science

Hearthstone delivers a funny Boomsday Project short story, runs Midsummer Fire Festival

Yes, the Hearthstone team is having way, way too much fun with the loopy insanity of the upcoming Boomsday Project expansion. It’s so much fun, who could call it work? Not the person who wrote this new short story that steps into the Boom Labs to look at the mad science in progress. Plus, if you read carefully, you might catch a glimpse of one of the expansion’s newest cards.

Hearthstone is currently enjoying the heat of the Midsummer Fire Festival. In addition to enjoying some special theming, players can earn a new fire emote, take part of a fiery tavern brawl, and earn double gold from quests. This event will conclude on July 30th.

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What made Fortnite so ridiculously popular? Anticipation is baked into both the loot and the gameplay, says one psychologist

Over the weekend, I was chatting with the mom of my son’s friend and let slip that I’m a video game blogger. Her reaction? “What do you think of Fortnite? Is it so big because it’s free-to-play?” Our kids aren’t even old enough to play this game, and she knew all about it and wondered about its runaway success.

The truth is, there are lots of reasons for Fortnite’s success, more than I had time to mumble out in small talk. Jamie Madigan on The Psychology of Video Games blog took a stab at answering the same question this week, and his answer is probably not what anybody is expecting.

“I think Fortnite Battle Royale’s secret sauce has to do with something that’s kind of obvious once you think about it: random chance. I don’t mean that Fortnite’s success is due to luck. Rather, I mean that Epic smartly leveraged the power of random rewards in their design for the game, and that’s one of the main reasons it’s so popular.”

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Three quarters of European gamers don’t even understand what the heck lootboxes are

A new report on GIbiz suggests that most gamers are pretty darn clueless about lootboxes, which probably won’t surprise anyone reading here. Researchers for the publication surveyed gamers in Western Europe and found that barely more than a quarter of gamers even know what they are. More than half (we assume of those who seem to have no opinion on whether lootboxes are a plus for the gaming experience (a quarter think they suck). But the reaction differs depending on the way the question is phrased.

“We also asked gamers if they thought loot boxes made them think more positively about game companies, 54% had no opinion, 10% agreed with the statement, whereas 37% disagreed. In fact 20% ‘strongly disagreed’ that loot boxes made them feel positively about the companies that used them, which suggests that loot boxes create some negative feeling among some consumers.”

That said, almost half of those familiar with lockboxes suggested that lootboxes make them less likely to buy games with them, so there’s that.

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Hearthstone unleashes mad science with The Boomsday Project expansion

Anyone notice how Hearthstone seems to have the best art team and the biggest sense of humor of the entire Blizzard studio? It certainly doesn’t have restraints on its creativity or insanity, as evidenced by the announcement of its latest expansion pack, The Boomsday Project.

Coming on August 7th, The Boomsday Project takes players on a tour of Dr. Boom’s mad science lab and his “irresponsible experiments.” The expansion contains 135 new cards, including nine additional legendary spells. Players will contend with new types of cards such as Projects, Magnetics, and Omegas.

Single-player lovers will be treated to the Puzzle Lab, a solo experience that reportedly (but don’t quote us on this) involves puzzles. There’s a $50 pre-purchase bundle that’s up right now that tosses in a gold legendary and card backing for those who drop a half-C on it.

Go on a mad science bender after the break!

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Journalists and academics clash over the World Health Organization’s ‘gaming disorder’ classification

Ever since the World Health Organization decided it will include its “gaming disorder” classification in its upcoming disease classification manual revision, game journalists, mainstream journalists, and academics have been enjoying a field day fighting over whether it’s justified and what the ramifications will be. As we’ve previously noted, according to WHO,

“Gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour, which may be online or offline, manifested by: 1) impaired control over gaming; 2) increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and 3) continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”

Eurogamer, for example, ran a story from an editor who discussed how he personally was addicted to World of Warcraft. He calls the opposition to WHO’s classification “juvenile,” suggesting that it’s really about “the fear of facing up to uncomfortable truths about game design.”

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Fortnite: Pollsters and academics examine purchases, pay-to-win, and motivation vs. addiction

Remember the old adage that less than 10% of a free-to-play playerbase pay for the other 90%? A poll conducted by LendEDU and Pollfish attempts to cast some shadow on that assumption. The groups say they surveyed 1000 hardcore Fortnite players and determined that almost 70% of them had spent money on the game – an average of $84 apiece for those who did, the majority of that on outfits and characters. More than a third of them had apparently never spent money on a game before.

However, it seems to have been a self-reported survey of highly invested people who identified Fortnite as their primary game, so it’s not really a fully random cross-section of all Fortnite players; one might assume that the type of people who consider themselves Fortnite fanatics and would answer a survey like this would be exactly the type to pay into the game and thereby skew the results.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Our preview of Guild Wars 2’s Long Live the Lich, now live

We’ve waited out the short delay, and today’s the day when we get our hands on the third episode of Guild Wars 2‘s fourth Living World season. Long Live the Lich promises to be an intense addition to the season: A deadly plague in the hands of an angry Palawa Joko is no laughing matter, after all. I am delighted that we have some new content to uncover and the new roller beetle mount certainly helps, so I’m ready to settle in today and explore the gorgeous new map, the domain of Kourna some more. I was able to get a guided tour with some of the dev team before the weekend and was very impressed with the new map and mount, so I can’t wait to uncover more today.

In this episode of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll start off with a short recap so we’re all up to speed before I discuss my first impressions. I played for around 45 minutes and we didn’t go into any key story details, so this article shouldn’t reveal any more lore spoilers than the episode trailer, but if you’d prefer to go in without any info about the patch at all, give this one a skip until you’ve played yourself.

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Video game industry groups across the globe reject WHO’s ‘gaming disorder’ classification

As we noted yesterday, the World Health Organization has gone ahead with the inclusion of “gaming disorder” in the publication of its most recent edition of its disease classification manual, in spite of heavy criticism from independent academics as well as admittedly biased trade organizations. In fact, a group of those organizations – representing the video game publishing industry in the USA, South Africa, Canada, South Korea, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, and 10 countries in western and northern Europe – submitted their own statement on WHO’s decision, once again noting the potential for “moral panic” and “abuse of diagnosis” following the unjustified classification. The most compelling argument remains the scientific one:

“There is strong disagreement among experts on the inclusion of video gaming in the ICD-11 list, and the issue has been heavily debated since 2016 when 36 internationally renowned and respected mental health experts, leading social scientists and academics from research centers and universities – including Oxford University, Johns Hopkins University, Stockholm University and The University of Sydney – opposed the inclusion in an Open Debate paper,” the group writes, pointing out that in the intervening two years, WHO’s second proposal all but ignored those researchers, prompting a second paper from academics that “alerts on the weak evidence base, stressing that the ‘burden of evidence and the clinical utility should be extremely high, because there is a genuine risk of abuse of diagnoses.'”

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The World Health Organization advances its ‘gaming disorder’ classification in spite of heavy criticism

The World Health Organization has gone ahead with the inclusion of “gaming disorder” in the publication of its most recent edition of its disease classification manual. It’s expected to be adopted by member nations next year and won’t take effect until 2022. According to WHO,

“Gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour, which may be online or offline, manifested by: 1) impaired control over gaming; 2) increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and 3) continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”

The organization announced its proposal for the new classification last year and was met with considerable pushback from a wide cross-section of both industry partisans and independent academics.

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E3 2018: Well-earned hype for Rend’s pets, construction, modding, and PvPvE

When I met Frostkeep Studios’ CEO Jeremy Wood and crew at GDC earlier this year, I walked away impressed. I finally felt like I understood why other MOP staff are so excited about this flying-under-the-radar title. And this year at E3, I not only saw a more finished build of Rend but got some hands-on time with the game. I can’t say the floor demo did the game any justice, but what I heard from Wood and co-founder Solomon Lee sounded like the kind of forward thinking that only comes from developers who know the history of the genre and their playerbase.

Although I think I could start a hype train, I’m going to try to try to reserve judgment for a little longer. Rend may not be an MMO (it’s a moddable survival game with factions), but it has the potential to feed that MMO hunger we know you’re craving.

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Enter to win a Star Trek Online Gamma Vanguard Starter Pack on PC from PWE and MOP

Victory is Life is officially live in Star Trek Online just in time for E3, harkening back to the much-loved run of Deep Space Nine.

Star Trek Online’s fourth major expansion, Victory is Life, is now available on PC. The update takes Captains on a journey to the Gamma Quadrant, where they will team up with crew members from Deep Space Nine to battle the Hur’q. This includes Quark (Armin Shimerman), Odo (René Auberjonois), Kira (Nana Visitor) and nine other characters voiced by the actors who originated the roles on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The expansion also introduces a brand new Jem’Hadar playable faction, increased level cap, seven new episodes and an all-new Gamma Quadrant Sector Battlezone.”

To celebrate last week’s launch, PWE has granted Massively OP a bunch of goodies to give away! We’ve got 50 codes for the Gamma Vanguard Starter Pack for our PC readers. Each pack includes a T6 Jem’Hadar Vanguard Dreadnought Cruiser, the playable Jem’Hadar Vanguard Species unlock, a Jem’Hadar Tactical Uniform, the “Victory is Life” title, and the “Plain and Simple” title. Do note that the cruiser can be used by only Dominion captains, and all of it’s for PC accounts only. Read on to enter to win!

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Chronicles of Elyria makes an unholy fusion of bear and otter, shows off ship designs

Cute? Terrifying? Both at the same time? Chronicles of Elyria continues to experiment with mad science and interspecies breeding by creating an “otterbear” for the game’s store. “If the cub doesn’t make you say squeee, we don’t know what will,” the devs said. And just because they could, they put a saddle on this thing and assumed that it would be all hunky-dory with being ridden.

Catch up with the latest developments in this fantasy MMO with this month’s newsletter. It wasn’t all affronts to God and nature, either. The team talked about readying the world and creating different tribe clothing concepts for its various races.

The team also showed off some of the boats that it’s been creating for the title: “Since ancient times, waterways have been the epicenter of civilization and, to traverse these, Mann has relied on boats. So without further ado, check our the boats that we added to our repertoire of vehicles in Elyria.”

Source: Newsletter

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Hands-on: The Jurassic World Alive ARG shows promise, but not for MMO fans

Ludia’s Jurassic World Alive isn’t being marketed as an MMO, but it is an augmented reality game that involves roaming in the real world for virtual dinosaurs so you can battle them against other players. Online. But not near you.

It’s not exactly perfect, kind of like the series, in several ways. It’s not as promising as Maguss seemed in some ways, and suffers from similar design issues, but it also does things differently from Pokemon Go that, with some tweaks, could potentially attract a playerbase, even among our readers.

Just maybe not right now. Let me explain.
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