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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,

We're Back! Thanks for Bearing With Us

Posted by BillMurphy Tuesday October 30 2012 at 5:50PM
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Hey folks!

I just wanted to take a brief moment to thank you all for your patience as we and our hosting provider worked through our server outage.  Who knew that Sandy could take out and its sister sites (FPSGuru and RTSGuru)? But, now the site has been re-booted and we're all free to spend the next few days talking about the Lucasfilm/Disney merger... and how much Episode 7 of Star Wars might actually be good without Lucas.

Thank you all for your patience during the outage.  We hope everyone came through the worst of the storm alright.  I live in Ohio, and even we were feeling its power out here in the Buckeye state.

The news is going to start coming back ASAP, and we'll have our features begin posting tomorrow AM.  

Now let's get back to gaming!

Community Spotlight: Games You Come Back To

Posted by MikeB Sunday October 28 2012 at 8:29PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we focus on the thread, "Games you keep returning to" by guldurkhand. Guldurkhand offers his own examples to kick things off:

I kept returning to World of Warcraft, but now I am a bit outplayed with World of Warcraft(played it for 7 years). I think the best games are the ones that you keep returning to. What is the game you keep returning to?

What games does the rest of the community often return to? Let's highlight a couple of examples.

jdlamson75 finds himself returning to Darkfall:

Despite its flaws, after every disappointing new MMO I've played over the past 3 years, I've continually gone back to Darkfall.  It's a combination of the rush I get when fighting other players and the camaraderie I feel with those in my clan/alliance.  Had a lot of good times and made a lot of good friends in Darkfall.

Trudge34 often returns to the original EverQuest:

The first EverQuest (or at least some version of the original ;) still sucks me back in time after time. I've played many games and MMOs between quitting live back in 04 to now but I keep going back. Nothing yet sucks me in like EQ* does still... Was trying Vanguard and desperately hoped it would, but the lag the server was experiencing when it went F2P made it unplayable to me at the time. Maybe I'll give it another go along with EQ2, but probably will still go back to EQ*.

For wanderica, its LOTRO:

Definitely LotRO for me.  Used to return to WoW as well, but it finally lost the magic when the last of my RL friends stopped playing.  LotRO, on the other hand, never seems to lose that magic.  I always manage to return at the tail end of an expansion. Luckily this time I got in at the beginning.  I agree with a previous poster though.  It just feels so . . . refined?  It's mostly text based quests with little VO, but I just lose myself in it.  Enough sandbox to keep me busy, and enough PvE to placate me.  Usually lasts about 6 months and I move on, but I love rediscovering it on the return trip.

I've always returned to City of Heroes. Obviously, I won't be able to continue doing that pretty soon here since the game is ceasing service, but over the years, City of Heroes has always been my "home" MMO. I've played the game on and off for over five years now probably and it's just always been great for its variety of power combinations and awesome moment-to-moment combat. There's always some character concept waiting to be explored and City of Heroes gave me the tools to bring those fantasies to life. There simply is no other game like it.

What MMOs do you find yourself often returning to? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Community Spotlight: Most Cherished MMO Item?

Posted by MikeB Sunday October 21 2012 at 10:16PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we focus on the thread,"Most cherished item from any MMO you've played." by Kakkzooka. Kakkzooka kicks things off with his own examples:

For me, I would have to say that the staff from World of Warcraft, Benediction, was my most prized, virtual possession:

Hi! Please use this staff to more easily target me for your PvP pleasure.

Not only was it (arguably) the coolest looking staff in the game, it had a glowing trail of slowly fading green, phosphorous dots that followed it as you walked, ran or galloped across Azeroth. But, beyond that, there was a ton of lore and work that lead up to acquiring the staff. First, you had to obtain an Eye of Shadow, an epic drop with a cryptic message about its purpose, by farming DreadLords in the Blasted Lands (or the Dreadlord himself, Lord Kazzak), or by going to Winterspring and farming Slayers. Then you had to equip the eye of shadow, pilfered via a paltry 50% drop chance from Majordomo in Molten Core, in order to find the ghost of a priest who failed to heal the denizens of Stratholme as it was being purged by Arthas. You must succeed where she failed, and if you are successful: the branch that will complete the construction of Benediction is your reward.

As a runner-up, my second favorite staff was found in Karazhan after the introduction of The Burning Crusade expansion, called "The Staff of Infinite Mysteries:"

Enjoying that glow trail? We'll fix that!

I acquired this staff shortly after the opening of The Burning Crusades, and while this staff's lore isn't nearly as interesting (IMO), there is a bit of trivia that many devotees of Karazhan, or enthusiasts of this particular stave, may remember. This staff, like Benediction, produced a wild looking glow trail when equipped, while the player was walking, running or riding a mount. (Almost like a black-light, LSD trail.) This effect was subsequently nerfed about a month or two after the expansion released, with no explanation. Doing so truly ruined the aesthetics of the staff, for me.

What are some items from your favorite MMOs that you have really cherised?

What are some of the community's most cherished items? Find out below!

Nhyx shares his tale of acquiring a griffon in Vanguard:

My griffon in Vanguard before the raise of the level cap. It was a long and epic quest and one mob especially, Akande, took so many tries until we finally figured out how to kill it on a reliable basis. After we knew how to kill the mob we took each and every guild member through the quest. We were 4 people able to deal with it and helped the 5th ín the group to obtain the griffon as well.

So many tries, with the weirdest ideas as how to beat it. Akande spawned a dog as aid and keeping it under control proofed the hardest for the tank. And we tried the weirdest stuff to finally beat it. One class, necro, could summon meat so we even thought of summoning meat to distract the dog. This is how far fetched our ideas went because we couldn't figure out the strat for that mob...

I played a tank and couldn't help in groups where the 5th member was also a tank. Since not all of the tanks managed to obtain the griffon due to their lack of ability to keep Akande and its dog under control it made me even more proud that I was one of the few to be able to tank it.

UsualSuspect got some serious mileage out of his Cloak of Flames in the original EverQuest:

Playing a Monk in EverQuest, at the time the Cloak of Flames was the best haste item available, which dropped rarely from Lord Nagafen, the Dragon. It was my second attempt on Nagafen and I was with a small guild that had added other people on to create an adequate sized raid, me included, as I was unguilded at the time. Nagafen went down and the Cloak of Flames was one of the drops, the people there rolled /random 420 to see who would get the cloak and the highest roll was 418. People were congratulating that person when I asked if I was allowed to roll, as I wasn't a part of the guild that organized the raid. The answer was yes and I promptly /rolled and got a 419.

While I felt a bit bad for the guy who had been congratulated already, that Cloak lasted me all through the Kunark, Velious and Luclin expansions, and only after hitting the elemental planes in Planes of Power did I finally exchange it for a higher haste item.

That really was my most treasured item. It came as a surprise reward and lasted me for most of my life through EverQuest.

Loktofeit's composite bow in Asheron's Call was his favorite:

My composite bow in Asheron's Call. I had to actively hunt for specific creatures to get the parts and then there was a skill check involved in creation that included breakage and loss of parts if crafting failed. Aside from the rather epic adventure of collecting the various parts from around the game world, the bow looked great and had really good stats, making it a great bow for my character for years.

Edit: Second would be my Bandit Hilt Dagger.

My most cherished item was my X-Wing in Star Wars Galaxies. I had an engine in that baby that was worth over 80 million credits (pre-nerf engine). The engine let me pile on tons of heavy weaponry and other awesome components due to its light weight and it was fast and agile as heck to boot. My server, Starsider, often ran space PvP events every weekend and was host to an overall great Jump to Lightspeed community. I've had tons of great memories in my X-Wing. Hopefully Chris Roberts' Star Citizen can bring back some of that magic!

How about you? What was your most cherished MMO item? Let us know in the comments below!

Community Spotlight: Multiple Accounts?

Posted by MikeB Sunday October 14 2012 at 8:39PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we focus on the thread "Have you ever paid for multiple accounts for a single MMORPG?" by Kyleran. In the thread, Kyleran asks if the community has shelled out for more than just a single account in any particular MMO:

Just curious, I currently pay for 3 sub fees for EVE (all for my own use) and got to thinking about how many other titles I've paid for multiple sub fees over the years and why.

Lineage 1 - Had 3 accounts, 1 for myself and 2 for family

DAOC - 5 accounts at one time, 2 for family

Lineage 2 - 3 accounts, 2 for me, 1 for family.

WOW - 3 accounts - 1 for me, 2 for family.

AOC - 2 accounts, 1 for me, 1 for family

LOTRO 2- 2 accounts, ditto

EVE - Max of 4 accounts, all for me

COH/COX - 2 accounts, 1 for me, 1 for family

Guild Wars 1 - 2 accounts, 1 for me, 1 for family (yes, I know, more of a one time B2P)

WAR - 2 accounts, 1 for me, 1 for family

Runes of Magic - 2 accounts, 1 for me, 1 for family, yes, I know F2P , but I had to provide cash for mounts and what not for both accounts

Aion - 2 accounts, 1 for me, 1 for family

The only titles I found really useful to multi-box in were EVE, DAOC, and Lineage 2, with most other titles 1 account has been sufficient to enjoy the game.

Just wondering how many accounts other people have paid for in their gaming careers and see if there are any of the hardcore folks on these forums, you know, who have paid for like 12 accounts to a single game (or perhaps multiple games at the same time)

Read on for the community's responses!

superniceguy had hundreds of SWG accounts (holy crap!):

I had 100s accounts with SWG, with 10-15 constantly actively subbed, with about 4 main ones always subbed, and then the rest on a rotation system or when needed.  In 2007 I subbed 3 accounts on the 12 month plan.

After the game got the free transfers every 3 months, just before May 2011, I was going to activate about 4 more constantly to specifically transfer resources from server to server, but then the game was announced to close 2 months later, and there was no time to get that going.

SWG was the best game to multibox, and my one PC managed to run up to 8 clients at one time, and with its macro system, could do some amazing things.

LOTRO I have 2 LT accounts

STO -1 LT and 1 free although did sub for a few months

SWTOR, I bought 3 at launch, but have only needed one

If I get into games that are free, I may end up creating more

fenistil not only hasn't had multiple accounts in a game, but rarely plays alts, either:

No never.  I rarely play more than one main character as well.  Actually I still remember times when you had 1 character per server and I see nothing wrong with that.  Of course those were difftent kind of games. 

Playing multiple characters at one time (i.e. dual boxing) seems horrible for me personally pleasure wise of course. Botting / macroing as well.   Even though I long for UO - I could not play it nowadays.  Having gameplay that rely heavily on macroing - bleeegh.   Setting up macro to endlessly dig in mines = not fun.

Besides I prefer to have 'characters' and not 'toons',  but it is hard nowdadays.

I'm fairly sure Maelwydd doesn't maintain multiple accounts in any game:


If you like to be a dick to others, I can see why some want a 2nd account but I cannot see any reason for more then 1 account personally.

The other option are people that simply cannot play fair and so need extra accounts to gather more resources, own more land or whatever simply because they cannot achieve the same as others without effectivly cheating.

I think people that have more then 1 account for themselves and don't have them to allow them to play like dicks are failing to see the point of playing games and treat it more like a job or life replacement.

Even if I was stupidly rich I would still only have 1 account per game, just have lots of games to play. I simply don't get why it is needed for anything but player issues.

I've considered it before, but I can't say I recall having multiple accounts in a game. I do have two Guild Wars 2 accounts, but I don't pay for those monthly, so I don't really count them. Usually, a single account is more than adequate to fit my playstyle and I hope it stays that way!

How about you? Have you paid for multiple accounts in an MMO before? Let us know in the comments below!

Community Spotlight: Do Auction Houses Kill Community?

Posted by MikeB Sunday October 7 2012 at 6:03PM
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In this week's Community Spotlight, we're focusing on the thread, "Auction House: Death of Community" by Myrdynn. In the thread, Myrdynn declares that auction houses are the culprit for what he perceives as the death of communities in MMOs:

I have long been thinking of posting this, finally getting a little time to do so.  While playing some games recently, TSW, GW2, SWtor, TERA, etc over the last year, it has dawned on me that the biggest community killer is the Auction House.  Recently games (TSW and GW2) launched without a proper AH, and until they were put in place, people actually talked in the channels, making deals, helping people, selling mats etc.  I actually made a couple acquaintances that were heavy crafters, who just were after all the supplies they could get their hands on, and I was willing to help em out.  It was a good relationship.  Then the AH was fixed, and since then I havent even talked to a single person in game.  Before you say, well I should try making friends, there really is nothing in either TSW or GW2 that having friends makes beneficial.  I dont need them to do anything in game, I dont need them to craft anything for me, etc.

Now long ago, the games we played didnt have Auction Houses, and they were very strong communities.  Everyone on a server knew that if you wanted a Ubersword of Giant Slaying, that BobJohnson was the one that could craft it the best, or you could at least ask around and see if someone could hook you up.  This built community, numerous times, a conversation would go something like.  Hey I hear you can make me "item X', sure I can, but the mats are really tough to come by.  But why dont we get a group together and go out on a hunting party to find them.  You get your mats, you help me skill up one of my crafting skills, its a win/win.  Friendships were formed, alliances were forged, etc.

Unfortunately with the have it all now crowd that play MMO's Auction Houses are an evil necessity.  You collect your mats, sell them on the AH for X currency, then search for the item you want and bam, you got it, very short time, very EZ.  But during this time, you have no interaction with another player whatsoever, hell you dont even know who made you your item.  Items used to be imprinted with crafters as well, so that when someone says hey where did you get that sword you could inspect it and it would say made by "player X".

Anyways, I know I am going to likely be in the minority, but its something I have been thinking of for some time.  I think a happy medium might be a game where an Auction House isnt really an AH, but a Job listing, for example you want "Sword X" you search the AH database of "who" can craft it, and it will give you a list with (online/offline) status's, where you then actually need to interact with a player, It might not be all that much different but at least its a step back in the right direction


Does the community agree? Let's find out!

Leoghan feels the issue is a bit more complicated:

I've played a lot of MMO's some with AH's at launch and some without. I remember EQ before there was a bazaar and I don't remember the addition of the bazaar changing the social aspect of the game. 

If I remember correctly SWG launched with the market terminals or whatever they called them, I think that game probably had one of the best communities especially when it came to learning who was the best at crafting what and the like. 

The reality is that community shaping is not just about one aspect. Heck I think the ability to tab out of game and look up things like quest guides or other game related things can have as big an impact on community, if not bigger, than an AH can.

Rhavens definitely agrees that auction houses have played a role in impacting player communities:

I have to agree with the OP on this one. In the early days of SWG, crafters could have their own merchants or vendors in their houses, but we had to know the guy and know what he was crafting, otherwise we didn't even know where to find a house with a vendor in it (of course it was also possible to explore a planet and try all houses hoping to find a vendor). There was a bazaar but there was a price limit on it so it was more profitable for a crafter to have his own vendors or interact directly with a potential buyer and more efficient for all players to know them. Then came the "personal vendors location" on the bazaar and the social aspect of crafting and commerce took a big hit.

I don't say that having a auction house is good or not, I'm just staying with the OP about how it affect social. For some, interacting directly with a crafter is the best or more fun way to do buisness, for others, it's the fast and practical side of the auction house.

tomato_kwan argues that, if anything, the auction house helps communities:

So you mean a bunch of people spamming "WTS XXXXX" like 10 times a minute builds a community heh?

No AH doesn't destroy the community. In fact it helps. At least people would bother reading the channels.......

I miss old school MMORPGs but AH is a nice feature. If the game content is group/social oriented, AH won't "kill" the community. People that don't bother socializing do.

I also agree with many others in the thread that noted the issue is far more complex than the single issue of auction houses. If the game has the roots of a strong economy with a solid interdependence between players, a robust auction house may limit the potential for players to really interact with each other in a meaningful way, which should be the main purpose of applying that level of interdependence to your game design in the first place. In a sense, you're shooting yourself in the foot if you require players to depend on each other, but let them circumvent the social benefits of doing so by just going through an auction house. You get all the annoying bits, and not as much of the good stuff. Placing buy orders for items you can't make and getting an e-mail with the item a couple of days later doesn't really do much to foster community.

SWG was mentioned as a good example of a game that struck a balance between having an auction house of sorts and encouraging interaction in trading. Goods sold through a player shop out in the game world could be purchased on the bazaar terminal, but players would still have to venture out and pick it up at the originating vendor. Entering the shop, even if the merchant wasn't there, might impress the buyer and encourage him to check out his other vendors or even contact him for custom orders. I can personally attest to this having happened to me.

Of course, if the merchant is there, and they frequently were, it would often lead to some interesting conversation, and perhaps additional business. Heck, I developed a relationship with a pair of Mon Cal weapon and armorsmiths during my early adventures in SWG simply by wandering over to their shop and picking up some low tier weaponry to get things rolling. We chatted a bit and I ended up shopping there quite a bit. Eventually, these two merchants would pay me to take them out to dangerous areas so they could place their harvesters and acquire high quality resources. Had I just bought my items blindly off of an auction house, I don't think these opportunities would really ever present themselves.

Ultimately, the impact of an auction house on the in-game community really depends on the game, but I don't think even in the worst case scenario that auction houses are ever responsible for outright 'killing' an in-game community. There's much more to community than economic-based interaction.

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