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Choose My Adventure: Testing addons in The Elder Scrolls Online

Fantasy, Screenshots, New Titles, Opinion, Hands-On, Choose My Adventure, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

Gratuitous cleavage shot
My adventure in The Elder Scrolls Online continues this week with my Nightblade Fa'saad making his way through Stonefalls for the Ebonheart Pact. As the format of Choose My Adventure has changed slightly, the polls from the first two articles mold my journey through the rest of the month. At the end of it all, I'll give my summary impressions and tips I learned along the way.

This week it's all about addons as I tried out a dozen or so to report back on my favorites. Addons can aid your gameplay in so many different ways, from stat counters to UI mods to quality of (virtual) life improvements, but they're not for everyone. I'm not usually an addon fan because I think they verge on cheating in a way, so I've approached these addons from the perspective of a skeptic. Did they really help my game? Will I continue to use them?

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Elder Scrolls Online's Firor posts on the state of the game

Fantasy, Bugs, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

ESO's Alik'r desert
Elder Scrolls Online lead developer Matt Firor has posted a state-of-the-game address on the fantasy MMO's forum.

Firor says that, yes, ZeniMax sees the groups of bots clustered around the game's dungeon bosses and that, yes, it is taking steps to address the problem. "We regularly ban accounts involved in spam and bot activity," Firor says, but the scope of said activity is so large that it accounts for nearly 85 percent of ESO's customer service tickets.

There's also a blurb about de-synched quests as well as a brief preview of the game's first major update that ZeniMax is currently prepping for ESO's test server.

WoW Source vid on WoD's PvP, class updates

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Video, Classes, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, PvE, Subscription

Warlords of Draenor
WoW Source's latest episode features World of Warcraft lead designer Ion Hazzikostas, lead class designer Kris Zierhut, and senior game designer Brian Holinka. The trio discuss everything from Warlords of Draenor's class changes to PvP to skirmishes. There's also a sneak peek at the new Ashran PvP zone.

Click past the cut for the full video!

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WildStar unveils Warplots DevSpeak

Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, Game Mechanics, Previews, PvP, News Items, WildStar, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Do you consider yourself something of a military genius? Do you also consider yourself a big enthusiast for player housing? Have you long wished for some form of gameplay that combined your love of building the prettiest dwelling possible with your love of killing other players? Then you're looking for WildStar's Warplots. They're a thing. Yes, they're customizable fortresses that you pit against other customized fortresses from other players, that is the whole deal.

Want to know more? Well, if you see that little "Continue Reading" button down there, you can click that and watch the latest DevSpeak from the development team covering Warplots. Is that not enough for you? All right, then, you can read through our coverage of the gameplay mode from PAX East when we got to take an advance look at it. Still not enough? Maybe you'll need to wait until the game launches in June, then. Do not convert your front lawn into a death fortress and attempt to fight a PvP Nerf war with the mail carrier. That won't go over well.

[Source: NCsoft press release]

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The Daily Grind: Are you into stealthing mechanics?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

Apart from the Imperial Agent in Star Wars: The Old Republic, I haven't played a lot of stealth-able characters in MMOs. For me, I just don't see the appeal of sucker-punching bad guys instead of facing off in a fair fight; it kind of makes me feel as though I'm bullying them. Plus, having to walk slower in stealth, constantly worry about positioning, and ignoring the illogic of disappearing in broad daylight all wave me off of such characters.

But that's me and those are my hang-ups. I know that stealthing is pretty popular in certain quarters, and I can concede that when done right (as in the Thief series) it can be a compelling mechanic. So I'd like to hear whether you're into being all stealthy in MMOs and what you think about how these systems have been handled over the years.

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!

Black Desert's extreme character creation profiled in video

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, News Items, Hands-On, Black Desert, MMORPG

Black Desert
Overseas MMO expert Steparu is back with another round of Black Desert videos that make North Americans extremely sad about the ongoing Korean beta and the lack thereof here. The videos highlight character creation, specifically the hyperrealistic (and, er, extremely toned) Sorcerer, Warrior, Giant, and Archer models, male and female, complete with musculature and hair mesh toggles and sliders. We're not exaggerating when we say that this is extreme character customization, folks. Enjoy two of the videos below and the rest over at Steparu.com.

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Massively Speaking Episode 294: Moar mailbag, please!

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

We're so behind on addressing our mail on the show that we've decided to dedicate an episode to playing catch-up! Don't worry, as there will still be news, but Bree and Justin need to clean out their inbox to make room for all of the excellent emails to come. You understand.

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.
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Listen here on the page:

Read below the cut for the full show notes.

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Landmark's devs on crafting and item upgrading

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, News Items, Free-to-Play, Community Q&A, EverQuest Next, Sandbox, Crafting, Player-Generated Content, Landmark

SOE Senior Brand Manager Omeed Dariani and Lead Systems Designer Michael Mann present this week's Landmark roundtable video, this time focusing on one of the more detailed components of the sandbox's crafting system: item upgrading, which beat out reinforcing, imbuing, and refining among roundtable voters as the system most worthy of prioritization. Mann explains that item upgrading is intended to reduce the demoralizing effects of RNG; eventually, all crafted items will be created as green-quality items that are upgrade-able depending on player skill and statted according to player direction via relics.

Dariani and Mann also hint that Landmark and EverQuest Next will share the same crafting-related back-end systems and that Landmark's crafting will ultimately "flavor" the crafting system in EQN. The full roundtable video is below.

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War Thunder introduces closed beta tank events

Betas, Historical, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, News Items, War, Free-to-Play

War Thunder
Gaijin Entertainment posted today that it's launching tank events for War Thunder's closed beta participants. Prices of tanks and associated purchases have been slashed by 90% to facilitate this test phase; accordingly, Gaijin warns, everything will be wiped once again before the WWII combat sim's open beta begins.

The studio also recently announced its intention to launch War Thunder in China in 2014 via Tencent and revealed its Elo-based rating system for squadron battles.

CCP staff to wrestle MMA fighter at Fanfest 2014

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, DUST 514, Sandbox

CCP is looking to give its fans their admission's worth for Fanfest 2014, as the studio announced that members of its team will be wrestling against MMA fighter Gunnar Nelson during the show. That's MMA, not MMO, by the way. The event, called EVE OF DESTRUCTION, will take place on Friday, May 2nd, in a series of 10 one-on-one wrestling matches.

CCP would also like to remind you that voting for EVE Online's 9th Council of Stellar Management ends tonight at midnight.

Star Trek Online launches Season 9: A New Accord

Sci-Fi, Patches, News Items, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Subscription

Season 10: A Used Nissan Sentra.  Season 11: Repairing Dad's Old Mustang.  Season 12: Bicycles.
It's been a long while since Star Trek Online captains had to fear the Undine. This mysterious race has moved off of the radar as the Federation and KDF have explored the Solanae Dyson Sphere, fought back against the Borg and the Tholians, and sought allies upon New Romulus. But the latest patch for the game sees the Undine stepping up their campaign of aggression from fluidic space, sending players through a new series of featured episodes, introducing a new reputation, and offering several new endgame activities.

Season 9 also brings with it a number of other changes, including a revamp to how both kits and reputations work. Both systems are now more flexible, with the former allowing captains more control over which abilities show up on the ground and the latter providing more player choice over the long term. Take a look at the full list of additions and get ready to set a course for new dangers in this update.

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WildStar springs another 'bonus' beta weekend for all

Betas, Sci-Fi, WildStar, Subscription

Carbine's limited four-part WildStar beta weekend run leading up to release is now in danger of becoming a Friday the 13th-sized franchise, as the studio announced today that it will hold another bonus beta weekend starting on Friday. Anyone who has signed up for the beta will be given a code for the weekend, so there's no reason not to check this game out if so inclined.

The bonus weekend begins on Friday the 25th at 10:00 a.m. EST and will conclude on Monday, April 28th, at 3:00 a.m. EST. The team is raising the level cap to 25 and giving everyone a hoverboard to enjoy. Each day of this bonus beta weekend also counts toward accumulating "boom boxes" full of goodies that will be delivered at launch.

[Source: Carbine Studios press release]

BlizzCon 2014 dated, tix on sale next month

World of Warcraft, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Miscellaneous, Diablo III, Hearthstone

BlizzCon 2014 is coming, boys and girls, to a city near you (that is, if you live near Anaheim, California)! Blizzard announced that its sometimes-annual convention will be on November 7th and 8th at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Even at two hundred bucks a pop, tickets for BlizzCon will no doubt be sold out within minutes thanks to Blizzard's legion of fans. The studio announced today that it will be putting tickets on sale in two separate batches: one on May 7th and the other on May 10th. There will also be $750 tickets put on sale on May 14th for the benefit dinner.

BlizzCon tickets include offer hands-on demos with its games, an e-sports world championship, dev panels, player tournaments, and live admission to the convention. Virtual tickets will also be available at a later point for an unknown fee.

This dude unlocked all 2,057 WoW achievements

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, MMO Industry, News Items, Subscription

Some WoW guy
Think you're an MMO achievement master? Maybe so, but you could probably learn a thing or two about World of Warcraft from Хируко, a Russian player who has unlocked all of the game's currently achievable... achievements.

Day-long player carnival slated for May 17 in Lord of the Rings Online

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Events (In-Game), MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Player-Generated Content

LotRO warsteed in Snowbourn
Do you play Lord of the Rings Online? Do you play on Landroval? If so, you'll want to mark May 17th on your calendar and plan to stop by The Lonely Mountain Band's day-long Spring Racing Carnival.

SRC is a player-run event which includes "nine horse races, a horse parade, a mounted fashion contest, barrel racing, rodeo clown comedy acts, a demonstration by the formation riding team, name-that-breed and name-that-song contests, eight musical performances, and a final concert and fireworks show."

[Thanks Chris!]

Flameseeker Chronicles: Guild Wars 2's post-feature pack experience

Fantasy, Patches, PvE, Opinion, Guild Wars 2, Flameseeker Chronicles, Buy-to-Play

Befuddled sharktooth flopears, for testing purposes.
On April 15th Guild Wars 2 got its first feature pack, as packed with features as advertised. After the first day or so of trying to figure out where our town clothes disappeared to, it's becoming clear how much has changed: There's a lot more to take in and adjust to than might be immediately apparent.

The experience for new GW2 characters has changed so much that I rolled up yet another alt post-patch to try it out. That was my plan all along, and I didn't do it because I just bought another character slot and didn't have an Asura yet. I chose a profession that's known for being less fun without traits, so I could see what it's like to not have them before level 30. It was not because I wanted another Engineer and already have two Necromancers, two Guardians, and two Mesmers.

It was also necessary to use a total makeover kit for legitimate data-gathering purposes. Aww, look how cute he is! I can use all of my unlocked dyes on him, and dress him up in outfits, and -- right, down to business.

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Darkfall getting armor dyes

Fantasy, Darkfall, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Sandbox, Subscription

Darkfall gold armor
Darkfall players are no strangers to dying, but now at least they'll get to look good doing it. Aventurine is adding armor dyes to its fantasy PvP MMO, and while we don't know a lot of specifics just yet, we do know that green and gold are both options thanks to a couple of newly released screenshots.

Will some dye colors be rarer than others? Will dyes be craftable and applicable to existing armor pieces? Will someone make a Mahirim-only Pink Panther clan with matching uniform requirements? Time will tell.

[Thanks Dengar!]

Marvel Heroes prepping for big patch, Big Ten weekend

Super-hero, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Marvel Heroes

Marvel Heroes cast
Gazillion has collected player votes regarding Marvel Heroes' top 10 game events from the last 10 months and is bringing back all of them this weekend. Whether you're partial to the game's Christmas, Easter, or Valentine's events or you prefer the Buy-One, Get-One promotion for heroes, they'll each be available starting Friday morning.

Marvel Heroes' latest patch will also be debuting at that time. It's bringing with it a new hero -- Invisible Woman -- as well as Squirrel Girl and Black Widow updates and a complete powers pass. Read all about it on the official MH forums.

[Thanks Steve!]

SOE's All Access transition now slated for April 29

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Super-hero, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, DC Universe Online, PlanetSide 2

All Access logo
SOE has again postponed its transition from Gold individual game subscriptions to a single All Access pass. Community guru Colette "Dexella" Murphy posted the following announcement on SOE's forums.
In an effort to ensure that the transition to the new All Access membership plan is as seamless as possible, we are going to be taking a little more time to test. So, we will be pushing the launch date of All Access to Tuesday, April 29th. Because of the portfolio-wide nature of this plan, this may prevent us from doing any individual game updates in EverQuest, EverQuest II, Planetside 2, and DC Universe Online. These updates will resume normally after the All Access launch. We appreciate your patience and you'll agree that our new membership offering is worth the wait.

The Daily Grind: What's your ideal MMO group size?

Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Dungeons

Massively's commenters got me thinking on MMO group size after an article a few weeks ago about socially soloing in games. Even though I like and support the option to solo in MMOs, my favorite games have actually had very large group sizes, far larger than the now-standard World of Warcraft five. Some newer games cut that down to four! But I really loved classic Star Wars Galaxies' 20-person groups and even City of Heroes' and Guild Wars 1's eight-member parties. Something about throwing a huge swarm of people into a group and going out and just Doing Something really appealed to me in a "the more, the merrier" way, especially when the game scaled to meet our needs rather than tried to mash us into a mold for prefab content. And nothing seems worse than having six guildies online and being forced to leave one behind because parties cap at five bodies.

What do you think -- what's your ideal MMO group size?

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!

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Massively Speaking Episode 294: Moar mailbag, please!

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