Star Trek Online bandage ICONIAN war story

Iskar repeated the invocations to himself, making up for the ones he had missed while receiving his punishment in the disciplining room. When he was done with his prayers, he found a spot at the edge of the terrace and leaned against the gold-plated railing.

There is a (very) short positions hint on Star Trek Online Star Trek Online website for the next update, which will put an end to the war Iconian story has continued since the game’s launch five years ago.

Called “Midnight,” the final chapter suggests Iconians owned and players union “, they are scrambling to incorporate technological advantages in the field of” forced into an “incredible decision”, which may violate the temporal prime directive.

There is not many people there, so why not use this opportunity to re-examine our interview STO Executive Producer Steve Ricossa next month about the game? Each click will give you free tribbles!

MY PLAYSTYLE PROFILE ACCORDING TO QUANTIC FOUNDRY

Over at comeback blog Stylish Corpse, the delightful Ysharros linked her Quantic Foundry player profile for blaugust, a survey which I have meant to take for a while. Like many MMO players I’ve taken the Bartle test in the past which was very accurate for me, as long as you rely on such results with some care.

I was as shocked as the next person about my achiever stat….

Art Technica calls the Quantic Foundry test “gaming’s version of the Myers-Briggs test” which I have taken as well several times in the past and reliably scored the same. Quantic Foundry introduces 6 parameters rather than Bartle’s four playstyles, with the notable additions of the “immersion playstyle” and “mastery” one, which I feel were the least accounted for by Bartle. Naturally, there’s plenty of overlap otherwise between the two.

“The quick quiz doesn’t do a perfect job of capturing the wide variety of gaming motivations; as Ars’ Sam Machkovech put it, the quiz “asked a lot of questions that didn’t match up with my preferences, particularly puzzle and couch multiplayer stuff.” That said, the six-pronged matrix of scores does seem to do a decent job breaking down a participant’s tastes and how they might overlap with other gamers.” [source]

Same as for Bartle, no player is purely defined by their strongest interest or inclination and all tests fall short including everyone and everything. What they can absolutely do is illustrate the differences between yourself and the next person and maybe clear a few things up – like why you hate questing with your significant other.

I quite like the insight provided by the survey. At first I was slightly surprised at the 39% I scored for immersion; I care a great deal about the setting, world, aesthetic and theme in MMOs. However at the same time, I am also very “grounded in the gameplay mechanics” as their guide calls the non-immersive player type and I am not exactly a lore-junkie.

My results also illustrate well that I need to be excited – I’m an explorer and designer but I love fast-paced action and some competition too. Stuff that requires a quick reaction time and some strategy (not too much micro-management, mind) gives me a rush. After all I raided for quite some time in the past. I just don’t care much about whether I am the best relatively speaking or about having the most or doing everything. I don’t need that pressure from games.

You can take the QF test over here if you feel bored this fine Sunday or are looking for something else to blog about for blaugust (or in general)! There’s no requirement to sign up in order to get your results. If someone scores completely differently from what they expected, I’d love to hear about that.

The whole topic of flight in World of Warcraft has become a bit of a will-they-won’t-they affair

Originally Blizzard said they would bring flight to Draenor “later”, then they said it probably wouldn’t happen, then the community got Really Angry, then Blizzard said okay, okay, we’ll give you flight, and players have been waiting since 6.2 for the new mini-patch to come along and implement Draenor flying at last. But it’s taking a while.

You’ll get this cute little guy for your troubles!

Patch 6.2.2 is the hotly anticipated mini-patch in question, though before players will be able to take to the Draenor skies, they will have to earn a fairly lengthy achievement.

Blizzard have teamed up with Wowhead to bring players a guide to earning the Draenor Pathfinder Achievement while they wait for flight to be implemented in game. The guide takes you through each step to make sure obtaining the achievement is as easy as possible, and there’s even a handy video guide!

Now Blizzard have talked a little further about why patch 6.2.2 is taking so long to hit the live servers and the answer is pretty much that they wanted to make sure the implementation is as smooth as possible so that those who’ve been waiting for flying can enjoy it fully. It is still on track and “the wait isn’t much longer.”

It won’t be long now before you can soar through the Draenor skies on your very own Skyterror!

 

LAUNCH FEVER DETACHMENT

I’ve been feeling oddly detached and indifferent to all the launch mania that’s been going on these past few weeks. Defiance, Neverwinter, Firefall, Startrek Online and Wildstar keys – I feel exhausted thinking of them all. Every other week I google a new acronym to find out what MMO people are talking about this time. Someone said on twitter that it’s not about the games anymore, that he’s just “addicted to launch rush”, a restless nomad never setting up camp. Far be it from me to criticize such behavior or rain on anyone’s parade but that’s the thing really: there are no parades to rain on anymore. There’s one-night stands and short-term flings, no more falling in love or grand statements of exclusive or at least deep affection. If you told me Defiance was great yesterday, then post an article on Neverwinter today while tweeting about tomorrow’s awesome STO session, you’ve lost me at “it was so much fun”.

Not that I’ve had any big hopes for 2013. It’s been pretty clear that TESO aside (and even that remains to be seen) there won’t be surprises or smashing hits for me this year. I am happy to delve deeper into Guild Wars 2 and maybe return to Rift’s Storm Legion. Yet, I feel gloomy looking at the current trend of MMO launches, the speed of playing and the fraction within the community. Many bloggers have predicted a future of variety and niche titles for this genre. It seems we’re slowly catching up with that vision, I’m just not sure it’s quite how I pictured it. I’m searching for genuine excitement and enthusiasm around me. Even on known community websites hasty reviews read as if written by people who aren’t “feeling it” but jump at every occasion to well, write reviews for something. How wonderful. Maybe I am deluded to think it was ever different but wow, I am so not catching fire!

If we accept this as the future of MMOs, what does it mean for the social factor of the genre? How will bonds be formed within a community of game “grazers” – will they shift to other social media, without specific games retaining their own dedicated community? Or will the experience of playing with and inside an established player base simply disappear?

There have always been MMO players happy to solo, pug and mind their own business, no matter what games they play. And then there are those still looking for the social gaming experience, scrutinizing new games for grouping and guild mechanics. Only – social and cooperative game design matters very little when games can’t retain that player base which would rather be inter-railing between virtual worlds. It seems to me this issue matters a great deal more right now than social game design, great group content, guild incentives and whatnot.

Somewhere these two factors are probably connected. Maybe division doesn’t just stem from the fact that there’s more and more variety at a cheaper price; but is it a lack of social game design that creates the current community – or did the changing playstyles of an aging target audience not rather ask for game design that requires less dedication? More importantly: can niche games do anything about this or will they too be overrun by the grazing trend?

Personally, I still yearn to be dedicated. While my life and net gametime have changed, I’d still like to play that one game with that one guild or group of people. I don’t think less overall gametime must be a hindrance, as long as it’s regular and you’re playing with peers. I could see myself doing this in Guild Wars 2, LOTRO or Rift – it doesn’t even matter that much. But I’m not close to a single stable, dedicated bunch of people anymore who play together longterm. As for guilds, they are dying and dying everywhere. It seems we’re looking at a future of loose cross-platform / cross-game communities at best, spamming raptr stats or chatting via twitter. To be clear, I wouldn’t mind either in addition, but on their own they’re horribly subpar alternatives to real ingame communication.

How well will true niche titles (which NW and the likes are not) be able to carve out their unique, stable communities? And what if I never find a niche MMO that suits me?

WILDSTAR AND WHY I DON’T LIKE THE EXPLORER PATH

Just when I thought I was pretty much not going to play Wildstar this year, Zenimax Online dropped the bomb and announced that The Elder Scrolls Online release date would be pushed back to spring 2014, to meet the launch date of Sony and Microsoft’s next-generation consoles. That’s one of the many things this “MMOs go console”-trend is gonna do for us in the future: delay stuff. Porting to different systems, creating individual interfaces and testing everything cross-platform takes time. Well, great. If it meant that the MMO community is growing, I could probably live with that but since servers will be split between different systems, there’s not really an upside there for PC players other than that Zenimax make more money (which will hopefully go back into designing great, future content updates).

So…Wildstar. A while ago I mentioned that no doubt this is a polished game with a good shot at the World of Warcraft demography. Since then, Carbine have been pretty open about it too – yes, we’re coming for ya, Blizzard! Only, we have the updated questing system and awesome player housing, along with all the PG-rated candyland. The latter is still one of my biggest qualms with the game: I am so over the Warcraft cartoon aesthetic. I do greatly appreciate the maturity in MMOs like Age of Conan or LOTRO, Rift and GW2 too are on my good side even if slightly more to the center of that Venn diagram. Wildstar shoots the hyper-fantasy rocket into deep space where it crashes somewhere between Outland and a Pixar movie. This is certainly no sword&sorcery MMO. But I digress.

Carbine’s spin on the Bartle profiles is interesting and if I was to choose a path for myself, no doubt that would be the explorer’s. Or such would’ve been my initial reaction because y’know – wandering around at random is awesome, listening to the world, discovering secrets and taking the long road whenever possible. Only, that’s not really what exploration means every time.

It struck me that while exploration has been widely praised in GW2 (and justly so), it’s also one of the most popularly gamified activities in the entire game. Players say exploration and mean “climbing all vistas”, hitting all pre-marked (!) points, “doing all jumping puzzles”, “getting the 100% achievement”. See that there? – Not me! I couldn’t care less if my world map is complete in GW2, I’ve a feeling it’s currently somewhere around 60% and that’s with me playing since launch. When I explore I don’t set out to find every last corner of a zone, let alone doing silly jumping puzzles. Oh, how I hate them. I want to smell the flowers and go wherever chance takes me. As for “mapping the world” –

“…there’s nothing worse to me than a world that’s fully discovered, fully mapped and fully understood. The moment we draw the last line in that picture is the moment we limit our world, the moment where it becomes small and finite – when hypothesis and speculation become hard fact and there is no more ‘may be’.

To a traveler and explorer “finishing a world” is the death of his playstyle. I want to stand at the shore of the southern sea and wonder forever what may lie beyond.” [source]

What am I gonna do once I’ve mapped the entire world? Let’s not map it!

Now, seems to me Wildstar’s explorer sounds an awful lot like exploration in GW2. The shiny somewhat wishy-washy job descriptions on the official page can’t conceal what gets very obvious in this explorer showcase or devspeak: climby vista-missions and timed (!) scavenger hunts, power maps (more jumping), achievements, completionism…on the clock.

To clarify: I realize that achievements can be a great motivator for some players to go and travel the world at all, although I can’t judge how much they are actually seeing and exploring it when they’re out hunting marks. In any case, that makes me wonder about two things: a) Is this path for people who are already explorers (and therefore need no achievements as ‘incentives’) or is it just another coat of paint for the achiever? And b) What’s in it for me who finds achievement spam, event markers and countdowns obtrusive to the exploratory experience rather than helpful?

Of course that begs one more question, namely what the hell I was expecting and I guess that’s fair. Exploration being such an intrinsically motivated activity for me of almost meditative quality, there’s just no active setting up or instrumentalizing this in an MMO, the way the devs would like to. Explorers like me need a living, breathing open world first and foremost, one that doesn’t flaunt its riches and doesn’t scream at you but offers reward in terms of discovering secrets and random events. Proper scale and size matter too, extensive travel and eye candy – plenty of that. It’s especially nice if you can “do” things – leave a mark, create or change something no matter how small (how would player-created geocaching do in MMOs I wonder?). What I’d like to see too is literally drawing your own maps instead of getting world map view all the time.

I’d be up for more erring in general; it’s bizarre beyond words that designers spend years creating virtual worlds and then hand you all the maps, event/location markers and even lists of “what you can do there” (aka achievements) from the get-go. And then they wonder why it all lasted a few weeks only.

Anyway, my preferred modus operandi isn’t nearly enough for a fully fledged, gamified playstyle with tangible progression and rewards, I get it. So for now the big question of which path to pick in Wildstar is back on the table. I’ll probably have to do the usual: “force” my inner explorer on any given path. It appears Settler is quite en vogue, so maybe I should just roll Kill…err Soldier out of spite and blow up all those jumping puzzles they no doubt created.

Black Ops 3 Actually Releasing On Last Generation Consoles

 

Previously though to only be releasing on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 was thought to be the first “true” next gen Call of Duty. Today, Activision finally spoke about the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game. Activision confirmed that Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 will be releasing on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, with Mercenary Technologies and Beenox assisting in the creation of these versions.

Unfortunately, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 will be missing some features that are present in the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC versions of the game. Some of the discussed features include those that utilize elements of the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC that do not exist on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The team’s “goal” is to feature two player co-op in the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions, while the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC versions will feature four player co-op.

Alongside the announcement that the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions exist is the announcement that Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 will not be coming to the Wii U. The final announcement today is that Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 will have a beta, but only for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

 

The Pros and Cons of MMO Merchandise

Times sure have changed, especially in terms of merchandising and gaming. When I was a young lad playing my computer and console games back in the 1980s, there was no real merchandise to be had for my favorite games. If I was extremely lucky, there might be a t-shirt, and the only real items available for computer games were hint books that helped you solve the game. Now the reality is that mmo merchandise is a world unto itself. Gamers can pick up posters, action figures, music CDs, mouse pads, statues, shot glasses, and so much more. Heck, a person can easily spend far more buying merchandise from a specific game than they actually spend on playing the game itself. Yet there are both good and bad aspects to this realm of merchandising wonder. Let’s suppress our need to collect everything as we discuss the pros and cons of mmo merchandise.

To be clear, when I bring up the term of mmo merchandise, I mean anything sold that has no bearing on playing the game. A DLC or an in-game cosmetic item are not what I’m referring to here. I’m speaking about real world items that are based upon the lore and IP of the games that we love to play. This can range from a pack of trading cards that cost just a few dollars all the way up to a hand-painted statue costing hundreds or thousands of dollars. Now let’s start focusing on the mmo merchandise pros and cons.

To begin, the first positive for mmo merchandise is that it does reflect the success of the online rpg. A game that has few players will not have the financial resources to create and market items based upon the game. Even more telling is that there would be no customers eager to buy said products in such a scenario. That’s why the big daddy of selling mmo merchandise is Blizzard, who have a large stable of highly popular games, such as World of Warcraft and StarCraft 2.

This brings us to our second positive of our mmo merchandise pros and cons: extra revenue. While popular games will bring in lots of revenue, game companies can rake in a ton by either selling merchandise themselves or by selling the license to allow others to create and market items. I’m actually surprised that more mmos are not doing this, but, then again, you need a player base in the millions to be successful in such an endeavor. (One exception is EVE Online as that game has a fanatical player base.) Any extra money brought in is a good thing and helps ensure that the mmo will continue to chug along. It would be interesting to see the actual numbers as it pertains to official mmorpg merchandise. The reason being that in some situations, companies make more off of merchandising than they do by the product that serves as the inspiration of said merchandise. More money was spent on Star Wars and Star Trek items than were ever spent at the movie theater.

One last good thing about mmo merchandise is that it helps connect the player to the games they love. While playing the mmo is great, there’s just something really cool about having a physical item sitting on your desk or shelf, such as a stature or a group of action figures. Even wearing clothing that’s officially sanctioned helps proclaim to the masses that, not only are you a gamer, but that you are a gamer of a particular stripe. Having a mouse pad or a plush doll just reinforces a person’s connection to the game.

There are a couple of negative features when discussing mmo merchandise pros and cons. The first is that such merchandise can get pretty expensive. I really enjoyed my time playing World of Warcraft, but there’s no way that I can spring for the Grommash Hellscream statue for $350.00. The same is true for League of Legends, which features a Ziggs statue that’ll run you a mere $150.00. I thought buying a collector’s edition of the game was expensive! Even if the item is lower priced, it can still add up real quick. The League of Legends figures are damn cool, and they’re only $25 a pop. The bad thing is that there’s sixteen of them currently (for a cool total of $400), and I’m sure that more are on the way. If you really want to collect everything that a game puts out, you better have a healthy bank account.

The other negative for mmo merchandise is that it can take the focus off of game development. What I mean is that if an mmorpg is making so much money off their merchandise, then the game company might start focusing more on their merchandise lines than they do on the game itself. Such a scenario usually results in a game going downhill in quality very fast as resources are removed from creating updates to the game and are instead spent on how best to monetize the game further through merchandising. An even more insidious situation is if the game company puts stuff in the mmo just to be able to push it as merchandise. I can easily see a company putting in a new class that is insanely overpowered and disrupts the game because they feel that gamers will be eager to buy merchandise based upon that class as it’s powerful and looks cool.

Still, there’s no denying that mmo merchandise is here to stay. I have to admit that, on the whole, I believe that merchandise based upon our favorite games is a good thing. No one is forcing you to buy anything (even though action figures are calling to me!). The pros definitely outweigh the cons, and I think that gamers can have a lot of fun with the various merchandise that’s released. I’ll just have to learn to live with the fact that my wallet weeps on a continual basis.

What Will We See at BlizzCon 2015?

There are few things as enjoyable as going to a convention to hang out with other people that share your interests. While there a number of cons that appeal to mmo players, there’s only one that matters for those that love the games put out by Blizzard Entertainment – BlizzCon. Just a few short weeks ago, the dates for the convention (November 6th and 7th) were announced, but there are still few details on what events players can expect while attending. As rampant speculation is a hobby of mine, let’s wonder what we will see at BlizzCon 2015.

Let’s start with the basics for BlizzCon 2015. We do know that there will be world championships for the various games developed by Blizzard. StarCraft 2 will see the WCS Global Finals, World of Warcraft will have the Global Invitational, and Hearthstone will put on their World Championships. Heroes of the Storm will have their own tournament as well, even though no details have been released as of yet. There should be plenty of interest from eSports enthusiasts for these tournaments, which will be watched in person or online.

Several other givens for BlizzCon 2015 is that the tickets will sell out quickly. As there is a cap to the number of attendees, the competition for tickets is that much more fierce. This year, tickets will be sold in two batches. The first will be on April 15th at 7pm PT, and the second on April 18th at 10am PT. There should be a pay-per-view package that’s put in place for those unable to attend. As the ticket prices for this year are the same as 2014 ($199), the PPV will likely be $39.99.

The usual convention shenanigans will occur at BlizzCon 2015. There’ll be quite a bit of cosplay, panels on the various games, and some entertainment to wrap everything up. (Not to mention lots of partying!) The last few years have seen some pretty big bands play the con, such as Metallica and the Foo Fighters, so I expect a major band to again provide the closing concert. There will be usual swag bag with various goodies for the different mmo games that Blizzard publishes. Now let’s take a look at some of the individual games and what we may expect at the convention.

I don’t expect much news on the World of Warcraft front. The Warlords of Draenor expansion was released last year, so there should be no major news for the venerable mmo. Chances are that there might be talk of some tweaks and revamps that the development team are working on, and Blizzard might share some of the feedback data that they’ve gained since the expansion’s release. As for StarCraft 2, it should be the same as WoW. Last year saw the announcement of the Legacy of the Void expansion, but as that game gets something new every few years, I wouldn’t hold my breath on anything new coming out for quite some time.

I do think that you’ll see some announcements concerning Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone. Both games will probably see some new content unveiled, such as champions for Heroes of the Storm and the latest expansion for Hearthstone. Diablo 3 is a game that should prove interesting at BlizzCon 2015. While the game’s launch was less than stellar, Blizzard has been chugging away with it. Introducing seasons has added a spark that has brought gamers back, and a lot of rumors are speculating that gamers will see an announcement of a Diablo 3 expansion at the convention. Most speculation is based on the game bringing the Runewords system from Diablo 2 into the current game.

Probably the most intriguing game at BlizzCon 2015 will be Overwatch, Blizzard’s foray into the first-person shooter market. They’ve already conquered the traditional mmorpg (WoW), moved on to both TCG games (Hearthstone) and mobas (Heroes of the Storm), so it’s now time for the mmofps genre to be dominated by Blizzard. This year saw some new characters and maps for Overwatch revealed at PAX East, so you can definitely expect that Blizzard will be setting the hype machine to overdrive come BlizzCon. By sheer coincidence, the closed beta for Overwatch is set to begin in late 2015. I wonder if closed beta invites will be part of the swag bag given to attendees. That would be a welcome surprise it that comes to pass.

Overall, I’m sure that BlizzCon 2015 will be a blast for those going to it. No matter what new expansions, updates, or potential mmo games that are revealed, the real excitement of attending any convention is getting to share experiences with others that are also crazy about what you’re in to. After all, who wouldn’t want to go spend the weekend with people who cheer when they see you in your Blood Elf cosplay?

Unicorns, Deer, Cows, and Pigs!

 

As I’ve already mentioned in numerous other Wurm Online posts, I really love raising animals, even the type that don’t have an enormous use. Take unicorns for example. Most deeds and open space is filled with them. They make great creatures to farm for leather, but here in my pen pictured above I have two sly and a champion that I’m currently breeding. I can’t ride them yet (you need very high body control) but they’re nice to have around. I also have three deer, who also provide leather and alchemy bits. They don’t pull carts and you can’t ride them but I like to have them around.

I was keeping a few pigs but there is a server mission ongoing that asks you to sacrifice them to Fo, one of the deity. I spent a painstaking few hours creating a sacrificial knife (really hard to do with only 1 weaponsmith skill) and then partook in the mission. We’re sitting at 63% completion with me being 46% of that. You get some karma and sleep bonus if you participate, so I hope eventually we’re able to finish the task.

I used to have a chicken but the servers went down yesterday morning and we had a slight rollback of creatures. I searched the nearby woods to see if I could spot it but I had no luck. Chickens are another ‘useless’ creature but I like them a lot.

I’ve been making a lot of progress with the deed. I used a pendulum to divine a water tile, created a nice path, almost finished my horse pens (they just need gates), and improved my forge in my workshop (which has no walls but will one day). Things are going pretty well and I’m looking forward to working my fine carpentry up even higher along with alchemy on the priest.