MMO News Roundup

I’m trying an experiment here: A list of MMO news that I found noteworthy during the week. I’m trying this slightly retro blogging format because, to be brutally honest, for most MMO topics, I have a lot of trouble summoning up more than a few sentences of commentary, which results in a glut of unfinished blog drafts and a paucity of published posts (ha!). The challenge here will be finding a picture to use.

Not at all related, but something I did this week.

Chronicles of Elyria is dropping SpatialOS. I know almost nothing about this specific game, but you couldn’t throw a rock last year without hearing about how SpatialOS was going to change the world. Now we learn that changing the world is apparently too expensive. In the dev update, Caspian wrote, “In January of 2017 we began the long process of taking what was mostly an offline, single-player game…” Stop right there! Why?? Why ruin it?? Okay, and lastly:

Project Gorgon is coming soon to Steam Early Access. My standard rule for Early Access games is to avoid them unless they are under $10. In this specific case, however, I have played Project Gorgon before, so I know exactly what to expect and I might spend more for it. I don’t want to play it through Steam, though. I hate playing MMORPGs through Steam. I hope there is a non-Steam version.

Life is Feudal is now on Steam Early Access. The real one, that is, not the stripped-down lite version(s). This game is on my radar, but I’m not paying $30 to try it. Also, as previously mentioned, I don’t like playing MMORPGs through Steam.

Final Fantasy XIV 4.2 is almost here. I have almost nothing to say about this except, oh yeah! That new patch is almost here! I didn’t realize this until recently, but Square Enix has a whole page devoted to it. Presumably, they’ve been doing preview pages for every patch and I’ve just never noticed it before. No wonder everyone always knows what’s going to be in the patch before I do! I will need to review my 4.1 post to refresh my memory on where we are in the Main Scenario.

Amazon’s New World disappeared and returned. New World disappearing would have been in last week’s post, if I’d been doing this back then. Now New World is back. The biggest news was really the leaked New World video. I didn’t watch it. Why bother? I’m supposed to start getting excited about a game that isn’t even far enough along yet to announce–let alone release–a buggy, pre-alpha, barely-compilable, full price early access edition with fully-functioning, fully-debugged cash shop? (Don’t judge me, you know every AAA game from now on is going to release like that.)

And now we know why Chronicles of Elyria can’t afford SpatialOS. They can’t attract money because of an antiquated notion of “maintaining creative control” in a world full of cash grabs, loot boxes, and micro transactions. (Personally I think it’s because they used “MEOW” in public.) High marks for integrity, but I hope they (and their employees) are prepared to go to the figurative grave for it. How about sell that single-player offline game?

Raph Koster wrote about game development costs again. No comment except that it all rings very true to me.

Albion Online is fine despite secretly firing half their team before Christmas. Nothing to worry about. Perfectly normal. The game is expanding, even! (It is plausible to reduce a development team size after launch, but seriously, who is buying that Albion Online is going gangbusters? I actually mean that literally. Who is buying Albion Online?)

Rift will be opening a subscription-only progression-ish server in Spring. Didn’t Allods Online do this? I might be tempted to try it, because I think we can all agree that Trion cheapened Rift considerably with the increasingly-aggressive cash shop, but I’m already paying a FFXIV subscription and I don’t need/want another one.

And in the gossip section of this post, I suspect one of the above stories prompted this tweet from MassivelyOP’s Bree Royce:

P. S. I’m aware that all of these links go to MassivelyOP. It’s true I’m somewhat biased in that I like MassivelyOP, but it also happens that I almost always see news there first. I actively looked for interesting stories elsewhere and couldn’t come up with any.

On The Radar For 2015

Last time I did this.

Note that some games aren’t on the following list because I have either a) forgotten about them, or b) never heard of them.

MMORPGs I’m Looking Forward To

These are games that I’m still anxiously awaiting the opportunity to play, because I haven’t yet seen or heard anything to wreck my enthusiasm.

Black Desert. I keep seeing good things.

Skyforge. I keep hearing good things.

Otherland. I have enjoyed some Tad Williams books in the past, so surely a game based on some of his books I haven’t read would be good.

MMORPGs I’m Ambivalent About

I’m not excited about these games per se, but I’ll probably buy or try them because of hype and/or boredom and/or peer pressure.

GW2: Heart of Thorns. I’ll play it, but because it’s GW2 aka. The One RPG Without Meaningful Rewards I’m anticipating that I’ll get bored quickly.

Crowfall. To me, this isn’t even an MMORPG, and I think a lot of people are going to be disappointed by that after the hype wears off. My latest concern is that the ambitious class customization plans will result in PvP balance issues that will ruin the game. (Everyone will keep chasing that one overlooked combination that is bugged and overpowered, resulting in an endless cycle of nerfing disappointment and forum rage.)

EQNext. I’m not burdened by EQ nostalgia, plus I have no reason to think this game will be good. (Where is ACNext Turbine??)

Pathfinder Online*. I’ve never played the tabletop version, and the gameplay appears uninteresting (and the animations are terrible), and it’s open world PvP. When will they learn?

Camelot Unchained*. I hear a lot of buzz about this game but it doesn’t look that great to me. That YouTube video honestly makes it look like the most boring thing in the entire universe. Given the way the devs talk about it, I get the impression that this game is more about being a game engine technology demo than a game.

MMORPGs I’m Undecided About

These are games that are on my radar, but I don’t know enough yet to form an opinion about how much I’d be willing to spend on them.

Shroud of the Avatar*. Seems to be flying under the radar. I hear little or nothing about it, but the gameplay looks tolerable.

Gloria Victis*. I like the look of this game but, you know, it’s open world PvP so it will mostly be a game of staying in town or hiding from people.

Wander. Saw it on Steam. It looks cool. It’s not clear to me if this is a PC game or not though.

MMORPGs I’ve Lost Interest In

These would probably have to be free or sold at a deep discount for me to even try them, unless I start to see a lot more positive buzz.

Star Citizen*. Honestly I’m not sure what this game is right now, but anything targeted at EVE players probably isn’t for me, plus we all know this is vaporware, right? (Just kidding! Don’t freak out!) But seriously, I think the smart money is on this game self-destructing from too much ambition.

Life is Feudal*. I thought there might be something to this game, but so far it looks like a plain old survival building game, and the models and animation need serious work.

Das Tal* and Albion Online*. Overhead views plus open world PvP. Why, god, why?

Pantheon: Something of Something*. Seems unlikely this will ever see the light of day, but if it does, only those handful of people who backed it will delude themselves into thinking it’s fun to replicate late-1990s mechanics. Sorry but this game looks awful right now.

H1Z1*. I don’t even consider this an MMORPG.

Pre-Launch MMORPGs I’ve Already Bought

Trove*. (I think it’s still technically beta.) I like it. Good casual game.

Landmark*. Meh. Just meh. Do we really need a game that’s a thinly-disguised 3D modelling program with a 1980s-style UI font?

The Repopulation*. I haven’t played enough to know what to think of it. But I feel like it’s probably trying to do too much and it’ll never capture that SWG feeling.

Advice To Game Developers

Please perfect your basic artwork assets, models, and animations before releasing anything to the public. It’s a huge turn-off to see placeholder models and animations that make your game look like a high school project. It’s literally the first thing I evaluate to determine if your development effort is serious business or you’re just a bunch of kids messing around in somebody’s basement. Great results can and do come from people’s basements, but honestly not very often.

* These games can be bought and played now in some early access form or another. (I think. Don’t hold me to it.)