Friday, October 12, 2018

Sandbox-MMORPG Ember Sword announced



Press release:

So Couch Studios announces Ember Sword - the Next Genre-Defining Fantasy Cross-Platform MMORPG
By eliminating the need for black markets and removing the traditional premium cash shop to ensure a non-pay-to-win environment, Ember Sword hopes to re-define the MMORPG genre.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Copenhagen, Denmark - 11. October 2018 - So Couch Studios today revealed their upcoming free to play cross-platform sandbox Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game (MMORPG), Ember Sword. Promising to re-define the MMORPG genres negative pay-to-win reputation by removing the traditional cash shop, Ember Sword let’s players own, control, and evolve the fantasy universe as landowners and acquire scarce cosmetics through PVP and PVE activities as opposed to through lootboxes.

View the Ember Sword Announcement Teaser Trailer here:

“As avid MMORPG players, we grew tired of static “theme-park” universes where we can engage with everything in the world, but never truly change or evolve it, much less own it and the items we’ve gathered within it.”, So Couch Studios founder Mark Phillipe Laursen says, explaining why his team is developing Ember Sword, before he continues:

“Most free-to-play MMORPGs monetize through pay-to-win mechanics and non-transferable cosmetics in an attempt to increase revenue by locking down the cash shop economy. With Ember Sword, we’re putting players in charge of evolving the world and its economy instead, because to us, creating an engaging and fair universe is much more important than heavily monetizing players - opting instead for an optional monthly subscription and marketplace fees”.

Drawing inspiration from classics like Ultima Online and Runescape, Ember Sword’s classless combat system, open-world PVP, and player-driven economy, promises an engaging and persistent universe where the idea of a player-controlled world is taken one step by letting players own an actual parcel of land in-game, much like Second Life.

“That’s part of what excites us the most; to see what the players will do with the world, how they will play, what sort of groups or factions will evolve, which areas will become popular, and how people will build them and evolve them. It’s fascinating to think about.”, So Couch Studios CMO Sune Blindkilde Thorsen said.

Ember Sword Key Features:

Cross-Platform: Accessible in a browser or through a desktop client at release, a mobile version is planned for later release.

Artist Workshop: Release your creativity by designing models, skins, and emotes, the best of which will appear in-game.

True Ownership and Control: With players evolving the world every day and truly owning their own cosmetic items, Ember Sword is run by the players.

Whether you're a peaceful forager of goods and rares making a name for yourself or a fierce warrior of no alignment, there is a place for you in Ember Sword - a place where peace and war is chosen by the players themselves. A place built by you!
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Thursday, September 13, 2018

A Few Reasons Why The MMO Genre Has Been Struggling


If you were to hop into a time machine and zoom back in time to the gaming scene in 2004, things would be radically different. It was the same year that Blizzard’s World of Warcraft first hit the MMORPG genre, and there are few other trends that had quite the same impact. Although WoW wasn’t an immediate success, it wouldn’t be long before it clocked the record of 12 million active subscribers – something that no other game has been able to boast.

But that was 14 years ago, and we’re now living in a world where MMOs come and go like the weather. With constant controversies, countless untrustworthy developers, and a genre that seems to be taking endless amounts of flak, it’s hard to believe that MMOs have any sort of real future. Change is inevitable, but the recent changes in the industry have been hard to swallow, and sometimes it makes sense why people turn to other hobbies like online pokies.

Let’s look at why the MMO has been suffering so much in the last few years.

1. No AAA Titles
When once an AAA title was the next blockbuster that had any gamer buzzing with excitement, it’s now become a soured topic that has split the gaming world down the middle. The last true AAA MMORPG that made headlines was Wildstar, a game that was met with both negative reviews and minimal commercial success. There’s a void in the gaming world for a new, gaming-changing MMO title.

2. Mobile Gaming
This is a big one, and the MMO genre isn’t the only that’s suffering. With smartphones and tablets more prolific than ever, more and more gamers are turning to their mobile platforms for their gaming needs. While it’s more than possible to have a good MMO on a smartphone, the payment models for these types of games have all but destroyed any real chances.

3. The Lack of Innovation
When the first MMOs hit the scene, they quickly created the Holy Trinity of classes, and it’s been like that for a long time, even with the newer titles that claim they are different. What we’re left with then is a huge range of very samey fantasy-based MMOs that have tried their very best to emulate WoW’s success, often with no luck. The genre, in other words, has become boring.

4. The Lifespans of Studios
This is something that can be directly connected to EA, the studio-devouring entity that has been systematically closing down each one of its well-known studios. But that behaviour hasn’t stopped with EA, and can be felt in just about every facet of the industry. More and more studios have been closed, more and more projects shut down forever or stuck in limbo. It’s a sad scene, and it’s left us without many MMOs that had such potential, such as World of Darkness or Everquest Next.
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Why B2P Is The Future Of MMO Payment



For the last twenty years, the subject of payment when it comes to your favourite MMO has always been up for debate. We’ve had numerous options available; from free-to-play, subscription, to a few more not worth mentioning. Payment methods for games has always been a hot topic, but the newest, in the form of buy-to-play, may just be the new and future standard for the industry.

If you’re looking to start playing a new MMO, the method of payment can often be the tiebreaker – a subscription can lock in every month, while a free-to-play model may seem great at first, but the additional paywalls can keep you locked from much of the content. It’s very much up to personal preference, but the recent push for buy-to-play games may be the only choice within the next few years. These are some of the reasons why.

1. Free-To-Play Barely Worked
There was never anything wrong behind the concept of F2P. The idea was that the player would be able to download and start playing immediately, and the devs would recoup their costs by offering additional content that came with a charge. The problem is that people became greedy, and they knew that locking content behind a paywall would allow some players to have access to better gear/stats/skills, and others would be coerced into spending more than they should to have the same level of gear/stats/skills.



2. True Ownership

Ownership is something that has been debated when it came to subscription – the fact of the matter is that if you owned a game that used a subscription model, the moment you hadn’t paid, you would no longer have access to that game. With B2P, you own that game, you can play that game whenever you want, and you never have to worry about your account being suspended.


3. A Larger Demand
We live in an age where games are churned out a dozen at a time, and having to spend money on every game that comes across your Steam store-front, especially if it’s subscription-based, would mean running out of cash fairly quickly. B2P means paying for that game once, having it in your library forever, and allows you to move on to other games if you need a break from your current one – without having to continue your subscription.


4. It’s Once-Off
The real benefit here is that there are no hidden costs, or at least, the costs that you pay still give you full access to the game. The microtransaction era has hit a lot of gamers hard, and in a constantly changing financial climate, it’s better to have paid for something once than have a recurring monthly payment, especially when that money could be put into something else, like streaming sites or online betting NZ, or even just paying rent. The hope is that B2P becomes more practical, more wide-spread, and allows gamers much more freedom.
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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Missing the RPG aspect of a MMORPG.



Is it sad that I miss what the MMORPG genre used to be? Crafting was a thing, it truely had a purpose and it would be considered a class onto itself. 

The games were not built upon hundreds of thousands of quests, instead it was build around player interaction & creativity. 

Expansions did not make older content obsolete, it just added more depth & flavor to the existing game. 

There were seldom any instances and you actually had to interact with all kinds of people. Whether they be an asshole or a nice person.

I remember building up decent suits for a few newbie players. We also had interactions with people when we were trying to buy or sell things. 

There were no pre-built auction houses and we had players who made their own and it actually wasan auction house and yes there were more honest players then not who ran the auction houses as well. Of course there were bad

I want a MMO that has actually earned the title of MMO(RPG) amd was not just given it because of convenience.

Maby it all disappeared when people started viewing games as literal "games" that were meant to be defeated or solved, rather than an alternate life/ new worlds to explore and discover.

My own personal example would be Runescape circa 2008 where nobody knew wtf they were doing and were just logging on to do random things, incidentally level up random skills and just played it however they wanted while exploring and discovering the world.

Nowadays all you'll see are "pures" that have essentially "solved" the game in terms of highest dps, most efficient form of combat, highest gold per hour tasks etc.

This scenario can be applied to most other games as well.
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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

A few hours ago, (Korea) Maplestory's story reached a conclusion



The Black Mage, which is the big baddie the story has been building up towards, has finally been defeated in the Korean servers of Maplestory. With that, the story has concluded, or so it would seem. Only took 15 years!

The mechanics behind the boss fight was a service wide HP pool, i.e. everyone playing on the Korean version of Maplestory was contributing damage to the same HP bar across 4 phases. This took the Korean server about 3 weeks to completely deplete the bar.

A quick search on Google or Youtube would easily find you the final cinematic, although translations have yet to be posted due to how recent this is.

The fate of Maplestory 1 as a whole is uncertain at the moment, but we'll just have to wait for an announcement by Nexon.
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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

I miss how I would sit down and play Runescape for 15 hour sessions 10-15 years ago.



And it is sadder that there is no modern equivalent.

The idea of sitting down with a drink and some food and grinding out some progress in a game (and then not eating all day) that was designed around taking a long time to complete. Interacting with the community (on forums, this was before Facebook was really a thing) and writing guides on how to do content was something I frequently did in my teenage years and I don't see a modern equivalent these days.

Everything these days seems to have a catch. You have seasonal content (e.g. raid progression for an expansion), content on average isn't worth playing beyond its rewards, and everything seemingly worth obtaining is cosmetic and locked behind a microtransaction shop. I remember for example, doing achievements to obtain a super unique / useful item. Does that even exist in MMOs anymore?

On and these games weren't difficult in that you didn't need a dedicated team to enjoy the game. There were no "one shot" mechanisms (well there were a couple really but they were super end game) and it felt like there was a heart and soul attached to actual weekly updates and not (half) yearly ones, this basically meant you always had something new to do and felt good about doing it because everything you did you could do in some communal way.

I am only writing this up because I really want that experience again, but it's been 10-15 years and nothing new has come out as far as I know that captures this feeling and what's old is in the past and not worth playing.
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Sunday, June 24, 2018

My thoughts on Aion



I will preface this that I have played Aion for a long time, on and off. I've quit around 2 months ago so all the information will be about 5.8 patch. Soon there will be a 6.2 patch that will change the game entirely again, a reset if you will. They will have new level cap, and new gear, a lot of old stuff will be scrapped and replaced.


Leveling

The leveling in this game is a mix between grinding mobs and doing quests. The primary focus of quests should be campaign quests and blue quests as they give a lot of experience. Certain instances give great experience as well and at almost every level past 20 you have access to some instance; at level 15 you have Haramel, at 25 Nochsana Training Camp, at 27 Fire Temple, At 37 Kromede's Trial etc. Once you hit later levels starting from 53, the experience you gain from instances will be faster than any quest, so at this point you start doing Beshmundir Temple.

It takes an experienced player around 3 days to a week to reach level 66 which is considered the start of the end game. In this patch, from level 70 to 75 it takes quite a long period of time, but that will change in 6.2. I should also say that a story exists and there is lore, but I would say very poorly made.


PvP

I would say this is where the game shines, this game has the fastest pace in any MMO that I've experienced and 6.2 will only make it faster https://youtu.be/asbczMdry68?t=56 . I would say the game is balanced around group fights ( 6 vs 6 ) and I would also say that the game is heavily influenced by gear. Better gear wins, but unlike some MMO's this game features a very, very high skill cap which can allow you to beat better geared players. There's a big downside to this, as it takes you a long time to gear up, in order to fight other people. But if two classes of similar gear duel, there is a chance either could win. So I would say this game is pretty well balanced 1 v 1 in that regard, and 1 v 1 duels/fights was my favorite part of this game.

The game has two factions that oppose each other. Being PvPvE, it is focused "equally" on both PvE and PvP. There's countless 6 vs 6 instances, 1 v 1 arena, Chaos arena, tournament style 1 v 1 arena. There is siege where it's typically on populated server 300-500 vs 300-500, there are rifts, there is invasion. There even exists a zone with 4 "castles" once per week, where servers participate against each other. World PvP is mostly done by invading each other opposite zone via a rift.


Mechanics, what makes this game better than most MMO's.

This game doesn't have any global cooldowns. You get one potion that you can buy which dispells two debuffs and a remove shock skill at level 40 ( some classes get two ). This, combined with very fast movement and attack speed makes for very intense, fast paced duels. Where if you don't react properly you can die in 5 seconds, if you miss-use a skill or the debuff potion, same result. Per example if you use the potion to remove some random debuff instead of silence, you will die. It's very punishing.

Autoattacking in this game is super important as a physical class ( and some magical ) for both PvE and PvP. Due to the high attack speed, you can weave your skills as a Sin per example, and do almost double the DPS you'd do normally by just spamming the skills. This is not an easy thing to do in PvP and it takes a long time to master. There's also movement shots that you can time to gain distance advantage, again, very hard to pull off in PvP. A video do demonstrate this:



Gear switching macros exist in this game, and it's very useful for both defensive classes and offensive, being able to swap between magic resist to block to something else depending on your HP or circumstances adds another layer to this game.


PvE

In this game to do PvP you have to PvE sadly, the items required to enchant and socket your PvP gear comes from PvE. There are a lot of instances, most of them being very easy with the exception of the latest ones from any given patch. There's 12 man instances like Narakkali which can be done in hard mode or normal mode, it's relatively easy once you learn the mechanics. Compared to other games I would say PvE in this game is easy, but the DPS race is very competitive, there's two DPS meter programs as well as a ladder of all TOP DPS players a thttps://aionpveranks.com/Overview/ARM/index

Now here comes the part that made me quit

The publisher is utter garbage for EU at least, Gameforge. The game is not p2w, but it is insanely pay-to-convenience, you do things way way faster than you normally would playing the game. From experience, to gearing up as in socketing/enchanting your items.

I can put it this way, it took me 6 months to be top 3 DPS on my server ( while playing a class that's not meant for dps, Chanter ). This is because I knew the game very well, a new player? Easily one year to do what I did. If however you pay, you could do what I did in 2 months or less. Of course effort is required for certain things.

The game walks a very fine line between being p2w and being fair. Which is a pity, because there are very few games out there with the smoothness Aion has, the fast pace, the balance. I feel that given a different publisher that actually cares about the game, it would be huge. Sadly things have gotten worse with years. I would say the best patches were 3.* and 4.*.

In conclusion, I would suggest this game if you have nothing better to play, because it's free, but do keep in mind to get somewhere in this game requires a lot of time. I would compare it to Black Desert in that regard I guess. However, I don't suggest starting on this patch. I suggest waiting for 6.2 and playing then, because a lot of issues will be fixed and you will pretty much start equally with everyone.

Here's a random PvP video to see how Open World is and PvP. The characters look like that because they used a candy to boost their stats.


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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

MMO's need more PvE.



Alright before everyone gets upset hear me out I mean general activities. I see a big issue with MMO's is the lack of development, most open world single player games have more of an alive world than current MMO's. I think the genre is stuck in this vicious cycle of PvE only being raids and dungeons, a cycle which is killing the genre.

I think the genre needs to innovate. People want to play MMO's for that open virtual world feeling. They want to feel like they are in another world not just raid for gear. MMO's seem to have forgotten the reason people play them. I think they need to focus on creating open engaging worlds, they need to give people reasons to explore. MMO's should have farming, player shops, housing, in game casinos(purely in game), built in mini games like a card game, extensive crafting, watchable gladiator arenas, trading, sailing, the list goes on. This focus on raiding just seems like the easy way out and when a developer tries these other features they do it half arsed and never really commit.

I think this stuff about people only want PvP and MMO's need to be full Pvp is not really going to take off, don't get me wrong I love PvP and MMO's definitely need it, it's essential part of the game , but the focus should always be about creating a vibrant virtual world first . I also think instead of looking at MMO's as PvE and PvP we should also be using another term with them to describe all the actives and features you can do to make the game feel Alive or rethink what we mean by PvE.

Would love to hear what you think?

tl;dr:MMO's don't need to focus on competitive PvP they need to focus on making the game world more alive and feel like a real virtual world.
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Sunday, April 29, 2018

I miss level-grinders.



Remember those few MMORPGs like Rohan Blood Feud, Maplestory, Ragnarok Online, Battle of Immortals, Tibia, etc. where it seemed almost impossible for someone to reach max level? It wasn't about getting up to max level ASAP so you could keep grinding out questlines to get gear to finally start tackling fun content? Where the grinding on hours for 4% XP was the point of the game rather than going through the same content treadmill?

I've been looking for a game or private server for a dead game but there's nothing that just offers me a decent grind.

Anyone else that misses this?

Here is a list of all the games/private servers mentioned in this topic. Hope you can find something you enjoy. Not all of these are purely level-grinders but have enjoyable grinds (in my opinion).

  • Lineage 2 Classic (EU only I think, costs 2 bucks a month to play)
  • Mabinogi
  • MapleStory 1 & 2. MS2 will be releasing in the West very soon!
  • Black Desert Online (Buy to Play)
  • Ragnarok Online
  • Tree of Savior
  • Priston Tale
  • Knight OnLine
  • RuneScape (check out Oldschool RuneScape if you like having a lot of variety in your grind)
  • Everquest 1 & 2 (Project1999 for Everquest 1)
  • Final Fantasy XI (Nasomi Private server)
  • Final Fantasy XIV (Buy to Play + Subscription)
  • Dark Age of Camelot
  • Path of Exile
  • SilkRoad Online
  • 9Dragons
  • Tibia
  • Legend of Mir
  • Trickster Online
  • FlyFF
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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Was cautiously optimistic about Ashes of Creation, but after new pre-order packs/teddy bear mount I've lost interest/faith



Despite how tempted I was to back Ashes of Creation, I had that collection of past experiences persistently reminding me that I needed to wait just in case the game turned out to be something that I didn't like. Turns out, my ability to resist backing this project was the right choice.

A few days ago, AoC released new pre-order packs/cosmetics in their store, and I was incredibly disappointed in what I saw, e.g. this new mount skin: 


These pre-order packs raise some major red flags for me.

The devs stated that they wanted to make the game that MMO players have desired for so long, and my impression of the world they were trying to build was one with serious undertones in a Western setting to appeal to those of us who can't stand the Eastern MMO structure/art style. This teddy bear skin, however, is something that isn't congruent with the game they've stated they want to make, or with the footage we've seen so far. It is, plainly, something I'd expect to find in a shitty Eastern MMO's cash shop.

Is this indicative of what we can expect from the dev team and direction of this game? A cash shop filled with shiny, fluffy bullshit that ruins the immersion of the game and its ability to keep us captivated?

Sad to say, I've lost interest and faith in this project and will have to keep waiting hopefully for the game AoC pretended to be at first.

Note: I can reconcile my interest in a game with the existence of a cash shop in that game for cosmetics only, but even a cosmetic only cash shop needs to be extremely careful to only offer items that are congruent and immersive for the game's art style and setting. Unfortunately, it seems to be near impossible for devs to restrain themselves, even those who claim they're fellow MMO players who are also deeply frustrated by the current state of the industry.
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