Culture & Community Category

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

Project Gorgon explains why its appeal isn’t merely nostalgia-related

Project Gorgon, the scrappy indie MMO that recently went into Steam early access, hosted an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit to talk about the game yesterday. Gorgon is a somewhat popular subject on MMO boards, and the AMA garnered a lot of questions and responses.

The devs said that they had not posted a roadmap for the fantasy MMO because “we don’t really work that way,” but they did tease major projects including “several new areas, a new animation system, horse mounts, playable fae race, a new dungeon, and (starting soon) player housing.”

There was also an explanation of how Gorgon veers off from the mainstream MMO design and appeals to players looking for that classic MMO feel: “Project Gorgon was designed around the idea of letting you explore deep game systems. The game’s complexity opens up like an onion — and it’s not pointless complexity, because that’s dumb. There’s real complexity that models interesting things, to let you create interesting custom combat builds, or solve problems in interesting ways. You have to learn how to play, but doing so is really rewarding.”

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Overwatch inadvertently reveals lunar colony revamp for future patch

The relatively new(ish) Horizons Lunar Colony map in Overwatch is getting a revamp — but don’t tell anyone else because it’s supposed to be hush-hush. Or it should have been, except that a version of the rework slipped onto the public test realm to the surprise of players along side the new Rialto map.

Blizzard affirmed the lunar colony revamp as real: “Well that wasn’t supposed to happen but there you go. We have some changes that we are still working on and testing for the map so what you are seeing here may not be final. Also as an FYI, it won’t be released with the next patch and no ETA for when it will be released, as it is still a rework in progress.”

These patches aren’t all the Overwatch dev team is up to these days. When it caught wind of one player who had lost her father and had retreated into the game in her grief, the team sent her a giant 15-pound goodie box full of Overwatch as consolation.

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Impressions of Project Gorgon from an Asheron’s Call player

It’s finally time for me talk about Project Gorgon as a released product. As you might have guessed, I was avoiding the game prior to launch. I’ve spoken out against early access a lot and have realized that, at this point in my gaming/career, playing games I’m passionate too early can be a threat to both work and play. I wanted a relationship with PG, but I didn’t want to rush into anything pre-release. I wanted it as complete as possible.

MJ’s streamed it a bunch of times, including the day before launch. Eliot’s comments from his pre-release CMA feel spot on still post-release. However, as the resident old-man Asheron’s Call fan with a review copy, I think I can add a few comments about how Project Gorgon compares to AC1&2, plus how developer Eric Heimburg’s infused PG in AC-esque ways.

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Star Trek Online accidentally previews its Personal Endeavor system for Victory is Life, players unearth quadrant map

Who likes having new goals to achieve on a daily basis? Because that’s what you’re getting in the next Star Trek Online expansion, even if it turns out you weren’t supposed to see it just yet. The game previewed its upcoming Personal Endeavor system, only to remove the page shortly thereafter; fortunately, the Internet is what it is and the cached page is still viewable. So you can still learn about it before you’re probably supposed to.

The good news is that it’s a nice thing to add to your daily tasks; there are three levels of challenge you’ll be facing, along with a mechanism to occasionally reroll one of your endeavor challenges in the hopes of getting one that’s easier to fulfill. Successfully clearing them will earn you points of Personal Endeavor experience, which can lead to account-wide stat boosts.

Players have also uncovered a new spoilery map of the various galactic quadrants hinting out the expansion destinations, so it’s hardly like this cached page is the only thing being found a bit early.

Source: Reddit, Cached page; thanks to Jake for the tip!

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The Daily Grind: Which MMORPG features the most ‘hostile design’?

Last week, the Extra Credits crew did a feature on hostile architecture aka unpleasant design – a way of papering over a problem in design instead of actually fixing it. In urban planning, the tactic is used to (for example) oust homeless people from an area in such a way that the general population doesn’t even realize it’s being done. The lead example in the video is Seattle’s move to erect bike racks under a bridge destined for demolition, not because the city wanted to help cyclists but because it wanted to get rid of the homeless folks camping there. Similarly, Heathrow Airport is designed with too few public seats for all the people moving through the terminal; instead of solving the problem by building enough seats, the city just built high-priced restaurants with plenty of tables, basically to make some extra money off its own (intentionally) bad design.

The video apologizes for not being expressly about gaming, but I bet you folks can immediately summon some examples in MMORPGs of this very trick. Designing excessive grinds and then “solving” the problem by putting grind-speeder-uppers in the cash shop is one.

Can you ante up more? Which MMORPG features the most “hostile design,” and what is it?

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World of Warcraft’s new communities system aims to bring players together in Battle for Azeroth

Among the various features and additions coming with World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth this summer, communities has gotten buried in all of the excitement. Yet this tool may generate some excitement when players experience it in action.

Blizzard Watch has a preview up of how communities work now that an early version is up on the alpha server. Communities will allow players to create cross-realm groups in addition to regular guilds (guilds will automatically become their own communities as well). The idea is that players can fashion specific types of communities and keep everyone in touch across the game.

There is also an option to create groups based on Blizzard’s BattleTags, in case you want a community that spans multiple Blizzard titles.

The article notes that many of the community features have yet to be activated, so there is a lot that we have yet to learn about the flexibility and function of this system.

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Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV’s next patch reveals our future story

The next patch for Final Fantasy XIV is something we should all watch closely. Because it’s going to tell us plenty about where we’re heading in the next expansion.

We haven’t yet been told that we’ll learn about a new expansion this year, but we have a fan festival on the calendar, we’re moving through the middle of the patch, and FFXIV moves on a content delivery schedule reliable enough to set your clock by. So we know that announcement is happening this year, and we can all bet on it coming out in June of next year. (If it’s running really late, maybe July.)

And this is the patch where we’ll find out where we’re headed. Not that we’ll be told yet, of course; we were never actually told in-universe that we were heading to Ala Mhigo until it happened, after all. But this is the point when threads need to start collecting into a useful form, and so it’s best to watch closely and see which elements are being picked up and tugged along for our next destination.

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EVE Fanfest 2018: CCP Falcon on EVE’s community team layoffs and having Hilmar as a CEO

It’s safe to say that it’s been a rough year for CCP Games, with the company pulling out of VR game development and laying off around 100 staff worldwide. The entire EVE Online community team was reported to have been slashed down to just two employees, and many of the studio’s most experienced PR staff were let go when the Atlanta office was shuttered. EVE players (including me) came down hard on CCP and on CEO Hilmar Veigar Petursson in particular, and some inside the company were notably shaken.

EVE Online Community Manager Paul “CCP Falcon” Elsy was one of the few members of the community team left after the layoffs, suddenly finding himself organising the 15th anniversary Fanfest without a team. It’s now been almost five months since the layoffs, so I caught up with Paul at EVE Fanfest 2018 recently to find out how the company has coped with the loss of so many skilled community staff. He also clarified CCP’s role in tackling harassment outside the game client in the wake of a recent virtual scuffle on the Open Comms show, and gave a fascinating account of how Hilmar himself dealt with the recent layoffs and how he’s been getting more involved with EVE lately.

Read on for our massive in-depth interview with EVE‘s Community Manager Paul “CCP Falcon” Elsy.

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Final Fantasy XIV invites the community to design physical DPS gear

Thus far, Final Fantasy XIV has run three gear design competitions for the community, inviting players to design gear for tanks, healers, and magical DPS jobs. The winners of all three have already shown up in the game, to boot; winning designs have been implemented in subsequent patches, expanded to fill all of the various roles (the caster DPS design is the design being added for dungeon gear in patch 4.3). So how would you like to fill out the remaining gear designs?

The design contest for ranged and melee DPS has just kicked off, with the same rules as prior installments and a variety of prizes for players to enjoy. This time, players can enter for either category to be included, so if you have something in mind for Monk but not necessarily for Bard, you’ll submit it separately. No promises are made about when the designs will be added to the game after the contest, but our suggestion is to get drawing and put the designs out there if you’ve got a knack for costuming.

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The Daily Grind: How much MMO game info should be hidden from the players?

A blog post on The Psychology of Video Games blog a few weeks ago seems relevant to our interests: It explores the “pleasure paradox,” which basically suggests that humans crave certainty, but once we get it, we’re bored. Experiments showed that subjects “said they would prefer to be less uncertain, but the results show that their happiness would have been diminished” if they actually were. We like a good mystery!

Consequently, author Jamie Madigan argues, games should take advantage of this human quirk – say, by rewarding us based on some hidden modifier but not telling us what we did to earn it.

In a weird way, that’s something ancient MMORPGs did by accident: Information was so obfuscated that playing was as much trial and error as anything, and game mechanics were an unintentional mystery. And something like, oh, websites publishing every single mage spell combo in Asheron’s Call? It killed the magic. So does every elitist in your group spamming DPS meters in chat in the modern era.

How much MMO game info should be hidden from the players? And is the “pleasure paradox” the reason?

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Citadel: Forged With Fire lets you bring your tamed creatures with you through fast travel

Fast travel is important with Citadel: Forged With Fire, but it had an obnoxious and somewhat weird little quirk: Hopping through a portal wouldn’t bring the mount you tamed through the portal with you. So you would have to wait for it to catch up with you from half a world away, and while the mental image might have been hilarious it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Not so any longer, though! The game now allows tamed critters to follow you through quick travel, so you both wind up at your destination at the same time.

The patch also fixes several bugs and improves the appearance of some unpowered magic structures, which makes for a smaller patch overall with one major quality of life fix. So you no longer get the mental image of a horse booking it across all sorts of landscapes to get to where you teleported, but you also don’t need to stand outside of the portal and wait for that horse like the world’s most nonsensical Lyft driver. Swings and roundabouts.

Source: Steam page

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One Shots: Tour guides

It turns out that MMORPG players really don’t need much prompting to go out and take a bazillion screenshots of their favorite in-game zones, as evidenced by the avalanche of photos generated by last week’s challenge.

SmugglerSteel kicks us off this this neon nightmare: “I knew exactly where I needed to tour in SWTOR for this one. I will always remember my first trip to Nar Shaddaa. I was blown away away by the color and aesthetic. I always thought it had a very Bladerunner inspired feel, yet still did it’s own thing.”

Like any good casino, Nar Shaddaa is designed so that players can never figure out how to leave. SmugglerSteel forwards his mail there now.

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