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

The Daily Grind: How do you channel your anger in MMOs?

I don't get super angry in MMORPGs anymore -- if something really upsets me, there are 20 other solid games waiting for my attention. But I can think of specific instances that really upset me over the years, like when I spied exploiters I'd reported half a dozen times continuing to exploit, or when I realized a dev studio still hasn't fixed basic problems like ganking the opposite faction's spawn point a decade later, costing me hours of time waiting for wackadoodles to get bored and leave. I definitely still shout at my screen when I see terrible players fighting on the road and not the node, lemme tell ya, but I've probably been the most angry at people I thought were friends who turned out to just be using me or my guild for some benefit.

I have not, however, ever been so angry that I rammed my head into a monitor causing it to shatter and my friends to have to extract my bleeding face from its shards. Like this guy.

Nope, nowadays, I just walk away, find something else to do or play. My time is too precious to waste on leisure activities that tick me off. Plus, I like my monitor. And my face.

How about you? Have you ever become extremely angry in an MMO? Why? And how do you channel your anger in MMOs?

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Massively Overthinking: The City of Heroes Master X Master debacle

On Tuesday, NCsoft announced that it plans to introduce Statesman, from the long-sunsetted City of Heroes, as a playable character in its MOBA, Master x Master.

Complications ensued, as anyone familiar with the history of MMORPGs can probably imagine.

For this week's Overthinking, I asked our team of writers -- both those who loved CoH and those who never much played it -- what they think about the whole ordeal. Are gamers right to be angry? What exactly is NCsoft thinking? Have we seen the end of any hope of the game being resurrected or sold, or should we infer just the opposite?

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CCP's live-action EVE Online ARG looks like the best thing at this year's EVE Fanfest

Got your tix for EVE Online's EVE Fanfest 2017? Ready to set aside your in-game enmity and play nice with your fellow gamers for a few days -- or not, depending on what sort of corp you're in? Decided cowering in your house watching streams is the wiser choice?

Good news for you then no matter which way you roll: CCP has released a detailed blog post today laying out the structure of this year's event. Expect the usual round of keynotes, panels, debates, and player presentations, plus beer, a check-in with the Project Discovery scientists, a 2v2 single elimination tourney, more beer, tours for people who got dragged along and want to see Iceland's beauty, and beer. But the best bit looks to be a genuinely cool live-action game called The YC119 Kyonoke Inquest:

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Crowfall reflects on its 'unrelenting series of updates'

It's a little hard to believe, but we've now been watching Crowfall develop since late 2014, going from a teaser announcement through a successful Kickstarter and arriving at the current pre-alpha testing. For this week's founder's update, the dev team decided that it deserved a moment to reflect upon all of its accomplishments and progress to date.

The team pointed to an interactive timeline chart from German fan site Crowfall Community that marked all of the major (and minor) milestones of the project from 2014 through 2017. It's a pretty handy resource if you want to get a big-picture view of the game's progress.

ArtCraft provided a pep talk, free of charge: "Obviously, this chart shows how much we have accomplished, and that’s great to see! … but it also shows something MUCH more important: It shows a cadence, an unrelenting series of updates that make the game a little better every month [...] If that cadence proves anything, it’s that these challenges will also be tackled in due time. This game will emerge, and when it does, it’s going to be awesome."

Source: Crowfall

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Chronicles of Elyria clarifies server and domain selection process moving forward

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.

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The Exiled launches Season 2 with a trial extension and a big patch

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.

Source: Fairytale Distillery press release, patch notes

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The Daily Grind: How do you balance MMO playtime with single-player playtime?

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?

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Only two gamers have maxed out all of SMITE's 86 toons

As SMITE continues its third birthday celebrations, it's running multiple sales and bonus events in-game. Out of game, it's produced an inexplicably weird dance-off video and an infographic to brag up the game's stats.

Of note, players have counted over 247 million hours played in the last year alone -- and mage roles are by far the most popular (it's not even close!). And never let anyone tell you MOBAs are doomed to be short popcorn games; Hi-Rez says the longest conquest match ran 3 and a half hours.

A bonus slice of cake goes out to the two players -- only two! -- who've managed to achieve diamond mastery on every single god. I just counted: That's 86 characters maxed out.

Check 'em both out below. Especially that video, because what?

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Fan creates Guild Wars 2 themed collectible card game

Ever been playing Guild Wars 2 and thought to yourself, wouldn't I rather be playing a card game? UK-based designer and developer Luke Dowding has just the game for you. He's put together Guild Wars 2: Heroes of the Mists, a 200-card collectible card game.

"The objective of the card game is to defeat the opponent’s Hero. Each Hero will start with 80 Health and the first person to receive 80 Damage to their Hero loses," Dowding explains. "Players will build a deck of 40 cards each, 10 of those cards will be predetermined by the Profession you chose called Skill cards. The remaining 30 cards will be Minion cards and it will be up to the players to select and build a deck they think will bring them victory. Every turn players will use Endurance to summon Minion or Skill cards to damage the enemy Minions or the Hero."

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Final Fantasy XI players gather cherished memories for anniversary celebration

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.

Source: Reddit; thanks to Luis for the tip!

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Elite Dangerous addresses ship nameplate concerns

Yesterday's Elite Dangerous community livestream is full of good news for sci-fi fans anxiously watching the 2.3 beta. Of note, Frontier's Sandro Sammarco and Ed Lewis address the ship nameplates issue -- and the fact that these tools will be available as cash shop items only -- saying the studio means to keep to its plans. Keep your eyes locked on mega ships too; the studio promises these gargantuan edifices are super important and that it'll divulge more in the future.

Lewis reiterated the studio's plans on name plates in a forum post this morning, explaining that every ship will have a name, but "the ship name plates will offer an added layer of cosmetic personalisation for Commanders wanting to wear their name with pride, much like paint jobs and other cosmetics currently available in the store."

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Choose My Adventure: Wrapping up WildStar

Writing about WildStar at this point feels weird.

Obviously, I just finished up playing the game for this feature for four weeks. It feels fresh in my mind. And in many ways, it really has changed quite a bit from launch to its credit. In many other ways, it hasn’t changed much at all. And the ways in which it has changed would make a much bigger difference if those changes affected things that initially drove me away from the game.

So in many ways, when I write about WildStar now, I’m still writing about the launch version of the game. It’s just that we’re now several years out from that launch, and its potential to really be something no longer has the time to turn into reality. It’s still just a hope for what it could be, and there’s not much more to the game beyond what we see right now. So it’s the same state of the game, but it’s gone from promising opportunities to unrealized potential.

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Hyperspace Beacon: If you're not playing Star Wars: The Old Republic, why are you still subbed?

Let me start this article by answering my own headline: It's partly because I'm an idiot and cannot let go of this IP.

Star Wars: The Old Republic has been a part of my life for over six years, and not having it there to fall back on would be difficult. But I could still play SWTOR without a subscription. Many of my friends still do! The truth of the matter is that I'm still having fun in the game, just not playing the game. I still have a guild of about 50 people who log in regularly to participate in activities. I have friends whom I've grown close to. And as much as I hate to say it, there is no other game that can give me my Star Wars fix.

I guess it's possible that I could still log into the game and not pay a dime for it, but hopefully, if I tell you what happens during my typical game day, you will understand why I still hold a subscription for the game, despite not playing a single bit of the content BioWare has given and sold me.

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