Culture & Community Category

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

Betawatch: Fallout 76 shares details on PvP and crossplay (August 17, 2018)

There’s still stuff happening with Fallout 76, even though players aren’t testing it yet. You can at least test things out in your mind now that you know about the game’s progression and PvP plans. Perhaps “testing games in your mind” could be a Perk. Of course, you’ll want to make sure that you have the game on the same platform as your friends, as a lack of crossplay has been confirmed at this point.

But let’s not stop there; let’s catch a few other beta stories, yes?

So this is all rather shady, but we promise you that our list below is properly illuminated and trustworthy. We have it all vetted by you fine people! Notice something on there that shouldn’t be? Let us know so we can fix that! And that includes if something skipped phases without us noticing or just went quiet for an extended period of time. We appreciate your notifications.

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H1Z1 fans are quibbling over whether Jace Hall can really save the game on PC

The 12 million dudes and dudettes playing H1Z1 on PlayStation 4 this summer need to know two things this week. For one, the latest patch doesn’t add much – primarily performance optimizations to textures, animations, and UI drawing, as well as bug fixes (like the one where you parachute wouldn’t open during your drop – ouch). PS4 players can take advantage of the hoopla by logging in this month and playing a match to unlock a free skin that looks like something weird my little kid made in art class. But hey, it’s free.

As for the PC community, things are either super awesome or grumpy, depending on your view. As we’ve previously noted, Monolith’s Jace Hall is taking over at Daybreak as the game’s new PC lead. His Twitter feed is currently pumping up the transition with “nothing iz impozzible” videos.

“UPDATE – THE GOOD: @DaybreakGames meeting was amazing in all the right ways,” he tweeted Wednesday. “The magic IS happening. THE BAD: May not be completely free 2 disclose any epic info during this week as planned…Still doable, but it may be a few days beyond that B4 my chains come off.”

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Star Trek Online encourages players to make Foundry missions for a free Tier 6 ship

The Foundry in Star Trek Online allows you to make almost any sort of mission you can conceive of, but most of those missions have a pretty specific set of assumptions. After all, the players writing these tales are probably going to assume that the players are taking the role of a standard Starfleet captain rather than assuming that the mission will be experienced by a Jem’Hadar warrior. But why not flip that on its ear? And why not do so when being bribed by the promise of a free tier 6 ship?

Yes, the developers are teaming up with the Foundry Roundtable podcast, and for this month’s competition players are being tasked with making a mission based around either a Cardassian captain or a Jem’Hadar captain. The winner gets a free pick of several tier 6 ships, so there’s plenty of motivation to think about what it would be like to make an adventure just for these two races. And if you already play one of them, hey, there’s some extra reward in it for you.

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Mortgage company analyzes the price differences between video game housing, including Final Fantasy XIV

How much is your house worth in The Sims 4? Obviously, the game attaches a value to it, but that’s just game terms and doesn’t really match what we think of as the value of these things. This is why the UK-based mortgage company L&C Mortgages looked at the housing market in eight separate games to compare the costs and availability of a house in all of them, including the exceedingly market-limited houses in Final Fantasy XIV.

The comparisons are not perfect, since games like Fallout 4 and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild are single-player titles without players competing for a house. Still, if you’d like to see how the cost of virtual real estate stacks up, it should be at least mildly amusing. And hey, it also means you can mention your home is worth millions of dollars before muttering that it only applies in Eorzea. (Or Othard, if you want to be really pedantic. At this point you might as well be.)

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The Daily Grind: Should being an MMO ‘whale’ absolve a player of toxicity or push him to the front of a queue?

Longtime MOP reader Agemyth recently brought to our attention a couple of bits of commentary that disturb at least my own fundamental sense of fairness. In one recent Waypoint piece, an ex-mod for a trading card MMO discusses how he witnessed staff allowing a toxic player to keep on being toxic because he was a whale, spending tons of money in-game. And in a Giant Bomb chat earlier this summer, a former MMO CS rep admitted to fast-tracking requests from big spenders. “When the email comes in, the first thing we see is how much money they’ve spent on the game,” he says. (Based on later comments from the same person referring to a $100 lockbox released in the middle of the Battlefront mess, the second company appears to be Trion. Incidentally, he also says the most money he ever saw stamped on someone’s account was $130,000. Let that sink in.)

Anyway. “It doesn’t surprise me that these practices exist, but actually hearing some details about it can still bring a grimace to my face,” Agemyth says. Mine too. Does this also gross you out? Should you be able to get away with being a toxic jerk as long as you keep the dollars flowing? Should how much you spend determine whether a company answers your help requests in a timely manner? If you look at it from the perspective of the company, does it change your answer?

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Aion details all of its upcoming gear exchange rates for a big equipment overhaul

The progression of equipment and power level in Aion may be a bit overly ornate at the moment, which is why the game’s next major patch for the NA version is overhauling the whole experience. Of course, the flip side to that task is that it also means a whole lot of changes to gear, and that means there’s a whole list of how your current gear can be exchanged for new gear when the update goes live. It’s large enough that it requires a separate spreadsheet, even.

To assuage one major fear, the game’s community team has reminded players that this is not an automatic replacement but an additional compensation; players will still have their old gear, they’ll just receive new pieces. Of course, the debate is running about the forums over whether or not the exchanges are fair or balanced for the community, which is always going to be a problem with this degree of gear change.

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Rend’s Jeremy Wood on how Frostkeep borrows from Blizzard, Dark Age of Camelot, and PlanetSide

GameDaily has an interview with Rend’s Jeremy Wood this week that covers a bunch of meta topics of interest to MMO players and watchers of this oddball hybrid title. While Rend has no plans to suddenly become a battle royale title, Frostkeep is very much watching what the MMO subgenres and companies are up to in order to “fill the same psychological needs that are being filled by those games in [Rend].” Specifically, Wood says his team learned a lot from Blizzard and the MMO genre.

“Our biggest takeaway from our Blizzard experience is you can make a fantastically unique product without really inventing anything new,” Wood explained. “Blizzard got where they are by taking inspiration from all sorts of different great pieces of games in different genres.”

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Stardew Valley mod sends a multiplayer farm owner into a coma for true MMO action

The multiplayer mode in Stardew Valley is a pretty standard multiplayer arrangement with one player serving as the host and everyone else serving as guests or indentured servants. This is not exactly unusual. But what if you could put the host to sleep forever and let everyone run around with abandon with no masters? Behold the latest mod to the game, which allows the host to basically become completely inert while others continue to play in the game world to great effect.

Of course, there are downsides to this, chief among them the fact that the actual host will need to leave the computer hosting the game powered on 24/7. (You know, like an actual server.) It also means that the host can’t actually participate while the game is frozen, which is fine for short jaunts away but can cause unwanted effects in the longer term. Still, it’s a step toward turning the game into your very own farmland MMO… with an absentee leader imprisoned in a void of darkness. That seems fine.

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First impressions of World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth, part 2: Content

The first part of this first impressions series yesterday was all about the mechanical changes made for this expansion. This time, I don’t want to talk about the mechanics of World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth; I want to talk about the actual content. Not the narrative text, but just the actual moment-to-moment stuff you’re doing in the game. Which, I think, is what this expansion is going to be judged on at this stage by a lot of people.

Put simply, the game could have the best combat it has ever had with the best gear enhancement system conceivable, but if the actual things you had to fight were a boring slog, no one would like it anyway. Solid content covers a multitude of sins.

There are several people who would likely argue that Legion had some of the best content we’ve ever seen in WoW, and while there’s room to debate that, I think it’s definitely worth considering. So BfA started off on something of the back foot, and that was exacerbated by the fact that it has not one but two continents to fill out almost entirely separate.

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Rumor: Players are losing their houses in Final Fantasy XIV in error

Housing in Final Fantasy XIV has some issues with limited space, so almost no one who has a home in the game wants to lose it. So if you want to spread chaos in the game’s homeowner community, claiming that people are losing their houses without warning is a good way to do it. There are more reports than usual of players logging in to find their houses gone, while they claim they had been in there and active in time to reset the timer.

Time to panic? Maybe not. That shiny “rumor” tag is there for a reason, chiefly the fact that at this point there’s no real confirmed reports of this happening to people. Reddit users have taken the opportunity to keep tabs on the house watchers on Balmung, and as of yet nothing has surfaced as abnormal there. (Balmung is one of the game’s largest servers and the unofficial RP server, which means housing is closely watched.) If there is a bug, it appears to be highly limited, but it’s still disconcerting to think about.

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The Daily Grind: How much of an MMO do you have to play before you feel you’ve got a handle on it?

MMOs are big. Really big. You wouldn’t believe just how mind-bogglingly big they really are. Although you probably would, since you’re here reading about them. And the sheer facet of scale means that it can be really difficult to establish a point when you’ve seen enough to have a good sense of the game.

Obviously, five minutes logged into an official World of Warcraft server won’t give you any idea about the game as a whole; pretty much anyone could agree on that. And at the other extreme, it’s unlikely anyone would expect you to play every piece of content in Star Wars: The Old Republic before you can decide on whether or not the game delivers on what you’re looking for.

Realistically, every game offers you a different amount of things in different combinations and in such arrangements that every game will require different amounts of time to evaluate. You could argue that a few matches in World of Tanks tell the whole story about the game’s mechanics, after all. But then, just playing and leaving means you miss out on the meta and the overall sense of what the game is like over the longer term, which can often be a pretty important element. So what do you think, readers? How much of an MMO do you have to play before you feel you’ve got a handle on it?

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Battle Bards Episode 126: Out of this world

It’s time to boldly go where no podcast has gone before — by exploring MMO space themes! It’s perhaps the flat-out goofiest and silliest Battle Bards episode to date, so you’re going to have to excuse a whole lot of diversions, arguments, and giggles. Because that’s what space does to people? We do not know. This episode is also notable for Syl’s all-time greatest quote, “Planets are usually in space.” Usually.

Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunesGoogle PlayTuneInPocket CastsStitcher, and Player.FM.

Listen to Episode 126: Out of this world (or download it) now:

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Albion Online makes trade mission bundles much heavier

A little change can make a big difference in terms of balance. It’s what Albion Online did with its latest patch; all that’s really been changed is that trade mission packages have had their weight increased by around 400 kg. The thing is that a heavier package means using different pack animals to transport it, which in turn means not being able to rely upon using mounts with more survivability… and, in turn, it means that these trade missions become a lot riskier. See? Balance from a little change!

The patch also contains some other balance tweaks for faction leaders, as well as updating the marketplace UI with several quality-of-life features and fixing several bugs along the way. But the biggest change for the patch is, well, a little change that should make things harder for a lot of players who will rely on more vulnerable mounts now, which encourages more back-and-forth warfare, which is exactly the point.

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