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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: That Home Feeling

Posted by MikeB Sunday June 29 2014 at 9:33PM
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In our latest Community Spotlight, we focus on the thread, "Do you guys miss playing the same MMO for years straight? " by penthe:

I remember when I played WoW for many years straight, feeling like every minute spent in game is an investment. Now I play many different MMos and my characters dont feel like mine, it doesnt feel like home. I cant play games for many years straight anymore I get bored after a few months, am I getting older or just the genre has changed ?

Read on for some highlights from the thread!

TheQuietGamer doesn't quite get those who can play a single MMO for years:

I've never played a game for years and I don't quite understand how people can.  My longest run was probably wow and I played 4 months in vanilla and about another 4 in TBC.  

SWTOR I have played very casually for a couple of years, but with long gaps between periods of play.  

berenim attributes the trend of "endgame is the game" to the problem:

Problem is with those new themeparks the "Endgame is the game" attitude came. Also the "It's a game, not a world" stuff. I remember my years in Anarchy Online, descenfding to Rubi-Ka, being shot down by aliens. You did missions to do what you do, not to have something to do. Got an old-school drive atm and playing Ryzom. Total freedom, crafting your own stuff, interacting with others and passing by players even give you a short wave-emote, to greet you. Real Sandbox with optional PvP. New games seem to be targeted at people who play a game to the end, then throw it away to start the next game... Back then we were many (P&P-)RPGers, now most are just gamers...

DKLond has a more nuanced theory on the subject:

My theory is that we kept playing the same MMO for years, because we didn't fully understand the limitations of the design until we were done with it and had time to reflect on the experience.

Once you learn the limitations of a computer game, and especially a themepark gear treadmill design - you will lose interest in spending all your free time with it.

Problem with modern MMOs is that they're not bold and visionary enough - and, at the same time, the players don't understand their own psychology well enough, so they won't even allow a new approach to MMO design, because it will be compared to the "old home" - based on nostalgia more than anything else.

So, if we're ever going to find a new MMO home, and I truly doubt we will, it'll take a very bold vision and a very talented development team with a ton of resources.

That sort of thing doesn't happen very often - and the investment is prohibitive to many publishers.

I suppose it'll happen eventually, but I don't see myself falling in love for the first time ever again.

To directly answer the OP's question, yes, I too miss being able to play a single MMO for years and call it home. I've been chasing that feeling for years to no avail. Star Wars Galaxies and City of Heroes were the games I played for years and years and could always come back to.

These days, I cant' seem to spend more than a couple of months with a new MMO. They all seem to devolve into the same silly daily grinding and weekly token capping at endgame and I simply don't care for that. The genre is capable of so much more and has shown as much in the past. It's a bit odd that instead of moving forward most newer games turn out to simply maintain the status quo or worse -- be regressive.

What are your thoughts? Share 'em with us in the comments below!

Community Spotlight: Your Most Played MMOs

Posted by MikeB Sunday June 1 2014 at 9:23PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we focus on the thread, "Your best mmos/most time played, of all time?" by slowpoke68:

Thought this would be interesting.  List your favorite mmos/most time you spent playing of all time.  

For me it would go:

EQ1, Loved this game and spent more time playing it I think than any other.  All this time later and still my favorite.  Played from launch for a couple of years, went back for a progression server, then went back again for a few months last year.

WoW, Great pve and great pvp.  Questing was a fresh idea, loved the instances, the bgs, and the polish of the game.  Played on and off for quite some time.

DAoC, PvE was meh, but loads of classes and races to choose from.  Of course the three faction RvR still remains the gold standard which noone else seems to have been able to duplicate.  

UO, By time played this may be higher.  I didn't like a lot about this game, the complete and absolutely unchecked open world griefing in particular.  Also the bugs, crashes and sever roll backs, and playing on dial-up haha.  But it was first and it was great and I spent a ton of time with it.  The sandbox in its purest form.

LOTRO, Not a big fan of solotastic mmos and this is one of the worst on that score, but due to the IP, a great community and the beautiful world, I spent quite a bit of time with this game.

What are yours?

Read on for some highlights from the thread!

imsoenthused is definitely enthusiastic about Guild Wars:

Guild Wars, easily. Played basically continuously through the entire release cycle, so that's 3 years right there, and continued to play it heavily for a couple years after that. Even after slowing down, I still play it at least once a month to this day. That said, it suffered when the second expansion made it so much more solo friendly. It's still a great game, but if I don't HAVE to team up to complete anything, it doesn't really feel like a multiplayer game anymore. Still superior, even its current state, to every other MMORPG I've tried since, including its sequel.

Roguewiz has a couple of favorites:

Most time played is probably Everquest.  Spent a lot of time between Torvonnilous and Cazic-Thule.  It was also my best experience.  Which makes sense; it was my first MMO.

WOW is a close 2nd in terms of time spent playing.  More or less played from Vanilla to WOTLK (with some breaks).  CATA was hit and miss.  The expansion wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great either.  I quit for good right before MOP.

Shadowbane was my best PVP game.  I have fond memories of infiltrating towns, causing ruckus, and just having fun.  All hail the Mountain Giant Alliance on Mourning! :)

Dungeons and Dragons Online is another of my fond experiences and is pretty close to EQ in that regard.  Did a lot of stuff that most people were like "WTF".  The best experience is when I changed the mind of a player who thought Rogues were worthless.

Warhammer Online was my fun disappointment.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the game, for the most part.  However, it was incomplete and unbalanced.  Would have lasted longer if they released a finished product.

jdizzle2k13 started out in WoW as many others have, but has since put in even more hours into Guild Wars 2:

My most time spent in any MMO was in WoW, but that makes sense because it was my first.

Started about 3 years ago, now with about 150+ days played time and had a bunch of fun when my guildies were on.

My most fun experiences though have been in Guild Wars 2, which I've now played about 1000+ hours (about 800+ on my main, elementalist).  World vs World sieges, the crazy pvp, or just going around and two manning stuff with a friend in Cursed Shore.

My two longest played MMOs are Star Wars Galaxies (3 years) and City of Heroes (5 years). Since then, I haven't really found many games I've been able to stick with for more than a couple of months, with the only exceptions being Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning and SWTOR.

I played WAR for about a year to a year and a half and SWTOR on and off since launch. Of all my long term MMO experiences, however, it's really a toss up between SWG and City of Heroes in terms of my favorites. I imagine if SWG never experienced the dreaded 'NGE' update, I might have played it all the way up until they closed down the servers.

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

Community Spotlight: How Many MMOs Do You Play?

Posted by MikeB Sunday May 11 2014 at 12:04PM
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In our latest Community Spotlight, we focus on the thread, " How Many MMO's Do You Dedicate Time To? Without Neglecting One " by ImperatorBellus:

I realized that it is very difficult dedicating your time playing 3 mmo's without neglecting one. Currently, I am playing Star Trek Online and Planetside 2, I will be for the next 2 years since the MMO's I am really interested in (Warhammer Eternal Crusade, EQ:Next) will probably not be released until late 2015 or early 2016. Might also be interested in black gold online and The Repopulation but those won't be fully released until late 2014 and the Repopulation in 2016.

Do any of you play 3 mmo's or more? I am trying out world of warcraft again, haven't played since Vanilla, logged 508 hours on Vanilla wow. Still, I think I will have to neglect WoW for my other games, just seems so hard playing 3 mmo's at once.

Read on for some highlights from the thread!

Reklaw is a one MMO man:

Alway's only 1 MMORPG, but that is mixed with either 1 singleplayer or several, depends on the type of singleplayer game. If it's RPG I'll stick with that and perhaps a MMORPG, FPS type of game often can switch between a few but still remain with only 1 MMORPG.

In themepark MMO's I often go for several characters because that's my niche when playing more easy MMO's.

If it's sandbox I'll stick with one character

JustARandomPanda juggles three MMOs:

Currently play 3 mmos approximately 1 to 1.5 hours each, sometimes more (typically weekends). The one mmo I play the most - approximately 5 out of 7 days a week - is The Secret World. I LOVE that mmo. It was the mmo that finally taught me it's possible to enjoy PvP. Formerly I detested PvP. Now - thanks to that game - I've grown to appreciate it and understand why many gamers love it. And I say that despite the fact that I suck at PvP in TSW and lose more often than I win. I tend to stick to mostly El Dorado and Fusang boards.

The other 2 are Neverwinter and Guild Wars 2. I love Neverwinter's action combat. And I have fun with the ongoing story in Guild Wars 2. Also recently re-installed Path of Exile to get back into it and see all the changes and improvements since I played it daily when it first went beta. When I was playing it daily with my BF we had a blast. I'm hoping the additions and changes will be just as fun as I remember.

SpottyGekko spends most of his time in one MMO, but will play other games a bit here and there:

I usually spend 75% of my gaming time in ONE specific MMORPG, which I will play as "main" game for several months or even years. The other 25% goes to games like Planetside 2, War Thunder or Defiance.

As for me, I can't really focus on multiple MMOs at once. I can typically do a single MMO and play MMO-like games on the side, such as MOBAs (League of Legends) or games like Marvel Heroes, which don't demand as much time.

What about you? Can you and do you juggle multiple MMOs at once? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

Community Spotlight: Twitch Combat?

Posted by MikeB Sunday March 9 2014 at 11:44PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we give a shoutout to the old farts out there with the thread, "Enough with the twitching already!!!" by Dauntis:

Anyone else tired of people clammoring for twitch combat in MMORPGs?

Why should my geared out supposably awesome warrior have to depend on my keyboard skills in an RPG?

Twitch players have all the rest of gamedom to slap around their great eye-coordination and quick fingers, why can't we have at least one genre for us slow old bastards?

Read on for some highlights from the thread!

SomeHuman agrees:

I totally agree.  I like some "twitch" games, but I usually turn to a FPS for that.  I prefer a more strategic combat in an MMORPG.  I'd be all for a turn-based combat system in some of the up-and-coming titles.  I have more fun playing a round of Hearthstone than I do running around ESO smacking stuff.  But I enjoy the world exploration and other elements of your typical mmorpg like ESO.

Rayshe doesn't mind the 'twitch combat' trend, but would like to see a few more traditional MMOs show up:

While i dont mind a twitch style game here or there, honestly im for the traditional Rotation style game. Give the Twitch players there game so they stop whining and then we can get back into our games. So long as the market doesnt become pure twitch based i see no problem throwing them afew titles.

Xiaoki is firmly in the action combat camp:

Dear God no.

I would rather success in combat be based on skill and not spreadsheets.

The EQ/WoW style of turn based combat has gone about as far as it will go and it is time for a change.

I want MMO combat to evolve and improve, not be cemented in the past and stagnate.

I'm sort of split on this myself. I don't really mind the more traditional MMO style combat, as long as it's a bit more flashy. SWTOR's combat felt like a good mix to me. There's really nothing like leaping onto someone several stories above you. BioWare managed to pull off some neat abilities using the more traditional style MMO combat and added their own wrinkle by removing the autoattack. That said, action combat, such as the combat found in TERA and Elder Scrolls Online is a welcome trend. I'd like to see how far we can push things along that front over the next couple years.

What about you? Share your thoughts with us below!

WildStar's Adventuring Stream Event

Posted by MikeB Friday February 28 2014 at 5:22PM
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Carbine Studios has done a really great job giving insight into WildStar's various features and classes via their developer live stream events. The latest stream event, which goes live tomorrow, focuses on the game's recently unveiled 'Adventures' feature.

Adventure's are instanced areas of the existing game world with unique branching stories and events that change based on the decisions made by the team going through them. I think one of the best ways to describe them would be SWTOR's Flashpoints on steroids. You go in with a couple of buddies and periodically you make decisions (using a vote based system) that alter the path of the adventure.

Personally, I'm both excited and cynical about WildStar's Adventures. The sort of variety the Adventure system provides makes for some great replay value. From watching videos in the past, it looks like there are a whole lot of branches players can choose. But then I come back to earth and realize this is an MMO.

Unless you're playing with your friends, I imagine most PUGs will have figured out which choices and the order they're selected that lead to fastest and most efficient gains and this is all you'll see players do. In SWTOR, three of your four party members can select to kill the captain, but if you decide to spare him and your roll wins, well, the captain lives and the party has to deal with the consequences. Since Adventures, at least at this time, are a pure majority vote, I feel like once they're fully figured out, everyone going into them is already going to know what choices to make and this will override anyone who wants to try a different path.

I can see how it would get crazy trying to have four people vote on something like 3-5 different choices (SWTOR's Flashpoints only featured decisions between two outcomes), but it might be better to just allow players to vote on what path they want and then let RNG determine which path wins, with weight provided for choices selected by multiple players, but not guaranteed.

What do you think? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

PAX East: The Future of Online Games

Posted by Grakulen Thursday February 27 2014 at 8:36PM
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Earlier today we announced our 5th Annual "Future of Online Games Panel" held at PAX East.

The Panel is scheduled for Saturday, April 12th at 6:00pm EST in the Albatross theater.

This year's panel will be hosted by's managing editor Bill Murphy and who ever thought we would be returning to topics such as sandbox games or subscription models? How much does Free-to-Play rule the market? What will your game experience be like going into the second half of the decade? All this and more will be answered.

Guests on the Panel will include:

I'm more excited for this years panel than any in the past. With the number of truly innovative games a few of these developers are working on we could see a not so subtle shift away from the standard theme parks many of us have grown tired of. Emergent AI? Yes please! Meaningful crafting? Thank you. Player driven economies that actually serve a purpose? More.

You can see the past years videos at

What are you most looking forward to hearing about from these group of developers? Let me know in the comments below.

Diablo III Patch 2.0.1: The Game Changer

Posted by SBFord Wednesday February 26 2014 at 8:58PM
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The Diablo 3 patch leading up to the release of the Reaper of Souls expansion in March was released in North America yesterday and in the EU today. With the update, Diablo III becomes something completely new and is, for all intents and purposes, a true game changer.

The patch brings so many new features and game-altering experiences to D3 that it's difficult to synthesize them all into a relatively short post but here are the highlights:

  • Loot 2.0: Players may now find less loot but will find better, more class appropriate loot. From the short time I've been in the game since the patch released, all I can tell you is that my level 60 Barbarian is completely re-geared, including a brand new Legendary.
  • Paragon 2.0: All Paragon points can now be distributed account-wide and can be used to enhance Offensive, Defensive, Core and Utility skills
  • Monsters that scale with your level
  • Normal, Hard, Expert, Master and Torment modes
  • Cursed events that come in the form of cursed chests and even the return of Monster Shrines
  • Items as rewards for quest completion in addition to gold and XP
  • A complete reworking of all character skills and abilities. It's going to take players time to figure out better and more powerful combinations and break away from the monotony of "cookie cutter" builds
  • New and powerful aura effects around elite monsters that don't just hurt, they kill...and fast
  • The ability to resurrect on your body, at the last checkpoint or in town after dying
  • Guilds and Communities
This is only a partial list too. As the next few days go by, exploring this patch will take time and effort on behalf of the D3 player community.
While it's popular to stack hatred on D3, much of it warranted, I give you, it is worth former players coming back to try out the new systems and features that have arrived with the 2.0.1 patch. After all, if the game is already owned, it costs nothing and people might just be surprised, pleasantly so, I might add.
Have you checked out the new patch? If so, what did you think? Let us know! 

Rocket Leaving DayZ to Make a More Perfect Game

Posted by BillMurphy Monday February 24 2014 at 2:12PM
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In his own words, Dean Hall's presence on DayZ is like "a grenade." So much so, that once the game's out there he'll be transitioning out of Bohemia and all DayZ development to start his own studio in New Zealand. 

"I am a grenade," he begun, this time sat in the DayZ office in central Prague. "I have a specific use. I'm really good at risk-taking and making other people take risks, I've always been good at that in my life. Like you say, maybe I've got the gift of the gab, so I can talk, I can explain something, I can talk people up to the ledge and get them to jump off it.

"That's what I did with DayZ; I've done it twice now [once with the mod, again with the standalone] - two new code teams have separately done it.

"But eventually, that's the bad person to have. Eventually, you don't want the guy telling you to go over the top and get through. So at some point I'll be a disaster for the project, at least in a leadership role."

Now those are some serious words, coming from a man many idolize in this industry. Heck, we've met Dean on several occasions, and have nothing but praise for the guy. He's passionate, smart as a whip, and absolutely filled with vision for his project.  But I'm of the mind that he's also not keen to keep riding the same horse through the desert for the rest of his career.  
Some might think this is because he "couldn't handle the pressure" of developing a game that grew into something so monstrous so quickly, and indeed Dean stated multiple times that a lot of the pressure and ire of the gaming community was getting to him. But I look at his departure in a different light.
We've all been at jobs that we love, and we think we could do them forever. At one point in my life, I was a Medical Biller. I loved the idea I was helping folks get their insurance to cover their healthcare in a roundabout way, and I loved that I was able to "lone wolf" a 9-5 job and go home with little stress.  But eventually the repetition got to me and I realized my heart wasn't in it.
Now, you might wonder why Dean would want to leave a dream job. Bohemia had the ARMA series before Rocket, but it grew into a mighty company with the addition of DayZ. He's a very important part of the company, even if it's only as a figurehead.  But just because something "made his career" like DayZ did, doesn't mean he wants to be known only as "that guy who made that zombie game" for the rest of his life.
So for me, the biggest news about Dean Hall's eventual departure from DayZ isn't that he's leaving.  It's not about what's good for DayZ (this probably will be, if Dean's own words are to be believed).  What I'm excited to learn more about is what he'll do next. Dean's a designer at heart, eager to take risks on new projects.  Perhaps he became stagnant and fearful trying to make the standalone survival game live up to its potential.  
But maybe, just maybe... Rocket's got a few more tricks up his sleeve and wants to do it all his own way.  I can get behind that.

Community Spotlight: MMO Intros

Posted by MikeB Sunday February 23 2014 at 9:46PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we focus on the thread, "My advice to future MMO developers: Throw out the intro narrative and just put me in the damn game!" by sludgebeard.

Im so sick of seeing these MMO's where you have to go through 10 fetch quests, and kill a bunch of pointless mobs just to get into the core game world. Watching the Angry Joe review of Wildstar where he spends the first 20 minutes of the game picking up books and talking to floating cambots, I just thought "enoughs enough", these are pointless narrative building quests that only slow down he intro to a hopeless crawl.

Just do it like WoW did, have a 15sec intro cinematic that also sprawls through the opener zone, and then bam! Release the character into the opener zone and let them travel openly to anywhere the player likes. 

Does anyone else find these modern MMO starter zones to be boring and shallow?

Does the community agree? Read on for some highlights from the thread!

Velocinox makes the case for intro experiences:

I think kindergarten is no longer needed, I mean who needs to learn how to share or their colors or basic counting? I don't know anyone that can't do that already. Just get rid of kindergarten and let us move straight to first grade.

My point being; there are new players coming along all the time. You assume everyone is a skilled MMO player, but the most important customer to an MMO is the player that is trying MMOs for the first time. And they are joining the genre everyday. If the devs turn those people off, they don't get a second chance.

Torvaldr doesn't feel intros should be removed completely:

Intros shouldn't go, but they've gone overboard. The original intent of the starter areas was to give players an opportunity to get a feel for the game before ramping up difficulty and throwing you out into the cold cruel world.

Lineage - This game had a great starter area. You could stay and level a bit, learn the ropes, and even get some great starter gear. Remember when you got great starter gear from the starter area and not the pre-order bonus? The key thing here is that you could skip it if you wanted, but people didn't because the xp bonus was sweet and it was a neat area.

Starter areas need to get back to their roots and be optional. Although I'll remind people that in the less brutal worlds we live in today this allows even easier fast tracking of new characters for gold spammers. Just a thought.

@Loktofeit - It does seem like devs create their games in a vacuum sometimes.

emperorwings feels starter zones are a waste of time:

Game doesn't need end game just infinite leveling. Starter zones are a waste of time I think unless it just puts you in the middle of it and expects you to figure it out for yourself which it doesn't. You could go anywhere in WoW since I remember on my human I somehow ended up in the night elf zone and followed the quests there instead of the human zone back before they made SW / Org the main hangout places and FPs bugged out.

Personally, I don't think we need to toss out the baby with the bathwater. As a number of other users explained, starter zones or experiences are important in helping to acclimate MMO newbies to what is often a fairly complicated genre of games. Overwhelming a newbie with a bunch of things to figure out can be as much of a turnoff for them as a plodding starter experience is for us MMO vets. I think the key is to allow people to skip the starter experience if they choose. Someone brought up City of Heroes, which had a great tutorial, but you could skip it entirely if you wanted to.

What's your take? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Story of the Day 2/21/14 - ESO Item Sets & Combat Improvements

Posted by MikeB Friday February 21 2014 at 6:40PM
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With all the things to consider and discuss about ESO, it seems many (including myself) were blindsided by Zenimax's emphasis on crafting in the game. Crafting has sort of fallen by the wayside over the years, but ZOS is looking to bring it back in force with Elder Scrolls Online and so far their implementation has been received quite well.

I don't know if this is something they expected to resonate so strongly with MMO fans or were equally caught by surprise, but ZOS recently jumped at the opportunity to take advantage of interest in the game's suite of crafting features by highlighting one of the more interesting but not readily apparent things they are doing with crafting in ESO in a new developer video. In addition to all the interesting elements of the game's crafting system, ESO will also feature item sets, and these item sets can only be crafted at unique crafting tables found scattered throughout the game world.

I first discovered this in a recent beta event and found myself incredibly excited about the possibilities. Making crafting rewarding and also giving those interested in crafting a reason to explore the world instead of just sitting at the forge in town all day are both encouraging to see in a new MMO. The most dedicated crafters will undoubtedly know all the item set table locations and set themselves apart in the market by providing players with fine tuned item set pieces to purchase. I expected something out of ESO's crafting, but I don't think I was expecting the team to put this much emphasis on it.

Even if you don't care about crafting, you'll still want to take a look at the video. Why? Well, ZOS heard players loud and clear about the lack of 'feedback' in combat and it looks like at least some of their efforts to improve feedback have made it into the build used for the video. If you pause the video around the two minute mark and watch the developers fight the tigers, you'll notice the improved melee combat (especially in third person). For example, note the subtle pauses when the player connects his blade with the tiger. This is a common technique used in many action games to deliver a sense of impact and it looks like ZOS is also making use of this technique to amp things up a bit.

What do you think of the latest dev video? Share your thoughts with us below!

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