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Massively Interview: Spinning Neverwinter's tall tales

Fantasy, Interviews, Lore, Free-to-Play, Neverwinter

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neverwinter
Massively: Today we're joined by Neverwinter Senior Content Designer Randy Mosiondz to talk about the game's story. So Randy, how does the story of Neverwinter run parallel to the pen-and-paper campaign and how does it differ? In the cases of its divergeance, why did the team take those paths?

Randy Mosiondz: In Neverwinter we usually try to parallel a lot of the Forgotten Realms story development that Wizards of the Coast has been doing over the last few years. At launch, the majority of our adventure zones were based on stories were being told in the Realms, primarily focusing on Valindra, the Crown of Neverwinter, Gauntlgrym, and the aftermath of the Spellplague. One of our main sources of inspiration was the D&D 4th edition Neverwinter Campaign Guide, which had a number of great story seeds.

We did add a number of new zones that were not directly connected to that book but were still drawn from Realms lore. In a lot of these cases we simply wanted to make sure there was enough variety in storylines, environments, and monsters you encountered to ensure we covered all of the high points of the D&D adventuring experience. Whenever we do this, we consult with Wizards of the Coast on a weekly basis to ensure these storylines match up to their expectations of what fits in the Forgotten Realms.

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The Mog Log: Final Fantasy XIV's post-fanfest shakedown

Fantasy, Business Models, Classes, Expansions, Patches, Opinion, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, The Mog Log, Subscription

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Honestly, if the existence of the cash shop is the only rude surprise awaiting us, I'll be happy.
So Final Fantasy XIV players like yours truly have a mouthful of fanfest information to chew on. How did it all shake down, in the final assessment?

Well, I'm not going to lie: My aim was mixed at best. A minority of demo stations covering content I hadn't anticipated, patch 2.4 a week after my prediction, and mentions of 2.5 in brief. But we did get gear details and an expansion announcement. I'd call it a mix and a wash, at the end of the day. You tried, gold star, etc.

But enough about what I did and didn't get right; there's plenty more to talk about from the various panels, the Live Letter, and other revelations. So let's start in on it, kicking off with the elephant in the room that I've already been hearing about for the entirety of the past day for obvious reasons. Yes, it's a cash shop.

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EVE Vegas 2014 roundup: Tech 3 destroyers, permadeath and more

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Culture, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, Previews, News Items, Events (Massively's Coverage), Livestream, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

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An event that started out several years ago as an impromptu EVE Online player gathering, EVE Vegas has grown so large that this year it was was officially taken over by developer CCP Games. This year's event was organised like a mini-Fanfest, with Executive Producer Andie Nordgren's keynote address and some interesting talks from both players and developers. Players got a chance to compare notes with developers on the game's recent progress, CCP let out a few exciting reveals, and the whole event was streamed live to viewers at home for free.

This year's big reveal was a new tech 3 Tactical Destroyer ship class that can transform into one of several tactical configurations mid-fight to boost power to the engines, shields, or weapons as required. We also heard rumblings of new "glass cannon" weapons that deal increased damage but lower your ship's damage resistances, and CCP tested the public response to the controversial idea of adding permadeath characters to EVE. Player talks were equally informative, giving insights into the world of nullsec Fleet Command and the custom Region Commander software that the game's biggest coalitions use to maintain their grip on power.

If you missed out on the event, read on for links to Massively's coverage of the stream or to watch the stream recordings for yourself.

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LEGO Minifigures Online shows off the Space World

Trailers, Video, News Items, Free-to-Play, Kids, Family

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It's the Space Police!  We're guilty!  The crime?  Not being in space!
Space is big. Really big. You wouldn't believe how vastly, mind-bogglingly huge it is. I mean, you might think it's a long way from your bed to your computer, but that's just peanuts compared to space. So while labeling a single area in LEGO Minifigures Online as the "Space World" might seem like a bit of an oxymoron, just think of it as a sampling of the mind-boggling hugeness of what space has to offer. In this case, it's aliens and evil space marines.

A new video is now available showing off the Space World and everything that players can do therein: fighting off alien invaders, huge robots, strange wildlife, and flying saucers. Yes, it's all a bit silly and strange, but when you're marching into battle with a team consisting of a pirate, a DJ, a guy in a chicken suit, and a knight, you kind of expect to be thrown into strange scenarios. Check out the video just past the break.

[Source: Funcom press release]

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Path of Exile video reveals the shocking truth behind Update 1.2.4

Fantasy, Video, Patches, Previews, Free-to-Play, Path of Exile

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path of exile
This week Path of Exile will get a substantial content upgrade to version 1.2.4, and we've got a preview video to share with you that covers its highlights.

One of the big additions with 1.2.4 is an electrifying Lightning Tendrils, along with new store options and the Herald of Thunder. The patch will be dropping on Wednesday, at which time the team will also post the Race Season Nine schedule.

You can watch the video after the jump!

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO has the best fishing?

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, ArcheAge, Sandbox

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I've always liked fishing in MMOs. Funnily enough I don't care for meatspace fishing all that much, but sitting on a virtual dock reeling in catch after catch never gets old.

ArcheAge has taken my appreciation for MMO fishing to a whole other level, though. I'm still fairly newbish at it, but I did land my first successful sport catch the other day, and it's a ton of fun to go cruising around the ocean looking for telltale flocks of birds before chumming up the water and settling in for a lengthy battle with a sturgeon.

What about you, MMO fishing connoisseurs? Which game does it best?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

MMO Week in Review: Drifting back to World of Warcraft

MMO Industry, Massively Meta, Week in Review, Miscellaneous

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WoW
At the end of every week, we round up the best and most popular news stories, exclusive features, and insightful columns published on Massively and then present them all in one convenient place. If you missed a big MMO or WoW Insider story last week, you've come to the right post.

This week, World of Warcraft saw subscriptions rise to 7.4 million ahead of its long-awaited pre-Warlords of Draenor patch. Meanwhile, news rolled in from EVE Vegas, where CCP and players discussed the ships of the Rhea update, the allure of spaceship spreadsheets, the importance of community involvement, and the new player experience and potential for permadeath.

Read on for a look at the rest of this week's top MMO stories.

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EVE Vegas 2014: Getting players involved in EVE's development

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Business Models, Culture, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, Events (Massively's Coverage), Livestream, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

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Back in 2011, EVE Online developer CCP Games was rocked by controversy when players outraged over the Incarna expansion's microtransactions and CCP's indifference to player feedback spoke with their wallets and quit the game. In what became known as the monoclegate scandal, an estimated 8% of players quit, and CCP eventually laid off 20% of its staff worldwide. Some tough lessons were learned about keeping players looped into the development process, and CCP began involving players more closely in the development process.

At EVE Vegas 2014 today, developer CCP Fozzie looked at the ways that CCP gathers ideas and feedback from the community. As a sandbox MMO with a very dedicated community, EVE is in the interesting position that many of the players know more about the game than the developers themselves and can identify problems with ideas very early in the development process. Plans are now announced earlier in development to gather feedback, some new features are now made optional on release to gauge usage, and failed ideas will even be rolled back if necessary.

During the talk, Fozzie confirmed that each SCRUM team within CCP focuses on one particular area of gameplay and that player ideas are often brought into internal meetings for discussion. A new rig named the Higgs Anchor is even being introduced based on player suggestions; it will decrease movement speed by 75% but increase agility to make it easier to align to warp out if hostiles approach the player's location. If this level of player participation keeps up, hopefully disasters like monoclegate will never happen again.

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Marvel Heroes adds Nova to its roster

Super-hero, Trailers, Video, Classes, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Marvel Heroes

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Marvel Heroes has a new superpowered crimefighter in its lineup. Nova is the latest addition to Gazillion's free-to-play online action RPG, and players can choose to play him in his Richard Rider/Nova Prime costume or in his new Nova/Sam Alexander duds.

Mechanically, Nova is something of a hybrid who is able to use both ranged and melee powers to "defeat enemies quickly." You can see him in action via the trailer just past the break.

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GoblinWorks: Pathfinder's PvP 'provides meaningful context'

Betas, Fantasy, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Pathfinder Online

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GoblinWorks' latest Pathfinder developer blog went live this week, and in it CEO Ryan Dancey previews alpha version 10.0 which "closes a number of critical game loops" by adding several features.

Testers will experience increased character power, increased crafting abilities, and a new company/settlement UI, to name just a few of the improvements. Dancey also says that Pathfinder's PvP will "provide meaningful context" while acknowledging that "many people have serious reservations about PvP."

Dancey says that the solution to the problem of bad PvP behavior and "no-fun experiences" is the context. "When people struggle over something meaningful they behave differently than when PvP is just [a] random fight." How exactly will Pathfinder provide this context? You'll have to read the dev blog to find out!

[Thanks Chrysillis!]

LotRO's 'current plans' not impacted by latest layoffs

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play

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Turbine's latest round of layoffs won't affect long-running fantasy MMORPG Lord of the Rings Online, according to community manager Andy Cataldo.

LotRO Players reports that Cataldo elaborated during a Twitch stream and said that the firings will have no effect on Turbine's current plans for the game. Cataldo did not reveal whether or not "current plans" refers to the game's pre-existing development roadmap or the plans that have already been shared with the community and which run through the end of 2014.

EVE Vegas 2014: CCP on the new player experience and permadeath

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Culture, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, News Items, PvE, Events (Massively's Coverage), Livestream, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

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Every time some huge scandal or record-breaking battle erupts in EVE Online, thousands of new players flood into the game ready to create epic stories of their own. Confronted with a confusing interface and a practically mandatory tutorial that takes most of the day to complete, most of those players, unsurprisingly, don't stick around. The past few updates have improved things by adding tooltips to the main UI elements and introducing a new notification system, but there's more to come.

At EVE Vegas 2014 this weekend, CCP Rise discussed his plans for a new Opportunities system that will replace the tutorial. To help design the system, developers got together groups of gamers who had never played before and dropped them into EVE with little to no instructions. The playtests highlighted a lack of action compared to expectations and showed how confusing things like the map, station UI, and hangar inventory system can be for newcomers. Many of these problems are very easily fixed and may even be solved in one of the two remaining patches this year.

In an interesting move, Rise went on to talk about his idea to add a form of permadeath to EVE Online. Although you lose your ship when you die in EVE, it's actually only a financial loss as your character is reborn in a fresh clone. What Rise wants is for people to make new mortal characters with no clones and a fixed number of skillpoints to allocate to skills. It's possible that this could close the gap between old and new players by allowing newbies to purchase single lives with the focused combat skills of a veteran. This isn't something that will be introduced any time soon or even that's definitely coming, but the fact that CCP is talking about the idea publicly now is intriguing.

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One Shots: Hello, autumn

Culture, Opinion, One Shots, RIFT, Final Fantasy XIV, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge, Landmark

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rift
House Stark once told me that "pumpkin spice is coming," and lo and behold, it is here. Autumn is in full swing, at least in the northern hemisphere, and with it come colorful leaves, scary decorations, and trips to the apple orchard.

Today we have several great fall-themed pictures from players to share, starting with this seasonal shot from reader Becca. "Here my character Tendryl in RIFT gets in the spooky spirit. Falling orange leaves, a storm on the horizon, creepy mask... oh, and a FREAKING SCYTHE! I think she nailed it," she writes.

Do you agree? Join us as we go crunching through the leaves in the rest of this week's player-submitted screenshots!

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The Daily Grind: What's your favorite SWTOR class ship?

Sci-Fi, Classes, MMO Industry, PvE, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Star Wars: The Old Republic

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I've been dabbling in Star Wars: The Old Republic lately. I know, I know, but 12x experience plus Star Wars equals a re-sub. Anyway, I've gotten another couple of class stories out of the way, and thus have been exposed to another couple of class spaceships.

Thus far the Bounty Hunter's craft is my favorite, but I've still got the Inquisitor's to see before I can crown the best SWTOR spaceship. What about you, Massively readers? What's your favorite SWTOR ride?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

EVE Vegas 2014: Region Commander turns EVE into a huge spreadsheet

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Culture, Economy, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, Guilds, MMO Industry, PvP, Events (Massively's Coverage), Livestream, Sandbox, Crafting, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

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It's often said that sci-fi MMO EVE Online isn't so much a game as a giant online spreadsheet and that people pay a subscription fee in order to have a second job they don't get paid for. While that's little more than a joke to the majority of EVE players, there are those for whom EVE is genuinely played on a massive spreadsheet. In a guest talk at EVE Vegas 2014 earlier today, players Javajunky and Gossamer DT from the logistics division of one of the game's largest coalitions discussed the monumental amount of work that goes into the industrial and organisation side of running a nullsec alliance or coalition.

During the talk, Gossamer DT discussed an interesting piece of custom software he develops called Region Commander that was designed specifically for organising player empires. The tool keeps track of starbase tower fuel, maintains a blacklist of players who have been kicked out of the coalition, and allows organisers to create and assign tasks to players in their command. Players who want to contribute to their alliance's industrial backbone can log into the system to take on work tasks due for completion, and the tool updates in realtime. The only thing missing is a punch card and a paycheck.

Using this tool, players have managed to combat the logistical and organisational challenges that would naturally make coalitions of thousands of players infeasible. Many third party tools have been criticised in the past for providing gameplay advantages to those who use them and increasing the gulf between new and experienced players. Players already have tools to help with mining and trading, and even ones that parse data from your ship scanner into useful information for your Fleet Commander. It's clear that whether CCP or the playerbase approves of these tools, this djinn won't be going back into its bottle.

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Final Fantasy XIV announces its first expansion, Heavensward

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Expansions, Previews, News Items, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription

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Called it.
The Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival is currently underway in Las Vegas, and the keynote speech brought with it the big announcement many people were waiting for: The game's first expansions has been announced for spring 2015. Heavensward will focus on the city-state of Ishgard, as seen in the trailer embedded just past the break.

Gamer Escape's liveblog of the keynote notes that the expansion will feature a level cap increase to level 60, new jobs, a new race (albeit with an as-yet-unconfirmed identity), new primals, and new high-end content. More information will be available at the London fanfest taking place next week. For now, players will just have to speculate a bit on what the future holds. (The smart money, of course, is on dragons. Lots and lots of dragons. It's kind of an Ishgardian thing.)

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in!]

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EVE Vegas 2014: December's Rhea update adds tech 3 destroyers

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Classes, Culture, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, Events (Massively's Coverage), Livestream, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

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During the Keynote speech at EVE Vegas 2014, EVE Online developers revealed some big news for the game's next two major updates. We heard the broad strokes of CCP's plans at the latest EVE Fanfest back in March, when it was revealed that the company would switch from releasing two expansions per year to around ten smaller releases. The upcoming Phoebe release planned for November 4th will improve Tech 2 Invention, improve life in the lawless nullsec regions with heavy nerfs to capital ship movement, and introduce a highly requested unlimited length skill queue system.

While players are certainly looking forward to Phoebe, it's December's Rhea update that will really pack a punch. The Blackbird, Falcon, and Rook electronic warfare ships will get new models, and a new type of freighter codenamed the "Tug" will be introduced that can move large numbers of fitted ships around the game. But the big news coming out of EVE Vegas 2014 today is that a completely new set of tech 3 ships will be added for the first time since 2009's Apocrypha expansion. The new ships are tactical destroyer, and they aren't just smaller versions of the tech 3 strategic cruisers.

Instead of being built out of a set of subsystems, tactical destroyers will have the ability to switch between several modes on the fly, transforming them from snipers or tanks to speed demons as required. If you've ever wanted to transfer full power to your engines or shields like something out of Star Trek, these new ships are for you. Thanks to winning a recent research race event, the Amarr version of the ship will be released before the other races.

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Make My MMO: October 12 - 18, 2014

Business Models, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Crowdfunding, Make My MMO

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This week in MMO crowdfunding news, Kickstarter hopeful Seldon Crisis came back to earth when Isaac Asimov's estate took issue with the developers appropriating the Foundation IP. Star Citizen, meanwhile, showed off some spiffy planetside gameplay as well as a full livestream recording of its recent Citizen Con event.

Oh yeah, and Skara: The Blade Remains moved to Steam early access. Click past the cut for the rest of this week's MMO crowdfunding roundup.

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EVE Vegas 2014: Tune in with our free livestream

Video, EVE Online, Culture, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, Hands-On, Events (Massively's Coverage), Livestream, Dev Diaries

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EVE Vegas
While the main event of the EVE Online calendar is undoubtedly the annual Fanfest in Reykjavik, Iceland, new events have popped up around the world over the years. Player-run meetups are frequently organised in London, and EVE Down Under is starting to gain major traction with the Australian playerbase, but the most well-established by far is EVE Vegas. The two day event runs each year in Las Vegas in the USA and is attended by hundreds of fans and is kind of like a mini Fanfest, with presentations on the future of EVE and roundtable discussions with developers.

Today's schedule includes a keynote speech from CCP Seagull on the future of EVE Online, a screening of Rooks & Kings celebrated video Clarion Call 4, and talks from three nullsec alliance players on the topics of Fleet Commanding and Alliance Logistics. There will also be talks from CCP Rise and CCP FoxFour on changes to the new player experience, altered restrictions on trial accounts, and the plan for third party developers. All 500 tickets for the event were sold out in record time this year, but those at home can tune in for free right now on CCP's Twitch livestream. I'll also be tuning into the stream throughout the weekend to bring you the highlights on important reveals and information.

Whether you're a die-hard fan of internet spaceships or just a gawker on the sidelines, EVE Vegas is the EVE Online and EVE Valkyrie event of the season. Follow Massively's Brendan Drain as he reports on the Vegas event's starpower, scheming, and spoilers, and watch CCP's streams of the best panels live here on Massively!

The Stream Team: The daily grind for gilda in ArcheAge

Fantasy, Events (In-Game), Massively Meta, Hands-On, Livestream, ArcheAge, Sandbox, The Stream Team

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The Stream Team: The daily grind for gilda in Archeage
After you finish up the story line quest in ArcheAge, the best supply of gilda stars dries up. And since all the cool toys -- from boats to houses to farm wagons -- are bought with those specialty coins, many players are constantly in a state of wanting more. (Whether players keep the deeds or resell them the auction house is another matter entirely!) Massively's MJ is one who needs more, more, MORE gilda stars! So to build her supply she's running a set of dailies. Join as at 1:00 p.m. and do the daily gilda star portal hop with her. It's all the rage!

Game: ArcheAge
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Saturday, October 18th, 2014
Time: 1:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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