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Interviews

Richard Bartle 'frustrated' with modern MMO development

Interviews, MMO Industry, Miscellaneous

richard bartle
A fascinating piece over on Eurogamer about MUD1 and Richard Bartle traces the history of the modern MMO back to this game and this man. Bartle said that he and his partner "wanted to change the world" with his game, although he says that the modern MMO has yet to reach its full potential.

"I am frustrated at its slow pace," Bartle said. "There's so much you can do with virtual worlds. But it's not being done. I wanted them to be places of wonder in which people could go to truly be themselves, away from societal pressure or judgement. My idea was that if you could truly find yourself in a virtual world you might be able to then take that back into the real world. Then we could get rid of these artificial restraints of class, gender, social status and so on that dictate that you are what you are born to be."

Bartle talked about how the goal for MUD1 was to give players "pure freedom" and how he thinks that MMOs should operate on a meritocracy. For more information on this topic, check out Massively's MUD retrospective and interview with Bartle back in 2011.

EverQuest: The Darkened Sea expansion is live today

Fantasy, EverQuest, Expansions, Interviews, Free-to-Play

We got our first glimpse of EverQuest's 21st expansion back at SOE Live, with its impending new features, a slew of new zones, and the promise of the return of two classic characters. For the past month, some folks have even been testing these things out in beta. Now with launch finally just around the corner (as in today!), Designers Jonathan Caraker, Alan VanCouvering, and Doug Cronkhite joined Producer Thom Terrazas and Creative Director Akil Hooper to talk shop while zipping through the newest zones of The Darkened Sea on a tour of what players will get to dive into.

The Darkened Sea actually builds upon a previous expansion, The Buried Sea. "We have some stories and characters... that we liked back then that we wanted to continue," Terrazas explained. "So we're bringing back some familiar characters that have been off the grid a little bit the last few years." The story itself also takes place in the Buried Sea, starting off on a little tucked away island called Tempest Temple.

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The Stream Team: Touring RIFT's Nightmare Tide with Trion's Daglar and devs

Fantasy, Video, Expansions, Interviews, Free-to-Play, RIFT, Livestream, The Stream Team

The Stream Team: Touring RIFT's Nightmare Tide with Producer Bill Fisher
RIFT's latest expansion Nightmare Tide just launched last week, so there are plenty of new things to do and new places to see. And who better to guide you though those than the folks who made them? Executive Producer Bill "Daglar" Fisher, Senior Development Director Simon "DeadSimon" Ffinch, Senior Systems Designer Chris "Archonix" Junior,and Senior Community Manager Eric "Ocho" Cleaver join Massively's MJ for a romp through the new content. Bring your questions for the team and join us live at 2:00 p.m. to ride through Nightmare Tide.

Game: RIFT: Nightmare Tide
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Monday, October 27th, 2014
Time: 2:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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BioWare on SWTOR's Revan expansion, upcoming species, and class stories

Sci-Fi, Events (In-Game), Expansions, Interviews, Launches, Patches, Endgame, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic, MMORPG

SWTOR Interview: Capping off the Revan story
Star Wars fans are super excited about the next digital expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic releasing on December 9th. First off, it's Star Wars, and second, it deals with one of the most iconic Star Wars figures outside the movies: Revan.

I recently talked to some key figures at BioWare to ask them about Shadow of Revan. On the phone call and livestream, Charles Boyd, the lead writer for the expansion, not only gave an overview of the story but played a bit live. Producer Bruce Maclean discusssed the production side of the game. And even Game Director James Ohlen popped onto the call to let us know how much this expansion means to him.

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ArenaNet teases Guild Wars 2's road to war

Fantasy, Interviews, Lore, Patches, PvE, Guild Wars 2, Buy-to-Play

GW2
After a break, a feature pack, and the yearly antics of the Thorn family, the second season of Guild Wars 2's living world will soon be back in business. The business is, of course, preparing to fight Elder Dragons; the

We got to talk with ArenaNet's Lead Writer Bobby Stein and Associate Game Director Steven Waller about how the living world story has marked out what the team calls the "road to war" against Mordremoth and its minions. But as Game Director Colin Johanson said in his latest blog post, "The road to war is paved with points of no return." That doesn't exactly sound good for Tyria, but it may be exciting for GW2 fans who are looking forward to something big.

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Massively Interview: Spinning Neverwinter's tall tales

Fantasy, Interviews, Lore, Free-to-Play, Neverwinter

neverwinter
Massively: Today we're joined by Neverwinter Senior Content Designer Randy Mosiondz to talk about the game's story. So Randy, how does the story of Neverwinter run parallel to the pen-and-paper campaign and how does it differ? In the cases of its divergeance, why did the team take those paths?

Randy Mosiondz: In Neverwinter we usually try to parallel a lot of the Forgotten Realms story development that Wizards of the Coast has been doing over the last few years. At launch, the majority of our adventure zones were based on stories were being told in the Realms, primarily focusing on Valindra, the Crown of Neverwinter, Gauntlgrym, and the aftermath of the Spellplague. One of our main sources of inspiration was the D&D 4th edition Neverwinter Campaign Guide, which had a number of great story seeds.

We did add a number of new zones that were not directly connected to that book but were still drawn from Realms lore. In a lot of these cases we simply wanted to make sure there was enough variety in storylines, environments, and monsters you encountered to ensure we covered all of the high points of the D&D adventuring experience. Whenever we do this, we consult with Wizards of the Coast on a weekly basis to ensure these storylines match up to their expectations of what fits in the Forgotten Realms.

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Kingdom Under Fire II took seven years and $50M to complete

Betas, Fantasy, Interviews, Free-to-Play, MMORTS

kuf2
After spending over seven years in development, Kingdom Under Fire II may be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. It's currently in beta testing in southeast Asia and has plans for US and EU tests before the end of 2014.

Game Director Sang Youn Lee said that the title's lengthy development was compounded by a format switch from a single-player Xbox title to an MMO for the PC and PlayStation 4. The cost for the game also spiraled upward over the years. "The scale of the game has expanded to three or four times what it was at first," Sang Youn Lee told Kotaku. "$15,000,000 was the first budget for the game. Now it is $50,000,000."

Kingdom Under Fire II blends RPG and RTS elements to allow players to lead up to 500 soldiers in battles against each other rather than against the computer. Reportedly, the game can handle displaying 10,000 troops in combat at the same time.

Loot drops? Eternal Crusade says no.

Betas, Sci-Fi, Interviews, PvP, Warhammer 40k

war
If you haven't figured it out yet, Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade will not be like most MMOs or online co-op games, especially in the looting department. In an interview with 2P.com, Behaviour Interactive announced that the game will have not dropped loot but rewards from NPC bossses.

"You'll be given rewards from your high command," Behaviour said. "Attack the enemy positions, defend your bases or free them from the Tyranids... this is what you are asked to do and this is what you will be rewarded for. Once you get enough reward tokens you can exchange them from some special ammunitions or equipment. There is no direct drop system in the game."

The interview shed light on many of the game's features, such as its single resource (requisition points), the possibility of purchasing elite units, and the challenge of balancing melee and ranged classes.

[Thanks to Halldorr for the tip!]

Sneaking a peek at EQII's Altar of Malice with SOE

Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, EverQuest II, Expansions, Interviews, Free-to-Play

When EverQuest II's next expansion, Altar of Malice, was announced at SOE Live in August, we heard about upcoming features, perused concept drawings, and even saw some screenshots. As exciting as all that can be, nothing compares to actually getting in the game and seeing the living breathing world of Norrath. And that's exactly what I got to do last week on a tour with Senior​ Producer Holly Longdale and Creative Director Akil Hooper.

While we have to wait a bit longer to hear more about the Aerakyn (the new winged dragonkind race) and what special goodies will be included in the collector's edition, the tour of the zones allowed me to bask in the beauty of the artwork while weaving through dinosaurs, pygmies, and my favorite-yet-long-lost starting zone. And it definitely made me even more excited for the upcoming release of Altar of Malice!

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Carbine's Donatelli and Moore on WildStar's population and philosophy

Sci-Fi, Interviews, Endgame, News Items, WildStar, Dungeons, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

No comment.
Two weeks ago, Carbine Studios offered us the opportunity to interview product director Mike Donatelli and creative director Chad Moore regarding the state of WildStar and what future updates would bring to the game. We have their thorough answers in their entirety for you today; Carbine assures us that there was no animosity or conspiracy in the delay, and we thank the studio for that. So let's get to it: Read on as the duo discuss WildStar's current population, business model, development strategy, and plans for the near future.

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The science of language, community, and MMORPGs

Culture, Interviews, MMO Industry, Opinion, Virtual Worlds, Miscellaneous, MMORPG

Johannes Jansson
Back in August, Massively wrote a little post about Swedish research on MMOs and language learning. That article provoked me, a gamer and teacher of English for speakers of other languages (ESOL), to hunt down the original research and talk directly to the researchers, Dr. Liss Kerstin Sylvén from the University of Gothenburg and Dr. Pia Sundqvist from Karlstad University, to better understand their research and findings.

Note that we'll be talking here about games and language learning specifically, not other forms of game-related education. Also, Sylvén and Sundqvist don't consider themselves "gamers." Sundqvist remembers Pac-Man as her first game, both admit to playing Angry Birds on their cell phones, and Sundqvist is "allowed" to sometimes watch her 17-year-old son play League of Legends. I find this interesting because they are non-gamers who seriously consider games capable of being educational without specifically being developed to do so. This isn't a simple merger of a hobby with work; this is work in a field of interest that's still being explored.

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Trion responds to ArcheAge's 10 percent patron discount controversy

Fantasy, Business Models, Interviews, MMO Industry, ArcheAge, Sandbox

Things are never dull in the ArcheAge community. The latest brouhaha, as exemplified by this 100-page (as of press time) threadnaught, has to do with the fact that patron account holders haven't received the 10 percent cash shop discount that was promised pre-release.

Massively contacted Trion to see if it could shed some light on the controversy as well detail any steps it's taking to provide patrons with one of their perks. Click past the cut to view the firm's response.

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Trion explains why ArcheAge uses Hackshield

Fantasy, Business Models, Interviews, MMO Industry, News Items, Legal, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge

HackShield
Ever since ArcheAge's launch, Massively has been deluged with queries about Trion's use of Hackshield, an anti-cheating toolkit created by Korean company AhnLab, Inc. Western gamers aren't traditionally fond of such security programs; as of the time of this writing, even Hackshield's meager entry under AhnLab's English Wikipedia entry has been vandalized, presumably by disgruntled internet denizens. ArcheAge's Hackshield implementation recently provoked one Redditor to issue an open letter essentially accusing Trion of illegally and secretively installing a third-party rootkit on every computer that runs Glyph.

We spoke to Trion about the legalities and efficacies of the program. Specifically, we asked about five topics:
  • Whether the program is being installed without permission,
  • Whether it is legal to install it in in this way around the globe,
  • Whether it is causing technical problems for users as claimed,
  • Whether it is fully uninstalling when ArcheAge/Glyph are uninstalled,
  • And whether it actually works, given weekend reports about exploits.

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Casual escapists, Skyforge hasn't forgotten you

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Business Models, Culture, Game Mechanics, Interviews, News Items, PvE, Skyforge

Skyforge
A new MMOGames interview with Obsidian Executive Producer Eric DeMilt sheds light on inbound sci-fantasy MMO Skyforge, which he says is angling to provide a deep experience for players with tons of time -- as well as players with very little. As he put it,
"We are striving to make a great high quality free to play MMO that would have action oriented combat and allow for short rewarding session time. We wanted to make something that could accommodate short session game play as allow for enjoyable longer play sessions. It's about escapism and being larger than life."
DeMilt also discusses power creep, player retention, character progression, the Facebook-inspired social network within the game, and monetization; on the last, he's reluctant to give details, but he vows that Skyforge is "not going to be a flat-out pay-to-win game."

How graphics will help H1Z1 set a creepy mood

Historical, Horror, Trailers, Video, Interviews, Previews, PvP, News Items, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox, H1Z1

H1Z1
Do you care a whole lot about graphical fidelity when you're running away from shooting zombies in the face with a sawed-off shotgun? Fabulous; we have just the video for you. SOE has just posted a Q&A video featuring H1Z1 Art Director Bill Yeatts, who fields player-submitted questions about the upcoming zombie-survival-sandbox's graphics. Yeatts explains how SOE chose H1Z1's art style, how that art style will evolve as early access approaches, and just how he plans to make the game look and feel really scary (obviously, a zombie plague isn't terrifying enough).

Enjoy the dev spotlight below.

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Featured Stories

Why I Play: ArcheAge

Posted on Oct 30th 2014 12:00PM

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