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The Mog Log: Final Fantasy XIV's latest Live Letter

Fantasy, Patches, Endgame, Opinion, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, The Mog Log, Subscription

Can't get there from here, apparently.
As of this writing, the Letter from the Producer LIVE took place yesterday, and that means we have a whole bunch of Final Fantasy XIV news to discuss! It's a happy time for people like me, because it's at least a couple weeks of very chewable information to discuss. And at just the right time, too, we were in the middle of a serious drought there.

Not that all of the information is good, mind you. Every time I think about Atma my hands instinctively ball into fists.

Still, there's stuff to chat about, there's good stuff in with the bad, and perhaps most importantly there's enough to fuel some speculation and some off-the-cuff reaction before we dive into the meat of E3 and we learn even more about the future of the game. So let's get right into it, starting with the bit of news that I already foreshadowed in the intro.

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WoW Archivist: Tier 0.5, the epic conclusion

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Lore, Endgame, PvE, Dungeons, WoW Archivist

WoW Archivist is a biweekly column by WoW Insider's Scott Andrews, who explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold? It first appeared on our sister site on May 21st and is included here by permission.

Last time on WoW Archivist, we reviewed the first half of the Tier 0.5 quest line, including the controversial 45-minute Baron run in Stratholme. As we left off, the ghost of Anthion Harmon had asked us to assemble the pieces of Valthalak's medallion. He sent you into Blackrock Depths with an enchanted banner to challenge the gladiator Theldren.

Laying down the law

The next step required a 5-player group to enter the Ring of Law inside Blackrock Depths. As you were being sentenced, you summoned the Banner of Provocation. Theldren and his team stepped in instead of the usual BRD bosses. Now you were in for a scrap, and it was a wildly different fight that any other in classic WoW.

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The Daily Grind: What's the ideal level cap for an MMO?

Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Endgame, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

Anarchy Online
Massively commenters recently debated whether a game without levels is the same as a game without a leveling cap thanks to Black Desert's proposed character advancement system, an increasingly common lateral advancement system that allows players to build their characters more sideways than up. But outside of such sandboxes, most themepark games stake their mechanics on levels, for good or bad.

And that got me thinking about the ideal level cap for an MMO. Even if two games require roughly the same amount of time to cap, a bigger number can seem so much more intimidating. Asheron's Call's 150 levels and Anarchy Online's 205 320 always seemed unreachable to me, and wasn't it cute back when World of Warcraft expected but 60 levels out of you?

What do you think -- what's the ideal level cap for an MMO with levels?

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!

World of Warcraft releases new class primer videos

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Video, Endgame, News Items, Guides, Subscription

I think a threshold is being crossed here, but I'm not sure what.
So you've bought your World of Warcraft expansion and you boosted a character to the level cap. That's good. You also have no idea how to play that class at level 90, which is bad. A new series of videos from Blizzard is designed to address that problem, however, offering a quick two-minute guide to how to play each of the classes at level 90 as a selected DPS spec and walking you through the basic play patterns.

Yes, all of these guides are for DPS; you'll find no detailed tanking walkthroughs here. And each guide just picks a particular spec, so if you were hoping for insight into playing an Enhancement Shaman, you're out of luck. But if you've boosted a character and totally can't figure out what you're supposed to be doing now, it's a good crash course on playing well enough to fake it in LFR.

Carbine spotlights WildStar's PvE raid design

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Endgame, News Items, PvE, WildStar, Dungeons, MMORPG

WildStar's raid team has just completed a Reddit ask-me-anything about -- you guessed it -- raids in the upcoming sci-fantasy themepark. Lead Dungeon and Raid Designer Brett Scheinert (aka CRB_Timetravel) was joined by an array of Carbine Studios developers to answer player questions about the large PvE encounters in the elder game. Here are a few highlights:
  • Which encounter will "cause the most tears"? That'd be Avatus, the last boss of Datascape, Scheinert says, but the elemental pairs in Datascape will be rough too. "Because [they] change every week (and there are 9 possibilities, each of which is almost an entirely new encounter), guilds will spend an entire week reaching then learning a pairing... then the instance will reset and they'll be back to ground zero."
  • At least at launch, raid tools will be "in the hands of the addon developers."
  • "Voice chat definitely helps but is not necessary."
  • Additional post-launch raid content is "in development," so raid tiers will be flexible.
  • The team won't "admit defeat that easily" should 40-man raids prove unpopular.
  • Enrage timers "just feel lame," so the devs are using them sparingly.
  • Casual players won't be able to extend lockout timers at launch.
  • Carbine is still sorting out how latency will affect Oceanic players in raids.
There's plenty more to consume over on Reddit!

City of Steam teases patch 2.6 improvements

Fantasy, Patches, Previews, Endgame, News Items, Free-to-Play, Browser, City of Steam, Steampunk

How pimp do you think my ride is?  Be honest!
While its initial launch had some definite issues, City of Steam seems to be doing quite well for itself with new servers, new platforms, and a new patch on the way. That new patch shows off some of its new features in a recent development blog, starting with inter-server PvP between the top 20 players on each server. Yes, that means you'll need to muscle your way to the head of the pack in PvP before you get a shot at competing, but getting there means fantastic prizes.

Patch 2.6 will also bring with it the Tower of Peril, rewarding players for how far they can climb and generally challenging any high-level high-intensity players. There will also be numerous improvements to in-game text, bugs, and the like. If that sounds like just what you want to see, you can take a look at the blog post for a few more details and then jump in and start playing right from there.

WildStar unveils the details of raids

Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, Interviews, Endgame, News Items, WildStar, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Gather 39 of your closest friends, and... wait, do you seriously have 39 close friends?  I don't even understand how that's possible.
WildStar wants to have its raids be big. Big in size. Big in rewards. Big in engagement. Big in lots of ways, in short. The team has talked about them in passing elsewhere, most notably at PAX East 2014, but there still hasn't been a nice big info drop about raids that potential players could really sink their teeth into. Like the sort of reveal that accompanies a new DevSpeak video.

So guess what's past the cut? Go ahead, guess.

Very good, it's the raiding video (something you could have concluded from the headline, yes), but there's more besides. We had a chance to sit down and talk with Brett Scheinert, the dungeon & raid lead developer, regarding these high-end encounters and what will set WildStar apart from other titles offering a raiding endgame. And despite what those opening lines might have made you think, it's not just about size. (It's also Spinal Tap references. You can guess which ones.)

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Working As Intended: What Guild Wars 2 got wrong

Business Models, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Endgame, Guild Wars 2, Crafting, Housing, Working As Intended

Back in March, I spent an entire Working As Intended column discussing the game mechanics that Guild Wars 2 got right. But that's just one side of the story. In order to be completely fair to the game and to myself, I want to grump about the things it got wrong. Don't take this as utter condemnation for the MMO; we're most critical of the things we love precisely because we love and know them so well and want them to be so much more. And in spite of all the things I love about Guild Wars 2, it's far too often living in the shadow of its older sibling.

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The Nexus Telegraph: WildStar's pre-launch ups and downs

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

I'm going to be honest with you, I just found this shot cute and decided to put it here.
We're in the home stretch before WildStar's launch now. If you haven't pre-ordered, you should do so. For all intents and purposes, the launch game is what's being used in the weekend test sessions. All that's left is the actual gameplay, and if you're an RPer, hunting down the roleplaying community to see what's acknowledged as the unofficial community roleplaying server because beta servers certainly do not have those all-important RP tags.

What? I know what side of the bread my butter's on.

A bit of discussion with a friend the other night reminded me that I can't think of a single game over the past four and a half years that I really thought launched at the right time; either they launched a bit too early or a bit too late, at best. So today, with launch less than a month away, I'd like to talk about the things that make me most displeased about the game... and the bits that make me the most hopeful.

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Dark Age of Camelot plans New Frontiers tweaks, player polling

Fantasy, Historical, Dark Age of Camelot, Game Mechanics, PvP, Endgame, News Items, PvE, Community Q&A, Subscription, MMORPG

Broadsword Online continues its push to revitalize the veteran games it took over from EA earlier this year, including Dark Age of Camelot. The studio recently released yet another question-and-answer session with players, this time focusing on the new New Frontiers patch and ending with a soaring explanation of what makes the game so great after a dozen years. Some of the highlights:
  • There are plans to revamp PvE after the New Frontiers content is properly tweaked. First on the PvE list is the top 10% most rewarding and difficult encounters.
  • On the flipside, the devs agree there's too much PvE emphasis in the RvR Frontiers.
  • The team is still looking at incentives for keep, tower, and relic defense.
  • Shards will not be usable in housing zones.
  • Legendary weapon updates are still on the table.
Finally, there's a note that the game will ultimately benefit from in-game polling systems as opposed to relying on feedback from just the vocal minority of players. "You will be heard. Count on it," Broadsword promises.

EVE Fanfest 2014: EVE's Kronos expansion is an industrial revolution

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Economy, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, Previews, PvP, Endgame, News Items, PvE, Events (Massively's Coverage), Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Crafting, MMORPG

EVE Online title image
The EVE Online keynote presentation finished just a few hours ago at EVE Fanfest 2014, and it looks as if there are big plans for the year ahead. This summer will bring us the Kronos expansion, which is scheduled for June 3rd and aims to revolutionise every aspect of industrial activity in EVE Online in terms of both gameplay and accessibility. The economy has become quite stagnant over the past year as players have long since worked out all the most efficient ways to manufacture and trade, so CCP has planned its very own industrial revolution with a complete overhaul of industrial gameplay.

Kronos also marks another important milestone for CCP, as the company will be switching from releasing two major expansions per year to a more agile strategy of releasing 10 smaller updates each year. The Kronos release was originally planned as a full expansion before the changeover to a 10-release schedule, so it's as packed as a full expansion. In addition to a deluge of industry overhauls, we'll be getting a shiny new mining ship, major pirate faction ship revamps, an enhanced new player experience, and a cool new effect when players warp into or out of an area.

Read on for a breakdown of the EVE keynote presentation and to find out why CCP is moving away from its usual two expansions per year.

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World of Warcraft wraps up its raiding retrospective

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Previews, Endgame, News Items, Dungeons, Subscription

Hopefully you weren't too attached to Pandaria's model.
What does the future of raiding in World of Warcraft look like? It looks like Warlords of Draenor, obviously, but what does that entail? That's the focus of the final installment of a feature that's examined the past of raiding and now looks to the future. While the changes in raid sizes and raid modes have been known since the expansion was first announced, there are more alterations incoming that should shake up the way that players currently move through the game's raiding content.

The article explains that having a static group hitting the same content for quite some time stays engaging, while hitting a raid finder group is more or less the same each time. As a result, raid finder loots will be altered to lack set bonuses and have different art from the normal raids while also dropping more loot than other modes. Each raid difficulty will also have a separate lockout, while changes to Valor and the caps on same will diminish the importance of re-running old content that no one needs. Take a look at all of the changes in the new article.

World of Warcraft continues its raid retrospective

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Expansions, Endgame, News Items, Subscription

It's raid night every night.  Still.
The launch of Warlords of Draenor is going to shake up the raiding experience in World of Warcraft, and if raiding is what you like to do in the game, that's pretty important. But rather than just explain how raiding will be in the new expansion, Blizzard has opted to look past through the previous expansions and examine how revisions have affected the game over the years. Yesterday's blog covered launch through Wrath of the Lich King, while this entry focuses on Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria.

Cataclysm removed the difficulty gap between 10-person and 25-person raids, but the side effect was a pressure to produce smaller raid groups rather than grow to bigger groups. It also introduced the raid finder as a mechanic, encouraging more people to experience the content. Mists of Pandaria, on the other hand, suffered from bottlenecks that prevented non-raiding groups from making any progress, although flex raiding was deemed a better way to get groups in and playing. Take a look at the full article for more details on the ups and downs, with part 3 set to address the future of raiding in Warlords of Draenor.

Tamriel Infinium: Beta testing Elder Scrolls Online for consoles

Betas, Fantasy, Bugs, Launches, New Titles, Endgame, Opinion, Mac, Dungeons, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription, MMORPG, Tamriel Infinium

Tamriel Infinium: Beta testing Elder Scrolls Online for consoles
With so many fixes, changes, and new bugs, it's hard to keep up with everything that's going on in The Elder Scrolls Online in a biweekly column. So instead of trying to discuss every minute detail of ESO's progress towards perfection, I'd like to look at the bigger picture. Why are these things happening and to what end? And the core question is this: "Was this planned all along?"

Paid betas appear to be an unfortunate trend cropping up in MMOs as of late. And I know I'm going to sound like a hater, but I don't like to pay for beta. Yet being the idiot that I am, I still bought the $60 alpha for SOE's Landmark. I'm a sucker; I'll admit it. But that doesn't mean that I don't feel the shame that pours over me like gooey green slime -- a bucket for every dollar spent. Perhaps it's because I am not max level yet, but I'm starting to feel like a sucker when it comes to pre-ordering ESO. Don't get me wrong: I believe it's a great game. I just feel that it's not done, and I'm paying to participate in the console beta test.

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Neverwinter previews post-60 advancement plans

Fantasy, Patches, Previews, Endgame, News Items, Free-to-Play, Neverwinter

Riding on a bear is its own reward.
You've hit the level cap in Neverwinter. You are officially as hardcore as you can ever be, and that brings a smile to your face. But it also makes you kind of wistful. After all, there are still so many roaming bags of experience points vicious monsters to fight, and all of the experience from those is going to waste. But that's going to change when Module 3 comes out and all of your otherwise unnecessary XP turns into sweet, delicious piles of extra loot.

When Module 3 goes live, characters will continue accumulating experience as before when they hit level 60. Once they accumulate 250,000 XP, the character will be rewarded with a special pack that can contain extra Power Points, Enchants, account-bound XP Scrolls, and other useful goodies. The Power Points can only be used to add a total of 20 points to your character's Power Tree, but it still means that hitting 60 doesn't mean the end of your character growth. So go out, slay, and enjoy a little bit of extra potency as a result.

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