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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

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

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!

EVE Evolved: Features coming in Oceanus and beyond

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Culture, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, Previews, PvP, Endgame, News Items, PvE, EVE Evolved, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Crafting, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Evolved title image
It's been almost four months since EVE Online switched from publishing two major expansions per year to releasing ten smaller updates, and so far it looks like the new schedule has been a huge success. Rather than forcing the industry overhaul out the door in Kronos before it was ready, CCP was able to push it forward to the Crius release window seven weeks later and the extra development time meant the feature launched in a very polished state. It may be too early to tell if the new schedule's success can be seen in the concurrent player graph for Tranquility, but the numbers have remained steady for the past few months in what is typically the annual low-point for player activity.

The Oceanus update is scheduled to go live in just two day's time, adding several graphical upgrades, more difficult burner missions, an experimental new notification feature, and other small improvements. The scale of the update seems to be on par with the recent Hyperion release, consisting of mostly small features and minor iterations on gameplay. While we're told that CCP is still working on large projects behind the scenes, the new release schedule means they won't be rushed out the door and so we may not see them for some time.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I summarise everything we know about Tuesday's Oceanus update, and take a look at what's to come in further releases.

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One Shots: Because who wouldn't want a 12-story-tall killing machine?

Screenshots, Culture, One Shots, RIFT, Vindictus, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge, WildStar

What does this sight make you think of? Voltron? Pacific Rim? A convenient excuse to wet yourself in front of your fellow soldiers? Thank goodness it's not fully online and operational, or else we'd be facing down a mechanical killing machine that would take a million-person raid to bring down.

"I call this one 'You're Gonna Need a Bigger Bot'," reader Bunglerm00se submitted. "Yes, that is a several-stories-high killer robot, and no, this one doesn't have that cute boy from Sons of Anarchy calling the shots in its brainpan. I was already pre-disposed to liking WildStar, but this is one of the visuals that sealed the deal."

Wait... am I the only one who piddled in my bloomers? C'mon, guys, I thought we were in this together!

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The Daily Grind: How many button presses should it take to kill a mob?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

MJ and I were talking while playing The Secret World the other day about the game's legendary fight length. Well, at least I consider fights in this MMO as taking longer than normal. I told her that generally if a standard, level-even mob isn't dead by a rotation-and-a-half of my skills, or about eight button presses, then it begins to irk me.

Now it definitely depends on the mob strength and situation, but I don't want to be pounding 30 keys and sitting there for two minutes before a critter drops. However, saying that got me wondering what you all consider as a normal, acceptable number of button presses (or skills used) per fight. What do you think?

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!

WoW's final Lords of War video is not about an Orc

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Video, Culture, Lore, News Items, Subscription

The fifth and final entry in World of Warcraft's Lords of War video series has arrived, and if you're tired of Orclords of Orcnor, then rejoice because this one is about a Draenei: Vindicator Maraad, the narrator of the series. On the downside, Maraad's backstory is still mostly about Orcs; he's Garona Halforcen's uncle, for example. On the upside, his backstory also involves a lot of killing of Orcs. So there's that.

The full video is below.

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Museum hopes to resurrect Habitat, 'world's first MMO'

Culture, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, Miscellaneous

So here's a bizarre little piece of MMO news for your Friday morning: This weekend, with the help of Kixeye and Fujitsu, a volunteer-driven, public museum in Oakland, California, hopes to relaunch an antique Lucasfilm game called Habitat, which it's calling the world's first massively multiplayer online game (that part is probably debatable, but let's hear them out).
"The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment (The MADE) will be spending Sunday, September 28th, attempting to resurrect the world's first massively multiplayer online game, Habitat. The project seeks to relaunch the Habitat server on original Stratus Technologies hardware from 1989, and to allow users on the Internet to connect to the game server for free using a Commodore 64 emulator. The MADE is the first videogame museum to attempt such a relaunch. In fact, there has never been an attempt to relaunch a 28 year old, dead MMO before, primarily because MMO's are mostly a phenomenon that has existed only over the last 15 years."
According to Wikipedia's curators, Habitat was created in 1985 as the "first attempt at a large-scale commercial virtual community that was graphically based" and is "considered a forerunner of the modern MMORPGs." MADE even claims the game invented the term "Avatar" for use in online games. The 1989-era server hardware it'll run on can today support 10,000 users, says the museum.

Massively's very own Game Archaeologist, Justin Olivetti, investigated Habitat's history in a two-part series in 2012.
The Game Archaeologist moves into Lucasfilm's Habitat: Part 1
The Game Archaeologist moves into Lucasfilm's Habitat: Part 2

The Daily Grind: Do you follow MMOs because of their designers?

Business Models, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

An interesting Kill Ten Rats article a few weeks ago pondered the idea that gamers purchase games because those games are "by the makers of" some other game -- to their doom. Much ado, for example, was made over WildStar's dev team because of its members' work on World of Warcraft, and names like Jake Song, Brad McQuaid, and Mark Jacobs carry a lot of weight when attached to a new MMO title. Yet star power doesn't necessarily make for a good or successful game, especially if that famous designer wasn't directly responsible for whatever it was that made an old game great. Akaneiro is still a mess with or without American McGee's tag.

What about you? Do you buy MMOs based on the past work of individual developers?

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: Remembering our first MMOs

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Hands-On, First Impressions, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

This week, my very first MMO, Ultima Online, turns 17 years old in what can only be an intentional effort to make classic MMO gamers feel very, very old indeed. I've been thinking a lot about the game and returned to it recently to scope it out, so for today's Think Tank, I polled the Massively writers about their own "first MMOs," their first memories of the genre, and whether their firsts have survived the test of time.

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Global Agenda 2's closed beta expected 'before the end of the year if all goes well'

Betas, Sci-Fi, Classes, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, MMOFPS, Global Agenda

When last we heard about Global Agenda 2, we learned the promised sequel to 2010's Global Agenda was in line behind profitable MOBA SMITE for attention, and that announcement was made while its developers were admitting Tribes: Ascend was unlikely to ever get more love. But Hi-Rez Studios CEO Erez Goren broke radio silence on GA2 with a slew of spoilers on Reddit yesterday (apparently before he was shadowbanned for "vote manipulation" by angry Tribes players). The highlights?
  • It is in fact a "spiritual" successor to GA.
  • It'll have objective-based, 5v5 PvP with stats leveling during matches. E-sports will be supported, as will spectator mode.
  • Viewpoint is first- and third-person. "Shooting is from first person mostly."
  • There are "no strict classes." There is "no dedicated healer class." You just "select the way you want to play and join the queue."
  • A "dome city area" might serve as a gathering point for players.
  • He rattles off a whole list of weapons and off-hand items.
Clever Redditors surmise that the game might actually be named Global Assault. Closed beta is expected "before the end of the year if all goes well."

[With many thanks to Sorenthaz for the great tip!]

Guild Wars 2 promotes its World Tournament Series Championships, goes on sale

Fantasy, Business Models, Culture, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, PvP, News Items, Guild Wars 2, Livestream, Buy-to-Play

Earlier this morning, ArenaNet delivered its 2014 Guild Wars 2 World Tournament Series Championships roadmap from London's Eurogamer Expo, where the studio is livestreaming its latest e-sports endeavor. ANet is calling the tourney the game's "first truly international competition" as it pulls players from three continents; opening rounds of qualifiers have already concluded. The studio explains,
"Each event will pit four teams in a fight to become the world's best Guild Wars 2 PvP players, with the top two teams from the host region facing off against two visiting teams. The debut event is scheduled for December 4-5 in Beijing, where players will vie for a $50,000 (USD) prize pool and the title of first-ever Guild Wars 2 WTS Champion."
As promised Tuesday, the buy-to-play MMO's free trial also began this morning at 3 a.m. EDT; it's active for a week until the wee hours of October 2nd. Box prices (specifically, Digital Heroic Editions and Digital Deluxe Editions through the GW2 storefront) have also been halved throughout the promotion.

[Source: Anet press release]

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Leaderboard: Class choices vs. personality types

Polls, Classes, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, Leaderboard

A recent Massively Speaking podcast listener wrote to us wondering whether personality types (and stereotypes) have in-game ramifications when it comes to class selection. Is it true that extroverts gravitate toward leadership roles in a party and that introverts prefer to support a team from the sidelines, or is that all just a bunch of hokum?

Today's Leaderboard straw poll asks you about both your personality type and preferred class to see whether there's a compelling connection. Read on to vote!

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