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Tamriel Infinium: Seriously, you should craft in Elder Scrolls Online

Fantasy, News Items, Opinion, Mac, Guides, Crafting, The Elder Scrolls Online, MMORPG, Tamriel Infinium

Tamriel Infinium: Seriously, you should craft in Elder Scrolls Online
I've come to the conclusion that Elder Scrolls Online is not a game you want run through quickly. If you fly past each town just running from quest marker to quest marker, you'll miss some of the most important things the game has to offer and burn-out comes that much faster. In the first day, we had a player reach max level in less than 18 hours. Of course, some players cry "exploit," but for me, that's not really the point. I would feel I was missing something if I rushed to the end. And because I didn't rush to the end, I can try out some parts of Elder Scrolls Online that I would not even think about trying in any other MMO, like crafting.

I have a long-standing angst toward crafting in MMOs. I played Ultima Online, but I didn't really craft in that game. I didn't start to understand the importance of crafting until I played Star Wars Galaxies. As we know, crafting was central to the success of that game. But after ZeniMax announced that an auction house would not exist in ESO, I wrote off crafting as unimportant and ultimately a waste of my time.

Then late in beta, a friend of mine crafted a set of armor for me. I was surprised. The armor she made was better than my looted armor. I had to find out more. I put this little primer together for those who want to get started making their own weapons and armor.

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Six things you will and will not find in The Elder Scrolls Online

Fantasy, Lore, New Titles, Mac, Races, Roleplaying, Guides, The Elder Scrolls Online, MMORPG

Four things you won't find and four things you will find in Elder Scrolls Online
The Elder Scrolls series launched in 1994 with Arena. The game was sold on floppy disks, for goodness' sake. It's been around for a long time. With that extended life comes convoluted and complicated lore. Even after I'd heard the time period for The Elder Scrolls Online, I had to research to find out whether certain pieces of lore would actually appear in the game. Of course, I'm not going to be able to tell you everything in this one article, but before ESO launches, I can hit some of the highlights.

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Tamriel Infinium: Five essential Elder Scrolls Online addons

Betas, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, New Titles, Opinion, Mac, The Elder Scrolls Online, Player-Generated Content, MMORPG, Tamriel Infinium

Tamriel Infinium: Five essential Elder Scrolls Online addons
The Elder Scrolls series is known for its mods and addons, and Elder Scrolls Online is no exception. Although we will likely not see the appearance modifications found in Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim, we will see UI addons that help with grouping, dungeon crawling, and even roleplaying. In fact, modding is so essential to the Elder Scrolls franchise that Curse announced it was opening its own site featuring Elder Scrolls Online addons, and ZAM launched its ESO addons website a few weeks ago.

I've been keeping an eye on these addons as they begin to take off. As you would expect, initially the pickings were slim. However, over the last few weeks with the beta weekends, the ongoing beta, and the NDA drop, we have seen these addons grow exponentially to the point that I think some of these modifications are required to properly enjoy the game.

Today, I will list some of the addons that I think are necessary before you even start playing the Elder Scrolls Online. Although modders Wykkyd and WarLegend lead the pack, there are plenty of lesser-known mods you might want to look at. Here are my top five mods for the Elder Scrolls Online.

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Marvel Heroes brings closed beta access for Mac players

Betas, Super-hero, Classes, Free-to-Play, Marvel Heroes, Mac

Mac Access
Gazillion Entertainment has released Game Update 2.31 for Marvel Heroes, and with it comes a special gift for Mac enthusiasts: closed beta access. Said access will be open to Mac players throughout the rest of the development process until the game's launch later this spring. An open beta is also planned.

Drakensang Online is now available for the Mac

Betas, Fantasy, Free-to-Play, Mac

Drakensang Online
Bigpoint has announced today that Drakensang Online is now available for the Mac.

"Our aim is to provide everybody easy access to Drakensang Online regardless of the operating system they use. We are very happy to invite Mac users everywhere to join our large community centered on the best 'hack and slay' gameplay available, with truly outstanding graphics and an epic story. We believe that this will enrich the Mac MMO space significantly," says Jürgen Frerichs, Associate Producer of Drakensang Online.

This move now brings Bigpoint's entire game library to for the Mac. You can download the Apple OS X beta client for Drakensang Online on the game's official site.

[Source: Bigpoint press release]

Tamriel Infinium: An Elder Scrolls Online community connection

Fantasy, Culture, Lore, New Titles, Opinion, Consoles, Mac, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription, MMORPG, Tamriel Infinium

Tamriel Infinium: An Elder Scrolls Online Community Connection
The primary reason I play the MMOs I play stems from the people I play with and the community as a whole. The Elder Scrolls, being a well-established intellectual property, already has a well-established community. MMO players, like many of you who read Massively, have their own culture and community as well. With the Elder Scrolls Online, we see a melding of these two communities, but not necessarily in the same places. Some sites tend to be MMO-focused, as I try to be in this column; others focus on the Elder Scrolls.

I've mentioned Tamriel Foundry from time to time. This site started in August last year as a theory-crafting and mechanics site for ESO. But it's blossomed into a large community that focuses on many parts of the ESO landscape, from lore and classes to guilds and armoring. Although founder Andrew "Atropos" Clayton and his team have been writing articles for well over a year now, the recent articles have touched on some solid mechanics and gameplay issues. But given the growth and nature of the community there, the team has branched out to cover more than just the mechanics of the game and has covered a bit of lore as well.

Let me highlight a few of my favorite bits, and then we will tackle a statement from a Massively community member.

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Sharks, skulls, and ships: One year of Pirate101

Fantasy, Expansions, PvP, PvE, Free-to-Play, Mac, Kids, Wizard101, Family, Anniversaries, Pirate101, MMORPG

Pirate101
Pirate101 is a strange beast. It is a family-friendly, free-to-play, colorful MMO with silly characters, simple design, and quirky environments. Adventuring in Pirate101 sometimes demands that you investigate the secrets of a city that literally sits on top of a flying whale or that you and your friends (a fencing crab, perhaps, or a sharpshooting fox) leap onto a flaming, flying pirate ship in order to punch sharks in the face and steal their treasure.

Hidden underneath the silliness, however, is a relatively deep turn-based strategy game designed to engage younger gamers while ensuring their adult counterparts have a good time. KingsIsle Entertainment isn't in the business of making kids games; instead, the studio strives to create titles that kids and parents can play together. The success of Pirate101 in its first year demonstrates that KingsIsle might just be on to something.

Let's take a little peek back on the last 12 months of Pirate101 to examine its major milestones.

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Tamriel Infinium: The one where we talk about the Elder Scrolls Online's payment model

Fantasy, Business Models, MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, Consoles, Mac, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription, MMORPG, Tamriel Infinium

Tamriel Infinium The one where I talk about ESO's payment model
It's difficult to watch another beloved game developer make the same mistakes a previous beloved game developer did. I cannot express the depth of my sincere disappointment in the subscription payment model announcement coming from ZeniMax this week. I'm interested in seeing games succeed, but I'm especially interested in seeing The Elder Scrolls Online succeed, not just because I'm doing a column on the game but because the franchise is wonderful and the fans deserve an amazing online experience in the world of Tamriel.

But I was floored when the ESO team announced it will be a subscription-based game.

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Not So Massively: Path of Exile's Twitch integration, Prime World's open beta, and Elite's IPO

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Video, Business Models, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, Interviews, MMO Industry, New Titles, Patches, PvP, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Mac, MMOFPS, MMORTS, Dev Diaries, Not So Massively, Sandbox, MOBA, League of Legends, Diablo III, Crowdfunding, Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, Path of Exile

Game title image
Star Citizen asked backers to stop reselling exclusive ship models with lifetime insurance via the forum and warned buyers that these purchases are at their own risk. Chris Roberts also removed personal meeting options from several high-price pledge tiers due to his time being stretched very thin, but he took the time out to chat with Massively's Jef Reahard on plans for the game's future. Meanwhile, David Braben defended his company's recent £10 million public share release and assured fans of Elite: Dangerous that he retains full creative control over the title.

Diablo III developer Wyatt Cheng revealed on the game's forums that a sizeable nerf may be incoming to lifesteal, life on hit, and life regeneration as part of an ongoing effort to reduce the spikiness of incoming damage. Path of Exile embraced its livestreaming popularity with the release of full in-game Twitch integration that includes Twitch chat in game chat. Massively sat down with Firefall developer Red 5 Studios this week to discuss its open beta and fan concerns on keeping pay-to-win items out of the cash shop.

League of Legends gave players a second chance to transfer to the new Russian server for free and introduced a great new change to Baron coming in the next patch. Dota 2 prepared for its $2.6 million US world championship tournament with new features added to the tournament's digital compendium. Heroes of Newerth released a new devblog on upcoming Patch 3.2 and its plans to completely revamp underused Djinn hero Saloman. Russian MOBA Prime World announced that its western open beta will kick off this week on July 26th. And after rebranding the game as a MOBA, End of Nations' developers argued that the game hasn't actually changed much at all.

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Tamriel Infinium: Three pieces of 'advice' now that you're in ESO beta

Betas, Fantasy, Classes, Game Mechanics, New Titles, PvE, Opinion, Consoles, Mac, The Elder Scrolls Online, MMORPG, Tamriel Infinium

Tamriel Infinium Three pieces of 'advice' now that you're in TESO beta, yeah that's it
When I started this piece, I wanted a good strong Elder Scrolls oath or expletive to start us out, so of course, I jumped to the Imperial Library to find a good one. By the time I'd finished looking and being distracted by the incredible lore surrounding these phrases, by the dragon's teeth, I had completely forgotten why I'd wanted to look up the oath in the first place because this week's Tamriel Infinium isn't even about oaths. It's about beta testing.

Apparently, ZeniMax should not give any more beta invites to people with Twitter accounts because they cannot keep a secret. Many players reveled in the fact that they are better than everyone else because they received a special invite to The Elder Scrolls Online closed beta for this weekend. I figured I'd help those special few out by giving them some "advice" on how to make a good impression on the developers while in closed beta. The first one they have already done: announce to the world at large that they have been invited to secret beta test. To get extra points, include your full name and IP address so that it's easier for the ZeniMax community team to find you and "thank" you personally.

I've got three more pieces of advice to give, and I want to know why the rest of you deserve to be in beta. Perhaps, I can use your advice to help me get in. Bogfire! My own tactics aren't working for me yet.

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Paladin and Warrior go mano-a-mano in new Hearthstone video

Video, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Mac

Screenshot -- Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Blizzard's online World of Warcraft CCG, Hearthstone, is supposed to be heading into beta sometime soon™. But to hold fans over until then, the studio has released a new video featuring a duel between the Warrior and Paladin classes, complete with play-by-play commentary.

Whether you're looking to wrap your head around the basic rules of the game or trying to pick up on some more advanced strategies to get a leg-up on the competition, this video has something for you. So what are you waiting for? Click on past the cut for the full video; it's time to d-d-d-d-duel! Or something like that, anyway.

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PAX 2013: Hands-on with Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

World of Warcraft, Betas, Business Models, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, Previews, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Trading Card Games, Mac, Hands-On (Massively's), First Impressions, Events (Massively's Coverage), Miscellaneous

Screenshot -- Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a brand-spankin'-new online collectible card game from Blizzard, announced just yesterday here at PAX East 2013. And since I love you guys soooo much, I took the time to stand in line to take a look for myself. It certainly had nothing to do with the fact that I flock to CCGs like a moth to flame. No sirree.

Of course, this isn't your traditional MMO, so it's difficult to write a traditional review, especially considering I was able to play only a single match (which I won by a landslide, thank you very much), so instead I'm just going to give y'all a rundown of how the game plays and let you draw your own conclusions. Shuffle your cards, cut your decks, and read on for the skinny on Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft.

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Not So Massively: Diablo III's console constroversy and Wrath of Heroes' shutdown

Betas, Sci-Fi, Video, Business Models, Economy, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, New Titles, Patches, PvP, Endgame, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Mac, Dev Diaries, Not So Massively, Sandbox, MOBA, League of Legends, Diablo III, Firefall

Not So Massively title image
It's been a huge week for MOBAs, with the release of several new characters, a ton of balance changes, and even a game closing down for good. League of Legends announced that it will start officially supporting Mac and released a new Smart Ping system designed to help players work together as a team despite language barriers. SMITE showed off its new crowd-controlling water god, Poseidon, and console MOBA Guardians of Middle-Earth released a new Survival game mode DLC.

We heard the unfortunate news that Wrath of Heroes will be closing its doors at the end of the month, and it's not the only game going out of business. Online FPS Bullet Run, formerly known as Hedone, is due to shut down on Friday, March 8th, in a big final event. It's not all doom and gloom, though, as Dota 2 has hit another impressive milestone, passing 300,000 peak concurrent players. The first season of Heroes of Newerth's HoN Tour league is soon to draw to a close, and developers are planning a huge balance patch before the next season kicks off.

Blizzard enraged Diablo III fans this week with the announcement that the console version will not feature the controversial always-online DRM and can be played offline. Path of Exile detailed its next open beta patch, which is due to introduce a new fire skill, a 3v3 dueling arena, and significant Duelist class buffs. Online FPS Firefall produced a new trailer this week showing off its flight gameplay amidst criticism from fans over its lack of beta content. Finally, sci-fi sandbox Star Citizen gave fans a look behind the curtain of game development in its biggest development update video yet.

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Rise and Shiny: Deepworld

Screenshots, Trailers, Video, Launches, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Mobile, Mac, Casual, Rise and Shiny, Sandbox, Crafting

Deepworld screenshot
When I first got my hands on Deepworld, a new iOS sandbox MMO by Bytebin, I knew I was holding something unique. Sure, it took some cues from Minecraft and came from one of my least favorite schools of design -- steampunk -- but it was being built by a young team of indie developers who simply wanted to make a world that was free-form, open to a player's creativity, and multi-platform. After spending some time with the game, I'd say that they have mostly succeeded.

There are some issues with the game, and I have played enough indie titles to know how rough games can be when launch rolls around. So far, however, the issues are relatively minor and could be easily fixed.

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Storyboard: A second descent into madness

Opinion, Mac, Roleplaying, Storyboard

ROT13
I had a lot of stuff to talk about on the subject of madness. As it happens, I had so much to talk about that I elected to split it up into two columns instead of writing one monster, scratching and crawling about in a lone column's space. And as I sat down to write this column, I realized that I have an entire column's worth of things to say about a single facet of madness: acting mad.

Herein we come to the meat of what bothers me about madness as most players use it: It winds up getting used as something wacky. It's an excuse to do things that are wild and unpredictable because your character is so crazy. That bothers me because there's so much to be done with madness and so many ways to make it an interesting character trait. It's not something for casual or shallow use.

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