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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Why I Play: Mabinogi

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Mabinogi login screenshot
How do you define a sandbox MMO? In my opinion, sandbox MMOs are often described in ways that are much more complicated than they deserve. To me, they are simply MMOs that allow players to play how they want by providing systems -- real, game-impacting systems -- that foster unique character growth. These systems can be represented in a lot of different ways, however. You might grow a unique city in an MMORTS or customize an avatar in a social sandbox like Second Life. The general rule is that there are no rules in a sandbox, within the limits of the particular game, of course. Even then, sandbox players can be some of the most stringent rule-makers and followers. Just ask a Darkfall or EVE Online player how to get the most DPS and she'll rattle off a series of rules, essentially providing a class cheat-sheet. In other words, sandboxes are much like their themepark cousins, only with many more choices for character development. The themepark rules might be left out of a sandbox, but the sandbox communities often fill the void with new guidelines.

Mabinogi provides so many systems to grow a unique character with that it's ridiculous. I can easily log in and spend an hour just decorating my avatar, crafting goods, exploring new areas, flying around in the hopes of stumbling across trouble, or growing my character by leveling any one of the possible hundreds of skills. However you describe a sandbox, Mabinogi should be one of the first on the list of examples. Let me show you three reasons why.

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MassivelyWhy I Play: Mabinogi originally appeared on Massively on Wed, 22 Aug 2012 12:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Free for All: Second Life, the little 75 million-dollar engine that could

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Second Life
Do not call Second Life a game. If you find yourself in the position of describing the game at all publicly, be prepared to be corrected: Second Life is not a game; it's a world. Let me amend that: Second Life is an experience, a world, a game, or whatever the players, residents, and consumers want to call it. In fact, the Linden Lab baby is whatever you want to make of it, and I have seen many, many sides of it over the last eight years since I joined the experience.

Don't worry; this column will not be a fanboy rehash of the successes of Second Life and will not be a recount of my favorite memories. Instead, we'll focus on facts to prove just how incredible this latest ninth anniversary is.

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MassivelyFree for All: Second Life, the little 75 million-dollar engine that could originally appeared on Massively on Wed, 20 Jun 2012 12:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Free for All: Comparing the payment models of Glitch and Ryzom

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Ryzom screenshot
I thought it might be a cool idea to do a comparison of free-to-play models for my next few articles. As free-to-play has become more and more popular, cash shops and tiers of service have become much more important to how a player might enjoy or interact with a game. While the standard free-to-play model, the most popular one by far, is one that allows players to download a free client, has no subscription at all, and tacks on a cash-shop, the freemium variant is quickly becoming widespread. Freemium seems to be the model of choice for many Western games that were previously subscription-only.

The problem is that I do not really like the freemium model. I'm old-school, I guess. I enjoy the model that was imported to the States maybe eight years ago. A free client with a cash shop on top is all I need to steer my fun by. I'd rather skip any sort of tiered service as well.

There are exceptions to the rule, of course.

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MassivelyFree for All: Comparing the payment models of Glitch and Ryzom originally appeared on Massively on Wed, 08 Feb 2012 15:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Free for All: Old Second Life documentary still highlights truths

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Second Life documentary screenshot
So I was working on this week's Free for All last night when a buddy of mine asked me if I had seen a certain older Second Life documentary. I didn't think I had before, but it turns out that my usual record of consuming everything MMO still stands, and it was fun to re-watch the older documentary again for several reasons.

One of the most important things I noticed about the film was just how universal to MMO gaming the documentary was. The issues it brought up are still issues, the problems with virtual worlds are still problems, and the fact that any technology older than six months looks laughable on film is still true. It was also encouraging to see how well Second Life has aged since 2007, but it's slightly depressing to see just how horrible MMO documentaries can be at showing the entire picture.

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MassivelyFree for All: Old Second Life documentary still highlights truths originally appeared on Massively on Wed, 01 Feb 2012 20:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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