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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,

Guild Wars 2: When they said GUILD Wars...

Posted by BillMurphy Wednesday August 31 2011 at 7:05PM
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So I really get that ArenaNet is trying their damnedest to make sure that all the suck is taken out of the MMO when Guild Wars 2 launches.  I can appreciate that probably more than most people due to the fact that it’s my job to play all MMOs.  I want them to suck less, because it means my job will be even more awesome… a feat that’s hard to imagine.  But if there’s just one puzzling choice they’ve made in all of their brilliant design decisions it’s this:
  • Guild membership is account wide, and you can add as many guilds as you like.  You will be able to choose, at any time and on any character, which guild chat you are viewing and what guilds you are currently affiliated with.
  • Doing different activities (“almost anything,” to quote Eric Flannum) with guild-mates will earn Influence for one’s guild, which can be spent towards guild upgrades (storage, etc), or special in-game boosts like a flag that grants extra XP to guild members within its range.
  • Specific guilds will be able to capture keeps within WvWvW PvP, and be able to use their Influence to create upgrades to those keeps.
I love some parts of this.  One, that guild membership is account wide.  No more do I have to worry about getting or keeping every alt in my guild.  I just AM in that guild until they realize I hose at PVP and kick me out.  I also love that you earn “Influence” for the guild to spend on upgrades and boosts.  And I love that we’ll be capturing keeps in the WvWvW a la Dark Ages and Warhammer.  These parts make me giddy.
The part that doesn’t?
The “you can add as many guilds as you like” part. Basically, they’re saying you can be in so many very different guilds at one time.  If this is the case, is every one going to eventually join every guild on the server? Probably not, but someone will.  I remember a time when being a part of a Guild was like being a part of a family.  This system, while convenient for having people to play with at all times, takes away from that.  Surely, we can join just one guild if we want.  I suppose that’s the best way to avoid the problems I see with this system.  But there are benefits.
I wonder if it wouldn’t have been as heavy handed to just allow alliances of up to 5 or 6 guilds for this same purpose?  And in this way, it becomes an organizational thing and less of a “I’ll just join these guys because you know… I might like them better.”  It’s like cheating on your wife… if you’re wife was a guild of people you slew digital monsters with.
I’m really not complaining.  I’m just trying to point out some potential problems with this idea.  Imagine logging on to find out that all your mates in one guild were too busy chatting with their other thirty guilds to bother doing anything with you?  I’m sure the guilds who wish to remain close knit will require people to just be in that guild, but good luck enforcing such a rule without a way to “check a box” in the guild officer’s panel (that’s actually a great idea, and one I hope they add in).  Imagine the sheer amount of ridiculous guild v. guild jealousy that could spring from people being in all the different groups.
Okay, that’s enough pondering on the subject for me.  I’ll reserve real judgment on this until we see it in operation, and I’m extremely happy regardless about the rest of the guild features.  That’s a badass list of things to look forward to.  I can only imagine what my people and I will do in the WvWvW… so long as we don’t get caught up in guild drama with the other guilds we’re all in. 

Community Spotlight: Leaving the Holy Trinity Behind

Posted by MikeB Saturday August 27 2011 at 3:43PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread, "Impossible to leave the trinity behind?" by Dewm. Dewm challenges the idea that we can actually break away from the 'holy trinity' paradigm, even if we tried:

"Alot of people around here, on MMO's and online in general have stated they are tired of the "holy trinity" or the "trinity" period. But they never offer a solution. And my question is, are they not offering a solution because there isn't one?

In any fighting game, or any game where there is combat/battle/warfare there is the trinity. Now some games don't have the full trinity, some only have 1 part, or 2 parts...but nothing really varries. The 3 parts of the trinity (as I see them)




Now you might say "this isn't the holy trinity"...but it really is, You have a tank what does he do? defend, secondary tank? defend, paladin, knight, warrior, tank...whatever you call them...its there to defend, Now you can take that class and (as an example) make a death knight, who has all of these super powers and skills and amazing armor and this and that....but really all you've done is taking a defending class and added some attacking skills.....nothing new. And all combat games are like this. Halo for example:

attacking: depending on which gun you happen to have

Defending: your armor and health bar...

nothing new.

Even card games like :Magic the Gathering have attack defence and CC.

So really when it comes down to it, I think we keep seeing the trinity come up game after game...its because thats all there is. Developers can only dictate which of the 3 parts of the trinity you have. "Will this class attack, defend, both?" So games that offer a diffrent option from the trinity like "FFXIV" and Rift, are really offering you the same thing."

This topic proved to be quite popular, stirring up a lot of solid discussion. Let's find out what people are saying:

quentin405 actually loves the holy trinity system and doesn't see it as an issue:

  I love the so called Trinity, or as I call it specific roles.. I mean sure its all highly based on the flow and structure of the game, and of course the population.. But basically all my best memories and friendships in MMOs have come from the need to befriend and establish regular teaming with "good" players of certain classes..  

 It in my opinion really adds depth to the community.. You could be a tank or healer that logs in and gets bombarded with whispers begging for your company, or maybe no one wants to group with you and you just cant figure out why (cause you suck).  I read all the time how people are so tired of waiting and have so much trouble and are sick of the trinity, but maybe perhaps its the fact that I am a group MAKER not a group member that helps, because other then 5am monday morning back in wows hayday, Ive never found any fault in this system.

If there is low population, or the time of day maybe, or maybe if you have trouble communicating / making friends with others it might be really hard to find a group.. I dont know, I dont want to play any game no matter how revolutionary they hype it up to be, that doesnt have specific roles, thats the whole idea of a roleplaying game..

  I do want to play a game that allows me to establish a reputation for myself as a really reliable and skilled Tank/Healer/DPS, I mean maybe its just me but Dual Specs are about as loose as I want a class system, 2 is great, 1 spec for your main purpose in group play.. and 1 spec thats best for soloing..

cali59 asserts that what people are really frustrated by are inflexible combat roles and content designed to require them:

"When people talk about the Holy Trinity, they mean WoW's version of TANK, HEALER, DPS.  Even in WoW where you have choice of spec, or Rift where you have a lot more variety, the gameplay demands Holy Trinity Specialization.  Being a hybrid is mathematically inefficient and encounters are balanced around people locking into one of these strict roles.

You say that games have a trinity of attacking, defending and cc.  I say ok, no problem, because nobody is trying to get rid of that trinity.  We're playing combat MMOs.  Nobody is saying let's get rid of attacking, defending, and/or cc, what people want to do is get rid of rigid inflexibility in combat, in other words, getting rid of The Holy Trinity (WoW's version).

As far as GW2 is concerned, it's not heresay if we're discussing a concept.  The idea of allowing people to switch roles on the fly depending on what the group needs, as well as not allowing for pure specialization (couldn't be a pure healer even if you wanted to be) is a concept that addresses the holy trinity and offers a solution.  Even if GW2 failed in its implementation, or didn't even exist at all, we could still discuss this potential solution, just as I brought up EQ as an example of a game where it's possible to play a character and be valuable and praised by others, but still not tank, heal or dps."

Quirhid suggests thinking outside of the box as a solution to the trinity and it's associated issues:

There's plenty of ways to make combat without "the trinity" and the cursed taunting system.

Heavy armor characters can body block monsters so they cannot get past them to the squishies. They can get in the way of ranged attacks against soft targets and block them with their shield to avoid taking the hit themselves. Actually, how 'bout focusing the combat around actually avoiding taking damage rather than just soaking it and healing back up again. Taking damage is punishment for failure and dying is punishment for failing too much.

Make the combat about area control. Smash a bottle of oil in front of your softies so that it becomes a slick surface hard to cross. Another character might light the oil aflame so that crossing that area becomes even worse idea. Encourage team work and make it so that different characters can combine their abilities for greater effect.

I could imagine that a different sort of health system would discourage focus fire on both sides if your efficiency is tied to your health. Then half-dead characters are actually half dead and not fighting like they had no scratch.

it is entirely possible to design combat without the holy trinity. Alas, too few are trying.

I've always been a bit internally conflicted about this. On the one hand, I really love flexibility, but I also love playing a distinct role. I think I'm just particular about the role. I don't like fixed DPS roles, I feel like everyone's damage should be valued and blurring the lines on DPS is fine. I also don't like dedicated healers who just sit in the back and  play whack-a-mole with health bars. However, I do like dedicated tanks, though I think there is a lot of room for making tanking more interesting in PvE. I'm more interested in tanks in PvP though.

My most fond memory of tanking in PvP involves playing a Knight of the Blazing Sun in a game of Nordenwatch in Warhammer Online. Protecting my entire team using "Hold the Line!" as we slowly advanced towards Fort (the team was actually cooperating) against a team who was previously dominating us while we were uncoordinated felt really satisfying. Tanks could also protect key allies by sharing damage with them, and by using a number of CC abilities (particularly knockbacks) to physically keep enemies away. I think if you introduced some of these ideas to PvE (or made the encounters challenging enough to require them) tanking, at least, would be more interesting.

TL;DR version: I don't like the complete trinity, but I do like the idea of dedicated tanks (not taunt bots!).

Community Spotlight: What's Your Deal Breaker?

Posted by MikeB Saturday August 20 2011 at 5:07AM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "Game killer" by tochicool. In the thread, tochicool polls the community on their MMO deal breakers:

"What is that one, annoying, thing that completely turns you away from a game. It would be nice if you give a list of games that you would be playing if not for the "game killer"..."

So, what are your dealbreakers? Let's start with DerWotan, who is fairly specific about what drives him away from picking up a game:

if you dont like subscription go play pay 2 win games such as Lotro, Age of Conan, RoM, Allods and all the other crap.

my game killers are:

+ dumbed down gameplay

+ no death penalty or consequence system

+ published by EA, Activision, Frogster or SoE

+  pay 2 win and/or vanity items for $$

games i have left cause of that: World of Worstcommunitycraft, Hypehammer, Vanguard, Everquest 2, Rift and my heart is still bleeding Everquest 1.

pierth can't stand poor control schemes:

Bad/awkward keyboard and mouse controls- FFXI may have been my dream game aside from that. Because of it I didn't even finish the 30 free days.

I'll also agree with the poster that stated when his friends quit a game, although I can usually squeeze a couple more months of enjoyment out of a game. The thing that bothers me the most about it is as I get older I'm less and less willing to take the time to meet new people in game, so if my friends quit it's inevitable that I will as well.

blackcat35 prefers an endless leveling experience:

MAXIMUM LEVEL.  once I hit it, after playing alts for awhile, I leave out of boredom.  Let me stay in the hamster wheel.

This happened with:   Everquest, Ultima Online (hit max skill level on most of my chars including crafting), and city of heroes.

For the, most basic deal breaker is a poor character create. It doesn't matter how awesome the game's features are if wandering around the world results in Attack of the Clones. Now, there are games I've played with poor character create, such as Vindictus, but I don't consider these MMOs in the traditional sense, and so I don't dedicate a ton of time to these games, they're more diversions for me. If I'm looking to pick up a serious game like Star Wars: The Old Republic, World of Warcraft, Star Wars Galaxies, etc, it's got to have a fairly decent character create or I'm turned off instantly.

Also, PvP. Meaningful and enjoyable PvP is incredibly important to me. A number of users noted the 'hamster wheel,' which inevitably ends at some point in every MMO, and you're often left with running PvE instances all day or doing raids after that. PvP for me is like a game of Battlefield or Counter-Strike; if the gameplay is fun, it can perpetuate itself forever. Unlike doing an instance or raid over and over, every match or skirmish can and often is different, and this keeps things exciting.

So, what are your deal breakers? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

WildStar Online Looks Simply Gorgeous

Posted by BillMurphy Wednesday August 17 2011 at 4:50AM
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I wasn't sure what to think when I woke up to publish our GW2 PvP Feature, and caught the unveiling of Carbine's WildStar Online.

Really, my gut reaction was "Oh man, this is like Firefly meets Titan A.E."  The game is simply beautiful in its rendering of the world and characters, and the trailer is the kind of cinematic genius that's usually reserved for Pixar films... a really violent Pixar film where a giant monster gets a hole blown in its head. 

It's that good though.  I smiled the whole time.  If the game is half as fun as the trailer, we're all in for a treat.

As the week rolls on I'm sure we'll learn more about WildStar's features and gameplay.  Our own John Milburn of is in Cologne and getting some time with the developers (probably as I write this at 4:45am).  Unless he gets trampled by a few thousand angry gamers, we should have his impressions for you today or tomorrow.

For now I'm going to just watch that trailer again and again, and stare at the screenshots for a while.  NCsoft... you're making some moves, aren't you?

Keep an eye on the official site for more info as it becomes available.

Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes

Posted by garrett Tuesday August 16 2011 at 2:24PM
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Our first peek at Warhammer Online’s lightning fast PvP style format Wrath of Heroes came from GamesCom today. The trailer moves quickly, but shows a clear MOBA PvP style that continues to grow in popularity. For fans of Warhammer this new update can be seen as a very strong addition to the franchise. The main reason, you can play and grow with your character and faction without having to take the time to level in the MMO.
For players who want or need a more casual approach Wrath of Heroes seems to be the perfect niche. Quick game play and exciting matches really help players with limited time. The MMO model continues to evolve into various service style gaming and while Warhammer Online was released as an in depth game, Wrath of Heroes brings the faster approach for players to enjoy PvP combat.
6v6v6 combat, you have to love that. I have always said that the eight man groups of DAOC were some of the best PvP I have ever played. It looks like Bioware Mythic is finally taking a close look at their old style and bringing it into the fold for gaming in 2011. The 3 faction system is really great and for anyone who had played it back in the day, it is fun to remember. The problem came about when WoW and its two factions crushed the hopes of any games using a multi-faction system ever again. Now with the smaller style games and faster play style it looks like we will have games adding in a lot of options for players to fight it out.
Check out the trailer and beta sign ups here.  

Community Spotlight: Two or Three Factions?

Posted by MikeB Saturday August 13 2011 at 6:30PM
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This week's Community Spotlight focuses on the thread "I'm sick of 2 Faction systems, are you?" by Divion. As the thread title implies, Divion isn't quite happy with the two faction system prevalent in the MMO genre today. I'll let him explain the rest:

Am I the only one of tired of these 2 faction systems?
Even in WoW I wasn’t a fan of it, it didn’t make sense nor sate my desire for variety.
Warcraft 3 had 4 Main factions (Alliance {Humans, Gnomes, Dwarves, High Elves, and Later Blood Elf}, Horde {Orcs, Ogres, Goblins, Tauren}, Night Elves {Treants, Mountain giants, Wisps, Fae} Scourge {Undead, Zombies, Skeletons, Abominations, Ghouls, ect), and even 1 Sub-Faction, Naga (Blood Elves were later mix in with them)
Some how, and for some reason (Lazy Developers maybe), it was condensed into 2; Factions, the Signature Alliance, and Horde – This made for some rather 1 sided choices (Especially back during Vanilla when Paladin/Shaman were Faction restricted.), it also destroyed the Lore behind WoW (Night Elf Death Knights, Death Knights joining the ALLIANCE? WTF?).
To me having 4 factions would made more sense, with faction restricted classes being more widespread (Example, you could only be a Death Knight if you joined the Scourge, with your Faction Boss being no-other then the Lich King -- Paladins Alliance, Blade master Horde, Hunter Night Elves, ect).
How many factions are the right amounts? Is the notion of factions flawed at best? I remember the days of EQ when there was no factions only reputation, if your reputation was bad with the Dark Elves the NPC would kill you, you could change your “Factions” by improving or degrading your rep with hundreds of different combinations.
However, in EQ2 it was scrapped for a 2 party system (Good vs Evil).
What was your favorite Faction System? From what game?
For me, it was Lineage 2, it was player driven with castle sieges, and player owned terrain, open PvP.

So, what do the community think of the two faction system? Let's find out!

Asheram feels the problem with having more than two factions is having the population to sustain them:

The problem though arises if you dont have the population in a game to sustain more than 2 factions,and making each seperate faction desirable to play so the majority of that population doesnt all drift towards 1 faction therby unbalancing it even more.

I am sure if it was an easy thing to accomplish more developers would do it.

Jaco1101 actually feels Ultima Online's Trammel was the ideal solution:

Ultima Online really did it best even with Trammel.  You had faction wars in both Tram and Fel and if you simply wanted to pvp anytime or anywhere then Fel is where you wanted to be. 

Just in case you didn't experience it, Trammel and Fel mirrored each other as in basically identical worlds if you will.  In Trammel, pvp was only consensual unless you were in a faction war which was voluntary.  Fel was the 1/2 of the game where pvp was open and anyone could be attacked.  There were consequences of becomming a murderer (stat loss for x amount of time) that sort of thing.

Lawlmonster would do away with factions completely:

I'd much rather games be factionless for the players, not necesarily for the NPC's, and allowed the community at large to form their own guilds, corporations, organizations, allegiances and enemies. It's far more interesting, but it's also a personal preference.

I've actually never experienced the three faction system in an MMO, but from my vast experience with the dual faction system it's easy to see the benefits of three factions over two. The two faction system gives way to the zerg vs. zerg mentality, whereby the side with the highest amount of players tends to win. Introducing a third faction as a potential wildcard would really spice things up.

I'd have loved to see Star Wars: The Old Republic feature an Underworld or independent faction as a third faction (Bounty Hunters, Smugglers, Slicers, Gray Jedi perhaps?), unfortunately that isn't the case. On the plus side, Guild Wars 2 will feature "World vs. World vs. World" PvP and this may be just what some of you are looking for.

So, what are your thoughts on the two or three faction systems? Let us know in the comments below!

Overwolf Updated - Now With HD Video!

Posted by BillMurphy Wednesday August 3 2011 at 7:42PM
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Hey folks.  Just a quick note to let you know that our Overwolf client has been updated with some pretty meaty new features.  Namely: the gadget now records video in high quality! 

Version 122 includes all of the following major changes.

  1. A new and better detailed game list, now sorting between OS, and constantly updated with our latest supported games.
  2. Game support according to user requests include Age of Conan, MapleStory, and more.
  3. A YouTube widget - time to watch Sam B dance while I Rift.
  4. Full-Size video recording, allowing you to record High-Quality videos, while setting the FPS yourself! I would love to hear your thoughts on that. The major advantage is the real time compression. as an example, a 30 seconds fraps recording I did (1080, 30 FPS) was 986 Mb, and same for Overwolf is 3.6 Mb. That is a great advantage for your hard drive space and allows us to upload videos to social networks. (Uploading one Gigabyte doesn't make sense or isn't possible).
  5. Don't want Overwolf's dock to automatically expand while hovering over it? You can now choose to open Overwolf's dock with a click instead. (Just configure this in settings > video). This request came straight from our forums!
  6. As usual - more bug fixes and improvements in general.
We hope you guys are loving the partnership with Overwolf.  It's become a mainstay for most of my gaming, though even I can't wait until more and more games are supported with the client.  As always, feel free to share your feedback on this build here.  Uri Marchand and his team are always listening.  And go download the new client to check it out! 

Diablo 3 Auction House: Gimme Da Cash!

Posted by garrett Monday August 1 2011 at 2:16PM
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It is no secret that Blizzard has been at war with gold farmers for over a decade now. The third party vendors have plagued Diablo 2 and more importantly World of Warcraft from the beginning. One of the few ways to eliminate these vendors is to start selling the in game gold and items your self. It is simply the most effective way to eliminate the problem. However, that practice can become unethical and viewed as a pay to play alternative. So with Diablo 3’s new cash auction house, Blizzard is doing something completely different in their favor. They are creating their own market.
Think of this as a stock market scenario. Players are free to list items they want to sell and charge whatever prices seem fair. Blizzard regulates the market and enforces the rules. They also get a percentage. Once established now Blizzard controls the market fully. They can say who trades and who gets banned. They can work with options and ideas for players to benefit from the sales of items, and most importantly if the gold farmers want to get involved, they have to play by Blizzard’s rules.
At first glance I know everyone was shocked by this announcement. Blizzard is not turning Diablo 3 into a pay to play game by any means. They are just giving the players a place to trade and buy items that is safe and under their control. In many ways it makes perfect sense. Now what the players will do within this market is something different entirely. You will have loads of people all over the globe trying to create some kind of scams or rip offs based on this system.
As I think about it more, the idea of a Diablo 3 direct money auction house is not a bad thing. For one is uses real cash. It does not try to dilude players with gold chips or fluffy coins that mommy and daddy have to purchase with a credit card. Nope, there is a real world cash value on it. Just like the Magic: The Gathering secondary market, you pay real money, in some ways that might make people more cautious about their purchases.
Many people are upset about this aspect of the and Diablo 3 at first glance, but when you really start to think about it somehow it doesn’t seem to be so bad. Again people are interpreting it as Blizzard is selling items, they are not. They are creating the market to sell items if you want too. Now, how players will use the market could be very dangerous.
This may stop some people from playing Diablo 3 but I think it is just an option for players to have a market to sell items that is not tied to some third party outlet. Hopefully, that is all it will be.