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H1Z1 suffers overnight downtime, whispers of server wipes [Updated]

Betas, Horror, Bugs, News Items, Post-Apocalyptic, Miscellaneous, Buy-to-Play, H1Z1

Move along, nothing to see here.
It's not an easy time to be playing H1Z1 right now, especially since you sort of can't. The game's servers went down last night for a quick fix, according to Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley; they've been down since, with players getting increasingly vocal and anxious about what comes next. No further updates have come from the company after Smedley's assurance that there are issues to be fixed that cannot be solved simply by rolling back to the previous patch.

Once players can get back in to the game, there may very well be a server wipe greeting them (a possibility suggested by the technical director), although perks like tickets, crates, and cosmetic recipes will not be lost in the event of a server wipe. SOE has promised to give plenty of notice before taking such drastic measures. Players are divided on whether this is a good thing or not, although widespread reports of item duping sit at the root of the issue. There's still no ETA on when the servers will be back online or what will be fixed when they come back up, but players could be looking at a very different environment.

[Update: Servers appear to be up again now. SOE has said that the promised European servers are still incoming: "getting MORE servers, still calculating what we can fit."]

H1Z1 is going 'nuclear' on hackers

Betas, Horror, Bugs, Patches, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, H1Z1

From the sound of it, the H1Z1 crew put in some serious overtime during this past weekend. SOE President John Smedley has been posting updates across Reddit, especially in reference to hackers and important patch fixes.

Smedley said that the team is "extremely on top of" any hacking going on in the game and will only get better as time goes by. "What we have is extremely robust in terms of detection and prevention," he posted. "Now that we started with detection, you'll be seeing the prevention go nuclear."

Patches that are coming soon to the game will cover many vital issues, according to Smedley. These fixes include more loot, frame rate fixes, the infamous G29 problem, the floating arrow bug, and a slower drain rate for hunger and thirst.

H1Z1 bests login issues, justifies and tweaks 'pay-to-win' airdrops [Update: Refunds being granted]

Betas, Horror, Bugs, Business Models, Game Mechanics, PvP, News Items, Sandbox, Buy-to-Play, H1Z1

Zombie sandbox MMO H1Z1 launched into early access on Steam yesterday evening only to be plagued with login server issues that caused even us to cancel our planned stream. In other words, it was an MMO launch. Overnight, SOE's John Smedley told Reddit that those problems have been mopped up that that SOE is currently working on G29 and G99 errors, server framerates, disappearing chats, crash bugs, and a "runaway memory situation."

Reddit and Steam's user review section have exploded not over the predictable early access technical issues but over cash-shop airdrops, which some players say constitute pay-to-win in violation of SOE's stated philosophy. Smed denied obfuscating the presence of airdrops, saying SOE has "been straight about it" and justifying the mechanic:
1) You cannot call in airdrops until the servers are 1/4 full. 2) You can't call in airdrops without generating a ton of zombie heat. 3) the airdrops are random in what they deliver. 4) you are not guaranteed to get a single thing out of the airdrop you called in. You could die trying and you're out the money. 5) We fly the plane in very slowly and loudly.. we also stream green smoke from it you can see from very far away.
But he does note that SOE will be "making some big changes" to airdrops, including widening the radius, reducing the chance they'll drop guns, slowing the airdrop planes even more, and increasing the number of players who can call them at any given time. "If you think it's P2W don't buy it. Don't play it," Smed posted. "But I have to say wait until you've personally tried them before making the call."

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Hyperspace Beacon: Handling SWTOR exploits

Sci-Fi, Bugs, Game Mechanics, Endgame, Opinion, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Hyperspace Beacon, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: Handling SWTOR Exploits
On this week's Hyperspace Beacon, I'd like to discuss the exploit issues that have popped up in Star Wars: The Old Republic as of late. Admittedly, the widespread exploit that SWTOR recently experienced wasn't gamebreaking, and it certainly didn't fracture the economy as exploits in other games have. In fact, I don't even think that a rollback or anything severe was even considered for this particular exploit. However, the community team mentioned some things in its handling of the situation that made me wonder about exploits and cheats that violate the intent of the game designers.

I don't know that I will have all the answers in regard to how to handle specific situations, but I really intend for this to be a conversation starter. I want to read your thoughts in the comments.

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Not So Massively: SMITE's tourney, Shadow Realms' do-over, Heroes of the Storm's new mode

Betas, Video, Bugs, Business Models, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Previews, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, Not So Massively, MOBA, Crowdfunding, Destiny, Elite: Dangerous, Infinite Crisis, Hearthstone, E-sports, OARPG

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 Think Tank: On MMO rollbacks

Bugs, Business Models, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

WoW Insider
Let's talk about rollbacks.

ArcheAge, Elite: Dangerous, Neverwinter -- whenever an MMO pops up in the news with a bug, there's usually an accompanying cry for a rollback, and each of these games has seen such in the last few months. Rollbacks used to be quite common, but modern MMO companies almost never risk them.

For today's Think Tank, I asked the Massively writers whether they'd ever suffered rollbacks, whether they'd lost anything, whether it was worth it, and just what they think of the whole issue.

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LOTRO maps out 2015, vows to address server populations [Update]

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Bugs, Patches, Free-to-Play

Lord of the Rings Online has a new head honcho, as former Executive Producer Aaron Campbell has transferred to "a new project" at Turbine. Stepping into his shoes will be former DDO Franchise Director Athena Peters.

Peters delivered her 2015 producer's letter today with six major initiatives for the first half of the year. These include improvements to legendary items, new fellowship challenges, a possible new PvMP map in Osgiliath, and quality of life fixes. She said that the team will also be delivering episodic content during the year: "We are currently in development on a new type of quest content that will roll out like an episodic TV show, a little at a time, as you follow a new friend across Middle-earth seeing familiar places in a new light." Server merges of a sort are also in the works: "We're taking measures to get everyone onto the more populous servers, so that finding parties is easier and festivals and live events are more fun. We are working on both improved server transfer tools and upgrades to our environments to improve playability. Also we will be moving our European servers back to the EU!"

In other LotRO news, an exploit that allowed players to create an overpowered character in the game has been addressed and fixed in a patch that went out earlier today. The hotfix puts level restrictions on a slew of reputation items so that players cannot use them at a lower level and gain access to gated vendor items before the devs intended.

Update: Peters penned a follow-up post to clarify certain items in the producer's letter.

Not So Massively: Destiny's rumored DLC, Elite's server blip, Hearthstone's new season

Video, Bugs, Business Models, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, Consoles, Miscellaneous, Not So Massively, MOBA, Crowdfunding, Destiny, Elite: Dangerous, Path of Exile, Buy-to-Play, Hearthstone, E-sports

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 Repopulation looks back on December and Early Access

Betas, Sci-Fi, Bugs, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Sandbox, The Repopulation

You said we were going out for lobster, Tim.  I don't see any lobster.
For the first time in testing, The Repopulation didn't quite keep pace with its normal biweekly update schedule for the test client. Why, you ask, were the developers being such lazy bums? Because of the holidays? Or was it because the game was busy launching on Steam as an early access title, thus requiring extra work by the team to make sure that previous backers and newcomers alike were having fun? Mostly the latter, as it happens; not so much with the lazy bums.

Of course, a slight schedule slip doesn't change the fact that the team was hard at work on the game, with the biggest focus being bug fixes (as the new influx of players has resulted in many more bug reports). There are also improvements to the game's missions, with a focus on more challenging variations and the possibility of random fitting rewards from clearing them. Check out the full recap for a picture of everything that's been added or improved over the past month.

WoW Archivist: 3.0.8, the 'disaster' patch

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Bugs, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Launches, Patches, Subscription, WoW Archivist

A Wintergrasp battle
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 January 2nd, 2015, and is included here by permission.

Any game that survives for 10 years and counting will have its growing pains. There will be moments when the urge to deliver the best possible content gets the better of the developers, when they reach too far but only figure that out after it's too late.

Wrath of the Lich King was so ambitious in scope as originally conceived that Blizzard simply couldn't deliver what it announced. Blizzard cut major features before the expansion even went into beta testing. Wrath's systems went live with patch 3.0.2 in October 2008, and the expansion hit live realms two months later. As with most expansions, there were early problems.

In patch 3.0.8, Blizzard tried to fix those problems. Instead, it made them worse. Far worse. WoW Insider itself called the patch a "disaster."

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Elite: Dangerous server goes haywire, creates instant billionaires [Updated]

Sci-Fi, Bugs, Economy, Events (In-Game), MMO Industry, News Items, Sandbox, Elite: Dangerous

The Elite: Dangerous server has had a relatively smooth launch since it released just over two weeks ago, but all that changed last night when the server went absolutely haywire. A suspected transaction server failure caused a whole slew of bizarre bugs for those playing the game last night, from benign errors like players getting disconnected to catastrophic failures like deleting a ship's entire cargo, rolling back ship upgrades, and deleting credits. The worst problems involved players having ghost cargo that could be sold over and over again, allowing them to rack up millions of credits in minutes.

Though the problems were reported promptly, the server wasn't rebooted until its usual maintenance period over six hours later. In a feat of remarkably bad timing, the server problems happened on a national holiday in the UK, and so the developers at Frontier were taking time off to celebrate the new year. There has been no official announcement on the problems yet, and players are speculating on the damage that would be caused or reversed if Frontier performed a server rollback. Reports from the Elite forum suggest that developers may not be back to work until as late as January 5th, at which point it's unlikely that developers will roll the server back.

The damage from last night's errors continues to cause problems today. One player was left shipless and unable to log in when the server reversed a ship purchase transaction, and another's ship teleported back across the galaxy and is being held hostage at a station with no shipyard. Dozens of players have reported broken cargo holds or missing cargo and credits, and one player logged in this morning to find 5 billion credits sitting in his wallet. These events have naturally prompted a resurgence of complaints about Elite's always-online gameplay, as players have found themselves unable to play without problem even in solo mode.

We have reached out to Frontier for comment.

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LotRO cracks down on superman exploit

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Bugs, Free-to-Play, Legal

An exploit that is allowing Lord of the Rings Online players to super-charge their toons is on the end of a stern warning by Turbine today. The studio says that it has already banned and will continue to ban accounts seen using this deliberate loophole.

"It has come to our attention that some players have been utilizing an exploit to change how powerful their characters are in the game world," the studio posted today. "Upon receiving reports of the issue we began an investigation. Due to the way our log system works we can definitively detect every account that is taking advantage of this exploit."

Turbine is currently working on a fix for the problem.

[Thanks to Superswim for the tip!]

Dark Age of Camelot takes aim at group finder and bug fixes

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Dark Age of Camelot, Bugs, Patches, Previews, PvP, Community Q&A

An end-of-the-year community Q&A at Dark Age of Camelot revealed that the team has a lot on the docket for Patch 1.117, including the long-awaited casual group finder and a heap of bug fixes.

"We think that focusing our development resources on bug fixing for an entire patch cycle is something that hasn't been done in a long time and is something that will make everyone's gameplaying experience that much better!" Broadsword posted.

Other topics discussed include freeing up space in quest logs, plans to update the patcher, and ideas to help out starter guilds. The Q&A even revealed that there will be "official Broadsword player reps" and "scheduled raids of all sorts" for trial accounts, although details on those will be coming later.

RIFT beefs up the minion system

Fantasy, Bugs, Game Mechanics, Free-to-Play, RIFT

RIFT's new minion system is arguably one of the more popular additions to the game in some time, with players sending out their loyal subjects to bring them back treasures and fame. However, Trion Worlds says it still has work to do, and in a new "State of the Minunion" post, the studio lists a few areas that it's improving with the game's next hotfix.

The new Fae Yule minion mission pack, with a series of quests that tell a story, will have some of its minion rewards buffed up with better stats. The hotfix will also tackle a few bugs and add minion-releated achievements. Finally, adventure rewards are being fine-tuned and improved, although it has been difficult for the team to handle this as it has been "an extremely extensive change touching dozens upon dozens of loot tables."

The Crew accidentally erases player stats

Bugs, Launches, Miscellaneous, Buy-to-Play

the crew
Whoops: It seems as though The Crew's launch wasn't without a few speed bumps after all.

Ubisoft admitted that the game's servers had been erasing or showing incomplete player statistics due to a minor issue. Before you get frightened that the game has erased your identity and progress entirely, know that the good news is that "major data" weren't affected at all and that a patch is coming to fix the problem.

The Crew launched on Tuesday, December 2nd. Ubisoft refused to provide the media with review copies of the game.

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