Thursday, November 15, 2018

Clothes, Friends, Photos: OWW, OLN

You know how it is. One day you're bemoaning the lack of non-combat MMOs then next thing two come along at once.

It would have been easy to miss them both. There's a lot going on this week. I'm struggling to stay on top of it all, EverQuest 2's Chaos Descending expansion and the big Rune and Sigil revamp in Guild Wars 2, which I still haven't had time to explore in any depth. I've already had to pass on Lord of the Rings Online's Legendary server. At least I don't have to worry about Fallout 76...

I'm even keeping a watchful eye on EverQuest for the pre-expansion "Fall Fun Bonuses". The first couple of weeks was double rare spawns and double faction bonuses. Pass. That round ended yesterday, though. As I write the next set hasn't been announced. If it's double xp then I'll have to make time somehow. Magician needs new shoes. Spells. Levels. All of that.

And then StikiPixels had to choose yesterday to commit. Art curation MMO Occupy White Walls has been hanging around outside Steam Early Access for weeks and now it's going in. I was more than willing to make time but as the screenshhot up top suggests, so was everyone else. So far I haven't managed to log in.

I only have myself to blame for getting caught in the stampede when the doors opened. I had a Steam Beta key for this one a weeks ago (alpha tester's privelige) but I couldn't work out how to redeem it.

Not that I tried all that hard. I already had my hands full of testing with the Unnamed Alpha. If that one was Live and had true persistence I'd be playing the skin off it right now. Anyway, I figured the open release for OWW would be just around the corner so I stood down from Early Acess to Early Access and here we are.

OWW is a very interesting MMO. I'm not sure whether it's an MMORPG. You certainly could use it as a venue or a vehicle for roleplaying. I'm sure many will. RP is entirely optional, though.

I'm not even sure it's a game. It didn't have many gamelike elements in alpha, not that I noticed. More a kind of mash-up of Landmark, Second Life and that one time my Director of Studies took us all round the Fitzwilliam Museum to explain how paintings work.

I think it has huge potential. As I said, only yesterday I was moaning about the lack of non-combat MMOs that don't revolve around farming and/or survival. Well, here's one. It has the look of something that could break out of its niche to find a larger audience, too. An audience composed at least in part of people who wouldn't self-identify as "gamers".

As a particularly brilliant comment on Steam put it, "If all those Lo-Fi Hip-Hop 24/7 Radios would be a game, this would be it". Yeah... no. Really.

If anyone's jonesing for Landmark I'd definitely recommend OWW as more than a palliative. I'd also draw the game to the attention of anyone who used to enjoy decorating in Rift or WildStar and is now, understandably or unavoidably, casting around for somewhere more stable.

Even if you don't feel you have the decorating chops, I'd still say give OWW a look. All you need is a passing interest in art and especially art history. It's accessible, involving, educational and slightly crazed.

I'd give it a few days, though. According to the forums "We're currently testing out a new patch to see if our fix works. But we are working hard on fixing it!" I've been trying to log in the whole time I've been writing this post and so far the only picture I've seen is the one on the loading screen. Which could be better, given it's an art game and all. That is theshop window, kinda. Or the lobby, at least. Just sayin'...

With some free time on my hands - time I would have spent on OWW - and with Steam already running, I thought I might as well take a quick glance at Otherland Next. That's how we're meant to call it now, the Tad Williams-inspired MMO that's spent much of its time on life support. Try to keep a straight face.

OLN, as I'm sure no-one is calling it, got a major patch - they're labelling it an expansion - this week and along with the new name comes a new game mode. It's described, enticingly, on the character creation screen as something suitable for people who like the social aspect of MMOs but who don't like the gameplay.

And on the face of it, that's not a bad idea. There's a sizeable demographic out there, people who use popular MMOs as a kind of glorified chatroom and if ever an I.P. was made for doing just that it has to be Otherland. That's literally why the characters in the original novel were online before things went horribly wrong and they found themselves "adventuring".

The problem Otherland has is this: if you want to socialize you need people to socialize with. Good luck finding them in OLN. I made a new character, took the Social option, spawned into Lambda Mall and spent fifteen minutes running around without seeing another player.

Which was probably just as well. The new mode skips the tutorial, and the tutorial is where you get your gear. I made a female character and when I logged her in she appeared in the middle of a shopping mall in her underwear. We've all had that dream, right?

I did check her inventory to see if she'd stashed a vest in there for emergencies. No luck. I decided I'd roleplay the whole thing as a tendency towarss exhuberant exhibitionism so she ran around taking selfies in front of suggestive signage for a while. You have to make your own entertainment when you're barred from questing and adventuring, especially when you're running around in your skimpies and there's not even anyone watching.

I may take my adventuring character (male, clothed) to look at the new content. We'll see. For now, though, I think it's back to the Elemental Planes.

Non-combat content's all very well but after a while you really feel like pulling the wings off a few mephins.


  1. In the Alpha that shall not be named, have you experienced engaging gameplay outside of solo advancement. Wait, can you even answer that?

    1. Except for exploration, no, nothing at all. But the server I'm on is so underpopulated I might as well be playing solo. My guess is that, other than character progression, almost all core gameplay is meant to rely on battles over territory between medium and large organizations but when there are rarely more than a dozen people online at the same time that's not really an option.

      I ought to make a character on the other, much busier, server to see what goes on there but for now I'm just enjoying having the world largely to myself.

    2. The fact that you're enjoying wandering around an empty world is a good sign :) I do wish you could report on this more


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