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Ryzom

Free for All: Will there ever be another setting like Ryzom's Atys?

Sci-Fi, Screenshots, Culture, Game Mechanics, Ryzom, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Races, Casual, Free for All, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox

Ryzom map
Ah, Ryzom. To this day it remains one of my favorite MMORPGs for several reasons. I was reminded just how much I still enjoy the game when I logged in to witness a storm rolling through the land, lightning sizzling from the sky, rain falling straight down on my character's head. The planet that Ryzom players find themselves on is called Atys, and it's no ordinary planet. In fact, it's not a planet at all. Instead, it's a giant rootball that floats in space.

Yes, a rootball.

I'm no scientist, but I'm pretty sure that a massive rootball is an impossible thing, but it doesn't matter. The game's original designers were French, and if you follow French MMOs, you know they always seem to come up with something completely unique. In this case, Atys is literally made up of a wad of giant roots and bark. I have to wonder: Why aren't there more unique settings like Atys in gaming today?

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Massively's Third Annual Frindie Awards

Fantasy, Screenshots, Game Mechanics, Ryzom, Wurm Online, Opinion, Second Life, Free-to-Play, Browser, Mobile, Casual, Virtual Worlds, MMORTS, Free for All, Miscellaneous, Sandbox

Frindie Awards
It's time once again for me to throw out my awards for the best of free-to-play, indie, and oddball MMOs, a real niche-within-a-niche. It might seem that I am assigned many of these titles as though I were some modern day Mikey, but the truth is that I get a huge thrill out of finding a new game but get even more of a thrill when I realize that no one is covering it. I had to really think hard about the criteria for the awards this year, mainly because "indie" is quickly becoming one of those often hard-to-define words, alongside "MMORPG" and "free-to-play." Fortunately, I think I know it when I see it.

I kept my choices to games that I have actually played this year. I wanted to avoid games that appear to be really cool. If you want a more broad batch of prizes, check out Massively's best of awards. (Side note: I voted for Defiance as my game of the year.)

These awards are for games that are being created on a shoestring or independent of massive budgets. Some of them are connected to some money, of course, but instead of trying to define "indie," I will only repeat: You'll know it when you see it.

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Free for All: Ten of my favorite in-game items

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Culture, Ryzom, Opinion, Ultima Online, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Mabinogi, Allods Online, Free for All, Battlestar Galactica Online, Miscellaneous, PlanetSide 2, Sandbox, Subscription

RuneScape inventory screenshot
I love things. Truly I do. Only specific things, though. Over the last year I have doubled my efforts to catalog most of the best things in my life, from pictures and artwork to writings and songs I have played on. It's a sort of meta-hobby. As part of the effort I want to organize many of my favorite MMO in-game items, simply because I have played MMOs for so long and they are such a part of my life. I have a lot of favorite items, but some tend to stick out in my memory like a favorite smell or place.

After I finished an initial list of MMO items (it was well over 50 items in the beginning), I was surprised at how much variety there was in the items and in the games I listed. I think it reflects my character a lot, but also shows that I am a sentimental plod most of the time. I cut the list down to these 10, but I am sure I will wish to adjust the list again in the future. Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments section!

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Free for All: Playing the eternal noob

Culture, Ryzom, Opinion, Casual, Humor, DC Universe Online, Free for All, PlanetSide 2, Age of Wushu

Crime Craft screenshot
As I just finished up my Age of Wushu livestream with Massively's own Patrick Mackey and Age of Wushu Community Manager Earthquake last night, I realize once again that most people do not look at MMO gaming as I do. Of course, I am basing this only on my existence as an island of a person, someone who spends most of his time soloing through content and generally getting lost in one game after another, after another and another.

Patrick is a lively personality who is what players would call a min-maxer. A theory-crafter. He is someone who takes hold of a game and learns it backward and forward, something I can only wish I could do. Not only do I not have the mental ability to sit still that long (and no, that's not an attempt at bragging about the size of my brain), but I physically cannot read that much text or spend more than several hours online without taking a break for fear of a days-destroying migraine.

This physical inability to study up came well after my already-established love for virtual travel, however. I am an explorer of virtual worlds, an occupation that does not permit sitting at one stop for long. But this hurts me as a player. I realize this and accept it.

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Free for All: My very own top ten list of MMO pet peeves

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, EVE Online, EverQuest, Lord of the Rings Online, Business Models, Culture, Game Mechanics, PvP, Ryzom, Opinion, Guild Wars 2, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Roleplaying, MMORTS, Humor, Free for All, PlanetSide 2, Defiance, Buy-to-Play

Top ten list screenshot
I couldn't just sit back and let Justin Olivetti have all the fun, could I? When he published The Perfect Ten: My gaming pet peeves, I swept my fist to the sky and screamed "Sypsterrrr!" Literally a week earlier I had jotted down an idea for a similar column. I mean jotted down because I keep yellow pads around the house for late-night ideas or dog-walk eurekas.

Of course his will probably end up the superior article as he is the better writer (and has a good bit of facial hair), but I'm going to present mine anyway. In fact I'll do one better by listing 11 of my MMO pet peeves because, well, I jotted down 11.

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Free for All: My favorite female armor sets

Fantasy, Screenshots, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Culture, Lore, Ryzom, Opinion, Vanguard, Guild Wars 2, Free-to-Play, Browser, Mobile, Casual, Roleplaying, Virtual Worlds, Free for All, Post-Apocalyptic, Miscellaneous, Sandbox, Buy-to-Play

Brienne picture
Of all of the crazy characters from HBO's Game of Thrones, Brienne is easily my favorite. Why is she my favorite? It's not because she's just heroic or brave or any of the things that people often attribute to her; it's because she's a survivor. Much of that survival comes from her armor and the fact that she knows well enough to be able to protect herself! The actress Gwendoline Christie has talked about how uncomfortable the armor is to wear. I've heard the producers say that the metal skin is supposed to look sort of mismatched, and I love that. It only makes it stronger.

I often wish MMOs represented armor in better ways, especially for female characters. Some MMOs do a better job than others, and some MMOs do a decent job some of the time. Here are some of my picks for my favorite armor sets for female humans, orcs, goblins or... well, you get the point.

(Please don't post Game of Thrones spoilers in the comments section.)

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Free for All: My five favorite MMOs for exploration

Screenshots, Culture, Ryzom, Wurm Online, Opinion, Second Life, Vanguard, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Virtual Worlds, Free for All, Miscellaneous, Sandbox

Vanguard screenshot
There's nothing more important to me than the ability to freely explore MMOs. Heck, exploration is the reason I got into MMOs. I remember grabbing that box of Ultima Online (man, I wish I still had that box!) from a shelf at the local game store and looking in wonder at just how vast this virtual world seemed to be. I'm still the same way, although after years of doing this, I am a bit more cynical about games. I've heard so many promises that never came true, but I know that even the worst of titles offers the chance to explore a brand-new world.

There are a lot of exploration mechanics out there. Free Realms has an adventurer "job," The Secret World needs players to explore to solve mysteries, Guild Wars 2 offers experience based on discovering new areas, EverQuest II entices people to explore by offering collectible items embedded in the ground, and there are so many MMOs that allow players to gain experience just by approaching areas they haven't before.

But I have my favorites. These are games that just make me feel like an explorer.

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Jukebox Heroes: Eleven MMO soundtracks you can get for free

Anarchy Online, Dungeons and Dragons Online, EVE Online, Ryzom, RuneScape, Global Agenda, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Atlantica Online, Giveaways, Miscellaneous, Jukebox Heroes, Music

Jukebox Heroes Eleven MMO soundtracks you can get for free
Collecting MMO soundtracks is a scattered, scavenger-like experience. Releasing video game soundtracks isn't exactly high up on studio and publisher to-do lists (although we're seeing more love from digital stores), so whether or not a title will get a music release is really a crapshoot. What does get released is never in the same place twice: Some game soundtracks are released as special editions only, some only as CDs, some as full MP3 album releases, some directly from the composer, some are buried on websites, and so on.

So I'm constantly looking everywhere trying to beef up my MMO soundtrack library, and as a result I've uncovered several scores that the studios are giving away for free. I'm all over free (legal) music, especially when it's in my area of interest!

If you've been looking to start an MMO soundtrack collection or are looking to add to what you have, I've put together a list of 11 MMO scores that you can get today free of charge. Sound good? It does to me!

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Free for All: The second annual Frindie Awards

Real-Life, Sci-Fi, Asheron's Call, Contests, Culture, PvP, Ryzom, The Matrix Online, Wurm Online, PvE, Opinion, Second Life, Vanguard, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, Browser, Mobile, Casual, Virtual Worlds, Mabinogi, Kids, Alganon, Free for All, Family, Miscellaneous, Enter at Your Own Rift, Sandbox

Frindie Awards logo
It's time once again for the Frindie Awards, my attempt to shine some light on the best indie, browser-based, free-to-play, and unusual MMOs that are all-too-often ignored by press -- and players. This one is for the little guys! Well, mostly. It's also for those games that seem to have passed under the collective radar of Massively readers or that seem to be very misunderstood.

Picking the winners this year is just as hard as it was last year, maybe even harder. 2012 was an incredible year for MMOs, so I would rather have just put together an article that highlights every single favorite. In the end, it's more helpful to make myself pick out a winner. It's a rare thing for some of these games to even receive a nod on a major website, something I still can't figure out. Either way, it's best to think of all of the MMOs on this list as my favorites from 2012.

Anyway, let's get to the awards!

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Free for All: Ryzom - when a server merge feels right

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Screenshots, Culture, Events (In-Game), Ryzom, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Roleplaying, Virtual Worlds, Free for All, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox

Official Ryzom screenshot from Facebook
I wonder what you readers thought when you read about Ryzom's latest issues. If you've been playing for a long time, you'll feel a sense of deja vu as yet another server merge or account tweak is being forced on the playerbase. If you're not familiar with the game (why haven't you tried it yet?), then it's likely the recent announcement of server merges and character wipes was a sure sign of failure. Ah, failure: the go-to word for those who don't want to investigate the normal goings-on in the MMO world.

MMOs, especially indies, can leap from owner to owner and server to server quite easily. It's not unusual to say the least. Ryzom has been through more of these changes than I care to recall, but the core game and long list of veteran characters have remained -- that is, until the developer announced that, along with the merge, characters would be wiped. Players flipped out. The forums were filled with intense conversations, and even non-players were astonished.

Consider the Darkfall announcement by contrast. Some Darkfall players are apparently looking forward to the character wipe. But Ryzom is not a FFA PvP title. Roleplayers are very happy in Ryzom; I am one of them. Luckily the developers tweaked the decision, and now I have been playing on my old character, back in the world of Atys.

Was the decision a good one? I think so.

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Massively Speaking Episode 216: The economy show

Podcasts, EVE Online, MMO Industry, Ryzom, News Items, Guild Wars 2, Massively Meta, Massively Speaking, RIFT, Final Fantasy XIV, DUST 514, WildStar

Massively Speaking Episode 216
The winds of change are blowing, and Justin and Bree have rushed outside to fly their kites because of it. In fact, change is coming not only to the Massively staff but to many of our favorite MMOs as well. Will we survive or throw a snit because we wish that life could've been frozen in time in 1999? You'll just have to listen and see whether any temper tantrums are thrown!

Have a comment for the podcasters? Shoot an email to podcast@massively.com. We may just read your email on the air!

Get the podcast:
[iTunes] Subscribe to Massively Speaking directly in iTunes.
[RSS] Add Massively Speaking to your RSS aggregator.
[MP3] Download the MP3 directly.
Listen here on the page:



Read below the cut for the full show notes.

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MMO Blender: Using older MMOs to build a perfectly paced world

Fantasy, Video, EverQuest, Fallen Earth, Culture, Game Mechanics, Ryzom, Wurm Online, Opinion, Ultima Online, Guild Wars 2, Free-to-Play, RIFT, Livestream, Miscellaneous, Sandbox, Crafting, MMO Blender

RIFT Sanctum creenshot
One of the issues I have with so many modern AAA titles is that when I play them, I immediately feel forced through a series of noisy and chaotic moments. I know that these tutorials are supposed to make me feel as though I am stepping into a sort of world-on-fire, but to me it just feels like a mess. RIFT is a great game, truly, but every time I want to start a new character or try the game out again, I dread going through the annoying tutorial. It's so demanding. It grabs my hand and pulls me through a linear series of non-discoveries.

Now, this might just be my fading gamer memory, but I distinctly remember how it felt to be dropped off in the middle of nowhere in an MMO. While there are a few modern titles like Wurm Online that basically do the same thing, the mystery and immersion of those first few levels in most major MMOs has been replaced by sheer noise. I don't like it.

Good pacing is a wonderful thing. If it's tweaked just right, players feel immediately invested in a world even while feeling completely lost. I'd like to make this week's dream MMO using those older-game designs. It's time to slow down.

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Ryzom allowing players to keep subbed characters

Fantasy, Ryzom, News Items, Free-to-Play

Ryzom letting characters keep subbed characters
Folks upset by the announced changes in Ryzom that included complete character wipes will be happy to know that Winchgate has heard your pleas. Players with active subscriptions at the closing of the current servers will be allowed to keep their characters! This includes name, appearance, levels, and skill bricks for all characters on the account. Players who prefer a fresh start instead will also be able to do so.

To facilitate this change and give players more time to win starter packs, the server merge has been postponed for a week and will now occur on Saturday, September 29th at 6:00 p.m. EDT. You can read more about the server merges in Massively's exclusive interview.

Massively Speaking Episode 215: Red sunset

Podcasts, City of Heroes, EverQuest, EverQuest II, MMO Industry, Ryzom, News Items, Massively Meta, Massively Speaking, RIFT, Miscellaneous, PlanetSide 2

Massively Speaking Episode 215
A warning in advance: There might be a lot of tears on this show. Bree and Justin cope with the upcoming shutdown of City of Heroes, which marks the third of Bree's favorite games cancelled within the past year. Is there still hope from the player population, or is this a done deal? Oh my, fair listeners, we have not begun to fight! Or sing!

Have a comment for the podcasters? Shoot an email to podcast@massively.com. We may just read your email on the air!

Get the podcast:
[iTunes] Subscribe to Massively Speaking directly in iTunes.
[RSS] Add Massively Speaking to your RSS aggregator.
[MP3] Download the MP3 directly.
Listen here on the page:



Read below the cut for the full show notes.

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Exclusive Ryzom interview details player wipes and server merges

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Business Models, Interviews, Ryzom, News Items, Free-to-Play, Interviews (Massively's), Post-Apocalyptic, Miscellaneous, Sandbox

Ryzom screenshot
If you have been a Ryzom fan as long as I have, you know that the road to Atys has been long and bumpy. Unfortunately, the bumps haven't stopped. Winchgate has just announced that it's planning to merge existing servers and wipe existing characters. That means if you have built characters over these last several years, they will no longer be as they were

Massively interviewed Vianney Lecroart, Ryzom's CTO, to ask about what this means for the game and community, so read on for first the official announcement and then Lecroart's comments.

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