In Crowfall, the days are for partying, but the nights… are for being very afraid. Or at least wary of the many monsters that come out during the night cycle. The latest post on the official site shows off how the game’s day and night cycle will affect the game, starting chiefly with the fact that the often-seen “hunger” versions of monsters will emerge during the night cycle instead of simply in the later seasons of a given campaign world. That may seem to remove some of the anxiety from the game, but since the seasons will move from long days and short nights to the inverse, later stages will still be crawling with corrupted monsters.
Night also means a chance for special node-blocking hunger shards to spawn, forcing players to treat harvesting differently as well. Of course, you can harvest those shards for specialized effects, but it’s going to make it harder to harvest more conventional items throughout the world. In short, there’s a much stronger shift between day and night; read all about it and get ready to be a little more scared of the dark.
My main character in Final Fantasy XIV is fast approaching a year of total playtime. That isn’t entirely surprising, since she’s been in the game since version 1.0, but that’s still a lot of hours logged into a single character. I fear looking at the playtime stats for some of my older characters in World of Warcraft, to boot. It’s the sort of thing where just looking at it gives me a “holy crap, how long have I played this game” moment.
Most games give you some way of checking how long you’ve played a given character, and of course client services like Steam will often log your overall playtime. That means you can see how long you’ve been farting about. So what about you, readers? How often do you check your MMO playtime? Is it a regular event, or is it just whenever you have a vague curiosity about how many hours have been spent in a particular game?
The last thing you want to worry about when you’re playing a video game, especially an immersive one like an MMORPG, is a damn clock, right? Massively OP reader Rick thinks so — he’s not a fan of time limits (or even timer lockouts) on completing dungeons, boss fights, or other content.
“Are timers a challenge or simply a lazy dev device to make existing content re-usable?” he asks. “I personally HATE them but I know that people enjoy beating the odds and working under pressure.”
In pondering this reader mail, MOP’s Andrew pointed out that passive timers can be just as bad — like timers encountered when sending minions out to tackle away missions you never even see. That’s not even content — it’s nothing but juggling timers!
So let’s talk about the many (annoying) ways MMOs try to tie us to clocks. Do you appreciate timed content in MMOs? Is there one type you do or don’t like versus the others?
One of the things that I find neat about games like Rend, Crowfall, and Chronicles of Elyria is that all of these games are by their very nature meant to be short-term affairs. The game only lasts so long. In some cases it’s a scheduled thing, in other cases it’s more an organic result, but all of them wind up in an end state. Nothing lasts forever, and eventually it’s time to count the victor and move on.
This isn’t actually a new idea in the MMO space, of course; A Tale in the Desert has been run using this structure for quite some time, The Matrix Online was in part based on the idea that every bit of the story would only last for so long, and progression servers like the ones EverQuest runs are meant to slowly catch up to the present until, well, they’re caught up. But it’s definitely reaching the point of being a full-on trend for these games in development to be time-limited.
What’s nifty about this approach is that no one gets to stay on top forever, and it gives a certain point to start and stop without missing out on things. Of course, that also means it’s easier to just stop playing after a certain point without feeling as if you’re missing things, turning the game into shorter-term play by its very design. What do you think? Do you like the idea of limited-time MMOs?
Much of my time during a given week is devoted to playing MMOs. That probably makes sense, considering that understanding these games and writing about them is my job. At the same time, it also occupies a different position in my mental space from single-player games. Playing an MMO is part game, part project, part work, and part tinkering-based hobby; playing a single-player game is primarily just about playing a game, with added thoughts about game design serving more as a bonus than anything.
I am, however, painfully aware that this is not the case for everyone. I imagine that for many of our readers, an hour of gaming is an hour of gaming, whether you’re playing Final Fantasy XIV, Overwatch, or NieR: Automata. Or perhaps one is your “primary” focus, with the other one fit into the corners as you have time. So tell us about that today. How do you balance MMO playtime with single-player playtime? Do you consider both to just be gaming, do you give priority to one or the other, or is it something you’ve never even thought much about?
Development continues on Age of Wushu 2, and the game is going to make you think about the time. Is it late at night in the game world? That’s going to be dangerous for you. Fewer NPCs are active during the night, more hungry beasts will be on the prowl, and perhaps most importantly it’s the perfect time to slip into something dark to stab people to death. That’s not even counting your limited visibility. You would do well to be cautious during the night.
So you’d rather just be active during the day, then? That’s much brighter, yes, but it has its own downside, because the hot sun is beating down on you and making you thirsty. Yes, you’re going to need to keep an eye on your hydration needs, and that’s before you have your usual mid-day snack of a handful of salt. So no matter what time of day it may be, you can rest assured that it has some way of making your in-game life just a little bit more difficult.
Today begins the dread stretch of time known in the United States as the holidays, a period of frenzied consumerism marked with a lot of time off from work, school, and the Internet. If you’re in school, you have a few days off; if you’re working retail, you have more hours for a while, up until the holiday rush is over and you get to relax with some eggnog. So what are you going to do with that time off? Visit family or play video games?
Obviously, there’s stuff to do in games like World of Warcraft, both related to the holidays and just in general. At the same time, you could very well be using up your time away from work/school/other obligations to visit family members, cook a big dinner, and pass out on the couch after eating. So as some of us prepare to gorge ourselves on delicious turkey and stuffing, we’re wondering: Do you get extra MMO time during the holidays? A chance to catch up with your online friends and give them your best wishes? Or does all the travel and such mean that you game less than usual during the holidays?
All right, so it’s actually closer to a week and a half. I’m torn between an eye-rolling “it’s only been a week and a half” and a sort of disbelieving “it’s only been a week and a half?” on this expansion; I’d say I can’t recall the last time I was this invested in an expansion for this game, but I can, and it was a long time ago. It certainly hasn’t happened recently; that’s the important takeaway.
So World of Warcraft: Legion is here. It’s out right now, and if you read this column you’ve probably either been knee-deep in it or you’re wondering if this is the time to finally break your Cal Ripken-like streak of not caring about WoW. (Yes, it is.) I’ve hit the level cap, I’m well on my way with my second character, I’ve been doing world quests, I don’t have a fox yet. So let’s talk about the expansion a bit now that it’s live and shaking down.
There are some games where patches get so much advance notice that you feel like they’re already here months in advance. Final Fantasy XIV‘s patch previews often laugh for half of the cycle of the previous patch, so for a month and a half you’re hearing endlessly about the stuff you can’t play yet. Sometimes I think Star Trek Online is in a perpetual patch cycle, adding in new things regularly. And there was a long stretch of time when Guild Wars 2 had a new patch feature to announce seemingly every other day, with each feature being patched… the following day.
Then you have games like World of Warcraft, who seem to handle patch dates like an elaborate prank. “The pre-patch is coming! When? Who knows! Will it be… tomorrow? Nope, made you look!”
Hearing endlessly about patches long before they happen is kind of wearying; you already know about it and start to wish that it would just go live already. But there are also things that you want to do before a patch goes live, loose ends to tie up, preparations to be made. Having the patch date as a perpetual mystery undercuts that. So what about you, dear readers? How much advance notice do you want before a patch goes live? Are you happy for unexpected dates, or would you rather just know what’s going down well in advance?
So let’s break this down very simply. There’s a crisis in the future of Star Trek Online
, which is leading agents further in the future to go into the past and recruit agents that come to the present (which is the past for the recruiters) to fight the problem in the future (also the past for the recruiters). Does that make sense to you? Of course not. Time travel is bonkers. But creating a captain of the 23rd century who can become a temporal agent will
lead to rewards, and that
part of Agents of Yesterday‘s
path is very straightforward
Players who create a new 23rd century captain will be eligible to receive specialized traits and bundles of faction-appropriate marks; progressing far enough through the game’s story arcs with your time-lost captain will even enable you to spread those traits to every character on your account. You’ll also be able to advance through all of the same content that’s existed in Star Trek Online for some time, combining the best of all possible worlds. So get ready to make yourself a temporal agent when the expansion launches, and try not to think too hard about the chronological implications. Down that road lies madness.
The majority of the Bronze Dragonflight is somewhat aloof and mysterious, as befits an entire group of dragons perpetually mucking about in the timestream. It’s not that they don’t like other people, it that it’s hard to be friends with someone whose existence may be radically different when you edit the past few years of the timeline to never have happened. But Chromie’s not like that; she’s charming, upbeat, friendly, and appearing in Heroes of the Storm to fill all of your needs for a chipper time-controlling dragon.
The video below does a good job of showing off Chromie’s personality as well as her ability to alter the timestream, summoning her more draconic powers only when absolutely necessary. (Although when you can make someone’s timestream run backward, being able to fly around with claws does seem a bit like a step down.) Check it out if you look forward to playing the character in matches time after time after time.
You probably don’t sit down to watch a movie when you have five minutes before you leave for a doctor’s appointment, and you do not set aside two hours of your time to read a pamphlet from the doctor’s office. MMOs aren’t all that different. I vividly remember knowing that in order to play Final Fantasy XI I needed to be sure to set aside at least an hour – I would need time to get from the city to the camp spot, find a party, get some experience, and then get back to the city without dying. I couldn’t accomplish much in any less time.
More recent MMOs frequently allow you to accomplish as much or more in less time, and there’s the question of what you’re trying to accomplish in that time as well. Games like Neverwinter let you drop in and out of content quickly, and an episode in Star Trek Online can usually be run through in about fifteen minutes with some practice. But is that enough? What’s the minimum amount of time you need to set aside in order for it to qualify as a worthwhile play session in your favorite game?
Let’s talk history for a moment. Before Guild Wars 2 was a thing, before it was even an idea, the team at ArenaNet was working on the third Guild Wars standalone campaign. Like its last two predecessors, Guild Wars: Utopia was slated to feature two new classes, one of which was the Chronomancer. It’s taken quite some time since then, and it’s not in the form anyone might have expected, but the Chronomancer has arrived at last as the first Elite Specialization for Heart of Thorns to be catalogued and dissected.
Sure, it took plenty of time, but given the nature of the concept that’s sort of to be expected.
The Chronomancer specialization is, as mentioned, limited to Mesmers, employing a variety of time-based tricks like reversing the events of combat and stopping time as necessary. You can read more on the official blog post detailing the specialization, but if you don’t have the time for that, you can watch the video below to preview what it looks like in action. Better late than never, indeed.