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Raph Koster explains how WoW changed MMOs

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items

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There's liable to be a lot of virtual ink spilled over World of Warcraft as it celebrates its 10-year anniversary this month. You can save yourself some time by just reading famed MMO designer Raph Koster's lengthy and informed analysis, though. He covers a ton of ground, both negative and positive, including WoW's roots in EverQuest and the DikuMUD while also touching on all of the genre features that Blizzard cut in the name of "fun" and accessibility.
Among the things left by the wayside were features that were proven. Gone were the richer pet systems that had driven so much engagement from players in earlier games. Player housing, past and future source of endless devotion (and revenue) in other games, absent. Never mind stuff like towns and politics and the like. Crafting took massive steps backwards from the heights it had been developed into in [Star Wars] Galaxies or even Sims Online, and went back to being more like that in EverQuest. Even the robust character customization that we slaved over in Galaxies, a system which today is in every RPG on earth, was gone.
Koster credits WoW as the true innovator of the quest-led game, but he also points out that the game stifled MMORPG innovation in numerous ways.

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LotRO begins testing fellowship version of Pelargir epic battle

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Patches, Previews, Free-to-Play, Dungeons

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lotro
The newest epic battle added to Lord of the Rings Online in Update 15 is about to get even bigger. Retaking Pelargir, the offensive-focused battle, was initially released in a solo/duo version, but testing has begun on a fellowship version.

This change will come with Update 15.1, according to the preliminary patch notes: "A fellowship version of Retaking Pelargir is now ready for limited release on Bullroarer, where we'll be taking important balance feedback from preview players. The timing of its release will depend on the feedback we get about this new version."

Update 15.1 will also contain plenty of tweaks and bug fixes for the Beorning class as well as allow players to track nearby quests inside of structures.

TOME: Immortal Arena MOBA lands on Steam today

Trailers, Video, Launches, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items

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TOME
KIXEYE's brawler-MOBA -- not to be confused with those other daisy-picking MOBAs -- TOME: Immortal Arena officially launches on Steam this afternoon.

TOME's claim to fame is the voice of Evil Dead's Bruce Campbell, who acts as the title's in-game announcer. Feature-wise, it boasts short matches, in-lane healing, no last-hitting, auto-buying, and 20 playable characters to date.

The latest trailer awaits your eyes below.

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The Soapbox: In praise of SWTOR's 12X experience

Sci-Fi, Culture, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvE, Opinion, Roleplaying, Star Wars: The Old Republic

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It's taken 12 times the normal XP rate, but Star Wars: The Old Republic is finally my main MMO (at least for another week or so). Well, OK, it's also taken a series of spectacularly ill-considered decisions by XLGAMES and Trion, but that's a rant for another day.

I've been playing SWTOR quite a lot over the past month since BioWare's subscriber-only pre-expansion boost has cut all of the godawful grindpark garbage right out of a galaxy far, far away. Too bad it's just a temporary fix, though -- here's hoping that the devs give veterans the option of keeping the XP bonus long after December 1st.

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Elite: Dangerous considers granting even more refunds

Sci-Fi, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Legal, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Elite: Dangerous, Buy-to-Play

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Elite: Dangerous might grant refunds to more people than originally thought.

Last week, Frontier admitted that it had canceled a planned offline mode for the game, which led to David Braben's announcement that limited refunds would be given to preorder customers who'd never logged in to test the game but not to other backers. As of last night, Frontier is apparently reconsidering that decision. Wrote the studio boss,
We initially declined some people's request for refund as our records showed they have already played Elite: Dangerous online. After listening to many of the comments I received after my AMA here, we have since re-opened these requests and informed those people that we will be contacting them so that we can fully understand their individual situation before making a more informed decision. We will be contacting them each in the next few working days.
If any Massively readers have successfully received a refund, let us know in the comments.

[Thanks, Cotic.]

RIFT brings back Unicornalia

Fantasy, Events (In-Game), News Items, Free-to-Play, RIFT, Subscription

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Every one you meet will be the last of its kind.
As the holiday season swiftly approaches, RIFT reminds us all of an important issue that doesn't get much discussion over the year: Unicorns. Oh, sure, the plight of these noble creatures can easily be dismissed with a waved hand and a claim that "these are fictional animals that do not actually exist," but RIFT's Unicornalia returning is a chance for everyone to adopt a unicorn in peril.

During the event, which runs until November 26th, you can provide a home for an Onyx Unicorn or an Opal Unicorn. Both can potentially be received from the limited edition Sparkle Troves in the RIFT store. You can also obtain the Onyx Unicorn as a rare drop from an event in Moonshade Highlands or by completing the "A Rainbow in the Dark" achievement, while the Opal Unicorn can be received via Unicornalia dailies. Please, take time out of your day to consider the unicorns. They're not just for virgins any more.

WoW previews Highmaul raid, kicks off anniversary events today

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Lore, Endgame, News Items, Dungeons, Subscription

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And this time, slightly less than a year between updates!
Are you ready to start in on the raid cycle of Warlords of Draenor? Yes you are; that's what you do here. You can start by checking out the latest World of Warcraft development blog that shows off Highmaul in all its glory. The raid's release will be staggered into four parts, with Normal and Heroic releasing on December 2nd, Mythic and the first part of the Raid Finder difficulty releasing on December 9th, and the final two wings being added to the Raid Finder on December 16th and January 6th.

Highmaul contains seven bosses, three of which are optional and two of which are mandatory. Players will take on Kargath Bladefist to kick off the raid experience, while the ultimate encounter leads players against Imperator Mar'gok, the pinnacle of ogre power in the region. You can also take the time to play around with the game's new Twitter hashtag campaign while you wait. That won't help you with the raid at all, really, but it will help pass the time.

In other WoW news, Blizzard will be kicking off its previously announced anniversary events today. Both the 40-man, level 100 version of Molten Core and the Southshore vs. Tarren Mill battleground will become available to players through the raid finder and battlemaster queue, respectively. Everyone who logs in will receive a molten corgi pet as a happy birthday present from the team. The events end January 6th.

Lost Ark is a full-featured MMO; check out the new trailer

Betas, Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Classes, Free-to-Play

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lost ark
Lost Ark made quite a splash in our community here when we got a first look at the game last week. Despite its isometric hack-and-slash facade, Lost Ark is now revealing that it will have a range of features to put it firmly in the MMO camp.

Steparu has a great writeup on the new information surfacing about this game, including some of Lost Ark's class lineup. Players will be able to roll as a Battle Master (monk), Devil Hunter (ranged guns), Arcana (gambling skills), Warlord (rifle tank), Infighter (melee attacker), Summoner (pet master), and Berserker (AoE attacks). Lost Ark will also feature an open world with hidden quests and locations, drinking minigames, raids, PvP arenas, and even ship sailing.

Don't believe that this could be an MMO? Check out the new 20-minute gameplay trailer after the jump and let us know what you think.

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The opening cinematic for Destiny's first DLC has been leaked

Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, Expansions, Previews, News Items, Consoles, MMOFPS, Miscellaneous, Destiny

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It is dark.  And you are below something.
You remember Destiny, don't you? Come on, folks, it was only a few months ago. Science fiction shooter? Made by Bungie? It had a cave that you shot until candy came out? Well, the opening cinematic for the game's first major DLC, The Dark Below, appears to be out in the wild via a leak. You can watch it just past the break, complete with ominous chanting and creepy voice over explaining what the title actually means.

The DLC is planned for launch on December 9th for $20, or included as a part of the game's Season Pass for $25. There's no way to confirm if this is indeed the trailer, but it certainly looks legitimate, and it lays out a reasonable story pitting players against the Hive and its ultimate designs on Earth. You can check out the trailer for yourself just past the cut.

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The Daily Grind: Do special currencies in MMOs annoy you?

Business Models, Economy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous

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A reader discussion in a past Guild Wars 2 update article made me realize, once again, how much I loathe special event currencies. You know the type: It's patch day, and here's an event, and if you want the rewards, you have to grind a shiny new currency to get them! Never mind that you already have a pile of gold (and in Guild Wars 2's case, karma and gems) earned through your adventures up until now; those credits are mysteriously useless at the new reward vendors, who accept only some new currency.

Commenters rightly pointed out that if modern devs did what old timey devs did, players would just rush in and buy everything on day one and not do the grind. But so what? Why should it bother us that people get to actually use the currency they've already earned and banked? That's the whole point of gathering money in MMOs in the first place. And if there's so much existing currency in the world that everyone could buy everything without additional grind, that's the studio's problem for providing insufficient sinks and a poor economy in the first place, not ours. In fact, special events themselves could be an awesome gold sink! Instead, event currencies signal to players that their existing achievements and savings matter not at all and that the event isn't really going to be much fun on its own merits.

What do you think? Are you also sick of special currencies in MMOs? What would you prefer to see in their stead?

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!

The Think Tank: Assessing Draenor's launch

World of Warcraft, Bugs, Business Models, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

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WoW
World of Warcraft's Warlords of Draenor launch has come and gone, driven by the chaos we've come to expect from this year's MMO launches. Was it a bad launch... or the baddest launch ever?! In today's Think Tank, I asked the Massively writers, as players or industry watchers, how the launch and Blizzard's response stacked up next to those of 2014's other offerings.

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The Stream Team: Experiencing SWTOR's massive XP bonus

Sci-Fi, Video, Lore, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Livestream, The Stream Team

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If you're a fan of Star Wars: The Old Republic, you likely already know about the 12x story line experience boost that subscribers who preorder the Shadow of Revan expansion get. But have you seen it? Massively's MJ dives into something new -- the Imperial side -- in order to show just how fast a character can level with this promotion. You seriously have to see it to believe it! And to spice things up a bit, MJ will also try to fall to the Dark Side. Can she manage to channel some evil? Join us live at 8:00 p.m. to clock how fast this little force user blasts through her early levels.

Game: Star Wars: The Old Republic
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Thursday, November 20th, 2014
Time: 8:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Ultima Online publish brings holiday gifts, veteran rewards

Fantasy, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, News Items, Ultima Online, Sandbox, Crafting, Subscription, MMORPG

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UO
You might forgive 17-year-old Ultima Online for long stretches between patches, but fortunately, you don't have to. The antique sandbox's Halloween event is now over, being replaced yesterday with a new patch that ushers in the winter holiday event and its attendant gifts. This year, Santa's bringing us a fireplace, a plant grinder, a power scroll book, and "a steam powered beverage maker that can be used in conjunction with the cooking system to create new items listed in the 'Beverage' section of the cooking menu." Yum.

The update also includes a new monthly game hunting competition sponsored by the Skara Brae Ranger's Guild, with special hunter-themed rewards like a new title and weapon. PvPers can look forward to a new leaderboard to track PvP progress in the still-fresh vice-vs.-virtue PvP system, and long-term players will find new veteran rewards are available, including new statuettes for youngish accounts, an ethereal hell hound mount at the 15-year-mark, and a sewing machine and smithing press for sevenbies.

EVE gives more market data tools to the mod community

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Economy, Patches, Dev Diaries, Sandbox

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eve
EVE Online is such a mod-happy game that there's an official site for it, and it's on this site today that CCP said that it will be giving another valuable information-gathering tool to players with the advent of a new searchable resource.

"We also are making available the MarketType resource. MarketTypes is a collection of all possible MarketType resources," the devs posted. Being able to search market history and orders will help modders pull in data from multiple regions and should be in the game with the Rhea content patch.

Pathfinder Online continues to delay early enrollment

Betas, Fantasy, Patches, Sandbox, Pathfinder Online

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pathfinder
While Pathfinder Online groupies may get a little excited at the imminent release of a new patch, Goblinworks put it out there that the long-delayed early enrollment start is still on hold.

"This build does not meet our internal requirements for the early enrollment release candidate," the studio announced to players yesterday. Previously, Goblinworks said that the game must be able to support 2,000 simultaneous logins and 100 characters per hex before it would activate early enrollment.

However, the good news is that the game is getting better with the release of Alpha 12.1, which is now live. The patch contains balance fixes, better hairstyles, performance improvements, and the activation of the encumbrance system.

The Crew gets an everything-you-need-to-know trailer

Betas, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Races

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Ready for another trailer featuring Ubisoft's The Crew? This one is a bit meatier than previous clips, as it runs for nearly eight minutes and serves as a sort of everything-you-need-to-know visual guide to the upcoming open world racer.

You'll learn about the world and its 12 major cities as well as everything from skills to missions to factions to customization and the game's "CarPG" progression mechanics. Hop in and go for a spin just past the cut.

Don't forget about the game's console open beta which starts on November 25th!

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PlanetSide 2 turns two, celebrates with double XP

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, MMOFPS, PlanetSide 2, Anniversaries

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PlanetSide 2 turns two years old today, and if that doesn't make you feel old, well, it should! There's a dev-driven anniversary livestream going on right now, and SOE has also turned on double XP through Sunday, November 23rd.

[Source: SOE press release]

SWTOR's Guardian, Juggernaut discipline changes detailed

Sci-Fi, Classes, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, PvE, Star Wars: The Old Republic

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Another day has brought us another Star Wars: The Old Republic dev blog detailing the class changes coming in the Shadow of Revan expansion. This time around, the focus falls squarely on Jedi Guardians and Sith Juggernauts.

BioWare says that both versions of SWTOR's single-saber tank will get new passives, new utilities, and more thanks to the discipline tweaks scheduled to hit the game's class trees in December 9th's 3.0 update.

Gloria Victis implements dialogues and other improvements

Betas, Fantasy, Historical, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Sandbox

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Should we talk about the weather? (Hi hi, hi.) Should we talk about the government? (Hi hi, hi.)
The Gloria Victis pre-alpha is getting a bit more chatty today with the implementation of the dialogue system in the most recent update. Said update also contains the first implementation of bow-wielding NPCs defending cities, the addition of buff and debuff descriptions, and various bugfixes and improvements -- all good things unless you try to open a dialogue with a bow-wielding NPC and get an arrow in response.

The design team promises that this is just the beginning of major changes, however, with the next patch slated to add the first pass of the questing system into the game. Territory capture mechanics are also coming, allowing an entire nation to benefit from captured lands. So onlookers can enjoy a more robust rollout in the coming weeks as the game adds more features in.

SkySaga videos encourage you to explore its world

Betas, Fantasy, Trailers, Video, New Titles, Free-to-Play, Sandbox

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skysaga
We've got more to share today about SkySaga, that new sandvox that's trying to woo the Minecraft crowd. Radiant Worlds has released a new pair of videos this week that show off the game's playful and exploratory nature.

In the videos, you'll follow a trio of adventurers around as they navigate the various biomes of the world and get into nasty scraps with mean foes. Of course, the biggest mystery here might be, "Where are their arms and legs?" See it all after the break!

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Release Dates

Core Games | In Testing | Crowdfund Hopefuls
The Crew Dec. 2, 2014
Destiny: The Dark Below Dec. 9, 2014
SWTOR: Shadow of Revan Dec. 9, 2014
Elite: Dangerous launch Dec. 16, 2014
FFXIV: Heavensward Spring 2015

Meet the Team

Brianna Royce Editor-in-Chief
Jef Reahard Managing Editor
Justin Olivetti Contributing Editor
Eliot Lefebvre Contributing Editor
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