On the Morrowind subreddit a few days ago, a player was recounting a particular roleplay-slash-griefing episode on a hardcore-roleplay Ultima Online emulator. The player explains that he spent months roleplaying as a bartender serving drinks to the adventurers he befriended. But he was actually planning something far more nefarious:
“For over a year I roleplayed with these people as a simple barman, pretended to be their friend and confidant, and then during a harvest festival where every player on our server was in attendance and I was [paid] to provide the food and drink… I poisoned every last morsel of food, every drop of drink, and after the [regent] delivered his speech and all of these fools raised their goblets for the toast and took that deadly sip, I stepped onto the stage and revealed what had happened. They [were] all going to die, and die they did. Now this was a permanent death server (hardcore RPers, mind you), and some had been playing those characters for 8 years, and there they all were, collapsed and dying. Soon they were all unconscious, as you could only die if you went unconscious three times in one day or if a certain psychotic bartender came and cut off your head… which I did to every player in our group of 38. They were all there, and unfortunately so was I.”
On a sad note this week, a much-loved World of Warcraft YouTuber has passed away following a battle with a rare form of cancer.
In a video posted Monday, Hayven’s death was announced to the community. “Hayven passed away on the 18th of March, 2017, at 26 years old,” the video’s description says. “He was an inspiration to many and someone who cared immensely about his fans and community. Hayven had fought epithelioid sarcoma, a rare and severe form of cancer that usually affects teenagers and young adults.”
Hayven delivered an update about his cancer treatment back in January, saying that his health had taken a turn for the worse. His YouTube channel grew to over 55,000 subscribers and covered hundreds of videos dating all the way back to 2014, looking at the evolution of World of Warcraft over the years. Hugs go out to everyone in his family and community.
It is an absolutely massive week for Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm, so let’s dig into all of the news. Yesterday, the game launched its Patch 2.0 overhaul, which contains an improved progression and rewards system, the Hanamura battleground, a collections page, the introduction of gems as the premium currency of the game, and a brand-new hero: Overwatch’s Genji.
As part of the patch fun, Heroes also kicked off a multi-week quest chain called Nexus Challenge 2.0. By completing each of the four quests (which conclude on May 22nd), players can earn rewards in both Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm, such as a new D.Va officer skin, loot boxes, and motorcycle mounts. D.Va will most likely be the next hero to come to the game, according to a new cinematic.
If those aren’t enough freebies for you, Blizzard is giving away two score of free heroes to anyone who logs in: “All players who log in between April 25 and May 22 will receive 100 gems, which can be used to permanently unlock one Mega Bundle of their choice. Each Mega Bundle contains 20 Heroes and has its own theme: Assassin, Flex, Support & Specialist, and Tanks & Bruisers.”
Hey, it turns out that designing long-term MMORPGs that aren’t pump-and-dump schemes is hard!
That’s the takeaway from a new PC Gamer interview with Blizzard’s Ion Hazzikostas, during which the World of Warcraft game director admits to what the developers of the dozens of MMOs that came before WoW could’ve told Blizz had it, y’know, ever considered asking.
“We are becoming increasingly aware of the cost of any change we make that has ongoing maintenance and the risk of design bloat,” Hazzikostas says. “If we keep adding and adding with every expansion, eventually what we end up with becomes very unwieldy. It’s an issue that we weren’t cognizant enough of early on because we were in uncharted territory, but we are now.” Yeah, he said uncharted territory.
Recently, Ravalation carried on an annual blogger tradition called Developer Appreciation Week. During this week, gamers would put aside their usual vitriol and criticism for devs to pen posts about the appreciated side of studios. It was certainly nice to see a bloom of positivity and praise, that’s for sure.
“If there’s something I’ve learned from my fellow participants during this year’s DAW it’s that 1) game developers work extremely hard purely because they love their games, 2) bugs frequently appear in complicated coding, and 3) devs are usually aware that bugs exist when content goes live and feel terrible about it,” she wrote.
Join us after the break for more MMO blog essays, including a tour of Star Citizen’s luxury ship, more thoughts on Secret World Legends, and the enduring love of a World of Warcraft fan.
What does a week where the news douses us in a shower of smaller stories look like? Bree and Justin wring out of their clothes, shaking loose tales of metropolises in the planning, console features, anniversary parties, and dance studios. Maybe it won’t flood the world of MMOs, but it definitely waters the lawns of our interest!
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Yesterday’s Elder Scrolls Online press embargo drop allowed us to talk a bit more about the overpowered state of the Morrowind Warden class — in fact, Larry flat-out called it a Mary Sue. What surprised me about the ensuing discussion was how incredibly cynical our readers were in response to that (and to the general community uproar over the class). Quite a lot of you (and other highly engaged gamers) seem to believe that ZeniMax is releasing the Warden totally overpowered intentionally as part of its marketing strategy, and to some extent, it makes sense — you want to create hype for your game and get people to buy it, so make sure to pack in a badass, solo-friendly class that encourages fence-sitters to make that leap.
On the other hand, you risk ticking off a couple million existing players who don’t want their characters falling to the bottom of the heap or who don’t want to feel as if they have to reroll.
Do you believe studios like ZeniMax, Blizzard, and ArenaNet intentionally release overpowered new classes, planning to nerf and balance them later? And if so, is it the smart call?
It’s probably not the best idea to start shouting racial abuse in the middle of a live stream if you’re public figure with a pro gaming career.
That’s the lesson to learn from Toronto Esports player Matt “Dellor” Vaughn, who apparently started shrieking the N-word repeatedly (“for 26 uninterrupted seconds while his teammates sat in stunned silence,” PVP Live writes) over voice chat during an Overwatch stream, which one of his viewers then uploaded to YouTube for posterity.
The diatribe caused Toronto Esports to end Vaughn’s contract:
“Toronto Esports is an organization built on inclusivity, and we have always had a zero- tolerance policy for any forms of discrimination. Immediately upon learning of the incident, the player was interviewed, admitted to the offence, and was notified that his contract with the organization was being terminated.”
Is there a Blizzard franchise you want to carry around in your pocket? Obviously, you can already play Hearthstone on your phone, but perhaps you’d like to play a version of Overwatch where you’re tracking down and shooting Omnics in the real world, or perhaps a version of Diablo allowing cross-client progression. Whatever the case may be, we don’t know that another mobile title is on the way, but considering the company is hiring for a new mobile software engineer, it seems likely.
While it’s unlikely to be a completely new title, there have been rumblings for a while that either Overwatch or StarCraft would lend themselves to mobile offerings. That could mean it’s one of those two, or it could be another crossover property like Heroes of the Storm. Or even a mobile port of the original StarCraft (stranger things have happened). It’s all speculative at the moment, but if you enjoy playing on your phone, it’s all positive speculation.
The first I ever heard of Lord of the Rings Online
was flipping through the pages of some gaming magazine back in early 2007. At the time, I was neck-deep in World of Warcraft
and wasn’t really looking around for other MMO distractions, but something about the article caught my eye.
It wasn’t the use of the Lord of the Rings book franchise, which I had respected but wasn’t exactly the most rabid fan in the world. It was a mention of an online fantasy world that hewed to a low magic setting, where dazzling spell effects and typical classes weren’t the order of the day. Instead, the article poured over how much LOTRO was trying to hew to a more realistic and believable setting (albeit one in a fictional fantasy universe), and that made it stand out to me in a sea of upcoming MMORPGs.
Months later, I was in the two-week head start, experiencing Middle-earth in a brand-new way apart from the books or Peter Jackson films. Going through the Shire in those first few days was tranquil and deeply thrilling, as if I knew that this was the start of something special. Ten years later, and I know that my gut feeling was correct. While not a perfect game, LOTRO has nevertheless grown into a wide-ranging and impressive virtual world that still has so much to offer even in this modern age.
When both teams lose, who wins? That might sound like an oxymoron, but the latest Overwatch adjustment to competitive play is aimed at exactly that scenario. It’s possible when playing on maps with an Assault component like Hanamura to have both teams fail to capture an objective at all… which raises the question of who wins. In an effort to make things fair, a change was already made so that the team which made more progress would be declared the winner… but that led to a problem wherein it was essentially a job for defenders to always have someone on the capture point so the attackers couldn’t make progress.
The next change upcoming requires at least 33% progress on the capture for it to “count,” meaning that if the enemy team slips someone on for a tiny sliver of capture, they’re still behind. So if both attacking teams manage to partially capture the objective, but one hits 10% and the other hits 40%, the team who hits 40% wins the round. The various potential tie scenarios are all discussed in the official rundown, which should put your mind at rest if you stay up at nights thinking about this problem.
Soft-launching today on both the iOS and Android markets is a new mobile MMORPG from Netease dubbed Crusaders of Light. It was originally released as Land of Glory overseas last month (and was tremendously popular in China), but it’s gotten a name-change and a spruce-up for the western market. You’ll notice immediately that it seems to have an awful lot in common with vanilla World of Warcraft, from its stylized graphics to its 40-man PvE raiding endgame. It boasts 25×25 battlegrounds, small-scale ranked arenas, guild ladders, mounts, and loot out the wazoo too.
As I write this, it’s not yet up for download publicly on either platform for me in the US; it looks to be trickling out to Oceania first today, then Europe, Russia, Brazil, and North America in time for the official launch this summer. You can preregister on the official site, and yes it’s free-to-play with plenty of stuff to buy on the side.
A hotfix that went into World of Warcraft yesterday decreased the damage of the new mage tower artifact challenge that has been kicking the heinies of players since Patch 7.2 came out. Players have been attempting to conquer this challenge in order to obtain a new and desirable skin for their artifact weapons.
The nerf decreases key mobs’ health pools by 10 to 20% while also summoning smoldering infernals less frequently (because they keep making messes on the rug and who needs that?). One mob did get a buff, however: Kor’vas Bloodthorn’s health was doubled with the hotfix.
Other tweaks with the small patch include making beacon portals last 10 seconds longer, doubling the drop rate for portal stones, and being able to vendor those Sentinax beacons that have been littering your inventory space.