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

The Daily Grind: What’s the appeal of tanking in MMOs?

Do you live the tank life? Do you suit up in your oversized, overpowered, overprotective armor and strut out onto the front lines of combat every day in game? Do you lead your dungeon group with vision and confidence? Do you feel like you’re babysitting a group of eccentric toddlers who can barely keep from wetting their own pants, nevermind pull it together to take down the next boss?

Then we want to hear from you today!

For the tankers out there, what’s the appeal of this role in MMORPGs? Why do you assume the mantle of one of the more difficult and less flashy positions in a group? Is it for the leadership? The power trip? The fact that you’re always in demand? Let’s hear from you burly bashers today!

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Pokemon Go: Milwaukee County lawsuit injunction and preparing for legendaries

Back in February, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, tried to prevent Pokemon Go player-inflicted park damage by requiring ARG developers, including Niantic, to acquire permits before implementing games within the park. The county was subsequently sued by Texas Rope’ Em dev Candy Lab AR this past spring, and now, a judge has granted an injunction blocking enforcement of the ordinance until after the lawsuit’s been resolved, noting not only that it’s unconstitutional but nearly impossible to execute.

In happier POGO news, Legendary Pokemon are coming to Pokemon Go. Unlike other Pokemon, Legendaries cannot be put into gyms to defend, but they should make raids a little bit easier. Trainers at the Chicago event will have a set of challenges to meet, but players not attending also need to help out. PokemonGO Hub has a great chart for finding out when the events begin if you need a little guidance. On the way to legendaries, players can unlock bonuses to just about everything, from Star Dust to increased spawns.

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Betawatch: Dark and Light shines a light on early access (July 21, 2017)

For everything, there is a season, turn turn turn. We’ve bid farewell to Albion Online this week, as it has launched properly and thus no longer qualifies as being in beta, but we also can say hello to the early access period for Dark and Light. Seriously, that just came out of nowhere, after ages of delays. It’s kind of awesome like that. So hooray for new early access!

We also bid farewell to Gigantic as it reaches its official launch. It’s like everyone graduating from college, although in this case college is full of supposed tests that are mostly a matter of building notoriety and… huh. That analogy works surprisingly well.

More testing news? Of course, friends, of course.

Well, after all of that I’m sure everyone wants to retreat to the safety of the list of games in testing, yes? I know I do. It’s down below, and you can feel free to scroll through it and let us know if we’re missing something important in the comments.

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DC Universe Online looks forward to a new powerset and two new stories

Ah, summer, the time of year when everyone inevitably starts thinking about the fall. It is what comes next, after all. So DC Universe Online is teasing its plans for content through September and November, including the upcoming new Water powerset to replicate Aquaman. Stop laughing, it’s a legitimate powerset; it can heal or do damage, focusing on manipulating the water in and around allies and enemies. It’s scheduled to roll out on August 30th, so you’ll be ale to get all wet just before the summer ends.

Meanwhile, the two new story arcs for the game will be coming out in September and November. The first one, Riddled with Crime, sees Batman going missing and Gotham City’s underworld rising up to take control of the streets; the second brings in the Crime Society of America from Earth-3, requiring heroes to team up with Alexander Luthor in a world where all of the morality of characters is reversed. It’s a little ways away, but you know with all of this that you won’t want for entertainment for the next few months.

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Valiance Online works with the community to develop and show off powersets

Do you like pets, powersets, and behind-the-scenes development glances? Then you’ll enjoy the nearly four hours of Valiance Online stream footage now available just below, which features a discussion of the enhancement system, spreadsheet development, the start of a community-developed powerset (Bubble Projection, starts at around the two-hour mark), a look at one of the pet powersets available, and plenty of in-jokes and laughs among the developers. The video is long, but you can safely skip to around 24:00 and not miss any of the important moments.

If you don’t have time to watch all of that or would prefer more direct information, you can check out the game’s latest lore article about the Starborn, a gang of fashion-obsessed custom-tailored psionic troublemakers jockeying for power more due to boredom than anything else. They’re chasing the latest psionic technology and the latest fashion, and they’re willing to make an absolute mess of the world in the process. So that’s going to be fun.

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The Daily Grind: What’s your ideal ‘retirement’ MMORPG?

Wednesday, my husband and I were chatting about the big stories of the day, including the Star Citizen piece that racked up a bajillion comments, not counting all the deleted ones. I was explaining that some people have put thousands of dollars into this hope of a game, which skews how setbacks are perceived, when he remarked, “Oh, it’s their retirement.”

He didn’t mean people were investing their retirement savings into CIG, of course, although I’m sure somebody is doing just that. He meant they’re investing their retirement dreams in virtual spaceships. Those future players don’t really care that the game isn’t finished now and probably isn’t going to be feature complete for many more years. They’re thinking long-term: This is the game they want to “retire” to in a more vague and distant future, and it’ll be ready for them when they’re ready for it. Star Citizen is their cabin by the lake, their shack by the sea, their tent on Tatooine.

I’m most of a lifetime away from retirement, so I’ve never really thought about what I might want to play if I ever get to be a kid again only with money, outside of joking about wanting VR in the old folks’ home. But I have my weak spots: If someone promised me SWG 2 would be ready in a couple decades, I’d start planning my character now.

Have you got a “retirement MMO” picked out? What’s your ideal retirement MMORPG?

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Massively Overthinking: Building a better MMORPG economy

We are on a roll with the epic questions for Overthinking lately! “The recent article about monetization got me thinking about just how much most modern MMOs are still trying to replicate real-world capitalist economies,” MOP Patron Avaera begins.

“Virtual currency is usually earned proportional to various measures of virtual effort that are intended to be wealth-generating activities – selling loot earned from skillful PvE hunting, selling crafted goods made from resources gathered over time, owning items or land that generates tradeable material over time. However, virtual effort doesn’t have the quite the same limitations, scarcity, and creativity as real-world effort, and these systems seem prone to exploitation by users/bots that can easily outmatch casual players in terms of how much virtual effort and time they can expend, leading to various RMT problems and artificially distorted economies. How would you go about avoiding this problem, if you had the god-like powers of a game designer? Is there a way to set up a virtual economy so that it isn’t prone to exploitation by bots or gold-farmers, and will we ever see a virtual game currency that can truly be exchanged with a real one?”

I posed Avaera’s question to our staff to mull over.

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Lord of the Rings Online explains the Allegiance system in Mordor

We’re probably not going to blow your mind by saying this, but here it is anyway: Mordor in Lord of the Rings Online is not a friendly place. You’re shocked, obviously. But the point is that you’ll need to have some allies to deal with the problems of that land, and those allies need to know you’re their ally. Hence, the upcoming Allegiances system, a chance for players to improve reputation and standing with one of four factions for cosmetic rewards and unique storylines.

It’s important to note that the four factions (the Hobbits of the Company, Durin’s Folk, the Court of Lothlorien, and the Kingdom of Gondor) will not affect your access to endgame gear, even though the Allegiance system will be tied into the endgame. But your choice is mostly between the four stories you wish to follow and which cosmetic gear you want to access first. Still, much like Merry and Pippin’s oaths of service (which formed the initial concept for this system), it’s going to be important from a narrative standpoint to consider whom your character will bend a knee for.

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Choose My Adventure: Two approaches to whining about DC Universe Online

Dear readers, today I am going to try something different for all of you. And it’s predicated on the fact that I’m not just fond of video games; I’m also fond of comic books. This means that when I sat down for my most recent play session in DC Universe Online, I found myself of two minds about why I wasn’t super-duper happy with the content I was experiencing… and both of them could easily fill in a good chunk of words by themselves.

So this week, you get to choose the column you want to read. There are two spoiler warnings below: one covering my thoughts of playing the game from a strictly game-based perspective, the other one being my thoughts of playing the game from a comic book fan’s perspective. Read one! Read the other! Read both! Theoretically you could read neither, I suppose, but then you would have clocked out before you were done with this introduction.

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Check out the character creation options for Black Desert’s upcoming Mystic class

As it has always gone with Black Desert, there’s another new class coming to the game dubbed the Mystic, meant to function as the female equivalent of the male-only Striker class. (This is apparently easier than just making one class open to both genders.) There’s a full gallery of screenshots and a teaser trailer down below; the Mystic herself is supposed to be an orphaned girl from Calpheon who was taken in and trained in the Far East, only to journey back when her male sparring partner (i.e., the Striker) headed back.

You can also check out character creation screenshots and video courtesy of Dulfy. The video is just below and shows off the options available, from character build (very skinny to “slightly thicker Michelle Rodriguez”), muscles (waifish girl to a waifish girl with the hint of abs covered in enough baby oil to slide on sandpaper), and hair (high ponytails and cute pixie cuts rule the day). Between that and the class trailer/screenshots down below, it might be hard to wait for your punch-happy lady character, but at least you’ll know how you want her to look.

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The Daily Grind: What simple tasks does your favorite MMO make unnecessarily difficult?

For the longest time, logging out of Final Fantasy XI was something of a nightmare. First, you had to get to a mog room, or else you had to wait for an extended period of time to log off (unlike other games such as World of Warcraft, you can’t just force an immediate logoff while your character stays in place longer). Then, you had to exit out of the PlayOnline Viewer, a program with the sole purpose of making you angry that you were playing the game. It was just a matter of logging on and logging off, but imagine adding two extra minutes or so to every single time you want to get offline.

Of course, I figure every game has some issues along those lines. It was always such a pain to just get your fellow players onto the bridge of your ship in Star Trek Online, and I found map waypoints in Lord of the Rings Online to be irritating to see. None of these things are complex for the player, but their simplicity makes it almost more annoying when these things are inconvenient or difficult. So what would you say? What simple tasks does your favorite MMO make unnecessarily difficult?

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Raph Koster would put action combat in Star Wars Galaxies if made today

Recently, one of game designer Raph Koster’s fans wrote in to pose him an interesting hypothetical question. If he were to remake Star Wars Galaxies today, the fan asked, which combat format would Koster choose?

His answer? Action combat all the way, baby.

Koster said that the environment right now is more conducive to action combat, even within RPGs. He cites a larger audience for such gameplay, far better technology than back in 2003, and different player expectations. “It would feel pretty alien to the average player to be in first person and not have FPS combat,” he writes. “This was one of the things that drove having overhead views in SWG.”

He does note that RPG elements can be used to make action combat more stat- than twitch-based, which has been used in many MMOs and other video games.

Source: Raph Koster

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EVE Online previews changes coming to mining moons

Mining makes the world go round for EVE Online. You need those resources to construct space stations, to build ships, and to barter with others in order to fight over the price of minerals extracted through mining, right? Right. So the changes coming to moon mining will have a pretty big impact; instead of passively mining from space, players will lift a whole chunk of the moon and then blast it apart so that individual ships can flit through and mine away. The whole process is explained in more detail in the most recent development post.

Players will have new ores mined from these moon chunks that refine into multiple different components rather than come out pre-processed, thus giving good reason for players to collect these new sorts of ore personally. The process of surveying a moon and the distribution of resources will also be adjusted, giving players plenty of reasons to pursue different moons for mining operations instead of simply parking at the most convenient ones. Check out the full entry to see how much fun it can be to lift off a chunk of rock from a moon and then dig for things from the rocks.

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