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One Shots: A prince among men

Screenshots, Culture, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, Miscellaneous

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gw2
Trust me, we're getting somewhere with putting out all of these neglected screenshot submissions from earlier this year! Today's attractive One Shot comes from reader Skorry, who can't help but look amazing anywhere he goes.

"I took a break from adventuring to admire the artwork inside the Central Plaza in Divinity's Reach with my elementalist, Mirka Wallace," Skorry writes. "I swung my camera around and, through the oddities of Guild Wars 2's third-person view, found I had randomly struck a fantastic view of him standing in front of the Royal Palace. Massive screenshotting ensued. In my opinion, this was the best of the lot, just a pretty noble boy posing regal in the symbol of Krytan majesty."

Want to be featured in a future edition of One Shots? Send your favorite MMO screenshots to oneshots@massively.com, and don't forget to include your name, the name of the game, and a description of the scene. Large, colorful, UI-free shots that tell a story and really show off the game make for the best images. Look ma, we brought back One Shots!

The Daily Grind: What's the ideal crafting style for an MMO?

Economy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Crafting

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Ultima Online
There's a lot of hate for "clicky" crafting in MMOs -- you know, the old "click a button, crafted item pops into your bag" trope. I'd call it the World of Warcraft style, but MMOs all the way back to Ultima Online did crafting that way. And this might sound crazy, but even as a hardcore crafter, I don't actually mind it. Everything in a video game comes down to clicking or mousing or typing. What matters to me is whether the crafting itself matters in the game. Even though the final combine in Star Wars Galaxies amounted to clicking a button and having something pop into my bag, there was a whole chain of resource collecting and experimentation and component creation and luck along the way, and since the economy was player-driven, most of what I was making had relevance to other players.

Personally, I'll take that plus simple clicking over a time-wasting, irritating minigame-style of crafting any day, but I'd love to see innovation in how we craft too. What do you think -- what's the ideal crafting style for an MMO?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

The Stream Team: Christmas and conspiracies in The Secret World

Horror, Real-Life, Video, Events (In-Game), The Secret World, Livestream, The Stream Team, Buy-to-Play

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The Stream Team: Christmas and conspiracies in The Secret World
You might think of Halloween as the holiday in The Secret World, but Christmas is pretty awesome, too! And this year's event is a Christmas Conspiracy that brings together all the familiar elements of the season in the way only TSW can -- with Krampuses and Mayans to boot. Massively's MJ has received gift tickets to a performance of The Magic Flute at the Albion Theatre, and she's inviting you along to watch the show and see where this conspiracy leads. Join us live at 9:00 p.m. for the special Christmas night performance. Warning: Spoilers are guaranteed!

Game: The Secret World
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Thursday, December 25th, 2014
Time: 9:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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The Think Tank: The best Massively content of 2014

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

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RuneScape
Massively reader Hagu recently wrote to us and suggested that "when the holiday doldrums" arrive and we're "filling with retrospectives" we consider doing one on our most important articles of the year, the ones we really wish developers or players would read and really take to heart. So that's what we're doing in today's Think Tank: I asked each writer to pick one article that he or she wrote this year that marks his or her very favorite, best, or most important work. Since we are writers, most of us couldn't just pick one, and I'm not about to stop us. We'd love to hear you sound off on your favorite content of the year as well (it helps tell us what we should do more of). Happy holidays!

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Chaos Theory: A guide to TSW's Christmas Conspiracies event

Horror, Real-Life, Events (In-Game), The Secret World, Guides, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

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Silver bells, Krampus and Hel,
It's Christmas time in
The Secret World
Ring a ling, hear them scream,
Soon you will see a Christmas play!


Ahh, it's the holidays. A time when other games pull out the stops on cute and cuddly, flinging festive colors and joviality about like Christmas confetti to make a joyous celebration. Then you have The Secret World. In TSW, the season is dark, twisted, and fiendish; nightmares are brought to life, and conspiracies worm their ways throughout even the most revered of traditions. And we wouldn't have it any other way!

I always wonder how on earth the devs are going to top themselves each new event, and this season's Christmas Conspiracies definitely does not disappoint! From the story to the puzzles, this mission chain fits right in. It even incorporated my favorite new element introduced this year -- music -- and literally makes you play for your reward. Want to experience it? You've got until January 5th to thwart the conspiracy and collect all the treasure you can. (Of course, even if you have done the two previous Christmas' events, you'll want to do them again just to get the special goodie bags!)

Here's a not-quite-a-guide to help nudge you through. As always, I won't offer a direct step-by-step walkthrough but instead will just drop hints (in italics) to help you along. That said, here's your warning: There will be spoilers ahead, so read at your own risk! If, however, you want even more spoilers, watch Massively TV tonight, December 25th, at 9:00 p.m. for a Stream Team walkthrough special.

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One Shots: Mandy the Christmas Whale

Screenshots, Culture, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, Humor, Miscellaneous

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guild wars 2
Last year in our household we started up a new tradition, the legend of Mandy the Christmas Whale. Mandy, I told my children, was a green-and-red whale with lights on her tail that would swim through the first snow of the year to deliver cookies to the bedsides of good little boys and girls. Sometimes she even brought a snowsuit (an actual suit of snow) when it came to houses in warmer climes.

Maybe reader James' Guild Wars 2 picture here isn't of Mandy, but one never knows what she might look like in disguise during the other days of the year. Have you been good enough to deserve cookies lately?

Want to be featured in a future edition of One Shots? Send your favorite MMO screenshots to oneshots@massively.com, and don't forget to include your name, the name of the game, and a description of the scene. Large, colorful, UI-free shots that tell a story and really show off the game make for the best images. Look ma, we brought back One Shots!

The Daily Grind: Did you get any good gaming gifts this week?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

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eq
In both real life and in MMOs, gifts have been flying back and forth at such an astonishing rate that you might think that there's some sort of holiday going on or something. While I haven't had time to "work" for rewards in seasonal events, I've been more than happy to take in-game gifts that several titles, including Marvel Heroes and RIFT, were willing to give to me.

So as you're sitting there in an eggnog haze, do you have any gaming gifts that you'd like to boast about this week? They could either be things you've gotten in MMOs, digital gifts, or real-life goodies. Spill!

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

Latest EVE dev blog charts module rebalancing

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, Dev Diaries, Sandbox

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EVE's forthcoming Proteus release will feature the second round of rebalancing work that CCP has termed Module Tiericide. Today's dev blog explains some of the changes courtesy of a sizable chart that shows stats like CPU usage, optimal range, powergrid usage, and more.


There are a lot of numbers to parse, but if you're into that sort of thing, CCP says that it will be collecting player feedback and acting on it prior to Proteus' January 13th launch date.

Camelot Unchained's latest newsletter tackles player-built structures

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Crafting, Crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained, Player-Generated Content

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Camelot's Unchained's latest newsletter is hot off the virtual presses. It's a lengthy read, too, so grab yourself a snack and a beverage before perusing the community Q&A section, a state of the build update, an art update, and a design discussion on the RvR sandbox's building system.

"The world of CU, while it will have some important pre-built structures, leaves the dynamic creation, capture, and destruction of keeps and castles firmly in the hands of our players," City State says.

Elder Scrolls Online definitely coming to consoles in 2015

Fantasy, MMO Industry, News Items, Consoles, The Elder Scrolls Online

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ZeniMax has posted a holiday greeting to Elder Scrolls Online fans that also promises a console launch for the fantasy MMO in 2015. "We've released five major updates and tons of improvements and fixes," the blurb reads. "Next year promises to be just as exciting as we introduce the Champion and Justice systems, launch on the PS4 and Xbox One, and continue to release new adventures for you to experience."

The Soapbox: Better models for MMO endgame progression, part three

Game Mechanics, Endgame, Opinion, The Soapbox, Miscellaneous

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There's a climb we can make, if we try.
Today marks the last entry in my better models for MMO endgame progression series, the follow-up to my series on why MMO studios should abandon raiding. And that means providing two more possible models along with something of a thesis statement. But it also means that at this point I'm far more willing to wander off into the woods with these ideas. The first part had slight twists on standard formulas, the second had ideas that was a bit further afield, and this one features two ideas that are still almost entirely unrefined.

More specifically, today's concepts are more about tackling the very principle that progress has to be tied past a certain point to things that you get. You earn a thing and then you're better. But there's no reason that progress can't be oriented the other way, with the gear (etc.) just being a gating mechanism for your actual forward motion.

The funny part is that a lot of these systems aren't really at odds with one another; they can coexist without too much trouble. But then, that's the nature of the beast.

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Choose My Adventure: On autopilot in World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Polls, Expansions, New Titles, PvE, Hands-On, Choose My Adventure, Subscription, MMORPG

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World of Warcraft
Life as a shadow Priest in World of Warcraft is pretty mellow. Mostly you bounce around from quest to quest and enemy to enemy, ticking off objectives by murdering orcs with dark magic and scaring everyone with your spooky shadow face. It's not a career path I'd recommend for your average citizen, but if you're looking to become an instigator in the clan wars of Warlords of Draenor, there are worse paths to take.

We accomplished quite a bit this week in Choose My Adventure. Our Blood Elf Priest gained a couple of levels, DPSed his very first Warlords of Draenor dungeon, and completed the Frostfire Ridge set of story quests. And while it's all been very, very good, I'm still having a hard time connecting to this latest World of Warcraft expansion.

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One Shots: The last superhero

Screenshots, City of Heroes, Culture, One Shots, Miscellaneous

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coh
I've been holding onto this screenshot for the better part of the year for a time when the world entire would need a jolt of City of Heroes to get it through the next day. I think that today is that day. Behold! A superhero!

Reader Michelle said that she was still traumatized by the game shutting down: "This particular screenie was of my last 50. He was a Fire Armor/Electric Melee tank named Demolition Companion. He was a clockwork that the Resistance attempted to reprogram but didn't complete, so he was broken (hence why he was on fire all the time) and very, very dangerous. In this shot he's standing in the sewers ready to wipe out some Resistance scum. (He was one of my only Loyalists.) I wish I'd gotten to RP him more."

Want to be featured in a future edition of One Shots? Send your favorite MMO screenshots to oneshots@massively.com, and don't forget to include your name, the name of the game, and a description of the scene. Large, colorful, UI-free shots that tell a story and really show off the game make for the best images. Look ma, we brought back One Shots!

The Daily Grind: Why should I play your favorite MMO?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

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star citizen
A lot of times when I read through comments, forum posts, and the like about MMOs I'm not playing, I'm subconsciously seeking the answer to the unspoken question, "Why should I play this game?" Or, more accurately, "Please convince me to play this game, as I'm a stubborn gaming donkey in need of some prodding by positive testimonials."

So look at your current favorite MMO(s) and answer me this, why should I -- or others reading your answer -- play that game?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

The Stream Team: Frostfell fun in EverQuest II

Fantasy, Video, EverQuest II, Events (In-Game), Free-to-Play, Livestream, The Stream Team

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Here comes Santa Glug, here comes Santa Glug... Deck the halls (and maybe a few mobs), it's Frostfell time in EverQuest II! And that means the Winter Wonderland Village is open again with tons of holiday activities for Norrathians to enjoy. And of course, we'll get daily gifts from Santa Glug himself! What's new this year, and what new goodies can we collect? Enter the magic closet and join us live at 9:00 p.m. for this EverQuest Two-sday holiday adventure.

Game: EverQuest II
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Tuesday,December 23rd, 2014
Time: 9:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Jukebox Heroes: WildStar features the MMO soundtrack of the year

Sci-Fi, Opinion, WildStar, Jukebox Heroes, Music, Subscription

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wildstar
Originally I wanted to write a final Jukebox Heroes column for this year that would have ranked all of the soundtrack releases in 2014, but that ran into a couple of snags. Not only am I still in the process of listening and finding all of them, but one game's score was going to thrash the rest of them so badly that it didn't feel fair to stack them up together. That MMO was, of course, WildStar.

I started to suspect that Composer Jeff Kurtenacker's score for WildStar was going to be something else when the studio started releasing parts of it over a year ago, but even then I wasn't prepared for the sheer quality and quantity that the full soundtrack presented. Critics and fans of the game alike have been very vocal in praising this game's music since the beta and through launch, and I'm still grooving on it months later. My only complaint is that it still -- still -- has yet to see an official release, free or paid.

So even though our yearly awards didn't include a soundtrack category, I'm going to take the initiative and crown WildStar as the soundtrack of the year. Let's listen to six of the OST's highlights and discuss our favorites in the comments section.

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Massively Speaking Episode 326: Mailbag cleanup

Podcasts, MMO Industry, News Items, Massively Meta, Massively Speaking, Miscellaneous

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mailboxes
As part of our end-of-the-year efforts, today's podcast will be devoted to going through ALL (or all we can handle) of the mail that's been piling up on Massively Speaking's doorstep. It's a full hour of nothing other than your topics and our opinions, brought to you in full technicolor sound!

Get all of our opinions and analysis on the most important stories of the past week right here on Massively Speaking, the industry's leading MMO podcast. And if you have a comment, question, or topic for the podcasters, send an email to podcast@massively.com. We may just read your email on the air!

Get the podcast:
[RSS] Add Massively Speaking to your RSS aggregator.
[MP3] Download the MP3 directly.
[iTunes] Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
[Stitcher] Follow the podcast on Stitcher Radio.
Listen here on the page:



Read below the cut for the full show notes.

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The Stream Team: On to Gorgrond in World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Video, Expansions, New Titles, PvE, Hands-On, Livestream, The Stream Team, Subscription, MMORPG

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World of Warcraft
Choose My Adventure Live continues as Massively's Mike Foster says farewell to Frostfire Ridge and heads into Gorgrond, the second of Warlords of Draenor's all-new zones. Experience World of Warcraft's latest expansion with Mike as he quests, fights, and garrisons his way to level 100 from the perspective of a voter-created shadow Priest.

The action begins at 4:00 p.m. EST.

Game: World of Warcraft
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014
Time: 4:00 p.m. EST.

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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The Soapbox: Better models for MMO endgame progression, part two

Game Mechanics, Endgame, Opinion, The Soapbox, Miscellaneous, Crafting

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Yes, there must be a better way.  And there are better ways.
If you read yesterday's Soapbox, the first in my Better models for MMO endgame progression series, with a fair bit of awareness, you probably noticed that the models I presented were, well... safe. Normal. Not too far outside of the realm of what we already have in some games, in other words. Oh, sure, they were functional and expanded compared to what you normally see in games, and they weren't reliant on high-end raiding, but they were still derived from the same space, which is part of the point.

But that's not nearly as far as the rabbit hole goes. So let's start moving further beyond what's already common. Let's start heading into stranger territory.

As before, the models presented here are not super-refined balanced labyrinths of systems; they're the outline, the skeletons, the fundamentals of how these concepts could work. And even at this stage, they're able to go in directions you don't find in numerous MMO endgames. So let's jump right into it, shall we?

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New studio ArtCraft creating MMO with 'real skill, real risk, and real consequence'

MMO Industry, New Titles, Miscellaneous

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artcraft
Heads up, MMO fans -- there's a new player on the scene. Industry vets J. Todd Coleman and Gordon Walton have come together to form ArtCraft, a studio that's making a mystery MMO with "real skill, real risk, and real consequences."

"We're building something completely different, completely unique. We believe the MMO industry has grown stale. It's time to create something new," Coleman stated. Coleman and Walton have worked on many MMOs, including Shadowbane, Wizard101, Ultima Online, and Star Wars Galaxies, and they say they are building an "all-star" team for this new project.

The teaser website for the game asks, "Where did we go wrong?" with the MMO industry and vows to take chances with this new game. There's a countdown timer on the site (62 days as of the writing of this article) and a sign-up for the beta.

[Source: ArtCraft press release]

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Massively Speaking Episode 326: Mailbag cleanup

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