Formerly Hardcore #9: Patch 6.2 is Here!

Hello and welcome to the 9th edition of Formerly Hardcore, ZAM’s column on Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft. For this week’s column we’ll be talking about patch 6.2, which is coming to live servers… today! Last Wednesday, Blizzard released the patch cinematic and gave a release date of Tuesday, June 23rd. Coincidentally that was about two hours after I’d already agreed to write the review for the Final Fantasy XIV expansion, Heavensward, which also comes out on the 23rd. It’s amazing how Blizzard just coincidentally keeps releases patches when other games are coming out, despite claiming not to… in all seriousness though, if I were them, I’d do the same thing.

For those of you who aren’t going to be bouncing back and forth between games, you’ll have your hands full with everything in this patch. If your guild has long since finished with Blackrock Foundry or your 5-man group is ready to have a new challenge, your wait is over. Well, unless you forgot to turn on the Background Downloader or to kick off the Battle.net launcher before you went to work.

E3 2015: Picture Gallery

E3 2015 has come to a close—next week we'll be rolling out more articles, and this weekend you can enjoy our show floor picture gallery!

Formerly Hardcore #8: Hellfire Citadel Preview

Hello and welcome to the 8th edition of Formerly Hardcore, ZAMs column for Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft. For this column, we’re going to take a look at last week’s preview of Hellfire Citadel from the official WoW site. Patch 6.2 will be taking us back to Tanaan Jungle where we’ll be not only invading the stronghold of the Iron Horde, but we’ll be doing so against their newly fel-empowered legions of soldiers.

The Scrying Pool: Amping up Jewelcrafting

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The Scrying Pool is a Guild Wars 2 column where I simply ask what if? Nothing is off the table as I dive into possible features and future content, looking at what currently exists in Guild Wars 2 before I answer my own what if question with how I think the feature and content could be implemented.

Ascended crafting has long existed for both weapons and armor. In order to craft this ascended gear, players first need to level up the crafting of the specific discipline to 500 as all ascended gear is account bound on acquire. For example, to craft any piece of ascended heavy armor you must first level up Armorsmithing to 500. When crafting was expanded to include ascended weapons and armor, it raised the max level of the weapon and armor crafting disciplines from 400 to 500.

The Scrying Pool: Fort Lion's Arch

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The Scrying Pool is a Guild Wars 2 column where I simply ask what if? Nothing is off the table as I dive into possible features and future content, looking at what currently exists in Guild Wars 2 before I answer my own what if question with how I think the feature and content could be implemented.

The true beginnings of the Lion’s Arch reconstruction efforts have started. Last week’s patch has once again changed the way Lion’s Arch looks as all of the Breachmaker wreckage from Scarlet’s attack on the city early last year was removed. In addition to removing the wreckage and piles of debris, the city is now full of rebar, half built structures and barges carrying construction materials.

WildStar to Transition to F2P This Fall

Carbine's WildStar team has poured their heart and soul into shaping and expanding the sci-fi MMO into the diversified gaming experience it is today. The last several content drops have focused on a multitude of playstyles, from newbie to casual to raider.

With the game so fleshed out, Carbine has now decided that the time is ripe for it to soon join the ranks of free-to-play MMOs. We sat down with Product Director Mike Donatelli and Creative Director Chad Moore last week to learn more about WildStar's new frontier.

"It's a big decision, a big change, and not one we went into lightly as a studio. Carbine's commitment to WildStar has never been stronger; we will continue to release AAA updates for the game, the experience that players have come to expect they will only get more of as we head into the future."

Formerly Hardcore #7: Itemization and Flight

Hello and welcome to the 7th edition of Formerly Hardcore, ZAMs column on Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft. For this column, we’re going to take a look at a couple of articles that came out last week. The first is a new Dev Watercooler on the main site, focusing on itemization in 6.2. The second is an interview Polygon ran on Friday with lead designer Ion “Watcher” Hazzikostas about Tanaan Jungle, future Warlords of Draenor content and some major news about flying in 6.2 and beyond.

Your Next: Subversive Elements

The world is such an unfathomable place, and people populate the heart of its endless mystery. In my country, a political party that represents the interests of less than ten percent of the people got about a third of us to vote for them and now they’re running the show. Never underestimate the importance of selling an idea

In the brutal political landscape of MMO forum PvP we are known for flapping our gums about the need for new approaches and ideas in the medium, and we also know anything that deviates from established models is met with major resistance. It’s a fascinating quirk of the human brain that we seem to be able to hold these two positions simultaneously.

Yes, 1984 is one of my favorite books, why do you ask?

While innovation is important to keep things fresh, keeping design and presentation within a cultural context that players can understand is equally important. If you go too far off the script, the product can be too unconventional to appeal to the established market. I’m not advocating that everything stay the same, but while it’s certainly not impossible to break through with something unique there’s an upper limit of ‘uniqueness’, after which it loses attractiveness.

With a new game, it seems that shooting for different but still recognizable is the best bet. If you’re setting out to create something that feels very different, such as EverQuest Next, how can this be reconciled?

EQN is positioned as a reaction to the entrenched norms of MMORPGs; the desire for the game to be different has been put front and centre from day one. So how does it balance this desire with the need to be approachable and culturally resonant?

If you wanted to make a subversive MMO, what would it look like? 

The Scrying Pool: The Reaper

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The Scrying Pool is a Guild Wars 2 column where I simply ask what if? Nothing is off the table as I dive into possible features and future content, looking at what currently exists in Guild Wars 2 before I answer my own what if question with how I think the feature and content could be implemented.

Normally that intro holds true, but while we are in the midst of the speculation reveals I will be flipping the tables. Instead of looking forward, the Scrying Pool will be looking back as we continue the Specialization series from a different viewpoint. Instead of speculation, I will focus on my impressions of each of the Elite Specializations after they get revealed while throwing in some of my previous articles and speculation for flavor.

HEX: Shards of Fate - Interview with Cory Jones

HEX: Shards of Fate is a unique take on the online trading card game genre, mixing MMO PvE aspects with the traditional card gameplay. Still in its beta phases, the game has been steadily progressing as more content and features are added in. Most recently HEX saw the launch of the Frost Ring Arena, the MMOTCG's first PvE environment that pits players against seven AI bosses in a four stage gauntlet.

We spoke to Cryptozonic Entertainment's Creative President and CCO, Cory Jones, recently about what HEX has accomplished since its highly successful 2013 Kickstarter campaign, the unique features of the TCG, and what players can expect in the near future.