game mechanics

The Daily Grind: Is inventory management a fundamental part of MMO gameplay?

Growing up mostly on consoles, inventory management was not a big part of gaming when I was younger. Downright irrelevant, even; the question was how many cottages I had on-hand in the original Final Fantasy, not whether or not I could fit them in my inventory. (Which makes sense, since by the time you’ve fit an entire cottage into your backpack you might as well be able to fit ninety-eight more.) But MMOs work on stricter requirements, and thus we have ongoing changes with games like Final Fantasy XIV and World of Warcraft giving me more space even as they give me more stuff to manage.

The latest bit of inventory management hassle for Guild Wars 2, though, makes me wonder if this is really just a matter of chasing old ideas when there are better options available. That might be more a function of annoyance than a useful idea, but then I remember that the games I remember most fondly are not ones in which I recall inventory management; at best, I forget those irritations (such was the case with City of Heroes, where I actually forgot about the glut of Enhancement drops even at launch, much less the later crafting materials). What do you think, readers? Is inventory management a fundamental part of MMO gameplay? Or should it be something you don’t have to worry about any longer?

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Final Fantasy XIV makes both Sleipnir and financial earnings fly

Players have long awaited the chance to make Sleipnir, the mount of the Dark Divinity Odin, soar through the skies in Final Fantasy XIV. Sure, the horse in question is just a regular horse, but he also happens to be a horse for a primal. So it’s good news for owners of the mount that he will take to the skies with the release of patch 4.1, while the Witch’s Broom will once again be able to cast spells on the ground as it could during its first holiday appearance. Who doesn’t like more ways to play with mounts?

But FFXIV isn’t just making horses fly; it’s also making numbers fly. The latest Square-Enix financial report notes that sales of Stormblood have massively increased income and profits, with the game reaching an all-time subscriber high following release (exact numbers are not disclosed). So everything gets to fly on upward, and you can rest assured that big expansion releases do, in fact, result in more sales.

Source: Official site, investor report; thanks to Sally for the tip!

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MechWarrior Online integrates special events with its newest patch

If you played BattleTech around the table before jumping into MechWarrior Online, you’re probably familiar with the “IIc” designation attached to certain ‘Mechs, marking Inner Sphere designs adapted to serve as Clan ‘Mechs with significantly improved technology. Four new hero ‘Mechs have been added with the game’s latest patch, a quartet of Clan IIc machines for those who want the smooth tech of Clan engineering combined with the brutal lines of Inner Sphere machinery. Or for those who are just really attached to the Hunchback for whatever reason.

The big centerpiece of the patch, though, is a new special event system integrated into the game that will make special battles more immediately visible and relevant for players. It will support per-faction conflict more comprehensively while improving both Quick Play and Faction Play modes. Now you can just see your goals and your progress right from inside the game. And if you use those new hero ‘Mechs to take on some of these special events, well, there’s nothing wrong with that.

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Conan Exiles offers its first weekly progress report to fans

Last week, Conan Exiles players got an apology and a promise that Funcom would do a better job of communicating what was going on with the game’s development. This week… that promise has already gotten its first bit of follow-through with a weekly community letter discussing the state of the game on both Xbox One and PC along with upcoming projects. The former is being quickly brought up to parity with the PC version, while the latter is having stability fixes rolled out and new updates added for testing.

Further out, the team is working on a new fire-themed dungeon area for players to explore, new building pieces for housing, and an overhaul of the game’s combat system. It also explains the split between the various portions of the team, hopefully putting to bed the idea that the team is only working on one thing at any given time. Check out the full letter to get a sense of where the team is at and what’s next for survivors in the exiled lands.

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Skyforge’s Revenant update is live today

It’s time for a new sort of death to take to the fight with the latest Skyforge update. The Revenant is a class that brings death, downright revels in it, and stands apart from good and evil as a testament to simply bringing death to all around it. That’s why a Revenant is supposed to wear lots of bones and stuff, see. Because death is scary.

Whether or not the addition of the Revenant counts as an expansion is left as an exercise for the reader, although the staff behind the game seems to feel it is. It’s live today regardless, so there’s no need to quibble over words, is there?

Any jokes about how the Revenant looks like a rejected mascot for a heavy metal album can be supplanted by admiring the life-draining mechanics and abilities of the class, which you can check out in the trailer just below. It’s another option for players in the ever-expanding class lineup for the game, so get ready to start dealing out new sorts of death today and drain the very life of those around you.

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Check out Elder Scrolls Online’s Clockwork City patch notes, new houses, and new cosmetics

Who doesn’t like some nice fresh patch notes? The Elder Scrolls Online is letting players into the Clockwork City, at least on the test server, and that means a fresh batch of patch notes for everyone.

Naturally, no one has even tried to mine out more information about the patch, except of course people have. The next offerings on the game’s crown store have been datamined, which is mostly a jaunty selection of hats. The new housing offerings have also been mined out: Pariah’s Pinnacle and The Observatory Prior, the former of which is an Orcish home and the latter of which is a clockwork-bedecked unit. There’s even a video guide to the new transmutation system available below, so you can take a gander at how things will change without hopping on the test server.

So it’s good news for players who want to test things out, and it’s also good news for players who don’t want to test but want to see what things look like while testing. Good news all around. Check it all out below.

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Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV’s Stormblood dungeons in review

Have I really not talked about the dungeons of Stormblood yet? That’s unexpected. Usually I would have mentioned them by now, I talk about these things a lot. Yet here we are and I haven’t really given a deep look at any of the dungeons through the leveling experience up to the top. It is, frankly, a shocking realization, and it’s all the worse that I spent a lot of time thinking (and working on) columns on more esoteric elements of Final Fantasy XIV before remembering this obvious one.

So let’s correct this now and talk about these dungeons. The level range for things was adjusted after my initial preview, and we have a similar leveling arrangement to how things were in Heavensward, but I honestly like this batch more. Part of it is familiarity, sure, but I remember feeling like the first two dungeons in Heavensward were kind of clunkers even when they were new, compared to really enjoying the heck out of everything in Stormblood. Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t high points and low points, but… well, let’s just get to it, yes?

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Cliff Bleszinski asserts that Lawbreakers is ‘fine’ on PS4 while planning to be ‘less of a dick’

So what’s the key element in revitalizing the flagging player numbers for Lawbreakers? Cliff Bleszinski puts forth that part of the onus is on him to be, in his own words, “less of a dick” when interacting with people online. The game’s team is also revisiting the game’s overall marketing image and hopefully communicating more effectively what the game is about in play, which should hopefully entice more players to the game; Bleszinski repeatedly compared the process with the game to a marathon rather than a sprint.

We need the bodies. We need to keep fluffing up the CCU. We need to do what we can to let people know this is a really sweaty palm type of experience that can hopefully lend itself to e-sports. But you know, I have to keep this game alive, first and foremost.

He also states that the player numbers have been humbling, but that the game’s PlayStation 4 user base is doing fine. (The interviewer notes that matchmaking attempts on the console were unsuccessful over multiple attempts, but the tests in question were in Australia, which could be the culprit.) Check out the full interview if you’re interested in seeing whether the game can turn both is image and its player numbers around.

Source: Gamespot

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Eternal Crusade patches in melee balance and matchmaking improvements

Considering that Eternal Crusade takes place in a very far-flung future, you could be forgiven for thinking that the game was set long after the point when firearms had become the only real method of hurting people. But it seems wrong to give your Space Marine a bunch of cool hacky tools like chainswords without making wading into melee the right choice at least some of the time. So it’s good news for players who like to hit things that the game’s most recent patch brings a lot of additional balance to all of these pointy bits of metal.

The patch also includes several matchmaking improvements as well as new map routes to allow more flanking opportunities. That’s in addition to various other balance tweaks, like ensuring that strafing isn’t as fast as running straight forward. Check out the full list of changes to get a sense of how the environment has shifted, and keep your eyes peeled for upcoming announcements today about the next major additions to the game.

Source: Steam

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The Daily Grind: What sort of content discourages you from projects in MMOs?

Pretty soon, we’re getting the next tier of anima/zodiac/whatever weapons in Final Fantasy XIV. Every time those show up I find myself thinking that this time, this time I’m going to knuckle down and get this done. And each time a FATE grind kicks things off, and then I’m out. No thank you, see you again next expansion. That instantly and viciously kills my interest in the quest line each time around, and honestly I don’t know why; it’s not that I won’t do FATEs for other purposes, after all.

I’m not unique in this, but it’s also nice to know that I’m not the only one who has similar barriers. I know there are people who clocked out of crafting quests in World of Warcraft: Legion because those quests require dungeon running, and these are people who generally are happy to run dungeons and craft. Putting the two together just felt like orange juice and toothpaste, it seems.

So what about you, readers? What sort of content discourages you from projects in MMOs? Is it always the same sort, or does it depend entirely on the game in question? And is that content stuff you enjoy normally or something you don’t want to do anyhow?

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Lord of the Rings Online invites players to test out two new dungeons

There was a bit of a problem with Lord of the Rings Online’s first attempt to test its next two dungeons on the test server. Combat music was causing the game to crash, which was most certainly not an intended feature of the design. But now that bug has been fixed, and players can log on to the test server to try out the Dungeons of Naerband and the Court of Seregost.

The Dungeons of Naerband (yes, it’s one dungeon) will require a full fellowship, while the Court of Sergost requires a light fellowship. These dungeons are the focus of this weekend’s testing, so the developers are eager for feedback about how the dungeons feel to play and how they’re tuned. If you already tried to jump in once and had issues, you can be assured that those issues should now be fixed, and if you encounter any other problems… well, that’s the point of testing, isn’t it?

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Elite: Dangerous brings the Thargoids with patch 2.4 on September 26

There are dangerous things in deep space when you play Elite: Dangerous. More dangerous than system failures, or pirates, or interstellar phenomena. The Thargoids are arriving on September 26th, the culmination of many teasing moments in which players have been forced to realize that they are not, in fact, alone in the galaxy. Now they’re coming, and players are going to have to deal with a danger that is far more mysterious than anything found up to now.

While patch 2.4 is coming out on the 26th, it marks the beginning of narrative content which will be rolled out in the weeks and months following the initial patch. If you’re eager to get a taste of what’s coming next, though, check out the cinematic trailer just below. It’s possible to override the shutdown pulse that these mysterious entities generate, yes… but there’s more to it than just the first pulse.

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Revelation Online adds in a new level cap and new bosses in the Uprising update

It’s time to get better than you ever thought possible in the latest Revelation Online patch. Heck, better than it was possible to get, even; the patch raises the game’s level cap to 79, allowing you to reach new heights of power even as you push your way through a new dungeon floor in the Mech Citadel on its Scour Dungeon version. There’s also the new Altar of Swords dungeon, the new Azure Dragon Guild tournament, easier soul grid unlocks… lots of nifty stuff, in short.

The patch also contains some fun flying sword mounts for being among the first to clear this new content, so if you’ve got a crew ready to take on these challenges you could be richly rewarded. (If you’d rather fly under your own power, we do still have dragon wings.) Combine that with a 24-hour sale in the game’s store, and you should be able to get at least a few nice rewards for yourself with the patch launch.

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