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Crafting

PAX South 2015: Why aren't MMOs more social?

World of Warcraft, Culture, Economy, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Endgame, Star Wars Galaxies, Virtual Worlds, Events (Massively's Coverage), Crafting, MMORPG

PAX Panel
On Friday, Alex Albrecht from ZergID and formerly of the Totally Rad Show headed up a PAX South panel about the social side of MMOs, inviting Patrick Mulhern from Lorehound, Jenesee Grey from Camelot Unchained, and me to join to discuss community in MMOs and why it's seemed so absent in recent years. Meg Campbell from YouTube moderated the panel discussion, calling us the PAX MMO guild.

I admit that I considered naming this piece, "How Star Wars Galaxies did everything right and World of Warcraft did everything wrong" because I am obviously biased. But I really was completely surprised at how much SWG came up during the panel. Many former Galaxies players will tell you that there was a lot about that game that was pure crap, but when you talk about the social implementations of SWG, there just aren't many games that compare.

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PAX South 2015: The Untitled Game is whatever you want it to be

Fantasy, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, Interviews, PvE, Hands-On, Events (Massively's Coverage), Sandbox, Crafting, Crowdfunding, Player-Generated Content, MMORPG

The Untitled Game, better known as TUG, is one of the many recent titles that have earned a small crowdfunding fortune by shouting the word "sandbox" as loud as the internet will allow. The game's initial Kickstarter campaign raised $293,000; launching on Steam's Early Access marketplace helped Nerd Kingdom rake in an unspecified amount of additional dollars. The studio had a bold plan for an open-world, innovative crafting MMORPG, and it appeared as though players were ready to pay for it.

Things haven't gone so swimmingly since then. Funding issues in late 2014 forced the studio to lay off around half of its staff. Many MMO industry followers have been wondering whether the project will ever be released or it's just another crowdfunded pipe dream.

I took a look at TUG on the show floor at PAX South 2015 and talked to COO Brennan Priest about crowdfunding, layoffs, and killing things with axes. The one thing I can say for sure is that there is definitely a game here, and it seems as if it could be a good one.

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PAX South 2015: Garriott and Long talk Shroud of the Avatar

Fantasy, Events (Real-World), Interviews, MMO Industry, PvE, Hands-On, Roleplaying, Events (Massively's Coverage), Sandbox, Crafting, Crowdfunding, Player-Generated Content, Shroud of the Avatar, MMORPG

SOTA
In 2013, Ultima Online creator Richard Garriott took to Kickstarter in the hopes of funding an old-school, sandbox-y MMO. Titled Shroud of the Avatar, the new project would be built in Unity and aimed squarely at those MMO fans who longed for the days of player-driven economies, crafting as a focus instead of a side activity, and the ability to impact the game world in a real way.

The plan worked. Shroud of the Avatar pulled $1.9 million on Kickstarter alone, almost doubling its $1 million funding goal. Since then, the team has been hard at work bringing Garriott's vision to life (and keeping backers happy).

I spoke with Garriott on the PAX South 2015 show floor about crowdfunding, loot, and the mistakes of the modern RPG. I also got to play a bit of SOTA with the help of executive producer Starr Long, who kindly did not make fun of me when I was killed by the second mob in the demo.

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Firefall is prepping an all-new crafting system

Sci-Fi, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, Dev Diaries, Crafting, Firefall

firefall
Good news for those disillusioned with the state of crafting in Firefall: Red 5 is preparing an "all-new crafting system" to replace the current setup. New crafting dev Gortok spoke a little to this on the forums over the past month, saying that as a person who's designed four such systems for MMOs, he finds Firefall's crafting both pointless and grindy.

Fortunately, Gortok has ideas to make it all much, much better: "It will take some time, and my plan is to actually rip out the existing recipes and research, replace the entire thing from scratch, and implement an entirely new system for the actual act of crafting. There are a lot of great things that we lost, and I want to bring some of those feelings back without the complication and confusion"

Some of the changes include restructuring research, consolidating recipes, crafting in batches, and making thumping "more desirable" again.

[Thanks to Eri for the tip!]

Hungry? Elder Scrolls Online is revamping provisioning

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Dev Diaries, Crafting, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

ESO
When The Elder Scrolls Online's Update 6 launches later this month, characters with the provisioning skill should go make us a sammich. Just kidding. But if you do decide to make us a sammich, you'll find the process much more streamlined and effective, as ZeniMax is plotting a major overhaul of the profession.

In a dev blog posted last night, the studio explained that it will be reducing the overall number of ingredients in the game, adding new recipes, updating the cooking UI, and giving food additives some oomph. Roleplayers will be happy to learn that lootable food-related objects will soon yield appropriate ingredients (apples from apple baskets, for example), and food buffs will make a bit more sense, like "meat dishes [that] increase your health and fruit dishes [that] increase your magicka."

If you're not actually a cook yourself, all you really need to know is that you should start skinning fish, cows, and chickens for meat and that drink buffs won't suck anymore. Hooray!

Massively hands-on: Let's talk about The Repopulation

Betas, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvE, Opinion, Sandbox, Crafting, The Repopulation

Writing about early access games is the suck. I guess it's something I'll have to get over, though, given how early access is now launch, how alpha is the new beta, and how gamers are lining up to pay big money for ideas.

With that out of the way, let's talk a bit about my first steps in The Repopulation. It's an appropriately ambitious sci-fi sandbox from scrappy indie studio Above & Beyond Technologies. As you might expect, it's somewhat rough at the moment. I see it carving out a successful niche for itself in the future, though.

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The Daily Grind: What's an underrated MMO feature that needs love?

City of Heroes, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Crafting

Glitch
Lost now to the ages (at least until player teams finish rebuilding the game) is the crafting system of Glitch, a wee and sunsetted indie MMORPG dismissed out of hand by those who cluelessly believe browser-MMOs without ultrarealistic gore are for grandmas. But Glitch's crafting system was way ahead of its time, with hyperlinking inside every crafting panel so that you never, ever needed to fumble and backtrack or switch tools or count mats to make anything. Hardcore crafters might not have been entirely impressed with the economy, but the crafting process itself was damn smooth.

I can think of lots of underrated features in some other MMOs. City of Heroes' sidekicking has trickled into a handful of games, for example, but its group-and-instance difficulty scaling feature has seldom been seen since. Yet it ensured that groups of all sizes and class-makeups and skill-levels could always tackle content. It was a brilliant way to capture a varied playerbase ranging from casuals to powergamers, and yet no one else is even bothering to try it.

What other underrated MMO features really deserve some love and copypastaing in the genre?

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!

Salem lead mulls solutions for sub-par combat

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, Sandbox, Crafting

Are you a fan of indie fantasy sandbox Salem? Do you like walls of text that give your mousewheel a serious workout? You might enjoy today's Salem update, then, as Mortal Moments project lead John Carver has a lot to say. And why not? It's been nearly six months since the last such dev blast.

Carver writes with affection of Salem's refusal to "cater to the masses" and its similar disdain for "polygon counts over content." Combat, though, isn't quite where the devs would like it. Carver says that combat is "by far the dumbest thing we do," and that despite the intentional learning curve, some sort of "upper level strategy is missing."

While Carver doesn't outline specific remedies, he says that the first step is to expand Salem's available combat moves.

[Thanks Chrysillis!]

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

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

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!

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

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.

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

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

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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Flameseeker Chronicles: Crafting up a storm in Guild Wars 2

Game Mechanics, Opinion, Guild Wars 2, Flameseeker Chronicles, Crafting, Buy-to-Play

Happy Batursday! Oh, wrong holiday. Wow, I'm sorry. This is why nobody invites me to the nice parties.
Merry Wintersday! Guild Wars 2's non-denominational twinkly winter celebration is in full swing. Despite earlier reports from ArenaNet that we'd get pure repeats of both Halloween and Wintersday, this year has added some new quests and a thematically appropriate relocation to Divinity's Reach. I was wrong last week about the sad Dickensian atmosphere of ruined Lion's Arch decorated with snowflakes, but there are still plenty of unfortunate children, so it all evens out.

As your resident Scrooge, I'm going to skirt around the topic of candy canes and jumping puzzles to talk about a game feature that's much closer to my heart: crafting. However, I come to lob snowballs at GW2's crafting system, not to praise it.

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WoW Archivist: A Glyphmas story

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, PvP, Hands-On, Crafting, Subscription, WoW Archivist

Scrolls of glyphs
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 December 17th and is included here by permission.

Professions in Warlords of Draenor feel completely different than in any other era in WoW. Creating powerful items is no longer a matter of farming, luck, or gold. Instead, we have to produce their key ingredients via garrison work orders. Leveling crafting professions is no longer about creating a bunch of useless items that we instantly vendor or disenchant, and reaching max level is now a slow burn instead of a quick grind. This is the first expansion where I haven't hit max level on all my professions within the first week or two.

The profession that has changed the most is the most recent: Wrath of the Lich King's inscription, added in 2008. Even the interface changed: The glyph window was originally part of the spellbook UI, not the talent pane. Because of those changes, for a few very special weeks, inscription transformed the financial futures of countless WoW players. I was one of them. We called it Glyphmas, and it was magical.

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SOE bracing for 'enormous' Landmark update

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crafting, Landmark

So next week's Landmark update is big. Real big, according to SOE's Dave Georgeson. The patch includes "caves down to the world core," salvaging, crafting tweaks, transportation systems, monsters, new loot, and more.

Georgeson also cautions that SOE "fully expects this update to be problematic." He says that the firm will keep players updated via Twitter and that it will announce on Sunday whether or not the update will occur on Monday as currently planned.

Expect zero seizures from today's Black Desert features reel

Betas, Trailers, Video, Game Mechanics, Previews, News Items, PvE, Sandbox, Crafting, Black Desert, Player-Generated Content, MMORPG

Black Desert
OK, so you don't like the spazzy shaky-cam and motion-blur of Black Desert's videos. Fortunately, you can turn it all off inside the game. Even more fortunately, there's more to the game than bouncing-off-the-walls, eye-spasm-y hack-'n'-slash, as today's video from Daum demonstrates. There's farming, fishing, boating, gathering, and other crafting skills, plus what looks like an elaborate minigame attached to harpooning sea critters. There's also an extended section on horse taming and associated mount activities like mounted combat. (The horses are gorgeous.)

The sandbox is slated to enter closed beta in South Korea on December 17th. The video's below!

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