Monthly Archives: May 2015

World Of Warcraft Patch 6.2 Will Add These Bonus Events

World of Warcraft’s Patch 6.2 will introduce a rotating set of bonus weekend events. These events will give players some variety along with extra rewards.

“Each Bonus Event grants a passive bonus to a particular game activity and offers a once-per-event quest with a noteworthy reward for accomplishing a related goal,” Blizzard said. “The in-game calendar (located in the upper right-hand corner of the mini-map) can serve as your one-stop reference for the event schedule.”

The first bonus event, Timewalking, was already announced last month. During a Timewalking weekend, players can return to either Burning Crusade or Wrath of the Lich King dungeons that will automatically scale their level and gear down to the appropriate level. The loot you earn here, however, will be scaled back up to your level. Completing three Timewalking dungeons during the weekend will give you a bonus roll for loot in raids.

During other weekends, Warlords of Draenor dungeons will be featured. Defeating enemies in these dungeons will earn you reputation with certain factions. Beating two Draenor dungeon runs on the new Mythic difficulty will earn you a cache of loot from Patch 6.2’s new raid Hellfire Citadel.

Battlegrounds and Arena Skirmishes will each get their own events. If you play that PvP activity during its bonus event, you’ll get triple the usual amount of Honor Points. If you win an unspecified amount of random matches, you’ll get a bonus 500 Conquest Points that don’t count toward your weekly cap.

Enemies at public assault quests will drop three times as many Apexis Crystals during their bonus event. You’ll get bonus Oil for your garrison’s naval missions if you complete three assault objectives by the end of that weekend.

The last bonus event centers around Pet Battles. Your pets will earn triple experience points from battles. The bonus reward for defeating five players in pet battles is an Ultimate Battle-Training Stone that instantly levels a pet to 25. That should take a lot of monotony out of leveling pets, though it might be bad news for those of you who like selling off level 25 pets. The auction house is bound to be flooded with more maxed-out pets.

Keeping track of WoW’s activities will be easier thanks to another feature of Patch 6.2: the Adventure Guide. This guide suggests new things for players to do based on their level, gear and more. You can directly queue for activities or accept quests from the Adventure Guide.

Both of these features seem designed to help keep players in World of Warcraft, which has been bleeding subscribers throughout the year. Bonus events give players reasons to keep logging in and makes previously long grinds seem more manageable. The Adventure Guide keeps players from getting bored by pointing them toward new goals.

Still, I think brand-new content is still the best way to keep players’ attention. The population spikes when new updates or expansions come out and tapers off in the periods in-between. I wonder if we’ll ever see Blizzard follow through on that idea of annual expansions to shorten those declines?

Runescape mod fired for abuse of powers

Allow me to paint you a mental picture. Youre a paid moderator for Runescape, an MMO that most people havent thought about in almost a decade. You have great power, but also great responsibility. You one day grow bored of using your powers to patrol the land maintaining the peace and decide to switch from being a super hero to a maniacal villain. Obviously, your first choice of evil deed is to ruin the in-game economy with your magical mod powers.

BUT WAIT? Developer Jagex runs software that watches changes to the live game and manage to spot what youre doing and prevent your evil plan from being achieved. The result, you lose your job.

So yeah, that happened. Heres a statement from Jagex:

It is with regret that we have some sad and unfortunate news to share with you. Today, Mod Reach was dismissed from employment at Jagex, following an investigation into serious misuse of moderator privileges. This was flagged to us by system checks which track and log code changes made to the live game. We were able to intercept the intended changes before anything could impact the game economy.

So, how would you have gone about totally abusing your moderator powers?

World of Warcraft movie: first look at Orgrim the Orc

The movie based on Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft really is happening despite how long fans have been hearing about it without any results. It’ll be arriving next summer (yes, there’s an entire more year of waiting left), but we’ve finally been given some sort of tangible look at the film, and it’s in the form of a still from the movie. In it there’s Orgrim the orc, and he’s looking particularly, well, orc-like and unamused. Gallery after the jump!

The movie, which is simple called Warcraft, has had a tumultuous history, and fans have expected it to come to fruition by now. It really, really is happening now, though, and is set to hit theaters on June 10 of next year, meaning all that pent up anticipation finally has an end in sight.

Robert Kazinsky is playing Orgrim, and movie director Duncan Jones says he is the perfect man for the job. “We were looking for someone who would be able to perform the gruffness, the humor, and the toughness of this character.” Concept art from the game was used in conjunction with scans of the actor’s face to produce the orc.

Industrial Light and Magic is behind Orgrim, and by the looks of things they’ve done a fantastic job. Orgrim isn’t just an orc — he looks distinct and, based on the two images, in possession of at least two unique facial expressions.

Blizzard bans more than 100,000 World of Warcraft accounts

Blizzard has dropped the banhammer on a large number of World of Warcraft players found to be using bots to automate their gameplay. According to a screen capture of a GM chat posted to Imgur, the suspensions will last for six months and affect more than 100,000 accounts.

Weve recently taken action against a large number of World of Warcraft accounts that were found to be using third-party programs that automate gameplay, known as bots, Blizzard wrote in the announcement of the bans. Were committed to providing an equal and fair playing field for everyone in World of Warcraft, and will continue to take action against those found in violation of our Terms of Use. Cheating of any form will not be tolerated.

Kotaku noted that the ban impacts not just hardcore PvP botters, but anyone using bots to automate tasks. As World of Warcraft Community Manager Micah Bashiok Whipple wrote on Twitter, Botting is defined as automation of any action, not just character movement. If a program is pressing keys for you, youve violated the ToU. That may explain why this latest round of bans isnt permanent, but expires after six months.

Whatever the specifics, let this serve as a reminder to all: Cheaters actually do prosper quite often, but sometimes their shenanigans catch up to them. Youve (again) been warned.

The Design Director of RuneScape talks to TCS

Runescape is an enormous and well known online game created by Jagex studios, whose company headquarters are based in the Cambridge Science Park. Sam Raby spoke to the Design Director, Mark Ogilvie.

Could you give a brief outline of what Runescape is?

It’s a medieval fantasy adventure where thousands of people work together to kill the dragon and rescue the princess. As they do they raise their skills and improve at the game to take on bigger and bigger monsters. Runescape’s also special because we take our story telling quite seriously; there’s hundreds of quests in the game and we’re talking about proper, epic, adventures – not just, say, killing 20 bandits.

Is the story emphasis what you would say differentiates your MMO (massively multiplayer online game) from others?

That’s a big thing, but the other thing is that we have Guinness world records for the most updated game in the world. Every week you log on there’s something new and shiny to do, and that’s not a bug fix, it’s a genuine new piece of content. Monsters to fight, dungeons to explore, quests to get involved with. We’ve also got 50 mini games within Runescape that are individual games in their own right.

As the director of design what’s your job?

I always describe myself as a manager of goblins rather than a manager of people. I will identify areas that we need to improve or make additions to in the game, and put together what we would describe as a core aims brief. We get a rough idea of what space we need to fill, give it to a designer to get work on a solution which is then checked over by people like me for balance. Then we get the artists and technical developers involved to make sure it’s possible, then Q&A, graphics and development implementation…it turns into a scrum of people really. Then it’s put together, tested and released into the game. I help people make the best content that they can, I don’t actually design any of it myself any more. There’s about 200 people on the Runescape floor and I want all of them to put their own stamp on the game.

You’ve been here for 12 years, has the company changed a lot?

A lot, yes. While I think we still retain the indie vibe of the company, it’s a lot bigger. We’ve got loads more staff and loads more players. That means loads more people having expectations about Runescape and we’ve got more business sense then we had before. The game’s grown so much too, and the nature of the players has changed as well. If we made the same game as we had 12 years ago no one would play it. We’ve got a lot of players growing up as they play it, there’s lots of people who started playing in their teens and are still going as adults, but with lives of their own now as well. As such we have to be aware that the appetite for content has changed, I could show you stuff from 10 years ago and we’d never make anything like that again! We’re competing for attention as well in a way we weren’t before. If you’re playing PC games today, you’ll have YouTube and Twitter open as well, and your phones. People today will try a game for five minutes on their phone and if it hasn’t grabbed them then they’ll move on. In the past people might put five hours into a game first. The players have grown up and the scene’s changed.

I’ll take the pressure down a notch now, what’s your favourite game?

I’m always a sucker for Mario Kart, original Mario Kart on the SNES, that’s my go-to. I think my ultimate favourite game of all time is a game called Laser Squad, which was a game on my Amstrad CPC464, that kind of evolved into things like X-Com today, it’s like a spiritual successor. It’s a good example of how games have changed now as well. In X-Com today you have two things to do a turn, but back then you had a pool of action points it’d take four to move forwards, eight to move backwards, one to turn 90 degrees. Then you’ve got to choose whether to burst fire or snap fire, prime your grenades…it’s a lot more accessible now.

World of Warcraft Just Lost 3 Million Subscribers

World of Warcraft, the reigning king of MMOs for longer than anyone thought possible, is an old game by this point. When it first came out, Microsoft MSFT +0.91% had yet to release the Xbox 360. Bush was President. Facebook required a college email to use. Human beings could still eat gluten. The intervening years were very, very kind to World of Warcraft and Activision Blizzard , but what comes up must eventually come down. World of Warcraft is still the reigning champ, but according to an earnings call yesterday, the game went from 10 million to 7.1 million subscribers over the last quarter, the biggest drop in the game’s history.

A gradual drop, of course, isn’t news: this game peaked years ago, and these are just the breaks. The massive drop isn’t quite the calamity it sounds like, and a chart from MMO Champion makes it clear what’s happening here. Basically the overall graph shows a steady increase, a peak around the release of the Lich King, and a steady decline after that punctuated by expansion pack releases. By far the biggest punctuation happens right after the Warlords of Draenor release in November. Not only did Blizzard promote the hell out of that game, it also offered a booster to drive your character up to level 90, allowing all sorts of lapsed players and longtime watchers to jump into the action, which, apparently, they did, providing a pretty impressive subscription spike right around that time. And then they seemed to leave just as quickly, leaving us back just slightly above where we would expect to be given the long-term trend.

Interestingly enough, actual revenue from the game has remained stable, according to IGN, thanks to microtransactions, cosmetic items, and more generally exciting ways to get players to pay for stuff beyond their original subscription. And it’s still the top MMO out there — talking about the subscriber drop is a little like talking about the sales dips on Activision’s other major cash cow, Call of Duty: they may be declining, but they’re still titans.

I could always be proved wrong, but I expect World of Warcraft to be the last of the great subscription-based MMOs. There’s just too much in the way of free-to-play options out there to justify the massive expense for either the player or the developer: both Star Wars: The Old Republic and The Elder Scrolls Online’s inevitable transition to free-to-play made it clear what an uphill battle both of those games faced.