Lord of the Rings Online Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Lord of the Rings Online RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network 5 RPG/MMORPGs That Should Have 4X RTS Counterparts https://www.gameskinny.com/pjonj/5-rpgmmorpgs-that-should-have-4x-rts-counterparts https://www.gameskinny.com/pjonj/5-rpgmmorpgs-that-should-have-4x-rts-counterparts Tue, 06 Feb 2018 16:40:07 -0500 Alberto C.

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The games mentioned in this article possess an additional benefit in addition to their uniqueness and well developed lore: their popularity. With the exception of Guild Wars, ever other RPG/MMORPG are some of the best known games in the videogame industry as a whole. Put into the hands of an experienced 4X studio, it practically sounds like a guaranteed recipe for success. But more importantly they would allow us to experience their worlds from a perspective we haven't seen before.

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If you have any ideas of other RPGs that would do well in the 4X genre, mention them in the comments below!

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Guild Wars

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What Mass Effect achieved in creating a science fiction universe from scratch and with originality, Guild Wars achieved in the fantasy realm. A fantasy game without elves, ArenaNet created one the most memorable MMORPGs to date that at times didn't even seem like an MMO at all.

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Although the second title in the series takes places thousands of years later, the first one made it clear that the world you were entering with your character was one riddled with conflict and distrust both in the present and in past. Be it the conflict between the Charr and Humans of Ascalon, or the the seemingly never ending war between the Kurzicks and the Luxons, a quest for world domination 4X style would be a fascinating one to the say the least.

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Knights Of The Old Republic

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One of the best Star Wars games ever made, KOTOR richness doesn't just come from its Star Wars universe, but especially from the timeline in which it takes place.

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Set thousands of years before the Empire or the Galactic Republic that preceded it, KOTOR takes place in an era of a high political instability and turmoil, when the tentacles of galactic government control weren't nearly as strong as in the more familiar, later timelines. The Old Republic, the primary government entity at the time, had its fair share of conflict not just with the Sith Empire, but with the famous Mandalorians and Zygerrian Slave Empire.

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The decades-old sci-fi universe has had so much content made based on it that it practically leaves every aspect relevant to the making of a 4X strategy game settled. Sources on economics, political systems and technology are so abundant about the Star Wars universe that the tough part will be deciding on what to leave out.

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If you're really itching for some 4X Star Wars and can't wait, you might want to try Stellaris' SW: A Galaxy Divided mod. It's the closest (and really well fleshed-out) thing to the real deal.

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The Lord of the Rings Online

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One the richest and oldest fantasy universes ever created that essentially set the founding rules that other creators and writers followed decades later when creating their own. The most popular RPG of the series, the MMO The Lord of The Rings Online, makes it obvious that the franchise fulfills any requirement you could think of for a 4X game.

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And if the MMO series weren't enough proof, just take a look at the various LOTR mods that the community has made for different Total War titles. The success of these mods speaks for themselves, and the most recent installments of the Total War series on the Warhammer universe exhibits that the 4X community was, and likely still is, craving for some good fantasy conquest.

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Mass Effect

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When the first Mass Effect came along back in 2007, it didn't come empty-handed in terms of the lore. The Codex, a feature accessible from the menu screen, was a collection of information about the universes of Mass Effect that had little significance for the missions at hand but added a lot of background knowledge to help immerse a player in the ME universe and understand why some things were the way players encountered them.

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From the Rachni Wars to the Krogan Rebellions, all the way to the First Contact War between Humans and Turians, the world of ME not only offers detailed accounts of events and a clear historical path, but the Milky Way is clearly detailed when it comes to who controls what:

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The variety in social and political traits that ME exemplifies through the different species-specific factions guarantees variety and different approaches to gameplay similar to what we can already see in games like Stellaris or Galactic Civilization III. An aspect of the game that can be complimented further with the numerous cross-species factions, rogue factions or the infamours Terminus Systems and their renegade behavior.

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World of Warcraft

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Yes, yes...we know Warcraft 4 is way ahead in line when it comes to the "Games that should have been made by now" list. Now that that's out of the way...

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Few can deny the richness and well-developed lore of the Warcraft universe. Not only does the timeline span for thousands of years, but the now well-established factions of Horde and Alliance were once not as sound as they are now. Not only that, but there isn't just evidence of violence among races of the same faction, but among the same sub-factions within a race.

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And what Horde or Alliance player wouldn't enjoy pillaging and razing Stormwind or Orgrimmar to the ground and enslave or execute their captives, Total War-style?

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Defeating the big bad dragon might feel heroic, and destroying the enemy's base in the sector can feel like a great outcome after a hard battle. But few games offer you the chance of casting those pesky, short-lived accomplishments aside and give you the chance to take absolute control of the bigger picture, and all of those games belong to one genre: 4X.

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4X has a relatively simple goals: eXplore, eXpand, eXploit and eXterminate. These sort of games puts you in the shoes of the highest levels of command, to practice in the ultimate form of virtual statecraft in your quest for world (or galactic) domination.

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The RPG and MMO world is known for having deeply developed lore as a necessary element, making them in many occasions ideal settings for a genre that is focused on the big picture, rather than individual journeys. From history, universe and factions, RPG and MMO games not only check the necessary boxes for 4X games, but they often go beyond them thanks to their depth.

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Here are 5 RPGs we believe have not just the lore but would make great settings to base 4X strategy games on as well.

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Interview with GameSkinny's Commissioning Editor and Program Coordinator Auverin Morrow https://www.gameskinny.com/8re9a/interview-with-gameskinnys-commissioning-editor-and-program-coordinator-auverin-morrow https://www.gameskinny.com/8re9a/interview-with-gameskinnys-commissioning-editor-and-program-coordinator-auverin-morrow Wed, 05 Oct 2016 14:00:01 -0400 David Martinez_1224

Playing games and turning it into a career sounds like a dream job to many. It's not something you would have been able to do decades ago, but now we have many talented people who turned their passion for gaming into careers. Among those people is Auverin Morrow.

Auverin is the current Commissioning Editor and Program Coordinator for GameSkinny. She gave me the opportunity to interview her and reveal crucial details about how she started and got into the position that she's in today.

David Martinez: For the sake of the viewers, tell me about yourself and who you are.

Auverin Morrow: I'm Auverin Morrow -- currently the Commissioning Editor and Program Coordinator for GameSkinny. I got my Bachelor's degree in English from VCU back in Richmond, VA, then moved back to my home state of NC to focus on post-grad employment and adulting and all that fun stuff. As for who I am... I'm about 90% editorial robot, 5% Lord of the Rings references, and 5% human who does other stuff like painting, pyrography, and yoga.

DA: What made you decide to pursue this kind of career?

AM: I never really made an actual decision to pursue a career in the gaming industry. It was a hobby I really enjoyed, but it never really occurred to me that it was something I could turn into actual employment. But I've wanted to get into editing since I was a college student. When I was studying English, I knew I didn't want to focus on literature and I wasn't really happy focusing on writing either. Which left me in a weird sort of "what do I do with my life" limbo for a while. I just knew I loved words. And at some point during various creative writing workshops, I realized I was best at deconstructing other people's words, finding the meaning in that, and then reworking the language to make those ideas more clear. So I started to focus on editing, and that's the area I focused on while I was looking for employment.

DA: What gets you up in the morning to do this job? Your Motivation?

AM: What gets me out of bed every morning? Lots of alarms and a pot of coffee. I'm (sort of) kidding, but I really enjoy what I do. I love games and most of the time I love the gaming industry -- it's a dynamic place that's chock full of talent and passion, both from players and from developers. It can be a fickle environment sometimes, and there are of course a lot of things that I would like to see change and progress, but it's really a great industry that's getting bigger and more complex by the day. And in my position specifically, I get to see all that passion that gamers have, and I get to help them channel it into something productive. I get to teach them how to talk about the games that matter to them, and how they can contribute something to an industry that has given so much to them and shaped them in so many ways.

DA: How did you come to working for GameSkinny?

AM: I actually found my job with GameSkinny on Craigslist. This was way back in the summer of 2014. They'd posted an ad for a simple weekend editor position, and I had just finished a two-year stint with a non-profit that was teaching creative writing in inner-city Richmond high schools. So I was looking for something a little different, and that ad popped up. So I applied immediately, and within a few days I was taking weekend shifts on the site. Eventually I took over our nighttime editing, then got promoted to where I am now, working with all you lovely folks.

DA: What is it about video games that gravitated you towards them?

AM: It's actually a kind of funny story. I'm not like a lot of gamers in that I haven't been gaming since I was a kid. I played a LOT of Pokemon, but that was pretty much it for the first several years of my gaming life. I remember getting a GameCube and having like 3 games for it -- I think it was some sort of 3D Pac-Man, one of the Lord of the Rings games, and Need for Speed Underground 2. Stellar lineup, to say the least. And when I played those to death I kind of stepped away from gaming for a long time because I was focusing on other things. But there was one fateful day around 2002 where I walked into a Target with my mom, and I saw a copy of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind sitting on the shelf. All I knew about it was that it had my last name on it, but I picked it up and took it home. And there went the next 3 years of my life -- just like that, I was back into gaming and a hardcore RPG addict. TES quickly became my favorite series, and my love for gaming pretty much grew from there.

DA: What are the actual games that made you want to pursue a career in gaming?

AM: Hahaha, I think I just answered this question above. The Elder Scrolls series was definitely a big influence for me. Those are the games that I keep coming back to over and over and over again. But weirdly enough, I don't see myself as being inspired by games. I'm more fascinated by them, if that makes sense. I don't so much want to live up to anything as I want to figure them out and see what they can do, you know?

DA: Why write for games? Why not just play them? Why should other people write for them and what makes it unique?

AM: This is a super great question, and one I actually ask myself a lot. If you talk to pretty much anyone who works in the games journalism industry (and I imagine in games development too, though I can't speak for those folks), you'll find that it's common for them to say that the moment they became employed in the industry, gaming became work. You play games because you have to. You read about them because you have to. They became a "must do" and not a "can do" way to occupy your time. And that's difficult for a lot of people, I think -- especially the ones who get into this because they think you're getting paid to play whatever you want, and you just throw out a couple articles and collect the perks. There are a lot of people who are looking for that. But there are a lot of other people who are just so passionate about games that they can't keep it to themselves -- that's where we get bloggers, and streamers, and LPers, and the really really great games journalists out there. Some people really want to contribute to this industry -- they want to be a part of it as much as it's been a part of them and help shape its future and share their passion for the whole thing. So I don't think it's a matter of who should write about gaming as it is a matter of who truly and wholeheartedly wants to. Because if you actually want to, you can -- I mean, that's why GameSkinny exists. But a lot of people take that step and then realize "oh....this is an actual job". And they aren't always prepared for that. So you have to be prepared to do real work, and think of this wonderful hobby as a chore sometimes. But if you can do that, and you can get by and still find your love for gaming on the other side of that, then you get rewarded with meeting great people, playing great games, and taking part in an industry that gets more exciting by the day.

DA: What is the worst game ever in your opinion?

AM: Worst game ever? That's actually a really hard question. Doing what I do, I've played a lot...a LOT....of indie and Early Access games that were broken or offensive or just downright bad. So it's hard to single out just one game. I've also played a lot of really terrible porn parody games for the sake of article writing, so pretty much anything else looks good by comparison.

DA: Since you are labeled as a commissioning editor, what is it exactly that you do? What are the ups and downs of your position and what do you like most? What do you dislike most?

AM: So as the commissioning editor and JTP program coordinator, my basic job description is overseeing the JTP and all content related to it. I spend most of my days editing and promoting articles to the front page of the site, but I also spend a fair amount of time focusing on more managerial/organizational aspects of working in a newsroom. I keep an eye on site analytics to see what's doing well. I poke around in Google Trends to see what gamers are searching for, what games are trending, what games look like they're about to trend, and what kind of content readers are trying to find in relation to games that have already released. I also coordinate our mentor program and act (alongside Rachael) as a senior editor among our editorial staff. Aside from that, I devise and create all our JTP and senior mentor lessons, lay out lesson plans, change the program according to feedback, go through new applicants, and manage all the behind-the-scenes stuff that makes the JTP happen. It's a lot like teaching, but in a more experiential setting I think.

DA: Do you plan on taking this career any further? Are you interested in being promoted?

AM: You know....this is something I've thought a lot about too. I'm happy where I'm at right now and I'm not really looking for any sort of promotion anytime soon -- I've reached this perfect balance of having a cool job that makes my life more interesting without being my whole life, if that makes sense. I think if I do stay in the gaming industry -- and there might be a time when I decide that it's time to leave it -- I think I want to focus a bit more on eSports. I didn't really get into eSports until I started working at GameSkinny, but it's quickly become my favorite corner of the industry. All my favorite events are eSports events by far. It's such an amazing scene.

DA: Could you see yourself doing anything else?

AM: Like I said, I do love my job. I'm lucky to be where I am -- this industry challenges me and my job allows me to do some really cool things. I love every group of interns that comes through, and I love seeing how different they are from each other, the various perspectives they have, and that kind of thing. And I love that I get to take all my favorite aspects of teaching and bring it to this industry that's really cool and cutting edge, and I get to work with words while I do it. It's great! But if I ever did leave the gaming industry, I think I might pursue something in fiction -- I'd love to edit short stories someday.

DA: As an aspiring writer, I like to hear advice. What is your advice and what would your ultimate advice be to other writers?

AM: I get this question from a lot of writers, and the answer always has to change based on context and a ton of other factors. But I think the essence of every instance is this: just do it. It might seem scary or hard. Just do it. You might not know where to start, but you just have to pick a spot and jump in. There are going to be days when it is the most frustrating thing in your life, and days where the words just don't want to come. But you have to do it anyway. Writing is a creative undertaking, and I think a lot of people forget that. Writing is an art, and art isn't known for being formulaic, or simple, or easy to do day in and day out. It's a craft that takes honing and dedication and some sort of passion, whatever form that may take -- and I realize I'm rambling a bit here and probably sounding like a motivational poster or every writing hack who's ever led a workshop, but it's true.

DA: Ultimate question: Favorite game of all time? Just one. The one that you would recommend to anyone and the one you could play multiple times.

AM: One game, huh? That's a tough call, and only because I have a hard time choosing between TES III: Morrowind and TES V: Skyrim. (The day TES VI becomes a reality is the day you will hear me dragon-shouting from rooftops.) But it really is a tough call. I love them both so much for such different reasons -- Morrowind for what it brought to the series and how it revolutionized it, and Skyrim for how beautifully it rendered the world that I'd been falling in love with since the early days of Elder Scrolls.

I want to thank Auverin for a thorough and intriguing interview!

As an aspiring writer, this was most helpful for me. For anyone who is an aspiring editor or if you just want to enter the gaming industry, these may be words of wisdom you really need to hear.

(Editors note - Auverin Morrow was in no way involved in the editing or writing of this piece)

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On This Day in Geek: May 25th https://www.gameskinny.com/x1x1g/on-this-day-in-geek-may-25th https://www.gameskinny.com/x1x1g/on-this-day-in-geek-may-25th Wed, 25 May 2016 04:55:36 -0400 Donald Strohman

May 25th is "National Geek Pride Day," a day that brings all of the world's biggest nerds into celebration over their favorite passions. Whether your heart is permanently set into the world of Dungeons & Dragons, or you find yourself attending every Comic Con you can get yourself into, we all have our personal fandoms that drive us to appreciate what it means to be a geek. 

In celebration of "National Geek Pride Day," let's explore some important moments in the world of the geek that took place on this day of May 25th.

240 B.C - The perihelion passage of Halley's Comet is recorded for the first time.

1939 - Sir Ian Murray McKellen, well known for his portrayal of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings franchise, is born. 

1944 - Frank Oz, Muppets puppeteer and voice actor for Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, and Sam Eagle, is born.

1953- In a Nevada testing site, the United States military conducts its first and only nuclear artillery test. (Sorry guys, no real world Fallout yet!) 

1953 - The first public television station in the United States began broadcasting from the University of Houston.

1961 - U.S. President John F. Kennedy announces before Congress his goal to begin the Apollo program, and his ultimate goal of putting a man on the Moon before the end of the decade.

1963 - Comedian Mike Myers, known for his work in Wayne's World, Saturday Night Live, and Shrek, is born.

1973 - Surreal comedian Demetri Martin is born. 

1977 - The role-playing game Arduin is created.

1977 - Star Wars (later referred to as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) is released into theaters.

1977- The Chinese government removes a decade long ban on the work of William Shakespeare, ending the Cultural Revolution started within the country in 1966.

1986 - Hands Across America, a benefit event to fight poverty and starvation,  takes place. People across the country joined hands and formed a chain across the country for fifteen minutes.

1996 - Bradley Nowell, lead singer of the band Sublime, passes away from a heroin overdose.

2008 -  NASA's Phoenix lander arrives in the Green Valley region of Mars, in order to search for environments that could sustain water and microbiological life. 

2012 - Men in Black III is released into theaters after a ten year hiatus in the film franchise.

2012 - The Dragon became the first commercial spacecraft to successfully rendezvous with the International Space Station.


OTHER RANDOM FACTOIDS!
  • May 25th is also referred to as Towel Day in honor of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy writer Douglas Adams.
  • For the non-geek crowd, May 25th also serves as the day for:  
    • National Tap Dance Day
    • International Missing Children's Day
    • Lebanon Liberation Day

Be sure to let us know if we missed any other important events that happened to take place on National Geek Pride Day! As far as celebrations go, be sure to not get too partied out from all the "National Geek Pride Day" festivities, as one can only imagine how crazy people will get over the following day in May 26th,"National Paper Airplane Day"! 

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Six games with the most supportive, least toxic communities https://www.gameskinny.com/fyvfs/six-games-with-the-most-supportive-least-toxic-communities https://www.gameskinny.com/fyvfs/six-games-with-the-most-supportive-least-toxic-communities Mon, 07 Mar 2016 17:22:23 -0500 Ty Arthur

A recent article on the top 5 worst gaming communities got me thinking about my own experiences interacting with players in various genres, from shooters to MOBAs to fantasy MMOs.

There are certain multiplayer games you know ahead of time to just mute-all from the start. Any given Call Of Duty game (or really any popular FPS) is one example. If you don't want to hear a 12-year-old calling you racial slurs and describing what he did to your mother last night, you hit mute as soon as the match gets going.

Aside from the garden variety name-calling, MOBAs in particular tend to have insular communities that are abrasive towards anyone new and learning the ropes. Those games also tend to foster toxicity by how they are designed, with players working against each other as often as they work together.

I've been lucky in that regard on Heroes Of The Storm, and have had a mostly positive experience playing with total strangers. I can't say the same for trying out League Of Legends, where nearly every match is a nightmare of negative players.

Two MOBAs with very different communities

On the opposite side of the spectrum, there exists a burgeoning class of games that specifically revolve around a teamwork experience, like the Oculus Rift indie experiment Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes. The early access title Squad is another interesting example, directly incorporating verbal communication between players into the gameplay and essentially requiring everyone have a headset.

We all know what games to avoid if you don't want to deal with an obnoxious player base, but what games have the most supportive communities? I've found it isn't always restricted to one genre or even platform, with some of my best multiplayer experiences coming on both console and PC in games with player bases both large and small.

As with any online game, your mileage may vary depending on which server or time you play, but in general, these are the games where the communities are worth interacting with and getting to know.

Gears Of War 3 Horde Mode

I'm a big fan of all the games in this series and regularly go back and play each of them, but easily the pinnacle of the Gears experience is horde mode. When you've got a group of players dedicated to hitting wave 50 (or at least making a valiant effort to get up higher in the double digits), this is one the most addicting and straight up fun multiplayer options around.

Despite its age at this point, horde mode in the series' third entry still has a thriving community, and it frequently seems like there's more people playing Gears Of War 3 than the newer Gears Of War: Judgment.

Since you only succeed in horde mode if everyone is working in tandem towards an effective strategy, it's in everyone's best interests to be team players and help each other out. Obnoxious players don't tend to last long here.

Sure, every now and again you might get the person who thinks they know how to play best and assumes everything that goes wrong is everyone else's fault, but for the most part, horde mode is an excellent place to meet other Gears enthusiasts and have a great time.

 

Guild Wars 2

I had the good fortune to jump into Guild Wars 2 early and watch the community grow, and I can say without hesitation this is truly one of the best MMORPGs for newbies. The unique PvE setup of Guild Wars 2 encourages people to work together and doesn't give any particular benefit to standing in the way of another player's success.

As I mentioned in my look at the state of the game today years after launch, there does unfortunately seem to be fewer people logged on these days, but the base that's still there is overall very friendly to new faces. Log in, find an an on-going event, and join the fun. You're pretty much guaranteed to have someone helpfully explaining what players need to be doing in the in the larger, multi-stage boss battles.

When you win a hard fought battle, expect a lot of back-patting from the regulars and invitations to join groups or hook up with a guild. If you have trouble finding hidden points of interests or figuring out how to finish a renown heart location, help is just a chat message away, with only the occasional bout of trash talk clogging up the screen.

Killing Floor

Pretty much the exact opposite of the Left 4 Dead communities, the ultra-gory zed-hunting phenomena that is Killing Floor has an overall excellent player base. Teamwork is an absolute must in this co-op horror FPS, and with many shooters that would normally mean a constant stream of VOIP harassment.

For some reason that doesn't tend to happen as much in Killing Floor, where finding a great team that works well together and helps each other out isn't a tall order at all.

If you've had nothing but awful experiences with Battlefield or COD online, give Killing Floor a few hours of your time and discover what it's like to actually have helpful teammates. The fast-paced dismemberment of demonic zombie creatures is also a hell of a good time to boot.

Kerbal Space Program

This may be the one and only game in the entire world where the reddit community is legitimately nice to one another and the toxicity level is at nearly 0%.

The learning curve on this space engineering simulator is high, and you'd think that might breed elitism and a disdain for those who haven't mastered the mechanics, but somehow the exact opposite occurred here.

Seriously, go to any KSP message board or social networking page and look at how people treat each other. There's more high fiving over minor accomplishments here than anywhere else in all of gaming. Somebody needs to do a scientific study on how this occurred and how it can be replicated with other games.

Destiny

This one comes with a caveat: there absolutely are negatives to be found in the Destiny community. For the most part it's divided into two segments though: people complaining about problems within the game itself, and the fanboys who don't like criticism of the game or developer.

What you'll notice outside those two factions is that people generally aren't attacking each other at all, and the actual in-game experience with a group of friends is solid gold.

When you find a good group to play with who work well together, Destiny absolutely develops a “band of brothers” feel over time, and there are people here making real-world friends for life in raids and strikes.

Lord Of The Rings Online

Unlike with Guild Wars 2, I got into this Tolkien-inspired MMORPG quite late - way past its hey day unfortunately. But I've actually found the reduced player base to be friendly and willing to lend a hand.

LOTRO tends to have a very laid-back community these days, so you are rarely going to experience people screaming at each other on the global chat. And if you ask a question, you'll usually get an excellent answer without people looking down on you.

There's also the bonus here that many players are fanatics for Tolkien or fantasy literature in general, so it's not tough to find someone who wants to chat about anything fantasy related, so making friendship beyond the game itself is a natural and easy extension of exploring Middle Earth.

These six games all have communities worth joining, but there are easily more out there where the level of discourse doesn't devolve into screaming racial slurs.

What games have you had the best online experiences with, and what genres do you think tend to have the most supportive communities?

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The 6 best subscription-free MMORPGs you have to play https://www.gameskinny.com/m5poq/the-6-best-subscription-free-mmorpgs-you-have-to-play https://www.gameskinny.com/m5poq/the-6-best-subscription-free-mmorpgs-you-have-to-play Sat, 12 Sep 2015 13:42:02 -0400 Rob Thubron

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1. Guild Wars 2

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Sometimes, developers can try to take all the best elements from various games within a genre, mix them together, add some new stuff, and end up with total crap. Other times the mix works perfectly and you get a game like Guild Wars 2 

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GW2 really does take everything that people enjoy about MMORPGs, remove the worst parts and adds it own spin on it. Take the whole social aspect of MMORPGs - playing online games with loads of other people can be great fun, but let’s face it, some people can be a-holes. By putting an emphasis on casual co-operation, ArenaNet managed to get rid of some of the unfriendly, toxic competitiveness you’ll often find in MMO games. 

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Guild Wars 2 is set in a persistent world that responds to players’ actions. The dynamic events it features may be a bit more scripted that the developers like to claim, but it still makes players feel like they are part of an ever-changing, living, breathing world. 

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The game can be incredibly complex yet is completely accessible, even to someone who’s never played an MMORPG before. It looks beautiful, has some of the best PvP in the genre, rewards exploration instead of punishing it, has multiple methods of tackling objectives, and does everything an MMO should do - only better. 

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In my opinion, Guild Wars 2 is still the best MMO game in the world today, subscription-free or otherwise.

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What MMOs do you think deserve a spot on this list? Let me know in the comments below!

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2. Star Wars: The OId Republic

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Few MMORPGs garnered as much excitement in anticipation of its release as Star Wars: The Old Republic. Star Wars, you say? Bioware, you say? How can this possibly not be the greatest game ever made in the history of video games? The first reviews of the game seemed to suggest it really did live up to its hype; 93% in PC Gamer, 9/10 on IGN, 4/5 on Gamespy. But then something started happening, subscription numbers dropped rapidly and people started abandoning the game in droves.

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Thing is, SW:ToR really is a great game, but like a really awesome rollercoaster, once you’ve experience the initial thrill a few times it starts to lose its appeal – especially when you’re paying a monthly fee for the pleasure. The game also suffered from its own ambitions; trying to stuff the equivalent of four MMORPG’s worth of story into one fully voiced MMO game was a titanic task.

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But then Bioware did something sensible and SW:ToR began offering a free-to-play option, a model they probably should have adopted from the beginning. It does come with some pretty annoying caveats, though, such as reduced speed, slower leveling, and no mounts. Despite all this, it’s still an excellent MMORPG. 

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3. WildStar

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In case anyone didn’t know: WildStar is going to start offering a true free-to-play model this fall. The game previously had a C.R.E.D.D system, which allowed non-subscribers to buy game time using game-world gold. Like most MMORPGs using free-to-play, anyone who continues subscribing to Wildstar after the change will receive in-game benefits.

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WildStar has been called the first ‘modern’ MMORPG. The game cherry-picks the best bits from other massively multiplayer online titles, but cites World of Warcraft as its biggest influence, especially in its structure, questing and visual style. One area that is unique to the game is its very cool combat system; this places more emphasis on arcade-like skills that require manual aiming. And it has one of the best housing systems of any MMORPG. 

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Full of fun quests, adventures and packed with character; WildStar’s a massive, fun experience that’s worth returning to for any lapsed subscribers - once the free-to-play mode kicks in - and a great starting point for newbies. 

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4. Rift

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Despite Rift being very popular, absolutely massive, and incredibly beautiful, many detractors point to the game’s lack of originality as its downfall. It’s worth reminding these people that while innovation in games should be encouraged, a lack of originality never stopped a title from being fun or popular (the Lego games, Call of Duty, FIFA, etc, etc, etc).

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Despite the perception that Rift contains nothing we haven’t seen before, it still has a massive and dedicated userbase. The game won numerous awards upon its release in 2011, including ‘Best PC Persistent World/MMO Game of the Year’ from IGN. At the time, it was also hailed as being the first MMORPG that could challenge World of Warcraft’s dominance of the genre.

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Rift went free-to-play in 2013, offering an optional ‘Patron Status’ subscription service that gives players bonus buffs, improved abilities, store discounts and even expedited customer support! Moving to this free model improved desirability for the game no end. For some awesome PvP, beautiful looks, super gameplay and one of the most welcoming communities of any MMORPG, check out Rift.

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/b/d/d/bdd3558248e06275d8fa4fd2acc2a077.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/b/d/d/tiny_bdd3558248e06275d8fa4fd2acc2a077.jpg","type":"slide","id":"83404","description":"

5. The Secret World

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The Secret World is one of those games that could be listed under the word ‘polarizing’ in the dictionary. While a great number of players praise its originality and open-ended skill system, others complain that it’s just an archaic, unambitious MMO that would have made more of an impact if it had been released in 2008 instead of 2012.

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Whichever camp you fall into to, it’s impossible to deny that The Secret World’s puzzles, setting and especially its atmosphere are some of the best ever seen in MMORPGs. Any fans of horror maestro HP Lovecraft will love the many homages the game pays to the author. 

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TSW is quite different from the majority of other MMOs, which could be what makes it such a ‘love it or hate it’ type of game for so many people. In many ways it can sometimes feel like a single-player title, but that’s not always a bad thing, especially when you’re looking for a different kind of MMORPG experience. It’s incredibly innovative; some missions even include puzzles which require you to search the internet for a solution using an in-game browser! 

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The Secret World eventually moved from a pay-to-play to a buy-to-play model, meaning that you now just have to pay for the base game. Anyone wanting additional benefits such as experience buffs, monthly gifts, and store discounts still have the option of forking out for a monthly subscription. 

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If you value elements such as story, skill systems and uniqueness over MMO staples like PvP and crafting, then you’re likely to love The Secret World.

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6. The Lord Of The Rings Online

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I personally spent many, many hours exploring the enormous world of The Lord of the Rings Online. The game’s been around since 2007, and even today offers the most immersive experience of Tolkien’s world you can find.

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This massive game is divided into 25 separate regions, including fan favorites such as The Shire, The Misty Mountains and The Ettenmoors - you can even explore the Mines of Moria and Isengard in the expansions. You’ll also meet characters such as Gandalf, Frodo and the rest of the fellowship in your travels. The whole thing is like a love letter to Middle Earth; if you’re a fan of the books or the movies (or both, of course) then this is definitely worth checking out.

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There are plenty of your usual MMO staples here: crafting, questing, PvP, PvE, banks, healers, etc. And the fact that you can buy and decorate your own home makes you feel like you’re an integral part of Middle Earth.

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The game switched to free-to-play a while ago, but anyone who wants to pay extra gets some fancy perks that’ll speed things up and allow access to more areas.

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It may be a bit long in the tooth and not have the subscriber numbers it once had, but The Lord of the Rings Online is still a classic MMORPG and a must-play for any Middle Earth diehards who have yet to experience it. 

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Massively multiplayer online role-playing games have been around a while. The first generally accepted ‘true’ title in the genre was Neverwinter Nights way back in 1991 which cost players an astounding $6.00 an hour to play. Since then, MMORPGs have developed into the behemoths we know today - such as the mighty World of Warcraft - and many still use a pay-to-play subscription model, though thankfully they don’t charge on an hourly basis anymore.  

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One thing that puts a lot of people off MMORPGs is that they don’t want to commit to a monthly subscription, which is why many of them now don’t require monthly fees. Several titles on this list started out with paid-for services, but eventually moved to a free-to-play model that offers benefits to those who wish to continue subscribing. The criteria for getting on this top six is that the game must be, essentially, free to play. A few of these titles do charge for the base game, but don’t require any monthly subscriptions in the way something like Warcraft does.  

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So if you want to dip your toe into multiplayer online RPGs, or maybe you’re a lapsed subscriber who wants to return to these amazing worlds, here are the 6 best subscription-free MMORPGs you can play today.

"}]]]>
12 Incredible nerdom and video game-inspired gingerbread houses https://www.gameskinny.com/tvl9m/12-incredible-nerdom-and-video-game-inspired-gingerbread-houses https://www.gameskinny.com/tvl9m/12-incredible-nerdom-and-video-game-inspired-gingerbread-houses Wed, 16 Sep 2015 06:37:06 -0400 Khadija Dukes

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Gingerbread making is not only a fun and tasty way to play with food, but it also allows people to express their creativity and their passions or interests. 

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These twelve sculptures are a beautiful homage to the gaming community and they show that gingerbread making is just as artistic and enjoyable as cake making.

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What do you think of these gingerbread houses? Will you be making any this holiday season?

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Star Wars

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This unbelievable gingerbread sculpture is an astonishing replica of the Millennium Falcon. The creation was on display at the Inn at Laurel Point as part of Canada's National Gingerbread showcase in 2012. The piece is entirely edible and features a miniature Chewbacca and Han Solo. It is decorated with red, white and blue icing and sits atop a bead of shredded coconut. Candy canes and chocolate adorn the rest of the creation.

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The Millennium Falcon is a modified YT-1300 light freighter spacecraft commanded by the smuggler Han Solo and the Wookie Chewbacca.

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Check out more pics here.

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Mario

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The final Mario-inspired gingerbread house was created by Darcy from The Infinite Yums for an auction at the Festival of the Trees. It features many of the same characters and symbols from the previous Mario-themed houses, with the exception of Wario, Waluigi, and Boo. This cute house and its characters are ensconced and composed of colored fondant. 

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Check out more pics here.

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Mass Effect

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This colossal piece of gingerbread is a spectacular rendition of the Mass Effect harbinger. The statuesque construction was on display at the EXP Restaurant and Bar in Vancouver. Created by the Catalyst as a clone of the Leviathans, Harbinger is a Reaper that oversees Collectors' operations. Any unit taken over by it is instantly killed and its body will levitate and glow, gaining increased health and strength. 

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Check out more pics here.

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Super Mario

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This exquisite gingerbread creation is yet another beautiful depiction of Mario in a winter wonderland themed game for the Nintendo DS. This animated and comprehensive design features multi-colored candy ribbons and edible versions of re-occurring and well-known Super Mario characters and symbols, including Princess Peach, Bowser, Toad, Luigi, Yoshi, and Mario himself. Luigi, Yoshi, and Toad can be seen throwing snowballs at Bowser who is in the midst of throwing a massive snowball. Mario beholds a star while Princess Peach looks on. Although this holiday version of Super Mario does not exist, one can still appreciate the dedication and creativity put into this masterpiece.

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Check out more pics here.

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Game of Thrones

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This ornate gingerbread creation is a colorful representation of the highly coveted Iron Throne. This pretty design features purple and blue icing and tons of individually made miniature swords. Some of the swords are even decorated in edible beads. Created by Aegon I Targaryen, the Iron Throne is the seat of the Lord of the Seven Kingdoms. The seat resides in the Red Keep's throne room, only to be sat upon by the Hand of the King in the King's absence.

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Check out more pics here.

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/8/9/d/89d84d68c9dc71cfd63b7e16bf89740d.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/8/9/d/tiny_89d84d68c9dc71cfd63b7e16bf89740d.jpg","type":"slide","id":"81501","description":"

Mario

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This inventive and detailed gingerbread version of Bowser's castle may not be the first of many Mario-themed gingerbread houses, but it is one of the most interesting. Created by a Norwegian Reddit-user's family, this presentation features a gingerbread house ensconced in fondant. Complete with fondant Mario characters and Mario being chased by a bomb-omb, this gingerbread house is very entertaining. This action-filled scene even has little snowmen and an 8-bit coin.

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Bowser's Castle functions as a base for the Koopa King and his Koopa Troops. Mario must frequently save Princess Peach from Bowser who keeps her locked up in his castle. 

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Check out more pics here.

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/3/2/7/3275ab3917580d5cee690e45d805d5af.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/3/2/7/tiny_3275ab3917580d5cee690e45d805d5af.jpg","type":"slide","id":"81498","description":"

Star Wars

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This frosty confection is an inspired take on the Star Wars All Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT). This pretty design was created by a Flickr user and features intricate designs made with pastel pink, baby blue, white, black, gray, and gold icing. The statuesque creation displays dots, stripes, and flower designs.

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AT-AT Walkers are vehicles that travel through the Star Wars landscape on mechanical legs. They are mainly used by the Old Republic and the Galactic Empire.

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Check out more pics here.

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/2/3/3/2334f6f23cc54fe325b099b7a256b0b7.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/2/3/3/tiny_2334f6f23cc54fe325b099b7a256b0b7.jpg","type":"slide","id":"81497","description":"

Star Trek

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This amazing, mid-air gingerbread imitation of Star Trek's Starship Enterprise was made by Blackmarket Bakery in California. The captivating mid-action piece is complete with the NCC-1701 registry code and a candy coated tractor beam. The ship is decorated with red, white, blue, and black icing. The piece is also adorned with miniature candy canes, marshmallows, hard peppermints, and soft peppermints.

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The USS Enterprise is the main starship in the Star Trek universe. Its mission is "to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before."

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Check out more pics here.

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/f/b/d/fbd86faa163dda0fca3135cc4ff46d5d.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/f/b/d/tiny_fbd86faa163dda0fca3135cc4ff46d5d.jpg","type":"slide","id":"81496","description":"

Halo

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This tasty looking display of gingerbread is a beautiful representation of the Forward Unto Dawn ship from Halo. The creative concoction was made by a gamer for an IGN gingerbread making competition. The sizable ship is complete with the words 'forward unto dawn' and a United Nations Space Command symbol. The ship is comprised of gingerbread, pretzel sticks, and Nutty bars and is held together with white icing. Master Chief is found in the Forward Unto Dawn ship at the end of Halo 3 and in Halo 4. The ship was eventually cut in half with Master Chief's half left to drift towards a world called Requiem. 

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Check out more pics here.

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/1/6/7/167e947f6b5e4cae0cf6c933777fdb55.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/1/6/7/tiny_167e947f6b5e4cae0cf6c933777fdb55.jpg","type":"slide","id":"81495","description":"

Lord of the Rings

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This magnificent tower of gingerbread is a stunning replica of the tower of Barad-dûr from the Lord of the Rings. The delectable creation was crafted by two Finnish students who used almost 14 pounds of gingerbread to create this masterpiece. The tower is held together with chocolate and is complete with Sauron's light shining from atop the tower. Barad-dûr, also known as the Dark Tower, was ruled by Sauron, the Dark Lord. The Eye of Sauron shone from the highest tower and kept watch over all of Middle Earth.

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Check out more pics here.

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/7/c/d/7cd42c52575688a905e56da09ba36310.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/7/c/d/tiny_7cd42c52575688a905e56da09ba36310.jpg","type":"slide","id":"81502","description":"

World of Warcraft

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This breathtaking gingerbread monument is a shocking model of Deathwing destroying Stormwind City. A woman from Sweden created this beauty for a Starcraft II holiday dessert contest. Deathwing is composed of an orange and clove-flavored chocolate cake and caramelized sugar wings. Stormwind City is composed of gingerbread that is being engulfed by caramelized sugar flames.

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Deathwing the Destroyer was one of the five Dragon Aspects. He eventually corrupted the black Dragon Aspect and scorched the capital of Stormwind following the Second War. 

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Check out more pics here.

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/5/a/6/5a64cf0cc41ae5ec965dd5d037a1df48.png","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/5/a/6/tiny_5a64cf0cc41ae5ec965dd5d037a1df48.png","type":"slide","id":"81509","description":"

Portal

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This simple yet futuristic confection is a hypnotic interpretation of the Aperture Science computer aided enrichment center. The gingerbread presentation features a gingerbread portal cube and gingerbread people. The display also features blue and pink candy portals surrounded by blue and pink royal icing.

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The Aperture Science testing facility is where the character Chell must solve several puzzles by using the portal device to transport herself and objects. Upon successful completion, the character will receive cake.

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Check out more pics here.

"},{"image":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/4/e/2/4e2ee4f8a9249dd882696090af5aff2b.jpg","thumb":"http://s3.amazonaws.com/gameskinnyop/4/e/2/tiny_4e2ee4f8a9249dd882696090af5aff2b.jpg","type":"slide","id":"83754","description":"

Cake decorators and pastry chefs have long been revered for their artistry and attention to detail. The things these bakers can do with cake knows no bounds. However, one form of food artistry that has been vastly overlooked and severely underrated is the art of making gingerbread houses.

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Constructing houses and other structures out of gingerbread is just as time consuming and methodical as baking and decorating a cake. However, due to the texture and consistency of gingerbread, it provides for a sturdier base than soft, malleable cake.

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Competitions are even dedicated to the creation of these masterpieces. Much love and hard work goes into these confections and it is about time these pieces of art are recognized.

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Here are some of the most amazing gingerbread houses that are not only incredible due to their size, detail and accuracy, but also due to their being inspired by the most beloved nerdoms and video games.

"}]]]>
Transparency: Five Rules For Making a Great Gaming Community https://www.gameskinny.com/6t5w9/transparency-five-rules-for-making-a-great-gaming-community https://www.gameskinny.com/6t5w9/transparency-five-rules-for-making-a-great-gaming-community Sun, 12 Apr 2015 09:02:02 -0400 Larry Everett

Communities are complicated. People are complicated. Running a community can be one of the most difficult, but also one of the most rewarding, things to do in gaming. And the truth of the matter is that a community can make or break a game.

Don’t get me wrong - a great game will be great despite its community, just as a bad game will be bad no matter what. But there is opportunity for a game that is average to really shine if the community is wonderful. But I’ve also run into situations, especially in MMOs, where the community can really drag the game into the mud.

For example, I don’t think that EVE Online is a bad game, and the community in the game really isn’t bad either. However, the outward perception of the game is that it’s terrible. The community has a reputation for being hard-ass and unforgiving. That’s not exactly true from my personal experience in the game, but I know people who refuse to play because of it. Unfortunately, CCP, the creators of EVE, all but supported the bullying behavior.

On the other side of the coin, League of Legends is attempting to clean up its reputation. How often had you heard your friends say that they don’t queue for randoms in LoL because they don’t want to be cussed out by 12-year-olds? I know I've heard it many times. I believe that Riot developers saw that this image was hurting the brand for LoL and began to enforce rules for a better behaved community.

Whether you are a community manager or a community leader running a  fan site, it’s up to you to create an environment of constructive conversation and ultimately growth for the game. As a previous community leader for a highly successful MMO fan forum, I have learned a few things about how communities work. Let me give you my five tips on how to see continued growth for your community.

EVE Online

1. Have a Vision

I am the last person to give out advice on corporate team-building, but I did spend some time studying how to do it. One interesting thing I learned from my short time in the corporate world came from Steven Covey’s book Seven Habits for Highly Effective People. I’m not normally a self-help guru, and you won’t find me spouting the platitudes of how to win friends and influence people. But habit two of this book asks its readers to make a personal mission statement. This advice is good for your community.

Having a focus will ultimately make the community better.

You should have a vision for the community. What do you want the community to look like? What are the people doing? What kinds of people are in your community? The more concise you can be with you vision, the better you will be at directing people toward it. At the same time, you want to be able to express your vision for the community in a sentence or two. If your vision is more complicated than that, then perhaps you need to rethink your goals.

I also believe that having a vision helps community leaders admit that their communities might not be for everyone. It’s hard to turn visitors away when you’re attempting to grow a site, especially when the people you’re turning off aren’t necessarily bad people. But having a focus will ultimately make the community better.

2. Build a Core

Building up a core group of members on your community is crucial to its success. These people have to be on board with the vision you created in the earlier step. And the number of people in this core will likely grow or change as your community matures.

Although you want these people to be on board with your vision, it is distinctly possible that these people will disagree with some of the ideas that you have. In fact, I encourage this disagreement. In the five-man-band trope, there is always the lancer, who is contrary to the leader. The A-Team had Face, the Beatles had Paul, The Muppets had Fozzie Bear, and the list goes on. If finding your lancer is difficult for you, and I completely understand. Then your goal should be to have a team that is not afraid to speak its mind.

Lord of the Rings Online

3. Be flexible

Many people when they hear the term “be flexible,” they think it means to bend over backward to give the community everything the community wants. Although it’s true that you want the community to be happy, it doesn’t mean that you give it everything. In fact, giving the community everything that it wants will likely turn into a thankless situation where you try to please everyone and end up pleasing no one.

So how does a community leader remain flexible? The Vision. And no, I don’t mean the Avenger. I mean the mission statement you made. If someone comes to you dead-set on doing something for the site, check the idea against the vision. If there are complaints about how a particular thing is handled and another way is presented, check it against the vision. If the vision for the site will not be compromised by that thing, or better yet, if the vision for the site will be enhanced, then go for it. Why not? In fact, if you ask the question, “Why not?” and the answer isn’t “It doesn’t fit the vision,” then maybe you should do it.

4. Admit when you’re wrong

City of HeroesCommunity leaders are human, and we all make mistakes. The difference between the everyday community member and the community leader is that many mistakes the community leaders make are extremely public. Therefore, the admission of wrongdoing and the subsequent reconciliation need to be public, too. It sucks, and you shouldn’t have to do it too often. But when it does happen, it’s better to be transparent than to let it fester to save your pride.

5. Weed out troublemakers

You can’t stop troublemakers. There will be people who, for whatever reason, just dislike everything that your community is about and how it operates. And I don’t mean the trolls. Trolls are easy. Ban them immediately. The harder people to spot are those who walk the line between saying hateful things and breaking the rules of the site. I am all about diversity in a community - don’t ban someone just because they disagree with you.

Your community will be better off in the long run without toxic members, even if that means you might lose some people when the toxic person is removed.

However, there are some people who are toxic, dragging the community or its leaders through the mud anytime they can. My guild leader calls this the come-to-Jesus moment. Basically, you have to talk to them. Calmly, let them know that the behavior cannot continue, and if they do it again, they will have to deal with the consequences.

Wow. I ended that on a downer, but it’s true. Your community will be better off in the long run without toxic members, even if that means you might lose some people when the toxic person is removed. But you will lose even more people because of their poor behavior, and you'll likely be forced to kick them out later anyway.

What do you think? Have you run into a great gaming community? How was that run? Did it follow the guidelines I mentioned above? Let me hear your stories in the comments below.

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Transparency: Why Buy-To-Play Is The Best Option For MMOs https://www.gameskinny.com/6ko4b/transparency-why-buy-to-play-is-the-best-option-for-mmos https://www.gameskinny.com/6ko4b/transparency-why-buy-to-play-is-the-best-option-for-mmos Sat, 07 Mar 2015 15:26:17 -0500 Larry Everett

I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve had to decide between one MMO subscription and another. When World of Warcraft released, I had to decide between that subscription and Star Wars Galaxies. I was young and had no money, so I couldn’t afford two subscriptions. As a Star Wars fan, I picked SWG; clearly, the rest of the world picked WoW, but I don’t regret that. What I do regret is not being able to play both.

These days, I keep a suite of MMOs that I subscribe to or support financially in some way or another. However, I do have a limit. Most recently, I had to pick between WildStar and Elder Scrolls Online. Thankfully, I picked ESO. But ESO is changing its pricing model. On March 17th, ESO will launch ESO: Tamriel Unlimited, which will drop the subscription fee and allow anyone who buys or has bought the game to just jump in and play forever, without having to pay another dime for the base game.

Elder Scrolls Online KhajiitThis whole transition got me thinking about payment models for different kinds of online games. And I’ve come to the conclusion that, despite the many different types of payment models MMOs have, buy-to-play is clearly the best.

I should define what I mean by buy-to-pay

All buy-to-play games have an up-front cost to play, and there is no required subscription to keep playing. This does not mean that there isn’t a subscription for other benefits, or that there isn’t a trial of some sort so people can get a taste of the game for free. An example of this type of payment model can be found in Guild Wars 2.

Buy-to-play isn’t free-to-play; that gets confused sometimes. Free-to-play means that the base game is free. Usually that means that getting to max level can be achieved or a vast majority of the game can be played without spending a dime. League of Legends is a great example of a free-to-play game. The base game can be played without paying anything, but champions and other items have to be bought from the cash shop.

The subscription model seems to be pretty obvious. Players have to pay a subscription to play the game at all. Sometimes these games will have some sort of trial, but the vast majority of the game requires that you some sort of monthly fee. World of Warcraft is probably the prime example of this, but to be honest, nearly every other MMO on the market at the time of WoW used this model.

Beyond that, we see hybrids of these modes. Some are buy-to-play, with cash shops for in-game items, or there are subs where game time can be purchased in game. The list goes on, but the most common is usually referred to as the Freemium model. Essentially, this is a free-to-play model with an additional subscription that gives you access to the “whole game.” A good example of this is Star Wars: The Old Republic, but Lord of the Rings Online and EverQuest 2 used this model before SWTOR.

Elder Scrolls Online boss fight

Buy-to-play is the only one that works

However, out of all these models, the buy-to-play model is the only one that works well for both the consumer and the developer, and is therefore the best.

The free-to-play model seems to be great, right? You get a whole game, but have to pay for nothing at all. You can tool around, find what you want, and even play some content without paying anything. If you want something neat that you see someone else wearing, likely it’s in the cash shop for you to buy. It's generally great for the consumer, because you don’t have to pay for anything. Of course, gold spammers are usually horrific, but that’s a small price to pay for a free game, right?

On the developer's end, you only have small increments of revenue to work with. Of course, there are some games, like MOBAs, that have lower development overhead and can get away with having smaller purchases. But when you have a game with the scope of an MMORPG, the developer has to focus on keeping the cash shop relevant, while at the same time focusing on other aspects of gameplay development. I believe this is what's beginning to happen with Star Wars: The Old Republic. The expansion packs are getting less and less complicated, and they're catering to the least common denominator of player type.

Elder Scrolls Online ImperialI think we’ve all felt the woes of the subscription model of MMO. We have to juggle our subscriptions, because we feel that if we are paying for a month of gaming, we have to spend a month in that game. Subscriptions create an all-or-nothing scenario for the developers, too. They have to drop everything into the game without cost, or the customer will feel he’s being ripped off. And don't even think about making a cash shop. Most sub games that have real cash shops have received so much flak. Oh, and if the developer doesn’t release something each month, then the game will start to bleed players because they could spend their money on another MMORPG and get new content.

The best case scenario would be buy-to-play. Players will not feel slighted when you create a cash shop to keep things running. You can even have a part of the team focus on making things specifically for the cash shop. The rest of the team can focus on building the next DLC or expansion. Developers can even charge for that DLC, and players will not feel slighted. The DLC would also not be on a schedule, other than one that is within a reasonable frame of time to keep the players interested.

Guild Wars 2 has been running really well off this model. In fact, while other MMOs had major layoffs after a launch, Guild Wars 2 was actually hiring people. One key, however, is that you have to keep the box price at launch retail price for quite some time in order to recoup development costs and then make enough profit to build the following DLC.

I think the other two models can work in very specific situations, but we can talk about that another time.

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Dragon Slayer Award Nominees: Most Passionate Fan Base https://www.gameskinny.com/wsd4v/dragon-slayer-award-nominees-most-passionate-fan-base https://www.gameskinny.com/wsd4v/dragon-slayer-award-nominees-most-passionate-fan-base Mon, 04 Aug 2014 17:01:53 -0400 Travis McGee

What would any game be without a devoted fan base willing to show its love and appreciation in art, letter, and demonstration?

From awesome cosplay to beautiful works of art. From conventions to million-dollar tournaments. From the passionate individual fan to entire communities here are your Dragon Slayer Award Nominees for Most Passionate Fan Base.

  • AdventureQuest Worlds
  • DotA 2
  • League of Legends
  • Lord of the Rings Online
  • Marvel Heroes
  • World of Warcraft

What Inspires a Fan Base to be Passionate?


We all play games because we enjoy them, and if you ask 10 different gamers what they like about the games they play you're bound to get 10 different answers.

For some, loyalty plays a big part in their fandom - that is, the both the loyalty they've shown a game over a long span of time and the loyalty the game's developers have shown them. Typically this is found most often in long-running games like World of Warcraft or League of Legends because these fans have spent large portions of their life enjoying the game and supporting it.

For others a game's community is the reason for their passion. Games introduce us to new friends and there isn't a game out there without its own communities. For these fans, the game that inspired such a following is secondary to the communities inspired by it. A good example of how community impassions a fan can be found in Marvel Heroes where the game's communities overlap with the fan communities of Marvel Comics.

Sometimes what impassions a fan can really only be described as love. The love for the story, art, mechanics, lore or even overall design of a game can really be all a fan base needs to want to show their passion and appreciation. All of the nominees obviously fall under this category as much as the two above, and there are surely many other reasons gamers become passionate fans of the games they play. But, love is at the heart of it all.

How Do Fan Bases Show Their Passion?


Fans show their passion any way they can. Artists draw and paint. Writers write novels, short stories, and poetry. Actors act in their own videos based off the game they love. The list actually goes on and on.

The biggest way a fan base shows their passion is through each individual fan turning their own unique skills and talents towards showing their appreciation. This often results in contributions from the fan base that get incorporated into the game in some way.

Beautiful cosplay, amazing art, wonderful writing, and even viral videos are just a few of the ways that a fan base can show their passion for the game they love. There are far too many ways just to list in one place, but what matters most is that whatever they do the most passionate fan base needs to be completely over the top.

So...How Do I Know Who to Vote For?

This one's easy! Either cast your vote for the nominee that you're the most a fan of or the nominee who you feel has had the most awesome and unforgettable demonstration of their passion as a fan.

Don't waste any time. You can cast your vote here, and don't forget to check out the other categories for Dragon Slayer Awards, too!

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Guild Launch's Nominees for the 2014 Dragon Slayer Awards: Best Community Manager https://www.gameskinny.com/iqldo/guild-launchs-nominees-for-the-2014-dragon-slayer-awards-best-community-manager https://www.gameskinny.com/iqldo/guild-launchs-nominees-for-the-2014-dragon-slayer-awards-best-community-manager Wed, 30 Jul 2014 09:53:28 -0400 Proto Foe

It is that time of year again, the time where all your DKP is counted up and distributed across the 'Best Community Managers' of 2014. For three years now, our sister-site, Guild Launch has hosted the Dragon Slayer Awards.

So, how exactly does the Dragon Slayer Award process work? Well, members of the communities of nominate community managers, community builders, streamers, and developers, among others. This happens over three rounds, and when those rounds have concluded the final list is released. Voting is live now and runs through to September 1st, so be sure to register your vote.

Past winners of the Community Manager award include, Jonathan "Zarhym" Brown in 2012, and Andrew "Tamat" Beegle in 2013.

The Nominees

What is a Community Manager? 

A CM can be compared to a Man-in-Black, a Sheppard, a conduit, a punching bag... but I like see them as the our best friends (within the community that we are involved in.) Among other duties, they help us through each day, tell us when we are out of line, and pass on any frustrations we may have.

They achieve this through many means; social media, live streams, blogs, live interviews, forums, and any other mediums that can enable productive communications with the community-at-large.

As a former CM, I know that a lot of what happens behind-the-scenes goes unnoticed: long hours, short weekends, infinite coffee, dropped Skype calls. Yet, when that piece of news goes out and the community reacts, good or bad, it's when you know you have done your job. These nominees all do their jobs to the highest standard.

The Question Then

Which Community Manager has ticked your boxes? Is it Tony Rey and the 'I'm a fan' mentality he brought to WildStar during the launch period? Could it be Jessica Folsom and her down-to-earth management of the ESO forums amidst the cries of foul by the community? Or is it longstanding CM, Zarhym, who never fails bring opinion and fact from both sides of the fence when discussing content with the World of Warcraft community? Or will it be one of the other, equally deserving, Community Managers? The power is in your hands.

Let your voice be heard, vote now! Feel free to vote on the other categories too.

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Lost Pirates of the Caribbean: Seeking MMO Home Ports Beyond the Sea https://www.gameskinny.com/1kwd3/lost-pirates-of-the-caribbean-seeking-mmo-home-ports-beyond-the-sea https://www.gameskinny.com/1kwd3/lost-pirates-of-the-caribbean-seeking-mmo-home-ports-beyond-the-sea Wed, 04 Sep 2013 00:04:54 -0400 Capt. Eliza Creststeel

The Waters Be Poisoned

After a rather disappointing week trying to locate a new haven for the pirate refugees fleeing the sinking ship that is Pirates of the Caribbean Online, I turn eyes elsewhere. Anchorage for the hundreds to thousands of potential lost souls, narrowed down rather sharply.

Pirates of the Burning Seas may hold the best option for those lost buccaneers who need to sail. However, it was surprising and disheartening to me how few 3-D action MMOs are actually set during the Golden Age of Piracy, which is a literal treasure trove for gaming.

Ages Past

One of the most popular options for scoundrels looking for a new MMO home is the classic fantasy MMO. Swords and sorcery tend to be the bread and butter moneymakers.

World of Warcraft - The perennial poster child for the modern MMO has faced the same rollercoaster of fame and desertion that killed Pirates Online, but millions still play world-wide (even after the Kung-fu Panda update).

Guild Wars 2 - ArenaNet's graphic heavy MMO is a large world with a diverse range of races and careers. Plenty of crafting and customization abound as well as places to find and battle enemies. It's not too hard to find a band of adventurers who will welcome another hearty warrior to the ranks either.

GW2 is NOT free-to-play, but once you pay the one-time cost of purchasing, then there is NO monthly fee ever.

Lord of the Rings Online - Another lovingly detailed game and based on the popular books and recent films.

So, there is already some familiarity with its universe and since it's release in 2007, the game has had plenty of critical praise. I can say that I enjoyed how fast you can get up and running in LotRO. There is a quick learning curve and a good tutorial.

I admit I wasn't overly pleased with the level of graphic detail, but the universe is very engaging and social aspects compensate.

Elder Scrolls Online - One of the most talked about upcoming MMOs has a list of 3,000,000 people waiting to beta test. And if it's just a percentage of the stunning world Bethesda created in Skyrim, it could be a real beast. But, we won't really know until 2014.

Arche Age - TRION is teasing the web with the upcoming beta test of a new entry into the fantasy MMO field. Originally developed by XL Games from Korea, this epic world opened in January. The graphics look gorgeous and what ho... I see a SHIP! And Good Lord, the Kraken! Fleets of warships battling and big beastie right in the middle! Could this be our pirate promised land?

In a Galaxy... Blah Blah Blah

Many players were hopeful when there was word that Disney had bought out George Lucas. It meant that LucasArts was in the deal. The innovative and artistic company that spawned so many great titles. Maybe they could have recreated our piratey home into a new realm of discovery...

Then, Disney pulled the plug and LucasArts was scheduled to be boarded up and shutdown. You can imagine the sinking hearts.

Still, LucasArts and Bioware had created Star Wars: The Old Republic, an intergalactic MMO set in that big galaxy far, far away. It had outlasted the ill-fated Star Wars Galaxies. Though Galaxies, it can be said, did itself in with the unpopular WoW-style makeover.

Many pirates have already taken to the idea of wielding a cutlass made of light and stepping aboard a Corellian stock freighter instead of their sloop. After all, the game has a strong social system and it's easy to join groups for missions and help each other finish quests.

But there will always be the worries that someday, the mouse pulls the plug. In the meantime, some have said they aren't happy that ship combat is restricted.

SW:TOR is FREE-to-play, but you can spend money buying better gear, etc.

I will take a moment to mention E.V.E. Online because it is a great MMO and offers the opportunity to ply to spaceways looking for adventure, exploration and plundering is not out of the question. 

Salty Advice

To the lads and lasses about to be orphaned by the coming closure, take heart. There are places we can once again have swashbuckling adventures. They may just not be in familiar waters, but know that many of your former crew and guildmates will be out there to venture with you once again.

Before the final horizon sets with last sinking sun on September 19th, make plans to keep in touch and find each other in whatever new realm you decide to venture to.

And keep a sharp eye for any sails that may appear in the distance, because maybe someday another proper pirate MMO will come.

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Interview with Joseph Bradford: Why Lord of the Rings Online Is So Special https://www.gameskinny.com/vply7/interview-with-joseph-bradford-why-lord-of-the-rings-online-is-so-special https://www.gameskinny.com/vply7/interview-with-joseph-bradford-why-lord-of-the-rings-online-is-so-special Mon, 26 Aug 2013 00:39:22 -0400 Brian Armstrong

Joseph Bradford can speak elvish, reads The Lord of the Rings trilogies annually, and can take you on the exact journey Frodo and the Fellowship took through Middle-earth in the The Lord of the Rings Online without needing a map. So to say LOTRO is his favorite game of all-time may be oversimplifying it just a bit.

Bradford is the News Director for The Quest Gaming Network, a father, works full-time, and directs a weekly gaming podcast called Totally Heroes. And despite all of that he still finds time to log into LOTRO almost daily. When I asked him what his favorite game was, I tried to hold back a smile, knowing without a doubt what the answer would be.

“It’s actually a toss-up between Final Fantasy VII and Lord of the Rings Online,” he said.

“Oh,” I thought. Fortunately, he decided LOTRO probably took the top spot, so my assumptions about him weren’t entirely off-base. Still, I wanted to know what it was about this game that struck a chord so well with him, and why he continued to play it daily after so many years.

“The amazing part about this game is the ability to see landmarks of my favorite story of all time come alive and actually being able to interact with them,” he said. “The Party tree, Bag End, Crickhollow, Amon Sul, Annuminas, that first journey to Imladris, and crossing the Fords of Bruinen.”

Many of us know a lot about our games, and a few of us know almost everything there is to know about them. But when it comes to Lord of the Rings Online, Bradford DOES know everything about it, and his passion is obvious anytime you are lucky enough to sit down and chat with him. He can find a way to relate almost any real-life situation to an event in The Lord of the Rings, recount songs from the books for inspiration, and so much more. It's really quite impressive.

When he discovered this game, Bradford was looking for something that would provide him with a huge amount of replayability. He played LOTRO in the open beta and was instantly sold, and once he heard the game was going free to play, he knew he’d never stop playing.

“The first chance I got to defend Thorin's Hall from Skorgrim I was hooked,” he said. “Eldalye (his in-game character name) was born, and I have been playing that character almost everyday since April 2007.”

When I asked him why he keeps playing it - despite it being an older MMO - he said...

“Nothing in the genre has come close to matching it, but that is mainly due to my love of the books and how lore-centric LOTRO tends to be. You could imagine all of the events actually taking place in Middle-earth at the same time as the Quest for Mount Doom.”

He said he plays the game almost every day, but at the very minimum, at least once a week. He said the LOTRO is special for many reasons, one of them being that there are many things in the game that only people like him would notice.

“The developers have hidden "Easter eggs" only a real hardcore fan of the books would notice. For instance: in Lorien there is a tree with a small rope tied around it. This is the rope that the Fellowship had to use as a bridge to cross the Celebrant. You will typically miss it unless you look for it.

“Stepping into the greatest fantasy epic of all time is definitely a rich experience, if not a little overwhelming at first. Remember that LOTRO is based off the books and not the movie, so things may look a little different than you'd expect if you're a fan of Peter Jackson’s films. Read the books as you go along the quest of Mt. Doom with the fellowship to add richness to your experience. And it's FREE to play, so if you don't like it, you're not out any money!”

I asked him what he would change about the game if he could, and he made it pretty clear there’s not a lot wrong with the actual game itself, but might change up the business model a little bit.

“I would change the way the pay gates are done in some instances. I own a retail copy of every expansion and the base game, but I don't have access to every area in the base game. I would do like Rift does: full access to the game and the expansions (if you've bought them) and make the subscription more for "perks" rather than content.”

I have played this game a little bit, though I am not even close to as knowledgeable about it as Bradford. When we’ve played together, our games have been enriched with history lessons of what happened in our area, or why certain buildings or towns look the way they do. It’s all incredibly interesting, and enhances my own experience. I know I enjoy the game, and Bradford loves it, and I hope you’ll try it out (for free) as well.

And as Bradford might say, Namárië.

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Guild Launch's Annual Dragon Slayer Awards: Community Manager of the Year https://www.gameskinny.com/nk5nh/guild-launchs-annual-dragon-slayer-awards-community-manager-of-the-year https://www.gameskinny.com/nk5nh/guild-launchs-annual-dragon-slayer-awards-community-manager-of-the-year Mon, 05 Aug 2013 23:46:40 -0400 Amanda Wallace

Gameskinny's sister site Guild Launch is hosting its' annual Dragon Slayer Awards, and you can vote until September 3. The Dragon Slayer Awards are for gaming communities, and voted on by members of those communities. 

This year, sixteen amazing community managers have been nominated by their communities for the "Community Manager of the Year" Award. 

The Nominees
So why not just celebrate the community management teams? 

While the teams they are apart of are professional and important parts of the games they manage, these individuals stood out to the gamers that interact with them. 

They act as a sort of community liaison, and changes are made through their involvement with the games. They personally inform users of changes and through their user interaction, they can fix game bugs and community problems. 

Community Managers are the public face of their brand. A good community manager communicates quickly and effectively, and maintains an air of professionalism. 

All of the community managers nominated for this years Dragon Slayer award exhibit these characteristics.  Being a community manager isn't a walk in the park, and it's managers like the ones nominated that make the online communities you love well-rounded and amazing. 

But now it's up to you. 

Head on over to Guild Launch today to vote for your favorite community manager. Don't forget to vote for the rest of the gaming community awards! 

 

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[Dragon Slayer Nominee] Lord of the Rings - Most Passionate Fan Base https://www.gameskinny.com/sylrw/dragon-slayer-nominee-lord-of-the-rings-most-passionate-fan-base https://www.gameskinny.com/sylrw/dragon-slayer-nominee-lord-of-the-rings-most-passionate-fan-base Sun, 04 Aug 2013 22:12:09 -0400 Raven Hathcock

The Lord of the Rings Online claimed the title of "Most Passionate Fan Base" last year, and have a good chance of grabbing the award this time around. With a passionate online fan base with a history of awards, there is no way that LOTRO will lose the award this year.

Forum and Online Presence

LOTRO has an amazing online following. Their forum sight is not just for players of the popular online game, but Tolkien fans in general to talk about the famous author's work. From Arkenstone to Withywindle, each server has united through the forum and talk about the game they love. The game also has a very active reddit, Facebook, Youtube and Twitter fan base. Seems like everywhere you go, LOTRO has a huge following. With over 268,446 likes on Facebook, you can tell that the game's fan base is loyal to the online game.

2012 Dragon Slayer Award

Last year LOTRO came out with the award in the end. When it wasn't announced, the online forums went nuts, proving that Lord of the Rings Online has the strongest and most passionate fan group. The fans took the game into their own hands and hopefully this year find their way into the top spot again.

Want to see the Lord of the Rings Online win again? Cast your vote for the "Most Passionate Fan Base" Dragon Slayer award.

Back to nominees.

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LOTRO Community Management Team Up for Dragon Slayer Award https://www.gameskinny.com/f6d1h/lotro-community-management-team-up-for-dragon-slayer-award https://www.gameskinny.com/f6d1h/lotro-community-management-team-up-for-dragon-slayer-award Fri, 02 Aug 2013 00:55:54 -0400 Jamie K

Lord of the Rings Online is a pretty popular MMO thanks in part to the hard-core Tolkien fanbase. Recently, LOTRO has been nominated by fans on Guild Launch for the Dragon Slayer awards. They are up for top community management team.

Community management is an important aspect of any game business, because the whole basis of profits rely on having a fanbase. The right management team for the community can make or break your game. 

Keeping this in mind, let's take a look at what makes up LOTRO's community management team.

Twitter

Twitter could potentially be a hard social media community to tackle given that how many characters in each tweet is restricted. Also take in the fact that often, it is suggested for businesses to keep tweets approximately 20 characters below the maximum amount to allow followers and fans the ability to retweet or quote posts easily without cutting off anything important.

LOTRO's Twitter account has successfully created an environment where fans can easily interact with their LOTRO Twitter team for support, questions, updates, and more. They are constantly replying to questions, problems, and tweets by their fans. 

 

They also make sure to utilize hashtags, and in particular their own brand: #LOTRO. Not only do they apply this hashtag to almost all of their own updates (excluding comments), but the team also keeps an eye on who else is using this hashtag and attempts to reply to any questions fans put with the tag that their Twitter handle might not be attached to.

Additionally, they also link YouTube video Updates to their tweets, which not only engages on a more personal level, but also draws people to the other communities they offer.

Forums

The forums just received an update today (August 1st), and are officially listed on the main website. They have a pleasant interface with logical categories covering just about ever aspect of the game: game play, RPG, technical and other support, updates, and more. Unlike some of the other platforms, the forums really allows for more fan engagement and also fan-to-fan engagement also.

Facebook & Google+

Like their Twitter account, the LOTRO Facebook page and Google+ page is especially dedicated to updates on the community, game, and trouble shooting any technical problems. Unlike Twitter, it has the potential for more engagement and longer updates. LOTRO capitalizes its status updates by including images and videos.

They also post important news, like server restarts, in multiple languages. Lastly, the Facebook management team also makes sure there are links back to all the other communities.

At the end of the day, when you are settling in your Hobbit house for the night, LOTRO does a great job of covering news, updates, support, and engagement on multiple fan communities.

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Foreclosure in Lord of the Rings Online https://www.gameskinny.com/msnqy/foreclosure-in-lord-of-the-rings-online https://www.gameskinny.com/msnqy/foreclosure-in-lord-of-the-rings-online Tue, 07 May 2013 14:22:15 -0400 Wokendreamer

Economic times are hard for a lot of people.  This does not often bleed over into the digital worlds of massive multiplayer online games like Lord of the Rings Online.  Sure money is almost always a highly-desired commodity, with people regularly selling (and buying) huge sums of in-game currency with their real-world equivalent, but the cost of not having that in-game currency is simply the inability to buy extras.  If a player runs out of gold/gil/whatever their characters do not starve, they do not have to put off doctor visits, and they do not become homeless.

Except now they do.

Homes in Lord of the Rings Online lock out their owner if the rent becomes derelict, but the home remains in their name, waiting patiently for them to repay the missed rent.  Those locked homes will not wait forever, not anymore.  Player homes more than 180 days overdue on rent are being 60 days of notice to get current on their rent before they are cleaned out and placed back onto the market.  Player possessions stored in these homes will not be lost and will await pickup indefinitely in escrow.

The given reason behind the change is the difficulty many players have in finding homes near their friends, and the large number of homes of players who are either inactive or simply not bothering to pay their rent.

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Reasons to Play and Not Play LOTRO (Ignore the last part, play this!) https://www.gameskinny.com/u9wxj/reasons-to-play-and-not-play-lotro-ignore-the-last-part-play-this https://www.gameskinny.com/u9wxj/reasons-to-play-and-not-play-lotro-ignore-the-last-part-play-this Wed, 01 May 2013 10:24:37 -0400 joao_seixo

Good afternoon everyone!  First of all let me tell you that I should be working... But I'ma write this anyway! Eheh....

 So reasons to play LOTRO are:

  • It's awesome
  • Awesomeness level in there is over 99,999,999 thousands
  • Good graphics... not in the below level 50 areas ;)
  • A great story! (That can get boring some times...)
  • If you play in my server you will sure be laughing a lot of times, ahah!

But there are some reasons to not play LOTRO, one of them bring the enormous lag. I know... this should keep many players off this game, but don't worry... it's not on every computer, nor every internet connection... It's pretty much on the bad ones!

But now a bit serious... I recommend this game to anyone who likes this type of game!
 On a scale of 1 to 10, I would vote 8.5. Totaly worth it... but if you don't have the time nor patience, or the money to spend in this game, then you won't be able to pass level 35.

But if you do have them, then go for this game! Play it! And with the latest update (still not in live servers), a lot of new builds are being added in end-game! Plus enormous class revamps in the next expansion! Helm Deep! According to Turbine, you will be able to go to the fight at level 10! Sound very interesting, hen?


Well I don't have anything more to say, so good luck guys and if you play come over to the Dwarrodelf server and send a mail to Elvarid! See ya all ingame!

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4 Things Every MMO Needs https://www.gameskinny.com/uxg3s/4-things-every-mmo-needs https://www.gameskinny.com/uxg3s/4-things-every-mmo-needs Tue, 30 Apr 2013 12:31:06 -0400 Jason Winter

My recent piece about what would make Guild Wars 2 more swell-tastic got me to thinking: There are plenty of other MMOs out there that could improve themselves--and I don't mean by tinkering with combat, improving graphics, or STOP NERFING MY CLASS ALREADY, WE ALREADY DO LOUSY DPS, SHEESH!

Rather, I think it's the simple things in life that make a game worth playing, or at least more worth playing than its rivals. On some level, all MMOs are pretty similar, so making the games more convenient, or at least less aggravating, could make a huge difference in how much people play it.

Or maybe I'm just lazy and want games to do more for me. Equally plausible.

Sorted inventory

I'll never understand why this one isn't present in every MMO on the planet. Nearly every single-player RPG gives you some way to sort your items by type (armor, weapon, potion, jewelry, etc.) and sometimes within types (leg armor, breastplate, helm, etc.).

So why do so many MMOs still think it's perfectly fine to just have you toss all your stuff into a handful of bags and hey, good luck finding that potion you tucked away for a rainy day – that potion of fire resistance for when Rothgar the Magma King rains lava down on you, that is.

But hey, it's not like MMOs have hundreds of items, in dozens of categories, and you're usually expected to have the right stuff for every occasion... oh, wait.

In keeping with the tradition of its single-player games, ZeniMax Online Studios has made it known that The Elder Scrolls Online will include a sorted inventory system, and a few games offer this kind of feature in their bank space, but it's rare to see it implemented in personal inventory.

Maybe it's harder than it appears to create a sorted inventory system for an MMO. If it is, I'd wager that it has to do with something else single-player games rarely have: inventory bags, which I also loathe. On the list of epic treasure I want to acquire for my super-warrior, “+5 Sword of Unthinkable Power” is a few spots above “15-slot Burlap Sack.” Just a few.

Ditch the bags. Give us easy-to-navigate inventory. And speaking of inventory management...

Crafting convenience

More often than not, crafting in MMOs is little more than an exercise in inventory management. To make a sword, I have to have enough iron and coal to make the steel to make the blade and then leather to make the sword hilt and polishing stuff to make it crit and...

How about this: When I want to make a sword, I just open up the panel for the sword, click “Create,” and the game grabs all the components I need from my inventory – if I have them, of course – and “poof”! Instant sword!

If I still want to make individual components, like blades or hilts, that's fine. But the intermediate steps just take up time without adding anything to gameplay.

And while we're talking about crafting-related things that don't add anything to gameplay, could we take a moment to talk about gathering tools? Why do we still have those? Sure, they're typically inexpensive and/or easy to get, but having to keep the right one (“Iron? Sorry, this pick is only for mining copper. LOL noob.”) and in functioning order – repaired or with enough charges – is just a pain and unnecessary annoyance. If you thought I hated “bags as loot,” just think about how I feel about “mining picks as loot.”

“Your father wanted you to have this when you were old enough.”

“His lightsaber?”

“No. His socket wrench. It has eight functions. It was a tool for a more civilized time.”

And while we're still talking about crafting, how about when you do have to crank out a bunch – like 50+ – of ingots, leather strips, or whatever, it doesn't take forever? If there's a chance I can idle out and get disconnected by doing a crafting task, it means it's taking too long. LOTRO, I'm looking at you.

Build saver

In addition to not having crafting tools (yay!), Rift is also one of the easiest games around to swap between different builds. This is likely from necessity, as Rift has some of the most complex character customization in MMO gaming. Imagine having to re-select your three souls and fill out the trees on them every time you wanted to go from your DPS to your tanking build, or from your solo to your group build... you get the idea.

Why don't more games make this an easy transition? It doesn't necessarily have to be as instantaneous as it is in Rift, where you can swap builds anytime, anywhere, as long as you're out of combat. Maybe you have to visit an NPC and/or pay a small fee.

But don't make me memorize or have to write down what all my traits and skill trees are for each build. If you want to promote diversity in builds and encourage players to try different styles, let us switch between them more easily.

PvP stats

I think BioWare missed a major opportunity with Huttball in Star Wars: The Old Republic. With early rumblings that the PvP war zone could be translated into an e-sport, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to keep stats like in a professional sports league: stats like goals, assists, win-loss records, kills, and so on. OK, so that last one isn't found in many sports leagues, unless you count Blood Bowl.

Huttball is a special case in that it “looks” like a sport, but simple PvP stats like kills, deaths, K/D ratio, W/L record, and so on are great ways for players to track their progress and compare their leet skilz to those of their friends and guildmates. Most instanced PvP includes a summary screen at the end that lists these numbers, so why not keep track of these over the lifetime of a character?

Stats are the definition of “fluff,” in that they don't really add anything tangible to the game, and so they're usually not a priority at launch – and sometimes not for a long time after. PlanetSide 2 is one of the few games that did launch with extensive stat-tracking features, so I can see just how inept my Terran Republic character is at fragging NC and VS insurgents – and so can you.

These are all fairly minor points that, as previously mentioned, don't really have any impact on gameplay. But with so many MMOs available these days, it's the little things that matter, and seemingly small features like the ones listed above could make the difference between a person staying with an MMO and wandering off to that all-too-available “next game.”

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"To Guild or Not to Guild" https://www.gameskinny.com/e83ru/to-guild-or-not-to-guild https://www.gameskinny.com/e83ru/to-guild-or-not-to-guild Tue, 12 Mar 2013 18:04:57 -0400 Deadpool2099ad

I recently did a paper for school, and I decided to share my research paper with you. First thought as I was doing my research--I came to the realization that no matter how much I think that being in a guild is best, I finally came up with, it's just a personal opinion.

Now I'll post my argumentative paper with arguments from both sides and let you see what you think.

Why Joining a Guild is Beneficial

The benefits of joining a guild far outweigh any of the possible bad experiences players face otherwise. Guilds are an amazing feature in gaming. Massively Multiplayer Online games (MMOs) are social games and the chat buttons a person has do not normally have a good selection of options for chat. The main goal of a guild is to have a group of people who focus on the same goals for the better enjoyment of the game.

Guilds bring players together and encourage teamwork, create friendships, bonds, and provide a sense of belonging. Most guilds will create a webpage to ensure the members get the information they need to participate in the guild's events during game play; good guilds thrive on honesty, loyalty, trust, kindness, and teamwork. Most players need the feeling of a perfectly rounded team to back them up during game play whether it be player versus player (PVP) or basic role playing (RP). Guilds designed in the gaming world will help new players and support experienced players. Most players have a sense of loyalty when he or she can trust others. Guilds have a higher priority to the members of the guild rather than the general population, so people in the same guild tend to group for the purpose of similar goals. Guilds normally have protection pacts for its members where any high-level guild member will be on call for protecting the guild's lower level members. Participating in a guild gives a group of people a place to socialize no matter where he or she is in the game.

Guild Killers

Conflict (DRAMA) is one of the main guild killers. No guild is immune to the harsh realities of guild conflicts and what it can do to players. Disagreements happen and the way the leader and members of a guild handle this can make or break the guild. Loot is something that an enemy drops as a reward for winning a small battle, which the game will distribute by players choosing one of four options: need, greed, pass, or dismantle; depending on the game these options vary. After all team members choose an option the game will award the need option first. When an option gets selected by more than one player, the game will roll virtual dice to see who gets the items. In a guild there is a guild bank that players may have to put the loot in for the guild to distribute the items to players who need them. Loot is something people will argue about even when there are loot rules. At least one member of all guilds believe he or she deserves the right to be in any leadership position or he or she is always correct about a subject in the game or guild. Real life or personal issues brought into the game will always find its way back to disrupt the guild and give a bad name to the guild, the leader, the members, or all three. Relationships such as boyfriend/girlfriend, spouse, or even a boss will often bring a player down emotionally and cause him or her to be angry with other players, even when the person tries not to be. In some situations a person can get stressed because of the job he or she has and can get unruly to other guild members.

Guilds Offer Help and Support

For new players, and players who need extra help in killing a world boss or completing a tough quest, he or she can join a guild specifically designed for him or her. New players join the games every day and need help to learn better ways to play. Guilds normally put a library on the website giving good information to players. A knowledgeable leader can give advice and extra information not posted anywhere. High-level players will require the use of a groups to help in difficult areas specifically designed for group play. Calling on friends for unexpected situations will eventually get tedious so a guild will give a person resources needed to complete tasks or quests in the game. Guilds will have a variety of players for every group's needs and abilities, which may vary, depending on the player's skills.  World bosses are very difficult to beat and require at least one person to heal. Healers can heal larger groups than most characters making them a valuable asset to the group. If there is no healer available the group may not succeed.

Guild Leaders Gone Wrong

Some guild leaders start a guild for the wrong reasons or fall off track from the guild goals. Not all guild leaders know what he or she is doing or what is best for the guild. Leaders who base their guilds on personal ideas instead of what is best for the guild are often the reason for guild failures. Guild leaders who start a guild for the personal power and gain as the leader will always fail the guild and its members. Leaders have a responsibility to the members but at times may feel above others because of position and the guilds power. Bad leaders start guilds solely on the idea the guild and bank belongs to him or her instead of the initial idea of helping others. Making rules for the guild to follow should be more like guidelines rather than rules because not all players have the same mentality and are more trustworthy than others. Bad rules have no business in the guild and only give benefit to the leaders; this will destroy the morale and spirit of a guild. One ridiculous rule is members must pay a guild fee to the leader to pull gear from the guild bank. This rule will bring a guild down fast because the members worked hard for the items they put in the guild and do not want to pay for work he or she did. A guild leader who makes rules based on his or her personal goals will destroy the guild before it gets the chance to progress.

Guilds are powerful features most MMOs have. The idea of a guild and its members will determine if it will be successful or not. The decision to be in a guild is the responsibility of the player. Based on the information provided, deciding on a guild is a personal choice and determined by the goals of a player. There are many factors involved in a player's ultimate decision to join or not. Players should base their decisions on attitude, desire to succeed, and goals in the game above other reasons.

I felt the need to share this because as I was researching, I could not find one thing that gave this type of information. I found a lot of "you should join a guild because of this" and a lot more of "do not join a guild because of that and this."

I am the leader of Toltecas in Star Wars The Old Republic (SWTOR) on server Jung Ma and I wanted a better understanding of what people think--so I did the research. There are lots of books out there on being a guild leader but learning from a book and learning from real life are two different things. If you can combine both of those then you have something to work with. I have been in the Army for the last 15 years and learned a lot that also pertains to what can be done as a guild leader.

I will end this with this: No matter what argument you find or support, what do you want to do? That's what it comes down to, benefits or no.

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