It's Time for Tinkerfest!

Tinkerfest, the Norrathian celebration of all things Gnomish, starts Friday! Your EQII ZAM staff has the scoop on the awesome new additions to this player favorite. 2014 brings back all the old activities and adds more rewards, house items, and recipes! There's a new quest and new achievement. If you didn't do so last year, be sure to unlock your tinkered mercenaries!

Tinkerfest 2014 will start July 25th and run through August 11th. Keep track of all your alts and every quest with our convenient Tinkerfest Quest Tracker!

Eorzea Examiner #19: Classes and Jobs, Part 2

Hello and welcome to the nineteenth edition of the Eorzea Examiner, ZAMs column on Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. For this weeks column, we’ll be looking at new combat jobs. The Final Fantasy series has a plethora of class and job options from previous games that have yet to show up in the world of Eorzea. Many of those jobs will likely show up in one form or another as patches and expansions are released further down the road. Of course, these jobs will need some tweaking from their original designs to fit with the holy trinity of tank, healer and DPS; you may have been able to take down Chaos with four White Mages in the first FF game, but that’s not going to fly here.

SOE Live Player Panel Schedule Released

Sony Online Entertainment has published the list of twelve Player Panels that will be featured at SOE Live. These player-run panels, some new and others familiar from last year's event, offer a wide variety of topics for attendees to enjoy. ZAM will have two of its number on player panels this year: LockSixTime will be on the Social Media & Streaming panel, while Cyliena will once again be on the EQ2 Hardcore Decorating panel.

Check out the full list of player panels and their descriptions below!

Final Fantasy XIV Receives Patch 2.3


Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn has received an extensive patch dubbed "Defenders of Eorzea." This patch adds the most important feature of in any video game ever: the ability to raise your own Chocobo! The chance to raise a Chocobo is just a single facet in a feature-rich patch which includes all of the following:

Eorzea Examiner #18: Gatherers and Jobs

Hello and welcome to the eighteenth edition of the Eorzea Examiner, ZAM's column on Square Enix's Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. For this week's column, we'll be taking a look at the classes that make up the Disciples of the Land. While in other MMOs gathering is relegated to secondary skills for your combat classes, FFXIV treats the three gathering professions – Botanist, Miner and Fisher – as true classes. The gameplay for DoL classes is unique compared to any of the other Disciples, and all three classes have their own unique skills (cross-class as well), equipment and quests available.

SOE Live 2014 Panel Schedule Posted

Coinciding with the final day to get your SOE Live All Access badge for $149 (you can get it here) is the release of this year's panel lineup. Since player panels have not been announced, they are not on the schedule yet, and what content will be livestreamed is still unknown. The full schedule is available here and notable panels are:

  • Welcome Ceremony: Thursday, August 14, 7-9pm PT
  • Closing Ceremony/Costume Contest: Saturday, August 16, 8-11pm PT
  • Brunch w/ the Dev Team: Sunday, August 17, 10am-Noon PT
    • Must have paid pass upgrade option to get in
  • EverQuest
    • Expansion Keynote: Friday, August 15, 1-2pm PT 
    • Q&A Part 1: Saturday, August 16, 11am-Noon PT
    • Q&A Part 2: Sunday, August 17, 2-3pm PT
  • EverQuest II
    • Expansion Keynote: Friday, August 15, Noon-1pm PT 
    • AMAA Part 1: Friday, August 15, 1-2pm PT
    • Systems: Saturday, August 16, 1-2pm PT
    • AMAA Part 2: Sunday, August 17, 1-2pm PT
  • EverQuest Next
    • Keynote: Friday, August 15, 10-11am PT
    • Tech Evolution: Friday, August 15, 4-5pm PT
    • Combat & Classes: Saturday, August 16, 11-Noon PT
    • Storybricks: Sunday, August 17, 2-3pm PT

Continue after the jump for Landmark, H1Z1 and miscellaneous panels of interest.

Your Next: Going Home to Norrath

Week after week, I continue to be impressed by the way SOE is continuing to give players the opportunity to contribute to the development of EverQuest Next. Through the roundtable discussions, constant twitter interaction and especially the workshop, the players are being given an unprecedented ability to influence the design of a game that has the potential to change the way we think about MMORPGs. What an incredible privilege, and we're just getting started.

With all the talk of new mechanics and new technology in EQN, it's easy to miss one of the key factors that will define this game and set it apart from the competition. While other games have to sell us on the promise of compelling story or an engaging and lasting endgame experience, Landmark allows SOE to sell us on the entire game world.

As time goes on, and particularly after SOE Live, more and more of us will buy in to EverQuest Next through Landmark. As we continue to move forward, designing and iterating  on all kinds of user-generated content, we'll develop an intimate understanding of the way the world is put together.

For those of us that play Landmark and engage with the workshop and with the community, by the time EverQuest Next opens its doors it will already feel like home.

Imagine setting foot in Norrath for the first time, already knowing the names of every tree, being able to recognize the building styles of different races, and just generally knowing how the world works in a way we wouldn't have dared to dream about a year ago. The stage will be set for the new history of Norrath in a way that we have never experienced.

It's the nature of the beast that MMOs are so bound by their retention strategies, often leading to developers implementing unpopular systems to keep people playing and paying. What if a game could create a retention strategy that made the game more popular? What if the reason we continued to log in was because we were invested in the world, and are proud to be a part of it? I'd take that over being drip-fed on a gear treadmill any day.

The question had to be addressed sooner or later, as in these times of so many quality free-to-play titles, the old strategies just won't fly. We've all played that game, we've had a lot of fun playing that game, but players are smart and we need to be fooled.

RIFT Announces Nightmare Tide Expansion

Earlier today, Trion Worlds revealed RIFT's second expansion, titled Nightmare Tide. Slated to release later in 2014, players will be able to adventure beyond Telara and enter the Plane of Water itself. New story quests, five addition levels (taking the cap to 65), more artifacts to collect, new inventory slots and more will be waiting in these abyssal depths.

FFXIV Patch 2.3: Defenders of Eorzea Trailer

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn's Patch 2.3: Defenders of Eorzea is scheduled to go live on July 8, 2014. Yesterday afternoon, Square Enix released an epic 8-minute trailer for the update!

Eorzea Examiner #17: Inspiration From Nexus, Pt. 2

Hello and welcome to the seventeenth edition of the Eorzea Examiner, ZAMs column on Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. For this weeks column, we're going to continue our look at the recently released MMO from Carbine Studios, WildStar; in particular, we’ll be examining the game to see what design elements would fit well over here in Eorzea.

In part one we looked at their take on player housing (e.g. free to start, impacts rested XP, customizable to fit your playstyle, etc.) as well as their Renown social currency and how it encourages players to actually group together as they wander Nexus. While both of these are important elements that I’d like to see Square Enix take a look at, housing and social currency are more secondary activities in the grand scheme of MMOs. These systems may help prolong your interest once you’re invested, but first you have to get to that point and that requires getting past the first hurdle many MMOs fail at: combat. Luckily FFXIV has succeeded in making a keybind MMO that’s interesting to play, but there’s always room for improvement and WildStar has much to offer.