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Tamriel Infinium: The sweet and sour of Elder Scrolls' new dye system

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

So, armor dyes! Elder Scrolls Online now has them. They're pretty slick, too, and they add quite a bit of personality and personalization options to my Tamrielian alter-ego.

The dye process is straightforward. In fact, the hardest thing about it is finding a dye station, which isn't very hard at all. You'll need to travel to a town or a major city and look for the alchemy vendor on your map. The dye station, a workbench surrounded by barrels full of color, is typically located either inside the alchemy shop or very near it in the town proper.

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The Daily Grind: Do you want round number level caps?

Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind

Archlord 2 is bumping its level cap to 46. For some reason this bothers me. I don't play Archlord 2, but still. Why 46? Why not 45 or 50? OK, so probably not 45 because the cap was already 45, but why not structure the content in such a way as to invite a nice round number like 50 for the next increase?

What about you, Massively readers? Am I alone here or does silly stuff like that give you an eye twitch? Do you want round number level caps?

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 Daily Grind: What's your desired update pace?

Culture, Patches, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

This year as a whole might be light on the total number of MMO releases, but it feels as though it's been an absolute bonanza for updates. I've experienced more than a couple Tuesdays where several of my MMOs are patching in new content simultaneously, leaving me with a delicious conundrum of what to play first.

What I'm curious about today is how much and how often you think that MMOs should update. Would you have very frequent content drops, such as Guild Wars 2's living world episodes, even if they're not huge? Do you prefer a once-a-month patch that contains a lot to chew on? Or would you rather see MMOs package a huge chunk of content for a once- or twice-a-year expansion?

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!

Elder Scrolls Online's 'Tales of the Dead' contest seeks storytellers

Fantasy, Contests, Culture, Events (Real-World), Lore, Roleplaying, The Elder Scrolls Online, Player-Generated Content, Subscription

If you've spent even an hour in an Elder Scrolls RPG, you're certain to have stumbled into one of the iconic corpse-and-letter storytelling scenes created by the writers and world builders. This week, ZeniMax is giving Elder Scrolls Online players the chance to join in the fun via a contest titled Tales of the Dead, which asks gamers to put pen to paper in the service of describing this cheerful scene:
To participate, take a good look at the image [above]. Then, create your own fictional entry of 500 words or less that tells us more about the scene. You can write a short story, a journal entry, or any other kind of fictional text that sheds more light on what happened to cause this grim tableau. Once you're happy with your creation, post it in the contest entry thread.

We'll start accepting entries today, August 11th, and will close the contest this Friday, August 15th at 11:59PM EDT. If you're one of the three winners we announce on August 29th, you'll receive a $25 electronic gift certificate to the Bethesda Store and an ESO t-shirt of your choosing!
The complete rules are available on the ESO forums. Good luck topping A Falling Wizard!

Former creative director eulogizes Vanguard

Fantasy, Culture, MMO Industry, News Items, Vanguard

Former Vanguard creative director Steve Danuser has penned a eulogy for the fantasy MMO on his personal blog. Danuser describes a nightmare of a development environment featuring a lack of version control, "a database awash in the detritus of years of half-finished work," and significant bugs.

Despite all that, Danuser grew to love the game and was part of a post-F2P SOE dev team who worked to see the game succeed. He attributes the game's ultimate demise to a combination of "many gaping holes to patch" and an MMO industry that exploded, "taking the genre in different directions (or at least featuring significantly higher production values) while Vanguard stood still."

Danuser also mentions SOE's decision to keep the game alive for over seven years, when "most other companies would have pulled the plug after the initial downturn in subscriptions."

The Nexus Telegraph: Addictions that WildStar must kick

Sci-Fi, Culture, Game Mechanics, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

I look forward to people telling me how I'm wrong because the game is meant to be a raiding game as if that wasn't an inherently ridiculous statement.  Commence to jigglin', folks.
Matt Daniel is a friend of mine. (Yes, despite my claims at the end of some poorly considered features we did together.) He's also a spectacularly bright guy with a clear picture of what games do well and what they do poorly. So when he and I wind up chatting about WildStar and noting the exact same problems, I take this stuff to heart. And there are a couple of underlying issues that the game would do well to address sooner rather than later.

I've talked about issues that the game has before, but a lot of those issues are really symptoms, not the core issues. I enjoy the game a lot, and I think it has a lot to recommend it, but there are some nagging fundamental issues, just certain ways of viewing the game and the community. As we approach the all-important three-month mark, it's time to start thinking about those issues, about what they represent, and perhaps most importantly about how those issues can be addressed.

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An early look at Heroes of the Storm's alpha

Betas, Fantasy, Culture, Game Mechanics, Previews, PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, First Impressions, MOBA

Heroes of the Storm: Just another MOBA, right? Well, maybe. I have to admit two things before we jump into this article. First, I like MOBAs, but I'm an MMO player first and foremost. I keep trying MOBAs as they come out, and I've sunk some serious hours into the genre, so I do have a decent working knowledge of the bare basics, especially starting experiences.

Second, I'm neither a fan nor a hater of Blizzard. Blizzard often sticks to safe rather than unique features, but it also makes games for the masses, which is great because I love to drag my friends into my games. But a game that attracts everyone also attracts the kind of people I don't want to play with.

So why should I -- or you -- play Heroes of the Storm?

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Stick and Rudder: Should you be scared off by Star Citizen's community?

Sci-Fi, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Stick and Rudder, Star Citizen, Buy-to-Play

Massively's Justin Olivetti and I were talking MMO communities recently. Star Citizen came up, and my esteemed colleague mentioned that the constant hubbub surrounding the crowdsourced space sim sandbox has made him a bit wary of getting invested in the title for the time being.

From the inside looking out, I can see how the game's community sometimes seems like a roiling mass of internet rage and entitlement, but I think it's worth mentioning that -- like the game itself -- it's also what you make of it.

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One Shots: There's no bear in panda

World of Warcraft, Screenshots, Culture, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, Final Fantasy XIV, Miscellaneous, WildStar

As much fun as it is to be corrected by know-it-alls who like to huff things like, "You can't call them panda bears; they're not bears, you know!" it's even more fun to say, "Yuh-huh they're bears! And your face also has a ursine visage, especially around the snout."

I don't even know why I brought that up. It certainly has nothing to do with our opening screenshot from reader JohnD, who writes, "While starting off with my new Pandaren Monk in World of Warcraft, I came across these delightful Pandaren children, who seemed more than happy to just chat with me and occasionally wave. After a few minutes they quickly ran off -- but not before making my adventures a little more fun!"

But they're not bears. Or are they? Yes. No. I don't know.

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The Daily Grind: What tabletop RPG mechanics should MMOs adopt?

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

Massively reader Couillon recently wrote in to the Massively Speaking podcast to ask us about tabletop games and their influence on the MMO genre. He proposed that MMORPGs could benefit from a tabletop-inspired "roleplay bonus" for actually -- gasp -- roleplaying a character. "I realize this might require more thought during character creation than most players are willing to spend," Couillon wrote dryly, but I think it's a topic worth considering as MMOs are looking for ways to redefine themselves in a post-WoW era.

Justin and I discussed several P&P RPG systems that we'd love to see more widely implemented in our favorite MMOs, like advantage/disadvantage mechanics and non-combat skills like persuasion and knowledge. What do you folks think? What classic or creative features from tabletop games should MMOs adopt?

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 Game Archaeologist: Six more MMOs that never made it to launch

Culture, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous

It's always possible to be surprised with reveals of older MMOs, even after years of writing this column. For example, I had never heard that Valve was initially working on an MMO called Prospero in the late '90s before we posted on it a couple of weeks ago. It's crazy to me that parts of what could have been a groundbreaking online title were then repurposed for Half-Life and Portal. It's not necessarily bad how things turned out, mind you, but I do get lost wondering what might have been.

From time to time here on The Game Archaeologist, I like to turn our attention to MMOs-that-never-were: titles that died before launch thanks to funding shortfalls, studio collapses, or corporate bungling. We've covered titles like Wish, Ultima X, and Middle-earth Online, but today I want to catch up on several titles that have been haunting my list for a while now. So strap in as you get a six-pack of MMOs that were never released!

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The Daily Grind: Has Star Citizen made enough money yet?

Sci-Fi, Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Sandbox, Star Citizen

These are the rules of Star Citizen club. The first rule is that you do not talk about Star Citizen, unless it's in the comments, in which case you can go nuts. The second rule is that you must somewhere mention money. The third rule is that you may not question the brilliance and perfection of Chris Roberts. The fourth rule is that all VHS cassettes must be rewound before returning them to the space library.

So with almost $50 million raised from a half-million backers, one has to occasionally wonder: Has Star Citizen made enough money yet to fully fund the dream? Are players continually donating more money for diminishing returns at this point? Don't get me wrong, I'm sure this will be the best game of all time, full stop. But when one of the recent stretch goals is for a plant, I have to wonder when enough is enough.

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!

Final Fantasy XIV gearing up for its first anniversary

Fantasy, Culture, Events (In-Game), News Items, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, Anniversaries, Subscription

Who let Thancred get drunk.  You know how he gets.  He's an idiot.
In one sense, Final Fantasy XIV is approaching its fourth anniversary, since its original incarnation launched in September of 2010. But in another, more immediate sense, the relaunch was just about one year ago. That's what the development team is celebrating now and through most of August, with plenty of in-game events including the Moonfire Festival and several new contests for players to show off their creativity and affection for the game. The anniversary page is now live, and while it's not displaying everything just yet, there's plenty to be excited about.

Aside from another round of the Moonfire Festival, players can look forward to the return of all three major cross-promotional events as well as a special event called The Rising. There will also be a special 14-hour livestream event starting on August 22nd, a one-year anniversary login campaign, and real-life events at PAX Prime, Gamescom, and the Tokyo Game Show. Check the official anniversary site for more details, and get ready to celebrate a full year of a reborn Eorzea!

Working As Intended: The unfortunate conflation of sandboxes and PvP

Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, Opinion, Miscellaneous, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Working As Intended

A certain perplexing belief about sandboxes pervades the blog comments, forums, and general chats of MMOs:

All MMO sandboxes are free-for-all PvP games. If it doesn't have free-for-all PvP, it's by definition not a sandbox because sandboxes let the players make all the rules and decisions. Free-for-all PvP adds the necessary spice to keep you on your toes and keep a game fresh. Without it, you may as well be playing The Sims.

All of these statements are wrong.

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TV producer looking for couples who met in MMOs

Culture, MMO Industry, News Items

Back2Back Productions is looking for lovers who met in MMOs, according to a blurb at MCVUK. Founder David Notman-Watt told the website that a documentary featuring couples who met online and married in meatspace is currently filming and will air on a "major TV network."

Notman-Watt says his firm is also searching out couples who've yet to connect offline. "It's fascinating to meet people whose relationships have blossomed as the line between roleplay and real life has become increasingly blurred."

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