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Path of Exile’s Incursion league launched smoothly with no crunch time

If you think that patching a game always means crunch time, misery, and developers sobbing beneath their desks, Path of Exile’s Incursion league launch shows it doesn’t have to be. The recap on the launch weekend makes it clear that there was no crunch time leading up to the launch, no major problems, and a smooth rollout all around. Most of the smaller issues were even sorted with hotfixes, which worked to the team’s advantage. And the changes have rocked the meta about, which also means that it’s more entertaining to see what players are trying.

Of course, some bigger issues couldn’t be fixed with hotfixes, which is why a larger patch is planned for next week to address three major crash issues. It also includes new 3D art for Apep’s Supremacy and Shadowstitch, which will hopefully give them a little more visual pop. The patch isn’t due until next week, but you can see the planned changes right now.

We checked out the Incursion update last night; you can catch our play through on Twitch!

Source: Incursion recap, Minor patch; thanks to Veldan for the tip!

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Leaderboard: What’s the ideal way for an MMO studio to handle toxicity?

MOP reader BulletTeeth pointed us to a piece on The Verge this week about an incident in online shooter Battalion 1944. A highly placed e-sports team member, SUSPC7, apparently went off on Discord about the studio’s slow rollout of skins meant as prizes, trollishly threatening to shoot up the studio. It got back to the devs, who decided to “teach [him] a lesson about comedy” by proposing to reskin his weapon, not with his earned prize but with a hand-drawn penis icon. Yeah, they pranked him.

“I thought you were kind of being a dick,” the studio rep tweeted, going on to tell the player he wanted him to become an “ambassador” for the game.

As The Verge writes, it’s an unusual tactic for a game studio to take against a toxic player in this day and age. While it might be nice to think that studio have the time and money and resources to hand-hold every lost boy and talk him down to being an ally, it’s not particularly realistic, and it creates a perverse incentive system whereby toxic players mop up studio attention that ought to go to non-toxic players.

I thought it would be interesting to reflect on what we think studios ought to do when disciplining players. Does this sort of reverse-prank actually work, or would it be better for companies to just boot the problem children and move on?

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Massively Overthinking: Why is no one meeting the obvious player demand for big MMORPGs?

Massively OP reader ichi_san has a burning question about the state of the industry.

“Lots of people seem to be looking for an MMO they can get into – consider the rush into Bless as an example. Lots of games are being released, but most (or even all) have some glaring issues, like pay-to-win, lockboxes, ganking, poor optimization, heavy cash shop, horrible gameplay, and so on. There’s the WoW model and other semi-successful formulas, and a lot of unexplored territory. The market seems hungry, and there is a bunch of history to build on and new territory to explore, but either gaming companies don’t understand their customers or greed/laziness/expediency get in the way, such that we see release after release that fails to scratch the itch. Am I missing something – are there fun MMOs with good graphics and fair monetization that I’m missing? Or is there a gaping hole in the MMO scene, and if so, why isn’t someone filling it?”

I’ve posed his question to the writers for their consideration in Overthinking this week. We’re long past bubble-bursting here when all of the still-major MMORPGs are four years older. What exactly are we looking at? Why is the obvious demand for MMOs not being met?

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The Daily Grind: What’s the best MMORPG vet reward you’ve ever gotten?

CCP Games rolled out a pretty sweet veteran reward for EVE Online vets this week ahead of the game’s anniversary: Everybody who’s been playing since the game went free-to-play in 2016 picked up a tier one Abyssal Filament.

That got me thinking about vet rewards in general. It’s actually become a pretty rare concept in MMORPGs, largely because they were originally intended to reward people for being loyal subscribers, but of course, fewer and fewer MMOs have subscriptions anymore.

I’ve picked up some really good rewards over the years that actually made me want to keep my sub going. Remember the vet reward resource crates in Star Wars Galaxies? My favorite might be my ethereal mounts in Ultima Online, or maybe my seed box (it holds hundreds of gardening seeds to cut down on the inventory mess).

What’s the best MMORPG vet reward you’ve ever gotten, and what did you have to do exactly to earn it?

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The Daily Grind: What’s your favorite non-combat ability in an MMO?

Combat abilities in MMOs are big, flashy, and usually leave a mangled corpse. That’s why they’re there. But sometimes you wind up with non-combat abilities that are just plain fun to use. Everyone always loved White Mage teleports in Final Fantasy XI, even when there were faster ways to get from place to place; they just look cool, a bit intense spell. Mage portals and tables in World of Warcraft are fun to drop, and everyone loves a Death Knight with Path of Frost.

Today, we want to celebrate non-combat abilities. Travel powers in Champions Online, mounts in Guild Wars 2, little things that exist to offer some extra utility and flavor. What’s your favorite non-combat ability in an MMO? Is it something that made you pick your character build just so you could play around with it, or does it just look and feel neat?

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The Daily Grind: Would you play a new Guild Wars 1 expansion?

With all of the talk and revival of interest in classic Guild Wars, it’s certainly been a great time to celebrate this beloved MMO (yeah, I’m calling it an MMO, what are you going to do about it?). I’m certainly happy that the game is still providing a fun playspace for fans and is even getting improvements in 2018.

So here’s a pie-in-the-sky question: What if ArenaNet decided that there was enough of a community for Guild Wars 1 that it commissioned an actual new expansion or campaign for the game? I know, I know, it will never happen. For all I know, it can never happen because of technological limitations and whatnot.

But… what if it did? Would you play it? Since we’re dreaming here, what kind of classic Guild Wars expansion would you love to see made?

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The Daily Grind: Do you feel pressure to play MMOs for daily bonuses or experience events?

On Wednesdays, we farm gems.

In Trove, that is. That’s because ever since Trion revamped the daily login system, players get a daily bonus for doing a specific type of gameplay, with an even bigger bonus for subbers. It’s on a fixed weekly rotation, meaning every Monday is the same, every Tuesday, and so on. Wednesday is gems, so everybody in the game is farming gem boxes because they are just that important to character power.

The bonuses are extremely generous, and objectively, I can say it’s a great system. Buuuuuut I find myself being mildly annoyed by the compulsion to go do that one thing, knowing I’d be missing out if I didn’t. Anybody remember old-school Ultima Online and power hour, when your skill gains were accelerated for the first hour you were logged in every day? It’s even worse than that because at least that was over after an hour and people could relax and go back to ganking miners or shuffling bags of regs around their houses. This one basically never ends. It’s a weird sort of pressure to go forth and achieve, constantly. And on Wednesdays, when I feel like working on our guild map instead of farming gems, I spend the whole time feeling guilty, and then feeling foolish for feeling guilty.

First-world problems, sure, but still something I think about. I’m pretty sure the system is a net positive for game retention, but I don’t love the extra pressure. And in a way, I can understand some of the complaints about even shorter-term events, like the one Elite ran two weekends ago. Do you feel pressure to play MMOs for daily bonuses or experience events? And does it work?

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MMO Week in Review: Fallout 76, Bless Online, and Elder Scrolls Online

Were you too busy gaming this week to pay attention to MMO news? Get caught up every Sunday evening with Massively Overpowered’s Week in Review!

How do you pick one big story in a week like this? You don’t: You just roll with all the big ones. This week, we learned Bethsoft is working on a new Fallout game, Fallout 76, with a rumored online and/or MMO component, which set the internet on fire.

ZeniMax then freaked its community out when players discovered spyware had been patched into Elder Scrolls Online; the studio apologized, saying it was added in error and will be removed this week, never having been activated or used.

And then there was Bless Online, which soft launched into early access with server outages, downtime, dupes, and refunds from folks upset over the game’s lack of endgame content. Stay tuned for our own hands-on with the game’s first week, and then read on for the very best of this week’s MMO news and opinions.

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The MOP Up: Fractured Lands has fun in the apocalypse (June 3, 2018)

The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!

Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from RendArmored WarfareWakfuElswordH1Z1Conan ExilesDauntlessSea of ThievesFractured LandsMagic: The Gathering ArenaEVE OnlineOrbus VRRuneScapeFoxholeShot OnlineDark Age of CamelotPixARKTERA, and Final Fantasy XI, all waiting for you after the break!

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One Shots: The crane… the crane…

I love crane machines. Yes, I know they’re a total scam, but I won something in one once, and I can’t help but throwing money at them in the vain home of repeating that epic moment. Of course, I might forswear crane machines altogether if I got one of FFXIV’s creepier races as a prize.

Vincent has no such compunctions: “Only a Lalafell would look this happy being carried around by a Death Claw!”

It’s how all of us at Massively OP get to work every day, actually.

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The Daily Grind: Have you ever tried to start fresh in a familiar MMO?

I have, on three occasions, tried to start Final Fantasy XI completely fresh. Ironically, this time it’s working out very well; the past two attempts didn’t work at all and ultimately led to me spending an extended time on the phone with Square-Enix customer support, unlocking my original account with the aid of a years-old expansion code. But it got me thinking about how I rarely head back to familiar games to start fresh.

That’s not to say I don’t head back to old games frequently, but in most of those games I stumble a bit and pick up where I left off. Coming back to my favorite characters is part of my motivation in the first place. Starting up Star Trek Online again meant jumping back on board with the captain I had at launch, or making alts that still get full support from my leveled mains.

So today, I’m wondering if that’s normal or an outlier. If you’ve returned to familiar MMOs, have you ever tried to start fresh? No help from old friends or max-level characters, just you playing with only knowledge as a bonus over any other new player?

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Make My MMO: Pokemon-inspired ‘creature-collection adventure’ MMO Temtem is about to fund Kickstarter (June 2, 2018)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, Temtem, “the massively multiplayer creature-collection adventure” that hit Kickstarter this week, is looking like a win, as it’s secured most of its $70,000 goal in just its first few days and will soon be on to stretch goals. It’s clearly inspired by Pokemon, with adorable graphics and critters, breeding system, housing, character customization, story campaign, and yes, a co-op online world to romp in. (With thanks to Jose on this one!)

“The days of traveling solo are over; in Temtem the world is a massively multiplayer one. Tamers from around the world can join and you will be able to see them around you, living the adventure with you and fighting to become the best Temtem tamer. Chill with strangers, make new friends and battle them or trade your goodies; the dynamic online world is full of possibilities.”

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The Game Archaeologist: The rebirth of The Realm Online

Debuting in 1996, The Realm Online (or, as it is sometimes shortened, The Realm) became one of the first online RPGs to overlay graphics on top of its MUD core. The game’s flat 2-D graphics were simplistic, even for the time, but the novelty of the massively multiplayer environment sparked enough curiosity among players to keep it populated and running for 22 years now.

It’s no secret that The Realm has fallen into near-obscurity, particularly with the current owners performing little in the way of development or promotion. Emerging from the emulator scene, Jordan Neville and a group of fellow IT geeks took it upon themselves to help The Realm experience the rebirth that it sorely needed.

This is coming to a head with June’s re-launch of The Realm Online, a new and improved version of the classic MMORPG that will run in parallel with the older and largely abandoned edition. We sat down with Neville to talk about the challenges and delights of giving The Realm another shot at life — and why you may want to check it out for yourself.

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