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

DC Universe Online adds the Teen Titans storyline Judas Contract today

It’s time for a new story in DC Universe Online, and this time the game is taking a spin with one of the universe’s more popular teams with the Teen Titans. Since Cyborg is leaving the Titans to work with the Justice League full-time, there’s a hole in the Titan roster. Players of the heroic persuasion are eligible, and players of the villainous bent are sneaking in anyway… but there’s another infiltrator sent by Deathstroke, and players will need to ferret out who it might be.

The patch includes new duo content, new raids and elite raids, and a new alert as part of the overall story arc. There’s also the new Augment system in the game, replacing the old R&D system and equipping various Augments directly to your character. Check out the full patch notes to know what you’ll be diving into, and then go hang out with a bunch of teenagers.

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Perfect Ten: Endless dungeons in MMOs

Most MMO dungeons are normal songs. You start out and you have a pretty clear picture of the beginning, middle, and end; they don’t really change up much. But the endless dungeon is like improvisational jazz. Sure, there’s a beginning and often a fairly reliable end, but the space in the middle can be filled with all sorts of things. You don’t even know what’s going to be there until you’re already in the thick of it. It could be filled with creme! (Probably not, but hey, life is weird sometimes.)

Our reader Arsin asked us a while back about MMOs with endless dungeon modes of some sort, and well, we do our best to find these things out. The goal here is to have an online-only game with randomly generated content between the start and end. Arguably some of these might not fit your personal criteria, but that’s all right; there’s plenty of variety here!

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EVE Online has banned almost 20,000 accounts since February for botting and RMT

Y’all remember the wild mess in EVE Online last winter and spring, when CCP Games said it was “coming for the bots” and getting tough on botting in the space sandbox? At the time, CCP said it had already banned 1800 accounts just in the month of January – and that was after a group of bot-hunting vigilante players had exposed the scale of the problem by taking down some of the outrageously expensive supercarriers owned by an RMT crew and piloted by bots.

CCP Games put out an update on its progress in the war on bots today, saying it understands that it’s “a key issue in the eyes of [its] community.” It says it’s banned 18,398 accounts since February: 8771 for RMT, 4250 for botting, and 5377 for account hacking.

The studio also says it has implemented a new password checking system to prevent account hacking and further asks the community to help by voluntarily enabling two-factor authentication on EVE Online accounts and by keeping those bot reports coming.

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The Daily Grind: How should MMO studios handle game reboots?

Over the past several years, we have witnessed several MMOs being rebooted and relaunched, including Final Fantasy XIV, Secret World Legends, and, most recently, Defiance 2050. There are various reasons why studios would want to do this, including addressing key flaws in the original game, switching over to different business models, and benefiting from a new round of publicity and review ratings.

Looking at the above titles as case studies (and more if you can pull up examples), we see both positives and negatives of these experiences arise. Not many players are keen on starting over in MMOs after investing dozens or even hundreds of hours on their characters, and because of this, there is a heavy price to be paid if the relaunch isn’t significantly different and improved from the original.

How should MMO studios handle game reboots? What would you recommend be the steps that studios should take in handling existing accounts, upgrading the game, and starting everything all over again?

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Happy birthday, Albion Online – you launched one year ago today

Can you believe it’s been a whole year since hardcore sandbox Albion Online officially launched? I cannot, but that might be because its separate Steam launch wasn’t that long ago. Sandbox Interactive has a recap of its first year up on the game’s official site today, and yes, it does mention the obnoxious DDOS attacks that took the game large out of commission last summer for what seemed like weeks as the hackers tried to blackmail the devs. That frustrating period was followed by several updates, as you’ll recall, including Joseph (PvP and PvE content), Kay (GvG content and the map overhaul), and Merlyn on the way. The devs pepper the commentary with major guild political movement too for those of you who love your popcorn and drama.

To celebrate, Sandbox has a raffle going for some pretty decent packs, so go check that out if you’re curious. The company has also begun a new round of referral rewards, which is definitely going to be the easiest way to get to ride around on a bighorn ram.

Happy birthday, Albion – here’s to many more.

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World of Warcraft confirms that allied race requirements aren’t changing any time soon

Today is the day of World of Warcraft turning to the first page of Battle for Azeroth with the expansion prepatch going live today. Next week sees the story buildup kicking into high gear. But if you’ve been holding off on trying the expansion until the Allied Race requirements (added several months ago) were eased up… well, you’re going to be waiting quite some time, as the official word is still that there are no plans to ease the requirements for unlocking Allied Races.

Players who wish to unlock Highmountain Tauren, Nightborne, Lightforged Draenei, or Void Elves will still need to reach Exalted with a specific reputation for each and finish a story achievement, just as before. (The other allied races will have other requirements and can be unlocked once the expansion is live.) Of course, this isn’t actually a change; players have had these requirements in place since the pre-purchase bonus was announced, and that means several months to unlock the races. If you’ve waited in hopes that it would be easier by the expansion launch, though? Not going to happen.

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Champions Online puts its lifetime subscription on sale for the price of its freeform slots

We still don’t know exactly what the plan is with Champions Online’s subscription. The plan to take subscriptions off the table entirely was postponed due to how subscriptions interact with freeform archetypes, but freeform archetypes are now cheaper. And now the lifetime subscription is on sale for a cool $120, which still sounds like a lot under the circumstances but is a 60% discount. As MOP readers Stez and Nicholas have pointed out, this morning’s update did indeed disable subscriptions, and the freemium pack is now for sale, though Cryptic does now allow unused freeform slots to apply to existing characters.

For those of you doing the math at home, that evens out to being six characters slots with freeform options for $120, the same as individually buying six freeform slots (it’s $60 for three), plus a whole bunch of other goodies on top as well as a monthly stipend in perpetuity. Is it worth it? That depends on you; it’s certainly an open question how much cool stuff you can expect to be added to the game in the future, if anything. But in terms of dollar-for-dollar value, it’s competitive with other things you can buy from the game.

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The Daily Grind: How can we solve Reddit’s gaming ‘tragedy of the commons’ problem?

In dealing with the ArenaNet fallout over the last couple of weeks, I started giving serious thought to the Reddit problem in gaming, and I’m not just talking about the overt hate groups allowed to fester there. You know how one of the rules of thumb for MMORPG communities for the longest time was never go to the official forums because you’d come away feeling depressed and dejected, believing the game community was a hot mess and your class was most assuredly the most broken? Reddit is like that, only nobody there cares enough about fixing it to see it through, and so we’ve got a tragedy of the commons problem playing out in cyberspace.

When game companies owned their own discussion spaces, most of them at least made some modicum of effort to keep them respectable. Oh, sure, some took that way too far and deleted criticism, but most, barring the very biggest, tamped down on toxicity because that space reflected on them. They cared. This is how I feel about our own comment section, incidentally, because our team owns this site and cares about the conversations we have here, unlike many other sites owned by corporate groups that don’t even care if comments exist at all.

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Creative Assembly’s Grace Carroll speaks on fighting toxicity with active moderation

Anyone who’s been on the internet for more than a few minutes knows how quickly forums and comment threads can quickly descend into toxicity — not that such a thing would ever happen around here — and community managers and moderators are constantly trying to figure out how to combat that problem. But according to a new report published on GamesIndustry.biz, the solution may be simpler than you’d think.

The article cites Creative Assembly’s Grace Carroll, who spoke on the subject at Develop:Brighton, as saying that on the Steam forums for the studio’s Total War series of games, simply the “visible presence of moderation” was enough to tone down the toxicity.

“If someone posts a really awful comment, and I reply . . . they’re like, ‘oh my god, I didn’t think you’d read it, I didn’t think you’d reply to it,'” Carroll says. “The attitude can turn from horrible to apologetic straight away.”

Take notes, game devs and community managers. You can check out the full summary of Carroll’s talk over at GamesIndustry.biz.

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Worlds Adrift updates players on progress in the midst of a heat wave

So it turns out the developers behind Worlds Adrift have all melted in the midst of a London heat wave. It’s very sad, as they point out on the latest development entry on the official site. You may wish to stop reading this post and play an appropriate song on the bagpipes. Despite being reduced to a liquid, however, the team has continued working on the game and is hard at work finishing the new creature refactor while completing the loot accumulation on island for patch 0.24.

Work is also progressing on fixing the resources dropped by creatures across multiple biomes, as well as things like chat functions working properly on new servers and fixing various bugs. You can see the full rundown of things being developed on the official site, with a fair number of fixes and improvements slated for 0.24 and a few more features expected further in the future. Assuming that the now-melted team doesn’t evaporate, anyhow. (It’s a real risk.)

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Fractured is hosting a livestream on crafting and building today

Want to know more about crafting and building in Fractured as the game has passed its 75% funding mark? Good news, you’ll have a chance to find out more about it live today as part of the game’s newest livestream. The stream starts at 4:00 p.m. EDT on the game’s streaming channel, so you can check it out, ask questions live, and do all of the things you normally enjoy doing through livestreams.

Assuming that what you normally enjoy doing isn’t disgusting. Please don’t be gross in stream chat.

There’s no scheduled run time, but you can imagine it’ll probably be about an hour of answering questions and leading into details about player-run towns. If that’s not what you care about, this likely won’t have a lot of interest for you… but for everyone else it should be plenty of fun information about making things.

Source: Official Site, press release. Cheers, Luvly.

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Ubisoft is not here for Rainbow Six Siege players’ toxic behavior

Remember last spring when Ubisoft said it was getting serious about cracking down on toxicity in Rainbow Six Siege? The company said it was improving upon its existing chat monitoring system to “ban players that use racial and homophobic slurs, or hate speech, in game,” booting players for at minimum two days and at maximum eternity for “language or content deemed illegal, dangerous, threatening, abusive, obscene, vulgar, defamatory, hateful, racist, sexist, ethically offensive or constituting harassment.”

In response to one player complaining he’d been banned for using a variation of the N-word, the Rainbow Six Siege twitter account replied, “Good. […] Games have rules, and we’re just asking you to follow them.” Of course, trolls then began responding to the Twitter thread with the same sorts of slurs and variations on the slurs intended to get around chat filters and slip past Twitter blockers. There are also plenty of folks thanking Ubisoft for cleaning up the game.

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Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV’s beast tribes ranked, the top ranks

The fun thing about ranking the beast tribes of Final Fantasy XIV is that before I started in on this, I actually had no idea who would wind up where. I knew there were some tribes I liked more than others, but the actual final rankings surprised even me. Mostly toward the top; some entries, like the Lupine, were always going to be low on the list. But who would have thought that the top spot would go to…

Well, you’ll have to read for that. For now, let’s just make sure you’re caught up with the bottom ranks and the middle ranks. We’ve got five tribes left to go, and so by process of elimination you no doubt have a relatively clear picture of what tribes have to be here in some order, but let’s count them down. Starting with number five, just past the break. (The other four are further past the break.)

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