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Opinion

Choose My Adventure: The Elder Scrolls Online

Fantasy, New Titles, Opinion, Hands-On, Choose My Adventure, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

Elder Scrolls Online
The Elder Scrolls Online has launched into its early access period, and I couldn't be more excited for the timing on this new edition of Choose My Adventure. I've always been a huge fan of the Elder Scrolls series, but I didn't have access to this MMO beta for various reasons. As I stated in my last column, I even avoided reading impressions articles here at Massively because I wanted this to be a fresh experience for me. I'm kinda weird like that.

But I've purchased the game now and have been enjoying myself this week during early access. Of course, I'm still saving the good stuff for this column, and I don't plan to release my impressions until a future article, but I'll reiterate that I'm very excited about this next month.

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Massively's Elder Scrolls launch diary: Day three - Questing, story, and more

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvE, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

ESO Betnikh ship
I'm just about to level 10 as the sun sets on day three of my Elder Scrolls Online pre-launch experience. After plenty of decisional paralysis on Sunday, I settled on a Redguard Nightblade and spent Monday and Tuesday leveling him through Stros M'kai, Betnikh, and the city of Daggerfall.

Now I'm working my way northeast through the wilds of Glenumbra, stopping occasionally to assist the citizens of Deleyn's Mill and clean up the Vale of the Guardians.

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The Daily Grind: What was your favorite April Fools' Day prank?

Culture, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), Opinion, The Daily Grind, Humor, Miscellaneous

SWTOR
You might not have noticed, but yesterday was April Fools' Day, and in the MMO industry that means a lot of studios blowing off steam by being abnormally silly and trying to trick players with weird promises. Some people like the goofs, some don't, but I'm willing to bet that there was at least one that got your nod of approval.

So what was your favorite April Fools this year? Did you get genuinely tricked by anything or find yourself laughing in delight at the cleverness of 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!

Jukebox Heroes: Hearthstone's soundtrack

Fantasy, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Jukebox Heroes, Music, Hearthstone

Hearthstone
A new Blizzard game is a reason for soundtrack lovers everywhere to celebrate because if there's one thing this studio does well (other than take goofy races very seriously), it's creating incredible scores for its games. Even though Hearthstone is a smaller title with a smaller score, I welcomed it nevertheless.

Composers Peter McConnell, Jason Hayes, and Eric Dodds clearly had a lot of fun creating the whimsical, relaxing score for this game, and I must say that the music is perfectly ideal for the material. It hearkens back to the many tavern themes from World of Warcraft without being a complete copycat.

You can actually download the entire soundtrack for free on the Hearthstone official site, but before you do that, why not listen to my favorite picks from the score?

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Tamriel Infinium: A hitchhiker's guide to The Elder Scrolls Online

Fantasy, Lore, New Titles, Opinion, Guides, The Elder Scrolls Online, MMORPG, Tamriel Infinium

Tamriel Infinium: A hitchhiker's guide to Elder Scrolls Online
I believe we can all agree that The Elder Scrolls Online is not a sandbox in the MMORPG sense. However, the game starts to branch out as your level increases. Although it will never be an MMO sandbox, it does start to resemble the single-player sandbox, except there are tons of other people playing at the same time.

Just like those single-player sandboxes, ESO allows us to do pretty much whatever we want when we want to. It's an explorer's dream, if you ask me. Of course, we might be able to find some of those explorable items on the in-game map, but many of them remain hidden until we just land on them. Today, I'd like to talk about a few of the items that I think every ESO explorer should be aware of.

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Massively's Elder Scrolls launch diary: Day two - Skills and progression

Fantasy, Classes, Game Mechanics, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvE, Opinion, Hands-On, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

Elder Scrolls Online Stros M'kai temple
Never in 15-plus years of MMO gaming have I been so bewildered when it comes to picking a main class and character. Part of this is because I ignored The Elder Scrolls Online prior to March 30th. So I'm drinking from the information firehose in terms of game mechanics while simultaneously trying to keep up with friends.

The other part of it stems from the fact that ESO has an absurd amount of build customizability. I'm glad it has only four classes instead of six or eight because six or eight would probably send me over the decisional paralysis edge and into some sort of fugue state. I think for the purposes of this launch week diary -- and my own sanity -- I'm just going to stick with my Redguard Nightblade and forge ahead. There. Done.

Maybe.

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The Daily Grind: Should WoW's garrisons count as 'housing'?

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Housing, Subscription, MMORPG

WoW
Every time we cover World of Warcraft's upcoming garrison feature -- the one that will grant an upgradeable town to every WoW player -- someone scoffs that it's not housing and shouldn't be considered such. And to the extent that it isn't a house or a zone that you can customize tile by tile or object by object like some of the more epic housing systems in MMOland, I'd agree. Even WoW Insider's Matt Rossi wrote that the garrison system seemed more like "bringing the RTS [genre's] whole 'construct a base, generate resources, use them for battle' gameplay into the MMO" than like the game's farms, let alone like traditional houses where you can stash your loot.

Still, I have to wonder how that's so different from a housing system like WildStar's, which also attempts to create a private and mechanically useful space for players rather than offer a purely creative, mercantile, or social space. What do you think: Should WoW's garrisons count as MMO housing, or are they just upjumped farms?

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 Mog Log: A couple of days in Final Fantasy XIV's patch 2.2

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

I can't say a week, that would be a lie.
After a couple of weeks of a break from Final Fantasy XIV, I happily patched up and got back into the mix on Thursday evening. Unfortunately, I'm writing this up on Sunday morning, and honestly there's too much for me to have a firm grasp upon the entirety of it after three days. Due to schedule weirdness, I haven't even finished my usual dungeon diving. There's a whole lot to see, and I've been able to get only a top-level overview.

That having been said, I've assembled a nice new outfit via Glamours, I've tired the most brand-spanking-new dungeon, I've started in on questing, and I've submitted myself to challenges. I don't think I love this patch quite as much as its predecessor, partly since this one is more heavily focused upon the endgame portion I'm not fond of, but there's still a lot of great stuff buried in there and plenty of elements to love.

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Massively's Elder Scrolls launch week diary: Day one

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvE, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

Elder Scrolls Online skyshard
Like any proper Tamrielian title, The Elder Scrolls Online starts you off in chains. This isn't the boat-bound incarceration of Morrowind, though, or the relative comfort of Oblivion's initial Imperial lockup. This is the Wailing Prison, an otherworldly abyss stocked with iron maidens, soulless inmates, and a spectral Prophet who sounds a lot like Albus Dumbledore.

Don't worry, though; ZeniMax didn't blow its budget on Michael Gambon or the rest of ESO's A-list voice cast. This is a fairly deep game, and it also does a surprisingly decent job of translating 20 years' worth of single-player sandbox history into a mass market MMORPG.

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The Daily Grind: Does your first character end up as your main?

Fantasy, Classes, Game Mechanics, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Races, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

ESO Redguard Nightblade
I made six characters during yesterday's Elder Scrolls Online headstart. The saddest part of that isn't my altitis but the fact that I still don't know which of them is going to be my main!

I began with a Redguard Sorcerer, decided he didn't fit the lore well enough for my liking, and switched to an Orc Dragonknight. I got a little bored with him and made a Bosmer Nightblade and so on and so forth. I may end up going back to the Sorc after all, but I just don't know yet.

What about you, Massively readers? Does your first character usually end up as your main?

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: Mining is broken, but it can be fixed

Sci-Fi, Culture, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvE, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Evolved: Mining is broken, but it can be fixed
Mining has a reputation for being the most boring activity in EVE Online, but it's always filled a niche role as a low-effort way to make ISK and play with friends casually. When there's no PvP going on and you can't give your full attention to smashing NPCs in missions or anomalies, mining fills that downtime with something more lucrative and social than spinning your ship in a station. The problem is that mining has slowly become obsolete over the years; alternative mineral sources now supply much of the market's needs, and the risk of flying a defenseless barge just isn't worth the mediocre payout.

It's currently more efficient for an individual to buy minerals with ISK made via some other form of PvE, such as level 4 missions or incursions. And on the macroscopic level, such huge quantities of minerals hit the market from alternative sources such as reprocessing loot that the economy could potentially function with no miners at all. CCP has tried to make mining more appealing over the years with buffs and new ships, and the devs recently announced plans to nerf mineral compression as part of a campaign to make mining worthwhile, but I think it'll take a lot more than ISK to get people mining again.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at how mining and reprocessing are at odds and suggest some ideas for new mining features that could revitalise this long forgotten profession.

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WoW Archivist: Warlords of Draenor hates The Burning Crusade

World of Warcraft, Game Mechanics, Previews, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Family, Dungeons, Subscription, MMORPG, WoW Archivist

Draining a naaru
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 March 28th and is included here by permission.

In many ways, The Burning Crusade was the birth of modern WoW. Most of TBC's innovations are still going strong in WoW today and have been ever since their introduction. Looking back, I find it's striking how many key features of WoW were absent in classic, unveiled only during the game's first expansion.

Even more striking, however, is how many of these innovations Warlords of Draenor seems poised to undo. Just as Garrosh will undo the transformation of Draenor into Outland, Warlords seeks to unravel most of what Blizzard innovated during TBC. The next expansion will take us through a portal into a very different WoW.

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The Daily Grind: Do you separate your in-game and out-of-game behavior?

EVE Online, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Sandbox

EVE Online Ravens
CCP recently released an official statement condemning out-of-EVE harassment. In that same statement, though, the company said that in-game bad behavior is not only acceptable but essential to its version of a sandbox.

The separation between player and player character is a common sentiment among MMO fans, of course, whether you're a griefer, a raider, or a roleplayer. What say you, Massively readers? Do you try to separate your in-game and out-of-game behavior, or are you the sum of your actions in both virtual worlds and meatspace?

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!

Free for All: Will there ever be another setting like Ryzom's Atys?

Sci-Fi, Screenshots, Culture, Game Mechanics, Ryzom, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Races, Casual, Free for All, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox

Ryzom map
Ah, Ryzom. To this day it remains one of my favorite MMORPGs for several reasons. I was reminded just how much I still enjoy the game when I logged in to witness a storm rolling through the land, lightning sizzling from the sky, rain falling straight down on my character's head. The planet that Ryzom players find themselves on is called Atys, and it's no ordinary planet. In fact, it's not a planet at all. Instead, it's a giant rootball that floats in space.

Yes, a rootball.

I'm no scientist, but I'm pretty sure that a massive rootball is an impossible thing, but it doesn't matter. The game's original designers were French, and if you follow French MMOs, you know they always seem to come up with something completely unique. In this case, Atys is literally made up of a wad of giant roots and bark. I have to wonder: Why aren't there more unique settings like Atys in gaming today?

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The Daily Grind: Do you hate model recycling?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

Rosh
I have one minor but persistent pet peeve across all of the MMOs that I've played, which is that it really bugs me to see armor and weapon models recycled over and over again. Yes, I know it's a silly complaint because it's just not realistic to expect artists to come up with an endless supply of unique-looking gear, but every time I get a drop with better stats that either looks identical to something I own or something I used to have, I give a deep inward sigh.

I guess there are degrees of model recycling, depending on how many variants there are in the game, but I always wish there would be more. Do you hate model recycling, are you indifferent to it, or do you think I'm being a jerk to the art team by just mentioning this? Is the solution to crowdsource model art to the community, as is being done in some MMOs?

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!

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