voxel

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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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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Trove celebrates three years with the interplanetary Sunfest event

If you were looking for a reason to get back into Trove to check out Geode, this week is it. Trion’s voxel sandbox is celebrating three years since launch with the return of its annual event, Sunfest, although this one is a bit special since it involves Geode too.

“Residents of Trove and Geode alike will join together to celebrate the luminescent power of the Sun Goddess during our first ever interplanetary Sunfest,” says Trion. “[Eight] new adventures will take you on a journey across Trove and beyond! That’s right, you’ll be able to complete several of the celebratory adventures on either Trove or Geode. Complete them all and earn your very own Golden Vale Dragon Pup ally.”

Keep a eye out for special Shadow Piñata Invaders with sweet loot across all open-world biomes, plus extra daily login rewards. Trion is also offering a stat reroll event, so hardercore players ought to at least pop in to take advantage of that. On Monday, we checked out the anniversary in person, so take a peek at that too!

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Crowfall explains its new Vivox chat integration

The chat system in Crowfall was developed in-house for chatting within the game, and it had only one problem insofar as it didn’t actually provide a solid framework for chatting. It worked well enough, but it had issues with custom channels, zoning, and so forth. So the latest development entry is all about the new Vivox-based system integrated into the game starting with patch 5.7, which provides players with far more robust options for managing channels, contacts, and all manner of discussion.

Players will be able to create new customized chat tabs, along with individual chat filtering and autofilling commands. The team is still working on making the new system as useful as possible, so it’s important to note that the current iteration is just the first and most basic option for chatting across zones and with your faction. Check out the full breakdown if you want to see more of the tools you’ll have at your disposal for conversation with the next patch.

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Star Wars Galaxies book takes fans back to this late, great MMO

Unless you’re willing to venture out onto the wild space of emulated servers, you won’t be getting Star Wars Galaxies back. That doesn’t mean that you can’t reminisce about this MMO from a galaxy far, far away, thanks to the release of an unofficial fan history book called Galaxies: An Empire Remembered.

The 172-page book recalls the history of Star Wars Galaxies from launch through its 2011 sunset and takes readers through the game’s planets, events, and ongoing legacy. More than 700 full-color images, including concept art, are included in this title. “This comprehensive guide gives those who played the game — and those who never got the chance — an opportunity to relive the nostalgia and excitement of this landmark entry into the MMORPG genre,” the description reads.

SWG creator Raph Koster gave the book his endorsement on Twitter by saying, “The passion fans can have for something they loved never ceases to amaze and humble me.”

And while you’re looking back at Star Wars Galaxies, why not read our own Larry’s favorite memory from that game?

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Crowfall talks about test patch 5.7 and the horrors of zoning

The latest community Q&A video from Crowfall is actually not that at all. It’s supposed to be that, of course, that’s what it claims to be on the tin (or in the video header), but the upcoming test patch 5.7 is the real topic of discussion for this video, and that has overtaken any actual list of questions. And with good cause; there are lots of little things in the patch that seem simple, like having multiple zones in the same world, which have actually been huge technical headaches that take a lot of development work to make functional.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your views), zoning isn’t the only challenging thing going on in the patch. After all, there are other mechanics like crafting changes, new monsters, and of course the infection by the Hunger. You can find out about it in the video just below; just don’t expect to get much in the way of questions answered. Shifting zones works, that’s reason enough to be happy, right?

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Perfect Ten: Best MMO debuts by year, 2007-2017

Continuing from my previous column, I’m going to be running through the second decade of graphical MMORPG launches and picking the best title to debut in any given year. From doing the first decade, I know that this thought exercise isn’t always fair; some years have several great contenders, while others see one mediocre one rise due to a lack of competition.

Still, it’s kind of fun to look back at MMO history and to see which game was really the best of that year. And if you ever felt sore that a particular title got overlooked, well, consider this a retroactive awards ceremony of some sort.

Let’s dive right in where we left off with 2007!

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Interview: ArtCraft’s J. Todd Coleman on prepping Crowfall’s Artisan Engine for the broader industry

Yesterday, Crowfall studio ArtCraft announced it was spinning off a brand-new company dubbed ArtCraft Technologies that would basically turn Crowfall’s engine into a marketable product for other studios, “providing game developers with turnkey technology solutions for creating large-scale Massively Multiplayer Online games.” We had opportunity to chat with ArtCraft Creative Director J Todd Coleman about the move and what it means for the studio and genre. Read on!

Massively OP: So to start, we’re curious about the “why” behind the new studio. Is ArtCraft thinking of this venture as an extra revenue stream for the company? Or is it trying to encourage more MMORPGs – or maybe both?

J. Todd Coleman: This wasn’t originally part of our plan. In the last 12 months, we’ve had a few different studios contact us to see if we would consider licensing our technology. The more we looked into it, the more it made sense. The additional revenue stream is great, obviously, but that has to be balanced against the potential distraction. We wouldn’t have done this if we didn’t see it as a great strategic move for the company, and a chance to leverage what we’ve built into something much bigger.

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 177: ArenaNet A-bomb

On this week’s show, Bree and Justin cleans up after Guild Wars 2’s PR disaster, chew over the survivability of Shroud of the Avatar, and commiserate about Camelot Unchained’s delay. It’s not all downer news — there’s some really great stuff happening in the MMO industry, and that makes an appearance on this extra-long episode!

Special note: If you want to skip the ArenaNet discussion for the rest of the news, go to the 50-minute mark (yeah, we talk about it a lot!). Also, please note that this was recorded before the Polygon article that came out Monday night, so it’s missing some the additional commentary on Mike O’Brien’s second formal statement.

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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Crowfall studio ArtCraft spins off new company to license its MMORPG-oriented Artisan Engine

Well now things just got interesting over in the land of Kickstarted Crowfall. ArtCraft announced this morning that it’s spinning off a “new division” called ArtCraft Technologies and specifically positioned for “providing game developers with turnkey technology solutions for creating large-scale Massively Multiplayer Online games” – all based on Crowfall’s underlying tech.

“This technology stack, the Artisan Engine, will include a robust feature set for solving the full spectrum of challenges that emerge when supporting thousands-upon-thousands of concurrent players in a virtual world: networking, persistence, physics, procedural world generation, dynamic world editing and seamless worlds up to 5,120 meters by 5,120 meters in size. In addition, it includes an exhaustive, fully-featured RPG layer, including characters, inventory, equipment, monsters, AI, harvesting, races, classes, sub-classes, powers, banking, secure trading, skills, leveling and more.”

The new division will be headed up by Josef Hall, whom you might remember from his work on Shadowbane as well as the KingsIsle titles (similar to ArtCraft’s J. Todd Coleman’s pedigree). Anybody thinking “SpatialOS competitor”? Because we sure are.

Source: Press release

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The Stream Team: Trove celebrates three years!

It may be a Monday night, but it’s a party night! Trove turned three years old today and Massively OP’s MJ is ready to celebrate. Of course, she’d love to party with a pet pal, but she doesn’t have a Geode one yet. That means she’s off to dance her way down in the depths of the mines to find an egg while singing a variety of happy birthday songs to the voxel game. Join us live at 8:00 p.m. and jump into the celebration with her.

What: Trove
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 8:00 p.m. EDT on Monday, July 9th, 2018

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Trion Worlds offers free MMO goodies for Marvel Heroes refugees

Ever since Trion Worlds announced that it had snapped up all of the remaining assets from Gazillion and Marvel Heroes, we have wondered what the studio was planning to do with them. Now we know at least in part, as Trion is handing out free MMO promotional packs to Marvel Heroes refugees as a way to welcome them to the fold.

This promotion is a “limited-time offer” and only applies to former Gazillion players who register to Trion Worlds with the same email address that they used for Marvel Heroes. If this applies to you, you can pick up a promo pack to one of the five games that Trion is running.

Pick Trove and you’ll get both a super starter pack and a square necessities pack. Go with ArcheAge, and you’ll enjoy 30 days of patron time, a mount, and other goodies. RIFT’s deal is pretty good, with a month of subscription time, all of the game’s souls, two more bag slots, and a mount. Alternatively, you may choose Atlas Reactor (and get all freelancers the game has and ever will make) or Defiance (which includes a legendary shield and chip).

Source: Trion Worlds

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Crowfall shows off a time-lapse wood elf painting

So yes, we’re all sad that Crowfall is being delayed a little bit longer, but on the plus side one of the reasons for that is making the game more open for customization. That means more concept art, and more concept art means more chances to see time-lapse videos of that concept art being made. Which is exactly what we have here, a time-lapsed painting of concept art for the Wood Elf race.

We apologize if you were looking for some deep insight about the game’s lore or points related, but it is a nice painting and you can see it come together in the video down below. If you’d rather find out more about mechanics, it shan’t do much to entertain you. If you’d like to watch a 20-minute video about a much longer art process, though? It’s here for you.

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