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The staff of gets together to bring you some behind the scenes insights on stories, the industry and the site itself.

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Contributors: BillMurphy,MikeB,garrett,SBFord,Grakulen,

Community Spotlight: Best Weather Effects

Posted by MikeB Sunday July 28 2013 at 10:54PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we focus on the thread, "What MMO has done weather the best? " by Lokero:

I'm wondering if any MMOs out there have had any ultra-dynamic weather systems that really stand out?

Things along the lines of:  Seeing black clouds rolling across the horizon and knowing there is a storm coming your way.  Wind blowing in your face and slowing your movement.  Tornadoes appearing, sandstorms, etc.

Have there been any genuine climates and lively weather systems around?  And if so, what games are they hiding in?

I feel this is one of the most neglected aspects of building virtual worlds.  I can't think of any AAA MMOs that have had weather worth remembering, but I'm sure there's some more obscure titles that have at least tried.

Bonus question:  Are there any MMOs currently in development that are planning to have?  I seem to recall reading about one that was planning a living world with weather and the works(Citadel of Sorcery maybe?).

Read on for some highlights from the thread!

Maquiame makes a convincing case for FFXIV:

FFXIV:ARR has a dynamic weather system, you see clouds roll in, there are rainstorms even inside the cities, there are mini sandstorms. When you run in the rain your feet make splashes, when you run in sandy areas your feet kick up dirt. When you stand still in a rainstorm your hair if you have long hair will simulate getting hit by raindrops and moving to the wind. Fountains will overflow in rainstorms.

Don't sleep on this game, trust me, it has a lot of little touches

deathgar offers up Vanguard and Dark and Light:

As much as people rag on it I personally think Vanguard had a pretty fantastic weather system. Prime example here . 

On a ''lesser" known note, maybe the mmo Dark and light it failed pretty hard but i still remember being impressed when it turned winter and the lakes froze over.

Jean-Luc_Picard puts together a round-up of MMOs with great weather effects:

An oldie, AC1, had a great weather system (for its time of course, old graphics), and even had seasons!

Vanguard had a pretty good system too.

LOTRO has a pretty good weather system, with weather adapted to the different areas too. And cold weather could affect your character in some areas (Forochel), Blizzard in the Misty Mountains could also seriously affect the visibility.

The night/day cycle is decent too in LOTRO, even if too bright for me. I'd love to see a game with really dark nights, where you have to use torches or lanterns. Hell, even Moria in LOTRO doesn't have any really dark parts.

I'd even daresay GW2 did Moria better than LOTRO, with the totally dark parts in Jumping Puzzles where you need a torch to see where you're going.

 I realize I sound like a broken record at this point, but Star Wars Galaxies probably impressed me most with its weather effects. I remember starting out on Tatooine and trying to find my way through a massive sandstorm. The howling winds and reduced visibility created a pretty convincing sandstorm effect. As another user mentioned, the rain in SWG was also quite well done, especially on the planet of Dathomir where the dark sky was often illuminated by crackling bolts of lightning. When it began pouring in SWG you could really 'feel' it.

I'd love to see newer games incorporate convincing weather effects, but alas, this feature has seemingly fallen by the wayside in recent years.

Which MMOs had the best weather effects? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Community Spotlight: The Virtual World

Posted by MikeB Monday July 22 2013 at 12:48AM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we focus o nthe thread, "The virtual world feeling" by Lord.Bachus. Lord.Bacchus poses a simple question to the community:

What MMo feels most like a virtual world and least like a game, and why do you think so?

Read on for a couple of highlights from the thread!

bcbully picks Age of Wushu:


Everything you do effects the NPCs around you, for good or for bad.

The terran doesn't change but the landscape does through guild territory control.

Players become NPCs when offline and do 100's of different jobs around the cities and country side.

17 or 18 professions ranging from, fisher man, to musician, to calligrapher. You might run up a hill and see a person transcribing poems or playing music 

Everything is playable from roof tops to bottoms of lakes, this creates so many nooks and crannies. 98% of the time if you see it, you can go there.

Grass moving, trees blowing, leaves falling, bird flying, and come augast 8th day/night/weather cycles and seasons that effect crops, gathering and skills.

Terranah offers a great explanation for their pick of Star Wars Galaxies:

When I typically think of a virtual world, I think of ambient noises, weather changes, elements of landscape movement like swaying trees or flowers and grass.  Also, long view distances with the ability to explore unhindered by loading screens and free or mostly free of instancing.

But the game that most had me immersed was Precu SWG for it's gameplay elements and features.  The ability to level something up by doing it, mix and match interests to create hybrid classes, interdependency and crafting depth, as well as the freedom to build, design and grow player cities really made it feel like a world to me.

I guess that goes to the heart of what the word 'virtual' means and it's really a subjective thing.  Precu SWG felt like a very immersive or virtual world because it had the ability to suspend my sense of reality and invest and immerse myself in character.

fl0w makes his first post on our forums with his pick of Neocron 1.0 (welcome fl0w!):

This is going to be my first post on, even though I created the account back in 2004 :).

To me it's a combination of two. When the world is consistent (art, style, quests, [what have you], ... ) and where there's rules not paths. By that I mean, I like it when I get to decide how I want to play the game myself.

I had an epic time playing Neocron 1.0. I was a crafter. Standing in my dark alley and crafting my ass off, getting money and recognition.

For me, the obvious choice would be Star Wars Galaxies. I wasn't playing MMOs during the heyday of Ultima Online, so I can't offer much there, but SOE really put a significant emphasis on creating a believable Star Wars galaxy with SWG. It was a game where your play options essentially ranged from moisture farmer to Jedi Knight, to star pilot. It felt like you could do almost anything and be almost anyone in Star Wars Galaxies and this helped cultivate an extremely vibrant and diverse community of players that further cemented that feeling of being part of a virtual world.

What are your picks? Share 'em with us and tell us why in the comments below!

Community Spotlight: Being Ordinary

Posted by MikeB Sunday July 7 2013 at 11:53PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we focus on the thread, "Poll: Would you play an mmo where your character is ordinary?" by BrucyBonus:

What I mean is that your character story would not portray you as the hero saving the mmo world.  There may well be an all-encompassing threat and you may well be a foot soldier or archer in the army or a sailor in the navy that fights it.  You would see everything that happens but the npc's would not be hailing you once victory is achieved, rather you might get a pat on the back from a fellow soldier and a ration of rum.  

Given the massively part of mmo's this would strike me as slightly more credible than most 'every-player-the-hero' stories. 

Read on for some highlights from the thread!

SpottyGekko's favorite MMO experiences were ones where he wasn't the hero:

As it so happens, in my two alltime favorite MMO's (EVE and SWG pre-NGE), I played an ordinary person. My character wasn't even remotely "the hero", but that was utterly irrelevant to my enjoyment of the game.

As hundreds of other people have said before me, I find the concept of being "The Chosen One" in a game with 1 million other players who are also "The Chosen One" to be rather difficult to swallow.

In a SPG like Skyrim, I can become "The One" or the leader of the Thieves Guild. In my game world, there IS only one leader of that guild at any time.

Purutzil feels being ordinary would be a bore:

Well not every game does this, but a lot do give you that feel of a hero, and honestly I don't think its wrong. When done right it can feel like, you know, you are actually a hero considering the tasks you do. Rift often kind of does this as a good example often speaking to you as an ascendant, which is in ways just a glorified soldier really in the world. A lot of other games do give this approach as well giving you that feeling of being important without being the 'you are the one' type of response.

In the end, being ordinary would be... well boring. The acts you are doing SHOULD be extroidinary in some games, though a sandbox would likely represent you in a different fashion. In the end though, a game that makes you a hero ONLY after you do accomplish something I feel has nothing wrong with it and in ways is a lot more realistic.

For Axehilt, it depends:

All depends on the gameplay.

Although if gameplay quality is equal, I slightly prefer heroism.

With equal gameplay, it's slightly more fun to defeat villains and save people than do menial labor as a dirty peasant.

As for me, I definitely prefer the "ordinary" role. In fact, I tend to go out of my way to be somewhat ordinary in games and MMOs when I can. As others have mentioned, Star Wars Galaxies was filled with "ordinary" characters, and most of us were all too glad to be a simple Weaponsmith or cantina dancer. Star Wars is my favorite IP and it's always been one of my favorite fantasies to play a simple Trooper (Imperial or otherwise) while everyone around me always seemed to want to be the Jedi. That's not to say that being a Jedi isn't a fun experience, but there is a lot to enjoy about being ordinary in an extraordinary world.

Ironically, the MMO I played longest was City of Heroes -- where you literally play the hero (or villain). But with just about everyone around you being a villain or hero you sort of felt a bit ordinary yourself. And no, I didn't feel this detracted from the experience overall.

Community Spotlight: Adrenaline Rush

Posted by MikeB Monday July 1 2013 at 12:53AM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we're focusing on the thread, "Last time you felt real emotion/anxiety/adrenaline?" by Tierless:

When was the last time MMO you felt any of the above in an MMO? Mine would be Darkfall original. My first gank. Poor guy was knee deep in mobs when I happened upon him. I was such a lowb I had to use my mount to kill him, which I did. Then I had to run away as the mobs were nearly 1 shotting me. I had to run to the corpse, loot a bit, run away, heal, repeat 5 or 6 times. The entire time I kept thinking "oh god he is coming back to get me". It was intense, like so much in that game. I miss that in MMOs.

Read on for similar experiences from other community members!

bcbully offers up a tale of 'script stealing' in Age of Wushu:

Age of Wushu.

Script stealing. The first time I got a script. I made a post about it. I'll link in a second. Heart pounding stuff, literally.

I'm in the clear.

Not quite. I hear some swords clanging down the hill where I was going to run. *stay calm* I ran back around the wall and let the fighting die out. Down the hill I went. All I have to do know is jump down this 150 meter water fall *stay calm*. I [Jumped Across the Clouds] out over the lake at the bottom. After a leg kicking, arm flailing 5 sec fall, splash! At the bottom. Ummm, why do I see seven or eight other people too? It was a dead end. A big ole moutain enclosed area. Wtf is these !?! I check the map. Guess what? There's a pass! BACK in to the damn school!? *sigh*

Boneserino shares his experience in Fallen Earth:

Just a few minutes ago actually.

Playing Fallen Earth.  A team of 3, one clan member and a friend.  We were in a high level area and holed up in a safe spot,venturing out to take on mobs and bosses, never knowing if we would get overwhelmed or not.  Well we did a few times but we managed to battle out of it and save ourselves.  Oh and we did die a few time as well, lol! 

Just great fun working as a cohesive team and and facing tough odds that gave you the satisfaction of helping a fellow player survive! 

Oh , and guess what?

It wasn't PvP !

How could a thread like this exist without an EVE example? Torgrim shares:

My real first time and only time I had adrenaline rush while playing was back in 2004 I think, I had play EVE since launch 2003 and haven't really PVPed much mainly frig fights.

I got my first battleship and back then battleship were really really expensive, our Alliance NORAD was enganged in the first galactic war that was named The great Northern war, I join a fleet this was my first fleet battle I had and basicly I did fly something that I couldnt afoard do lose, yes I broke the very first rule of EVE back then but I can't be helped, the Alliance needed every pilot they could get their hands on so we could invade the Phoenix alliance space.

We jumped in to the system and the local chat were flashing red, tright there and then my adrenaline and heart were pumping, ships were locking on to me I locked on to them and the battle raged.

As I sead I had PVPed before but I used frigs because I could afoard losing some, now I was flying a Megatron and euqiped it so it was a blasterthron which meant I needed to get up close.

Man what a fight.

Here is a History lesson what the great nothern war really was all about

Gosh, it's probably been forever since I legitimately had these sorts of reactions in an MMO. I would say DC Universe Online was probably the last time I got a real adrenaline rush. I played on the PvP server and we were always up for random PvP in the streets -- except for this one time I just didn't feel like it. As you might expect, someone else certainly did and they chased me all across Gotham trying to pick a fight. Communicating with my friends, I had one of them meet me at the halfway point to our destination and I stopped once I got to him. He froze the guy chasing me in a ball of ice and I turned around, picked him up, and threw him a couple blocks down.

And then we flew off.

This was honestly much more satisfying than double-teaming him and killing him. I'm sure he found himself quite a bit more frustrated by this particular turn of events.The chase itself was pretty exciting as it was, but just turning around and throwing the dude a few blocks away after he had chased me for a good 10 minutes straight really sealed the deal.

What about you? Share your tales with us in the comments below!

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