farming

Choose My Adventure: Wrapping up WildStar

Writing about WildStar at this point feels weird.

Obviously, I just finished up playing the game for this feature for four weeks. It feels fresh in my mind. And in many ways, it really has changed quite a bit from launch to its credit. In many other ways, it hasn’t changed much at all. And the ways in which it has changed would make a much bigger difference if those changes affected things that initially drove me away from the game.

So in many ways, when I write about WildStar now, I’m still writing about the launch version of the game. It’s just that we’re now several years out from that launch, and its potential to really be something no longer has the time to turn into reality. It’s still just a hope for what it could be, and there’s not much more to the game beyond what we see right now. So it’s the same state of the game, but it’s gone from promising opportunities to unrealized potential.

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Shroud of the Avatar: Kas Ruins, custom NPCs, and marble columns

Shroud of the Avatar's 219th newsletter has arrived! Of note is the segment on the Kas Ruins, whose biome is based on the Rockies and Grand Tetons of the US but could easily be pulled straight from Lord of the Rings.

Portalarium has also requested that backers entitled to submit NPCs for inclusion in the game do so for the village of Harvest, a farming community and waystation in Estgard. I would totally claim that town crier and make him say rude things, but that's why I'm not a game designer.

The devs have also uploaded more info on their charity work, the full telethon, and notes for the offline mode save game format changes.

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How to farm 570 LOTRO points in under three hours

One of the interesting quirks of Lord of the Rings Online's free-to-play setup is that players can earn premium currency -- LOTRO points, or LP -- through various in-game activities. Since LP is otherwise purchased with cash and can be used to buy quest packs, cosmetics, classes, and even expansions, earning that currency through gameplay can be a literal money-saver.

What if you could get a good chunk of LP in under three hours? LOTRO player Edward Gibson mapped out and executed a run in which he used a brand-new character to farm 570 LP in two hours and 43 minutes by completing deeds. The player did use a couple of skill and deed boosts to assist with the effort.

Check out the following video to see how this feat was performed and perhaps be inspired to replicate this farming pattern to help you earn your next LOTRO store purchase.

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EVE Evolved: What's the deal with EVE's PLEX changes?

This week CCP Games announced that some big changes are on the way for PLEX in EVE Online. The PLEX or "30-day Pilot's License EXtension" is a virtual item that represents 30 days of subscription time and can be bought for cash and then sold to other players for in-game ISK. This simple mechanic has proven to be one of the most important innovations in the subscription MMO business model over the years, allowing players with lots of in-game wealth to effectively play for free while permitting cash-rich players to buy in-game currency without funding dodgy farming operations that can disrupt the game world. Dozens of games now support some kind of player-mediated currency roughly like PLEX.

The proposed changes are intended to simplify EVE's business model by merging PLEX with the microtransaction currency Aurum. Players will also be able to put their PLEX into invulnerable account-wide PLEX Vaults that are accessible at all times rather than having to move the valuable items manually by ship. There's been significant backlash from the EVE community over the newfound invulnerability of PLEX, plans to delete some microtransaction currency from the game without compensation, and the possibility that someone leaked the announcement to friends early in order to make a profit. So what's the deal with these PLEX changes, and why are some EVE players going nuts over them?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at the upcoming changes to the safety of PLEX, the opportunities that more granular PLEX could have for EVE, and why players are up in arms over plans to delete Aurum from thousands of accounts.

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Wisdom of Nym: The next few months for Final Fantasy XIV

Fellow fans of Final Fantasy XIV, I'm not going to lie to you: The next few months in the game will be rough. Not because we'll lack for things to do, of course, but because we're all going to be waiting for the other shoe to drop. We all know what's coming, and we've even got more stuff to learn about, like the details of the system revision and the exact story transition. But there are a bit more than 100 days left until Stormblood releases, and we're all going to be staring with rapt attention until it actually happens.

That having been said, we are going to have more stuff to do over the next few months. Depending on when in the day you read this, the game might be down for maintenance right now with one of those patches along the way. So let's talk about the road to June 20th, what we know is coming, what we can reasonably expect, and what we don't yet know about but might help fill the gap.

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MMO Mechanics: 2017's take on the sandbox MMO

I am finding it hard to believe that we are two months into 2017 already, especially since I've had so many pressing Guild Chat submissions recently that I haven't had a chance to turn my hand back to MMO Mechanics in all that time! As an introduction to a new year, I usually like to include a predictions column that summarises my perspective on how I believe mechanics will change over the following twelve months, but I don't feel as though the 2016 trends I mentioned have died out yet and wish to instead focus on the sustained emphasis on sandbox MMO development with strong holistic, character developing mechanics.

In this edition of MMO Mechanics, I'm going to talk about some upcoming MMOs and the non-combat, realistic, and technical mechanics added into the 2017 sandbox mix. Although I can't guarantee that the titles I mention below will actually release this year, each of them has enough solid development behind them to make a 2017 release at least probable; besides, even if these titles don't release in the next ten months, they will still bear the hallmarks of the state of the modern sandbox MMO and are worth noting. Add your thoughts on the common threads you're finding in 2017's planned MMO mechanics in the comments: I'm sure to miss several key mechanics development trends in this non-exhaustive list.

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World of Warcraft hatches hippogryphs, expands Nighthold, and continues token madness

The expansion of World of Warcraft's token utility continues to ripple across the entire Blizzard ecosystem, as prices remain high and supply occasionally runs out. Polygon has gone so far to posit that grinding out gold in WoW might be more efficient to get those Hearthstone packs and Overwatch loot boxes than actually playing those games.

The article contains a lot of math: "It takes about 135 hours of playing Overwatch to earn 100 loot boxes. A bundle of 50 loot boxes costs $40 plus tax, so Overwatch pays out loot-box rewards worth about sixty cents for every hour you play [...] You should be able to earn the six tokens you need to buy a hundred loot boxes in about 30 hours of grinding herbs in World of Warcraft, so you earn more than four times as many Overwatch loot boxes per hour farming herbs in WoW than you’ll earn from actually playing Overwatch."

In other World of Warcraft news, wing three of Nighthold is now open for business, so get in there and make us all proud. Today and today only is the new Hatching of the Hippogryph micro-holiday, if you're into that sort of thing. Additionally, you might also want to catch the latest new developer Q&A livestream this afternoon at 2:00 p.m. EST.

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EVE Evolved: What do we want from Drilling Platforms?

If you followed our EVE Fanfest coverage last year, you might remember CCP announcing plans to add a whole series of new deployable structures to EVE in the form of Engineering Complexes and Drilling Platforms. The Citadel expansion added new deployable space stations that players can put anywhere in space, with medium-sized Astrahus citadels for small corporations all the way up to the colossal Keepstars designed for massive military alliances. This was expanded on in the second half of 2016 with the release of Engineering Complexes as specialised citadels with bonuses to industry and research, but what ever happened to the Drilling Platforms?

Drilling Platforms were touted as an upcoming revolution in the way we collect resources in EVE Online, but the feature was still firmly in the early design stage when we discussed it with CCP at last year's Fanfest. There were general ideas floating around about automated mining structures that require different levels of player interaction and disrupting enemy resources by attacking their drills, but nothing concrete at the time. We've now been promised a solid development roadmap update at this year's Fanfest on April 6th and more information on Drilling Platforms in devblogs before then, and it's got me wondering what EVE's upcoming resource-gathering revolution might look like.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I speculate about what Drilling Platforms might be like, discuss the kinds of gameplay I'd like to see from them, and lay out a few of my dream features.

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Massively Overthinking: Are MMOs designed for 'low-skill gamers'?

Ages ago on the MMORPG subreddit, a player made a bold statement: MMORPGs are designed for low-skill gamers.

"I remember being dazzled by EverQuest and Ultima as a child," he wrote, reminiscing about his memory of high difficulty old-school games. "I recently loaded up [Star Wars: The Old Republic] again, and I'm shocked. Piss easy. Everything. XP falling from the sky. Mobs dead in one GCD. Brainless. The same reason I quite every MMO. I never meet people, I never feel challenged. I just feel bored. 'Wait till endgame' isn't gonna cut it anymore. I'm over it. I'm done. I feel like I'm just hitting the 'Reward' button again and again and again, solitary and alone, like a stupid little rat in the cage." He then basically blames the perceived shift of the genre on people who don't want games to be "like a job": "The genre just seems to be fueled by mediocre, anti-social "consumers."

I wanted to pull this back out to see whether our staff and writers agree with the claims -- and whether we all have some advice for this fan, who concludes his rant by asking people to change his mind. Howsabout it, Overthinking fans?

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World of Warcraft devs on droughts, team size, and lessons learned

Gamespot has a new interview out with four members of the "300 strong" World of Warcraft live team this week, and while the quartet bring up micro-holidays -- kind of a lot -- there's also a bit of insight on what the team has learned over the years. Unsurprisingly, they don't like the word "drought."

"We know and remember well the narrative or the sentiment from Warlords, where people were very happy at the start and then after that, there were the concerns we heard, that you described, about droughts," Class Designer Jay Gill says. Senior Designer Paul Kubit explained that the team is trying to address those criticisms with content.

"When working on WoW, we constantly learned from the past expansions--we learned things from Cataclysm going into Pandaria, Pandaria into Warlords, and so on. The big one that we learned from Warlords is we just need to do more patches. We need to keep the game vibrant with content, and the way we do that is by making sure, every couple months or so, we have something new to do. And that's the point of these .5 patches--it's to have, even if it's not the giant raid tier and outdoor farming zone, something new that you can play."

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Guild Wars 2's living world season 3 episode 4 will launch in February

Guild Wars 2's next living world episode is due in February, ArenaNet's Mike O'Brien told players on the forums today.

"We’re wrapping up work on Episode 4 of Living World Season 3 and expect to launch it in February, hitting our normal cadence of a new episode every 2~3 months," he writes in a rare update from his own account. With the season will come a number of long-awaited changes:

"This release will include the promised fix to AB multi-looting. The fix is simple: you can loot each of the great and grand chests once each time you complete the meta, once per map cycle. This release will also include a new, challenging group-farming spot for leather."

On the other hand,

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The Daily Grind: Have you ever participated in a protest in an MMORPG?

Protests in the real world dominated this past weekend's news, and while I surfed around for an in-game equivalent to cover, I couldn't find much of one (though I found people selling themed accessories in Second Life!). That said, protests in MMORPGs aren't unheard of, and I mean actual protests, not memorials and vigils. World of Warcraft players will remember multiple protests throughout that game's history, mostly against the design of the game, but sometimes against Blizzard's policies. How about the Million Gnome March, for example, which caused game outages and threats from the studio claiming protests were "griefing"? Or the 2006 protests against Blizzard's stance on LGBT guilds -- which the studio reversed? How about the multiple Occupy SAB protests in Guild Wars 2, which ArenaNet allowed to transpire without much fuss?

I've never been to an in-game protest that I recall [Edit: I'm wrong. I have! See comments!], but I did stage my own one-woman protest in Star Wars Galaxies, where following the pronouncement that "no one wanted to play Uncle Owen" because moisture farmers were boring, I promptly rolled a character whose primary role was moisture farming on her permanently installed moisture farm. I made a lot of credits and had a lot of fun selling water on that character, right up until the day the servers were sunsetted. Silly? Maybe, but it gave me some life to prove that the suits were full of shit and didn't really understand the first thing about their own playerbase.

Have you ever participated in a protest in an MMORPG?

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One Shots: Healin' skellies in Shards Online

When the NDA is away, the cats will play -- and take screenshots! Bless our dear community for documenting upcoming MMOs as they venture into these virgin territories.

ZulikaMiNam had some fun in one game that I haven't seen much from readers yet: "Since there are no NDA restrictions imposed for this alpha weekend kickoff over at Shards Online I will post some pics from there. I accidentally healed a skeleton while trying to heal myself. So my name turns grey and anyone can kill me now. Time to lay low for a bit."

Are you still laying low? You can... probably come out now. That skeleton owes you a life debt for that heroic action.

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