Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) has bought Monolith out of the MMORPG space. Today, the often rumored deal that would see SOE aquire the Matrix Online and the rights to an unannounced DC Comics MMORPG was confirmed in this article on Yahoo News from the Hollywood Reporter, as first seen by us on Blue's News.
|Sony Online Entertainment Inc. and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment are set to announce Friday an exclusive long-term licensing agreement that will let gamers share a universe with DC Comics' Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, the Sandman and other action immortals.
The companies also disclosed that Sony Online had acquired Warner's "The Matrix Online" game. All 25 staff members currently operating the subscription-based massively multiplayer online game have been offered their existing position under the new ownership.
Click here for the full article.
James Pittiglio has written a fine editorial to debut as a new Staff Writer on our website. The article is entitled "Innovation in the Industry" and chronicles what he sees as the steps forward and what we can do to change them.
| For the majority of us MMORPG players, we use our games as an escape from the real world. Of course, there are those who play these games to make a profit (illegally) or just to ruin others fun, but that is beside the point. When playing these games, you become so involved, you no longer worry about the bills that need to be paid, the grade on your last Statistics test (or the one you’re about to take tomorrow), or what you will be doing the coming weekend. No, instead you’re immersed in a fantasy world, looking to find the next greatest sword, or advancing in skill to vanquish some amazing, new foe. It has been like this since people have started playing these games.
Many people consider MUDs to be the first true MMORPGs, while others still consider the first to be one of any number of games including Meridian 59 by Near Death Studios or The Realm by Sierra / Codemasters. Since then, we’ve seen numerous technological advancements in various areas, most notably in graphics. We have come a long way from text-based adventures and MUDs, to 2D games such as The Realm and Ultima Online, and finally the first 3D games like EverQuest. Looking at games such as SOE’s latest game, EverQuest II, really puts these things in perspective. But what else has really changed?
You can read the full editorial here.
Thank you to Kerry and Nick and RedBedlam for these images.
NCSoft has released a new recon section about Airlifts in Auto Assault. A quick preview is below:
| The Situation: your Biomek XR-11 Armoc has just been thoroughly totaled by a gaggle of Pikes near Fort Logan. No friendly Constructors are near by to help you out, the area is crawling with more unfriendly Pikes, and you lack the skills to repair yourself. What are you to do? |
The answer: call in a quick airlift from International Negotiables Consulting (INC).
The histories are sketchy, but most people agree that INC was created before the apocalypse in a massive merger of some of the world's largest conglomerates. It was an attempt to consolidate revenue in the face of a collapsing world economy... After the collapse, INC was the only major corporation left standing that could manufacture and supply goods globally - its importance to the entire world was universally understood. When the Humans re-emerged from their Arks, INC had already been neutrally providing assistance to the Mutants and the Biomeks, and offered the same service to the Humans - all for a price, of course.
To read it all - click here.
At E3 I had a chance to interview Brian Green of Near Death Studios about the progress of "Meridian 59: Resurrection". This classic MMORPG was relaunched in 2002 and continues to move forward today, with improvements like a new rendering engine added last year.
| The game offers much of what a player would expect from an online RPG. It is a skill-based system, with large and meaningful PvP elements that focus on player skill as well as character skill. The game also features extensive guild and political systems that should intrigue the average player. With years of content and balancing under its belt already, you cannot find a more mature MMORPG – a blessing when it comes to game play, provided you can stand the aged graphics.
Despite their lack of resources, the team overhauled the game’s rendering engine for a significantly modernized appearance in August of last year. Brian showed me the difference in real time, and it was quite a change. Is Meridian 59 as pretty as other MMORPGs? Hardly, but it has the benefit of age, a mature community and all the content that comes with that age. One mistake Brian admitted is that they launched their refined graphical experience last year at precisely the same time as World of WarCraft hit shelves, obviously, a very hard time to garner any notice.
You can read the full article here.
In a shocking development, SOE has announced that EverQuest is set to expand yet again! This new installment of the venerable franchise is entitled "Depths of Darkhollow". Here is the press release:
- For the First Time, EverQuest Players of all Levels will Play as Monsters and Experience the Story Through the Eyes of Some of the Most Powerful Creatures in Norrath -
SAN DIEGO, CA – June 15, 2005 – Sony Online Entertainment Inc. (SOE), a worldwide leader in massively multiplayer online gaming, today announced EverQuest®: Depths of Darkhollow™, a new expansion for the incredibly popular PC Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG), EverQuest®. EverQuest: Depths of Darkhollow is scheduled to be available at retail and for digital download from Sony Online Entertainment for U.S. $29.99.
“The passion and dedication of the EverQuest development team continues to shine through as Depths of Darkhollow is one of the best additions yet to the EverQuest universe,” said Chris Sturr, senior brand manager, Sony Online Entertainment. “Depths of Darkhollow offers something for players of all levels as they battle their way through spectacular new underground environments and countless new missions, raids and events.”
EverQuest: Depths of Darkhollow will have players adventuring in raw, bleak caverns and facing the most formidable monsters yet. Featuring new lands with beautiful graphics, a bold new storyline, and fierce new creatures including Sporali, Clockwork Gnomes and the frightening Werewolves, EverQuest: Depths of Darkhollow is the next great expansion pack for the fantasy adventure that is EverQuest. For the first time ever, players will have the ability to play as a monster and experience EverQuest lore first hand through the eyes of another character while they do battle against their ancient foes. Players will also utilize Spirit Shrouds to don the form of a lower level creature to join newbie friends in battle. EverQuest: Depths of Darkhollow is bursting with new adventures and features for players of all levels.
About EverQuest: Depths of Darkhollow
On the world's surface, the battle between Firiona Vie and Lanys T'Vyl continues to rage throughout the lands. As a new evil begins to emerge from the underground, you will journey into a world of immortality and devastation as you struggle against the overwhelming power of Dreadspirekeep. This terror is unlike anything ever seen before and you will engage in an epic struggle to keep it from surfacing to the world of Norrath. EverQuest: Depths of Darkhollow includes the following features:
About Sony Online Entertainment
Sony Online Entertainment Inc. (SOE), a subsidiary of Sony Pictures Digital Inc., is a recognized worldwide leader in massively multiplayer online games, with hundreds of thousands of subscribers around the globe. SOE creates, develops and provides compelling entertainment for the personal computer, online, game console and wireless markets. Known for its blockbuster franchises and hit titles including EverQuest®, EverQuest® II, Champions of Norrath™, Untold Legends™, and PlanetSide®, as well as for developing Star Wars Galaxies™: An Empire Divided™, SOE continues to redefine the business of online gaming and the creation of active player communities while introducing new genres on various entertainment platforms. Headquartered in San Diego, CA, with additional development studios in Austin, TX, Seattle, WA, and Taiwan, SOE has an array of cutting-edge online games in development.
EverQuest is a registered trademark of Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. SOE, the SOE logo and PlanetSide are registered trademarks of Sony Online Entertainment Inc. All other trademarks and trade names are properties of their respective owners. All rights reserved.
We've also added a slew of new screenshots from the title to our gallery.
The official Horizons website now carries word of a massive patch that went live on their servers recently. Here are the goods:
|The following additions, updates, and fixes were applied to Chaos and Order on 14 June 2005.
Major Game Updates:
Experience bonuses or penalties now use the highest rated member of the group instead of each group member's rating (to a maximum of 120). This means, among other things, if the highest rated member of the group gets no experience for a monster, nobody in the group will. Modified: Method that monsters choose a preferred target.
Characters will now have to pass the permission of the plot as well as the structure when attempting to access a storage structure (e.g. a house or silo) or trade with an NPC on a plot. For instance, if a plot's permission is set to Deny All, in addition to the "red barrier" around the plot, no characters besides the owner will be able to access structures on that plot, even if they are set to Allow All. Another example would be if the plot's permission were set to Friends only, those friends would be able to access structures that are set to Allow All or Guild Only (only for those friends also in the owner's guild), but not those set to Deny All.
Formulae now contain all previous tiers of their products. For instance, a Journeyman formula can now be used to make Beginner tiers of its item(s).
Road bonus is now more reliable but as a side effect the road bonus is removed immediately upon exiting the road.
You can read the full list here.
Nathan Richardsson, and to a lesser extent Magnus Bergsson, have taken the time to answer fifteen questions from our own Richard Duffek. The Producer of EVE Online went into great depth, above and beyond the questions, to provide you with complete answers. We appreciate it as always. Read on!
| MMORPG.com: I’ve heard EVE referred to as “One of the best games ever that no one has heard of.” The ratings and reviews you guys get definitely would seem to indicate the truth in this statement. Why do you think that EVE is such a well liked game yet doesn’t the numbers of some more well known games?
Nathan Richardsson: The community number one, two and three. We’re not only making a game for ourselves to enjoy but also for the like-minded people out there that enjoy a “Strategic-PvP-space-universe-MMO-economic-player-run-game” (That’s the express description of EVE, good for Starbucks and bars)
We spend considerable time with the community, in focus groups, on test servers and in our large volunteer network so the feedback has so many avenues to flow that good ideas spread fast. This feedback cycle has a tremendous effect on what we add to EVE .
EVE doesn’t appeal to everyone and that can clearly be seen in the numbers, we didn’t expect it to either. Those that do like EVE, however seem to love it (like us!) and our steady increase of players since launch is a prove of that. There are still many that haven’t tried EVE and we’re kind of envious that they have such a huge universe left to discover :)
In any case, we’ll be happy bunnies when we hit 100.000 players. Remember, we’re from Iceland, everything so far has been a blast and an awesome journey that is still just in its infancy! (Not to mention the dynamics of 100.000 players interacting within a single shard universe!). We are closing in on our target, but today we have a little less that 60.000 subscribers.
You can read the full Q&A here.
Tiggs has posted word of changes to Star Wars Galaxies over in this thread on the official message boards:
|Publish 18.0 |
Live - June 15th, 2005
Fan Fest Fixes!
There are several points to be aware of as part of this process:
NetDevil has announced that Jumpgate, the aging MMORPG from the makers of Auto Assault, is about to undergo some server merging. This is most likely some good news for those that still enjoy this title.
“To help ease the transition from the European server to the American server, we’re offering a free month of play from July 1 to August 1 to all transferred accounts,” said Scott Brown, President of NetDevil. “The free month will give the transferred players time to adjust to their new environment, and is a way for us to thank them for their continued loyalty to Jumpgate.”
“We are thrilled to be able to welcome the European players to the American server,” continued Brown. “We look upon this merger as a unique opportunity to expand the Jumpgate community with a more diverse player base.”
The merge is planned for June 30. No changes in user data on the European server will be transferred after June 27. Transferred European players may access their accounts beginning June 30.
NetDevil’s existing contract with Mightygames will officially end on June 30.
NetDevil was founded in 1997 in Louisville, Colorado as an independently owned and operated game development company dedicated to the construction of massively multiplayer universes. NetDevil is committed to creating immersive, interactive virtual worlds in unique settings outside the typical fantasy genre. NetDevil has steadily grown from 3 part-timers to over 45 full time developers, with development led by Scott Brown, Peter Grundy, and Ryan Seabury.
Thanks to NetDevil for passing this along.
Shot Online has passed along word of a planned golf tournament to kick off this month.
(Sunnyvale, CA – June 13, 2005) Growing increasingly more and more popular as a Massively Multiplayer Online Golf game, Shot-Online is thanking its rapidly-growing player base with an outstanding online tournament for all level players to participate in. From beginning players to course veterans, each and every Shot-Online golfer can look forward to big prizes and even more competitive golfing in this “SO Open” Shot-Online tournament event! Shot-Online, developed by OnNet Co., Ltd., is a persistent online sports simulation and role-playing game established in the world of golf, currently offering open beta service.
The “SO Open” tournament will take place from Monday, June 13 at 9:00 PM (CST) to Sunday, June 19 at 9:00 PM (CST). Entry into the tournament is open to all members of Shot-Online, using their highest-level characters. Play will be conducted on the challenging ‘Forneus’ course.
Prize notification will be issued by June 22, 2005 at 9:00 PM (CST). The prize list is available at the Shot-Online website (http://www.Shot-online.com).
Shot-Online, currently in beta in North America, is an online golfing simulation, featuring fully 3D graphics, motion captured animation, skill enhancement, golfing item purchases and exchanges and quests. For more details about this event, visit the official Shot-Online website (http://www.Shot-online.com).
About OnNet Co., Ltd
Founded in 1996, OnNet is producing Internet and entertainment service including games, and a full-featured portal site. OnNet is the developer and operator behind the massively multiplayer online golfing game, Shot-Online. For more information about OnNet Co., Ltd, visit http://www.onnetusa.com.
The Camelot Herald has a post from Producer Jeff Hickman regarding the details of a brand new server type being opened for Dark Age of Camelot subscribers. For many, the low-point of the game to date has been Trials of Atlantis. Thus, the new server, among other details, will be free of most of what the expansion added.
|We are very pleased to announce our plan for the next server type for Dark Age of Camelot. We've made this decision based on your feedback from our polls and Herald feedback forms – thank you all for your passionate and detailed feedback on these issues.
The new server type will be called “Alternative Rules” and has two main features: no access to Trials of Atlantis and “ranged buffs”. Here are the details:
Trials of Atlantis: ToA zones will not be available, nor will Artifacts or Master Levels. You will be able to play ToA races, however.
Ranged Buffs: All concentration buffs will have a range limit of 5000 units, and will be available only to the buffer and his groupmates. Anyone outside of the group cannot receive concentration buffs.
/level 20: This feature will not be available on this server type.
Our schedule is to launch two of these servers on or around July 14. We will “pre launch” the servers two days early for anyone who has an active account as of July 1st – it will give those players who already have active accounts a 2-day sneak preview of this new server type.
Thank you all for your feedback we have received on these issues, and we hope that this server type will provide an interesting alternative ruleset to Dark Age of Camelot. The work doesn't end here, however – please keep the feedback coming.
An interesting move...
LucasArts passed along the following news item, as well as a big group of pretty new pictures from Star Wars Galaxies.
|With Star Wars Galaxies: The Total Experience selling out at stores all over the country and the second annual Star Wars Galaxies Fan Fest showing that fans’ fervor for the game shows no signs of slowing down, the teams at LucasArts and Sony Online Entertainment continue to enhance their immersive online glimpse into their favorite galaxy far, far away. This Tuesday’s update features two particularly exciting additions.
Three new elite creatures have been added for high-level players, each of which drops a signature trophy allowing victorious players to walk away with proof of their heroic accomplishment. On Dathomir, battle the fearsome Bane Backed Spider. Or test your mettle against the new Murra Blanca or Painted Spat on Talus.
Battling new creatures is the perfect way to pass time until one of the galaxy’s greatest holidays arrives – Empire Day! Coinciding with what Earthlings (more specifically, Americans) a long time from now will know as “the 4th of July,” Empire Day celebrates the anniversary of Emperor Palpatine’s formation of the first Galactic Empire. In the days leading to the event, Imperial loyalists have the opportunity to embark upon a series of quests that could possibly culminate in their meeting a certain Dark Lord of the Sith. Meanwhile, the Rebellion has its own plans – and its own scoundrel of a hero behind them. Whichever side players may serve, a great exclusive reward awaits their success.
Thanks for the images and the news!
It begins. On alternating Tuesdays, we will feature a five question Q&A with Simutronics about their highly anticipated MMORPG - the winner of our Best of E3 Award - Hero's Journey. Included this week is a single screenshot. Our weekly exclusive images will continue, mixed in with the Q&A on those weeks.
| MMORPG.com: Group combat feats were perhaps the neatest innovation you had to offer. At E3 we saw a simple move where one player jumped off the back of another. Can you tell us a bit about other more complex moves you have planned and how you think these group feats will alter combat in Hero’s Journey?
Eric Slick: The “jump off the back of another player” combo we showed at E3 demonstrated how a team of players in HJ could achieve an attack that would have been impossible as a solo player. Furthermore, rather than randomly chaining abilities together, we demonstrated the necessity of actually working together as a team in order to execute a more complex combat maneuver.
We plan on combos that involve more than just two players, as well. Spell casters will also have multi-player combos they can pull off. When doing so, there is a bonus to your attacks and damage that is done. We are also toying with the idea that some creatures might require such attacks to hurt significantly; but we have to be careful to balance that with solo play requirements (which is part of our core design goals).
There are many technical challenges to doing these sorts of things, which may be why most MMORPG combat has avoided these features so far. But, we are very determined that technical challenges will not force us to take the path of least resistance here: we’re going to make HJ the place for interesting fantasy combat!
You can read the full Q&A here.
Funcom has passed along word of a Veterans Rewards program that will soon be introduced into the game to celebrate their four year anniversary.
|The aim of the veterans program is to provide veteran players with some unique items reserved for those who have played Anarchy Online for some time.
Some of the items are fun cosmetic items that we think our veteran players will appreciate and are in keeping with the sense of humour and style that Anarchy Online is renowned for.
Secondly there are items that make the veterans life easier on their alternate characters (or even their main character in some cases). These include the option to use veterans points to purchase a low requirement Yalmaha or even some tokens to boost your token board.
You can read all about it on their site.
Richard Duffek caught up with Morten Juul to talk about Seed, the comic book styled MMORPG. Defined by its graphics and complete lack of combat, Seed looks like quite an original project. Included in the article are four exclusive images.
|MMORPG.com: You seem quite pleased with your AI system in Seed. Could you give us a little more details on what makes it so much better than anything we’ve seen previously?
Morten Juul: The AI-system is superb in two ways. First, it gives the NPC's personality. Every NPC has goals, motivations, moods, duties, friends etc. and will be influences by what she is told and what she experiences. A NPC does not stand around waiting for players to talk to her, but moves about doing stuff and talking to players or other NPC's according to her personality.
Secondly, the AI allows for a limited free form dialogue between players and NPC's. It requires sentences to be constructed in a certain way but you are not limited to certain subjects. And again a NPC will react to your sayings according to its personality.
You can read the full interview here.
Thanks to the Dark & Light team for taking part in this series!