Design for the 100,000

Yesterday’s reminiscing about Ultima Online and the uncertain future of the MMORPG industry had me reflecting on this question: “What made Ultima Online, the oft-referred grandfather of MMORPGs, successful?”

UO had roughly 100,000 paying subscribers around 6 months after it released in September of 1997. Most people would agree it was an amazing game — it was “the next best thing” of its time.

Have you seen the list of games that released in 1997? Go ahead and Google it. On that list are some of the widely acknowledged best games of all times. Many of them outsold UO. Many of them are far better remembered — probably most of them. And a great many of them sure looked and played a heck of a lot more advanced than UO.

So it wasn’t the prettiest or most complicated game and it didn’t have the widest appeal. What then?

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Smed and Raph agree about AI; Smed wants to make the Next Big Thing

Smedley’s tweet to Raph Koster has made its rounds in the MMO sphere these past few days. Raph was talking about simulationism and Smed chimed in talking about deep ai and machine learning as the future — to which Raph agrees. The next statements are what made the headlines. Raph says to imagine UO’s original ecology, to which Smed says he already accomplished it with Hero’s Song (that game he failed to make a few years ago) and that he ‘will‘ make ‘that‘ game which is the next EverQuest.

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The Biggest Challenge of Playing an MMORPG

We’re all going to have our different answers on this one. What do you think is the biggest challenge about playing an MMORPG? To really answer this question, we have to toss aside some of the obvious disqualifiers. The obvious answers that don’t count (but are indirectly valid) would relate to having an MMORPG even worth playing, having one that doesn’t fail after 3 months, etc. Assuming there is a game that’ll last for a while, what challenges do you face?

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There’s No Shift Back to Old School MMORPGs

I had a friend ask me what I thought about the MMO industry going back to the old school style of games. Then I saw this question from the Pantheon twitter account. What do you think about the industry’s recent shift back to older school games and vanilla re-launches/servers?

MMO industry going back to old school style of games?

Industry shifting back to old school games and re-launches?

I’m not living in the same world, I guess.

The MMO industry has not shifted anywhere. In fact, the MMO “industry” is quickly losing its “industry” status altogether. The MMO genre has been dead for several years now, with a handful of strong titles still living on to keep that flame from going out.

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‘Pokémon: Let’s Go!’ Captures the Spirit of Pokemon

Pokémon: Let’s Go came out this weekend. Both Graev and I picked up the Let’s Go Pikachu edition because… Pikachu, duh! (We will still like you if you picked Eevee.)

As Pokémon fanatics, and Nintendo Switch aficionados, we couldn’t have been more excited for the two to finally come together. Does it live up to the hype and excitement for us?

First, let’s talk about some of the big questions we’ve seen out there. I had a lot of questions going in that I really couldn’t find the answers to in reviews from people who got advanced copies, so I had to wait and experience the game myself. Hopefully these help anyone out there curious about whether or not the game is fun or right for them.

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Diablo 3 on Switch

I originally meant to write this post with my Diablo 3 Switch impressions last weekend, but I decided to delay my thoughts until Graev and I had gone just a little bit further with the game. Right now we’re just about paragon 400 on our Crusader (Keen) and Necromancer (Graev). I feel like that has given us sufficient time to experience everything Diablo 3 has to offer, and experience it long enough on the Switch to give our thoughts.

Is Diablo 3 on the Switch the same as the PC version?

Yes, Diablo 3 on the Switch is exactly the same game as the PC version. The major differences are found in the user interface, particularly with gear management.

To equip gear, you’re given a picture of your character with a radial menu. Gear slots comprise a complete circle around you, and you’ll simply move the left stick around to the item you want to explore. On the right side will be a list of the items in your inventory for that slot. Choosing one will equip that item and send it one step further to the right to indicate it is equipped. From there you can compare items on the left to items you have equipped on the right.

The only change we found so far unrelated to gear management is that items you drop can not be picked up by group members. After some Googling, we found that  this is working as intended for all console versions in order to avoid duping and leaderboard exploiting.

Putting items into your chest works identically. Instead of the right area being what’s equipped, it’s what’s in the chest. This system is nice because it eliminates the ‘one giant inventory’ of the chest and sorts it by slots. I do miss my own organization system at times.

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