world of warcraft

Official Site: World of Warcraft
Studio: Blizzard Entertainment
Launch Date: November 23, 2014
Genre: Fantasy Themepark
Business Model: Subscription (Cash Shop)
Platform: PC

Jukebox Heroes: Your favorite MMO themes, #18-13

Last week we were off to a great start as we listened to the first batch of player-voted favorite MMO themes. As I said then, the results of the voting, in which I asked players to nominate up to 10 of their favorite main themes from online games, were both predictable and surprising. Nostalgia and familiarity obviously play a strong role in many of these votes, but no one was asking for objectivity here!

Today we're going to continue our countdown to the top spot by looking at numbers 18 through 13 of your favorite MMO themes. I think there's a good mix here, perhaps with tunes that I would have placed a little higher, but overall it's gratifying to see each one of these make the list.

Enough jibber-jabber, let's get to it!

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 109: We are all Dragonborn

Roll for initiative! Bree and Justin are getting all kinds of nerdy with this week's show, in which they talk about Dragon-people, the return of a long-abandoned sci-fi game, a momentous anniversary, and the viability of sandbox MMOs.

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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World of Warcraft is going to make you work hard for your pretty artifact skin

Are you chasing those bright and pretty artifact weapon skins in World of Warcraft? Even if you have assembled the whole set and can lord it over the neighborhood, your collection isn't quite complete.

In Patch 7.2, World of Warcraft is introducing a special "challenge appearance" for artifacts that should prove to be one of the most difficult skins to attain. The requirements are pretty steep, as you have to have maxed out your current artifact, be level 110, complete the Patch 7.2 artifact trait quest, build up the mage's tower at your order base, and then succeed at a solo challenge.

This challenge encounter comes in seven different varieties, based on your class build, and will probably kick your butt if you have anything less than the "best gear" and don't know how to play your class well. To complicate matters, while your first attempt at the challenge is free, subsequent tries will cost a chunk of nethershards. Good luck!

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The Soapbox: What the Mass Effect Andromeda kerfuffle ought to teach us about games criticism

Today is the official release of Mass Effect: Andromeda, which was preceded by the frankly baffling decision to allow people access to an early build of the game ahead of time. Or perhaps the final build without everything enabled? The point is that you could play a bit of it if you were willing to drop some money. That seems like a bad idea that we've been dealing with in online-game-land for a long time, but regardless, it gave people the opportunity to see some of this RPG ahead of time.

This, in turn, allowed the typical internet trolls to find any and all animation flubs and then happily declare that it was all the result of one woman working on the game and handling all of the animations. Which, you know, is a conclusion that would be helped significantly if the woman in question actually worked in that role on the game, which she did not.

Obviously, the game under discussion is not an MMO. But it is symptomatic of two all-too-common problems in gaming culture that are worth noting to people who do not have balls of spiders in place of a soul. So let's talk about those.

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The Daily Grind: Will World of Warcraft hold its 7.2 patch until June?

On October 24th, World of Warcraft launched patch 7.1, which contained a lot of not-quite-ready-for-launch Legion features and a bit of content. Since then, the game hasn't really launched any content. Sure, patch 7.1.5 launched in early January, but that just added the Brawler's Guild back to the game for content (which, admittedly, has a lot of new boss fights). We're looking at a content gap that's starting to spread out a fair bit already, and patch 7.2 is coming out... well, eventually?

Of course, MOP's Bree and I are in pretty close agreement about when it's coming out: June. Because that's when a new Final Fantasy XIV expansion and The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind both launch, so they're going to want to try to kneecap both of those launches.

At least from this side of the fence, that's a pretty dumb plan. It's the same plan that was in place for patch 6.2 of Warlords of Draenor, which wound up with lots of complaints about the delays, and it doesn't seem to have really crippled the launch it wanted to "intercept" there, either. Still, it's the sort of plan that Blizzard has used in the patch, and with two big competing releases in the same month it seems almost absurd to think it wouldn't be tried. So what do you think, dear readers? What do you think the odds are of WoW holding its next patch until June? And how much grousing do you expect if people are waiting that long for more content?

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World of Warcraft plans to add unobtainable transmog appearances in the future

Items are a big part of playing World of Warcraft. Sure, dropping ancient elves and demons and dragons to 0 health is its own reward, but half of the time they just teleport away anyhow to provide a future antagonist. It's the stuff you loot from the experience that really matters. The latest of the game's live Q&A sessions covered itemization, and you can either watch the whole video now or catch up with a summary. Keep in mind that the Q&A also specifically mentions not knowing when patch 7.2 is coming, so if you're looking for that, you're going to be disappointed.

If there are appearances in the game that you know are still unobtainable by players, rest assured that the developers are aware of it; finishing up the set transmog UI has made it clear what elements still can't be grabbed by players and need to be added. Legendary effects that feel substantial enough for a given spec are also in place specifically so that they can serve as a "test" for adding the effect as a baseline for the spec in the future. For the time being, the developers want to keep the 6-item sets that allow for three different tier set bonuses at once, but that may be changed with time. It's an interesting look at the game's current item design philosophy, although we make no promises that you'll be happy with the results.

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The Daily Grind: Should MMOs ever retire classes?

Last week, I asked the Massively OP readers whether World of Warcraft needed another class (I want the Bard, obviously). But one Facebook fan proposed something different entirely: Why not "retire a few classes" to "keep it fresh?"

I suspect that nearly everyone reading is recoiling in horror at the thought of deleting classes from MMOs, which is exactly why I wanted to stare the concept full in the face to sort out why. MMO developers seem to have few qualms about retooling classes -- your characters -- to be almost unrecognizable from their original versions, applying band-aid after band-aid to make them functional and keep them around. Would it really be so bad to nuke them entirely and start from scratch with something built from the ground up?

Yes, say thousands of Star Wars Galaxies Bio-Engineers and Creature Handlers. I hear you. But what if they'd done it more gracefully and replaced them more immediately with something, as the commenter put it, "fresh," as opposed to nuking them overnight and replacing them with nothing?

Should MMOs ever retire classes? Can you think of acceptable circumstances for such a thing?

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Massively Overthinking: When social play in MMOs is predatory by design

Blogger Tobold recently wrote a provocative piece on social play in MMOs, as pointed out to us by our dear tipster Sally. In a piece cheekily titled "Why I can live without other players in my games," he writes that far from being the foundation or glue of MMOs, guilds are actually one of the worst bits of the genre, being platforms for selfishness and drama.

"Guilds were never designed for positive social interaction, they were always a means to an end of individual character progress. You needed those other people to get the most powerful gear in the game. And the way there wasn't exactly a constant stream of friendship and happiness. Look at what MMORPG blog posts have been mostly about when talking about their guilds: First people complain if others aren't investing as much as they do and become a hindrance to killing raid bosses, and then when the raid boss is finally dead they complain that somebody else got the loot."

"The people most loudly complaining about the lack of other players being forced to play with them," he finishes with a zinger that resonated most for me, "are the kind of people with the most predatory play styles."

I've presented Tobold's piece to our writers for this week's Overthinking. Do they -- and you -- agree with his thesis? Let's Overthink it.

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World of Warcraft previews the Broken Shore experience for patch 7.2

The Broken Shore in World of Warcraft is no one's idea of a vacation hangout. For one thing, it's covered in demons; for another, it's the site of a pretty horrendous defeat for all of Azeroth's forces. But we're headed back there in patch 7.2, and this time it's going to be a different experience, with the official site taking a look at how we'll establish a new beachhead at Deliverance Point and then start taking the fight to the Legion's doorstep.

Aside from the continuing saga of individual class stories and the ongoing daily struggle, players will also be working to improve the local defenses by building up three different buildings. Each building provides different buffs and stays up for three days once complete, so players will need to work together across the region to contribute supplies and bolster construction. Players will also have reputation to gain and new storylines to explore, so you should be well and truly ready before you go knocking on the Legion's door.

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Blizzard seeks $8.5M from cheat software company Bossland

It's all fun and games... until you start selling software to help players cheat, then it's all lawsuits and court dates.

Blizzard is asking the California district court to pronounce a judgment upon Bossland, the maker of cheat software for World of Warcraft and Overwatch. The game company filed a lawsuit last year against the cheat maker for copyright infringement and unfair competition. Bossland stopped responding to the court, and Blizzard is now asking the court to make a default judgment.

Blizzard claims that Bossland sold over 42,000 hacks in North America, which the studio considers to be worth $8.5 million in damages. "In this case, Blizzard is only seeking the minimum statutory damages of $200 per infringement, for a total of $8,563,600.00," the studio posted. "While Blizzard would surely be entitled to seek a larger amount, Blizzard seeks only minimum statutory damages. Blizzard does not seek such damages as a 'punitive' measure against Bossland or to obtain an unjustified windfall."

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Global Chat: Fare thee well, Landmark

Believe it or not, there were actually people who played and enjoyed Landmark -- and were saddened to see it taken offline. To kick off this week's roundup of interesting MMO blog posts, we turn to those who knew and remembered Landmark with their words.

"The game, once just a bullet point on the EverQuest Next announcement at SOE Live, has been shut down," The Ancient Gaming Noob said. "The web site and forums have been hidden away and the domain resolves to the Daybreak main page. The few remaining fans have had their final look at the lands of… erm… <does Google search>… Lumeria! That was the name of the place."

Superior Realities took a tour on its last day: "That, really, is what was special about Landmark. You could go to any map, walk in any direction, and in no time flat you’d be sure to find something beautiful, fascinating, or awe-inspiring. The traditional wisdom is that if you give players the tools to make their own content, the vast majority of it will be utter crap, but Landmark was stunning refutation of that notion."

Continue our roundup as bloggers dissect problems with The Secret World's combat system, share tips on how to grind LOTRO points, mull over why it's hard to go back to the "olden days," deliver an early access review of Revelation Online, and pontificate on why theme park MMOs simply work.

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Tamriel Infinium: Battlegrounds will change Elder Scrolls Online PvP forever

I've read all the impressions from the PAX East show that I could find, and they were all overwhelmingly mild -- including ours. As you hopefully know by now, Elder Scrolls Online showed off its instanced PvP battlegrounds, and the media consensus is that they are... coming. And that's it. This really surprised me. It's superficially hard to tell whether people have come to expect one thing from battlegrounds (because so many other games already have them) and ESO really isn't changing the formula -- or the battlegrounds really aren't anything to write home about.

If you were to take Lead PvP Designer Brian Wheeler's word for it, battlegrounds will change PvP in ESO forever because they're a type of PvP that ESO has never had before, which is true. Personally, I do believe not only that battlegrounds will bring something special to Elder Scrolls Online but that other games should pay attention to ESO because it's actually doing something innovative without drawing too much attention to it.

Battlegrounds aren't perfect; there will be some drawbacks, but let's take an honest look at what this new PvP type means for Elder Scrolls Online and maybe other MMOs in the future.

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World of Warcraft attempts to balance legendaries for Patch 7.2

Hold on to your butts: The wild ride of World of Warcraft's Patch 7.2 public test realm hasn't come to a full and complete stop just yet. Blizzard posted its most recent batch of changes to the upcoming content patch, stating that this week's focus has been on retuning and balancing legendary gear.

"These adjustments are part of our overall goal to bring legendaries more in line with each other in terms of value, particularly in how their benefits apply to your primary role (tanking, DPS, or healing)," the studio said.

Blizzard delivered a caveat that this isn't the end of legendary adjustments, as more should be coming. All in all, 49 legendaries saw some manner of change in the most recent build, some for the better and some for the worse. But hey, at least the much-reviled Sephuz’s Secret got a little love, so that's something, right?

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