Does it matter how many people are playing your MMO? For some, yes, it does. It’s at least of passing interest to others, especially if players are looking for a “healthy” title or want a large number with which to impress their friends and argue that this MMO is besting another.
So don’t be too surprised that there is an effort to figure out what Guild Wars 2’s (undisclosed) population is at the moment. In An Age challenges one community estimate of 3.3 million players by looking at the available evidence and financial reports.
“Here’s my gut check: Guild Wars 2 probably has about 1.5 million monthly ‘players’ and many times less people who actually log on when there isn’t a holiday event/Living Story taking place,” he argues. “Ultimately though, I think Guild Wars 2 is actually uniquely well-positioned to survive regardless of whether it consists of a million actives or three million tourists.”
If studio job postings get your blood pumping with the thoughts of what could be, here are a couple of tantalizing tidbits that perhaps hint at future development.
Legends of Aria developer Citadel Studios posted a job listing for both a digital marketing specialist and a game programmer. By the way, if you happen to be testing Aria right now, you should know that the NDA was lifted earlier this week.
Nexon — which you may have heard of — put out a notice with the hopes of recruiting a game director for its Nexon OC Studio. The specific game in question was not mentioned, although the description does ask for candidates that have worked on previous AAA titles.
If that last post sounds a little familiar, perhaps it is because you are remembering that former WildStar and World of Warcraft developer Stephen Frost went to work as a game director at Nexon OC last year.
Diablo III’s 13th season is kicking off next week. If you’re hoping for something revolutionary and thrilling for lucky number 13, this… isn’t that. In fact, the dev blog previewing the season actually uses the word “traditional.” But hey, if you like comfortable predictability, you’ll be pleased as punch.
Participants in the seasonal run will pick up more pieces of the Conqueror’s set (helm and shoulders), new Imperius portraits, and a new teddy bear pet (covered in blood, thus reducing its cute factor). Folks without four stashes can work toward an extra, and currency toward class sets is also on order.
It’s going to be easy to ignore new formulas in World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth for a little while. After all, you’re dealing with a big across-the-board numbers squish along with a new expansion, so you’ll probably be focusing more on your individual abilities feeling like they do the right amount of damage per hit. But there’s been what appears to be a pretty major under-the-hood change in the game’s damage calculation. Whereas previously abilities that didn’t use your weapon didn’t care about weapon damage, it appears that everything in Battle for Azeroth uses weapon damage as an important component of its overall damage.
How does this affect you? From a moment-to-moment standpoint, it might not, but it does important work in addressing the disparity between classes like Warriors and classes like Monks. Most Monk abilities were not weapon strikes, so weapon damage didn’t actually affect their overall damage heavily and more attack power was the only real factor; by contrast, most Warrior abilities scaled with weapon damage all along. Going forward, if both classes scale based on weapon damage, it means that they’ll both need to assign roughly the same amount of weight to getting better weapons. It’s not something you’d notice unless you paid a lot of attention to damage formulas and specific gear importance, but it’s still an interesting change.
The next round of hero changes for Overwatch is currently on the test server, so you can feel free to try them out if you’re so inclined. What’s not on the test server are changes to Hanzo, something that Jeff Kaplan discusses in the most recent development update video. A lot of abilities and plans had been discussed for Hanzo, but the most promising one was an arrow that shot through barriers to replace Scatter Arrow. It worked, but it felt like it punished smart play ducking behind barriers and the like.
The current plan is to give Hanzo a rapid-fire ability to replace Scatter Arrow and a new multidirectional horizontal dash to allow him to get in and out of range quickly. Symmetra and Torbjorn are also on the deck for future adjustments. For the moment, you can explore improvements to Mei’s freeze ability, Sombra’s main gun, and Doomfist’s ammo recovery rate; check out the whole video just below to get a more detailed rundown of what’s changing.
Not so long ago, our editor-in-chief was talking about how World of Warcraft needs some form of multiclassing system. So let’s talk about how the game could do that, yes? That’s something we haven’t talked about.
It’s actually one of those weird things that has, for various reasons, never actually come up at all as a promised feature of any sort, especially as the various specs within a class have become more and more diversified. In the earliest days, an Enhancement Shaman and an Elemental Shaman both had the same tools and had talents to emphasized different ones; these days, they share a minority of abilities and mostly get their own unique kit. You can swap between specs pretty freely, but not between classes.
But that’s not to say we couldn’t get some form of multi-classing. Heck, it felt like the various spec-bending talents for Druids were already halfway toward this sort of support, and Druids themselves sort of lean into the direction of multiple classes under one roof. So with absolutely no indication that such a feature has ever been seriously discussed beyond fan theories, let’s look at how this could work in World of Warcraft.
It was a quiet night last night for World of Warcraft datamining, but there was still some news to be had with the latest round of hotfixes. Players can access the mobile auction house API once again, which is good news for anyone attempting to maintain a merchant empire in the game. The hotfixes also patched up issues like achievements for certain Eastern Kingdoms Loremaster accomplishments not tracking across multiple characters and proper mount drops from Yogg-Saron.
Meanwhile, players have uncovered something interesting on the Broken Shore. If you head out to that region and look for the Xorothian Cultists without simply attacking them, you can see that they’re channeling a spell. A long spell; it’s a spell that should finish casting around March 7th. In the past, some of their long channeling spells have hinted at big events to come when the channeling finishes, with the last cast ending on the day of patch 7.3.5 releasing. So what happens around that day? We’ll have to find out, but it hints that it’ll be something interesting.
One of the first new Secret World Legends
systems is coming soon, and Funcom posted a quick video of it this week to whet players’ appetites.
In a minute-and-a-half, CM Andy Benditt walked players through the basics of the upcoming agent system. This system works much like World of Warcraft’s order hall missions, Star Trek Online’s duty officer system, and RIFT’s minions. The idea is that players will recruit and collect support agents that can be equipped for their passive ability bonuses (three max) and sent out on timed missions with the hopes of bringing back rewards. The strategy here is to match up an agent’s traits with the mission requirements in question in order to increase the chance of success.
Check it out below and let us know what you think in the comments!
World of Warcraft and e-sports go together like coffee and donuts! Macaroni and cheese! Bubblegum and walking! Yeah maybe more like that last one. And Blizzard is not giving up making the two work. In a new stream and dev blog out today, the company discusses just how season of the Mythic Dungeon Invitational is going to work.
Like last season’s showdown, this season’s will begin with two weeks of proving grounds beginning February 27th and March 6th. “During the two-week Proving Grounds period, you’ll form a group of five friends and tackle the highest difficulty Mythic Keystone dungeons you can handle,” Blizzard explains. “Your goal is to complete a total of five level 23 Mythic Keystone dungeons over those two weeks.” Duplicate runs don’t count, you can’t swap out characters, and you’ve got to beat the timer. Then you’ll register your team and await your invitation for stage 2. It’s an invitational, after all.
We’re not going to blow anyone’s mind by stating that pets are pretty central to the experience of playing a Hunter in World of Warcraft. You can eschew one altogether as Marksmanship, but they’re still pretty darn important. The developers have put together a long post discussing the mechanical changes coming to hunter pets with the Battle for Azeroth expansion. No, you won’t be able to choose your pet’s specialization any longer, but that’s because all three specializations are now meant to simultaneously tank while solo and provide DPS through other means, while pet-specific abilities are becoming more varied and potent across the board.
But there’s plenty to discuss even outside of official announcements as datamining has uncovered what appears to be broadcast text for the siege of Lordaeron and the attack on Teldrassil (i.e., the events that kick off the expansion as a whole). There are also new bits of datamining suggesting that First Aid may be rolled into the Tailoring profession, as well as a new mount that strengthens the hints of a mag’har allied race for the Horde. All unannounced thus far, of course, but still exciting fuel for speculation.
If you didn’t get in on the ground floor of the Overwatch League with a professional team of your own, just know that it’s going to cost you greatly to join up in the future.
This is because the popularity and success of the e-sports league is driving up the price of a team buy-in. Initially, the cost was $20 million for each of the 12 teams, but this looks to be on the rise for future franchise owners.
ESPN is estimating that, depending how the first season of OWL pans out, the second season could wield a buy-in price of $35M to $60M. “In the past three months, though, the Overwatch League has exceeded its revenue expectations, and several league sources said that the league is at almost four times its original projection. The league got a reported $90 million, two-year Twitch deal, and its two-year deals with HP Omen and Intel are worth $17 million and $10 million, respectively,” the news agency reported.
On this week’s show, Bree and Justin overdose on candy hearts as they look at Valentine’s Day in MMOs — as well as the Lunar New Year. From expansion alpha testing to a new MMO launch to unifying a game globally, it’s a pretty upbeat and positive week of podcast chatter.
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One of the advantages to computer RPGs, I’ve always thought, is that you don’t need a friend who you can alternately sucker or bribe into taking on 80% of the work that’s involved in making a tabletop RPG fun. You just turn on the game and it goes. The downside, of course, is that you also don’t have the advantages of having a GM in charge of the game, so you don’t get that personal connection and that sense of familiarity.
Except that’s not entirely accurate, is it? Yes, these games do not have a person eagerly perched behind a screen explaining how your characters have screwed everything up forever, but you still do get the same sense of a specific GM guiding the game over time. Because there are certain quirks, certain constants, and over time a feel to the game that informs what sort of GM you’ve got running the game. So let’s talk about the GMs running some games.
I warn you that if you’ve never played any sort of tabletop game, this column may not make a whole lot of sense. But if you’ve never played any tabletop RPGs I don’t understand how you live and thus cannot promise to target you reliably. Sorry.