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Culture

Working As Intended: But I already have that game

Culture, Guilds, MMO Industry, Opinion, Miscellaneous, Working As Intended

Back in 2001, I desperately wanted out of EverQuest. I hated the gameplay. I hated the community. I loved my guildies, but I hated what our guild was becoming, consumed by a grindy rat race so different from our roots in Ultima Online. When Dark Age of Camelot offered a way out, I took it, dragging as many guildies as I could along with me to a game where PvP and territory control, not camp checks and plane raids, ruled the day.

Some of them didn't come with us, and I couldn't understand why they wouldn't jump at the chance to start fresh, to be rid of a self-destructive community and gear grind. What was wrong with them, I wondered, that they'd stay in some old thing rather than play the new shiny?

Dozens upon dozens of MMOs later, I finally understand: They already had that game.

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The Daily Grind: Would you play an all-endgame MMO?

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

I'm hard on MMOs with endgames, especially endgames that focus on a single repetitive activity. The problem isn't so much what that activity is but that MMOs spend so much time making you do something else before you can get to that activity -- instead of just letting you just do that presumably ideal and fun activity from the start. That's prompted some clever players to wonder, why not just make an all-endgame -- an all-raiding -- MMO?

To be clear, I'm not talking about sandboxes or persistent PvP games that can be perceived as entirely endgame. I'm talking about a classic themepark experience with the levels and questing ripped out -- just endgame dungeons and raids, pure PvE group challenge, from the moment you log in to the moment you log out. If raiding really is about the challenge and the thrill of big group PvE, such a game would be welcomed by hardcore raiders... right?

And more importantly: Would you play it?

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!

The Think Tank: Confronting the 'unbundling' of MMORPGs

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

DCUO
Last month, the long-running, scholarly virtual world blog Terra Nova updated with a post suggesting that the blog, like the worlds it covered, might be coming to an end (the blog, at least, has been saved in the interim). Founder Dr Edward Castronova argued that virtual worlds and MMOs have seen a recent "unbundling," with sociality, story, multi-player combat, and economy splitting off into different directions and platforms instead of staying unified in MMOs. The only MMO element that stayed were the people, and "it proved impossible to construct mechanisms that allowed people to find fulfillment from their fellow-players rather than frustration. In the end, the concept of a multi-player fantasy world broke on the shoals of the infinite weirdness of human personality."

It's pretty depressing. But is it true? Are MMOs and virtual worlds doomed to forever splinter apart thanks to niche-ier media and be ruined by their own players? That's what I asked the Massively crew in this week's Think Tank (and our writers rose to the challenge -- every single one of them).

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The Daily Grind: Do you like having NPCs fight alongside you?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

wow
The news that some garrison NPC followers will be able to become your bodyguards and fight alongside you is the first Warlords of Draenor information that's interested me at all. I love such systems in other games, such as companions in Star Wars: The Old Republic and Neverwinter.

It's probably the same reason why I like pet classes: Having a combat NPC there makes me feel less alone and more in charge of a team, even if there's only code on the other end and not an actual human face. (Or so I assume.) Although, as in SWTOR, it might be a little awkward in WoW to see dozens of people running around with the same companion you have.

Do you like it when a game gives you an NPC to be your bodyguard?

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!

Chinese World of Warcraft fan has created a flying machine

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Culture, News Items, Subscription

Like this, but a bit less mobile.  (Picture from WoWpedia)
Where are you going to find Khorium in the real world? Or Felsteel? Those substances are relatively rare even in World of Warcraft; you have to assume that they're even harder to find in the real world. But an enterprising fan apparently located them, as evidenced by the fact that he built himself a Turbo-Charged Flying Machine in real-life for the rest of the world to look at in admiration.

Before you ask, no, it obviously does not fly. It's also designed to fit a small Goblin doll rather than allowing anyone who walks past it on the street to slide into the cockpit. It's still an awesome feat of engineering, and you can check out pictures of the finished project and the manufacturing process over on NGA.

Global Chat: Going negative

Culture, Opinion, Global Chat, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge, WildStar

eso
It's hard to be positive as a blogger, I'd say. It's not only really easy to get whipped up into a writing lather when you're upset about something, but negativity sells as well, at least in the short-term. People love a good rant, especially when it mirrors their line of thinking and doesn't bash a game they like. Even I, though I try to stay positive as a rule, have fallen into such patterns.

This week in Global Chat, we're going to see more negativity than normal -- or perhaps, more critical analysis with vivid metaphors. That doesn't mean it's all downers nor mindless emotional wordsplosions. But I thought it was fascinating how these stories caught my eye over the past couple of weeks of MMO blog reading.

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Gaijin on the creation of War Thunder's Victory is Ours short film

Historical, Trailers, Video, Culture, MMO Industry, News Items, War

Remember that spiffy War Thunder short film that we watched earlier this month? Gaijin has published a blog post that gives a little background on its creation.

The script came together rather quickly, and Ukrainian studio Postmodern was chosen to handle filming duties which were then completed near Kiev in "a record two-day shoot." Gaijin says that an additional half day was spent on a studio stage, and that the abbreviated process was helped along by the fact that the entire film was "pre-visualized and made in a 3-D sketch." The company also says that more details on the making of Victory is Ours will be forthcoming.

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Final Fantasy XIV opens up HD fanfest streams for purchase

Fantasy, Culture, Events (Real-World), News Items, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription

Probably will not contain a surfeit of Sahagin.  Maybe some Sahagin.
If you missed out on your chance to get a ticket for Final Fantasy XIV's fanfest in Las Vegas this weekend, you can still at least watch the events unfold in glorious high definition. Square-Enix has opened up the purchase option, allowing players to watch the event, pick up a moogle costume, and watch otherwise unviewable parts of the convention for $20. Players who opt for the HD stream will also have access to the archived footage until March 31st, 2015.

Should you be short of the cash to drop on this stream, you still have options open, as a standard-definition stream is also available for free. This stream skips the opening keynote and closing ceremonies and does not award viewers a moogle costume, so it's up to you if $20 is worth the absence of those. Still, even if you can't make it out to the side of the convention, you'll be able to find out all of the information on the ground as it happens.

The science of language, community, and MMORPGs

Culture, Interviews, MMO Industry, Opinion, Virtual Worlds, Miscellaneous, MMORPG

Johannes Jansson
Back in August, Massively wrote a little post about Swedish research on MMOs and language learning. That article provoked me, a gamer and teacher of English for speakers of other languages (ESOL), to hunt down the original research and talk directly to the researchers, Dr. Liss Kerstin Sylvén from the University of Gothenburg and Dr. Pia Sundqvist from Karlstad University, to better understand their research and findings.

Note that we'll be talking here about games and language learning specifically, not other forms of game-related education. Also, Sylvén and Sundqvist don't consider themselves "gamers." Sundqvist remembers Pac-Man as her first game, both admit to playing Angry Birds on their cell phones, and Sundqvist is "allowed" to sometimes watch her 17-year-old son play League of Legends. I find this interesting because they are non-gamers who seriously consider games capable of being educational without specifically being developed to do so. This isn't a simple merger of a hobby with work; this is work in a field of interest that's still being explored.

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The Daily Grind: Have you considered how much time you spend gaming?

Sci-Fi, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Star Wars: The Old Republic

I typed /played on a Star Wars: The Old Republic alt the other day, and I was surprised to learn that I've spent nearly 26 hours of my life on a throwaway MMO character! Granted, 26 hours out of approximately 700,000 (assuming I live to the ripe old age of 80) isn't very much. But still, it seems like a significant amount of time to devote to disposable entertainment.

What about you, Massively readers? Have you done a /played on one of your characters recently? Have you ever stopped to consider how much time you spend gaming?

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!

EVE Evolved: Fixing EVE's player activity

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Business Models, Culture, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Evolved title image
It's been a sort of running gag in EVE Online throughout the years that players spend inordinate amounts of time docked in stations and spinning their ships around in the hangar, but this is oddly close to the truth. Those of us who have been hooked to EVE for years know just how intense the game can get at its most frantic and how incredible it is to be present for historic events and important PvP battles, but those moments are rare, and there's typically a lot of downtime between periods of activity. For every PvP battle fought, incursion fleet formed or wormhole op organised, players often have to spend hours in stations or in space amusing themselves or doing busywork.

With gamers now spreading their increasingly limited free time across a growing catalogue of online games, some EVE players log in for only a few minutes per day to queue skills, chat with corpmates, and see if anything interesting is happening. The recent announcement that the upcoming Phoebe release will contain infinite length skill queues has some players concerned that people will lose the motivation to pop their heads into New Eden each day and see what's going on. Since the best sandbox gameplay is emergent in nature, just getting players to log in so they're available to take part in something awesome when it happens is extremely important.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I ask whether EVE is in trouble due to its recent decline in player activity, look at the impact of people with just a few hours per week to play, and suggest a new app idea that could help solve all of those problems.

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One Shots: Hitchhorsing

Screenshots, Culture, Star Trek Online, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, RIFT, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge

aa
I'm learning new things about ArcheAge every day. For example, did you know that you can hitch a ride on a mount in that game? Jef even informs me that you can do so uninvited, although the driver may shove you off along the way. That's pretty cool, even if it lends itself to a very specific new form of griefing.

Reader Sean demonstrates how one poor horse can handle two riders in our lead screenshot: "The picture is of my main, Kadrassius, and my wife's main, Keziah, as they take a ride through Marianople. I really liked this scene with the way the characters react when the horse rears up. Now I just need to get barding for my horse."

Now if we can only get a college fraternity to all pile on the same beast of burden, then we'd be making progress in this industry!

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WoW Archivist: Class protests and the Million Gnome March

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Bugs, Business Models, Classes, Culture, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, WoW Archivist

Naked gnomes everywhere
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 October 8th, 2014, and is included here by permission.

Betas make players nervous about their class. It happens every time. Blizzard makes changes, often drastically, and for better or worse some people hate the changes. I've been keeping my eye on the beta class forums since the Warlords beta began, and I've seen a lot of unhappiness this time around. The ability pruning that was one of Blizzard's major design goals for classes this year has removed depth from rotations, taken away both utility and cosmetic options, and in some cases radically altered or deleted abilities that players enjoyed. Beta testers have voiced strong opposition to many of the changes.

In 10 years, I haven't seen players this up in arms about class issues since classic WoW -- an era when many specs and mechanics were simply broken in PvE, PvP, or both.

This past Friday, something happened that I believed would never again happen in WoW: an in-game class protest. With much more open lines of communication from developers to players in recent years, I thought the game had matured beyond the point that such things would ever be necessary. But here we are, almost 10 years after the most famous class protest in WoW's history, and players once again felt the need to gather in Azeroth to voice their complaints.

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The Daily Grind: What's the dumbest mount you've ever seen?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

rift
There are a lot of reasons why I'm super-duper pumped about RIFT's new water-themed expansion, but shark mounts that can "walk" on land are not among those reasons. Not only are these a safety hazard for anyone who grew up with a mortal fear of sharks after his babysitter let him watch Jaws when he was six, but it looks plain silly. There's a line crossed here with trying to take an animal that isn't normally a beast of transportation and forcing it into that mold.

But I cannot say whether or not this is the dumbest mount in MMOs, because that's your job. Well, your job as of today. What do you say?

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!

Blizzard posts official BlizzCon schedule

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Culture, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items

Yes, you're hoping that a secret announcement about the next expansion pack for World of Warcraft is coming.  You know what?  We'll go with that version of events.  It's a nicer story.
You've got your tickets purchased, your hotel arrangements squared away, your bags all packed. You're ready for BlizzCon this year! But leaving aside the fact that you can probably unpack your bags now as you've still got a month to go, what are you actually going to be doing at BlizzCon? That's what you can find out by taking a gander at the official schedule, which tracks the events of the day on both Friday and Saturday for World of Warcraft, StarCraft 2, Hearthstone, and Diablo III.

A floor map is also available so that congoers can get a feel for the layout before arrival, although that's of less interest to fans planning on taking advantage of the streaming options available for the convention. If you're thinking of buying a virtual ticket for the high-quality streams, take a look at the schedule and see if it's stuff you want to watch streaming live. Unless, as we said, you've already got your bags packed to go in person.

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