A story about six online pvp games with outstanding mechanics and concepts that are lost in history of pc gaming.

1 : Anonymous2021/03/07 20:31 ID: lzyzuu

Hey there. Today i wanted to share stories about one-of-a-kind online pvp games (at least for pc gaming) you may not heared about, something that were so unique that you will not find any analogues for them today. All of them had a potential for greatness, but the desisions of developers, as well as some other factors sealed their fate forever. Here we will have a mmorpg, a co-op figthing, a turn-based arena fighter, battle royale (actually, even two of them!) and a dungeon master simulator, so stay tuned!

Let's start with a most ambitious one - a post-apocalyptic mmorpg TimeZero. It was a game made in flash, yet it had massive amout of players and in many aspects were deeper than most of the modern games in the same genre.

You appeared in the world destroyed by nuclear war. Radiation, mutants and empty wastelands greeted you with open arms. Naked, armed with only rusty knives new players were going to the mines, killing rats for precious resourses that would allow them to buy something. And here they discovered the neverchanging rule of the post-apocalyptic soceity - only strength matters. Some players decided that instead of killing rats it would be easier to kill people and take away what they collected in mines. Some fought back, some tried to unite against the raiders, the others did not care. But in any case after gaining enough levels players were ready to enter the big world... and it had a lot in store.

First, the game had interesting economy system. Towns were considered a safe place, they were covered by protective domes that made players unable to attack each other (unless they bought a special one-time murder license, and even that allowed only to kill players in town, but not loot them). Every weapon or other item that you picked up outside of a town were dropped upon death, you needed to reach the dome to "save" the item, after that items were no longer dropping upon your death, and the only exception to this rule were basic resourses - they were always in "unsafe" condition.

The thing is - the game had almost no npc's, everything were created by players. How? Players were gatherning resourses - either in mines (miners) or on radioactive wastelands (stalkers), and bringing them to the town. There, they sold them to other players either trought shops (that took comission set by the player who owns the town), or directly to people trading at the marketplace area.

Those resourses were used to build research labs and factories, that had to be at least several locations away from town (the futher - the cheaper the construction and fees). Then they had to bring resourses to the lab, and use them to make a blueprint of the time with set amount of uses. Then they took blueprint and more resourses to the factory, where they made armor, weapons, bullets. Then they carried those to the town to sell to the other players, forming a natural economy system.

Being a manufacturer were a very profitable thing. And also risky - because at each of those steps you could be robbed before you reach the safe dome to "save" your blueprints or newly crafted goods. People united in clans to protect their production routes, while others united in clans to rob them.

Eventually, few people donated to have their own towns that were easier to protect, they made patrol teams who would help anyone who is robbed within town borders because each farmer would sell resourses in their shops. Communities were formed.

Game had a list of professions that any player could get: miner, enginner, trader, mercinary, psyonic (mage, randing from battle, to support and summoner), stalker, and corsair. Each profession had unique quest required to obrain it - stalker needed to deliver notes from all parts of the world, mercenary needed to kill other players, miner needed to bring rat tales...

One of the "hidden" professions were "Convict" - when you broke the rules of the game, instead of being banned your character were transported to the prison, gained new profession, and had to farm certain amount of resourses naked with noob knife (that were a very annoying thing to do) to get out, and resourses farmed were used to give compensations to the players who took losses from them. It was possible to escape the place with the help of others (very few people did that), but you would keep the shackle item on your legs that had insane amount of durability, it was almost impossible to break them, and if any police player would kill you - you will be transported back to the prison with increased sentence for escape attempt.

But the most unique profession was the corsair - it was designed to hunt and kill other players, and he had various tools that greatly helped with this mission - for example, active perks that would give him a hour of being unseen on scanners and binoculars (so people will not see him coming and will not be able to track him for that time). Their quest were also unique - it was to kill people with "military police" profession. Police were a special profession that were given to game's moderator team, with benefits like regular payments, free gear, etc, and the military police were the squad made to protect mods from attacks of players who were angry about their actions. All military police members hater corsairs, and tried to make their quest as hard as possible, often eating "suicide pill" (crafted item that gave you so much poison that you died in one turn) as soon as they were attacked by one, and only fought if they had the number advantage on their side. That gave them reputation of cowards and mane people used recordings of their suicides to mock them on forums.

Corsairs put the robberies to next level - weeks of spying, learning names of "cargo trucks" (characters with max str, made only to transport a lot of goods around) to see when they coming online, placing motion detectors to see their route and timings, prepearing ambush by surrounding place with booby traps and dragging protecting teams into different instances of combat, to make sure they won't have the time to help attacked cargo truck. Huge robberies were rare, but they always made a lot of fuss in game's community.

At this point your probably wonder what kind of a battle system this game had? A turn-based one, with simultanious turns. First, all players planned their actions using action points, and then executed them at the same time. Those who could predict enemie's movements the best usually won. Some especially gifted players were even using multiple characters in same combat, managing to give them proper commands within (quite short) time limit. It had a lot of nuances - for example, you could aim for limbs to make player unable to run or use two-handed weapons if you manage to cripple him, or aim for the head to paralise the player. You could also use various effects in spells or special bullets - from buffing and healing to reducing target's ap or even making them panick and just run around randomly. Last one were used to "punish" players by constantly keeping them in same battle, casting panick again and again, making them unable to play - commonly used on robbers who were especially annoying to big groups of players. Environment were also fully destructable - walls, sandbags, everything you could take cover at, and that's why there were an item (and spell) to create your own temporary barriers.

To utilize all that, people actively seeked various conflicts. War between towns were a regular thing. Corsairs found a new source of income - placing motion trackers to roads leading to professional quests, and demanding money from people attempting to pass by. Those who were lazy paid, those who were smart picked another, harder route, finding fun in outsmarting each other in that race. Some people hosted prized events - from simple fights to something unique - for example, i once took part in a contest where each player were given a nickname of someone they must kill, while also having another player hunting for them as well. I remember almost winning it because i decided to hide in monster-filled area, so my hunter will get attacked by them, and wait until majority will kill each other)

And those conflicts didn't end in game - forums were insanely active, reporting robbers, huge clans were constantly accusing and text figthing each other, people discussing big fight and robbery recordings... The game even had a rare "Journalist" profession given by admins to those who dedicated themselves to covering events of the game on forums, creating fanfics, etc (and i was one of them!). All of that helped to form living, very reactive community around the game with such unique things like abandoned town that stalkers claimed as base and used to simply gather, chill, tell stories and just chat with each other, or community of hobo players who made living by picking up stones in high quantities and then selling them to people who wanted to train throwing skill. There were even spies who attempted to inflitrate big clans to either leek internal conversations and plans, or to steal resourses from them.

But all good things are coming to the end. In their attempts to sell more exp boosters and paid currency developers introduced more and more levels into the game, that required months of endless grind to achieve them (big clans even used several people to nonstop farm for weeks to gain those levels - while one sleeping, other is leveling the character). What was even worse - those levels completly destroyed battle system by granting players insane amount of hp, armor and action points. Every player with lower level were absolutly destroyed by top ones, and battle between top ones were "shoot, heal, shoot, heal" until someone either runs out of bulletsmedkits or will get limb damage and die before he could heal back. Swarming one person with several became the only reliable winning tactics, all the nuanced, fun and variable battle system were thrown out of the window. Players got bored of that and started leaving, causing massive decline of playerbase. I have no idea if game is still alive (i played it more than 15 years ago), and i woould not be surprised if it is (community were huuuuge), but even if it is, i doubt it's doing as good as it was before. The only thing i know is that original owners of the game left long time ago after getting insanely rich from microtransactions and selling game to some other people.

There are not many videos for that game around, but this should give you the general idea on how combat was working:

Second game in this list are the Rise of Incarnates - a 2v2 figthing game.

There are several key factors that made in unique among other pc fighting games:

fully 3d combat

2v2 combat with ability to not only interrupt enemy combos with help of your partner, but also perform them together

a special mechanics that not allowed to do long combos - after receiving a certain amount of damage character would became invunerable and fall to the ground, thus preventing enemies from being able to remove entire hp bar with long combo. I know that many people who love figthing games would hate this aspect, but for me it was one of the best features of the game - because instead of memorizing and trying to time long combo lines i could focus on outsmarting my opponent by using right moves in right time, it made fights a lot more action-packed, as well as gave lots of options for comebacks.

all combos in this game were rather easy to perform, and instead there were a vast choice of special moves, each useful in specific situations - that opened ways for lots of strategies and opportunities to surprise opponent.

a lot of options for ranged combat. Some characters even were geared mostly to fight at long distance, while some otheres were hybrids (for example an archer who could transform into wolf).

All of this created chaotic and messy, yet still very tactical combat that gave me the most fun i ever expirienced in fighting games.

If you interested to see how it was looking like, here a few videos: Fenrir (werewolf)

Grim Reaper (zombie summoner)

Slayer (cyberninja)

Odin (walking tank)

What happened with the game? During the beta testing most people could not even connect to each other. It took a 10-50 failed attempts to finally get a connection with someone, and even after that game could lag like hell because of bad netcode. To make things even worse developers made matchmaking regional, that split playerbase into very small groups all across the world, doomed to play against same people over and over again. Most players loved the game but could not stand matchmaking issues, and instead of fixing those developers decided to just... abandon the game. They never even fully released last character (who still appeared in bot fight, and was a US president with ability to call lightnings to strike his enemies).

Next one is... not a game, but a battle royale game mode for a game called Total Influence. And it was the first battle royale game mode i ever played, long before genre became popular among shooters.

TI at it's core were quite unremarkable game, typical turn-based pvp tactics without anything special about it, except... for one town. There, you could only go into the fight fully naked, and loot the weapons and armor from the crates. Also loot were fully random, so, just like in battle royale movie one guy could end up fully armored but with just one grenade and machete, while the other one run around naked with machinegun. This all forced players to come up with new strategies based on what they looted, adapt to the situations.

Another interesting detais was ability to play as mutant or even as a dog - the last one could not loot anything and had low hp, but could recover it by attacking players. All of this created a funny havok that is something all modern br games (that just shower player with fierarms) are missing.

What happened to it? The mode got so popular that almost no players played the core one, where you going into the battle with stuff you bought at the shop. Developers were not pleased about that, since people stopped bying currency with real money, and put a restriction on that town, allowing acsess only for players with levels from 8 to 10 (actual levels might differ, i don't remember). So from level 1 to 8 you had to fight in normal mode, then you player something like 20 br games and you leveled to 10, no longer could join and needed to create another character to start over... Even with this torture a lot of player still kept playing the mode, but majority of player base left, and that were the end of it.

Here is how this mode looked like in a 1v1 mode, where both players controlled 2 characters (there were also team mode, and free for all more):

I am still surprised that despite all the br hype not a single developer remembered that gem and how popular it was, and not even tried to make a standalone turn-based br type of game so far. That seems like a massive wasted opportunity, because the turn-based tactics genre is so empty now, that fans will jump into literally any game they can see.

Ready for another battle royale? And again it's not a game, but a game mode Hunted in a co-op zombie game called Contagion. What was so special about it?

Detailed maps with huge environmental variety. My favorite one, Barlowe Square had bank with upper offices and underground vault, sewers, metro station, gas station, tool shop, weapon shop, several appartment buildings, rooftops, warehouses, garage, dinner, park, cinema, military camp - enough space for 8-16 players to manuver.

Maps were filled with ai zombies. Shooting them attracted even more from the area and gave up your position to other players, and also waster precious bullets. Running around were risky. Fighting with melee - even riskier, because every hit could possibly infect you, and there is no cure - you will become zombie in just a minute after infection.

Dead players also resurrected as zombies, and had a chance not only avenge their death (if they could find whoever killed them), but also simply roam around and hunt for other players. This was a natural replacement to zoning, map never shrinked - just more and more undead players were roaming the level, eventually flusing all campers from their hiding spots.

Another interesting detail were the phone. When you looked at it, it showed names of the other players who are near you, and if you call them - their phone would ring, giving up their position. It served both as a tool to find hidden players, and as a tool to check if there are any zombie players lurking around before going out in the open.

Finally, when only 2 people remained alive, all the zombies in the area started to swarm towards their position - they could either easily find each other by following the zombie waves, or hold on and hope that they will eat the other one faster.

What happened to the game? At some point development just ended, and team moved to something else without fixing or promouting the game. Then, later, one of the team returned to fix the bugs, but i supose it were already too late - playerbase were gone.

For anyone wondered how it looked like - here is an example:

Next in our list comes Atlas Reactor, a turn-based 4v4 moba with simultanious turns.

First, you picked a character with unique play style and ability set.

Then, you customised effects of your abilities with "variations".

Then you loaded into the small 4v4 arena, filled with various power-ups. Everyone had 30 seconds to make a desision, then turn would unfold in special order - prep phase (heals, shields), dash phase (relocations abilities with high cooldowns), damage phase (everyone making their attacks), and move phase (where players who are out of hp die, and others are moving around).

That kind of a system created a high-skill reqirement for reading other players, since predicting their actions were the key to sucsess - for example, if you know exactly length of the enemy's dash ability, you could try to predict his ending locatiom, and aim your shot there. If you fail - you will just shoot the air and enemies will laugh at your attempt. But if you will sucseed - you will not only make enemy waste their dash, but also will greatly discourage them for being too predictable.

Except for the main mode, game had additional ones - for example, hunting and securing the case, or more called "fourlancer", where one player controlled all 4 team members, so it was a 1v1 fight. Here is the video from last one:

What happened with the game? First, progression system were quite awful. Players were swimming in several types of currency, but without anything to use it on.

What was even worse - game had no promoution except for it's trailer, i only found out about it by accident, and so did many other players. Considering that tactical genres are quite niche, neglecting promos never allowed the game to build a big player base, and when Trion were bought out by Gamigo, new owners decided to close the game.

Not long ago it was resurrected in form of a pve roguelike game, but everything that i liked it for were gone.

The last one is my favore online game from 2020 - Resident Evil Resistance.

This is a game that may remind someone Zombie Master, a sourse mod, or (never released) Fable Legends. But for those who are unaware about those two - it's an assymetrical 4v1 game, and also a dungeon master simulator.

A team of 4 survivors (each with their own unique ability sets) are locked into test chambers with a death timer on them. They play more or less regular shooter game with heavy emphasis on coop, where they have lots of ways to help the team to fight the enemies and complete the objectives. Each defeated enemy or completed objective grants them time to proceed forward.

Meanwile, one player in role of Mastermind are observing their every action trough cameras, but in fact his gameplay starts even before that - with making a map preset, where he chosing the spots for key items, placing enemies and traps, using points to lock certain doors. Then, when game starts, his job will be to observe survivor's futile attempts to escape, and spawn zombies, mutants, traps and even guns by using his bio-energy resourse. He also can lock the doors, turn off the lights and directly control any zombie using his EIS device, and summon the ultimate ability that's unique to Mastermind - some have powerful mutants that they can control, the other has force field of death, for example.

Another key ascept of this game were customizable builds - with dozens of various mods same character could act as a tank, as a firepower or as a support for a team, there are builds focused on fighthing, while others on speedrunning, etc. Masterminds are not failling behind - some making one super-powered controlled zombies, some making one-shot bites, the others - unkillable armies, some rely on viral infection, or on stealing money from players, and there are even non-creature builds that have only traps or only guns at their disposal. I once made a build that had only dogs and William Birkin (who summoned even more dogs) as the enemies, and called it W. Barkin.

With all that variety of possible strategies, and gameplay objectives constantly changing trough the match Resistance were so much deeper than any other assymetric game (where gameplay usually boiled down to running away from the power role while others to repetitive task over and over again) that it's not even fair to compare them. And all the strategy behind the Mastermind aspect made me fall in love with that game for a very long time. There is nothing better than watching stray speedrunner who thinked that he is clever and agile crawling on the floor, separated from his team by wall of zombies, while i paining body silhouette around him and dancing on top of it!

If you want to see some videos, here are:

Example on how properly placed traps, creatures, automatic turret + bow can wipe out entire team in no time:

Daniel (constant boss fight) Mastermind:

Alex (infection) Mastermind:

Nikolai (guns) Mastermind:

Spencer (zombie army) Mastermind:

What happened to it? Well, a lot of things combined. It felt like publisher wanted it to fail before it was even released.

First, instead of proper online monetisation they made an absolutly awful progression system. EXP points earned in game were = amount of coins you getting from it. Coins were used on two types of lootboxes - cosmetics and gameplay ones. But Masterminds without any equipment or unlocked cards were so weak, that it was not possible for them to win before they farm enough. Each new MM player had to go trough huuge lose streak before they made a build that could at least fight back a little. Cosmetics lootboxes were even worse - ridded with tons of emotes, voice lines and sprays it were incredibly hard to randomly hit the skin you wanted, and they added even more garbage to loot table with every new patch. To compensate for that they were selling exp boosters for real money, allowing people to grind faster, but honestly they should just keep items that giving in-game advantage out of this system entierly, and sell skins directly instead of making people suffer with loot boxes.

Then, they bundled it with RE3 for 60$ (also with terrible regional pricing, but that's usual problem for Capcom). Funny thing is that according to their leaked document they knew that target audience for Resistance are completly different from RE3, and that any other game in similar genre costs no more than 20$, and often even less than 10$. Still they decided to bundle them together, that resulted in people who loved the genre gave a pass for Resistance because of it's prce, and in the same time RE3 fans, maddened by its low length and overall quality review bombed Resistance in attempt to show Capcom that "they never asked for this".

But that's not the end of the story. Aside from release trailer, game were never promouted anywhere and anyhow, aside from RE fanbase barely any gamers knowing about it's existence. And to make sure it will stay that way, Capcom made Steam page of the game hidden for everyone but people who owned RE3, so players had no option to just stumble upon this game on Steam and discover that it even exists.

Game had no servers and not even basic anti-cheat, meaning that every player with artmoney or cheat engine could hack every possible value, spawn enemies, and do everything he wanted. Cheaters killed pc playerbase quite fast, and moved on to console ones later. Also game never had servers, resulting in incredibly (up to being fully unplayable) laggy games, and neither it had matchmaking, putting a team for 300+ levels against lvl 5.

You think it's not possible to do even worse? In period where every second post in forums or reddit were about how weak creatures are and how boring it is to play against guns in zombie-themed game, developers... nerfed creatures even mode and added a fully gun-focused Mastermind to the game, that resulted in massive outrage and many people leaving the game. Developers were always out of touch with the community, not aware of meta strategies, never fixed obvious bugs (like ability to shoot trough walls on certain camera angles), but added a lot more broken content to the game. Finally, 6 months after the release they abandoned the game because Capcom never planned long-term support for it.

Despite all this horrible issues (that, honestly, would bury any less original game deep into the ground) combined playerbase on Resistance were quite huge, thousands of people still play on ps4, and there are even around 300 active daily players on pc. If game had the standalone release with lower price tag, some (at least free) anti-cheat, better progression and monetisation system, and more iconic characters from RE universe, it could easily become the next big thing that everyone would make copies of. But the management in Capcom never even planned to give it a chance, and instead put the developers to make an uninspired arena shooter to sell bundled with RE8.

Everything combined, it probably deserves a place in the history of game development called "every possible mistake you can do when making an online service-type game".

This is the end of today's story. I hope you enjoyed it. And what kind of absolutly unique games do you remember and wish you could play them again?

2 : Anonymous2021/03/08 00:08 ID: gq5nfcw

I would like to add Subspace/Continuum to this list. I could write up a multi-page history and first-hand telling of the timeless experiences from playing it in 1997-2000s, but I'm hoping some others have their own stories to tell while work beckons me.

Great list here, though, I've only heard of RE and TimeZero, vaguely.

ID: gq62b6a

Thank you for reminding me what the name was. As soon as I saw this post subspace popped in my head.

ID: gq6mwdf

I played a lot of 5vs5 in subspace. One time I was captain of the team which meant I had to pick players. Our team was losing, so I subbed myself in for a guy who was at 9/10 life. I killed 10 players in row without dying. Then I subbed the 9/10 guy back in. That felt godly.

ID: gq7qa62

Lotta great memories of Subspace. Flushing out tunnel rats by repelling their mine field back at them. I miss my Leviathan.

ID: gq6r2b9

I’ll never be a famous, sponsored eSports star. But, winning the TWLD was the peak of my gaming career, easily lol

ID: gq6r38i

Oh man, I can't imagine how many hundreds of hours I spent playing all those custom mods of Continuum back in the day. What a game.

ID: gq715b1

This is the game I was hoping on seeing once opening this thread. Such a good game that could have success changing to an mobile app, with some control changes.

17th Parallel for life.

ID: gq75as1

Game was originally called "Sniper" or something wasn't it? I loved playing Continuum. It was my first "MMO." It's on Steam. I dunno if it's got anyone playing these days but nothing hits the nostalgia trip like remembering playing in Extreme Games and hiding flags in the bases scattered around the map. That game mode was so much fun. And spending hours dueling too. I miss the feeling but I just can't go back and play again.

ID: gq7wfk6

Oh man, those were the times. All the variety events/maps were so much fun. Playing hide-and-seek with 300 people, or doing races or balance courses with the winner getting to decide the next event. That game had so much creativity.

It's still online to this day, mind you. It's even on Steam (and free)! Just not nearly as populated as it used to be.

ID: gq7pihh

gg ez

ID: gq7zdie

I never stopped.

3 : Anonymous2021/03/08 07:26 ID: gq6sux8

I'd like to add Gunz to the list of unique PVP online experiences. I rarely see it mentioned in gaming forums, but my God was the gunplay and katana sword fighting so damn addictive. I remember spending entire summers bungled up with my cousins just playing Gunz 24/7 nonstop. Them were the good old days.

ID: gq74h04

I absolutely loved that game growing up.

If anyone haven't played it, it was a basically a team deathmatch arena shooter. Had unique mechanics like wall running, sword fighting, and a giant array of weapon types .

The really unique part was a glitch was discovered that created the most prevalent style in the game. K-style (originated from korean servers), was a style of play based of being able to cancel any animation lock with a sword slash. This lead to weird shenanigans like infinite wall climb, you'd normally be able to jump off a wall once and then get animation locked falling. Canceling that with a sword slash would let you dash back towards to wall and jump again, repeat forever.

Further fuckery was stuff like canceling the sword slash with a gun shot. So you'd slash, hold down the button and switch to a gun, the sword would then turn into a shotgun and will fire during the slash.

I'm pretty sure I got carpal tunnel from playing that game. Skills/techs started getting super intense and the biggest limiting factor for me was I couldn't keep up with the APM needed to pull off certain moves.

ID: gq7anue

GunZ gameplay with inputs on screen for reference

4 : Anonymous2021/03/08 01:57 ID: gq5z6xw

I will save your post and read it when I have time but I want to commend you on taking the time and writing this. I will come back to read this

ID: gq6wwub

Pretty sure this was already posted in the last week or two.

Edit: sort of

5 : Anonymous2021/03/08 02:20 ID: gq61pua

I really wish Rise of Incarnates worked out. Gundam Extreme VS is my favorite fighting game, so I instantly loved how similar yet different RoI was. I had the game files for RoI on my computer for years, hoping to someday contribute to some sort of revival in the future but somehow, Steam deleted them in an update. Even if I could only play its limited arcade mode, I just want to FEEL again.

ID: gq761hk

Bruh I'd give anything for a decent Gundam PC game. Closest as that Battlefield style game that needed a VPN to use and was gacha as hell.

6 : Anonymous2021/03/08 12:08 ID: gq7aezj

I was an atlas reactor junkie for a while. The way they handled turns in that game was incredible, you basically never were waiting on people to decide things. My main issue was the animations took so long, especially when people were taunt spamming. Though lockwood saying "Prepare to be impressed" and then shooting a wall in the wrong direction will never get old. It's as great as when he lands the amazing prediction shot with it

ID: gq7d0qw

Though lockwood saying "Prepare to be impressed" and then shooting a wall in the wrong direction will never get old.

That was the best thing about taunts) They made fails even more hilarious, and good moves more rewarding.

Here, have something:

Btw battle system in AR and TimeZero were simillar in a lot of ways, except for how they handled aiming. And to resolve problems with long turn animations TZ had a button "skip to the end of the turn" if you didn't wanted to look at the outcome, and instead wanted to start planning next one asap. That might been a good feature for AR in some way - maybe letting people speed up animations instead of skippig them.

ID: gq7lepl

Or the Blackburn taunt "I always hit my target" and then it's miss.

ID: gq8qgl7

I loved Atlas Reactor too. Im getting my shot of predicting opponents ' moves with the TMG x-wing now!

7 : Anonymous2021/03/08 03:50 ID: gq6b918

I have been searching for Rise of Incarnates for a while. It's surprisingly harder to find any trace of cancelled games than one might think.
Thank you.

8 : Anonymous2021/03/08 10:09 ID: gq72t2v

I‘ll always be fond of S4 League. The game was truly ahead of its time and one of the freshest takes on PVP shooters in general.

ID: gq74khg

It was fun indeed. When a lot of people says that Overwatch "innovated" by adding abilities to the characters, i always remember S4. It was especially fun in the ball capture mode, but... sadly, only at one map - with the train. But even that map felt really small and limited in possible pathways, while others only really had one way forward that you had to either master or lose. I wish developers were focused on adding more variety to those maps, more possible patchs to take to score the goal.

9 : Anonymous2021/03/08 13:30 ID: gq7hm68

The first game you mentioned made me think of the MMO "Face of mankind". It was super interesting MMO which was pretty much 100% player driven without NPC's. You would join different factions which also would kind of end up being your class. For example you could join the police faction which would make you into a police officer trying to enforce the law, this would give you the ability to scan people for crimes committed and illegal items which would allow you to arrest them and send them to the prison mines. Another option would be to join a mining faction, head to one of the mining outposts and try and make a fortune that way. Hopefully you won't get raided by the criminal factions and if you do you better prey the police/Army hired mercs are there to protect you.

A very unique game that I had a ton of fun in, too bad it died out and that such games are just not released these day.

ID: gq7s4t0

Funny you mention FoM - I had randomly thought of it a couple days ago, and recalled all I remembered about it to my partner. It definitely felt quite innovative for an MMO.

I was part of the military faction when some new content dropped and we were sent to one of the outer planets to investigate - turned out it was an alien invasion. Had a lot of fun seeing my platoon/squad getting pushed back and back. We spent the next month or so dealing with this incursion. It was a very cool wrinkle to the usual game.

10 : Anonymous2021/03/08 01:31 ID: gq5wfj4

I wish fighting games would experiment more like that. Even tag modes aren't common anymore. Tag mode in MK9 is a blast and it is criminal that they don't even include it in Injustice. Superhero fights are tailor made for tag mode.

ID: gq6j6ax

It bugs me in mk11, they have tag mechanics and can load more than 2 characters per fight, hell the ai in the tower can call in assists and be different fighters every round, I can’t believe they didn’t make tag an optional feature, hell even slap a ‘not balanced’ warning on it if it’s that big a deal

ID: gq6wgy1

Seems like most figthing game dev's just want to keep core audience and not interested in taking risks to expand the genre to the new players. And i am almost sure that examples like RoI discourating them from doing that even futher, despite RoI's failure had nothing to do with the quality of the game itself, and was all about developers being unableunwanting to fix the networking.

That's sad. Only when i played RoI i realized what kind of a fighting game i would truelly enjoy. I really hate all the core systems that are required to win in modern fighting games.

ID: gq72ga7

Probs not a feature that would be particularly great for hardcore players but something that always stood out to me as an interesting experiment that no other Fighting game has done is Fighters Destiny on N64.

It generally played a lot like Virtua Fighter but emptying a player's health bar put them in a groggy state for a while where they can't attack and have slower movement but can recover and regain health if the other player doesn't manage to knock them out with a combo/strong attack and rather than winning a set number of rounds it had a scoring system with different ways to end a round.

By default it's first to 6 points wins - a ring out is 1 point (unless they used a throw, which is 2), running out of time is 1 point to the player who dealt the most damage (and the timer was pretty short), instant KO grapple moves are 2 points (although they are fairly easy to escape), knocking a groggy player down with a combo or strong move is 3 points, highly telegraphed 1 hit KO moves are 3 points (it ends the round with 0 points if both players land them at the same time, lol), counter moves are 3 points (basically faster versions of the 1 hit KO moves but only work if they interrupt an attack of the same height) and doing a character's finisher move (which you can only do on groggy opponents) is 4 points.

Used to have great fun playing it with my friends back in the day, although we used to increase the number of points needed to win, reduce the points for counters (too easy to spam) and sometimes bump up the value of finisher moves to 5 for the coolness factor, lol.

ID: gq7g7k7

Gundam Extreme Vs is the game that actually inspired RoI, and it's still an ongoing series, afaik.

Soul Calibur, another series by the same dev, is also very different in its focus from regular fighting games.

11 : Anonymous2021/03/08 13:01 ID: gq7euh1

Atlas Reactor made rounds on Twitch, so I wouldn't say it was quite as unknown as you claim. A decent amount of the twitch community could have seen it and tried it out.
Twitchers are a fickle bunch though, so they would quickly jump from the game, even if they enjoyed the time they had with it.

I also have another great old school mention, since someone brought up Subspace. Infantry: Online on Sony Online Games. Amazing skill-based and team-based PvP game. Some people would only play hoverboard sportslike modes, some only the crazy FFA ones... me, personally, I was a CTF loon and was one of the known regulars for Heinrich's pt. When people saw my "Assaulting enemy base --S-- for summon" macro, people knew shit was going down.

ID: gq807qf

Yes! I was going to raise Infantry: Online, it was a fantastic squad-based isometric shooter, and it was one of the best multiplayer PVP experiences I've ever had.

12 : Anonymous2021/03/08 14:07 ID: gq7lpvk

There's one mechanic I always think of when these sorts of discussions come up, but it was a blip in the history of the title (AFAIK).

Everquest is well-known for being in the midst of many MMO genre tropes that ultimately became more popular with WoW.

However, briefly during the life of the game they had this experimental mode called "Project M". This was 20 years ago now, more or less.

Basically instead of logging into your hand-made level 33 Erudite Paladin (or whatever) to go grind, you'd login into some like... a lesser kobold shaman, a moss snake, or some other low-level general monster mook.

You'd take control of this critter in whatever newbie zone, unable to directly communicate with anything, able to setup your controls for combat, and little else. You could then run around, and attack players - but not leave the zone you were in. If you died... that's it, pick a new critter.

The weirdness was that you could kinda communicate, in that Everquest NPC enemies did not have have human-like AI by default, they mostly just stood there. So, if you saw another kobold running around, it was easy to pick up that they were a player. So, a new player that might ordinarily dispatch a low-level critter might suddenly be dealing with three that are acting intelligently (well, intelligently for an early MMO player without real communication).

The difficulty in balancing that (I assume) killed the mode pretty fast, or at least, it didn't seem to be available for very long.

My understanding (I wasn't playing by this point) is that a later expansion tried to incorporate the ideas with Depths of Darkhollow, which allowed players to sort of "take the form" of some Everquest monster to assist lower-level friends in a dungeon or the like and do "monster missions". Which is... not really Project M aside from the "play as monster" part of it, but is a kinda interesting concept perhaps.

ID: gq7vdsb

Haha, actually TimeZero had a simillar mode, where you could use special device to take control over a random creature in random combat in the world, and if you would win that combat (highly unlikley, but i once witnesses how player who posessed lvl1 rat did enough damage to the afk player's legs to destroy his boots and then proceed to killing him with biting exposed body part) you would take his resourses.

But overall this mode wasn't very popular because most people were nicely geared vs creatures.

Also there was a mode in... Resident Evil 6, i believe? Where you could control enemy creatures in story mode.

13 : Anonymous2021/03/08 05:39 ID: gq6l6au

Great post!

I think anytime PVP is brought up, Ultima Online needs to be mentioned.

No MMORPG has come close to the streamlined PVP in the OG UO. Extremely well balanced and ultimately seamless.

I still play a few times/month on uorenaissance.com

ID: gq6zr6a

Extremely well balanced? There's about 50 things to point out here but, the fact that 5x mage base is the only viable pick is uhh, yeah pretty bad.

ID: gq7f9r7

Shadowbane was another fascinating one worth mentioning. Not as old as UO but it definitely had its place, its high points, and its low points.

Once you were off newbie island, it was a fully pvp open worth MMO that allowed guilds to build cities, lay siege to other guilds cities, and force other guilds to pledge to them.

The class was neat, with 4 base classes: Fighter, Rogue, Mage Healer and and a number of subclasses. It allowed you to combine two of any classes. The end result class was slightly different depending on what your base class was. A Mage (assassin) played differently than a Rogue (assassin).

It had some interesting races, too, like Minotaurs and Centaurs.

Its biggest draw was its biggest failing though. Being fully a open world PvP rpg, it was pretty difficult for a newbie to really find their footing unless they found a guild. Being GvG, after a while, a single guild tended to dominate the server.

ID: gq6xa62

I haven't played Ultima when it was in it's prime, and mostly heared the stories about the better days, that is why i did not write about it. Another reason was that unlike other games here, Ultima is a very well known and successfull title that are still alive, while all of the other games i described here are either closed, or on their death bed.

Still i have a feeling that modern survival pvp games took a lot of good elements from Ultima, and i feel like once they will overcome the scope limitations that are put on them by hardware and not allowing to host either really big worlds or more than 50 players per server (and even that requires constant wipes), those games will become future of the mmorpg's, because they are as close to the "second life in virtual world" as games ever were.

ID: gq71xq5

I'd also throw a chinese F2P mmo called Conquer Online in there. It's still going, which I cannot imagine is worth playing now, but ~15 years ago when it wasn't massively outdated, it was a genuinely good game with fantastic PvP. A world pvp setting that worked - kill one person out in the world, your name flashes letting people know they can 'avenge' the person you killed and not get punished (this lasts ~60s), but your goodness rating drops. If it drops enough your name becomes permanently red, meaning you're fair game, but not black listing you from things like towns (which are guarded by strong NPCs that attack flashing names on sight). Keep going, and your name becomes black, which notifies everyone in a map when you arrive, and you are 100% fair game, even in towns (attacking this person no longer makes your name flash, so guards won't kill you if you attack them). It was so fun sitting with some friends/guildies in a town and a black name appears, you know they're probably there to kill low level people farming, and trying to find and stop them. When you died you drop random items from your inventory, and if you're red/black you can even drop equipped items which ups the risk massively.

The PvP also had skillshots, so duels were fun to watch and took skill (until aimbots became popular)

14 : Anonymous2021/03/08 12:20 ID: gq7bbm4

First one is basically you describing EVE Online, with only exception being possibly the convict system (altho if you go "bad enough" you will be shoot on sight for police in EVE so that's kinda similar in that regard).

The "failure" of the many games of the asymmetrical variety just comes to balancing. It is extremely hard to have good balanced symmetric PvP experience, add assymetry to that, especially the extreme kind and you get into Evolve problem where making it so both sides have fun is hard, because "weaker" player playing the monster just causes miserable experience for everyone, but "good" one just makes survivors win impossible and gameplay frustrating.

ID: gq7e9rk

I feel like it's more of a matchmaking problem. With ideal ballance "monster" side should always be more powerful and win a lot more often simply because team of people can make 4x more mistakes than single player. But with bad matchmaking that would mean that most of the games will be lost by 4x side simply because they have more chances to get bad player than monster to be bad.

Instead of adding proper matchmaking, developers focus on nerfing monster side to the ground. As a result, any expirienced team requires no skill at all to win again any monster, making game really frustrating for them. But since developers are more interested to keep 4 players in game than 1, they leave things like that and even say "yes we know that some teams auto-winning, but you will rarely encounter them, so just accept it".

It's hard indeed to ballance that kind of a game, but part of the problem is that developers trying to do it in the wrong way, focusing more on sales than making it fair or fun, dbd and evolve were prime examples of that.

But to be honest, if we talking about Resistance - yes, it had and still has serious ballancing problems, but it's the least of it's problems. The game rewards people for doing things, so even if survivors lose, they still progress and having fun fighting and overcomming various obstacles. Ballance were never among main problems of that game, if other things were fixed - it would be widely popular right now.

Just look at this:

/comments/lzzeqm/my_amazing_re_resistance_survivor_experience_part/" class="reddit-press-link" target="_blank" rel="noopener">https://www.reddit.com//comments/lzzeqm/my_amazing_re_resistance_survivor_experience_part/

This is one of the things that's killing playerbase that's already limited thanks to the developer's efforts. Nobody havs fun with that kind of a lag.

15 : Anonymous2021/03/08 12:52 ID: gq7e04l

Atlas Reactor is pretty new, i remember seeing the trailer but nothing else, i suppose it died a quiet death

16 : Anonymous2021/03/08 14:21 ID: gq7nbn0

Haven't heard of Rise of Incarnate, but it looks mechanically extremely similar to the Gundam 2v2 arena fighter series that have been out since the PS2 era.

ID: gq7raat

It functionally was that. It was pretty janky in general.

ID: gq7xkfi

RoI was developed by same people who made Gundam, as far as i heared. And it was a pretty new thing in PC gaming. I supose after what happened there is no hope of them ever trying to repeat the attempt...

17 : Anonymous2021/03/08 18:25 ID: gq8l1l3

I'm a bit sad because by reading your pitch of Atlas Reactor, I know I would have loved it if I knew. Thanks for this high quality post.

18 : Anonymous2021/03/08 19:05 ID: gq8qn8j

That was a great read! TimeZero looks super fun. It's a bit sad that role-playing MMOs have disappeared. It was something that most people had only time to play when they were teens, and it can't scale with a lot of players, but it was really super fun.

19 : Anonymous2021/03/08 19:36 ID: gq8uwpc

I would’ve tried resistance had someone told me it was like Zombie Master. I absolutely loved that mod.


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