can be conquered through solo and group acts of courage; violence is a feasible solution to almost every problem; your race, nation or profession defines a lot about who you are; and accessorizing with the most expensive bag is possibly the most crucial decision to make before leaving home.

“So with so much opportunity at the moment for our real-world societies and communities to be better, I’d like to know what you think is the most important lesson or lessons that MMORPGs could be teaching us, but currently don’t? How could these games leave us wiser or more richer people for the experience?”

I’ve posed Brett’s questions to the team for the resurgence of Massively Overthinking this week.

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Star Wars: The Old Republic lists Season 9 ranked PvP rewards

Grab that lightsaber or blaster and get to making war on your fellow player, because Star Wars: The Old Republic is about to finish off its current season of ranked PvP. The season will conclude on July 31st, at which time a rich bounty of rewards will be poured out on the heads of the best-of-the-best.

What rewards will be causing these cranial concussions, you ask? BioWare posted a list of the Season 9 Ranked PvP rewards, separated into different tiers based on a player’s final rating.

There are a lot of interesting but somewhat expected goodies here, such as battle flags, portrait flair, titles, frame decorations, and — most importantly — tokens. These tokens can be spent on desired rewards, so if you want your holo-rancor mount or stronghold trophies, you know where to go.

Source: SWTOR

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Black Desert overhauls node and conquest wars, extends and buffs its summer events

It’s been a rocky morning for Black Desert, as its planned patch maintenance took a few extra hours and is currently causing some unresolved file corruption issues over on Steam, but the patch is indeed live. And it’s a bit of a mish-mash patch.

For starters, Kakao says it’s extending the Termian Waterpark and Mysteries of Summer events an extra week in the west as Pearl Abyss did in the east, with double rewards from the Waterpark during that time and reduced requirements for the Mysteries turn-ins. Wheeee! And don’t worry: If you did the events before today’s maintenance and the change in rewards/difficulty, you’ll be compensated appropriately too.

A new event is also kicking off today and running into August; players will be chopping down trees (and apparently performing other soft gathering skills) to collect Serbianca’s Vouchers, which they can then exchange for logs to construct the Epheria frigate.

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EVE Online has banned almost 20,000 accounts since February for botting and RMT

Y’all remember the wild mess in EVE Online last winter and spring, when CCP Games said it was “coming for the bots” and getting tough on botting in the space sandbox? At the time, CCP said it had already banned 1800 accounts just in the month of January – and that was after a group of bot-hunting vigilante players had exposed the scale of the problem by taking down some of the outrageously expensive supercarriers owned by an RMT crew and piloted by bots.

CCP Games put out an update on its progress in the war on bots today, saying it understands that it’s “a key issue in the eyes of [its] community.” It says it’s banned 18,398 accounts since February: 8771 for RMT, 4250 for botting, and 5377 for account hacking.

The studio also says it has implemented a new password checking system to prevent account hacking and further asks the community to help by voluntarily enabling two-factor authentication on EVE Online accounts and by keeping those bot reports coming.

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World of Warcraft kicks off the Battle for Azeroth era

While the expansion won’t be here until August, World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth officially begins today. That is thanks to Blizzard’s tradition of releasing a features pre-expansion patch with many of the changes that will help to usher players into the new era.

Patch 8.0 is live today with a lot for players to explore and experience. The highlights include a wide array of class changes, PvP War Mode, Communities, upright Orc postures, and a Legacy loot mode (who’s going transmog hunting this week?). Also, next week will see the debut of the Teldrassil and Lordaeron playable scenarios, both of which lead right into the expansion.

And since your Battle for Azeroth fever is burning bright, why not add a couple of degrees by watching the new trailer to a trio of upcoming animated shorts that Blizzard is making? Check it out after the break.

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Camelot Unchained nears beta as its crash rate drops to ‘acceptable’ levels

“From what we’ve seen so far, we’re in really good shape.”

Mark Jacobs hasn’t given us a firm start date for Camelot Unchained’s Beta 1 yet, but from the sound of his recent livestream, it’s getting really close.

The crash rate for Camelot Unchained has dipped into the “acceptable” range for a beta test, with the average player being able to stay in game for up to four hours without a crash. The team expects that this rate will improve even further for Beta 1, especially as it is trying to “break the build” by stressing the server and testing its capabilities.

Get the full report after the break, with the livestream starting at the 7-minute mark and the talk from Mark Jacobs at 16:40.

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Skyforge revamps PvP with the Gods at War update

The newest update for Skyforge is now live and changes a lot about the way PvP works. Before, PvP had gear scaling to the point that it was almost irrelevant while walking in, but now gear scaling has more factors affecting that scale. It also introduces the new PvP-based Honor stat, which affects your overall stats and how much damage you’ll deal on balance. Players who wish to accomplish a lot in PvP will want to stack on Honor via stat adjustment. There’s also the new Happy Hour system, which encourages you to take part in PvP at set times for increased rewards across the board.

Speaking of increased rewards, the game is also rolling out the myLoot Marketplace as a means of getting more stuff for myCoins. Taking part in events and purchasing items earn myCoins, and said coins can be used for purchasing items in the marketplace, a sort of “here’s your extra for buying something” reward. Check out the full rundown if you’re looking for more details on the new system.

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The Game Archaeologist: A history of EverQuest’s expansions

I don’t know if EverQuest holds the crown title for the MMO with the most expansions, but I’m sure it’s among the top three if not at the number one spot on that list. It’s astounding to count them up and realize that two dozen expansions have come out for that game between 2000 and 2017. That averages to a little more than one per year!

Today I want to pay tribute to the 24 expansions of EverQuest by going through them, one by one, and seeing how they grew and enriched the game over the past decade-and-a-half. I would also love to hear testimonies in the comments as to which EverQuest expansion you enjoyed the most!

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World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth pre-patch arrives on July 17

Say goodbye to your artifacts and hello to War Mode, because World of Warcraft’s expansion pre-patch is almost here. When July 17th rolls around, players will no longer be able to earn artifact power or have access to artifact traits; the plus side will be that your artifact will automatically power up for new characters leveling through Legion. Players can also access War Mode, benefit from PvP talents, and even start exploring some new content that’s meant to be time-limited until the launch of Battle for Azeroth. Onward!

Of course, one subgroup of players will be a little more negatively affected by the change, as it turns out War Mode will disable the /follow command and make multiboxing less viable in PvP. Those of you who don’t multibox will likely be unaffected, but it’s useful to note that this is a notable change when Blizzard has previously been fine as long as it’s not automated. New policy, or just a War Mode-specific quirk? We’ll see over time.

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Holospark’s co-op shooter Earthfall has launched for PC and console

It’s a big day for co-op shooters: Not only did PWE announce a new one, but Holospark is releasing one officially today. I’m talking about Earthfall, which rolled out to Steam, Xbox One, and PS4 last night. It’s not an MMORPG; rather, it’s a smaller-scale multiplayer game with an emphasis on working together rather than brutally murdering each other a la the usual flavors of the month.

Earthfall is a four-player cooperative shooter that challenges players to survive hordes of ruthless alien drones and their inscrutable masters. Traverse a ravaged and depopulated Pacific Northwest with friends or AI teammates in a relentless guerilla war against a dominating extraterrestrial force. Save yourself from the ever-changing horde and save what’s left of humanity. Utilize futuristic weaponry, augment deployable barricades with fire or electricity, control mounted turrets, and throw absolutely everything you got at 10 levels of story-driven co-operative play.”

The game is currently live on Steam at a $29.99 price point and a “mostly positive” overall reviewset, though more recent reviews are more mixed.

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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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