Ever pause during your day and find yourself wondering, “Whatever happened to that game?” With hundreds upon hundreds of online titles these days, it’s surprisingly easy for MMOs to fall through the cracks and become buried as more aggressive or active games take the spotlight.
Well, every so often we here at Massively Overpowered find ourselves curious what has transpired with certain MMOs that we haven’t heard from in quite a while. Have we missed the action and notices? Has the game gone into stealth maintenance mode? What’s the deal? What has it been up to lately? That’s when we put on our detective hats and go sleuthing!
In this special pirate edition of the column, we’ll be visiting the fates ‘n’ fortunes of Pirates of the Burning Sea, Pirates of the Caribbean Online, and Puzzle Pirates. Yo ho!
Over the past month or so, Crowfall has been steadfastly working its way through the list of the dozen races that will be available during the game’s remaining testing and launch. As of today, that list is complete.
The last three beastly species are given the spotlight treatment, with racial traits for each revealed. The noble Centaur is more hardy, has an extra boot slot (because… four hooves!), and can kick players who attack it from behind. The fierce Minotaur is more dexterous, can regenerate some damage that it is dealt, and is immune to stuns coming from its front. Finally, the small but scrappy Guinecean gain more effects when they eat food, can wear three rings, and can double-jump with the best of them.
As with the other races, these three can only be paired with a small subset of classes. The Centaur can choose between Knight, Champion, and Cleric; the Minotaur picks from Ranger, Champion, and Myrmidon options; and the Guinecean may choose to become a Knight, a Cleric, or a Duelist.
Every voyage has a beginning, and for Puzzle Pirates’ newest server, the maiden voyage began this past week.
It’s called Dark Seas, and it’s a version of the game designed around PvP with both new and old realms to explore. Players will create a pirate and align themselves with a faction as they battle their foes and seek treasure. It’s out right now on Steam early access and should be sailing those waters for at least a half of a year. No wipe is planned, although the team isn’t ruling it out in dire circumstances.
“Puzzle Pirates: Dark Seas is a new take on a beloved MMO that’s been sailing the seas for over a decade,” the team said. “The goal for Dark Seas is to introduce an entirely new ocean, a volatile new place full of more danger and unexplored frontiers.”
Not only is this a new version of an old MMO, but Dark Seas is also the first big release for the relatively newly formed Grey Havens. Grey Havens is an indie studio that is now running the Puzzle Pirates franchise and is made up mostly of former Three Rings employees.
In third grade, my teacher sent home a report card with the note that “Justin is wonderfully strange.” Ever since then, I never found the terms “strange” or “weird” to be pejorative but rather a signpost pointing the way to interesting paths less traveled.
To be weird is to deviate from the safe and predictable and instead venture into the wild and woolly lands of the imagination. When it comes to MMORPGs, I feel that more devs would love for their games to be more strange while the risk-averse studios (and their publishers) pull hard to keep traditional tropes in play.
Still, every once in a while a game comes out that walk on the weird side. These MMOs don’t usually boast universal appeal, large numbers, or even great respect, but they do offer vivid imagination, hidden qualities, and a certain uniqueness that is rarely found elsewhere. Today, we will celebrate the wonderfully strange in online gaming with these 10 titles.
I suppose there will always be a special place in my heart for Lord of the Rings Online
. Not only is it one of my most-played MMOs, but covering Turbine’s
title was my first task when I landed a position at Massively-that-was. For years I played, loved, and wrote about
this incredible vision for Middle-earth, and even today I sporadically return to see how the journey to the heart of Mordor is progressing.
So it’s with keen interest this week that I turn my attention to LOTRO’s lesser-known predecessor: Middle-earth Online. Known to some but not to all, Turbine wasn’t the first MMO studio to take a crack at Tolkien’s license — no, for that we have to travel back to 1998 and revisit Sierra On-Line. It was this company that had a brief but memorable run designing Middle-earth Online, also known as “What if LOTRO had permadeath?”
It’s a fascinating glimpse into an entirely different approach to the IP, and even though it died a fairly early death, it’s important to be remembered. Frodo lives!
Interestingly enough, there are a few types of video game music that don’t often pop up in MMORPGs for various reasons. One of these are victory fanfares or mission completion tunes, for obvious reasons. While your standard game might congratulate you for completing a level or winning a single battle, MMOs tend to give you a brief pat on the back for a job well done and send you on to the next task.
Yet this isn’t to say that MMORPGs are completely devoid of victory themes. Every so often I come across one, usually from non-standard titles. I kind of wish we’d get more victory fanfares, to be honest, perhaps after downing a boss or winning a battle by the skin of our teeth.
Prepare to get pumped up and celebrate your mighty accomplishments as we herald them with these themes!
Up until this point in my life, Puzzle Pirates has always been that “Oh yeah, that actually exists!” game to me. Even when I do lists of pirates in MMOs, this title slips right off of my radar. Maybe it’s because Puzzle Pirates doesn’t make waves (har!) these days, or maybe it’s been around for so very long.
I think that part of Puzzle Pirates’ forgettable nature is that it doesn’t exactly scream “MMO.” I mean, its combat is more cerebral than anything else, it’s all cutesy and stuff, and even its name suggests a casual flash title than anything deep and substantive.
Yet I have friends with a long and abiding love for this game, people who always chide me when I forget it. So to peer pressure I bow: It’s high past time that we gave Puzzle Pirates its due as part of the MMO genre. Avast, ye landlubbers, and swab those peepers: We be goin’ to sea!
Fans of tiny older MMORPGs on the verge of extinction have cause for a bit of celebration this spring: A new patch to five-year-old Spiral Knights this week that updated branding to a new company appears to be the work of Grey Havens, a new company dedicated to preserving old games.
Spiral Knights/Puzzle Pirates Community Manager Eurydice told players back in April that the game had been handed over to Grey Havens, “a group of former Three Rings employees who have come together to keep the games and communities we love alive and happy.” Grey Havens’ official site explains, “Grey Havens operates games created by Three Rings Design back in the glorious first decade of the new millennium. Rather than allow those games to disappear forever, we have assembled a doughty crew to keep them operational for as long as we can.”
I have often thought it grossly unfair that a video game soundtrack is linked, for better and for worse, with the popularity of the game in which it appears. Sure, music is a crucial part of the experience and in many ways emblematic of it, but only recognizing an OST because the game has hit it big is a burr in my saddle.
Let me put it plainly: There are terrific MMOs with terrific soundtracks. There are great MMOs with subpar soundtracks. There are plenty of terrible MMOs with what I can only assume is a serial killer’s recording of chalkboard scrapings for a score. And — in light of today’s topic — there are quite a few incredibly good soundtracks that came from MMOs that are somewhat forgettable.
Maybe these games are far past their prime or only really took root in a certain region, but I keep coming across titles that have surprisingly robust soundtracks that get (pardon Rodney Dangerfield) no respect, no respect at all. Today I want to share with you six scores I’ve unearthed from games that have been all but forgotten by the modern MMO community.