So going forward, expect to see The Game Archaeologist pop out of his hidey hole once or twice a month to talk about our old favorites and perhaps pontificate more on the history of MMO development. Sound good? Did you miss me at all? You totally didn't, did you.
If you've been out of touch with classic MMOs, I've done the legwork this week to provide you with the 10 important and relevant news items that are sweeping through this aging yet still vibrant community. Read on, McDuff!
Yes, Funcom's been talking about the graphic engine update just about forever now, but it's still encouraging to hear that work on it is progressing. The May update letter and the recent earnings report confirmed this as well as provided a couple of new screenshots for the ogling (such as the above picture). "We reached another internal milestone," the studio announced. "We have been able to patch one of the QA servers with 18.7 new engine code and assets, which shows that our patching and build process works with the new engine branch."
2. Asheron's Call 2: No F2P, but improving solo experience
Hoping that the revived Asheron's Call 2 will be made free to the public instead of attached at the hip to the AC1 subscription? Don't hold your breath. "We have no current plans to move AC2 to a traditional free-to-play model," Turbine stated in this forum thread.
The good news is that Turbine is going to try to boost the solo experience and will continue to fix several bugs. The studio also has set forth milestones that when reached will transition the title out of beta.
3. Lineage: Still making the big bucks
Despite the fact that Lineage ultimately stuttered out and died in North America, it remains one of NCsoft's biggest money-makers overseas. The latest earnings report revealed that the first title alone is responsible for 38% of the company's sales. So where's that Lineage 3 already?
I, for one, am really looking forward to playing Ultima Forever on my tablet. I'm not sure if I'm sold on the visual style, but I think it's a good fit for the platform, and I think it's probably the closest we'll ever see of an official Ultima Online 2. It's exciting to see that it's being tested in select markets (such as Canada) and should be hitting the iTunes store this July.
5. PlanetSide: Destined for free-to-play
Being SOE's only subscription-only title and an obsolete relic now that there's a sequel out there, PlanetSide could go one of only two directions: be scrapped or go free. The studio is going with the latter, although an exact time-frame has yet to be established.
6. Dark Age of Camelot: New patch redesigns Warlocks
DAoC's patch notes honestly intimidate me due to sheer length and discussion of specific details that probably make sense only if you play the game. That said, it's not hard to figure out that the team is doing a major overhaul of the Warlock class as well as handing out magical protection to lowbies for extra survivability. Following that, there's about a thousand additional small items. Knock yourself out reading them!
One of the genre's oldest (and lesser-known) MMOs has rolled out a new ruleset for PvP this week. Players can now choose from one of four modes in open world PvP, and there are two new hardcore PvP servers to choose from.
8. Meridian 59: Players patch the game
This happened a couple of months ago, but I feel that it's important to include. In late March, the second of a series of player-generated patches went live in the game. It's not every day that players take the role of actual developers, but with open source MMOs, that's exactly what can happen.
9. Lineage II: A new challenger appears!
Late last month, Lineage II patched in Lindvior, an epic dragon that's now the ultimate challenge in the game. By all accounts, the rest of the patch was pretty meaty as well. Do we have any L2 players out there?
10. Myst Online: URU Live: Summer music fest
This looks pretty cool if you're hanging around this odd title. A group of enterprising players are throwing Summer Music Fest in Myst Online on July 27th. I guess they've figured out a way to store and broadcast pre-recorded tunes by the talented members of the community, so it might be worth checking out if you're hanging out in this game.
That about does it for today, although if you're aware of any cool updates, events, or news pertaining to a classic MMO, let me know in the comments or by email!
When not clawing his eyes out at the atrocious state of general chat channels, Justin "Syp" Olivetti pulls out his history textbook for a lecture or two on the good ol' days of MMOs in The Game Archaeologist. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.