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The Daily Grind: Do server merges make you more or less worried about an MMO?

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

Server merges, megaservers, connected realms, server consolidations -- call them whatever you want; a server merge is a merge, and it means a game's population has shrunk and servers need to be shed. Usually, MMO gamers take that as a herald of doom and race to the forums and blogs to argue over the technicalities of who's going where, what stuff will be lost in the transfer, and who predicted something patently inevitable a year ago. Onlookers pronounce the game a failure.

But maybe that's the wrong atittude altogether. By the time most games merge servers, I'm usually heaving a sigh of relief. RIFT, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Star Wars Galaxies, EverQuest, even World of Warcraft -- all of these MMOs benefited enormously from their merges or faux-merges, in spite of the way merges look to people obsessed with schadenfreude. For players playing a game whose devs recognize a population problem and fix it while they still have the resources to do so, it's practically a game-saver, not a game-killer. When you're stuck on a dead server in a game that has just enough resources to keep going but not enough to merge, then the game is screwed.

What do you think: Do server merges make you more or less worried about an MMO?

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: Autumn is the season of MMO expansions

Business Models, Events (Real-World), Expansions, MMO Industry, Patches, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

SWTOR
Happy autumn! It's a season of MMO expansions. World of Warcraft, Star Wars: The Old Republic, RIFT, EverQuest II, Star Trek Online, and bunches more are all getting major updates or expansions in the next few months. Presumably, expansions aren't meant only to give existing players something to do; they're also meant to give old players reasons to come back. But do they work?

That's the question I asked Massively's writers in this week's Think Tank. Do we return for expansions? Do we avoid them? Do we even like them? Let's talk expansions.

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The Stream Team: Swordsman's Five Venoms

Fantasy, Historical, Video, PvE, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Hands-On, Livestream, The Stream Team, MMORPG, Swordsman

Swordsman
Swordsman is this month's Choose My Adventure game and Massively's Mike Foster is ready to spend his evening whipping bad guys and poisoning their friends with his Five Venoms character. Poll voters wanted to see the female-only martial arts school in action, so tonight's the night. Tune in at 7:00 p.m. EDT to check out Perfect World Entertainment's latest free-to-play juggernaut and to see if Mike can make any sense out of its Mandarin voice acting.

Game: Swordsman
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Wednesday, October 8th
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Massively Speaking Episode 316: A life of consequence

Podcasts, MMO Industry, News Items, Massively Meta, Massively Speaking, Miscellaneous

eqn
MMO worlds talk big about change and consequence but rarely deliver. Is this all set to change? On this week's podcast, the crew tackles the LEGO Minifigures Online stealth launch, an unfortunate expansion delay, surprising sales from an indie sandbox title, and a compelling reason to return to some of the earliest MMOs.

Get all of our opinions and analysis on the most important stories of the past week right here on Massively Speaking, the industry's leading MMO podcast. And if you have a comment, question, or topic for the podcasters, send an email to podcast@massively.com. We may just read your email on the air!

Get the podcast:
[RSS] Add Massively Speaking to your RSS aggregator.
[MP3] Download the MP3 directly.
[iTunes] Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
[Stitcher] Follow the podcast on Stitcher Radio.
Listen here on the page:



Read below the cut for the full show notes.

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The Daily Grind: Do you play on your MMO's public test server?

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Ultima Online, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Sandbox

Ultima Online
Even after they're officially launched, many MMOs still maintain public test servers where volunteers can help the devs test out upcoming content (or at least sneak a peek at it). I am not usually one of those players, but long ago I spent a lot of time on Ultima Online's test center. UO made it super easy to test by allowing players to boost their characters skills and giving them a bank full of resources. In fact, I knew players who loved the flexibility and lack of grind so much that they considered the test shard their home shard in spite of the wipes, and even today game-wide events are still held there so that people from all servers can attend.

Do you spend time on MMO test servers post-launch?

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!

MMO Week in Review: ArcheAge's two million

Massively Meta, Week in Review, Miscellaneous

At the end of every week, we round up the best and most popular news stories, exclusive features, and insightful columns published on Massively and then present them all in one convenient place. If you missed a big MMO or WoW Insider story last week, you've come to the right post.

This week, ArcheAge seemed glad to see its rocky launch in the rear-view mirror, boasting of two million registrations and 21 servers. Meanwhile, Trion nerfed chat for lowbies to counter chat spam and hinted that the Auroria continent, live in Korea already, will soon be en route to western players.

Read on for a look at the rest of this week's top MMO stories.

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WRUP: Registered users, shmegistered users

Massively Meta, Miscellaneous

ArcheAge
Welcome back to What Are You Playing, the game in which we tell you what we're playing this weekend and you tell us why the industry still seems to think people are fooled by "registered users" numbers in a free-to-play world.

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Betawatch: September 27 - October 3, 2014

Betas, MMO Industry, News Items, Massively Meta, Betawatch, Miscellaneous

RIFT
The formal launch of RIFT's Nightmare Tide expansion has been delayed by two weeks, so that means it'll be keeping us company here in Betawatch for two more weeks! What else is new in the world of MMO testing? The complete Betawatch roundup lies below.

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The Stream Team: Guild Wars 2's fire and ice

Fantasy, Video, PvE, Guild Wars 2, Massively Meta, Hands-On, Livestream, The Stream Team, MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

Guild Wars 2
Massively's Mike Foster has been having a grand old time with the recently revamped Guild Wars 2 starting experience and his brand-new Elementalist character, so he's keeping things rolling this week with more starter content and more centaur mass-murders. If you're curious about Guild Wars 2 or what's new with the updates, tonight's stream is the place to be.

Tune in at 7:00 p.m. EDT to catch the action or join the fun; Mike's always on the market for party members and will gladly accept any help you can offer.

Game: Guild Wars 2
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Friday, October 3rd, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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The Think Tank: How to save WildStar (if WildStar needs saving)

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Massively Meta, WildStar, The Think Tank, Subscription

WildStar
When I posed this week's Think Tank question -- what would you do to save WildStar -- to the Massively team, it sparked a heated discussion over whether the game even needs saving in the first place. Fair enough. It's possible to have a long run of bad news and not be in trouble. It's possible that players are just overreacting to Carbine's canceling Christmas. But justified or not, there's growing perception that the game isn't doing so well. I'll address that perception more tomorrow, but for this Think Tank, let's talk about what Carbine can do to fix it.

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The Stream Team: CMA Live with Swordsman

Fantasy, Historical, Video, New Titles, PvP, PvE, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Hands-On, Livestream, The Stream Team, MMORPG, Swordsman

Swordsman
Perfect World Entertainment's Swordsman has been officially outed as October's Choose My Adventure title, and Massively's Mike Foster is ready to jump in with his fists flying. Tune in at 7:00 p.m. to get an idea of how Swordsman sets up its story, what options the character creator offers new players, and what the game's action combat looks like in motion.

As an added bonus, there will definitely be at least one quest centered on drinking wine.

Game: Swordsman
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Thursday, October 2nd, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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The Stream Team: Dota 2's 6.82 madness

Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Hands-On, Livestream, MOBA, The Stream Team

Dota 2
The last few months in Dota 2 have come with a sense of stagnation. The professional and high-tier play meta, on display most prominently in this year's $11 million International championship, was in a rut. Something had to change before players grew bored or frustrated with facing the same three or four team strategies. Last week, Valve delivered an earthquake of a content patch, providing a ridiculously huge update that changed items, heroes, abilities, game modes, core mechanics, and even the map itself. For the next few months, pros and casuals alike must sift through the wreckage and try to re-optimize how they play.

Tune in tonight as Massively's Mike Foster takes one of Dota's newly-reworked heroes for a spin and tries to make sense of the post-6.82 carnage. The action begins at 7:00 p.m. EDT.

Game: Dota 2
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Wednesday, October 1st, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Massively Speaking Episode 315: Signs of the apocalypse

Podcasts, MMO Industry, Massively Meta, Massively Speaking, Miscellaneous

trove
MMOs coming back from the dead after 30 years? It's one of the sure signs of the end times! What's next, Richard Garriott returning to Ultima Online? Derek Smart stepping into a big pile of "oopsie?" A second Global Agenda? Preposterous!

Get all of our opinions and analysis on the most important stories of the past week right here on Massively Speaking, the industry's leading MMO podcast. And if you have a comment, question, or topic for the podcasters, send an email to podcast@massively.com. We may just read your email on the air!

Get the podcast:
[RSS] Add Massively Speaking to your RSS aggregator.
[MP3] Download the MP3 directly.
[iTunes] Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
[Stitcher] Follow the podcast on Stitcher Radio.
Listen here on the page:



Read below the cut for the full show notes.

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The Daily Grind: Are character bios due for revival?

Game Mechanics, Lore, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Roleplaying, Miscellaneous, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content

SWG
One of my favorite things about classic MMOs is that they refused to give up on the "RPG" part of MMORPG. As in a tabletop game, in classic MMOs you were often given an opportunity to write a biography for your character, then import it into the game and attach it to your profile in some way so that other players could read it. In some games, having a superb character bio could snag the attention of a gamemaster and land you even more recognition in the form of a badge or achievement.

It bothers me that these little touches are missing from so many modern MMOs. They don't take much effort on the part of the designers, and they sell the impression that creativity still matters, that your character is more than just a chat handle and a suit of armor.

Are character bios due for a revival? Did you ever or would you use the option in your game of choice if you could?

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!

MMO Week in Review: Path of the Titan

Massively Meta, Week in Review, Miscellaneous

WoW
At the end of every week, we round up the best and most popular news stories, exclusive features, and insightful columns published on Massively and then present them all in one convenient place. If you missed a big MMO or WoW Insider story last week, you've come to the right post.

This week, Blizzard made Titan's cancelation official, sending analysts scurrying to make bold statements of doom and/or apathy and leaving MMO fans to ponder what Titan's death really means to our genre.

Read on for a look at the rest of this week's top MMO stories.

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