Author Archives: Beau Hindman

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

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?

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

MassivelyFree for All: Will there ever be another setting like Ryzom's Atys? originally appeared on Massively on Sat, 29 Mar 2014 16:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Free for All: Villagers and Heroes adds bells, whistles, and more sand

Villagers and Heroes screenshot Villagers and Heroes is a favorite of mine, but let's be honest: The game looks old. When talking to Damon Slye, President of Mad Otter Games, I found that many people agree. According to Slye, it's one of the most frequent concerns he hears from potential new players. The engine that the game currently uses is old and needs to be upgraded big time. And that's just what the developers are doing with this large patch and expansion that should be due in early March.

I sat down with Slye, Associate Designer Cameron England, Head Writer Sarah Skibinski, and Head Artist Adam Alexander to discuss just how different the game will be once the patch goes live. I was given access to a test account loaded up on gear, cash, and other goodies. Even though I found my backpacks full, I mainly wanted to look around the game and explore. Fortunately, the difference between the original client and the new one is literally night and day.

Continue reading Free for All: Villagers and Heroes adds bells, whistles, and more sand

MassivelyFree for All: Villagers and Heroes adds bells, whistles, and more sand originally appeared on Massively on Wed, 26 Feb 2014 16:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Free for All: Revisiting EVE Online’s newbie tutorial

EVE Online screenshot I might leave the EVE Online number-crunching and analyzing to Massively's Brendan Drain, but my personal history with the game is long, however, and I have proudly reactivated my 2004 account (complete with a 10 million skill point character) once a year to see how things are going. I generally spend several hours playing and getting used to the changes but end up playing other games for columns like Rise and Shiny.

This time around, I thought I would try something different. I was spurred into action by the recent Steam sales, one of them offering an EVE Online Starter Pack for something like two bucks. (Now it's almost $5.00) It comes with 30 days of time, some special newbie goodies, and a booster to help skills grow faster. Sure, I could have reactivated my old account for $15.00 (and probably will after this is over), but I wondered how making a new character now would compare to what it was like all those years ago.

It turns out that it's still pretty darn cool.

Continue reading Free for All: Revisiting EVE Online's newbie tutorial

MassivelyFree for All: Revisiting EVE Online's newbie tutorial originally appeared on Massively on Wed, 25 Dec 2013 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Free for All: Two weeks on a private Infestation server

Filed under: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Infestation screenshot
I remember when I first laid eyes on Infestation: Survivor Stories. It was GDC Online in 2012, and I did an interview with Alex Josef, Hammperpoint's PR consultant We made a quick trip to the press room, where he popped out a large gaming laptop to show me the game. I was really impressed with how simple its premise was: You're dropped in the middle of the wilderness, there are zombies all around, and you can starve to death. It felt great, as well, sporting realistic lighting effects and systems to simulate hunger, thirst, and sound.

So much has happened since that first meeting. I am very, very aware of all of the drama concerning the developers -- the name changes, the patches, the community issues, and so on. I am not writing this to discuss that part of the story. My specific goal over the last couple of weeks was to see whether playing on a private, paid-for server would give me a different experience than Massively's Mike Foster's. During his time with the game at launch he was, to put it mildly, miserable.

Continue reading Free for All: Two weeks on a private Infestation server

MassivelyFree for All: Two weeks on a private Infestation server originally appeared on Massively on Wed, 11 Dec 2013 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Rise and Shiny: Minecraft

Minecraft screenshot We all know what Minecraft is, right? Well, just in case you have not played it for any number of reasons, let me explain. Minecraft is a sandbox defined by primitive-looking graphics, mining, building by using a massive set of LEGOs, multiplayer interaction, and modding. Lots and lots of modding. I bought it for only 10 bucks way back in its first or second beta, and all I can remember about those first few hours in the game was how high my pulse rate got, and then the buzz I felt when I first heard a pretty song play as the moon rose in the sky. Playing Minecraft for the first time easily goes down as one of my top 10 most thrilling gaming moments.

Flash forward well past those betas and Minecraft has become an empire. There are Minecraft toys, clothing items, building sets, and all sorts of real-life tie-in merchandise. It's a popular game on both console and PC and has bridged the age gap between millions of gamers. But we don't talk much about it on Massively. Why? Well, it's not an MMO.

Or is it?

Continue reading Rise and Shiny: Minecraft

MassivelyRise and Shiny: Minecraft originally appeared on Massively on Sun, 24 Nov 2013 12:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

MMObility: Introducing Deepworld to Minecraft fanatics

Deepworld screenshot My nephews are visiting this week; they are nine and seven years old. And if there is one truth about these two, it's that they love Minecraft. Oh, they're also creative and smart young kids, but Minecraft is always a ready topic of conversation. Jeff, the younger one, loves to drill me on my knowledge. "Did you know..." is how it starts off, followed by some cool fact about the game. John, the older one, is calmer about the situation, and he has gained the ability, thanks to his elder status, to pull his gaze away from the game (I have it running on three different PCs and three iPads) in order to maintain an air of politeness. When I ask him something, he can give me an answer that has nothing to do with Minecraft!

I thought this week would be a cool time to introduce Deepworld to both of them. Deepworld is a fantastic iOS-based Minecraftian MMO that is free-to-play with optional and fantastic cash-shop items. The last time I looked at it, I bought an entire private server for only 10 bucks! I logged in this week for the first time in ages and found my server still sitting, waiting for my creations.

Then I showed it to my nephews.

Continue reading MMObility: Introducing Deepworld to Minecraft fanatics

MassivelyMMObility: Introducing Deepworld to Minecraft fanatics originally appeared on Massively on Fri, 11 Oct 2013 18:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Choose My Adventure: I believe I can die in Age of Wushu

Age of Wushu screenshot Wow. What a game, Age of Wushu. I mean, I have played many, many open-world, free-for-all PvP sandboxes in my time before this one, but Age of Wushu places all of those cool systems in a world that the West generally doesn't play in and then adds in little systems so that there is always something to do. Always. In fact the most common complaint I hear about the MMO is that there is too much to do but not enough explanation to cover all of the activities.

I think the real frustration comes not from the lack of guides and pop-ups but from the fact that many of these "helpful" guides are localized for English-speaking audiences enough for them to make some sense, just not enough. I mean no offense here; this is just the truth: Broken English inside a game can make already complex gameplay much harder to understand. There are many small anomalies as well. For example, an NPC referred to me as a man although my character is a woman, and when a small icon indicated that I was hungry, I ate some food, but then an icon told me, "Hungry and Thirsty. HP and internal Energy Recovery speed increases slightly, but you will need some food." Huh? I just ate... I think?

Now I can see why Patrick's Age of Wushu guides are so popular!

Continue reading Choose My Adventure: I believe I can die in Age of Wushu

MassivelyChoose My Adventure: I believe I can die in Age of Wushu originally appeared on Massively on Wed, 18 Sep 2013 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Choose My Adventure: Age of Wushu charms and confuses

Age of Wushu screenshot So here we are in the second week of the Age of Wushu Choose My Adventure coverage. There's no way that even a dozen weeks would cover everything there is to know about this awesome MMO, but luckily the point of this column is to show what it's like to jump into game not only while I'm blind but also when a crowd is directing my every major decision. That means that I get to act like myself and enjoy getting lost in a game that is truly a living world. Age of Wushu is fantastic for certain newbies just as it seems it is for vets.

Of course, it's not all that rosy. In almost every article I have read about the game, and even in the chat room while I streamed the game live (it's embedded after the cut), I saw players who expressed their disappointment in how confusing the game is. Massively's own Patrick Mackey has been helping me along the way, and he said on the stream that the best thing to do to alleviate confusion is to "join a guild." I agree, so that's going to be one of the questions I put up for a vote. Having access to Patrick, the readers and players, and the developers themselves does put me at an advantage over typical newbies.

Click past the cut and lets get to what I thought about the choices that were made last time, and be sure to vote on this week's poll questions!

Continue reading Choose My Adventure: Age of Wushu charms and confuses

MassivelyChoose My Adventure: Age of Wushu charms and confuses originally appeared on Massively on Wed, 11 Sep 2013 20:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

EVE Online executive producer moving to concentrate on mobile

CCP office screenshot It looks like EVE Online's Jon Lander, otherwise known as CCP Unifex, will be moving on from his position as executive producer of the 10-year-old single-shard space MMO to concentrate on CCP's "emerging mobile strategy," according to a recent dev blog. Lander helped steer the team through EVE Online expansions Crucible, Inferno, Retribution, and the upcoming Odyssey. Don't worry, though; Senior Producer CCP Seagull and Development Director CCP Ripley will continue on with production of the game. Odyssey's release is still set for June 4th, and CCP promises that the transition will have zero impact on the quality of the upcoming new expansion.

Even more intriguingly, CCP wants to fill the position that Jon vacated with a candidate from outside the company. The dev blog wonders whether you have what it takes to take on the massive responsibility of running the world's biggest collection of pew-pews, or maybe you know someone who does. Good luck!

MassivelyEVE Online executive producer moving to concentrate on mobile originally appeared on Massively on Sat, 13 Apr 2013 15:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | 

Rise and Shiny: Revisiting Salem

Salem screenshot A few months ago, I dived into Salem, a hardcore sandbox MMO that promises actual permadeath. That means if your character is killed while in game, he or she stays dead and loses everything. Not of your possible scores of skills are passed on, all items are lost and your homestead -- similar to a deed in Wurm Online -- can be destroyed. Heck, your homestead can be destroyed even if you're not dead. People can literally block your path, call you names, and attack you over and over. It makes me cry!

Nah, it's not as bad as it sounds. It never is. If there is one thing I have learned over the years, it's that you should really try a game for yourself before you believe everything you hear about it. Don't worry about trolls or griefers because the worst that can happen to you is that you end up leaving the game to find a better one. That's why we're called gamers.

Salem is actually about 50% killer and 50% silliness. I don't want to describe the killer part as "bad" because there is something the game is offering that so many others are not, and that's real danger and actual permadeath.

Continue reading Rise and Shiny: Revisiting Salem

MassivelyRise and Shiny: Revisiting Salem originally appeared on Massively on Sun, 31 Mar 2013 12:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | 

Free for All: The West: The most realistic fantasy MMO yet

The West screenshot There's something distinctly unfair about being an American fantasy fan. If you enjoy all of the movies or run around in all of the wonderful fantasy landscapes you'll quickly notice how un-American the inhabitants are. Sure, monsters or knights in a fantasy MMO don't really belong to any one nationality or time, but they are more likely to sound like they're from England rather than Long Island. It's not fair. What do Americans have in their past that is anything as cool as knights and swords?

Actually, we've had some pretty cool stuff over here as well. And, if you think about it, a lot of it is pretty much like a more recent middle ages... sort of. The thought sunk in as I was looking at Salem, a hardcore free-for-all PvP MMO by Paradox Interactive. Then the thought really sunk in when I recently fell in love with The West by Innogames, a German publisher.

America has a very primitive, and recent, past that had to feel a lot like a time of magic and wonder to those who were in it. Why aren't we seeing more Western MMOs or games set in the time of the founding of our country?

Continue reading Free for All: The West: The most realistic fantasy MMO yet

MassivelyFree for All: The West: The most realistic fantasy MMO yet originally appeared on Massively on Wed, 30 Jan 2013 13:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | 

Rise and Shiny: Deepworld

Deepworld screenshot When I first got my hands on Deepworld, a new iOS sandbox MMO by Bytebin, I knew I was holding something unique. Sure, it took some cues from Minecraft and came from one of my least favorite schools of design -- steampunk -- but it was being built by a young team of indie developers who simply wanted to make a world that was free-form, open to a player's creativity, and multi-platform. After spending some time with the game, I'd say that they have mostly succeeded.

There are some issues with the game, and I have played enough indie titles to know how rough games can be when launch rolls around. So far, however, the issues are relatively minor and could be easily fixed.

Continue reading Rise and Shiny: Deepworld

MassivelyRise and Shiny: Deepworld originally appeared on Massively on Sun, 06 Jan 2013 14:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | 

Rise and Shiny: Salem

Salem hardcore screenshot Before I get to the part where I rant about one of the strangest exchanges I have had with an independent developer -- and I mean that in a fun, gasp-y sort of way -- I will cover the basics to give you an idea of how Salem the MMO works. You know, just in case you have never been privileged enough to witness the glory that is hardcore PvP, full loot, and permadeath. Yes, I'll cover permadeath; don't worry.

The game is set in that funny time period when people wore Pilgrim hats, ate turkey, and killed bears. I have to admit that I was never expecting a game set in this time period or one influenced by early America, but I asked Bjorn Johannessen, Creative Director for the game, about the design choice during the livestream that is always embedded in this column. If there is one livestream of mine you need to watch, it's this one, for many reasons. Warning: It might not be safe for work; cursewords appear on the screen. You know, because it's hardcore.

Continue reading Rise and Shiny: Salem

MassivelyRise and Shiny: Salem originally appeared on Massively on Sun, 25 Nov 2012 14:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | 

Rise and Shiny: Darkfall

Filed under: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Darkfall screenshot
I've played Darkfall several times since launch, and each time I've remembered how good the game can be and how bad it sometimes is. Good and bad, I thought it a good idea to record the Darkfall that exists now so that I can compare it to the Darkfall that will be open after an upcoming relaunch, one that promises to change quite a few key features. Will it be a better game? I hope so.

Either way, during my week with this free-for-all PvP MMO, I was able to hook up with a newbie-friendly clan relatively quickly but spent most of my time running to the city where the clan took up residence. Same old Darkfall, really, but there were some truly hilarious and truly fun moments all the same.

Continue reading Rise and Shiny: Darkfall

MassivelyRise and Shiny: Darkfall originally appeared on Massively on Sun, 28 Oct 2012 12:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | 

GDC Online 2012: A (severed) hands-on with The War Z

Filed under: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The War Z screenshot
Everyone loves zombies. We all enjoy shooting them to bits, pummeling them with a hammer, and watching them die... again. But I'd been feeling a bit tired of the zombie genre, even though some of my favorite titles are heavy on the zombs. Then I sat down and played through a bit of The War Z, a new post-apocalyptic horror shooter MMO that tosses players on servers up to 60 miles square and holding up to 250 players. Those zones are chock-full of zombies, so players who care to risk it all can hope to survive as they run, gun, and generally get their wits scared out of them.

I wasn't alone during my short time in the game, thanks to Alex Josef, Director of Communications for Hammerpoint Interactive We sat down for an interview and wound up smashing zombie heads with a flashlight. Ah, the perils of writing about games! Join me past the cut to read what I thought.

Continue reading GDC Online 2012: A (severed) hands-on with The War Z

MassivelyGDC Online 2012: A (severed) hands-on with The War Z originally appeared on Massively on Fri, 12 Oct 2012 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this |