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

MMO Mechanics: Brilliant MMO boss mechanics

I love a good boss fight as much as the next MMO player, and I’m sure I’m not alone in favouring fights that really pack a punch with a unique mechanical twist. I spent years raiding in World of Warcraft, for example, without being able to cast while moving my feet, which made me appreciate the strategic planning movement mechanics required. I also adore when the raid or zone environment lends itself to the fight by including fun mechanics that help the bad guy go down that much quicker, as is the case for many Guild Wars 2 world bosses.

In this edition of MMO Mechanics, I’m going to look at some of my favourite boss mechanics and explain the encounters that made me love them in the first place, using them to form a sort of master list of mechanics that make a great boss fight. I expect you to add your favourites in the comments below; with so many nasty beasties to slay, I’m sure our combined list will be a long one!

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Bashiok bids Blizzard adieu

Blizzard’s long-time community manager, Bashiok (known in the earlier days as Drysc), is leaving the studio after more than a decade of wrangling the World of Warcraft forums. Bashiok, who has been a constant figure in the WoW community since October 2003, has announced that he’s leaving to pursue a new opportunity. In a short-but-sweet post on the official forums, he notes that his time with the studio and the community had “an incredible and positive impact” on who he is, and he signs off by wishing players the best: “I’m looking forward to what’s next, and wishing you a life of joy, insatiable curiosity, and happy gaming.”

Source: Departure announcement via Blizzard Watch. Thanks, Scott!

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SMITE adds Khepri, its biggest god yet

“This is one big scary bug. Much bug. Wow.”

Hi-Rez has a lot to say about Khepri, SMITE’s newest god, but perhaps the above quote is the most apt. Khepri is a gigantic armored insect that is the game’s biggest model yet. Despite its size, Khepri isn’t a tank, but instead a support character that excels at assisting its teammates by buffing and even resurrecting them.

There’s a lot more than Khepri that’s gone into the MOBA’s latest update including some much-needed item tweaking. “We want players to feel rewarded for making smart item choices and make sure they have a wide pool to choose from,” Hi-Rez posted. “We looked at some of the underperforming items and tweaked them to make them more attractive for players to utilize.”

Source: Khepri reveal, patch notes. Thanks to Sorenthaz for the tip!

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WoW Factor: Speculating on WoW’s next expansion

On August 6th, we now know, we’ll be hearing the name and some details on the next World of Warcraft expansion. What we don’t know is what that expansion will actually contain. The space after this expansion is a blanker space than usual, with lots of possible directions and an absolute dearth of information indicating what direction the story will go in from here.

More to the point, the next expansion is going to be judged pretty harshly simply by virtue of coming immediately after an expansion best described as “maybe worse than Cataclysm.” It’s an uphill battle all around. Now that we know for certain that we will be hearing about the next expansion in a little over a week, let’s look a little bit at what we might be exploring in the next expansion in both story and mechanical terms.

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Windows 10 and your favorite MMORPGs

If you’re upgrading to Windows 10 this week, congratulations! You’re brave! You might be in for a week of tech headaches and busted games!

Tech support across multiple games and studios is recommending that you fully update your graphics drivers first and foremost. Nvidia and AMD have released new drivers in the last few days to support Win10’s support for DirectX 12. “NVIDIA has been working closely with Microsoft on the development of Windows 10 and DirectX 12,” blared the tech giant’s website yesterday. “Coinciding with the arrival of Windows 10, this Game Ready driver includes the latest tweaks, bug fixes, and optimizations to ensure you have the best possible gaming experience.” Yeah, you need ’em.

  • World of Warcraft users are reporting FPS drops, mouse and camera issues, and screen tearing. (Switching from windowed to full-screen and back again seems to be resolving a lot of problems.)
  • Trion is confident in its preparedness: “As of today (July 27), and barring any last-minute changes made by Microsoft, all Trion games are ready for Windows 10 release,” Brasse told RIFT, Trove, ArcheAge, and Defiance fans. Players with problems are advised to update their drivers.
  • Final Fantasy XIV is less confident. “We are currently performing operation verifications so that Final Fantasy XIV can be played on Microsoft Windows 10, the next OS to be officially released by Microsoft on Jul. 29, 2015,” posted the studio earlier last week. “The verification process is scheduled to be completed in mid-August, but if any issues should occur, more time will be required for verification. We will make an announcement when Final Fantasy XIV officially begins to support Windows 10.”

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With Your Destiny and Asta close down

We truly do hate to be the bearers of bad news, especially when that news has to do with the demise of an MMO. It’s doubly unfortunate to have to report on the sunset of two free-to-play titles this past week: Asta and With Your Destiny.

T3Fun’s With Your Destiny recently announced that it was closing its doors, and yesterday the title shuttered both its servers and the website. The Norse mythology MMO had been in operation since 2003. Currently, any attempt to find the With Your Destiny page will send you to T3Fun’s site instead.

Asta: The War of Tears and Winds, which was billed as the Asian World of Warcraft when first released, is shutting down its South Korean servers next month following a couple of years of stalled development.

Source: MMO Culture. Thanks to Mitch and Winterskorn for the tips!

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World of Warcraft to reveal newest expansion next week

What will World of Warcraft’s next expansion be? Forget speculation — you’ll be finding out for real in a little over a week.

Blizzard announced today that it will reveal the follow-up to Warlords of Draenor on Thursday, August 6th, at noon EDT during a Gamescom livestream. The studio said that it will have a follow-up dev chat covering the expansion on August 9th during the convention as well.

“Join us Thursday, August 6th, at 9 a.m. PDT for a special World of Warcraft event streamed live from Gamescom 2015 in Cologne, Germany — where we’ll be unveiling the next chapter of the World of Warcraft saga,” the studio teased on the offical game site.

Fans were hoping to hear about the expansion soon, considering that the last expansion has already wrapped up its patch cycle. So since we have a week until the news, how about whipping up a Massively OP office pool to guess the new expansion’s name?

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FFXIV, SWTOR, and Guild Wars 2 fall in Raptr’s June rankings

Raptr has published its stats roundup for the month of June. It turns out that people are still playing games online. You can close your browser now, and thanks for the pageview.

Oh, you want details? League of Legends is still kicking everyone’s ass. ARK: Survival Evolved debuted in 12th place, and Heroes of the Storm landed in 8th place thanks to its formal launch. In the realm of pure MMOs, World of Warcraft jumped back into the top five in terms of relative playtime share, but its total playtime was down over May — no surprise there. Final Fantasy XIV fell two spots to 15, Star Wars: The Old Republic fell four spots to 18, and Guild Wars 2 dropped out of the top 20 altogether. “Dungeon Fighter Online made a surprise entrance into the top 20,” posts Raptr, crediting the game’s North American open beta.

As usual, this post comes with caveats that you will ignore on your way to shout about this post in the comment section. The stats represent only users of the Raptr service, and percentage playtime is calculated relative to other games, so it is possible for a game to sink in relative rankings while actually improving in overall playtime/players/income/health (and vice versa). Irritatingly, Raptr does not provide complete information on games’ total playtime except for the tidbits it mentions in the body of the article.

The top-20 infographic is below.

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Global Chat: Do you crave human interaction in MMOs?

I’ve long been an advocate of “playing alone together” in MMOs. While I enjoy grouping and teaming up to a degree, mostly I want to be off soloing while enjoying a world populated by colorful personalities and the other perks that come with a massively multiplayer title.

Bhagpuss has a downright poetic and soul-filled post in which he struggles with why he likes about — and what he’s lost from — playing alongside and with others in MMOs. “Did we love the games because of the friends we made in them or make the friends we did because we loved the games? Was life better before Trammel, before PoP, before the NGE, before dungeon finder, because the games were better then, the interactions closer, more meaningful, more real? Or was it just because we were younger, less worn-down with responsibility or failure or ennui or cynicism?”

When you’re done with that read, head onward, because the deep thoughts don’t stop there! In this edition of Global Chat, bloggers discuss the virtues of RP servers, the storytelling of Final Fantasy XIV, the grey market of Star Citizen, and more!

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Is Blizzard’s mystery Gamescom conference about WoW?

Blizzard being at Gamescom is in and of itself neither unusual nor unique. Gamescom is just one of those conventions that the company attends, after all. But hosting a separate press conference at the show would seem to indicate that the company has something to announce beyond what fans are already aware of. Which, at this point, would almost certainly center around World of Warcraft.

The last patch of the game’s current expansion is live now, and fans are unsure what the content gap will look like beyond vague promises that it will be shorter than the 14-month gap after Mists of Pandaria ended. Having the game’s next expansion announced at Gamescom in August would be unusual, but it would also contribute to the expansion being out sooner. Of course, it could also just be another Diablo III expansion or some other major announcement, so fans will simply have to keep their eyes open next week to determine the purpose of the mystery conference.

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World of Warcraft is really, really big

One thing we grizzled World of Warcraft veterans tend to fondly remember are the naked gnome races that showed us just how big — and dangerous — Azeroth could be. After 10 years, numerous patches, and five expansions, the fantasy MMO has grown even larger, even if players are too busy with instant transportation to notice.

One YouTuber, BigCliffy, took it upon himself to record a hyperlapse video of a few journeys across WoW’s continents. Through the video, you reclaim a sense of scope of the world and an appreciation for how much has been added to it since launch.

Before you embark on that cross-continental journey in the video below, however, we have a public service announcement from Blizzard about limitations for acquiring and possessing WoW Tokens. The studio clarified what players can and cannot do, including only holding 10 tokens at a time (and these can only be of a singular type) and only purchasing 10 tokens a week from the cash shop.

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The Game Archaeologist: Kingdom of Drakkar

Kingdom of Drakkar, also known as Drakkar or even Kingdom of Drakkar II, is a really odd duck among the annals of MMO history. While being very small potatoes for the industry as a whole throughout its entire lifespan, it is notable for an extraordinary long run (it began in the 1980s, people!) that’s traversed through several format changes and handlers.

I’ve seen Drakkar described, somewhat unkindly, as a “shoddier Ultima Online,” but I think that is a surface judgment that doesn’t take the effort to get to know the game or its legacy. There must be something to this game if it’s been around for three decades, yes? Let’s find out!

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The Daily Grind: Have you ever used performance-enhancing drugs while MMOing?

Last week, a former pro e-sports player went on the record to say that he — and pretty much everyone else in the top brackets of competitive gaming — takes performance-enhancing drug Adderall to help keep ultra-alert and hyper-focused during events. Some of our readers scoffed at the report, saying that everyone does it, from college students cramming for exams to top-tier World of Warcraft raiders, bringing the term “hardcore” to all-new lows.

But it appears to have been news to the ESL, which stopped just short of accusing the e-sports player a troll this week while promising to alter its tournament procedures to test for doping rather than just forbid it. “We are hoping to have a waterproof strategy for identifying PEDs, testing for their presence and punishing players who were caught using any of the forbidden substances,” the organization told Wired. “Full blown drug tests at esports events are far away, but that doesn’t mean we can’t and shouldn’t try to tackle the issue.”

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