Culture & Community Category

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

Global Chat: Returning to WildStar for F2P

Many WildStar fans, past and present, are digging into the sumptuous buffet of the free-to-play patch on the test server for a better idea of what to expect when the transition hits this fall. Light Falls Gracefully’s Mercury has a lengthy writeup of her observations and experiences approaching the game from the perspective of a new player.

Her conclusion? It’s looking promising so far: “Based on the first 10 levels of the free-to-play PTR beta, I like what I’m seeing in terms of the way new players are being treated. Keep it up and we’ll still be playing WildStar years from now.”

In this week’s tour around the MMO blogosphere, we’ll return to the days of Asheron’s Call PvP, talk about the problems with ArcheAge, evaluate World of Warcraft’s expansion announcement, and more!

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Eco, a global ecosystem game, makes its Kickstarter goal

Good news, ecology fans: Eco made its Kickstarter target with 15 days left to go! Non-ecology fans can be excited, too, whether you’re a big fan of games making their Kickstarter goals or you just like the idea of a voxel-based world with an active ecology, player-run economy, and sweeping environmental changes based upon player actions.

The core behind the game is that player actions impact the network of the game’s ecosystem, allowing for deforestation, extinction, and depletion when resources are used without a care. Players will also contend with external disasters and hostile wildlife, crafting and selling both goods and services on player-run servers. If it’s something that interests you, feel free to jump in on the campaign before it ends in early September.

Source: Kickstarter; thanks to Dengar for the tip!

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Hyperspace Beacon: What we need to know about SWTOR’s expansion companions

Tomorrow, the Star Wars: The Old Republic development team will livestream parts of its newest expansion Knights of the Fallen Empire. BioWare promises to answer questions about the crafting systems as well as revealing some information about your companions. So why has it taken the devs so long to talk about the crafting and companion system when it’s so integral to pretty much everything in the expansion?

We know from E3 that our choices during the expansion will have lasting ramifications on our personal story. We know that some companions will be chosen directly through the story. We know that some companions will be killed off or will have departed our service because of the choices that we make, but we don’t know how that’s going to affect the systems that are tied to the existing companion systems. Unfortunately, we might not even have all the answers we are looking for when the livestream is done. So I have put together a list of questions that I believe need to be answered during the livestream that are specifically focused on companions and the systems surrounding them.

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Haven & Hearth launches improved ‘eternal alpha’ on August 28th

Haven & Hearth should look and feel a bit familiar to fans of Salem. That’s not entirely surprising; both games have the same brain trust in the form of Seatribe, both are highly player-driven sandboxes, and both have permadeath. Haven & Hearth was an older project, but the game is being rebooted, upgraded, and relaunched in what’s being called a new “eternal alpha” by the developers on August 28th.

The plan is to have all of the features currently available in the existing game available in the new version, along with plenty of further adjustment and updates (hence the moniker of “eternal alpha”). Check out the trailer just below to get a sense of what the relaunch will look like in action.

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H1Z1 developers assure players that Survival is not forgotten

The first H1Z1 invitational is a pretty big deal, and it’s definitely taking the majority of developer attention as it draws closer. But however much you may like the Battle Royale gameplay style, you can almost certainly agree that it’s not focused on surviving against roaming hordes of zombies. A recent developer post on Reddit assures players that while the invitational is taking a lot of focus, that doesn’t mean other areas of the game have been forgotten.

September is already scheduled to focus around squashing bugs and improving Battle Royale for the invitational, but October and November are lined up to offer big updates to the Survival portion of the game. These updates include hospital points of interest, guild/clan systems, professions, new zombie types, and improvements to base building. There’s even a preview video of some raw art assets just below, if you’d like to see things in motion to know that they’re really happening. So players who prefer survival can rest easy knowing that it’s not dead, just resting for a bit.

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The Daily Grind: Should MMO studios interfere with server politics?

Last week, a reader named Bob alerted us to a messy political situation on EverQuest’s Lockjaw progression server. Apparently, characters from a large uberguild were caught breaking rotation — that is, killing mobs in a zone when other players on the server had previously claimed that time slot — leading to Daybreak’s temporary suspension of the entire guild.

Those suspensions were subsequently lifted for being too hasty, but that wasn’t really what set my head spinning. All the while I’m thinking what the what. Daybreak enforces rotation now? Daybreak has to sort out who gets to raid what and when in an official sticky thread on a forum, or at least enforces with disciplinary action what decisions a handful of guilds make for everyone else? Players can’t settle these things on their own? And most importantly, how is this functionally any different from just having a raid finder and instancing, aside from the fact that this takes up actual GM time to mitigate?

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Not So Massively: Path of Exile’s crafting scandal; Sins of a Dark Age’s sunset

This week in Not So Massively games, League of Legends players revealed a reproducible exploit that causes skillshot projectiles to become invisible and may have been in the game for several years. The Path of Exile community was also rocked by its own scandal as players discovered that the game’s wealthiest players and top crafters had monopolised their knowledge of secret crafting processes to control the game economy. Dota 2 opened registration for its upcoming Majors seasonal tournament, and pro player Aui 2000 discussed his e-sports career after recently winning the Dota 2 world championship and then being kicked from his team. Diablo III developers revealed that the new artifact named Kanai’s Cube was actually named a as tribute to a developer who recently passed away during the development of the game.

Star Citizen‘s devs have been working their way through merge conflicts following their live demos at Gamescom 2015; Polygon reports that 1,269 backers have been granted refunds to date. Splatoon is gearing up for its Autobots versus Decepticons splatfest event and got a new map named Flounder Heights with some interesting verticality. Elite: Dangerous announced a new art competition that asks players to design their dream ship skin for addition to the game. And we heard the news that recently released MOBA Sins of a Dark Age has ceased development, with the servers scheduled to go offline at the end of September.

Read on for detailed breakdowns of the stories above and other news from the wider world of online gaming in this week’s Not So Massively, and don’t forget to subscribe to the RSS feed for weekly updates!

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Sword and Bored: Jumping puzzle

My opinion of jumping puzzles is likely opposite of most people who have played games like Guild Wars 2 or Star Wars: The Old Republic: I actually kind of like them. Sure, some of them are extremely frustrating, and I admit that I really am not very good at them. But they are fun, and they make MMOs more interesting than a straight combat simulator.

With the expansion that Mo’s MMO just recently had, there are, of course, going to be new jumping puzzles for Mo and his friends to complete. So let’s see what happens in this week’s comic…

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How Wander’s launch devastated its community manager

What is it like to be the community manager of an MMO that was infamously called the worst PlayStation 4 game ever? That’s the question of the day for Emma S., the community manager of Wander.

Emma shares how she got involved with the Wander project as a volunteer and worked her way up to CM and social media guru. She describes jumping into the role at launch “beyond stressful” and “insane,” feelings complicated by a massively buggy and unstable release.

“Never underestimate the tremendous wrath of an immeasurable horde of irate gamers,” she recalls. “Within half an hour of launch, Facebook and Twitter had exploded with incredibly nasty comments. Though they were horrible, they were also honest. I hit the ground running. I read and answered every single post and comment as it came though. My stomach sank further with each passing notification. I felt was like I was being punched from the inside with every new comment.”

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RIFT explains the design principles behind the Primalist

RIFT is getting a new Calling for the first time since launch, which is a pretty big deal with the game’s approach to classes. An official interview with senior systems designer Jeff Hamilton has been posted on the game’s official site, detailing the design work that went into creating the first additional calling for the game and what led to making major changes with the Calling’s soul trees and talent system.

Hamilton explains that the other Callings have soul trees that have been expanded and bulked out through several level cap increases, but the Primalist was designed from the start to have a smaller number of points with more impact for each. He also explains that the intent was making sure that each of the various souls available has a clear purpose, from melee AoE to tanking. Read the full interview for more details about how the designers added something completely new to RIFT after years of an established structure.

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Sword Coast Legends early access starts in September

People attending PAX Prime this weekend will have the opportunity to play around in Sword Coast Legends on the show floor, but it won’t be long before those not at the show get to jump in on the game’s early access. There will be three phases of early access, with the first running from September 11th to the 13th for players who pre-ordered one of the collector’s edition packs.

The second early access period will be held from September 18th to the 20th for all pre-order customers, while the third will start on September 24th and continue through the game’s official launch on the 29th. Players who pre-ordered the collector’s edition will be able to access additional modes of play during the early access period. So don’t be jealous of the players who get to try out the game on the show floor if you’ve pre-ordered the game because your day is just around the corner.

Source: n-Space and Digital Extremes press release

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Final Fantasy XIV’s anniversary broadcast reveals plenty of content for patch 3.1

Back on April 1st of this year, the developers behind Final Fantasy XIV made a joke about developing a strategy game in which you could pit your minions against the minions of other players. It was the usual April Fools’ nonsense, but players liked the idea. So now that’s being added to the Gold Saucer with the game’s next major patch, along with a whole lot of further content, as revealed during the most recent live letter for the game.

Players can look forward to two new dungeons, the Saint Mocianne Arboretum and a hard mode for Pharos Sirius, along with the new 24-person content in the form of the Void Ark. There will also be a new Gold Saucer entry added to the challenge log, more main scenario quests, and new housing options like the ability to adjust your house’s interior lighting and brightness. While the quick translation from the live letter doesn’t perfectly translate everything, it should whet your appetite for more official and formal previews in the weeks to come.

Source: Official Site; thanks to Drakonicus for the tip!

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The Daily Grind: How long do you spend decorating your MMO houses?

I played more Star Wars: The Old Republic than I intended this weekend. The weather on Sunday was crap, so I logged in to my Nar Shaddaa sky palace and didn’t log out until four hours had passed and I’d decorated two of the place’s cavernous rooms. That’s OK, though, because it’d been a while since I’d messed around with MMO housing and I’d missed it.

What about you, player housing fans? How long do you typically spend making your virtual homes just right?

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