Guild Wars 2 shares how it built its Hall of Chains raid

If you’ve ever thought that creating MMO raids is easy, it would be educational to sit down with a developer and get a tall, cold glass of reality thrown into your face. Raids take meticulous planning and implementation, which is what the Guild Wars 2 team tries to share about the design of its recent Hall of Chains raid.

Taking readers through an accelerated look at the creation of the raid, ArenaNet talks about the low-tech beginnings that use tabletop magnets and that crudest of all apps, Microsoft Paint. As the process continues, there are a lot of course corrections and changes as the team refines each encounter.

“Once we’ve determined what a boss is going to do, we have to actually make good on our scheming and build the skills we’ve designed,” the studio wrote. “But just because we’ve got a design on paper doesn’t mean that the encounter will feel right when implemented. Sometimes mechanics that seem to synergize on paper end up feeling terrible when layered on top of each other.”

Source: Guild Wars 2


Legends of Aria faces down closed beta testing

Ultima Online spiritual successor Legends of Aria is preparing to go through a major transition over the new year as it winds down its crowdfunding campaign and gears up for closed beta testing.

The team announced that it will stop selling founder’s packs on December 29th and transition to selling pre-orders instead. Fans are advised to buy into the packs now if they want any of the crowdfunding tier rewards, especially physical items.

Far more exciting is Legends of Aria’s 2018 development roadmap, which kicks off with Closed Beta 1 on January 15th. This first test will add a new adventure area, two cities, re-open the catacombs, and add in a notoriety system.

Past that is March and Closed Beta 2, which will focus on the new player experience and a whole lot of polish. Then, if all goes well, Steam early access will follow in April 2018. Exciting times we live in for sure!


The Game Archaeologist: Revisiting the first three months of World of Warcraft

Were you there?

Many of us were. Many weren’t. Either way, November 23rd, 2004 was a watershed date for the MMORPG industry and one watched and experienced by millions of gamers. It was on this day 13 years ago that Blizzard finally transitioned World of Warcraft from beta testing to live operation, ushering in an age of Azeroth, DKP minus, murlocs, and Leeroy Jenkins.

I was there, both at the end of beta and the start of launch. As time had made a mockery of my memories, I can only remember brief bits: The server downtime, the rise of the phenomenon, making footprints in Coldridge Valley with my Dwarf Hunter, and pretty much shoving every other game to the background for the next year or so.

I thought it might be worth the effort of dusting off the cobwebs of my — and your — memories by revisiting the first three months of World of Warcraft’s live operation, taking us from November 2004 through January 2005. What happened during this time? How did Blizzard respond to the floodgates of players pouring into this game? How different was it from what we play now? Let’s reminisce together!

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Ashes of Creation has 64 class combinations for you to try out

Now that Ashes of Creation is officially in its alpha testing, players will be able to discover for themselves what awaits in this interesting fantasy sandbox. One of these discoveries will no doubt be in the class system that Intrepid has concocted.

In the past, we’ve been critical over the somewhat generic-sounding class names (such as “Tank” and “Fighter”), but it turns out that these are only the start of your class identity. Players will actually choose a secondary class down the line that will transform their character into one of 64 blended classes. These include much more interesting-sounding names like Spellsword, Nightshield, Charlatan, Hawkeye, Falconer, Wild Blade, Apostle, and Songcaller. And while the primary class can’t be changed, players will have the option of switching up their secondaries if so desired.

“Today, as we begin our Friends and Family Alpha Zero test, we wanted to show you just how diverse we expect our playing field to be,” Intrepid said. “The classes adhere to roles like tanking, DPS, support, and healing, but it’s really so much more than that. Each one must provide a true fantasy fulfillment for the player — you want to be a badass, no matter what your class. And that’s a promise we intend to keep.”

Check out the class combination chart and Alpha Zero developer gameplay video after the break.

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The Daily Grind: Are you surprised by your MMO /played time?

26 days, 18 hours, and 34 minutes.

That’s the current /played time for my World of Warcraft Hunter, which is one of my more enduring characters in that game. I’m sure it’s not even the most, but still, nearly a month of my life has been spent playing this one character. That kind of rocks me back on my heels and astounds me at how much time we can rack up in MMOs in increments.

That’s probably why I don’t like to look at /played too often — I don’t like to fall into a pit of self-criticism and become depressed about my hobby. I’m sure I’d have high numbers with any activity that I perform semi-regularly.

For today’s discussion, let us know what your /played is for one of your main characters right now — and if you’re actually surprised by the result!

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Neverwinter’s Sword of Chult lands on console in January

Hey consolers. What are you doing in January? Back to the grind, right? Not in Neverwinter: You’re headed to the jungle in Swords of Chult, the update that PC players have already been rolling around in since October.

“A five-player skirmish, The Merchant Prince’s Folly, gives end-game adventurers dynamic new content to experience with multiple enemy, location and daytime combination possibilities leading to new rewards. Additionally, all competitive adventurers can now test their mettle in revamped PvP, featuring the addition of a permanent solo queue, Tenacity stat rework, armor penetration changes, control effect adjustments and new gear rewards. Swords of Chult brings more quality-of-life improvements to the refinement system, dungeon queuing and the campaign progression system for alts, offering a better in-game experience.”

Expect it to roll out on January 9th on both Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and do note that it’s a free update!

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Saga of Lucimia’s devs shriek at spiders and bears

With Saga of Lucimia’s ninth pre-alpha test scheduled to run from December 22nd through January 5th, the team hopes that more fans will get excited enough to pony up a pre-order and get into the test. Aiding in this crucial decision-making is a four-minute video in which the devs shriek in fear at spiders and freak out over bears.

OK, there’s a little more to it than that. The brief video shows an internal team dealing with a pack of landscape mobs that it has aggroed, continuing on later to an underground cave where a spider’s all like, “High five, bros! Hey, why you run?”

If nothing else, it might give you an idea of how combat is shaping up with this hardcore fantasy title. Give it a watch below!

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World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm get into the seasonal spirit

‘Tis the season for so many Christmas events that you’ll have to forsake all family and tins of popcorn to get around to them all. Blizzard isn’t making it any easier on you, since pretty much all of its games are currently in the throes of holiday events.

World of Warcraft’s Feast of Winter Veil kicks off tomorrow with the traditional quests (say hi to the Abominable Greench for us!) and new holiday hats that can be found in dungeons. Overwatch is running its Winter Wonderland and challenging players to the new and ridiculous Yeti Hunt brawl.

Over at Heroes of the Storm, Winter Veil brings a quest chain with a special spray and mount as rewards. Then there’s Hearthstone, which is reskinning some of its game boards, tossing in seasonal emotes, and inviting players to a “Wacky Waxy Winter’s Veil” tavern brawl.

In non-event news, World of Warcraft had to delay an announcement of its 2018 plans but said that this info should be coming soon. And if you are deep into the new Hearthstone expansion, check out the following behind-the-scenes video of its making!

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Global Chat: Something fishy in these MMOs

Fishing in MMOs: You either really get it or you really don’t. Ancient Gaming Noob Wilhelm is among those who enjoys taking every opportunity possible to cast his rod and reel in search of slimy, scaly adventure under the waves — and he’s shared how he assigns an alt the joy and responsibility of fishing in each one of his games.

“If there is fishing in a game, I’ll be there. But fishing really only needs one character,” he writes. “I generally pick somebody to be my fisherman and send them out to fish around the world, following whatever plans the game happens to have for the vocation.”

Oh my cod, you say, this column has already started to flounder. Well, fear not, we have a porpoise for everything we post, and we’re sure that you’ll get hooked on one of these MMO essays and end up trouting its virtues.

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Black Desert bans nearly 600 fish botters

In the war between robots and fish, the only side who wins is… wait, is there a war going between robots and fish? Well, assume for the purposes of this story that there is. At least, that would be the logical reason for 574 players of Black Desert to be deploying fish bots in order to fish up all of the oceanic meals in the water.

Wait, what’s that? They were doing it to exploit the game and make in-game money? Well, it doesn’t really matter why they were doing it, because they’ve been summarily banned as part of an ongoing investigation. And it’s an investigation that ends in a place where they’re unlikely to get the bans overturned on appeal.

As usually happens, the community staff is not naming and shaming; it’s enough to know that the bots are gone and likely won’t be back. Or, at the very least, will have to buy the game again, which is a blatant cash grab just because the botters cheated egregiously. So, hopefully they’re gone for good.


WoW Factor: The fate of WoW’s class orders post-Legion, part 1

In the lull between expansions, I’ve been hard at work bringing my alts up to the level cap, unlocking all of the class mounts, picking up the occasional appearance that I really want from the Mage Tower challenge… you know, the usual stuff. And the result is that I find myself asking a question that surprises me a wee bit in the context of World of Warcraft: What is going to happen to all of the class orders?

I neither had an answer nor cared about one when it came to garrisons. Presumably, they’d continue to sit there, a testament to what happens when designers try to make housing that isn’t housing and don’t understand why people like housing in the first place. But the order halls are different. They’re cross-factional, they’re important, and perhaps most importantly, they represent something that makes different use of the resources of the world.

So what’s happening to these orders? How are they changing? How does this play into the war between the Horde and the Alliance becoming properly hot? And might we get some extra lore about these things?

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TERA’s December update brings back the Broken Prison

The December patch for TERA has arrived, and it’s brought back the Broken Prison. Yes, it’s returning it for store credit, because it’s broken and thus not terribly useful. Or it’s a dungeon that has had its balance tweaked and is back to challenge players once again; could really go either way. (We’re betting on the latter.) But more important than the returning dungeon are the many quality-of-life changes brought with this update.

Players can now find most of the items previously bought with Federation Bills under the Fantastic Fashions shops, and several new items have been added to the Federation Bill store. There are also changes to the way that Crystalbinds are delivered to elite status players, so there will no longer be problems unlocking certain achievements. Check out the full patch notes for all of the details while you enjoy the winter holidays and such.


Lord of the Rings Online welcomes you back to Winter-home with a new elk mount

It’s time to decamp from Mordor and return to the pristine pocket wonderland of Winter-home in Lord of the Rings Online. As of yesterday, the 2017 Yule Festival was in high swing, bringing players together for snowball fights, theater performances, eating contests, and snow sculptures.

While there doesn’t appear to be any new quests this year, the buzz around the town concerns this year’s festival mount. It’s a splendid Winter Elk, a striking mount that offers a change from the horses, ponies, and goats that dominate the mount scene. The mount isn’t too hard to get, requiring perhaps two days of running dailies in order to save up enough tokens to purchase.

You have plenty of time to see the sights and chase those rewards, as the Yule Festival is scheduled to run through January 8th. LOTRO is also selling its Eriador bundle (the entire base game, essentially) for 75% off through December 21st.

Source: Twitter


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