If you don't remember the whole story about Global Agenda, you could be forgiven for pushing it out of your mind; it's a bit of a sad one. The first game out of Hi-Rez Studios was not a massive success compared to the studio's later titles, and with more profitable releases from the studio, the game's support dropped and it was quietly removed from Steam. The game is still playable right now for people who download it directly, but it's not there for Steam players to find. Even players who already downloaded it found it gone... until this weekend.
We've had some reports (confirmed by our staff) that the game is indeed showing up in Steam libraries once again, although as of this writing it's not showing up on the main store page. (Searching for it uncovers a demo page that does not actually load.) This could all just be a matter of database maintenance for Steam, or it could be a subtle hint that something is on the horizon. There's nothing to do but speculate; the last update on the game's status was that the servers are going to be kept online for the forseeable future, but the studio does need to make plans for a shutdown and has no intention of selling the servers to another company or the fans.
The hard part about being a GM has to be when you're dealing with a certain brand of player. You know the sort; they're the ones making other people's time in the game worse just for giggles. How do you actually punish players who just want to sow chaos and don't care about the consequences? An enterprising GM for Black Desert tried out a novel technique by banning a reported toxic player... unless said player wrote a 501-word essay.
Of course, there's more to the story, as it turns out the player in question was reported for being a jerk to roleplayers, and the ban announcement by the GM in question was clearly leaning pretty hard on the "roleplaying" button. The player in question did write as requested and avoided the ban, although it's not exactly a timeless masterpiece of literature (you can see it in the Reddit thread if you want). Whether or not this was actually effective is up for debate, but we can't help but think that it was therapeutic for the GM, at the very least. (And as a bonus, there's always the slim chance that one of us will have to deal with this sort of ban, which will mean we get out of jail for free!)
One of the things that I find neat about games like Rend, Crowfall, and Chronicles of Elyria is that all of these games are by their very nature meant to be short-term affairs. The game only lasts so long. In some cases it's a scheduled thing, in other cases it's more an organic result, but all of them wind up in an end state. Nothing lasts forever, and eventually it's time to count the victor and move on.
This isn't actually a new idea in the MMO space, of course; A Tale in the Desert has been run using this structure for quite some time, The Matrix Online was in part based on the idea that every bit of the story would only last for so long, and progression servers like the ones EverQuest runs are meant to slowly catch up to the present until, well, they're caught up. But it's definitely reaching the point of being a full-on trend for these games in development to be time-limited.
What's nifty about this approach is that no one gets to stay on top forever, and it gives a certain point to start and stop without missing out on things. Of course, that also means it's easier to just stop playing after a certain point without feeling as if you're missing things, turning the game into shorter-term play by its very design. What do you think? Do you like the idea of limited-time MMOs?
Most of the time, if you have something to say, you should say it once. That's enough. Just once, then move on. Make your point, make your argument, then move on with your life. If you think that a television show is really bad, say it once. Then don't watch it. Stop talking about it. Move on with your life.
You convince few people by saying the same thing over and over. In fact, you're more likely to sound petulant than sounding convincing. If new evidence arises, that's a different story, but if you're talking about something that hasn't changed since you initially said it, you're not adding anything new to the discussion. You're just repeating yourself, and you're sounding as if that's all you have to say.
So just say it once. For example, this week, just tell us what you're doing in the What Are You Playing comments one time. Don't post three comments telling us what you're doing over the weekend. Just once.
You could be forgiven for kind of thinking that Pathfinder Online was dead in the water, but it turns out that there's still hope. A surprise announcement stated that the game is moving forward once more, that it's going to be finished, and that there's reason to be hopeful from here on out. So if you're a big fan of the game or what the designers originally promised, don't give up just yet!
Other beta news this week was... well, let's face it, it was weird. What do I mean? See for yourself.
See what I mean, though? It's been a weird week. Perhaps you can feel a bit better about the week by checking on the list just below, which has all sorts of games on it. Of course, some of them may have crept into a different test status without our notice, which is also weird, so please let us know in the comments if you spy that.
Boy, this is a time I am glad to be wrong. I was outright worried that Blizzard was going to hold patch 7.2 for a much longer span of time, but no, it's hitting World of Warcraft on March 28th. That's good! It's still squarely aimed at trying to kneecap something else going on that same day, arguably, but at least it isn't being held for months. I'm going to count that as a good thing.
In fact, there's something very good baked into the announcement, something that's easy to miss. Of course, there's also something very bad baked in as well, or at least the hint of something bad, a thought I've stated before in passing but I haven't really elaborated on before. So today I want to examine both sides of this. Why this patch date makes me very happy and very worried at the same time. (Mostly the former, if you're wondering, but the latter is relevant.)
While the player character is working hard to do the heavy lifting of finding a new home in Mass Effect: Andromeda, players support the single-player game by gathering supplies and rewards in the multiplayer component. The first special multiplayer event is already here, tasking players with taking part in the APEX missions to find missing scouts in the hopes of uncovering valuable Krogan assistance. That means a new limited-time map through Monday.
Players who undertake the "Drack's Missing Scouts" mission will land at Firebase Paradox, featuring powerful Remnant artifacts being sought by the Kett for players to obtain. There's also a new character and weapon available in item packs. The Krogan Gladiator is a biotic with a penchant for her hammer, and the Ruzad shotgun is a slow-firing heavy-impact shotgun that may as well be the poster firearm for Krogan military philosophy. Check out the trailer just below, and see if it enhances your first weekend of scouring the Heleus Cluster for a new home.
In less than a week, the first expansion for Final Fantasy XIV
is coming to an end. The final story patch for Heavensward
, 3.56, is arriving on March 28th
, with accompanying maintenance starting at midnight EDT. The first half of the story already had a fair amount of death and revelation, but this is where we find out exactly what happens leading into our journey toward Ala Mhigo and Doma in Stormblood
Of course, there's a main scenario preview available right now, but be fairly warned that it's a pretty notable spoiler for anyone who hasn't already done the first half of the 3.5 story. Suffice it to say that the solution to the major problem at the end of that first half was not nearly as final as may have been surmised, and more is coming right along the path. Feel free to speculate about what happens next; you've only got a few days left until you find out one way or the other.
The staff behind Chronicles of Elyria has been on a whirlwind tour of events, and you can read all about it in the most recent dispatch from the team. You can also learn a lot about booth layout, if that's something that you find fascinating. And you can also find out the latest plans regarding the game's server and kingdom selection, which starts with the fact that players are still going to be jockeying for space as predicted. Players will be selecting servers first, then selecting kingdoms in order of influence.
This is, of course, part of the problem, as the game's plans do not wind up including enough land for all of the people who paid to have kingdoms in the first place.
It's worth noting that servers are selected in order of seniority, not influence, so things become a bit muddier, and it's quite possible for you to have a later pick of server and an earlier pick of land within that server due to backing late but having a lot of influence. Players can also convert to a lesser package and receive an advance pick of their chosen duchy, although those picks will also be in order of influence. Check out the full rundown and the details on the upcoming Q&A session in the official entry.
The second season of The Exiled is arriving, and while that sounds like the preamble to some critically acclaimed drama series starting up again, it's actually a major update for a video game. The Exiled has been in early access for about a month now, and so the second season is arriving to the game with some big shifts, including a new party system for players to group up together and support for the new role of healer. Now you won't just stub your toe and then wait to die!
The 1.1 patch also adds in the diplomacy system, several balance adjustments, and many quality-of-life improvements. New players can now get a free seven-day trial just for downloading the game from Steam, while returning players get two days of free trial status for jumping back in. If you're curious about the game's progress in early access, it seems like the right time to check.
Much of my time during a given week is devoted to playing MMOs. That probably makes sense, considering that understanding these games and writing about them is my job. At the same time, it also occupies a different position in my mental space from single-player games. Playing an MMO is part game, part project, part work, and part tinkering-based hobby; playing a single-player game is primarily just about playing a game, with added thoughts about game design serving more as a bonus than anything.
I am, however, painfully aware that this is not the case for everyone. I imagine that for many of our readers, an hour of gaming is an hour of gaming, whether you're playing Final Fantasy XIV, Overwatch, or NieR: Automata. Or perhaps one is your "primary" focus, with the other one fit into the corners as you have time. So tell us about that today. How do you balance MMO playtime with single-player playtime? Do you consider both to just be gaming, do you give priority to one or the other, or is it something you've never even thought much about?
Path of Exile
is not a game where you are likely to stand around admiring the scenery very often. That's not because it's bad; it's just the nature of the beast when you are knee-deep in monsters and you have the ability to make everything around you explode with lightning on the regular. (Or frost, or fire, or... you know your character builds, we don't need to explain it to you.) So perhaps it's a very good thing that the team behind the game has given us a small preview of the areas and music
coming with the Fall of Oriath
expansion in video form.
Now there are no monsters to click on, no quests to worry about, nothing but the looks and the sounds to let you really anticipate the actual game. Yes, they'll mostly be drowned out by the explosions of lightning once you're actually playing, but why not jump past the break and appreciate it for the moment? Just don't click on the video instinctively to try blowing something up. It just swaps in full-screen mode, we promise.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Final Fantasy franchise, but it also marks the 15th anniversary of Final Fantasy XI. And yes, the game is looking quite good for a 15-year-old title. Players have taken the initiative to celebrate the lengthy history in other ways, however, by kicking off a community project to gather up the playerbase's cherished memories of the game over the 15 years of history.
The plan is to gather up all of the messages of player memories and send them in to the developers, showing them how profoundly and positively the game has impacted its playerbase. If you've played the game in the past and want to let the Japanese team know how much that's meant to you, hop on by and fire off a message of goodwill, whether you're a former player or someone who's been in-game since the lights came on.
; thanks to Luis for the tip!