game mechanics

The Daily Grind: Are you less inclined to enjoy an MMO in beta testing?

Writing is not a matter of having no bias, it’s a matter of being aware of your bias and attempting to correct for it. That comes up for me when I write about MMOs in betas, because my default assumption is to do less and have a slightly harsher view. Considering my love of persistence in MMOs, this is probably not a surprise. I don’t want to play the lesser version of the game when all of my progress is going away! Save me for launch, please. Especially for expansions for World of Warcraft, which I have no doubt I am going to actually play anyhow.

This is not a universal feeling. Some of my friends prefer playing in beta titles, simply because while the game is in beta you can test things freely without worrying about spending your points wrong or anything similar. It’s like friends who used to play on the City of Heroes test server most of the time, partly because everything got reset every so often and thus never got stale. So what about you guys? Are you less inclined to enjoy an MMO in beta testing? Do you actually prefer it?

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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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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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EVE Online is planning to weaken Force Auxiliaries

It’s just too easy for Force Auxiliaries to heal other ships right now in EVE Online. That’s the reason behind the balance proposal put forth on the official forums for a rebalancing pass. Essentially, the numbers are just too high and the counterplay options for FAX are too limited, so the plan is to reduce the numbers and see if that balances out. And they’re significant numbers, lowering healing output at all ranges while increasing capacitor costs across the board.

The estimation is that it would lead to an overall 37% reduction in potency, a significant change that seems to be warranted pending more general player feedback. To that end, feedback on the proposed change is being solicited now. One can imagine the effect this might have had on the game’s latest big conflict at UALX-3, which the community has dutifully summarized for those wondering what was lost in the latest stellar dust-up.

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World of Warcraft answers pressing prepatch questions in its latest video Q&A

The prepatch for World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth is out now, but the expansion is still a bit further off, so players have questions about it. For that matter, players have questions about the changes made since the prepatch hit. The latest Q&A video just below covers a number of questions, but if you don’t want to watch the whole thing, you can get caught up with the summary of events. And several of the issues with the prepatch are ones that will be remaining in place. For example, Legacy loot mode? That’s working as intended and shouldn’t be available for Legion dungeons and raids in BfA.

The issue with artifact appearances changing your offhand as well as your main-hand is also a limitation of how Artifacts are coded; that having been said, transmog limitations are being examined, especially for Fist weapons. The developers have also considered doing a level squish instead of just a stat squish, partly in response to the perception of more levels without much actually happening during them (there’s a desire not to add more talent bars, for example). Check out the full video below or the full summary on Wowhead.

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Overwatch is performing a little surgery on its healers and planning another free PC weekend

Healers are important in Overwatch, but they also have the potential to get out of hand. Sure, it’s good to be able to patch up your teammates, but it’s not fun to play a match where you can’t actually damage the other team; at the same time, it’s not fun to play as a healer and watch your options be “slightly slow down team deaths.” In order to avoid these hypothetical scenarios, Blizzard is adjusting most of the game’s support heroes in the next patch.

Ana’s ultimate will get a healing component, Lucio gets additional shields and range, and Moira gets additional resource regeneration, all of which should help cover blind spots in these character toolkits. By contrast, Brigitte’s Shield Bash is getting its cooldown increased and Mercy is having her healing beam very slightly lowered in potency, which already has people on the forums happily explaining that Mercy is now completely useless. (Which has happened with every Mercy adjustment ever.) Check out the exact numbers and developer philosophy on the forum thread.

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Sea of Thieves’ devs have realized that community comes from not constantly fighting each other

Hey, kids, did you know that players feel more like a community when they’re working together rather than constantly fighting one another? Of course you did, you’ve paid attention to more than two decades of MMOs teaching this exact lesson. But it appears that Rare was absent during those days of design school. A recent interview on the post-launch environment for Sea of Thieves reveals that the game’s team more or less completely changed the plan for the game once it became clear that, gasp, communities form when people work together:

We looked at the game just after launch and thought: players want to enjoy the fantasy of broadsiding other ships, so it makes sense for AI to take the brunt of that: if you’re giving people the creative outlet of attacking a common foe, it’s going to reduce the wish for dominance over other players.

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The Daily Grind: Where are the spots you most identify with in MMOs?

It’s going to be most relevant next week, but honestly I’m not even a little bit sad at the thought of Darnassus burning in World of Warcraft. Seriously. I’ve hated that city and the tree it’s sitting on since the game launched, and if Battle for Azeroth delivers me nothing else I like I’ll consider it a net positive because Darnassus has burned. But if something happened to Ironforge? I’d be sad. I already was sad when my beloved Wetlands got pretty trashed back in Cataclysm.

Any MMO you play for a while has certain locales you get more or less attached to. After years in Final Fantasy XIV there’s a whole lot of feelings for me attached to Mor Dhona and Ul’dah; by contrast, I wouldn’t really miss chunks of Gridania. I have never cared about the faction stations in Star Wars: The Old Republic, but I loved Dromund Kaas and I want to live on Voss in real life, much less in the game. What about you, dear readers? Where are the spots you most identify with in MMOs?

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Darkfall: Rise of Agon looks forward to big new systems like dynamic housing

The last patch for Darkfall: Rise of Agon had a whole gaggle of stuff in it. There’s even a video walking through all of the stuff contained therein below, if you want to check it out. But that’s all in the past now, and so the developers are looking ahead to future additions and improvements for the game. First on the list? The Relic system, which will allow players to pick up powerful Relics and attune to them, thus building characters in new and interesting ways and differentiating individual playstyles further.

The team is also hard at work on building the game’s dynamic housing system, allowing players to drop houses anywhere they’d like within the game world. That ties into expanded territory control mechanics in the game, as well as the upcoming Clan Platinum currency for purchasing clan-related things like siege weapons. So when you’re done enjoying the newest features the patch has to offer, you can start peering into the game’s future and get excited about that.

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Crowfall’s latest patch notes from the future video reads off 5.7 notes

The latest edition of Crowfall’s regular Patch Notes from the Future is not looking very far into the future. It’s actually close to looking into the present because patch 5.7 is very close to deployment. And since there’s been some time with 5.7 in development, a lot of the patch notes had already been read off before the most recent show. But it is available in archive form (you can watch it just below) and it does contain new stuff because apparently patch 5.7 just keeps getting bigger.

For example, the crafting disciplines and associated stats are being rolled into the game with the patch. The systems to alter those stats are not being included, but the stats will be there as part of the game’s UI to explore. There are also elements like decay rate and mega deeds slipped into the workings of the patch, but why take our word for it? You can see the whole rundown in video format just below.

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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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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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