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Bugs

The Daily Grind: What MMO company has given you good customer service?

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Bugs, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Daily Grind

A couple of Lord of the Rings Online's Inn League deeds are broken, which is unfortunate because the main reason I showed up for this year's Summer Festival was to finish the Inn League stuff on my newest character.

I submitted a customer service ticket, and after having it closed with no action because I was offline (Turbine CSRs can't email, I guess?), I opened another one and remained online for a couple of hours so that I could be told that there is nothing to be done about broken deeds.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying that I find Turbine's customer service off-putting. It's also a prelude to today's Daily Grind question. What MMO company has given you good customer service, and what was the circumstance?

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!

WoW Archivist: More beta surprises

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Bugs, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, Opinion, Subscription, WoW Archivist

Sylvanas models through the years
WoW Archivist is a biweekly column by WoW Insider's Scott Andrews, who explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold? It first appeared on our sister site on July 18th and is included here by permission.

As the Warlords of Draenor beta rolls onward, Blizzard keeps managing to surprise us. Recently we've learned about a huge overhaul to guild systems, random upgrades for quest rewards, and an extra-awesome core hound mount.

In the last WoW Archivist column, we looked at the surprises from the original beta and the betas of The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King expansions. This time, we continue with Wrath and also look at the surprises during the Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria betas. As before, I won't go into storyline surprises here. And I won't cover surprises announced at BlizzCon outside of a beta. BlizzCon already has its own feature for controversial surprises.

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Dino-survival: Hands-on with The Stomping Land's early access alpha

Betas, Bugs, Business Models, Game Mechanics, PvP, News Items, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions

Stomping Land
Yesterday, I examined up-and-coming dinosaur-survival MMO Beasts of Prey. Today, let's look at another game in the same niche genre: The Stomping Land.

The Stomping Land isn't technically billing itself as an MMO, but it boasts a semi-permanent world. But my experience in it was nothing like the trailers shown back in May. The current game is totally different. In fact, it seems to have regressed. There's no customization, there are no berries, and no one I talked to knew how to name a tribe. It feels like a semi-permanent shooter, similar to other survival games except without a lot of the building. You either make a teepee or you don't. You make a bow or you don't. You have a dinosaur mount or... you don't. The biggest servers I saw had 24 people, meaning I was able to avoid other players very often, but the game was more fun when I encountered people -- at least people who didn't one-shot me and waltz away.

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Dino-survival: Hands-on with Beasts of Prey's early access alpha

Betas, Fantasy, Bugs, Game Mechanics, Previews, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, Post-Apocalyptic, Crafting, Buy-to-Play

Beasts of Prey
When I first dived into the horror-survival genre, I knew there would be zombies, but I never expected dinosaurs. You don't get much bigger than a T-Rex stomping around your neighborhood (though I am still waiting for an underwater survival game that randomly has blue whales unintentionally ruining your kelp fort as they hunt for krill). When dinosaurs started to replace zombies, I knew that my inner child would drag me in, even if I once again had to pay for alpha.

It's this very idea of "paid alpha" that inspired me to tackle not one but two titles from the newly spawned dino-survival based genre. Apologists will say that it's just alpha, but the reality is that you get only one launch, and to me, launch is you start letting people buy your game and don't hold them under an NDA. With this in mind, I decided to try my hand at both Beasts of Prey and The Stomping Land to see which, if either, feels the most deserving of my time (and money). Today, I'll start with BoP.

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Roberts' latest post peeks behind the Star Citizen development curtain

Betas, Sci-Fi, Bugs, MMO Industry, New Titles, Patches, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Star Citizen, Buy-to-Play

Star Citizen has opened another window on the world of game development, this time courtesy of a Chris Roberts post that details the investigative process behind Arena Commander's lag and rubber-banding issues. In a nutshell, the problems surfaced with patch 12.4 as Cloud Imperium expanded the pool of AC participants past the initial 60,000-player threshold.

"Like doctors trying to identify a mysterious illness, we looked for common environmental factors," Roberts writes. "Was there a significant geographic distance between players? Surprisingly, no: in many cases, players with almost no latency between them were still having issues. The team moved on to examining our own code." He goes on to explain how CIG translates potential problems into JIRA tasks and assigns them to engineers who are responsible for repairs prior to the next patch.

[Thanks Cardboard!]

Pathfinder Online formally opens alpha to backers

Betas, Fantasy, Bugs, Business Models, News Items, Crowdfunding, Pathfinder Online

Pathfinder
"Ladies and Gentlemen and Miscellaneous Humanoids of all Types," wrote Ryan Dancey on the Goblinworks website today, "It is my great pleasure to announce that we are beginning the formal Alpha Test of Pathfinder Online."

According to Dancey, invitations are now en route to Kickstarter backers and everyone who purchased alpha access through the official game store, so check your email if you ponied up. You can also check out the release notes to clue you in on what's in the alpha and what isn't quite.

For those not participating in the test, the studio plans to livestream the current build tomorrow -- that is, Friday, June 27th, at 6 p.m. EDT -- on its Twitch channel.

PlanetSide 2's Hossin update is live but not entirely done

Betas, Sci-Fi, Bugs, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, News Items, MMOFPS, PlanetSide 2, Sandbox

PlanetSide 2 players are today logging into the Hossin patch, a major update with a new continent with more than 80 new bases in a new biome. The update includes the first phase of the new continent locking mechanic for territory control and perks for guilds -- sorry, outfits -- including new recruiting, decal, and capturing systems.

Creative Director Matt Higby warns, however, that "Hossin is not finished":
If we wanted to "finish" Hossin without sacrificing the quality level we've established, it would probably be 3 months before it was ready to go live - we don't want to wait that long, and we don't think you want to either. [...] Right now about 50% of the bases on Hossin are "done" to the point that we're completely satisfied with the quality of the level design and visuals, about 25% of the bases are first pass [...] and another 25% are [placeholders]. We expect these bases to function correctly, provide all the necessary utilities to make the game work - they're just not 100% up to our standards of level design quality quite yet.
Higby calls this the "Early Expedition" approach and says the teams will continue work on the "beta" continent over the next few months.

[Thanks, theKavorka.]

Working As Intended: The forgotten fields of Green Acres

Fantasy, Bugs, Business Models, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Guilds, MMO Industry, Opinion, Ultima Online, Humor, Sandbox, Housing, Crowdfunding, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG, Working As Intended

Paolo Neo
My first trip to Ultima Online's Green Acres was in 1998. The first guild I'd ever joined had just split up into a bunch of... let's call them "philosophically incompatible" groups, and I was still hanging out with some of the shadier types because I was a clueless teenager in my first MMO and wanted desperately to fit in and hadn't yet figured out where I belonged.

"Hit this rune," my new guild leader commanded. His favorite murderin' weapon was a poisoned warfork. He was not a nice man. "I'm being evicted from my safehouse in Green Acres. Help me move my crap."

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The Think Tank: Catching up on WildStar's launch

Sci-Fi, Bugs, Events (Real-World), News Items, Opinion, Massively Meta, WildStar, Housing, The Think Tank, Subscription

WildStar
WildStar's launch has come and gone, and I missed it while I was away on a raid IRL (my loot? A legendary baby drop!). This might just be one of the few major MMORPGs whose launch metas I've missed out on in my entire span of playing MMOs since Ultima Online, so I asked the Massively staffers who've been playing either a lot or a little to catch me up on the state of the launch. How did it go from the perspective of the people on the ground (as opposed to the people in the peanut gallery)? I'd love to hear from our readers, too!

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Star Citizen's Arena Commander delayed

Sci-Fi, Bugs, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Star Citizen, Buy-to-Play

Star Citizen
Despite the best efforts of a dev team that's been working around the clock for the past two weeks, Cloud Imperium has decided to delay today's planned Arena Commander release for Star Citizen.

CIG's Chris Roberts offers a lengthy explanation on Star Citizen's official website, complete with a list of critical bugs soon to be squashed.

It would be foolish to release an unstable build, even if pre-alpha for the sake of meeting an internal deadline. This is the power of the crowdfunding that made Star Citizen possible: a publisher would make us ship tomorrow regardless of the current build quality... but as you are all focused on quality rather than a financial return for shareholders we are able to take a few more days to deliver something that is stable.

I know that's not the news you wanted to hear tonight. No-one would like to see the community get their hands on Arena Commander more than I would.

This is what can happen with an open development process, especially when we are sharing code and content long before one normally would in traditional development.

[Thanks Kommissar K!]

Darkfall market exploit leads to rollback

Fantasy, Darkfall, Bugs, Economy, MMO Industry, PvP, Subscription

Darkfall
The bad news: Unscrupulous players found and abused an exploit of Darkfall's market this past week. The worse news: Because of this, Aventurine had to roll back inventories to last Thursday, May 22nd.

"With the help of the community we have discovered that there was some exploiting of our market feature at the end of last week," Aventurine posted on Facebook today. "We immediately deactivated the market to fix this issue and we identified those who had been actively exploiting it. We are in the process of permanently banning these players for their actions, as their behavior is inconsistent with the values we've set for the Darkfall Unholy Wars community."

The silver lining to all of this, apart from a hopefully fixed exploit, is that the studio is granting three days of additional game time to all accounts on June 1st.

Compensation planned for WildStar's name reservation failures

Betas, Sci-Fi, Bugs, Culture, News Items, WildStar, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

WildStar players attempting to reserve their name yesterday ran into a bit of a problem -- namely, the fact that it didn't work. Maintenance took place, the page went up and down, and a lot of people trying to reserve important names ahead of time found themselves unable to do so. Needless to say, this kind of defeated the entire purpose of allowing people to reserve names ahead of time to ensure that they're available on launch.

A recent forum post by Jeremy Gaffney apologizes for the issues and promises that compensation is planned for players affected by the issue:
We'll compensate to the best of our ability in a fair fashion for folks who missed out on a name (or really folks affected in general) in as rational a fashion as tech and fairness allows. The details will need to be fleshed out before we communicate so we don't make a misstep on that; there are lots of moving parts.
He went on to state that this was not a planned stress test as well as discussed the reasons behind gaps in communication. If you think your name got through but want to double-check, you can do so via the method outlined in this forum post.

WildStar's name registration is on again, off again, on again [Updated]

Sci-Fi, Bugs, Events (Real-World), News Items, WildStar

WildStar
After a lengthy delay earlier this afternoon, Carbine has declared WildStar's pre-order name registration open once again, though readers and Massively staffers still report problems with the service.

"There are over 15,000 trying to access 1 single page, slow load times are going to happen. Just gotta refresh and try again," says Carbine via Twitter. "If you see a timer, that means your name is saved and you are good. If you are seeing "[question marks]" wait a couple minutes and try again."

Have you been able to register yet? And did you steal Justin's name?

Update: CRB_Gaffer has posted a statement about the downtime to Reddit. We've included it below:

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Tamriel Infinium: An open letter to the creators of Elder Scrolls Online

Fantasy, Bugs, Business Models, Culture, New Titles, Opinion, Mac, The Elder Scrolls Online, MMORPG, Tamriel Infinium

Tamriel Infinium: An open letter to the creators of Elder Scrolls Online
Dear ZeniMax,

I understand that you are a new studio, but you stem from a studio with a long history of making good games. I understand that no game has ever been 100% bug free. I also understand that you are extraordinarily excited about bringing your game to the public. And I wanted to see Elder Scrolls Online as much as anyone. You're also a young studio, and I understand the feeling wanting to do things your own way. You want to make your individual mark on the world, but doing that at the expense of wisdom... well, I hope you can see where I'm going with this.

On Thursday, I spoke to many people about the console delay. I mentioned to most of them that my last Tamriel Infinium about the PC gamers actually being console beta testers was meant to be hyperbole. Although it was based on truth, I extended my logic beyond what I thought a studio would actually do. I didn't think that you were actually using the PC version that people are playing and paying for as a beta test. Clearly, that's the case since you will not release ESO in its current state to consoles.

I don't think all is lost. I believe you might be able to turn some things around. So here's my armchair developer's advice.

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The Repopulation team has squashed a lot of bugs

Sci-Fi, Bugs, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, The Repopulation

The Repopulation art
Above & Beyond has released its latest monthly recap for crowdfunded sci-fi sandbox MMO The Repopulation. April saw the launch of Alpha 3, and the dev team says that next week they'll start inviting "preview weekenders" to grow the tester numbers yet again.

The team's primary focus right now is bug fixing, as there have been "quite a few new things that we never expected to happen bug-wise." Most of them have been dealt with, though, as the massive list of fixes in the update makes clear. You can read the full report at The Repopulation's official web site.

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