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Not So Massively: Elite's launch, Transformers' sunset, and SMITE's $2M prize pool

Betas, Super-hero, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Classes, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Launches, Patches, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, Marvel Heroes, Mobile, Consoles, Crime, MMOFPS, Miscellaneous, Not So Massively, MechWarrior Online, MOBA, League of Legends, Crowdfunding, Destiny, Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, Infinite Crisis, Hearthstone, E-sports, OARPG

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Transformers
Welcome back to No So Massively, where every Monday we round up the highlights from the past week in the world of MOBAs, roguelikes, MMOTCGs, and other games that aren't quite MMOs.

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Aion EU starts a new Q&A vidcast

Fantasy, Video, Aion, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Community Q&A

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Aion's EU dev team has released the first episode of a new vidcast called Ask Aion. It follows a pretty familiar Q&A format, with the questions pulled from fans via Twitter.

They include bits about player events, possible server merges, and even an angry rant directed at publisher GameForge which prompts Aion's EU product director to strangle a plushie on camera. See for yourself after the cut.

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Check out the ultimate Elite: Dangerous setup

Sci-Fi, Video, Culture, News Items, Sandbox, Elite: Dangerous

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It might be less time-consuming to just go to flight school, I don't know.
Immersion is all in the eye of the beholder. It's all about what you need to feel as if you're stepping out of your world and into the game, something that can happen on a setup as simple as a handheld game console in the right circumstances. But it can also happen on a setup like that belonging to Elite: Dangerous fan Markus Boesen, which is going to put your own setup to shame no matter how good it may be.

Boesen's game cockpit is setup with head tracking, three monitors angled for a simulation of peripheral vision, touchscreen interfaces, two joysticks, and more or less everything you could ever want to pretend that you're really sitting in a ship and flying through space. There's a video just past the break, if you'd like to see the setup in action and possibly make some last-minute amendments to your winter holiday gift list.

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CCP looking for EVE Fanfest speakers

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, Sandbox

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The 2015 version of EVE's annual Fanfest is only three months away! CCP is looking to ramp up player engagement during the event, though it says it will not be "replacing any developer presentations with community ones." The firm does want to "increase the number of player-run sessions," though, and its latest news article outlines how you can get involved in 45-minute panels, 10- to 20-minute presentations, or five-minute "lightning talk" events.

World of Tanks' 9.5 update detailed in new trailer, review vid

Historical, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, News Items, War, World of Tanks

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Wargaming has released a new trailer for World of Tanks version 9.5. The patch adds three new maps, a host of British war machines, an overhauled minimap, and much more. The trailer is kind of a quickie, so we've also embedded the 9.5 review video just beyond the break

WoT 9.5 is now available for download via the game's official website.

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Shroud of the Avatar drops Release 13 for the holidays

Betas, Fantasy, Events (In-Game), Patches, News Items, Shroud of the Avatar, Buy-to-Play

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WE SMASH YOU A MERRY CRUSHMAS, WE SMASH YOU A MERRY CRUSHMAS, WE SMASH YOU A MERRY CRUSHMAS, AND WE ARE MAKE YOU PASTE.
The team behind Shroud of the Avatar has headed home for the holidays until December 28th, but a little present has been left behind for fans just the same. The latest update for the game is live on the servers, and it allows you to pick up a seasonal Yule Hat just for stopping in and checking out the new content. Also there is a whole lot of new stuff to play through, so a hat is probably not your primary incentive here, but the point is that the hat exists just the same.

To be fair, stopping in and checking out the content requires going through the game's Grand Tour quest, which will lead players through all of the new bits added in this update. That includes new crafting, new creatures, new skills, and new areas. Check out the full update for patch notes, details on how to clear out the Grand Tour, and upcoming community events.

LotRO cracks down on superman exploit

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Bugs, Free-to-Play, Legal

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lotro
An exploit that is allowing Lord of the Rings Online players to super-charge their toons is on the end of a stern warning by Turbine today. The studio says that it has already banned and will continue to ban accounts seen using this deliberate loophole.

"It has come to our attention that some players have been utilizing an exploit to change how powerful their characters are in the game world," the studio posted today. "Upon receiving reports of the issue we began an investigation. Due to the way our log system works we can definitively detect every account that is taking advantage of this exploit."

Turbine is currently working on a fix for the problem.

[Thanks to Superswim for the tip!]

The Stream Team: Getting festive in ArcheAge

Fantasy, Video, Events (In-Game), Free-to-Play, Livestream, ArcheAge, The Stream Team

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Most games have some kind of holiday festivities, and ArcheAge is no exception. The Winter Maiden Festival is in full swing in the lands of Erenor. There are trees to decorate and snowmen to build -- both of which result in presents for you. And in true ArcheAge style, there's even a short-shirted bunny outfit available for purchase! Join us live at 3:00 p.m. for a little holiday cheer. If we're lucky, we'll even be able to catch the snow.

Game: ArcheAge
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Monday, December 22nd, 2014
Time: 3:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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The Repopulation drops NDA, comes to Steam

Sci-Fi, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, The Repopulation

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The Repopulation is spreading a bit of early Christmas cheer according to the latest news blurb on the sci-fi sandbox's website. In short, the final alpha phase begins this weekend, and you can also pick up the game via Steam's Early Access program. The Steam launch has done away with the NDA, too, so feel free to share your experiences in the comments. Oh, and don't forget to watch the Alpha 4 trailer after the break!

[Thanks Crow!]

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The Soapbox: Better models for MMO endgame progression, part one

Game Mechanics, Endgame, Opinion, The Soapbox, Miscellaneous

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I don't think the all-bear model is sustainable, though.
Last month, my three-part Soapbox series on reasons studios should abandon raiding as the core mechanic of their MMOs produced no shortage of comments. One of the persistent refrains from the pro-raid side was, as expected, "if you're so smart, why aren't you proposing alternatives?!"

The obvious answer would be that it wasn't the point of the articles. The series was about reasons to drop raiding, after all. But it's also not as simple as "here's what games should be doing" because there are countless alternatives. Tons of alternatives. I can think of at least six off the top of my head.

So for this new series, let's consider models that don't rely upon raiding as an endgame progression model. Some of these are close cousins to endgame models found in games currently on the market, some of them are not, and none of them has been designed with fine details or lore or what-not in mind. They're drag-and-drop, as it were. The point here is explaining the multitude of options available for an MMO's endgame that don't rely upon raiding for their focus. Today's article will cover the first two of six I have in mind.

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The Mog Log: Final Fantasy XIV's big fanfest reveals

Fantasy, Classes, Expansions, Endgame, Opinion, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, The Mog Log, Subscription

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This is, what, five whole months away?  I can't wait that long!
Christmas came early for the forward-looking Final Fantasy XIV player this year. I know some people are upset at the fact that there were more revelations in the Japanese fan festival than in the ones in Vegas or London, but the timing is different. (I'd also point out that the expansion was announced in Las Vegas.) We've gone from having only a dim view of what's coming to having a pretty clear picture of what awaits through the next few month.

One of the things that awaits is, of course, endless yelling about Machinist. Because boy.

So let's start unpacking the stuff we learned from Tokyo. I say "start" because there is no way to get everything in one column, certainly not with deadlines and other considerations to take center stage. It's going to be a few months, but there's a lot to chew on just about 2.5, even if we ignore all of the expansion stuff, which I have no intention of doing.

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Massively's MMO guide to the 2014 winter holidays

Culture, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Lore, MMO Industry, Patches, Previews, News Items, Massively Meta, Humor, Promotions, Miscellaneous

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creepy snowman gonna get you. i... might be the wrong person to do this roundup, being not-a-fan of holiday mmo events. ah well.
Winter break: that time of year when I think woohoo time to sit around all day in my jammies and play video games but instead I have to work and bake junk food and wrap presents and go to family gatherings. First world MMO problems, right? Those of you who get to game this week better bank some experience points for me, and maybe check out some of the MMORPG genre's winter holiday events and promotions, conveniently rounded up for you in our guide below. The list isn't exhaustive, so feel free to chime in with any we've missed that you love.

Happy holidays from the Massively crew!

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One Shots: Cruising for Borg

Screenshots, Culture, Star Trek Online, One Shots, Miscellaneous

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sto
We're kicking off our two-week series of daily One Shots with this picture of a pair of Star Trek Online starships getting ready for some serious action.

Reader Chris sets the scene: "Futures passing in the night. A Galaxy-X dreadnought from the TNG finale All Good Things dangles in space with a heavily Borg-modified Galaxy-class ship in the background. Borgified Galaxy cruisers always remind me of the chilling moment at the end of the episode Parallels where Riker exclaims, 'You don't know what it's like in our universe. The Federation's gone! The Borg is everywhere! We're one of the last ships left...'"

Want to be featured in a future edition of One Shots? Send your favorite MMO screenshots to oneshots@massively.com, and don't forget to include your name, the name of the game, and a description of the scene. Large, colorful, UI-free shots that tell a story and really show off the game make for the best images. Look ma, we brought back One Shots!

The Daily Grind: Can you get immersed in an accessible MMO?

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Sandbox, Elite: Dangerous

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I like Elite: Dangerous. The game's not a revelation at this point, but it's a solid space shooter that could grow into something more. My favorite thing about ED is the docking. I imagine that most people find it tedious, but personally it adds an extra layer of escapism and conjures plenty of old-school flight sim nostalgia. And, of course, it's mechanically satisfying to fly an efficient approach, squeak a big boat through the slot, and micromanage your thrusters all the way down to the landing pad.

All I do in ED is take courier missions, investigate unknown signal sources, and dock. Technically I guess I'm progressing toward a bigger bank account and thus bigger ships, but my particular gameplay experience is pretty simplistic and pretty slow-paced. Is it sandboxy? Eh, not really, but at least it doesn't feel directed, linear, or otherwise pre-planned even when I'm purposely repeating gameplay patterns. There's this sense of being a small part of a larger world, which allows ED to deliver -- somewhat paradoxically -- bite-sized chunks of deep immersion.

What about you, Massively readers? Assuming you're a fan of immersion, have you found it in accessible games or do you think it mostly stems from prolonged engagement with more feature-rich titles?

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: Are you Elite or Dangerous?

Massively Meta, Week in Review, Miscellaneous

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Elite Dangerous
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.

In spite of its ongoing offline mode controversy, Elite: Dangerous formally launched this week, earning congratulations from rival Star Citizen's Chris Roberts, who's said he'll be playing Elite himself over the holidays. Massively's Brendan Drain has been zipping around in this online sequel to Elite and examined it in comparison to internet spaceship genre cornerstone EVE Online.

We also brought to a close Massively's 2014 awards series and our predictions for next year.

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

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EVE Evolved: EVE Online vs. Elite: Dangerous

EVE Online, Business Models, Culture, Game Mechanics, Lore, MMO Industry, News Items, Hands-On, First Impressions, EVE Evolved, Elite: Dangerous

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EVE Evolved title image
Like many EVE Online players, I grew up playing early sci-fi games like Elite and its sequel Frontier. In fact, CCP's recently released stats on the distribution of ages within the EVE community shows a peak around 29 years old, meaning that most players grew up in that same gaming era. A big part of what initially drew me to EVE Online was the prospect of playing the same kind of massive trading and space exploration game with other people, and for over 10 years it's scratched that sci-fi sandbox itch. I've watched EVE grow from a relatively unknown game with around 40,000 subscribers and laggy cruiser skirmishes into a vast game where thousands of players wage war for territory, profit, or just the adrenaline rush of PvP with something valuable on the line.

Now that Elite: Dangerous is finally here, I want to see whether it can scratch the same sandbox itch as EVE and to what extent the two games can be compared. Both feature customisable ship fittings, open-world PvP with a criminal justice system, and real financial loss on death, for example, but the end result is two very different gameplay styles. And both also have that same intoxicating notion of exploring the unknown and try to make you feel like you're in a living world, but they take very different approaches to world design, content, and travel. Elite may not be a full-fledged MMO, but with a sandbox made of 400 billion procedurally generated stars and an open play mode that seamlessly merges players' games together, does it matter?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I compare my experiences in Elite: Dangerous to my experiences in EVE Online and look at their differing strategies with regard to server model, active and passive gameplay, and the new player experience.

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EVE Online plans security crackdown on RMT rule violators

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Patches, Previews, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription

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eve
Players who have been skirting EVE Online's TOS might find themselves on the bad side of a ban come 2015, as the studio is rolling out tougher rules on violators in the new year. CCP posted a security blog in which it outlined how real-money traders will be punished, as well as those engaging in other activities such as input broadcasting and multiplexing.

While CCP didn't post the number of bans it performed in 2014, it did show a few graphs illustrating where the problem areas lay. Banned accounts this year, permanent and temporary, were divided up by macro use (56%), ISK selling (18%), ISK buying (5%), modified clients (4%), ISK spamming (1%), and other (16%).

On the brighter side of news, the team is hard at work on January's Proteus patch with sneakier combat recon ships, improved asteroid belt visuals, and the retirement of industry teams.

[Thanks to Chrysillis for the tip!]

Star Citizen releases Arena Commander 1.0

Betas, Sci-Fi, Patches, Sandbox, Star Citizen, Buy-to-Play

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star citizen
Pilots, start your engines, for Star Citizen's Arena Commander 1.0 is here! Arena Commander is the next significant milestone for the modularly developed space sim. With AC 1.0, pilots can take their ships out for dogfighting or just to experience flight among the stars.

Arena Commander 1.0 also has the effect of growing Star Citizen's feature list. The team's tripled the number of flyable ships with 14 new vessels. Missiles were improved, while the game added a lobby system, a friends list, a ship signature system, a thruster power system, and a lateral g-force system. The team also improved many of the visuals, animations, and audio effects.

[Thanks to Chrysillis for the tip!]

WoW Archivist: A Glyphmas story

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, PvP, Hands-On, Crafting, Subscription, WoW Archivist

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Scrolls of glyphs
WoW Archivist is a biweekly column by WoW Insider's Scott Andrews, who explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold? It first appeared on our sister site on December 17th and is included here by permission.

Professions in Warlords of Draenor feel completely different than in any other era in WoW. Creating powerful items is no longer a matter of farming, luck, or gold. Instead, we have to produce their key ingredients via garrison work orders. Leveling crafting professions is no longer about creating a bunch of useless items that we instantly vendor or disenchant, and reaching max level is now a slow burn instead of a quick grind. This is the first expansion where I haven't hit max level on all my professions within the first week or two.

The profession that has changed the most is the most recent: Wrath of the Lich King's inscription, added in 2008. Even the interface changed: The glyph window was originally part of the spellbook UI, not the talent pane. Because of those changes, for a few very special weeks, inscription transformed the financial futures of countless WoW players. I was one of them. We called it Glyphmas, and it was magical.

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One Shots: Top 10 best player screenshots of 2014

Screenshots, Culture, One Shots, Miscellaneous

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wildstar
It's been a pleasure being your tour guide through a sea of player screenshots this year, and I can't wait to see what awesome pics you all will take in 2015. Before we get to the new year, however, I'm going to do something we've never done before here on One Shots: play favorites.

Actually, I went back through all of this year's columns and picked out 10 screenshots that I personally liked the best. I don't often comment on what I think of a picture or what makes one stand out over the others, so the end of the year seemed to be a good time to do this.

And I have one other special treat for you as well! Starting tomorrow, Massively will be putting out a single One Shots entry each day for the next two weeks. So if you've sent in a picture but have yet to see it posted in its full glory, then it may indeed happen over this holiday season!

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