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Culture

Shroud of the Avatar's update 10 stresses stability, challenge dungeons

Fantasy, Culture, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Shroud of the Avatar

That's quite a shroud you have there, Mr. Avatar, sir.
Any game with a strong online component is only as strong as its servers. You could make the best game in history, but if no one can log in and play it, it's not going to be worth much. The latest update on Shroud of the Avatar's development notes that one of the big issues plaguing the game's 10th major update was stability. That means that the team needs more people connected and playing (or trying to) so that the issues can be documented and solved.

The team also introduced the Challenge Dungeon to get a clearer picture of PvE combat, noting that it had become a bit too single-note even against different sorts of enemies. PvP, meanwhile, is a matter of constantly moving, which is very network-intensive. The update discusses some of the patches planned to address both issues in the future, including better enemy AI and skills reworked to not make constantly darting about the most attractive update. Take a look at the full developer dispatch for more information.

The Nexus Telegraph: Dribs and drabs of WildStar

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

Admittedly, talking about it seems a little silly.
The past few weeks have not been a fun time to be a fan of WildStar, and we still have heard distressingly little about what's coming in the next patch. Heck, the most I can think of hearing about in recent memory is the announcement that the game will not feature any sort of holiday content this year, and as those of you who know me will probably guess I kind of wanted a Halloween event. (I like October.)

But let's talk about what we do know and where we are right now, since barring any further developments, there's not much more to be said about what isn't working. Either things get addressed or they don't. So let's talk about the next drop, what we will and won't be getting from it with any measure of luck, and about the complete lack of holiday content and why anyone should care. Yes, even if you normally don't care about holiday content!

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Stick and Rudder: Oh yeah, Star Citizen is a game I'm following!

Sci-Fi, Culture, MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Stick and Rudder, Star Citizen

I actually said the title of this piece out loud the other day. I was compelled to do so primarily because of a certain sandpark's launch as well as the fact that it's been dominating my game time for a solid month now.

And yeah, I left off the Stick and Rudder part when I said the title out loud because "Stick and Rudder: Oh yeah Star Citizen is a game I'm following!" would've sounded even stranger than "Oh yeah, Star Citizen is a game I'm following!"

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One Shots: No airbags at 125 kph

Screenshots, Culture, One Shots, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Final Fantasy XIV, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge

swtor
So here's what I'm always wondering: Why do all science fiction worlds and technology look far, far more dangerous than anything we have in the present? Star Wars is horrible in this regard. Lightsabers should be lopping off users' appendages left and right, even if they have the so-called "Force." Walkways without handrails over bottomless pits are commonplace in space stations. And their trash compactors are full of metal-devouring monsters, whereas mine has but the faint odor of eggshells.

Anyway, reader Joe's picture of his jaunt accross Tatooine in Star Wars: The Old Republic on a speeder made me muse about the safety issues of operating what is essentially a rocket-powered flying motorcycle in the middle of a canyon of jagged rock. Ain't no airbag on that thing that's going to save you when you dink into a wall, my friend.

Safety issues are but the start of our journey through this week in player-submitted MMO screenshots!

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The Game Archaeologist: The return of Habitat

Fantasy, Culture, MMO Industry, Virtual Worlds, The Game Archaeologist

habitat
After over four years of writing for Massively, I've ceased to be surprised by how bizarre and unexpected this industry can be. However, if you had told me a few weeks ago that, of all things, Habitat would be coming back online, I would have laughed mightily in your face.

And yet, that's exactly what's happening. The Museum of Arts and Digital Entertainment has taken up the challenge to restore LucasFilm's Habitat to working condition and then, for the first time ever, open this original virtual world up to the internet to play. Museum staff, former Habitat devs, and volunteers have been wrestling with the old code and hardware to make this happen, and I can think of no better topic for this week's column than to look at how this 28-year-old game for the Commodore 64 will emerge blinking in the light of the modern era.

I reached out to MADE's director, Alex Handy, to chat about the project and get clarification concerning what steps will need to be taken between now and the moment the switch is thrown to power up Habitat.

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The Daily Grind: How much of a completionist are you?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

eso
MMOs are dangerous territory for the "must see, do, and experience it all" type of player. With mission checklists, achievement pages, collections, rare kill lists, armor sets, and map exploration, these types of games appeal to and encourage completionists to fulfill their destinies.

So how much of a completionist are you? While I will engage in collections and achievements, they are still optional fun for me. What is mandatory are finishing up all of a zone's quests and filling out the map at a minimum. Also, if there are any options for fleshing out a character's development, I will be pushing to max out all of those fields. What about you?

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!

Ask Massively: Dancing on WildStar's grave

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Ask Massively, Miscellaneous, WildStar

This week's revelation that WildStar Design Producer Stephen Frost is quitting his role is not the first and likely won't be the last blow to the beleaguered game. Carbine lost several high-profile developers before and after launch, and with raiding guilds abandoning the title, server merges on the way, endgame grind being scaled back, updates being heavily delayed, and Christmas being canceled, even more players are losing faith in the title. That's nothing new in our industry. MMOs are big and unwieldy and sometimes launch with terrible underlying problems. They can usually pull out of a nosedive, given time. So let's give them time.

But there's a whole contingent of gamers already dancing on WildStar's grave when it's not even dead. It's one thing to deeply oppose a game's design, but if you take delight in watching major MMOs flounder, you don't really deserve this genre at all.

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SMITE's new god, Sylvanus, rocks a treant mount

Trailers, Video, Classes, Culture, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, MOBA

SMITE
SMITE's patch notes earlier this week whispered of Sylvanus, Keeper of the Wild, and today, the new god has been officially revealed in a brand-new video.

The antlered, Pan-like god is a protector of nature and woodland creatures who rides around on a treant because he can. Wisp-based regens, tree-themed roots, and AoE poisons serve to bolster his teammates and annoy his enemies.

Enjoy the first look at Sylvanus below.

[Thanks, Sorenthaz!]

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The Daily Grind: Should museums preserve MMOs?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

habitat
I may be in the vast minority here, but I am keenly interested in the attempt by the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment to resurrect (for however long) the incredibly ancient Habitat -- and to make it playable by folks today. Usually we consider dead MMOs as just that: dead. Yet we're starting to see more examples of strange resurrections and fan restorations that are reversing the decomposition process.

The Habitat story got me thinking about how these games might be saved for the long-term, particularly through special institutions such as museums. Twenty years from now, would you like to see your favorite MMOs restored and run using free museum servers to honor their legacy and to provide a way to revisit old stomping grounds? Is this a pipe dream when we consider issues of rights and IPs and other legal entanglements?

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: Through a monitor, darkly

Culture, Opinion, Guild Wars 2, The Secret World, Global Chat, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge

tsw
No matter who you are, and even if you are independently rich and can game all day, it's impossible to get around to playing all of the MMOs out there -- even all of the major ones. This is why I love MMO blogs, since they allow me to vicariously visit many of the games that I lack time to play. Even if they're silly observations or dutiful reporting on last night's activities, these posts are my window into a universe of virtual worlds.

In today's edition of Global Chat, we'll hear from a gamer visiting an older MMO for the first time, a rant about Guild Wars 2's new player experience, a tribute to the late Rusty Hearts, and why "entitlement" is overused as an attack in our community.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Guild Wars 2's gender divide

Fantasy, Culture, Lore, Opinion, Guild Wars 2, Flameseeker Chronicles, Buy-to-Play

I'm about to disappoint anyone who thought I might be okay with GamerGate.
When I sit down to write an installment of this column that is strongly critical of Guild Wars 2 -- a game I love, in case that was ever in doubt -- I try to follow a simple format in order to keep my criticism from turning into a venting session. That format is to establish that there is a problem, explain why it's a problem requiring a solution, and finally to offer any ideas or suggestions I think might be useful to that end. I do this because I want my articles to be helpful on some level to both ArenaNet and other fans, and while blowing off steam is excellent for the bilious humors, it's not so great for creating actual change.

Sometimes, though, the only suggestion I can offer is to please stop doing something because the fact that it's a problem is reason enough for it to require that solution. This is especially important when the issue isn't gameplay or monetization but rather something that personally affects me and the people I play with.

As a warning, several of the source links in this article lead to discussions of graphic and disturbing language and events.

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Casual escapists, Skyforge hasn't forgotten you

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Business Models, Culture, Game Mechanics, Interviews, News Items, PvE, Skyforge

Skyforge
A new MMOGames interview with Obsidian Executive Producer Eric DeMilt sheds light on inbound sci-fantasy MMO Skyforge, which he says is angling to provide a deep experience for players with tons of time -- as well as players with very little. As he put it,
"We are striving to make a great high quality free to play MMO that would have action oriented combat and allow for short rewarding session time. We wanted to make something that could accommodate short session game play as allow for enjoyable longer play sessions. It's about escapism and being larger than life."
DeMilt also discusses power creep, player retention, character progression, the Facebook-inspired social network within the game, and monetization; on the last, he's reluctant to give details, but he vows that Skyforge is "not going to be a flat-out pay-to-win game."

How Blizzard is improving World of Warcraft's e-sports appeal

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, Subscription, E-sports

WoW Insider
World of Warcraft is no stranger to e-sports, though its cousins deeper in the Blizzard family tree have fared far better. During the Hearthstone qualifiers at last weekend's DreamHack Stockholm, Blizzard Senior Manager of eSports Kim Phan spoke to PCGamesN about the challenges faced by World of Warcraft in the e-sports subgenre.

"I can definitely say that WoW 3v3 Arena right now is kind of hard to watch, in the form that it is, and so there are things that we want to evaluate," she explained. "World of Warcraft was obviously created well before e-sports blew up to the way it is now. We knew there was a competitive element to World of Warcraft, and then it just kind of blew up from there.

Warlords of Draenor's upcoming spectator mode is intended to address the difficulty of following arena matches, but Blizzard isn't stopping there. Even raids might be worth watching, Phan says. "Ideas have been brought up like Battlegrounds. People enjoy watching live raids at BlizzCon. What makes something an e-sport really depends on what people want to see. We are taking a close look into how we can better support e-sports."

WildStar settles on megaserver names

Sci-Fi, Culture, Previews, WildStar, Subscription

wildstar
Players have cast their votes for the new megaservers coming to WildStar, and the decisions have been reached. In North America, the PvE server will be Entity and the PvP server will be Warhound. European players will soon be hanging out on Jabbit (PvE) and Luminai (PvP).

WildStar previously announced that it would be merging all current servers onto these four megaservers to facilitate increased population density and player interaction (and, presumably, to clean up the desolated servers). Until megaservers are instituted, players may transfer to other servers for free within their region.

The Daily Grind: Do you report offensive names?

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind

Shitty names make Eanna cry
I've seen some truly awful player and guild names in ArcheAge recently. A couple of them made me laugh, but most were expressly designed to be as offensive as possible. And given the fact that Trion's customer service is similarly awful (96 to 120 hour response time? really?), said names will probably stick around for a while even if people bother to report them.

And that brings us to today's Daily Grind question. Do you report names, or do you just ignore them and go about your in-game business?

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!

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