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The Soapbox: Six reasons MMOs should abandon raiding, part 2

Game Mechanics, Endgame, Opinion, The Soapbox, Miscellaneous, Dungeons

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Time to take on the stock.
In yesterday's Soapbox, I had some things to say about why it's time to dump raiding. I'm writing this before I've seen the comment responses, but I'm willing to bet that a fair amount of angry shouting was involved in the comments because that's what I usually expect. But I wasn't done, as suggested by the whole "part 1" thing in the title header.

For those don't feel like reading the whole thing, the short version is that raiding is too expensive to develop for too small a portion of the players. This is a solid argument, but it's standard: You hear it every time this debate comes up. In some ways, it's the foundation of the argument against raiding beyond the reality that most people say they just don't like raiding.

There's more to be said, though, and there are more serious issues up for discussion. Raiding isn't just expensive in terms of development. It's expensive in lots of ways.

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SKIES opens up its Kickstarter campaign

Sci-Fi, New Titles, News Items, Post-Apocalyptic, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding

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Seven hundredth verse, basically the same as the first.
It's Tuesday, so that means it's time for another MMO to launch on Kickstarter, and here we are with SKIES. But to the great surprise of any and all reading this, instead of an open PvP fantasy sandbox, it's a post-apocalyptic pseudo-sandbox. That's novel, at least. The campaign is running until December 23rd; developer Eforb LLC set a target of $350,000 for development and several stretch goals..

SKIES is being pitched as a sort of hybrid between FPS, MMORPG, and single-player RPG; it includes dialogue options while dealing with NPCs and a number of economic and supply options. Take a look at the page if it sounds like an interesting prospect (and you can tolerate some iffy translations on the project page).

A glance at Civilization Online's robust character creator

Video, Previews, News Items, MMORTS, Miscellaneous

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Could we just get the character creator even if we don't get the game?
Let's cut to the chase: Past the break, we have two videos embedded showing off Civilization Online's character creator, which you can use the next time anyone starts talking about the challenges of body sliders with stylized art. It doesn't take much to see that the characters here are pretty heavily stylized, but despite that, the character creator features a huge array of options, sliders, and details.

Many of the creation options are controlled by a grab-and-pull system similar to the one seen in The Sims 4, making adjustments to body dimensions more instinctive. There's no official timeline for when Civilization Online will come to the US, so you'll have to either wait or get familiar with Korean if you want to try this out for yourself.

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Valiance Online cancels Kickstarter, seeks stress test applicants

Betas, Super-hero, City of Heroes, Business Models, Game Mechanics, News Items, Crowdfunding

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Valiance Online
Silverhelm Studios has announced that Valiance Online will be accepting sign-ups for its inbound stress test starting today. Valiance Online is one of at least three fan-led superhero MMORPGs attempting to fill the City of Heroes niche, though Valiance has no intention of licensing the CoH IP if fan efforts to purchase it from NCsoft are ultimately successful. It promises semi-freeform character builds, power customization, an open world environment, 25 zones, character alignment, and a player-run economy.

The Kickstarter for the game, begun less than a month ago, was apparently canceled ahead of schedule last night with $34,680 raised of its $150,000 goal. A dev posts suggests the loss of the team's marketing manager during the campaign was a setback. Developers have assured backers that they will not be charged and that the game will continue development. "We're still running funding campaigns on our website for anyone interested and are discussing other options as well," says the studio in the Kickstarter comments.

Stress test signups will open on the official site later today.

[Source: Silverhelm press release]

Here are the tier 17 armor sets non-PUG WoW raiders can loot in Highmaul

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

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Don't worry, if you're in Mythic, you still get to feel superior to everyone else.  If you get lucky, anyway.
With the first raid of World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor right around the corner, Blizzard has released a preview of the Tier 17 armor sets in all their glory. There are three variants of each set: the Mythic version (which has a unique skin compared to the others), the Heroic version, and the Normal version. Raid Finder raids no longer drop tier sets, thus reducing the overall number of available sets by one from the end of Mists of Pandaria.

Player opinion seems to be somewhat split on whether or not the sets are good matches for the aesthetic of the expansion and the individual classes, as well as the split between the Mythic versions and the other versions of each set. The raid that drops these pieces, Highmaul, will be available starting on December 2nd for Normal and Heroic, with Mythic launching a week later on December 9th.

Guild Wars 2 teases next week's Seeds of Truth release with a new trailer

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, MMO Industry, News Items, PvE, Guild Wars 2

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Are you up to speed on Guild Wars 2's episodic living world content releases? If not, you might want to stop reading because there could be spoilers ahead. Last time around, players watched as Caithe made off with a fabled dragon egg that could be the key to defeating Mordremoth. In the newest episode, you'll have to catch Caithe, but first you can catch a preview of the release by clicking past the cut.

[Source: ArenaNet press release]

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The Daily Grind: What's the ideal subscription rate for an MMO?

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

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Massively reader BlackArmsAkimbo recently opined that WildStar wasn't worth a $15 monthly sub but he'd seriously consider paying $5. On the surface, it might seem silly -- why quibble over $10? You can barely buy a burger and fries for that in a big city. But maybe we don't think of subs in terms of money at all -- subs are being compared not to the value of fast food but to the value of other MMOs that charge the same price.

The traditional MMO sub sat at $10 for several years before jumping up to $15, a number that World of Warcraft adopted and cemented as The Standard for the industry, which means that nearly every sub MMO that's launched in the last 10 years also charges $15. Every MMO is ultimately compared to WoW in terms of value for that sub. And every game that does charge less is assumed to be lesser, which is hardly fair -- consider how much content RuneScape's £4.95 a month gets a sandbox gamer.

I know I'd be more likely to keep up a bunch of subs if they were cheaper, but that's because I've mentally moved on to comparing an MMO's value to Guild Wars 2's, not WoW's, and I get a lot for my box fee from GW2. What about you? What do you think is the ideal subscription rate for an MMO?

[Edit: In a complete but ironic coincidence as this post was written last week, RuneScape just announced a subscription hike today.]

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 Stream Team: Patrolling Marvel Heroes' Industry City

Super-hero, Video, Marvel Heroes, Livestream, The Stream Team

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Is it possible for Marvel Heroes 2015 to drown players in loot explosions? Massively's MJ thinks it is! But that's not a bad thing -- unless you happen to be MJ's inventory space, that is. Marvel Heroes' newest game mode, Industry City Patrol, adds even more opportunities for fast-paced action and equally fast loot collecting; the timed challenges keep you on your toes while the bosses drop plenty of goodies. And if that's not enough, the Midtown Madness and Cosmic Chaos events are in full swing as well. Do you think MJ can clear space and take in all the prizes? Join us us live at 9:00 p.m. for a romp through Industry City while MJ fights the ultimate villain: a full bag.

Game: Marvel Heroes 2015
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Monday, November 24th, 2014
Time: 9:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Not So Massively: Elite's refund controversy, Civ Online's closed beta, and Ghost in the Shell's G-Star debut

Betas, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Game Mechanics, Launches, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, Mobile, Consoles, MMOFPS, World of Tanks, Not So Massively, MOBA, League of Legends, Crowdfunding, Destiny, Hearthstone, E-sports

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NSM - Ghost in the Shell
Welcome back to No So Massively, where every Monday we round up the highlights from the past week in the world of MOBAs, roguelikes, MMOTCGs, and other games that aren't quite MMOs.

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The Stream Team: Through Warlords of Draenor's Dark Portal

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Video, Expansions, New Titles, PvE, Massively Meta, Hands-On, Livestream, The Stream Team, Subscription, MMORPG

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World of Warcraft
Now that the server carnage has died down and everyone's off running dungeons and farming loot, Massively's Mike Foster is ready to pick up the Warlords of Draenor story line to see where it takes him. Tune in tonight at 7:00 p.m. EST as Mike ghost-wolfs his way through Draenor and catch a glimpse of the World of Warcraft expansion responsible for bringing over three million players back to Blizzard's content buffet.

Game: World of Warcraft
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Monday, November 24th, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Chinese MMO Revelation Online entering open beta January 15th

Betas, Fantasy, MMO Industry, News Items, Miscellaneous

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You might even meet this guy!  Who is this guy?  What's his deal?
Want to combine the free flight of Aion with action combat and an open skill progression system? That's a quick gloss of how testers report Revelation Online plays. But you don't have to take anyone else's word for it, as the game will be entering open beta on January 15th... in China. So you will have to muddle through not speaking the language of the game to test it. Alternately, you can start studying now and hope you have a natural gift for learning it in two months.

Steparu reports that setting up an account will work even for international players, although there is the possibility that the game will require a cell phone or some other region-lock method. Players who don't want to fuss with that can rest somewhat easier knowing that the development team is looking into US publishing deals as well, but if all goes well, you can still try the game out early next year.

Destiny's Dark Below gameplay previewed in new video

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Destiny

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Bungie's response to last week's Destiny expansion leak takes the form of a new dev diary video. Joystiq reports on the "one way trip" nature of The Dark Below's design on display in the new clip. The vid also introduces Eris Morn who serves as a quest giver and offers insights based past encounters with the expansion's baddies.

The Dark Below will cost you $20 when it launches on December 9th, unless you already have the $35 Destiny season pass, of course. Game Informer holds exclusive rights to the diary video, so you'll need to follow the links below to watch it.

Project HON trailer offers half an hour of mechanized action

Trailers, Video, Previews, News Items, Miscellaneous

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Mai waifu
Project HON appears to be more or less the sum total of everything you could expect to see from a mecha shooter. What's the story? What's the main game mechanic? What's the business model? The correct answer to all of those questions, as you can see in the trailer past the cut, is that none of those questions matter right now because just look at how gorgeous it all is.

And it's not just the Unreal Engine 4 graphics on display. Over the course of the video you will see a robot that transforms into an aerial weapon platform or a motorcycle, a robot wall-running while shooting, and giant robots that climb into and dock with even bigger robots to have a Pacific Rim-style smackdown fight. No other details needed. Jump on past the break to watch the full trailer; let's not sully this moment any further with words.

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SWTOR's Revan Returns trailer has a lot of Revans in it

Sci-Fi, Expansions, MMO Industry, News Items, Star Wars: The Old Republic

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How many times can you say Revan inside of a minute? Quite a few, if the latest Star Wars: The Old Republic expansion trailer is any indication. It's called Revan Returns, and it's all about the Shadow of Revan expansion slated to launched on December 9th. Click past the cut to have a look!

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Elite's Duxford event launches Gamma, iOS app

Sci-Fi, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Elite: Dangerous

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Frontier held an Elite: Dangerous premiere event at RAF Duxford Imperial War Museum last Saturday. The gala served as a launching pad for the sci-fi title's final Gamma build and its new iOS companion app.

Gamma is open to everyone who crowdfunded via Kickstarter or Frontier's website prior to mid-December 2013, and it unlocks "the full 400 billion star systems of the most advanced virtual representation of the Milky Way galaxy ever created for a videogame," according to a company press release.

You can download the Elite companion app via iTunes right now. Frontier says Android and Windows Phone versions are "expected before the end of the year.

[Source: Frontier press release]

EVE rookies, look here first

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, Sandbox

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Are you an EVE Online newb? Are you a vet who's returned thanks to that trailer and who's basically forgotten the game's finer points? CCP is calling your attention to a new blog post designed to mitigate a bit of the sci-fi sandbox's infamous learning cliff.

You'll find a terminology and new player FAQ, EVE University guides, chat tips, and more, all waiting for you via the links below.

Blade & Soul teases a new Shaman trailer, gives us a sad

Betas, Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Classes, Game Mechanics, Previews, News Items, Blade & Soul

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Blade & Soul
Have you got 35 seconds? Good! Because 35 seconds is all you'll need to watch this new Blade & Soul trailer featuring the Shaman class, whose pistols and magic cards are probably not what most western fantasy fans think of when they think of Shamans, that's for sure. Then you can feel free to spend the next couple hours moping because we still don't know whether the game will ever land on our hard drives. Enjoy!

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Skyforge details the Berserker's rage mechanic

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, Classes, Game Mechanics, Previews, News Items, Skyforge

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Skyforge
A new Allods Team/My.com dev post today reveals yet another class for upcoming sci-fantasy MMORPG Skyforge: the Berserker. Wanna rush into battle, smash enemies in the teeth with a giant chainsword, dish out massive AoE damage, and annoy opponents with AoE crowd control? Of course you do. But there's a catch: This classic RPG archetype comes with a rage mechanic.
The Berserker's powerful attacks consume Rage. Outside of battle, they only have half their maximum level available but once engaged in a fight, damage inflicted upon or by the Berserker will cause their Rage to build and rapidly reach its limit. Only then will the Berserker be able to use their most effective abilities - inflicting massive damage on all who would oppose them
Skyforge concluded its first tech beta period last week. Check out the Berserker trailer after the cut.

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Shroud of the Avatar enters Steam early access today

Fantasy, Patches, News Items, Shroud of the Avatar

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Same dance, different days.
There's a certain feeling that you get when you walk around in a game with a new hat, as if you're making a statement: "Hello, world, I have a new hat." And you can get a new hat by logging into Shroud of the Avatar and doing the Grand Tour quests added in the game's most recent release. The new pilgrim hat will be available only during Release 12's testing schedule, so you'll want to get the hat soon if you want that new hat.

Release 12 does offer more than just a new hat, though; the update offers a comprehensive new user experience, 15 new skills, 50 new weapon and armor recipes, 40 new songs, new maps, guilds, and other improvements. Studio boss Richard Garriott has also weighed in on the state of the game and updates for the solo play version of the game.

Check out the full update on the official site for more details and community news. SOTA officially enters early access on Steam today.

The Soapbox: Six reasons MMOs should abandon raiding, part 1

Game Mechanics, Endgame, Opinion, The Soapbox, Miscellaneous, Dungeons

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Sorry, Truce.  You deserve better, but you get this.
Raiding is no longer doing MMOs any favors.

I've compared raiding to open PvP in the past, and the comparison still holds up. It's something that a lot of games developed in response to a specific genre-defining game have featured. But it's not doing those games any favors, and it might be time to take a hard look at this gameplay element that games survive in spite of rather than because of. If we learn nothing else from WildStar's issues when it launched into what should have been an ideal environment, it's that raiding certainly isn't driving players into a game's waiting arms.

But I don't want to just say that and let it roll around on the floor. Let's actually break the argument down across a couple of articles this week. Why does raiding need to shuffle off of the main stage, definitely as the default endgame model, perhaps altogether? I can give you six good reasons.

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