Culture & Community Category

The softer, gentler side of MMORPG life. [Follow this category’s RSS feed]

WRUP: Introducing the Not-even-good-at-one-formers edition

Introducing the hottest toy line to debut near SDCC (not at, we don’t have money for a booth there), it’s the Not-even-good-at-one-formers! They’re less, significantly less than meets the eye! Featuring the heroic No-knee-bots against the evil forces of the Separate-parts-bolted-together-icons!

Children and adults with the minds of particularly slow children will enjoy trying to make these toys change from their default form of A Dude With Vehicle Bits On Him to A Dude With Vehicle Bits On Him Lying On His Back And With An Unconvincing Mask On! Both forms are poorly painted and feature bad paint applications, shoddy stickers, and gimmicks that snap off in your hand!

Collect all of your favorite characters like Optional Pilsner, Bormblebrew, Sideswept, Mortgage-tron, Storescam, and The Tape Deck Dude! Let us know how you’re looking forward to it down in the comments, or just let us know What Are You Playing if you’d rather.

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The Daily Grind: Which expansion helped out an MMO the most?

We have talked a lot about great and terrible MMO expansions in the past, but most often, we approach such conversations from our personal enjoyment. However, there’s another way to look at expansions, and that’s to evaluate them in hindsight and point to ones that gave their titles the greatest boost and added the most value and useful features to the game.

Now that we have the advantage of being able to look at expansions over time, which would you say helped out an MMO the most? Which gave that game a great bump in population, interest, and long-term success?

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Betawatch: Legends of Aria wants you to break it (July 20, 2018)

Please, break the servers for Legends of Aria. The developers want you to break the servers. There’s a big event this weekend and everyone is being encouraged to go hog wild and log in until the servers buckle under the strain. You probably should not whisper that it’s been a naughty, naughty server as you do your best to break it, but we suppose you should follow your bliss.

Other beta news? Aw, heck, just because we’re friends.

Are those stories strange enough for you? Perhaps you’ve got some strange stories of your own to share down in the comments, or perhaps you’d just like to let us know if something slipped into a new test phase without us noticing. Both are neat!

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Fortnite’s Playground mode struggled due to matchmaking server stress

Some limited-time modes in Fortnite are successful and some aren’t, but the Playground mode was notable in that its issues had nothing to do with player reception. The mode had to be turned off and then re-implemented because it was causing some pretty severe issues. What happened? Well, the latest post-mortem breakdown from the developers explains that it wasn’t an issue with any part of the game itself but a simple limitation of the matchmaking servers.

As Playground matches take place with far fewer players than a normal Fortnite match, the matchmaking servers were already doing far more work to match players up. That meant increasing the number of servers used by fifteen times… which meant also having to deal with a 15x increase in load and matchmaking lists. The good news is that the stresses of the mode have taught the developers where the matchmaking weaknesses lie, so future problems of a similar nature can hopefully be avoided.

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Rend discusses sweeping content changes, wipes alpha servers ahead of new testing surge today

Keep an eye on your inboxes today if you’re hoping to get into Rend’s alpha test: Frostkeep announced this week that it’s added two new servers and “thousands” of new testers today. The downside? The existing four servers will be wiped, so all testers are effectively starting over.

In addition to the character redesign and talent rebalance features in progress, Frostkeep says it’s also targeting “sweeping changes to the game’s harvesting and crafting logistics and overall game cycle timing” plus updates to the Yggdrasil biome, taming, metaprogression system, “increasing early to mid-game competitiveness to reduce the snowball effect of one faction getting ahead. The overall goal is to make a cycle of Rend last longer and play like less of a frantic race to the finish line.” You’re not going to be able to port a truckton of mats across the map like it’s nothing anymore, either.

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Otherland plans a new character type to experience an upcoming short story by Tad Williams

Tad Williams, the author of the original Otherland quadrology, has written a new novella in that world. What does this mean for players of Otherland? Well, part of the novella will be available in the game. Obviously, the entire thing can’t be present there, but some of it is; the official post on the matter explains that it’s a bit like the short story which would eventually grow into the novella. And yes, that means it’s a new story about the game world in the actual game world.

But there are going to be fans of the books who aren’t necessarily interested in playing the game, and thus the developers are planning to introduce a new “Social” character type to the game. These characters have no combat abilities or progress, but can bypass all of the usual starting zones to simply start the treasure hunt for the story; players can later convert these characters to normal characters if so desired. Not a bad cross-promotion all around, really.

Source: Facebook

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WoW Factor: World of Warcraft’s Battle for Azeroth feels like Cataclysm all over again

It took me a long time to identify what felt off about World of Warcraft’s upcoming expansion. Something was definitely bothering me, but the thing was is that we know exactly what an expansion with the bare minimum effort looks like now, and it sure as heck didn’t feel like Battle for Azeroth was Warlords of Draenor But Again. Yet something kept nudging at me, some comparison that was just slightly eluding me as I dutifully tested new quests, new system revisions, and so forth.

Then I realized that the whole thing was basically Cataclysm and it clicked.

Mind you, I say this not as an indication that the expansion is nearly as bad as Cataclysm was. (There’s still far too much of the actual game to see, for example.) But far from my own optimistic excitement, it feels like the expansion is making a lot of the same missteps as that particular black mark, and it doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.
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Crowfall improves performance by changing terrain

It’s far too early in Crowfall’s testing to worry about optimizing the game’s frame rate and overall performance, but there’s a difference between “optimizing” and “improving.” The latest change made to the game exists precisely in that space, as the game should now perform better just because the game’s terrain is now being rendered using custom-built meshes instead of built-in Unity meshes. That… had a pretty distinct improvement on the rendering and overall performance!

Why? Well, the game’s engine no longer has to convert from default options before rendering things, which cuts down on processing power and results in terrain that should look identical but just render more smoothly. There’s also a new way of handling the grass rendering that significantly cuts down on processing as each chunk of the landscape is rendered. All of which should result in an improvement you see in terms of frame rate, but the game itself shouldn’t look different… which is a performance upgrade for you, really.

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Star Citizen is working on the AI patrols to make griefing much harder, reveals medical concept ship sale

On this week’s episode of Star Citizen’s Around the Verse, Sandi Gardiner and Chris Roberts recap “emergent gameplay” events recorded by the community, including a humorous take on the Cry Astro protest we wrote about last week.

“The mission team has been working to implement FPS AI into persistent universe locations, and they’ve recently started testing AI patrols around Cryo Station,” Roberts says, hinting an end to the protest fun may eventually be coming when the NPC lawmen show up even if players can’t break the lines themselves. “This is the first step to bringing a more robust law system to the EU, which will eventually make it harder for players to throw their weight around like they’re doing at Cry Astro right now.

Meanwhile, CIG has revealed the RSI Apollo, a medical concept ship that will run $225 to $270 depending on variants chosen; there are packs up to $1550 too. That’s in real dollars.

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World of Warcraft Hunters launch #SaveHati campaign

With this week’s World of Warcraft pre-expansion patch, Blizzard has made one group of players deeply unhappy by putting down their pet dog.

Some — but not all — Beast Master Hunters are mourning the loss of their Legion companion Hati, who disappeared with the de-powering of their artifact weapon. Players who had grown attached to the blue pet over the past two years have taken umbrage with the studio for callously stripping it away with Patch 8.0, and the BM community has rallied together to launch a #SaveHati campaign on the forums and Twitter.

“For many hunters Hati is a person, a friend, a companion who has been part of our story for months. Years?” one player posted. “To many hunters, pets are more than just a weapon. To me, Hati is a full-blown character who is tightly bonded to my hunter,” said another.

Blizzard fielded a question on Hati during this week’s livestream, teasing the possibility of the pet’s return in some form in the future — but no plans and no promises were made in this regard.

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The Daily Grind: What’s your favorite non-awful gaming subreddit?

I want to flip the tables on the whole toxicity/Reddit thing a bit. Earlier this week, we talked about some of the problems Reddit has. But not every gaming subreddit – or every subreddit, for that matter – is a cesspit of drama. I can never write off the whole platform because I’ve had really enjoyable experiences on the subs for some of my other hobbies, for single-player games, and even for niche groups for MMOs.

For example, have you ever checked out /r/GuildWarsDyeJob/? You guys, it’s basically a fashion show in there. It reminds me of the old Guru forums where people would post up their awesome outfit/dye combos for classic Guild Wars, only this one’s got much more Guild Wars 2. People are super creative, and the commentary is constructive too.

What’s your favorite non-awful gaming subreddit? Which one truly deserves an epic shout-out?

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Massively Overthinking: What important lessons are MMORPGs failing to impart?

MOP reader and Patron Brett has a burning question about the lessons we’re learning (and not learning) from playing MMORPGs.

“In his book Theory of Fun, Raph Koster suggests that games are really just systems of learning things in a way that we enjoy with fewer consequences. In his words, ‘That’s what games are, in the end. Teachers. Fun is just another word for learning.’ If that’s true, then modern MMORPGs and their narratives would seem to be a pretty mixed bag of lessons – individual power can be accumulated like wealth; evil can be conquered through solo and group acts of courage; violence is a feasible solution to almost every problem; your race, nation or profession defines a lot about who you are; and accessorizing with the most expensive bag is possibly the most crucial decision to make before leaving home.

“So with so much opportunity at the moment for our real-world societies and communities to be better, I’d like to know what you think is the most important lesson or lessons that MMORPGs could be teaching us, but currently don’t? How could these games leave us wiser or more richer people for the experience?”

I’ve posed Brett’s questions to the team for the resurgence of Massively Overthinking this week.

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OrbusVR hosts another free weekend starting today

We should warn prospective players of OrbusVR ahead of time that the game’s new free weekend will not include a free VR headset. If you want to play the game, you will need to already have a headset to do so. However, if you already have your set but haven’t yet tried the game out, you can do so for free starting… why, today!

All right, the official listing says “Friday, July 19th,” but we’re going to assume that’s a typo. [Update: Yep. It was. Live now!]

Players can explore the game freely for the duration of the free weekend, which comes to a close on July 22nd at 3:00 a.m. EDT. The game has had some recent patches, so if you’d been holding off on playing the game for whatever reason, this is a perfect opportunity to see what’s on display and consider making it a fixture of your VR library.

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