NPR recently did an interview with Slack and Flickr creator Stewart Butterfield as part of its series on innovators and entrepreneurs. Butterfield’s drive to create forged a vision for a utopian “Burning Man” online game. He would try not once, but twice, to do this: First with Game Neverending in the early 2000s, and later on with the quirky sandbox MMORPG Glitch. But out of both of those failures, successful products came out of them, the first being Flickr and the second Slack.
“The interesting thing about Glitch was while it wasn’t successful as a business,” Butterfield said, “we were extraordinarily productive. And there was this system for internal communication that we had developed that — we didn’t think about as a thing. Like, it didn’t have a name. We never talked about it. It was just how we happened to communicate.”
Last week, down in the comments of an innocuous post about gamers being nice in Fortnite, a couple of MOP commenters requested a column where MMO gamers could essentially submit “stories about random good interactions [they’ve] had with other players.” Skeptical me is doubting the viability of a column like that; after all, we already do a lot of positive coverage of charities, events, good deeds, and even obituaries for devs, and that’s just not the stuff most people click on. (Patches are the big ones, although controversies are big too for obvious reasons. And One Shots and WRUP are still great!)
But I’d certainly like to be wrong. “Positive news” websites do indeed exist in the real world and can be truly inspiring, so maybe “Massively Overjoyed” would have some traction too. We thought we’d put it to the test here in Overthinking: I’ve asked the writers to share one story about a great random interaction they’ve had with another player. And then I’ll invite you all to do the same thing down in the comments. How much do you really want to hear about the positive stuff?
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!
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.
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.
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.
I really like abandoned places in games. One of my favorite articles ever was about Glitch, after it sunsetted, when I recapped my experience touring the abandoned secret places that were inexplicably built into that MMO.
That article popped into my brain again last week when Kotaku wrote about abandoned modes in GTA Online. GTAO is one of the biggest, most lucrative online games in the world, a top-10 game even last year – and yet there’s so much to do, Kotaku argues, that most of the game is suffering from the old MMO problem whereby old content is a ghost town as everyone is in the new stuff. Hence, abandoned modes.
Of course, MMORPGs are constantly struggling to fix that problem by giving us reasons to go back into old content, but they’re not always successful. What’s the most unused place or feature in your favorite MMORPG?
Fortnite’s 2.4.0 patch was supposed to release today, but last night, Epic announced a delay to “further improve stability and hammer out some remaining bugs.” That apparently includes the building bugs that have plagued the game.
“You may have noticed in the patch notes that there’s no fix in to solve the building issues players have been experiencing,” the studio tweeted. “We are aware that some of you are being affected by these problems and are working to solve this ASAP. […] Please continue reporting this and providing examples and we’ll keep you updated as we make progress on a solution.”
Players were also compensated for all the downtime and bugs of 2.3.0 with 1600 seasonal gold and 20 battle stars.
When it does finally launch, 2.4.0 will include the new minigun, cozy campfires and new expedition types in Save the World mode, controller tweaks, 3-D resolution preferences, performance adjustments, and UI updates.
A comment on Reddit about the current size and viability of Kritika Online got me thinking about MMO playerbases in general lately. We all know that there’s a stigma attached to little games; the big games with big servers and millions of players feel safer, and nowadays people just assume a small MMO has one foot in the grave. But it isn’t always true. We could also rattle off some smaller MMOs that seem to be moving along just fine, with bills paid. Sure, they’d like to be bigger, but they’re holding steady and know how to work the playerbase they do have rather than constantly alienate their current customers in search of new customers. And some MMO gamers actually prefer those sorts of titles. After all, if the game has just a few thousand people, it’s much easier to get to know a large slice of them, plus have your voice heard by the developers and actually influence the gameworld.
For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked the writers to reflect on the smallest MMOs they have played, and then consider how big an MMO has to be in terms of playerbase that they’d consider playing it now. What’s the smallest MMO you’re willing to play, and why?
As the Secret World Legends community continues to hold its breath in anticipation of what Funcom is planning for 2018, movement arrives in an unexpected quarter.
Over on Twitter, there have always been several in-character accounts for several of the game’s NPCs that used to chatter back and forth between each other. They’ve been silent for quite some time, but this has all changed in the past 24 hours. Now… they’re talking once more. Does this mean we could be seeing some updates soon?
“Time passes. First in seconds. Then in aeons. If time exists. Two sweetlings awaken,” The Buzzing said.
“This thing working? Feel weird. Like a glitch in the Matrix. @Innsmouth66 you get that?” asked Danny.
As Glitch fan remake Eleven reemerges on the scene with more alpha developments, the team has a plea that it is making to the community: Help us remember all of the details of Glitch before they are forgotten forever.
The team said that accessible information sources such as the old strategy wiki and a port of the old game are “erratic” in details and that it needs more accurate info to help recreate the game. Thus, the team has started up the Glitch Forever Wiki and has asked the community to aid in fleshing out all of the missing links.
“This is the alpha version. Many pages are still outdated. A lot of details from the end of Glitch — new recipes especially — are missing,” the team said. “But it’s here, and it’s ours, and we can fill in the gaps and add pages for all the post-Glitch activities and Glitch revival projects. Join us.”
After over a year of silence, the volunteer team behind one of Glitch’s remakes has emerged for an update. Eleven’s team let the community know that while it hadn’t given up on resurrecting Tiny Speck’s unique MMO, it has been slow going.
“We’re still hard at work on this, but the current focus of development effort involves a bunch of server-side reliability and data consistency work which isn’t particularly shiny or fun to write about,” the team said. “Other eventual work involves recreating the locations (190 or so) that weren’t in the Tiny Speck asset release and figuring out the future of the client.”
Eleven’s team encouraged fans to hang out on the alpha forums for more up-to-date information and project announcements. Meanwhile, fellow Glitch reboot Children of Ur has been quiet ever since its last blog post back in May.
“Looks like it’s that time of year again!” says Ryuen.
And so it is. The Halloween season has come upon us and it is inescapable. You can try to hide in a cave or bury yourself in a mountain of theorycrafting, but before you know it, you’ll be trick or treating in MMORPGs with the rest of us.
And I say, why fight it when you can ride it? Sure, wearing a pumpkin on your head and driving a bike powered by 85% gasoline and 15% souls of the damned might not be street legal, but trust me, no cop is going to stop you. Just ask Ryuen… if you can catch up to him in Secret World Legends.