vanilla

WoW Factor: Updating data in the wake of Battle for Azeroth’s release announcement

Hooray, we have a release date for World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth instead of just a release window! And contrary to what many skeptics (myself included) expected to get, it is actually quite a bit faster than other releases. But as you all have no doubt noticed by now, my love of math means that I’m hardly sore about this. It just means that there’s another data point to consider when we look to the future.

So let’s talk about this new piece of information while using the same information from the column in which I made a reasonable estimate, based on this new information. Again, I think it’s important to note how much faster this expansion is actually releasing compared to prior expansions; it’s significant, even if it means that the people predicting things like June were being wildly wrong about “optimistic” predictions. (After all, pessimistic predictions were equally wrong, just in the other direction; my own estimates were off by 2-3 months.)

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GDC 2018: Hands-on with Trion’s ‘reimagined’ Defiance 2050

Before my GDC interview with Producer Matt “Destromathe” Pettit last week, I was really frustrated with the news about Defiance 2050. I wasn’t a huge fan of the first Defiancebut mostly out of lack of experience; I liked the transmedia idea, and when that died, so did my interest. When Trion announced 2050, I couldn’t join in the excitement. The details were scant and PR-y. I wasn’t even happy with the questions we got back. When I was told I’d get an interview with Pettit at a “party,” I was worried it might mean I’d need a stiff drink to accept what I was being invited to see. In short, I expected 2050 to be a cash grab.

But now I wish Trion had put in its announcement everything Pettit told me. I feel much better about what Trion’s doing now that I’ve seen the product, and I didn’t even drink anything beforehand!

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Jukebox Heroes: World of Warcraft’s best music, part 5

And here we arrive at last in our multi-week countdown to the final seven. It has been a fun and delightful journey through World of Warcraft’s soundtrack, and I have eagerly anticipated getting to the end so that I could share my absolute favorite tracks with you.

As we wrap up this look at WoW’s score — at least, until the next expansion arrives! — I would love to hear from you about this soundtrack. What pieces are special to you? What have the most nostalgic value and why? Let me know in the comments!

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Hyperspace Beacon: So SWTOR’s Update 5.8 happened

Yesterday, Star Wars: The Old Republic launched the delayed Update 5.8: Command Authority to the servers. BioWare now offers its first complete operation since Shadow of Revan. For those keeping score at home, SoR was launched way back in December 2014. We also see some much-needed improvements to the guild questing system that was originally launched with Strongholds expansion earlier in June of 2014, although BioWare has been adding to and improving strongholds since then. And lastly, we are introduced to some of new interactions companions Arcann and Ashara.

It’s only been a day since the launch, but I’ve had a chance to take a long look at most everything BioWare introduced in this expansion. And overall, I’m glad to see an update, but it’s just kind of… there. I have to wonder whether it was really necessary to make the bulk of what was introduced into a major update at all – or the developers could have placed the individual pieces into a much more impactful update. Let me explain what I mean by breaking apart the major pieces.

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Perfect Ten: Why MMO progression servers are a brilliant idea

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been enjoying the journey through RIFT Prime, the game’s first progression server. Trion Worlds surprised and delighted many of us when it announced that it would be creating a slightly more difficult, vastly more cash shop-free shard that would take players through the entirety of the RIFT experience from vanilla through the latest expansion.

As I’ve reset the clock on my RIFT adventures, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the benefits of progression servers. With a lot of World of Warcraft fans wondering if Classic will eventually morph into a progression shard (which I certainly hope it does), and with games like EverQuest and EverQuest II repeatedly embracing the alternative ruleset, I think we could be moving into an era where older MMOs experience new life with this relatively simple move.

So why are MMO progression servers a brilliant idea? Here are 10 thoughts on the matter.

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Perfect Ten: MMO missteps that didn’t have to happen

Around the time I started working at Massively-that-was, there was an article that I quite liked talking about how four high-profile MMO failures were not necessary. It was a product of its time, but the point was made that these games didn’t have to wind up in the state they were in. The mistakes that were made were not unexpected problems, but entirely predictable ones that anyone could have seen. Heck, some people did see them and pointed them out, but nothing was changed.

I think about that a lot when I think about other MMOs and online games because there are a lot of titles that, even if not entirely failed, are in states they never needed to be in. These stories are, at the very least, stories of some failures where the failure was not an inevitable end state, nor are they messes that had to be made. The writing was on the wall, the warnings were given, and someone just kept on keeping on and ignored all of the signs. And here we are.

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Jukebox Heroes: World of Warcraft’s best music, part 4

We are getting right down to it in our look at the top 32 best World of Warcraft tracks. In today’s column, we’ll be breaking into the top 10 with some of my absolute favorite pieces that have been added to this long-running (and extensively scored) MMO.

If you’ve been going on this journey with me this far, I want to thank you for your patience and interest! For me, it has been a great reminder of the game’s musical journey so far and has also served to whet my desire for Battle for Azeroth’s score.

Let’s get going!

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First impressions of RIFT’s Prime progression server

The best word to describe what was happening on the launch day of RIFT Prime was “surreal.” It was absolutely surreal to see crowds of players running around in the low-level zones, and more than one person made the observation that it felt like the original launch day all over again.

I had to concur. With guilds forming left and right on the new progression server, players scrambling over each other to try to grab quest objectives, and fishing lines as far as the eye could see, it was a sight not seen in the beginning zones of RIFT since March 2011. And also as in 2011, everyone here on this progression server was paying a subscription to be a part of this new, tailored experience.

It’s a weird bird, too. RIFT Prime isn’t exactly vanilla, but it does offer a way to go back to the core game without some of the “fast lane” features (like instant adventures) to zip up through the levels. It strips all players of their extra starting bonuses, save for the special cash shop packs that kind of ruined this pristine level starting field.

It was a good, strong start, at least as far as my limited observations perceived, but what was playing RIFT Prime really like? After a couple of days on this new server ruleset, I have a few thoughts about both the good and bad of RIFT’s stab at a progression shard.

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Jukebox Heroes: World of Warcraft’s best music, part 3

In our third part of this five-part countdown of World of Warcraft’s best music (at least, you know, in my opinion), we’ll be heading into the teens and some of the most iconic music of the MMORPG to date.

I think we’re getting a bit of everything in today’s list, from vintage Vanilla WoW to the Legion era, from silly to serious. One of the more difficult aspects of putting together this countdown is considering the “old” and “new” versions of songs, especially when Blizzard has remade or revisited areas, characters, and themes. I find that some people are heavily biased depending on which era they played the most, and thus that music means more to them than the others.

I’d like to hold myself up above that bias horizon, but alas, none of us can escape it. So I’ll endeavor instead to be as fair-handed as is gnomingly possible.

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Jukebox Heroes: World of Warcraft’s best music, part 2

Probably the most challenging aspect of creating a “top 32” list of the best World of Warcraft music isn’t coming up with a track list. Heck, that’s the easy part, considering how many great tunes Blizzard’s composers have added to this MMO over the years. No, the difficult job is taking those 32 tracks and then ranking them as part of a countdown.

What makes one track better than another? Do I go by perceived popularity or by my own preferences (hint: I went with the latter while remaining influenced by the former). Is it a slight to put tracks further down on the list? What happens when we count down to the number one spot… and still haven’t included a track that a fan considers essential to such a list?

I’ll have to get over these worries and fears. That’s on me. For your part, all you need to do is enjoy the next batch of World of Warcraft’s best tunes as we travel through the 20s!

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Massively Overthinking: Which MMORPGs should stay away from legacy servers?

Legacy, vanilla, classic, progression – call them what you like, but alternative server rulesets, particularly of the nostalgia-driven kind, are all the rage in 2018. Just since the dawn of the new year, we’ve gotten a new server type for Age of Conan, with RIFT’s on the way – not to mention World of Warcraft’s looming in our future. And those are just the new ones! Games like RuneScape, EverQuest II, and Ultima Online already run similar servers.

That said, does every MMORPG need one? Aren’t some MMORPGs already in pretty good shape without needing a spin-off for nostalgia’s sake? Is it in every MMO’s best interests to prioritize, on some level, the very older ideas it intentionally left behind? That’s the question I’ve posed to the writers this week: Are there any MMORPGs that should stay far, far away from legacy servers, and if so, why?

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Interview: Trion Worlds goes in depth on RIFT Prime

Following the initial announcement of RIFT Prime and the ensuing details that started to come out of Trion Worlds on the progression server, we had many of the same questions, confusion, and concerns that some of you have expressed. So we reached out to Trion Worlds for further clarification on the concept and progress of the Prime server ruleset, and Producer Amanda Fry came back at us with responses to explain just what’s going on behind the scenes.

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RIFT Prime won’t let you carry your characters over to regular servers

Trion Worlds’ announcement of a RIFT Prime server for this spring may have raised more questions than it answered. While the studio is starting to dole out more specifics, it’s not doing so on its main site. You know what that means: World wide web scavenger hunt for pertinent information!

Probably the most important piece of revealed info is that nothing will carry over from the Prime server to the rest of the game when Prime ends its run. Players will begin at level one and progress through content that will be released piecemeal over the course of nine to 12 months. It also sounds like the classes and content will be the most up-to-date versions, so don’t get your hopes up to see vanilla builds emerge once again. And if you already have a subscription, then don’t worry: It’ll cover Prime as well.

“Prime progression will not carry over to live servers,” said Producer Chris Junior. “What we’re discussing for Prime players who also play on live is to provide a cosmetic trophy/participation reward for their accomplishments on Prime — such as a title, a cape, something like that.”

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