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The softer, gentler side of MMORPG life. [Follow this category’s RSS feed]

Final Fantasy XIV plans UI improvements for patch 4.1

The next major patch for Final Fantasy XIV contains many pieces of content, but it also promises to improve the quality of life for players with a new set of UI improvements. For example, don’t you hate when you don’t know how much time your chocobo companion has remaining after summoning? Patch 4.1 will add a timer and will allow you to summon minions while your chocobo is out, allowing you to adventure with both cute critters and combat buddies at the same time.

The patch also simplifies party finder creation dialogues and lists required desynthesis skill right on the item in question. There’s also a new universal input for duty actions and a “duty action” button you can add to your hotbars, covering mechanics like the Vril used against Lakshmi. That probably means more duty actions are coming in the future, so go ahead and slot that in now as the game’s UI continues to improve.

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WRUP: Can talk, Path of Fire edition

Welcome to another installment of What Are You Playing and… oh, jeez. Where are all of you? See, this is what I was worried about. There’s no one here this weekend, you’re all off playing Guild Wars 2. Me, I’m stuck here just… talking to myself.

See, I already had my big expansion launch this year. That was the one I was looking forward to like the birth of a child. It’s not as if I’m not going to play Guild Wars 2 with the expansion, that’s already a plan, but now I’m totally free to talk and no one wants to listen. You’re all just playing with new elite specializations and I’m… left over here. Wishing and hoping, and so forth. And if I just show up to join in, then I’ll look like the tagalong.

Sigh. Well, those of you who are here can let me know about your weekend plans down in the comments, that’s something. Meanwhile, I will… well, probably jump into the expansion myself, but later. I have standards. No bandwagons for me.

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The Daily Grind: Do any MMO monsters creep you out?

I can’t say that I’ve ever encountered truly disturbing and creepy MMO mobs. I think it’s by the virtue that they are in an MMO means that they’re usually all over the place, and any initial disturbance grows lessened with familiarity.

However, I’m sure there are exceptions. The Bogeyman in Secret World is pretty creeptacular, especially his appearance in the spin-off The Park. I know that some of my friends who suffer from acute arachnophobia are all “nope nope nope” when giant spiders scuttle across the screen.

Are there any MMO monsters that creep you out? What is it about them that gives you the heebie-jeebies?

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World of Warcraft audio drama shows what happened to Alleria and Turalyon

The open question of “where are Alleria and Turalyon” was bouncing around in World of Warcraft pretty much as soon as players got to Outland and didn’t see them. Now they’re finally in the game, but the game also offers only hints and rumors about the transition between being in Outland at the end of Warcraft II and where they are now. We know they’re part of the Army of Light and that they’ve had some adventures, but what were those adventures?

Well, why not listen to about two hours of audio drama below? That’ll clear things right up.

Titled “A Thousand Years of War,” the audio drama gives a comprehensive look at what happened to the ranger and paladin when they first encountered the Army of Light, how they reached their current place, and what several of their offhand references to past events really mean. It’s a lengthy listen, but if you’re a lore fiend, you’ll probably enjoy all of it. Check it out just below, and don’t worry, as long as you keep listening, you don’t need to watch the actual video.

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Star Citizen is down to only 7 must-fix issues before alpha 3.0 goes to the Evocati

What’s that sound? That’s the sound of Star Citizen’s alpha 3.0 creeping ever closer, as the teams say they’ve made “substantial progress.”

In the latest edition of Around the Verse, Chris Roberts says the dev team is focused on “clearing out the remaining blockers,” while “the dev-ops team is going through the process of preparing the build for distribution.” They’ve cleaned up 19 more must-fix issues, with 7 more to go.

The feature for this episode centers on air traffic control, which sounds like a weird and boring thing my kids would play, but nope – it’s actually pretty important to landing ships in an open-world MMO, as it’s critical to help players land in a spot that’s actually big enough and actually empty. Otherwise, you’d be landing Serrenity II on top of my Millennium Falcon IV, and we can’t have that. The whole episode is below.

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Overwatch: Fan designs an awesome Thai character, competitive bans start soon

Overwatch’s next great character isn’t a product of Blizzard’s labs at all but the imagination of a masters student who whipped up a Thai hero named Tara as part of a school project. The result is a 40-page document with concept art and design specs for the hero, her abilities, her outfits, her weapons, and even a Thailand-themed map called Arun Town.

“I created a female character as a support hero,” the student posted on the forums. “Her name is Tara (meaning ‘water’ in Thai). The character’s theme is a fish, a Siamese fighting fish to be specific, and a plaited bamboo fish which is a local product in Thailand.”

In response, Game Director Jeff Kaplan said that the project was “amazing!”

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Happy birthday to Fallen Earth, Aion, World of Warships, and Warhammer Online

This particular part of September is loaded with MMORPG and MMO birthdays. In addition to ArcheAge, whose corgipocalypse we’ve been covering already, and Ultima Online, doomed to ding 20 by Monday, there are a few more we’ve not mentioned yet. Let’s remedy that!

Aion is turning eight today, and it’s putting on a pretty sweet partyplus a different one in the EU. US players can look forward to bonus experience, cake, and Kroemede’s Revenge; through the weekend in the EU, expect a Cake Hunt, in-game boots, gifts, and temporary mounts, plus an event about poppys. I don’t know, it’s Aion, man, just go with it. We’ll be streaming some of the US festivities on Saturday, so stay tuned!

Fallen Earth also turns eight today, though you won’t find any hoopla on the official site, where there’s been no news since last year. MOP’s Justin judged it in maintenance mode as of at least this past summer. It’s OK, Fallen Earth. We’ll have a slice of cake in your honor.

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Massively Overthinking: How will Star Citizen make money after launch?

During this week’s Massively OP Podcast, Justin and I attempted to tackle a question sent in by commenter and listener Sally Bowls – specifically, she wanted us to speculate on what a post-launch monetization plan for Star Citizen might look like.

“Assuming they have a lot of overhead and expense, are they going to fire most of their employees at launch? Keep them and support them with subscriptions? DLC? Cosmetics? A stream of new ships would be my first guess – but new ships good enough that people spend $50M-$100M per year withouth causing old customers to think the new shiny invalidates their previous purchase? That seems to me a non-trivial tightrope to walk.”

Put away your instinct to joke that it won’t matter because Star Citizen is never coming out. Let’s just reasonably assume that it does eventually launch into something the studio will call more or less ready. How do you think Star Citizen will make money after launch? That’s the question I’ve posed the Massively OP team for this round of Massively Overthinking.

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Discover actual exoplanets and earn EVE Online rewards – without ever leaving the ship dock

Have you heard in passing this “Project Discovery” thing in EVE Online and wondered what it is all about? CCP put together a new tutorial video that explains the purpose behind Project Discovery, how players can help, and what they will earn for their troubles.

Project Discovery is a collaborative, crowdsourced effort to reward players in-game for helping out on what are effectively “citizen science” projects. Last year’s program tasked players with identifying cell structures to assist the Human Genome Project. This particular leg of the program, first revealed at last spring’s EVE Fanfest in Iceland, sets players to work hunting for exoplanets in other solar systems. Players have the option of analyzing a star’s luminosity to see if there are any dips, signifying that a planet has crossed between the star and the telescope. The more accurate a player is in his or her analysis (compared to the rest of the EVE community), the more experience points will be doled out for a special reward track.

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Citadel: Forged With Fire balances all the things with its weekly patch

There’s no new content being added to Citadel: Forged With Fire with its latest patch. Instead, this patch is all about squashing bugs, fixing persistent complaints, and addressing balance issues. For example, players had been complaining about the Necrosis spell, and a close examination revealed that a bug was causing the spell to deal far more damage than intended (and thus becoming the only viable PvP offense). That’s been corrected. Flight potions will also be easier to use, since they’ll no longer fill your vision with awful, obscuring smoke.

Players can look forward to more improvements to the game’s performance on high-population servers, more useful options when using the Deconstructor, and tamed creatures should be handled better by the client. Combine that with more fixes and improvements, and the update as a whole should make the content already in the game that much more pleasant to play. That’s almost as good as new content, right?

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Dark and Light explains the basics of the refining forge

Why stop at a normal forge? Normal forges are fine, we guess, for doing normal things, but Dark and Light lets you make yourself a refining forge which is even more… well, refined. It says that right in the game. You can check out all of the details in a new video explaining that you first unlock your forge by harvesting and consuming several Frozen Crystals, allowing you to gather the materials needed to make your special glowing refining forge.

Continuing to improve your skill will allow you to make magically enchanted items by finding active ley lines, thus giving you random stat improvements (you’ll need to thus do a lot of forging to get the really good items). Check out the whole system in video form below; it’s rather elaborate, but it should allow you to sport tricked-out gear better than anyone else you meet.

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EverQuesting: Is EverQuest II in a downward spiral?

Are we witnessing the death throes of EverQuest II? Of the whole EverQuest franchise? These questions have been at the forefront of my mind lately. Today’s EverQuesting started as a guide to EQII’s expansion prelude event, but I kept coming back to these questions. (The guide will come next week!)

Yes, I know that there are folks who have cried that EQ and EQII have been dying or all-but dead for years — and Next and Online Adventures are already deceased and buried. Yet during those years we’ve still seen some life in the first two games. They have persevered!

But now, I feel like I am witnessing the franchise’s final breaths. Me, the eternal optimist; me, who subsists on hope. And I started losing that hope because Daybreak’s actions lately appear to indicate that there’s no love left for one of my all-time favorite games, EQII. Between less dev interaction, less content, less communication, and just less enthusiasm for these two titles — yet a preponderance of attention on others — it’s hard to hold onto hope. At no other time has it felt as if Daybreak was turning its back on and all but abandoning the IP that gave it life more than it does right now. The IP that still has many fervent fans. My final two straws? The lack of any exposure at PAX West and the lack of enthusiasm for this year’s expansions.

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Final Fantasy XIV posts a teaser site for Patch 4.1: The Legend Returns

The next major patch for Final Fantasy XIV is on its way, and like every patch, it starts with a new portion of the main scenario quest. Sure, the end of the Stormblood story saw the liberation of subjugated provinces… but what does that mean for the many people who had long seen that end as an impossible dream? We don’t know yet, but we know that Raubahn and Lyse both will have some important questions to answer… and quickly.

Players will also be exploring the Drowned City of Skalla, ruins flooded beneath what is now Loch Seld in the wake of the Sixth Umbral Calamity, now filled with the remnants of a once-grand civilization. Over in Kugane, players will be meeting up with the Majestic Imperial Theater Company on the performance airship Prima Vista, learning more of the company’s legendary performance of the Zodiac Brave story and diving into the legend of Ivalice. And that’s only the stuff we already know about on the preview page; there’s still more to come.

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