Strange sights abound in Shroud of the Avatar right now. “Astronomers across New Britannia have noted that the approaching comet has agitated the creatures of Novia and Hidden Vale, making many bolder and more ferocious,” the game’s latest newsletter teases. “Rumors suggest that the aether surrounding the comet has been mutating some of the most powerful creatures into new monstrous variations.” That’s all in the lead-up to next week’s Release 56, so best get in there and try not to die. Portalarium further notes that it’s planning another stream with more info about what’s inbound to the game, including more tools for player-generated content.
“One of the new features we plan to discuss is a set of new building tools including dungeon creation (player property) and defense building (player property, castle defenses and control points). These are part of a larger effort to increase the community’s ability to craft their own adventures that includes existing tools like notes and signs but is also expanding with other new features like advanced container settings (locks, place/take settings, etc.) along with craftable/purhasable/placeable traps and spawners (spider eggs, skeleton crypts, etc.). When you put all of these things together your ability to craft adventures will be limited only by your imagination! Last livestream we also did not get a chance to talk another cool thing coming for Episode 2 which is the ability to ‘un-nest’ and/or transfer your Player Owned Town into the new lands!”
We’ve got some MMO industry topics you shouldn’t miss, so welcome back to our MMO business roundup!
• Last week, Pokemon Go company Niantic previewed what it’s calling the Niantic Real World Platform, a huge step forward for augmented reality games and tools.
“The Niantic Real World Platform advances the way computers see the world, moving from a model centered around roads and cars to a world centered around people. Modeling this people-focused world of parks, trails, sidewalks, and other publicly accessible spaces requires significant computation. The technology must be able to resolve minute details, to specifically digitize these places, and to model them in an interactive 3D space that a computer can quickly and easily read. We are also tackling the challenge of bringing this kind of sophisticated technology to power-limited mobile devices. The highest quality gameplay requires a very accurate ‘live’ model that adapts to the dynamics of the world. It needs to accomplish the difficult task of adjusting the model as the environment around the user changes, or as people move themselves–or their phones.”
A proposed law that’s making its way through the European Union’s legislative bodies has both players and studios worried that a wave of oppressive censorship might be on the way for video games (never mind other publishers, bloggers, and internet users!).
The law in question is called the Copyright Directive, which is being designed to protect (obviously) copyrights. The problem is that there are multiple provisions that are “vaguely worded and ripe for abuse,” including one that would make it a law to check everything uploaded online for possible copyright infringement.
Online games such as Second Life and Roblox that rely heavily on player-created and -uploaded material are at risk for possible censorship from an automated filter that will most likely not be up to the task.
Guild Wars 2’s recent renovation of underwater combat has brought back some interest to this oft-neglected sphere of gameplay. Inventory Full’s Bhagpuss used this occasion as an opportunity to examine the role of underwater combat in general and the changes to GW2 in specific.
“The undersea worlds of most MMOs weren’t quite so unforgiving but still they were shunned,” he notes. “Developers tended to avoid them too, other than blocking out something wet and watery in the most perfunctory manner possible. It was quite a surprise when Guild Wars 2 launched with a goodly amount to see and do below the surface, any number of bodies of water, from inland lakes to the open seas, offering much the same opportunity and inducement to explore as their counterparts on dry land.”
Once you towel off from that essay, join the MMO blogosphere as it looks at DC Universe Online, World of Warcraft, RIFT Prime, and more!
With Project Gorgon now out on Steam early access, many first-time visitors to this strange game are feeling out the world and its systems. So what are they discovering?
Tales of the Aggronaut said that he was “hooked” when he put in a good weekend: “Part of the charm of this game is that it plops you into the game with no real warning or advisement about what you should be doing.”
“There’s never any doubting the sheer personality evident in every aspect of the game,” recommended Inventory Full. “The enthusiasm and good nature of the tiny development team sweeps all cynicism away.”
Project Gorgon not your cup of tea? Join us after the break for blog essays on Second Life, RIFT Prime, Shroud of the Avatar, and even Dungeons & Dragons!
Long after players had tried and moved on from the gravity-defying Lawbreakers, its studio has conceded defeat.
Boss Key Productions put out a statement today saying that the game was not able to draw and retain much of an audience, was generating no money, and was not worth the resources to switch it over to free-to-play. And while the studio said that it was moving on to other projects, it did hint that it was working on something to give Lawbreakers “the second life it deserves.”
“Between now and then, we cannot sit idle,” Boss Key said. “We will continue to support the game in its current state, but we also need to focus on other projects with fresh creative leaders. We have been working on something new and we can’t wait to share more about it! It’s a passion project that we’re in complete control of.”
It’s no surprise that Ready Player One was constantly being referenced at GDC 2018, especially in VR, AR, and MMO panels. It’s not just because of the movie’s release but because the tech involved is seeing a surge of interest. That doesn’t mean we’re on the cusp, in my opinion, but it may be a thing we should start talking about.
And talking about it we did. As Bill Roper of Improbable and SpatialOS recently told me, “The next generation of online games isn’t going to behave like current-generation MMOs. […] We don’t know what a billion-person game might look like, but it’s likely to include a wide variety of playstyles, to reflect the diversity of its playerbase.” Even if you’re a cynic and don’t think SpatialOS will play any part of this future, Roper’s very much on the mark: Billion-person gaming isn’t going to be like our current MMOs.
Last year, we wrote about the extreme potential for griefing in virtual reality spaces as it’s one of MMORPG developer Raph Koster’s favorite talking points. “People who think ‘anonymity’ is ‘more authentic’ forget that we are social creatures; we are less human when masked and isolate,” he wrote last year in response to the rather idealistic outlooks on human nature pushed by start-up VR companies.
But of course, that’s not to say that nobody behaves well in virtual spaces. To wit: Kotaku has a piece out today on an incident that took place in VR Chat, an extremely popular virtual world akin to Second Life. A group of its players apparently put down their memes to help out a fellow human who appeared to have collapsed with a seizure. In the video provided by YouTuber Rogue Shadow VR, VR gamers broke character to offer medical advice and shame a handful of griefers in diapers and meme costumes.
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!
Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from Dragon Nest, TERA M, Mabinogi Mobile, Icarus M, Summoner’s War, Star Trek Online, Osiris New Dawn, Lord of Vermilion Arena, PUBG, Stardew Valley, Warframe, Overwatch, Path of Exile, Astroneer, KurtzPel, RuneScape, Dota 2, Second Life, and Renaissance Kingdoms, all waiting for you after the break!
So you’re tired of visiting far-flung post-apoc space stations, fantasy ghost castles, underground slime lairs, and zombie grottos on Mars. What’s next? How about… Earth?
Aussie MMO Virtual Earth Online may be up to that challenge, at least if you can handle the graphic style. It looks like a mash-up of Minecraft and Second Life, with the whole world (even, apparently, your house) built out with voxels. Developer Gavin McDonald told us that building mats were on the docket for insertion over the weekend and the game has just gotten a new graphics engine after six years of development (it was Greenlit back when that was still a thing). While the original game is properly an MMORPG, or perhaps a massive online virtual world, a new single player survival mode is also rolling out (check out the video of that in action down below).
The game appears to be freely downloadable, but the trading post is offering microtransaction buildings and items for as little as 5 cents.
MMORPG veteran Raph Koster went on a glorious Twitter tear last week, and I’m sure some of you can relate. In response to a thinkpiece on augmented reality, Koster argues that AR developers are worried about the wrong things – they’re worried about the tech and not putting sufficient effort or research into social systems.
“The essay skates over this in one paragraph saying, ‘It’s sort of like an MMO,’ but that’s wrong. It is an MMO, in every single way. Make no mistake, a mirror world is just an MMO server with phones as avatars. That means every social pattern you ever saw in an MMO will be present, from the WoW plagues to the client hacks to the parties killing monsters to debates over who owns what slice of virtual land to yes, harassment reporting and godlike gamemasters who effectively police the space with panopticon level awareness of history. Those servers will swallow activity, not just point clouds, to a degree beyond what people fear now with stuff like maps apps tracking your location.”
“Frankly, just about no AR people I have met grasp that this is what they are building,” he concludes, suggesting it’s a “terrifying” notion that developers aren’t learning from the lessons taught by games like “Habitat, LambdaMOO, Ultima Online, EVE Online, Second Life, [and] Habbo Hotel,” which already laid the groundwork for how virtual worlds work (and don’t) when players run amok.
I’ve got your picture of me and you
You wrote “I love you,” I love you too
I sit there staring and there’s nothing else to do
We’ve all been there when a “good” Japanese demon of legend has a legit crush on one of the leaders of the Illuminati. How else to express that unrequited love than with a commissioned painting and some headless mannequins?
“In honor of Secret World Legends’ Kristen Geary,” posted reader Koshelkin. This is exactly how court restraining orders get started.
Let’s face it: There isn’t really a huge pool of MMORPGs from the 1990s to explore in this column. By now I have done most of them, including some of the more obscure titles. Yet there has always been this one game that I have shied away from covering, even though it (a) was an actual MMO from the ’90s and (b) is still operating even today. And that game is, of course, Furcadia.
So why my reluctance? To be honest, I suppose it was my reluctance to tackle anything in the “furry” fandom without knowing how to handle it. I don’t quite get the fascination with wanting to pretend to be an animal, and some of the expressions that I’ve seen in the news and online from this community have made me uncomfortable. Thus I kept away because I was worried that a piece that I wrote on Furcadia would devolve into a nonstop stream of jokes to cover that personal disquiet.
But I’ve tiptoed around this MMO long enough, and I have come to realize that there is virtue in earnestly trying to understand a subculture that is outside of my bubble, even if I don’t end up appreciating or liking it. Casting off preconceptions and simple snark, let us take a look at this unique title and see what it has to offer for the larger genre.