The Daily Grind: What’s your favorite group size for MMO grinding?

Grinding has existed as long as we’ve had MMOs. In the earliest days of my time in the genre, grinding was the game; I would seek a party in Final Fantasy XI (which took an hour at best as a DRG or four seconds as a WHM) and then sit at camp and grind in the hopes of possibly gaining a level before bed.

We’ve moved on from that as a mandatory thing in every game for every activity. We have not, however, moved on from grinding. Frankly, that’s all right with me. If I’m having fun in a game, I don’t mind grinding as a repeated activity that I’m doing just to keep my wits alive, so to speak. It’s fun for me.

Of course, group size matters. Eureka in Final Fantasy XIV has reminded me of the fun of grinding in small groups with friends, but that’s inefficient compared to a full eight-person group… which feels like too many to me. I like grinding most when it’s two or three people grouping up and hitting stuff as a team. It’s a bit worse when it’s just me on my lonesome in World of Warcraft grinding away at rep or something similar. But what about you, readers? What’s your favorite group size for MMO grinding?

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The Daily Grind: Would you play a PvE game with full item decay?

One of the most insightful comments I ever saw about Darkfall (yes, Darkfall) was that, realistically, in a game with open PvP and full looting, it was inevitable that you’d lose all of the good gear you had on. That would always be a real risk, and it would always happen sooner or later. The real question was how long it would take you to rebuild to full power after such an event and how tedious it was to do so.

I’m not fond of that style of gameplay as it stands, but I still think about it, because it doesn’t need to be “full loot and free-for-all PvP” for that core principle to stand. A game with nothing but PvE could still have you lose gear as soon as you die, or it could ensure that your gear would eventually break and be unusable forever no matter how much you repair it.

On the one hand, this would kind of damage the very environment of a game like World of Warcraft with its emphasis on perpetual improvement; at the same time, it could also be seen as a way to break away from the game’s ever-upward treadmill, and it would mean that continued gear drops from world quests would still provide meaningful gear even if you have something better right now. So what do you think. Would you be interested in playing a PvE game where your gear decayed to nothing and you had to rebuild? Where you replaced a piece not because you got a stronger one, but simply because it was always time-limited?

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OrbusVR outlines its early access schedule for December

The production schedule for OrbusVR is speeding right along, and the game is just about ready to head into early access. For a given value of “just about,” anyhow; November is still going to be all about the closed beta starting on November 15th. But when that ends on December 8th, players can mark their calendars for the early access head start on December 13th, and from that point on the game is playing for keeps.

Yes, really; the game’s early access period will feature no more wipes or rollbacks, whether you’re part of the headstart or have to start on the general early access period on December 15th. That’s also when fans will be able to gift the game to others, incidentally. So if you’re excited for the game but don’t like playing MMOs when you know there will be progress wipes, get ready to dive in with a will in mid-December.


Neverwinter’s Jungles of Chult has better daily tasks and more reward options

On some level, all Neverwinter really needs to do for Jungles of Chult is to remind you how you’ll get to fight dinosaurs. That’s really all the motivation anyone should need. But the campaign actually does include several functional differences, starting with the changes to repeatable tasks which will allow you to complete certain tasks a fixed number of times per week. Instead of being stuck logging in for daily activities, you can choose how much time you have each day and structure your play appropriately.

Players can also look forward to more flexible boon rewards at the lower tiers, unlocking new pieces of armor from the campaign store, and a tracker for weekly currency rewards. You’ll have a fairly low cap on weekly currency to start, but progress through the campaign will increase that limit over time. So if the prospect of fighting dinosaurs alone doesn’t motivate you, better rewards might help sweeten the pot a bit.


Paladins bumps up Essence gains significantly for players

The Paladins community was not terribly happy with the changes made to the game’s microtransaction model for, let’s face it, entirely understandable reasons. Introducing Legendary cards, swapping things out for Essence, and then making Essence accumulate at such a slow rate as to be irrelevant? The good news is that the developers have heard the complaints and are rolling out fixes to make Essence easier to acquire from all sources.

Players will need 12,000 Essence rather than 18,000 to purchase Legendary cards, while duplicate Common cards will offer 250 Essence rather than 60. Players can also earn 1000 Essence per achievement, and Mastery bonuses achieved before the chest rewards were put into place will retroactively award a large amount of Essence rather than retroactive chests. That doesn’t necessarily mean that players will be totally all right with the changes made so far, but it’s a step in the direction of correcting course.


Star Wars: The Old Republic explains the Bolster changes in Patch 5.1

Players who logged in to Star Wars: The Old Republic after patch 5.1 and jumped right into PvP probably noticed right away that their Bolster effects were working a bit differently. Specifically, Bolster wasn’t nearly as strong as it had been before, going from bolstering players to level 250 to level 232. Community manager Eric Musco has taken to the forums to explain that this isn’t a glitch; it’s an intended change made with an eye toward long-term progression that the developers just communicated poorly.

As it stands, the best gear available is at level 242. The developers realized belatedly that having bolster bring everyone up to 250 changed bolstering from “put players on an even starting plane with room for improvement” to “progression doesn’t matter,” which doesn’t exactly help matters. There’s a similar gap between the top end gear and the bolster effect as there was for the game’s previous expansion, but Musco apologizes for the poor communication; whether or not the change improves the sense of progression will require a bit of time to test.

Source: Official Site via Dulfy; thanks to Brandon for the tip!


Diablo III shows off the rewards for the newly arrived Season 6

It’s time to get up and start earning rewards for Diablo III‘s Season 6! “Now now,” you whine. “I have to go to work today. Wait, how did you get in my house? Leave me alone, I’m trying to do things.” But there’s no time for all of those things, by which I of course mean there’s plenty of time, but also plenty of fun rewards for dedicated slayers of demons with an eye toward the cosmetic and the functional.

As with last season, players who complete certain portions of the season journey will be rewarded with Hedrig’s Gift containing parts of a specific class set, allowing players to assemble a set with surety as they stomp through demons. There’s also a new portrait frame, a new banner, and more storage space available to players who complete the conqueror’s journey in the game once again. Check out the details on the individual class sets up for grabs this season on the official site, and get to work stomping those demons! But please don’t do so at the behest of someone who has actually entered your home to encourage you, that’s kind of horrifying.


New Overwatch video explains progression systems and the two that didn’t work

Progression is a nice thing. Everyone likes the feeling of being better in some small way after playing a game for two hours. When Blizzard brings Overwatch back from its holiday testing break, a progression system is going to be in place, but a new video explains its two predecessors and why they didn’t work.

The short version is that the first version of progression was unlocking new and improved abilities through play, which was super powerful, broken, and unbalanced. The second version unlocked cosmetic alterations for each character… which discouraged players from swapping characters mid-match, thus harming overall team composition. The new progression system is meant to feel as if the game is rewarding you for spending more time with it. You can check out more details in the video below.

Curious about the characters in a more concrete sense? Well, why not check out a recent interview regarding the game’s story, characters, and setting? Story progression is a sort of progression, after all.

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Trion compensates Devilian players for lost progress on the Seadrift server

There’s nothing quite like logging in over the weekend to play some Devilian, logging out after a little while, and then logging back in… to find all of your progress completely gone. A server restart on Saturday, December 12th resulted in several players on the Seadrift server losing progress with characters rolled back to an earlier state, with no way to directly recover the experience earned, items gained, or quests completed.

Players were promptly informed that the community team was aware of the issue and would be granting compensation to affected players. Since then, regular updates have been given to the community regarding the compensation status. All affected players should have received level-appropriate gear tokens as well as replacements for any marketplace items consumed during the period. Players have also received free Enigma Boxes, Enigma Keys, and Archgemstones based on character level. It’s not good to lose progress, but the community team seems to be working overtime to ensure that players feel compensated for the loss.


Skyforge offers more details on Invasions and Operations

Invasions are a big deal in Skyforge, but not every hero standing against the invaders is at the front lines of the main invasion force. It seemed odd that you could spend lots of time killing Mechanoids during a Mechanoid invasion without so much as a nod in your direction. The most recent patch has thus added new features to reward players, starting with sparks dedicated to the specific enemy forces during each Invasion.

Sparks can be collected from any content featuring the invading forces as enemies, so during the current Mechanoid invasion you can collect Mechanoid-themed sparks from any adventures which pit you against Mechanoids. These sparks allow players to unlock nodes on a special part of the Ascension Atlas dedicated to Invasion opponents, offering bonuses against the specific enemy type as well as general progress. Players can also take part in Operations along with these new Sparks, allowing dedicated players to unlock greater rewards for their defense of Aelion – even if they weren’t right on the front lines every day.


How to progress in Skyforge after the weekly spark cap

Weekly limits in Skyforge are everywhere, putting a limit on how far and how fast players can progress in the game. In some ways this is most definitely a good thing, as it keeps even the most progression-oriented players on roughly equal footing, but it does mean that some players are hitting the weekly cap and wondering what in the world can actually be done to advance a character. Consequently, the developers have posted a new walkthrough of the Order system designed to highlight the fact that there is most certainly a means of advancing once you hit that weekly cap.

The Order system is all about sending out followers to promote you as a member of the pantheon and give you plenty of name recognition, which also contributes to the strength of your character (which gives you more followers, which… you get the idea). It’s one of the the three main ways to advance in the game, and it’s also a bit overlooked. The article helps correct that, but the developers promise that they will be keeping an eye on discussions to help identify problems with progress and perception alike..

Source: Official Site; thanks to Twitticle and Nordavind for the tip!


Star Citizen’s Lesnick promises ‘incredible progress’ and addresses concerns

The war of words between developer Derek Smart and Star Citizen isn’t over yet. A recent livestream for a German fan channel saw director of community engagement Ben Lesnick addressing fans not just on the future of the game but on the recent controversy and the issue of refunds. Lesnick specifically stated that this sort of skepticism is why the game went to a crowdfunding platform and that supporters will see incredible progress in the coming weeks.

Lesnick also stressed that everyone is welcome to his or her opinions and that Smart is hardly the first (nor likely the last) person to raise similar concerns regarding the ambition and scope of the game. It was also mentioned in passing that the next planned update to the game’s test servers will likely be delayed to next week.

It should be noted that Lesnick’s interview was conducted before Smart’s most recent demands were published.

Source: CRASH_academy via Polygon