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The Daily Grind: Do you want adjustable difficulty levels in MMOs?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

DDO
There were a few of us sitting around the other day moaning about how a certain MMO (that will not be named because we're afraid of it just like Voldemort) was too difficult for a casual player who wanted to see the content without concern for rewards. That got us on the topic of adjustable difficulty levels, something that's quite common in most video games but not so much in MMOs.

That doesn't mean difficulty levels are absent from the online gaming space. Dungeons and Dragons Online, for example, has expanded its difficulty options for instances that allow players to set it at anything from solo all the way up to tough-as-nails elite. RIFT also implemented chronicles to allow raid-shy players a way to see these fantastic setpieces and get the story without having to join that niche community.

Do you want to see more adjustable difficulty levels in MMOs? What would that look like?

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 isn't 'recreating WoW' with its magic system

Betas, Fantasy, Historical, Business Models, Classes, Culture, Game Mechanics, Interviews, Previews, PvP, News Items, PvE, Crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained, MMORPG

Welcome back to our coverage of City State Entertainment's batshit-crazy days for Camelot Unchained! A few weeks ago, we spoke with CSE co-founder Mark Jacobs about each of the topics being revealed this week on the game's livestreams; today, let's talk about making magic.
Massively: When developers use the word "spellbook," visions of meditating into an EverQuest-style spellbook and repeatedly switching commonly used spells come to mind. Far from creating welcome immersion, that spellbook created headaches for casters [enough that SOE changed it]. But CU's spellbook seems more like a cross between an achievement panel and a spell design tool. How else will CU's spellbook improve on the concept?

CSE's Mark Jacobs: First, I think the characterization of the EQ spellbook as a headache for casters is a very personal one. Let's keep in mind that EQ was the most successful MMORPG prior to the coming of WoW [We presume he means in the West -ed], so not everybody could have hated it. In our game, being a caster will come with some disadvantages, and having to deal with a spellbook is one of them. However, it will also come with advantages. Like so many other things in Camelot Unchained, we're not afraid to say players won't love everything. Indeed, as I've said all along, I know that certain things we are going to do will piss off some people.

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The Daily Grind: Do you tell people you're a gamer?

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

I'm not ashamed that video games are my hobby or my job, but reconciling games with the real world isn't easy. I don't volunteer details about what I do to anyone I suspect just wouldn't understand. But sometimes people ask you directly. Earlier this summer, I was in the hospital (having a baby!), and my nurses kept asking what I did for a living -- you know, just polite small talk. "I'm a journalist," I said. Few people inquire further. But one did, and I sheepishly admitted that I write about video games. "Sweet," she said, "we play consoles in my house too!" She wasn't into MMOs, but we still talked about video games for half an hour, and I felt dumb for trying to hide what I do. More than half the country plays video games, so why do we hide it?

Maybe you don't, which is what I'm asking you today. Do you tell people you're a gamer? How do you reconcile your hobby with people who still think video games are for kids or weirdos?

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!

A look at the Legend of the Condor Heroes Zero beta

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Culture, New Titles, Opinion, Free-to-Play

LotCHZ
Age of Wushu might have a bit of competition in Perfect World's newest Wuxia-themed MMO Legend of the Condor Heroes Zero. Despite the fact that the title sounds like a bunch of random words thrown together, Steparu took a close look at the game in its current beta state to let us know what to expect.

In true Steparu style, we get a very detailed look at everything from character customization to gameplay to combat and more as shown in the videos embedded after the cut. Steparu ultimately thinks the game deserves another look in a more finished stage, but you can read more impressions over at the official review page.

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EVE documentary A Tale of Internet Spaceships now playing

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, Sandbox, Subscription

Crowdfunded EVE Online documentary A Tale of Internet Spaceships is now viewable on YouTube. The 56-minute film was shot during Fanfest 2013 and it seeks to both introduce EVE to the uninitiated and to illuminate the period around the game's Incarna expansion (as well as the player revolts that followed).

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One Shots: Requiem for a rancor

Screenshots, Culture, One Shots, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Miscellaneous, WildStar, The Elder Scrolls Online, Landmark

SWTOR
You know what scene from Return of the Jedi that always got me teared up? When Luke kills the rancor and the beast's owner breaks down sobbing. You just know that thing was his best friend and now... now there is a large, monstrous hole in his life.

Reader Chris could have had a lifelong companion but chose to go the Luke route in Star Wars: The Old Republic. "I let a Sith escape Belsavis in order to save the injured fighter pilot Conrad Gall from an 'ancient beast' -- a rancor, as it turns out. It was a close fight, as you can tell by where my Trooper finally took it down."

Hats off to the brave rancor, whose only crime was being born a big, fat, sharp-toothed freak. Stop the bullying, I say!

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO has the best newbie support system?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

Everybody's a new player to a particular MMO at some point, even if grizzled vets would like you to believe that they were already at the level cap when the cosmos came into being. I think it's easy to forget how complex and mystifying these games can be to a fresh set of eyes, especially when one is coming into the game long after launch.

That's why I always applaud an MMO that puts an emphasis on supporting newbies with helpful advice and even structured mentorships. Two examples come to mind: Fallen Earth has a terrific help channel that's staffed with volunteers and CMs on a regular basis, and Anarchy Online had a player advisory group that roams the beginner zones looking to help lost players.

So which MMO do you think has the best newbie support system?

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!

Tamriel Infinium: Immersion matters in Elder Scrolls Online and every other MMO

Fantasy, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription, Tamriel Infinium

Grahtwood art
I'm fully on board with all of the changes ZeniMax listed in its latest state-of-the-game update. My only concern has more to do with personal OCD issues than it does with any long-term effects on Elder Scrolls Online. See, as I mentioned in a previous piece, I love the fact that ZOS allows me to play all of the game's quest content, which is spread across three different factions, on a single character of a single faction. I hate alts, or more accurately, I hate the need for them because they pull me right out of the game world.

Oh yes, I'm going to talk about immersion, even at the risk of inviting a bunch of anti-immersion comments. I'll even define the dreaded "I" word, though of course it's pretty subjective.

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The Think Tank: Finding the magic in MMOs

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

About a month ago, a Massively reader wrote to our team to ask for help on an issue many of us -- and probably many of you -- struggle with: a genre with lots of games and not enough stickiness (and patience!).
I've been around the MMO block (since EverQuest); I even dabbled in Meridian 59. And I keep seeing game articles that make me want to try or retry lots of MMOs, but between my schedule and investment in other titles already, I cannot bring myself to jump into old or new games for more than a few play sessions. There's so many to play that I just can't bring myself to settle down for a little bit to really get enough of the experience to enjoy it.

For example, I recently played Asheron's Call for a total of three hours after subbing and reading articles that compelled me to try it. But it felt foreign and clunky. I couldn't stick around to really appreciate it. I fear the same results in other games I'd like to try. Can you give me advice on shedding the urge to judge and dismiss a game if it doesn't click with me immediately? Is there a way to not be jaded or lazy with being a newbie (yet again) in older titles? Help me play more MMOs for the sake of experience and new loves!

- MMO junkie seeking help "finding the magic"
I polled the team for advice in this week's Think Tank!

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Blizzard's Morhaime responds to player concern for diversity in WoW

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Culture

Mike Morhaime
Diversity is certainly a hot topic everywhere in the world today, and MMO communities are no exception. In particular, World of Warcraft has been under the microscope several times in the last few years for an imbalance of gender representation.

When WoW player Starcunning wrote an open letter to Blizzard president Mike Morhaime that questioned the studio's treatment of its female players, including then-CCO Rob Pardo's statement that diversity isn't something that Blizzard is actively trying to do, she probably didn't expect a real response. Interestingly enough, Morhaime did respond with some real promise about making diversity a priority for the team.

"We are very conscious of the issues you raise and are discussing them more than ever, at every level of the company, in an effort to make sure our games and stories are as epic and inclusive as possible," Morhaime promised. "Blizzard's employees form a broad and diverse group that cares deeply about the experiences we are creating for our players. And we know that actions speak louder than words, so we are challenging ourselves to draw from more diverse voices within and outside of the company and create more diverse heroes and content."

The Daily Grind: Do you tend to believe dev statements?

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Daily Grind, Dungeons

Fangorn waterfall
Lord of the Rings Online community manager Rick Heaton created a stir recently when he said that raiders are few and far between in Middle-earth. After he explained that Turbine's data show raiders, PvPers, and forum posters as tiny fringe groups, he ended his announcement with the following statement.

"I fully appreciate and understand you won't believe a word of this. That's perfectly fine. It doesn't change the facts of the matter."

Predictably, a slew of comments ensued in which Heaton was accused of lying. Plenty of commenters, both on the Turbine forums and here on Massively, then posited that of course there are no raiders because LotRO's raid content sucks, Turbine's definition of "raider" is different from the commonly accepted definition (whatever that is), and dozens of other reasons. Which leads to an interesting question regarding official dev statements. Do you tend to believe them? Even when they irritate you or don't align with your personal wishes for a given game?

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!

Dark Age of Camelot brings back character and guild searches

Fantasy, Dark Age of Camelot, Culture, Subscription

daoc
Looking for a particular person or group in Dark Age of Camelot? Fortunately for you, Broadsword has made it that much easier to track those people down for a hopefully not-at-all-creepy reunion.

The devs announced that they have brought back character and guild searches to DAoC. Currently, these searches are limited to the Ywain server but will expand to other servers in the future. The team also said that it's going to be adding more in-game lists for realm point earners and champions of the realm in the near future.

Character and guild search used to be in DAoC until Mythic took it down several years ago.

I saw a real Jedi in Star Wars: The Old Republic

Sci-Fi, Classes, Culture, Game Mechanics, Lore, MMO Industry, PvE, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic, MMO Travelogue

This is a Consular's saber, but whatever
Let me tell you about this Jedi Guardian named Nayelii. She lives on Star Wars: The Old Republic's Ebon Hawk server. She could actually be a he, but the avatar (and the name) seemed female, so that's the pronoun I'm going with at the moment.

I say "seemed" because Nayelii was wearing hooded robes, it's fairly dark through most of the Kuat Drive Yards flashpoint, and I tend to play dungeons with my camera at max range. Anyway, that's all beside the point because last weekend Nayelii put on what is unequivocally the best tanking performance I've seen in all my years playing MMORPGs.

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The Daily Grind: Should devs give up on raid content?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Dungeons

wildstar
It's certainly not a new concept that raids make up one of the smallest player populations in MMOs while sucking up a considerable amount of development time. Turbine's essentially given up on them for Lord of the Rings Online, while WildStar is double-downing on them from the get-go.

In the interest of allocating resources -- money, time, and manpower -- to impact the game the most, should developers stop making raid content for MMOs? I'm not saying to give up on small-group content, as that's far more popular, but the giant raids that seem to appeal only to the most hardcore guilds. Would those resources be better spent developing content that the majority of the playerbase will experience?

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!

Global Chat: Being the bad guy

Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Guild Wars 2, Global Chat, Miscellaneous, Destiny

gw2
As an MMO enthusiast blog, Massively has always had a special appreciation of the dedicated (and unpaid!) writing that gamers put out on their own blogs every day. Every week there are dozens if not hundreds of terrific posts on MMOs out there, and since I'm the resident loon here who reads pretty much all of them, I decided to start up a biweekly column to point you in the direction of some of the best discussions going on in the blogosphere. We'll see posts on specific games and general topics, geeky gushings and zany rantings.

For our inagural edition of Global Chat (yes, I'm recycling the name from a long-dormant feature on this site), we'll take a look at how outfits tie into identity, surviving MMOs as a chicken, a requiem for a gold farmer, and so much more!

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