A real dream, not just a dream to top the raid leaderboard.
MOP reader CamelotCrusade submitted today’s whimsical Daily Grind topic. “The other night I had a dream where I was fleeing a tidal wave and I was riding away from it on a horse to escape it,” he wrote to us. “After watching a cinematic in my mind of the wave bearing down on me, I realized I was actually on an MMO-style horse, and I was in virtual reality. I was still anxious in the way you are when you’re trying to save your character, but I didn’t have much time to dwell on it because of what happened next. I rode my mount furiously towards a nearby town, shelter in view, aiming for a fortified looking inn. Almost there! But then – oh no! – I was forcibly dismounted, nearly tripped, and had to run, panting, for cover, as the air got wet and misty. There’s more that happened after that, but what really stuck with me? I woke up thinking: That’s a stupid rule! Damn near got me killed! Why can’t you ride your mount in town!?”
I am positive I’ve had MMO dreams in the past, but I can’t recall anything specifically. How about you – have you ever had an MMORPG-related dream?
So I’ve been thinking. (A dangerous pastime, I know!) And I have actually been formulating an idea. And that is using a survival game like Conan Exiles to run a guided player campaign. You see, way back when as I was first playing D&D and other tabletop campaigns, I dreamed of the ability to play them in virtual reality. Can you imagine it? Instead of saying, “I cast a fireball,” you actually just do it! It is still a dream; a VR experience is not quite possible yet, but when I found MMORPGs I felt it was one step closer. I could see my actions play out in an adventure. However, for the most part it was an already scripted adventure according to the game devs. In some cases there were tools for players to make their own adventures (and boy, have I celebrated those!), but there were still more like story vignettes in a larger world out of the game master’s control. To really have a fully-crafted experience, you need greater control than what the MMORPGs afforded.
And then came survival games. Now there is a whole world you can take control of and run a story campaign. Granted, they aren’t perfect, but survival games offer more tools for creating a robust visual player campaign a la tabletops. And that’s exactly what I am planning in Conan Exiles.
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.”
Did you think that the Oculus vs. ZeniMax lawsuit was over when ZeniMax was awarded $500 million in its legal battle with the VR manufacturer? That’s silly; this lawsuit and associated wrangling will outlast the stars themselves. The judge in the case has cut the award from $500 million to $250 million while also denying an injunction against the sale of the headsets. That’s a bit of a black eye for ZeniMax, with a statement that the company is considering its next steps.
For those of you who no longer recall why these two companies were fighting like newly divorced parents, the courts found Oculus guilty of using proprietary software and copyright infringement when developing the Oculus Rift. ZeniMax Media is of course the parent company of Bethesda Softworks and ZeniMax Online Studios, the latter of which is in charge of The Elder Scrolls Online, so that’s very much relevant for both MMOs and future VR developments. If you need a bit more recap, we’ve got our whole roundup of coverage of the trial below for your enjoyment.
Massively OP reader ichi_san has a burning question about the state of the industry.
“Lots of people seem to be looking for an MMO they can get into – consider the rush into Bless as an example. Lots of games are being released, but most (or even all) have some glaring issues, like pay-to-win, lockboxes, ganking, poor optimization, heavy cash shop, horrible gameplay, and so on. There’s the WoW model and other semi-successful formulas, and a lot of unexplored territory. The market seems hungry, and there is a bunch of history to build on and new territory to explore, but either gaming companies don’t understand their customers or greed/laziness/expediency get in the way, such that we see release after release that fails to scratch the itch. Am I missing something – are there fun MMOs with good graphics and fair monetization that I’m missing? Or is there a gaping hole in the MMO scene, and if so, why isn’t someone filling it?”
I’ve posed his question to the writers for their consideration in Overthinking this week. We’re long past bubble-bursting here when all of the still-major MMORPGs are four years older. What exactly are we looking at? Why is the obvious demand for MMOs not being met?
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 Heroes of the Storm, Elder Scrolls Online, DayZ, EVE Online, Pokemon Go, Dota 2, City of Heroes, Final Fantasy XIV, Portal Knights, Lineage 2 Revolution, Wizard101, Ingress, and Reign of Guilds, all waiting for you after the break!
How’s virtual reality dino land ARK Park doing since its early access launch one month ago? Magic 8 Ball says reply hazy. Steam’s aggregated review score is currently “mixed,” with even even positive reviews admitting the game lacks content and scope, which lines up neatly with our own impressions of the game.
Snail (apparently rightly) believes one of the game’s major problems is the movement system, and it’s just addressed that with what it’s calling a “major update,” which is already being received well by the community.
“One of the biggest issues is locomotion. You wanted free movement so here it is! Our dev team has been working hard on the movement system and now you have the option to choose between teleportation and free locomotion.”
There’s just a week and a half to go before EVE Fanfest 2018
, the biggest event in the EVE Online
social calendar. The event kicks off on April 12th and will celebrate EVE
‘s upcoming 15th anniversary, a major milestone for any online game. This year we’re anticipating juicy details on the next step in EVE Online
‘s ambitious long-term development roadmap, an update on the impending EVE
mobile game, and possibly a major announcement about CCP’s upcoming MMOFPS codenamed Project Nova
MassivelyOP will be on the ground once again this year to get the latest insight into the future of the sandbox. Stay tuned to our coverage of the event using the EVE Fanfest 2018 tag, where I’ll be posting major announcement news, detailed discussions on new gameplay revealed, interviews from the event, and in-depth opinion pieces. Fanfest will also be a great opportunity to assess the mood and impact of last year’s pull-out from VR game development, and to take the pulse of the community of a variety of topics. If you have any specific questions you’d like me to pose to developers or players while I’m there, please let me know in the comments.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I break down our expectations for EVE Fanfest 2018 and give some tips on getting the most out of the event for players attending or just watching from home.
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.
As you may recall, I was given just a little time to hit up Snail Games’ ARK Park a few days before I left for GDC 2018. I was able to make it to the games’ launch party, but as I’d already played the game, it was mostly useful for talking to people involved in its creation between speeches/demos. However, afterwards, I was allowed to pass some questions on to Snail Games Vice President Tianqi “Sky” Wu about bugs, science, and the future of ARK. We have some exclusive information about that last tip, but don’t worry, no chief engineers, computer programmers, or lawyers were harmed in the making of this game. Well, not physically, at least.
By the time you read this dear reader, I’ll already be dead… dead tired, that is, from running around the Game Developer’s Conference talking to developers from such companies as Snail Games about upcoming games like ARK Park. Ahead of my meeting about the game, I was granted a review copy so I could get some time in with the real thing before my interview and end of the media embargo. As my Oculus Rift set-up isn’t exactly travel-friendly, and I can be prone to motion sickness, I only had enough time to jump into the game for a few scant hours. It was an interesting experience, since the game wasn’t simultaneously available to the public, and that meant I was probably missing out on the critical social factor for my impressions. Nevertheless, I think they’re worth hashing out. Let’s dig in.
Everybody saw NCsoft’s financials last month, I’m sure – Guild Wars 2 bouncing back thanks to Path of Fire, Lineage M driving revenue, and Blade & Soul outperforming almost everything, pretty good news all around.
What we didn’t cover was the associated conference call and Q&A, which has only recently been fully transcribed in English and has a few nuggets worth highlighting
- CFO Jae-Soo Yoon told listeners the company is working on 13 new titles, of which the largest are Blade & Soul II, Aion Tempest, and Lineage II Mobile, all mobile titles, and Project TL for PC.
- To make those happen, the company’s hired “around 1000” new employees over the last two years. One analyst was skeptical about those numbers, suggesting that NCsoft is overspending on labor compared to an unnamed smaller company launching far more games; Yoon counters with some polite shade by suggesting NCsoft is going to for quality over quantity.
This week, I’m going to depart a little from the usual insights into the world around Star Wars: The Old Republic
and talk about another studio that isn’t owned by LucasFilm
and certainly isn’t owned by Electronic Arts
. I’d like to talk about Fogbank Entertainment
Some people believe that a studio makes a game what is it. Others believe that it’s the IP that the studio carries that makes the video game unique. I think that IP and the studio name carry weight. I certainly would not play SWTOR as much as I do if it carried an IP like Valérian and Laureline. But one of the primary reasons that I believe that SWTOR performed as well as it did (or didn’t, depending on your opinion) was the quality of the people behind it. For me, some of the most integral people to making a good game are the writers. And many of the SWTOR writers have moved on from BioWare and have effectively started their own studio: Fogbank.
If you recognize names like Daniel Erickson, Alexander Freed, Drew Karpyshyn, and Hall Hood, then you will definitely want to see what they are up to at Fogbank Entertainment. If you don’t know who they are, then give me a moment to explain why they are superstars of the gaming and MMO industry.