farming

Chaos Theory: A year in the life of Secret World Legends

We’ve talked all about Secret World Legends‘ first anniversary party, but now it’s time to talk about the game’s first year. Fans can easily recall the fateful time of the reboot; some Secret World vets even say the game died that day (although technically the servers are still running and). But did it? No. I mean, TSW’s servers are still running, and thanks in part to SWL, profits are up. Secret World Legends has continued on, growing and developing. And by developing, we mean more content! So what all has happened since that infamous day last June? How well did the game follow its roadmap for the year? Let’s take a stroll through 12 months of memories to look at all the progress forward (or back) in our first SWL anniversary retrospective.

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Citadel: Forged with Fire begins testing major game overhaul

Citadel: Forged with Fire underwent a major evolution yesterday as it began testing out a major overhaul to the game’s core systems and the addition of several new features. This test, which hasn’t yet been ported over to the live servers, represents another big step toward release.

“Starting right now, you will be able to access a special test branch of the game, granting you an early opportunity to try our new spellcrafting, farming and cooking features,” the studio said. “Additionally, Citadel has been rebalanced and reimagined from top to bottom. Player progression has been tightened up, AI and optimization have been greatly improved, and the Ignus’ visuals have been enhanced with a ton more life and vibrancy.”

Citadel is currently 50% off on Steam at $12.50 until July 5th.

Source: Steam

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Perfect Ten: The best MMO debuts by year, 1997-2006

By now, many of you probably know that I’m the curator of the MMO Timeline on my personal blog. On this page, I’ve attempted to catalog the launches, expansions, business model shifts, reboots, platform transitions, and sunsets of MMOs by year. It certainly helps me to get a high-level overview of certain eras of online gaming history as well as to trace the development of certain titles.

For fun, because that’s a lot of what Perfect Ten is about, I wanted to start with the year that MMORPGs really took off and select one title per year over the next two decades that I felt had the best debut and was the most exciting title to launch that year. Some years it’s going to be really easy to pick, while others… man, I am setting myself up for some hate mail, aren’t I?

Let’s turn our time machine back to 1997 and get this show on the road!

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ArenaNet on Guild Wars 2’s living story, Heart of Thorns vs. Path of Fire, security, and momentum

Though ArenaNet was technically at E3 this year, the group representing Guild Wars 2 was chiefly a marketing and business one, so they carted our interview questions back to team members more suited to answer. ArenaNet Brand Manager (and former Massively columnist) Lis Cardy, Design Manager Crystal Reid, Systems Team Lead Irenio Calmon-Huang, and Game Director Mike Zadorojny weigh in on the living story, security, gaining “momentum,” and more, just in time for the launch of the next episode later today. Let’s dig in.

The ever-living story

While I haven’t personally played much GW2 since the arc about the fall Lion’s Arch, I’ve liked the concept of an ever-evolving story. It’s actually what got me into MMOs thanks to the Asheron’s Call series’ monthly updates. When I asked how the ArenaNet team felt players were reacting to the current living story, especially in terms of pacing, Mike Zadorojny said the studio has “seen players become more engaged with the releases.” Apparently, they’re happy to see the connections players making to the stories and characters they’ve developed and especially with the discussions across Reddit and the forums.
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Multiplayer sandbox Staxel builds out NPCs, pet shops, and summer festivals

Staxel took over the playtime of a bunch of my Twitter buddies this past winter when it hit early access on Steam. We described it as a cross between Stardew Valley and Trove, with sandboxy content that’s more focused on farming, fishing, and growing a village than on being a murder hobo. At the time, we noted that it wasn’t full-on MMORPG but that multiplayer at least was happening.

Since then, the game’s seen several updates, as I realized when I caved and bought the game on the Steam sale yesterday. March saw tweaks to the camera and economy; April touched on the mod manager, achievements, crop quality. Most recently, the team posted its plans for the 1.3 update, which further fleshes out the NPCs of the world, adds a pet shop, and integrates festivals into gameplay.

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The Daily Grind: Do you prefer ‘work’ simulation MMOs to more fantastic game worlds?

In the comments of my piece on Raph Koster’s book last week, a commenter brought up the idea that mimicking the real world in MMOs was a “sad” sort of “obsession” – why would we want to work in a video game in our spare time, he was essentially asking, when we could do something fresh and creative with our video game spaces instead?

I took a stab at answering the question, supposing that just because we can theoretically do a job in real life doesn’t mean we are realistically or physically able to do it, and exploration of the unreachable can be fun. A post on the Psychology of Video Games blog answers it even better: Author Jamie Madigan writes that games like Farming Simulator 17 and Euro Truck Simulator do so well precisely because people like to explore those types of jobs in a low-stress, who-cares-if-I-run-my-semi-off-the-virtual-autobahn environment. “These games remove the worst of the uncertainty, helplessness, ambiguity, and consequences for failure that come with those real world jobs and turn them into game systems that are interesting and fun to interact with,” he argues. “They give players clear goals, unambiguous feedback, winnable challenges, and predictable rewards. All things that most jobs sadly don’t consistently provide.”

That certainly explains it: I really hate thinking about money in real life, but I love playing around in MMO economies where my market mistakes simply don’t matter.

How about you? Do you prefer simulation MMOs to more fantastic game worlds? Or something in between? And is there an activity that you love in MMOs but hate in the real world?

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The Daily Grind: What MMO celebration do you never miss?

The first year that any MMORPG that I’m playing launches a new festival or holiday, I’m usually all over it. Sometimes I get too much into it, spending so much time farming rewards or digging through the activities that it sours me for future years.

But there are always those celebrations that I make a point to check in and see. The allure of a free Tier 6 starship in Star Trek Online usually brings me out for its summer holiday event, and I am a huge fan of the haunted burrow in Lord of the Rings Online’s fall festival. And it wouldn’t be Christmas if I wasn’t logging into World of Warcraft to see what awaited me under the tree!

What MMO celebrations or holidays do you never miss? Which ones pull you back to the game, if only for a day or two, even if you’ve been away for months?

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The Daily Grind: Do you feel pressure to play MMOs for daily bonuses or experience events?

On Wednesdays, we farm gems.

In Trove, that is. That’s because ever since Trion revamped the daily login system, players get a daily bonus for doing a specific type of gameplay, with an even bigger bonus for subbers. It’s on a fixed weekly rotation, meaning every Monday is the same, every Tuesday, and so on. Wednesday is gems, so everybody in the game is farming gem boxes because they are just that important to character power.

The bonuses are extremely generous, and objectively, I can say it’s a great system. Buuuuuut I find myself being mildly annoyed by the compulsion to go do that one thing, knowing I’d be missing out if I didn’t. Anybody remember old-school Ultima Online and power hour, when your skill gains were accelerated for the first hour you were logged in every day? It’s even worse than that because at least that was over after an hour and people could relax and go back to ganking miners or shuffling bags of regs around their houses. This one basically never ends. It’s a weird sort of pressure to go forth and achieve, constantly. And on Wednesdays, when I feel like working on our guild map instead of farming gems, I spend the whole time feeling guilty, and then feeling foolish for feeling guilty.

First-world problems, sure, but still something I think about. I’m pretty sure the system is a net positive for game retention, but I don’t love the extra pressure. And in a way, I can understand some of the complaints about even shorter-term events, like the one Elite ran two weekends ago. Do you feel pressure to play MMOs for daily bonuses or experience events? And does it work?

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Citadel: Forged With Fire to wipe servers in the name of progress, retains 10 legacy worlds

You know how it goes: Sometimes you are forged with fire, and sometimes you are forged with server wipes. Both are equally painful, but at least it’s easier to recover from the latter.

Citadel: Forged With Fire is getting ready to undergo server wipes in the near future, which is a bummer for those playing the early access sandbox, but at least there are all sorts of new features to make up for that inconvenience. New and rebalanced features such as spell crafting, farming, cooking, a HUD overhaul, layout of the knowledge tree, and more will necessitate a server wipe when the update hits sometime in early to mid-July.

There’s another silver lining with this move that maybe Funcom should adopt with its games: A handful of the servers will be “preserved.”

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Perfect World is showing two new games at E3: Mobile sandbox MMORPG ReEvolve and battle royale FarSide

Perfect World is up to some stuff at E3 this year. Some good stuff, by my estimation. The company sent ’round PR on two of its upcoming games today: a mobile MMORPG that actually looks really good, and a battle royale game too.

Let’s start with the mobile MMORPG. It’s called ReEvolve, and it’s sort of a post-apoc sandbox with an “immersive, real-world environment, replete with a range of different ecosystems, a day and night cycle, changing weather, and realistic animal behaviors including food chains and migration,” plus crafting, architecture, base-building, housing, farming, animal breeding, PvE, and PvP. Here’s the backstory – and you’ll probably agree it’s a cut above the typical mobile game.

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Choose My Adventure: Two milestones at the start in Final Fantasy XI

If I have to summarize, in brief, how much Final Fantasy XI has changed since its launch in the United States? In half an hour before leaving the house I made a character, started the first nation mission, and reached level 6 in the process of smacking six bees. Most of the way to 7, at that.

This may not seem like much of an accomplishment, but if you played the game before your remember it primarily for being insanely brutal and slow. The idea of reaching the limit breaks in the course of a month would require hardcore play and persistence along with lots of high-end help, which is why I specifically stated I’d be getting none of that. My playtime with this characters sits at around 9 hours right now, which is a fair chunk of time, but it’s not much when spread over the course of four days.

But yes, I am now ready to pick up my advanced jobs helped significantly by the fact that my adventure started in Windurst. So let’s start talking about the mechanics of the game, how you can end-run so many parts of the system now, and how bad the game still is about telling you these things.

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Final Fantasy XIV releases patch 4.3 on May 22

It’s almost that time again, when Final Fantasy XIV gets a big patch full of story surprises and stuff for players to do. Specifically, “that time” will be May 22nd, and there’s even a trailer below to tease at it. And it’s teasing a lot of content, from the floors of Heaven-on-High to the new Main Scenario storyline to the bosses of the Ridorana Lighthouse.

The twitter thread from the Live Letter confirms a few more things, like a new mechanical system for rewards from Heaven-on-High (which will also be adapted to Palace of the Dead to make farming that for glamour more straightforward) and new instruments arriving for the Perform action. There’s also a promise of new filters for colorblind players. Check out the trailer just below, and get ready for the patch to arrive in just a little more than a week.

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The Survivalist: The good, the bad, and the barbaric of Conan Exiles’ launch

If the survival genre is any indication, Early Access is a nigh indestructable beast! Time and time again we’ve seen where so many have failed to defeat this end boss. But that all changed when one mighty barbarian came along and did just that. Conan Exiles strangled the last breath out of the Early Access beast with its bare hands and cast it aside, then strode straight into the waiting arms of launch this week.

Now there is lots to say about this launch, and a good chunk of it is pretty glowing. However, no launch is without some troubles. And sadly, there is also a despicable element as well. Here’s my look at the good, the bad, and the barbaric of the first couple of days of Conan Exiles’ launch.

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