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Culture

Lord of the Rings Online fans clean up old models

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, News Items, Free-to-Play, Subscription

We don't look that old, do we?  Like... medium-old.  Distinguished.
Lord of the Rings Online has been running for quite a while, and while it's not an ugly game its graphics are getting a bit long in the tooth. That's no one's fault, really, just the march of time making itself known. One fan has taken up the challenge of seeing what can be done with a bit of adjustment and retexturing, and the results are available on Reddit for fans to admire.

The "new" models all have the same technical specifications as the models currently in the game, but have simply been adjusted and had their textures improved. Currently five of the models have been done -- male and female elves, male and female hobbits, and female humans. You can browse through to see how the updated geometry looks, although there's no way to put these models in the game at the moment.

[Thanks to Emilia for the tip!]

The Daily Grind: Which ArcheAge Firran do you prefer?

Betas, Fantasy, Culture, The Daily Grind, Races, ArcheAge, Sandbox

I've been poking about in ArcheAge recently, but it's nothing too serious until Trion announces a launch date (or at the very least, a no-wipe date). I'm still trying to figure out a main, and all four races have something to recommend them. The Elves are probably my least favorite, followed by the humans. The Firran are slick, but to be frank I preferred them before they were westernized or whatever you call it.

What about you, Massively readers. Do you prefer ArcheAge's earlier feline folk or the new models?

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!

One Shots: [Epic Pants]

Screenshots, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, One Shots, The Secret World, Miscellaneous, WildStar, Firefall

firefall
If you've never truly appreciated a good pair of pants, then you've never been a video gamer who's had a character in severe want of some. Today, we're able to bring you a story that will make you tear up when you hear about one player who got what we've all wanted.

"After downloading the massive pre-launch Firefall update, I logged in to find that my Engineer looked different somehow: more self assured, more confident," reader Ralph the Wonder Llama wrote. "You see, all through beta my engineer had been getting by with just one 'pant.' While the other players used to run around looking all comfy in their full pair of pants, my poor Engineer had to make do wearing just one. But no more! No more sleepless nights wondering where her other pant had gone! No more Chosen snickering at her for showing up to battle half-dressed! My Engineer can finally hold her head high! She has... PANTS!"

Pass me a hankie, that was beautiful. To see the pants in their full-color glory, all you need to do is stop sobbing for a minute to click that button.

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The Daily Grind: Which IP(s) would you not want made into an MMO?

Sci-Fi, Culture, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Sandbox, Crowdfunding

I'm not sure what to make of this Seldon Crisis thing. It's inspired by Asimov, according to the announcement press release, but I'm having a hard time seeing how something like Foundation will translate, however loosely, to MMO gameplay.

Maybe it will and maybe it won't, or maybe the Asimov connection is tenuous and a marketing ploy for what's really the same old PvP game. We'll find out, I guess. It got me to thinking about other potential MMO IPs, though. We've asked before what IPs you'd like to see made into an MMO, so today let's turn that around. Which IPs would you not want to see made into an MMO? And why not?

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 the most challenging MMO you've played?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

tsw
I've played my fair share of challenging MMOs over the years. From obtuse interfaces to steep learning curves to tough-as-nails combat, the myth of MMOs being nonstop faceroll games has been disproven time and again. However, if I had to pick the single most challenging title, it would be The Secret World, hands-down.

Nothing about The Secret World comes easy. The combat has you struggling sometimes against standard mobs, the game's many systems are complex and non-intuitive, the story isn't spelled out for you, and some of the quests tax my brain far more than my reflexes. Don't get me wrong; I love TSW to its core, but it's stupid hard at times, so much so that it's kept me from seriously pursuing an alt.

What would you say is the most challenging MMO that you've ever played?

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: Emergency soccer practice

Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Humor, Ask Massively, Miscellaneous

Today's Ask Massively question comes to us from a reader named Chris, who has had it up to here with you quitters! Yes, you, guy who just AFKed out of Warsong Gulch!
After playing my fifth consecutive round of SMITE with an AFK player, I am fed up. AFKer, quitters, or whatever you want to call them -- they suck. Why is it unreasonable to expect gamers to commit to finishing a simple (even possibly enjoyable) 30-minute activity? Why can't they stay in their seat and just freakin' click some buttons? Leaving doesn't cost the quitter anything, but it certainly sucks for the team you leave short-handed. If this were a little league baseball game, we wouldn't say, "It's just a game, so you go ahead and eat pizza with your buddies instead of playing with us." And why can't game companies find a way to make this problem go away? Reporting systems are just a small step away from absolutely useless!

I know that real-world stuff happens. The doorbell rings, the power goes out, or the kids set the kitchen on fire. But AFK rates seem way too high for just that. Gamers seem to conveniently forget what it really means to finish what they started. And if you can't do it for a simple game, how in the hell will you do it when it is something truly hard?
Unfortunately, I know this problem well. In my guild, we call it "emergency soccer practice," an actual reason someone once gave us for quitting a dungeon group.

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The Daily Grind: Are MMO mods and emulators on their way out?

Business Models, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Legal, Miscellaneous

E&B
We don't talk about emulators on Massively often because we're forbidden to encourage illegal activities or link or name specific emulators save those rare few publicly sanctioned by studios (so please don't). In fact, we've written before that emulators are a frustrating topic for many of our writers since gamers pour boatloads of creativity and technical skill into both legal and illegal emulators for games dead and alive, creativity that we can't write about even when we'd like to.

I can't be the only one who's wondered whether legit modders and underworld emulator coders are abandoning their craft in favor of more legal ventures, however. There might be more sunsetted MMOs, moddable UIs, and calls for "classic" game versions than ever, but the rise of low-risk crowdfunding, easy Steam greenlighting, and modular multiplayer titles that encourage customization makes me suspect that people who once modded shady MMO emulators or built interfaces for the masses are being lured away to work on something more legitimate or profitable or resume-worthy.

What do you think? Are emulators and modding going out of fashion? (Please don't link to anything illegal!)

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: Do you comment on headlines before you read articles?

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind

I'm not a Twitter fan. I never use it outside of work, and the time I spend manning the Massively Twitter feed is one of the least enjoyable portions of my workday. This is due mostly to the large numbers of people who read our headlines via Twitter and then proceed to comment or tweet back without reading the article. I know; it's a game of trolls and the winner gets to feel like a special snarkanaut for cramming his invaluable insight into 140 characters or less and hopefully provoking some sort of reaction. But like all casual games, it gets tiresome rather quickly.

Ultimately, we, like most writers on the internet, design headlines specifically to entice reading, not to sum up a post in 10 words. How about you, Massively readers? 'Fess up: Do you comment on headlines before you read articles, either on Twitter or elsewhere?

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!

Carbine Studios explains WildStar housing prices for music

Sci-Fi, Culture, Patches, News Items, WildStar, Housing, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Because this deserves a stirring march.
If you'd like to change the music on your housing plot in WildStar, you'll be able to do so with the next major update. But it's going to cost you a pretty penny. Players have been a little upset about this for understandable reason, so Social Systems Lead Victoria Dollbaum took to the forums to explain why the prices for this feature -- as well as wallpaper options, atmosphere, and similar points -- were being set so high.

Dollbaum explains that rather than simple changes, these purchases unlock the feature forever, rather than incurring another cost each time you decide to change. While the current system is less expensive, it also requires you to buy changes to wallpaper, sky, and so forth every time you change; with the new system, once you've bought it once, you'll never have to do so again. It doesn't fully ameliorate the issue, but understanding the reason might make it a bit more palatable.

EVE Online lottery site SOMER Blink shutting down [Updated]

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Culture, News Items, Sandbox, Subscription

Spin the wheel, but you will no longer win.
Fans of popular EVE Online lottery site SOMER Blink received some bad news yesterday. After four years of operation, the site is going inactive, with a shutdown that its front page calls a temporary and perhaps permanent hiatus. All players with prizes waiting will be able to claim those prizes, and all ISK in the system will be returned to players over the next several months, starting with those players who had over 5 million ISK in their accounts.

What led to this shutdown? The site administrators claim that CCP created a toxic environment and reversed previous statements without warning, resulting in a situation which made the site no longer enjoyable to work with. CCP has issued its own statement, expressing regret at the loss of a community site while stating that the promotion that caused the controversy "was not representative of the original proposal that was brought to CCP." The community team will provide further information soon, although there will be no interference in the refund process.

[Thank to Dab for the tip!]

[Update: CCP has today commented in detail on the situation. We've included CCP Falcon's full statement below.]

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The Daily Grind: What do you buy in MMOs?

Culture, Economy, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

neverwinter
Every so often I like to be nosy and pry into your personal finances. Wow, you blow through a lot of Candy Crush microtransactions, don't you? And your Pez eBay purchases have gotten out of control.

But let's just pretend that I don't have unparalleled access to your checking account and ask you to share what you buy in MMOs with real money. Looking back, probably my biggest purchases from the past six months were a subscription to WildStar, various cosmetic outfits and minipets in Guild Wars 2, the new mission packs in The Secret World, and a ghost companion in Neverwinter.

What do you buy?

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: A dozen MMO podcasts you should check out

Culture, Global Chat, Miscellaneous

global chat
Quite a few MMO bloggers that I know wear more than one hat. Some are book reviewers, some do livestreams, some have regular YouTube shows, one deluded guy has a Pinterest board, and several host podcasts. In fact, I've seen several bloggers develop friendships by deciding to do a show together.

In this week's edition of Global Chat, I thought we'd take a break from sharing interesting MMO blog posts to pointing you toward a dozen excellent MMO podcasts that I heartily endorse. Most of them fall in the category of "general MMO" discussion, although a few hew to a specific title. It's often a hoot when you get two or more opinionated and informative podcasters together, so if you're looking to fill up your MP3 player (in addition to the Pulitzer Prize-nominated Massively Speaking show, of course), I've got just the 12 things for you!

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The Daily Grind: Do you make use of mule characters?

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

If you go to any bank in World of Warcraft, you're going to see two different kinds of characters: actual players bedecked in fine combat gear... and level 1 bank mules with cute names and even cuter guild tags. These characters are often seen as worse than alts; they're not merely alternatives to someone's main character but characters who exist solely to hold extra gear or sell items on an auction hall, usually circumventing the intended inventory limits system. In short, they're real characters' pack mules.

In some games, especially early sandboxes, such mules were loaded down with tradeskills to allow a single player to craft items for his real character, allowing him to circumvent intended character interdependency too and seriously impacting player-driven economies.

Do you make use of mules or bank alts in your MMO of choice? Or has your MMO found a clever way to make muling unnecessary?

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!

Riot Games starting programs to help support retired e-sports players

Fantasy, Culture, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, MOBA, League of Legends

Some day you could be appearing in a mattress commercial as a former player of League of Legends, and at that point it's time to just clock out of the future of the species because it no longer makes much sense.
So what do you do when you're too old to play e-sports on a professional level? Do you accept that you had a good run being treated like a rock star for playing a lot of games and move on with your life? Heck no. You need to start worrying about leveraging your brand and your media training. That's the sort of material covered by a new program headed by Riot Games, guiding professional League of Legends players on the path from the start of their career to their expected retirement at around age 27.

The accepted retirement age for professional players is due to a decrease in fine motor control and reflexes, which means that as in physical sports, it's impossible to continue playing as you get older. While the symposia Riot is offering don't yet go into detail about what players can do after playing, they are meant to help keep professionals in the spotlight and support them when they can no longer keep up with the events. It's useful training for professional e-sports players looking to move through their career and have some direction for after the game.

Players allegedly negotiating with NCsoft to buy City of Heroes

Super-hero, City of Heroes, Culture, MMO Industry

city of heroes
Instead of spending gobs of volunteer development time and money on City of Heroes knock-offs, wouldn't it be better to simply acquire the real deal? That's the thought behind a fan effort to purchase the rights to the superhero MMO from NCsoft, while proving to the publisher that the team has the talent and capability to handle the property.

According to a poster named Ironwolf on the Titan Network message boards, progress is being made on this front. Ironwolf wrote the following on August 13th: "I did contact the team yesterday and got this reply back: Things are moving along. We should have things worth showing fairly soon, made a great leap forward yesterday."

The efforts to purchase City of Heroes started in early March, according to a timeline on the same thread. On March 12th, Ironwolf noted, "Got letter back from [former NCsoft executive] Chris Chung -- it showed that is WAS possible to buy the game." On April 5th, he wrote that the general range of the price is "very doable."

[Thanks to Duane for the tip!]

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