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The Daily Grind: What's the best loot system in an MMO?

City of Heroes, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Dungeons

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Massively commenters recently reminded me that one of the things that bug me about retro themeparks is the loot that drops in dungeons and raids -- or to be more specific, the lack thereof. You want me to pile how many people into a multi-hour raid and reward only one or two of them with a boss drop? Why we're so happy to bash lockboxes that abuse our money but not RNG lotteries that abuse our time stymies me.

I'd love to see more games like City of Heroes that reward everyone with his or her own drops for making it through to the end of a mission -- no roll window required, no DKP necessary, no ninja-looters possible. You do a thing and you get a thing, not just a dim chance at a thing.

What do you guys think is the best loot-drop system in an MMO, past or present?

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!

Not So Massively: SOTA's greenlight campaign, LoL's free song, and Destiny's first raid

Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, Business Models, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Mobile, MMOFPS, World of Tanks, Miscellaneous, Not So Massively, World of Warships, MOBA, League of Legends, Diablo III, Crowdfunding, Destiny, Elite: Dangerous

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NSM
Welcome back to No So Massively, where every Monday we round up the highlights from the past week in the world of MOBAs, roguelikes, MMOTCGs, and other games that aren't quite MMOs.

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The Stream Team: Celebrating Aion's 5th birthday with GM events

Fantasy, Video, Aion, Free-to-Play, Livestream, Anniversaries, The Stream Team

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Today marks five years that Daevas have been flying about the wild world of Atreia in Aion, and Massively's MJ is jumping in to join the party. GMs will be in the game setting off the candle buffs for an hour as well as offering a chance to win random prizes during this special event. Want to get in on the fun, or maybe just reminisce about the good old days when you were a young Daeva just starting out? Join us live at 8:00 to celebrate this auspicious anniversary -- there's sure to be cake!

Game: Aion
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Monday, September 22th, 2014
Time: 8:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Shroud of the Avatar has already been greenlit on Steam

Betas, Fantasy, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Shroud of the Avatar, Buy-to-Play

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SOTA
Well, that was fast! After a brief campaign that began late last week, Shroud of the Avatar announced today that it has been successfully greenlit on Steam:
As you can see on the page your overwhelmingly positive support has resulted in an incredibly fast green lighting of Shroud! Thank you all so much for your support. Stay tuned as we now work with Valve to get Shroud in the Early Access section of Steam as soon as we can.
SOTA's successful 2013 Kickstarter campaign has to date brought in almost two million dollars. Early access is currently available with a $45 minimum pledge.

Dragon's Prophet kicks off anniversary events in Europe

Fantasy, Video, Events (In-Game), News Items, Free-to-Play, Anniversaries, Dragon's Prophet

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Dragons absolutely love rocks suspended by magical beams.  It's like a moth to a flame.
Those of you who remember the distant and far-off past of 2013 may recall that Dragon's Prophet launched last year. Those of you still playing the game a year later are probably very aware of that anniversary. The game launched on September 18th in Europe and September 23rd in the US, so there's still a day until the anniversary hits on these shores. But the anniversary celebrations have already begun on the European servers, possibly offering a taste of what US players can look forward to shortly.

You can see a new video celebrating the game just past the break, and there are two major events running as part of the anniversary. Players can take part in the Creation Night event, which includes a variety of rewards as well as a chance at taming the Illusion Night dragon. Meanwhile, the monsters in Wynnadia and Porthis have taken to celebrating themselves, and they've gotten bigger and meaner than usual. It's unclear yet whether US players will be getting the exact same celebration events, but EU players still have time to jump in on the festivities.

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Massively interviews Trion's Scott Hartsman on ArcheAge's rocky launch

Fantasy, Bugs, Business Models, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, Interviews, Launches, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, ArcheAge, Sandbox, MMORPG

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ArcheAge
ArcheAge's server issues, endless queues, and housing woes are the subject of hot debate in comment sections across the MMO world this week as players wonder just how in the heck the sandbox's launch went so awry. Massively spoke to Trion Worlds' Scott Hartsman to ask him exactly what went wrong with the launch and what the studio is doing to fix it.

Massively: Prior to the head start, Trion seemed to be aware of the huge interest in ArcheAge, citing a million signups for beta and knowing of the launch problems faced when the game launched in other countries. And yet Trion has seemed largely unprepared for the deluge of players for the head start and even for the F2P launch. Why? Were there really far more people trying to play than expected?

Scott Hartsman: Yes. There's a lot of science that goes into forecasting how many people are going to show up for a new game, when they're going to show up, and how long they'll stick around. Beyond that, external factors such as what else is going on in online games can also have a huge impact.

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Let's throw a private little war in Black Desert

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, News Items, Sandbox, Black Desert

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I suppose no one should mention that you can see this in RIFT, huh?
It's more or less an accepted fact that Black Desert is a very pretty game. There's a new video for you to gawk at past the break, and you know, it's still pretty. Yes, there are lobbed shells being thrown all around, and that's not exactly welcoming, but the way the world looks when smoke and dust is obscuring the field of vision is very nice. It's probably the prettiest war you can recall seeing.

On a more relevant note, the footage comes from InpoylemQQ's channel and captures the middle of a war between two NPC factions; players could take part by assaulting the troll side of the battle if they so desired, or they could simply do their best to dodge the cannon fire. Click on past the break if you'd like to see the battle video.

[Thanks to Onion75 for the tip!]

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RIFT offering multiple paths to the same endgame gear

Fantasy, Expansions, Previews, Free-to-Play, RIFT

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rift
Should all MMO playstyles offer a path to the same awesome gear? Trion Worlds seems to think so, as it's preparing a new unified currency for RIFT: Nightmare Tide that will allow raiders, PvPers, and PvE dungeon divers a way to buy great weapons and armor.

Kitty Kitty Boom Boom was ecstatic to hear of this change from a recent RIFT Livestream: "According the Bill Fisher (Daglar), the reason is that the vast majority of RIFT players dabble in different things. The subtext (in my opinion) is that not enough people are getting to raiding. They'd rather do a little of this and that -– in other words, have fun. Going forward, whatever activity you choose will contribute to a background feeling of progress. This helps the raiding agenda while also helping casuals have a progression track."

Other adjustments coming with the expansion is a power cap system and a transformation of the tanking toughness stat into the DPS hit stat.

Star Trek Online details four Delta Rising starships

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Previews, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play

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sto
Star Trek Online fans are eagerly -- and anxiously -- awaiting information about the new Tier 6 starships coming with next month's Delta Rising. Cryptic is beginning to roll out ship details and specs by listing four of the Delta starships in a dev diary today.

The Federation will get the new Guardian cruiser, a very durable and flexible ship that can convert enemy fire into a weapons boost, and the Dauntless experimental science vessel, which can project fake copies of the ship to fool enemies. Over on the other side, the Klingons will enjoy the Mat'Ha Raptor, a vessel with an insane amount of firepower. Finally, Romulan characters can snag the Aelahl Warbird Battlecruiser, which can throw out a collapsing singularity for fun and horrible consequences.

These starships will be sold on the C-store and accessible by players level 50 and above.

Mark Kern starts new studio, raises $1M for VR MMO

Video, MMO Industry, New Titles, Virtual Worlds, Miscellaneous, Virtual Reality

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mek
Ex-Red 5 CEO Mark Kern has been a busy little bee since his departure from Firefall. Kern established a new studio called MEK Entertainment with associates from Red 5 and Blizzard, raising $1 million in seed funding for his next project.

While it doesn't have a name, this project is reportedly an MMO designed for the Oculus Rift. It will use retro-style pixel art and depend heavily on "creative contributions" from the game's community. "We can't build it alone," Kern said. "I've been looking for a way to let more gamers and modders realize their own virtual worlds, and I think we found it."

Kern cited inspiration from other titles such as the SNES, Terraria, Starbound, and (of course) Minecraft. You can watch a teaser for the MMO after the break.

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Exclusive: Zombies Monsters Robots launches T-Rekt update tomorrow [Updated]

Horror, Galleries, Screenshots, Video, Game Mechanics, Patches, Previews, News Items, MMOFPS, Humor, Miscellaneous, Not So Massively

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Zombies Monsters Robots
En Masse's not-so-massive co-op online shooter Zombies Monsters Robots heard you liked dinosaurs, so it's launching a dino-themed update tomorrow. In the aptly named T-Rekt patch, "players will find themselves battling for survival against some of the most terrifying, prehistoric beasts that walked the Earth, including a T-Rex with a rocket launcher strapped to its back" because of course it's a T-Rex with a rocket launcher strapped to its back; the game is called Zombies Monsters Robots for skies' sake.

The studio also promises three new co-op maps, three new competitive maps, and new gear in the patch.

We've got the launch trailer as well as some fresh screenshots below. Enjoy!

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The road ahead for Darkfall Unholy Wars

Fantasy, Darkfall, Game Mechanics, Previews, News Items, Subscription

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Hopefully not involving a third take-down-and-relaunch plan.
Darkfall Unholy Wars has seen its ups and downs during its operation, but the latest post from the team is about moving forward. The development team's roadmap was shared with players over the weekend, providing a peek at what's coming in the future to make the game more interesting. No dates are included with the roadmap, as it's focused on concepts rather than specifics, but it still includes plenty of things for veteran players to be excited about.

Among the large-scale changes planned for the game in the future are improvements to the AI and PvE combat in general, along with systems to help players more firmly align themselves within the game world. The developers would like to minimize instant travel while promoting fast travel where possible, creating a more localized economic model that emphasizes journeying between markets. There's also an ongoing commitment to keeping all combinations of skills and powers viable, supporting a wide variety of playstyles. Take a look at the full roadmap for more details on what's coming around the bend.

The Nexus Telegraph: How to fix WildStar

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

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I've been thinking about fixing my brain, but... actually, don't think about it.  Just do it.
It's been a quiet couple of weeks for WildStar, which could be taken as indicating the team is making major changes, or it could just be pre-patch preparations that are taking half of forever. It'd look the same either way. We know the next patch is coming, and we have some idea of what it's going to contain, but we still haven't gotten anything resembling a release date. Still, leaving aside the obvious shift in patch schedules, I'd like to think this is the start of a paradigm shift for the game's development as a whole.

This ties into the last column's topic quite well. The game has issues at the moment; it's not hitting the notes or player numbers it wants. What can actually be done to address this? How can the game draw players back and keep them engaged, especially when it's in need of some pretty serious server consolidation so early in its life?

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Final Fantasy XIV shows off footage from the Tokyo Game Show

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Classes, Patches, Previews, News Items, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription

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The snow glows white on the mount tonight, not a footprint to be seen.  A kingdom of isolation, and it looks like we're going to be hearing Frozen references for the next several months.
Final Fantasy XIV players were treated to a preview of the game's next major patch over the weekend as the Tokyo Game Show wrapped up. Producer and director Naoki Yoshida showed off the first trailer for the patch as well as a quick preview of the new dungeons, the upcoming Rogue and Ninja, and the arena where players will face off against Shiva. While all of the videos are in Japanese, most of them have very little narration, making them just as accessible if you don't speak the language.

The trailer is embedded past the cut, but it's only one of the four videos. Shiva's arena features a central dais and a lower area connected by staircases, implying that players can be knocked off or may even choose to jump off at certain times. Sunken Temple of Qarn and Sastasha are receiving the hard mode makeovers for the patch, while Snowcloak takes the role of the new dungeon. A few more tidbits are also revealed by the Rogue/Ninja video, including a sneak peek at the class's stealth mechanics. Jump past the break for the trailer to get a taste of what's coming.

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World of Warcraft drops spoiler-filled cinematics

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Expansions, Lore, Previews, News Items, Subscription

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Actually none here, but you get the idea.
Some World of Warcraft players want to know the whole story of an expansion before they've even started playing. Some others would prefer to know nothing about the game until it's time to play, experiencing everything completely fresh. If you belong to the latter group, you won't want to click on the latest update from Blizzard Entertainment because it's full of spoilers. It is, in fact, the spoiler-filled cinematics from all through Warlords of Draenor, conveniently collected in a single place.

Why? Essentially, the development team would rather give players a clear picture of the story than force them to rely upon datamined reveals and guesses. If you'd like to be spoiled on the storyline before you can even play it, you can click on over and watch through all of the in-game cinematics in quick succession, painting a broad if not detailed picture of the game as a whole. If you'd rather not be spoiled... well, avoid that link. And the comments. And the forums. Basically, just shut off your discussion venues for a couple of months.

ArcheAge opens still more servers, promises compensation [Updated]

Fantasy, Business Models, Launches, News Items, ArcheAge, Sandbox

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ArcheAge
Trion's Scott Hartsman has delivered a "progress report" following another shaky weekend for ArcheAge's servers. He writes that patron queueing changes and three new North American servers (Ezi and Lucius Saturday and Calleil yesterday) have helped alleviate some though far from all of the login issues and queue times. To Europeans, he issues an apology, saying the new hardware for that region is still in customs and should arrive Tuesday. Daily restarts will also "flush out AFKs clogging the server," and he claims that around 10,000 botters and fraudsters have been recently banned.

What about the reportedly long customer service wait times?
"Our CS capacity has continuously been increasing even in the short time since launch. Chat wait times are about two thirds faster than what they were last week, even though the weekend's been the busiest time ArcheAge has seen as a whole. We're still pushing hard here to make sure even more people are wanting to help, and the next group of folks ready to help starts work first thing Monday morning."
Hartsman notes that players will likely be compensated for last week's problems. "We are continuing to look into ways to make sure that everyone's made good for their troubles during this launch," he wrote.

We have reached out to Trion to follow up. [Update #2: Hartsman has spoken to us about the game's launch troubles here.] [Update #1: Trion says the EU hardware has cleared customs early and is currently being set up.]

The Daily Grind: When's the last time you stopped to smell the MMO roses?

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvE, Opinion, The Daily Grind, ArcheAge, Sandbox, Crafting

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I got my first aquafarm in ArcheAge over the weekend, and after I'd planted some coral and laid a few bamboo fish traps, I floated up to the surface and sat in my rowboat. My farm is situated inside a picturesque bay that almost always features player clippers cutting to and fro as well as beautiful weather and water effects that I've talked about before.

So I just sat there, taking screenshots and taking it all in. It's been quite a while since I've played an MMO that made me want to simply exist in it and it's nice to be virtually home, so to speak. What about you, Massively readers? When did you last stop to smell the MMO roses? What were you seeing or doing at the time?

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!

MMO Week in Review: QueueAge

Massively Meta, Week in Review, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge

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ArcheAge
At the end of every week, we round up the best and most popular news stories, exclusive features, and insightful columns published on Massively and then present them all in one convenient place. If you missed a big MMO or WoW Insider story last week, you've come to the right post.

Let's not sugarcoat this: A startling number of gamers are willing to wait in some ridiculously long lines to fling sand in the ArcheAge sandbox. This week, ArcheAge's launch woes were inescapable as Trion struggled to add waves of new servers and deal with the fallout of queues and character creation embargoes that have kept both paying and freemium players from logging in, let alone claiming land.

Massively's Jef Reahard chronicled his first six days in the game:
Massively's ArcheAge launch diary: Day one - Introduction
Massively's ArcheAge launch diary: Day two - Classes, skills, and combat
Massively's ArcheAge launch diary: Day three - PvE, quests, and story
Massively's ArcheAge launch diary: Day four - Trade runs, sea beasts, and pirates
Massively's ArcheAge launch diary: Day five - Random knowledge
Massively's ArcheAge launch diary: Day six - Pay-to-win and the early verdict

Read on for a look at the rest of this week's top MMO stories.

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StarCraft II: An MMO player's perspective

Sci-Fi, PvP, Hands-On, MMORTS, Buy-to-Play

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StarCraft II
StarCraft is of immense importance to the world of online gaming. It's one of the franchises responsible for establishing Blizzard Entertainment as a titan (get it!?) of the games industry. It serves, for many, as the ideal example of what an RTS game should aspire to be. And it was among the first titles to transcend one-off competitions and contests to become a global e-sport featuring pros who make the big bucks and events watched by millions.

Without StarCraft, there would be no Dota 2, no League of Legends, perhaps no SMITE or Infinite Crisis. The MOBA niche, now one of the most profitable areas of online gaming, might not exist if not for the original StarCraft's custom three-lane Aeon of Strife map. StarCraft and its sequel, StarCraft II, represent the quintessential essence of small-scale online warfare.

As a fan of MOBAs and an ardent lover of clicking things quickly, I took a spin in StarCraft II in an effort to better understand the foundation of the games I enjoy. What I discovered was a difficult, punishing game that demands your full attention and gives you plenty of reasons to keep coming back.

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Richard Garriott's Shroud of the Avatar seeks Steam Greenlighting

Betas, Fantasy, News Items, Sandbox, Shroud of the Avatar

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sota
Richard Garriott has conquered outer space, but can he get a foothold on Valve's popular digital distribution service? He sure hopes so; he and his team announced that they launched a Steam Greenlight campaign this past week for Shroud of the Avatar.

"SotA's long-term success depends upon us reaching as wide an audience as possible, and Steam is a great way to do that," the team posted.

Portalarium said that the possible Steam version will be not a replacement for the direct download of the game but an additional option. There is also speculation about giving current Shroud of the Avatar backers Steam keys so that they would not have to buy the game twice.

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Release Dates

Core Games | In Testing | Crowdfund Hopefuls
ArcheAge September 16, 2014
LEGO Minifigures October 2014
The Crew November 11, 2014
Warlords of Draenor November 13, 2014

Meet the Team

Brianna Royce Editor-in-Chief
Jef Reahard Managing Editor
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