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

WRUP: I overslept and my office is filled with firewood edition

Ah, Saturday, you noble day when I basically forget about time. Nothing I have to do today. Nothing much, anyway. I should check out the comments to What Are You Playing when I get up.

What did I do for What Are You Playing this week, anyhow? What sort of joke did I…

Oh no. No, no, no, all right, up we go, excuse me cat, out of the way, I have to pretend to be on time. Oh, no, people are going to think this was a thing about Friday but that isn’t it, that wouldn’t even give me a hangover, how is it now? All right, upstairs, I’m here, I…

Why is my office filled with firewood? No. No, we’re not doing this. I don’t need all this firewood. Someone else can figure this out [Bree, let me finish this joke or change it before Saturday -E]

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The Daily Grind: What was the most disappointing MMO expansion of all time?

Best and worst, top and bottom: It’s fun to discuss video game in absolute extremes (at times). And I’ll bet that a lot of us only really remember the most excellent MMORPG expansions and the most disappointing ones.

So let’s grouse today and dredge up past heartaches. What was, to you, the most disappointing MMO expansion of all time? A few come to mind for me. Star Trek Online: Delta Rising was a narrative and structural mess that bogged down and made me desert it. I know that I was really let down with how RIFT: Storm Legion developed, faltering hard after a strong start. But probably for me, Lord of the Rings Online: Mordor took the cake. The publicity for it was atrocious, the actual expansion about as far from “fun” as I’ve ever experienced in an MMO, and the difficulty of moving and progressing was aggravating.

But that’s me. How about you? Which MMO expansion do you want to rag on today?

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Betawatch: Defiance 2050’s closed beta, ESO’s Summerset on the PTS (April 20, 2018)

Beta testing for Elder Scrolls Online’s Summerset expansion – as well as the free update 18 that’ll launch alongside it – began this week as the chapter rolled out to the PTS, with plenty of glimpses at new housing and wearables on the way. What else is new in MMORPG testing this week?

Did we miss anything? Drop us a note in the comments, then check out our traditional list of all the bits and bobs currently malingering trucking along in some form of testing.

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Choose My Adventure: And now, Ultima Online, sooner or later

Oh boy.

So, yes, I did actually play some Ultima Online. Or I tried to play some Ultima Online, at least. I’m not sure that most of what I did was actually something that I would call “playing,” although it involved me being in the game and ostensibly interacting with it. And it’s times like this that I particularly dislike my job, because this puts me in something less than a comfortable position.

I don’t know how many of you reading this right now are fans of UO, and as I established in my first column, I don’t really feel as if I’m equipped to critique the game as a whole because this is where everything started. This is the original of the species. It’s like that gag in Dr. McNinja wherein Ben Franklin is mentioning that inventing things during his original lifespan was easy because all you had to do was pay the slightest bit of attention.

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World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth turns on Dark Iron Dwarves and Mag’har for character testing

The first batch of the second wave of allied races are available for testing now on World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth’s alpha test. Dark Iron Dwarves and Mag’har Orcs have been added to character creation, which means that if you want an Orc that’s slightly less corrupted or a Dwarf that’s extra-crispy, that’s now an option. And that’s just one of the many changes with the latest build, because of course it is.

Players can also experiment with new ability changes including a significant rework to Arcane Torrent (the Blood Elf racial), more of the Uldir and Warfront sets, and new dungeons to test out. There’s also the miscellaneous elements found in the latest build, of course. We still don’t have an exact date for the beta, but based on all of the things that have been mined, it looks to be growing ever closer all the time.

Source: Wowhead (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

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Final Fantasy XIV releases its next patch site and its Live Letter digest

Players are crucial to the reconstruction of Doma in Final Fantasy XIV, so it’s only right that the next leg of the game’s main scenario will bring us back there. The special site is already available for players to peruse, offering some details on the upcoming patch and giving a hint at the lore behind the Sparrow’s Compass dungeon. Without spoiling anything, it doesn’t sound like everything is going to go smoothly for Doma… which should surprise almost no one.

Meanwhile, players who had subsisted on fan translations of the live letter can now read over the official digest of its contents, which includes a number of additional (and relevant) pieces of information. For example, there’s further explanation of the “Greed Only” rule in Alliances, noting that it’s in place to prevent people from feeling pressured to run on the job they want to gear up when it may be at a lower item level; it’s an experimental rule that is open to revision based on community feedback. In other words, offer feedback on it. Or anything else in the letter’s official translation, really.

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The Daily Grind: What keeps you logging into MMORPGs over a long period of time?

Earlier this month, Pantheon’s community team tweeted out a question that keeps coming back to me: “What motivates you to play an MMORPG for long periods of time, as in months, sometimes, years?” My first reaction was a pretty common one I bed and was true for me for a long time: friends and guildies! I certainly played some games far longer than I would have otherwise because I wanted to hang out with friends (EverQuest in particular is coming to mind).

But in recent years, when I already “see” my friends and guildies every day in external chats, I’d found games need some other draw too. Housing is probably the biggest one. I don’t usually get sucked in for dailies or anything like that, but give me a house that I love and want to keep up – that I’ll not only log in for but pay for, as my continuing Ultima Online fees prove.

What keeps you logging into MMORPGs over a long period of time?

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Massively Overthinking: What we really mean when we talk about ‘difficulty’ in MMORPGs

Massively OP reader Steve wants us to revisit the Daily Grind on making death more meaningful without making it more annoying. His letter was long, so let me paraphrase a bit:

“It feels to me like underlying point was, ‘MMOs are too easy, so how do we make them harder?’ The question of video game difficulty is something that is seldom ever tackled head-on, as it tends to draw out a somewhat vocal minority. There are so many worthy topics about how people define difficulty, twitch skills vs. depth, easy vs. hard, difficulty vs. accessibility, easy vs. engaging, shallowness vs. depth, and so on. These are things I’d love to really see discussed more online, and very few sites will actually touch it. But I think that MOP’s community is overall mature enough to actually have some discussions about this without it devolving into a fist fight.”

I’m sure you’ll prove him right! Right, guys? Guys? So let’s talk about MMO difficulty in this week’s Massively Overthinking. What do we really mean when we talk about “difficulty” in MMORPGs? Are games easier than they used to be, and if so, is there something studios should do to change that?
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OrbusVR adds in new pet breeding and gear combination

In the real world, walking up to someone and asking if you can put your dragons together will probably get you arrested. In OrbusVR, it’s a very normal and good thing to ask with the latest patch, which allows you to combine two existing dragons in a little dragon hutch to result in a new baby dragon. It’s the first pass on the game’s breeding system, and it makes sense that you would start with dragons as opposed to more common real-life pets. (After all, as alluded to above, dragon breeding is illegal in real life.)

The patch also contains a new system for improving your gear. If you’ve got a sword with some secondary stats lower than your existing sword, for example, you can combine the two into one sword, and the new sword will automatically gain any stats that were higher from the other sword. Combine that with new pillar teleportation, new sound design, and more bug fixes, and you’ve got reasons to be excited about the game’s latest patch.

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Revelation Online invites you to battle for glory in its new colosseum

It was teased, but now it’s truly here. Revelation Online is introducing the colosseum, and its world will never be the same. Specifically, it will be far more violent. Seriously, it’s a place for violent gladiatorial contests; that is really violent. Also, it’s a place where you can compete for valuable prizes as part of an ever-expanding event in the game.

That one is probably going to be more resonant for individual players. The violence is kind of de rigueur at this point.

Players will earn a Merit Plate just for signing up to take part, and winning matches in the colosseum will bring you closer to rewards for being the best of the best. If you’re not the best, though… well, you’ll still get plenty out of it, as just participating earns points which go toward PvP ranks and associated rewards. So it’s worth it to strive, even if you aren’t very good at first.

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Fortnite brings out a newer, better 50v50 battle mode

People liked the 50v50 mode in Fortnite, but it had some issues. Fortunately, it was only a limited-time mode, so the developers could take it out back when its time had come. Polish it up, refine the systems, double-check everything, and bring it back as the new and improved 50v50 mode version two. That name might not sound terribly ominous, but it’s the huge matches people enjoyed coupled with new improvements and refinements. And it’s starting… today, actually.

The patch also has a number of other features, however; there’s a new cyberpunk story chapter in the Save The World mode, and a new high-capacity machine gun available in Battle Royale. So even if you don’t want to go big, you will not be forced to go home. Meanwhile, some players are obsessed with a comet that they think is going to destroy Tilted Towers, so it’s possible that everyone will feel really silly about worrying over the size of battles.

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Dutch Gaming Authority calls out four games as violating its lootbox policies

If you had expected the Netherlands to be leading the fight against lootboxes, you may be more clairvoyant than the rest of the population. After investigating 10 games, the Dutch Gaming Authority has found that four of the games tested feature lootboxes that violate the Better Gaming Act. That may not sound too serious until you consider that the offending games have eight weeks to make changes to the lootboxes to comply with the law.

Failure to do so can result in fines or just straight-up forbidding the games from being sold in the Netherlands. That’s a pretty big deal.

While the DGA did not specifically name games, the Dutch paper reporting on the situation cites FIFA ’18, Dota 2, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and Rocket League as the offending titles. The remaining six titles are not in violation of the law but were still sharply criticized for the lootbox implementation, which is said to target younger players and encourage gambling. It’s also worth noting that each of these violations specifically pertains to tradeable items for real money, which just squeaks in as a gambling option.

Source: NOS, VG24/7

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WoW Factor: Speculative classes for the future of WoW

If Allied Races show us anything, it’s that World of Warcraft is really in no danger of running out of new races to throw at us. This particular system is adding nearly twice as many new races in one expansion as we’ve had added during the entirety of the game’s lifespan thus far, there’s another one that looks to be set up for this as well (hello there, Vulpera), and there’s a deep roster of other options that people have asked to have for ages. Yes, it would take some work to retrofit Vrykul and Ogres, but considering the work going into new male orc poses, Zandalari Trolls, and Kul Tiran Humans, it is definitely not insurmountable work.

Of course, as I alluded to a while back, we sort of have a disconnect right now where we’ve got far more race options than class options. And while we’re awash in races, we seem to be in danger of running out of classes that can’t be pretty cleanly modeled by what’s already in the game. That doesn’t mean we can’t get any new classes, of course, but it’s hard to justify the inclusion of a Pirate class when we already have a Rogue spec doing everything such a class would theoretically offer. The inclusion of mechanical Hunter pets alone basically short-circuited talk about “Engineer” as a class.

Not that this means we’re out of options, of course; in fact, there’s still plenty of things left in the bank of known or reasoned class options that we can’t play just yet. So let’s talk about some of those options, and along the way I’m sure we can fit in some fun discussions about the difference between classes and hero classes.

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