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The Repopulation tweaks healing, creates viable Combat Medics

Sci-Fi, Classes, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items, PvE, Sandbox, The Repopulation

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Sandbox healers, listen up! The Repopulation released a new featurette this week titled Healing and You.

"Gone is the idea of an unengaged, rear-guard healer with zero choice," the diary explains, before mentioning a new healing ability set, First Aid ability enhancements, and some "support and damage abilities for Medics who want to pack a punch." These and other tweaks lead to "an expansive system that creates viable Combat Medics," according to the post, which also says that these CMs are necessary in both PvE and PvP.

Layoffs hit WildStar's Carbine Studios

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, News Items, Rumors, WildStar, Subscription

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wildstar
Word is bubbling up from several sources that layoffs are impacting Carbine Studios and WildStar today. NCsoft confirmed the rumors in an official statement: "While decisions like this are always hard, they are necessary as we begin the implementation of a new strategy designed to strengthen our footing as a leader in global entertainment. Again, the decision to reduce staff was not an easy one, and we sincerely wish everyone well in their next endeavors."

Community Manager Tony Rey said that the remaining team would soldier on: "Today NC West announced staff reductions across its Western operations. While this impacted several colleagues, the teams here at Carbine are committed to supporting WildStar to ensure you get the experiences you want well into the future. We wish all of our friends well and hopefully our paths will cross again in the future."

Polygon reports that an unnamed source claims that 60 employees were let go. One employee affected was Chief Client Engineer Bitwise, who said farewell on Twitter: "My amazing time at Carbine has come to an end. I can't adequately express my appreciation to the company and players. Thank you!"

The WildStar developer recently saw several high-profile members of its team depart. Massively sends its regards to those impacted by the decision.

Swordsman ventures into the Gilded Wasteland

Fantasy, Patches, PvP, Free-to-Play, Swordsman

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swordsman
Capture the Flag? That's PvP for little babies who need changing every two hours. Now, Capture the Lion -- that's a game for grown-ups with hair on their chest and thickening inner ear fluid!

Capture the Lion is but a sliver of the new content update that's hit Swordsman today. The Gilded Wasteland patch has raised the level cap to 94, improved the leveling curve, and added a slew of regions, dungeons, and PvP modes.

Curious about the game? Our own Mike has been exploring the ins and outs of Swordsman in his Choose My Adventure series as of late.

[Source: Perfect World press release]

Norrathian Notebook: Remembering that Landmark is in beta

Betas, Bugs, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

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Norrathian Notebook:  Remembering that Landmark is in beta
An interesting thing happened on my way to pay upkeep. It hit me full force that Landmark is indeed in a true beta. I know, I know -- I have said this before. And I know that I know it. Yet sometimes that fact still sneaks up and wallops me in the face! I mean, it's pretty obvious the game is incomplete (hurry to me, AI editor!) and that there are definitely bugs to squash. But for the most part, I have not be too inconvenienced by bugs, so I guess the fact that it's a beta just floated to the back of my mind.

That all changed this past week. I encountered a bug so big that it squashed me. In fact, it was so intense that it effectively prevented me from continuing my gameplay. That's when it hit me: After eight months of playing and enjoying Landmark, I had forgotten that this can actually happen. But it is important to remember, to keep this fact at the forefront of our minds. Why? It's not to be a defensive rallying cry for why something isn't in game/isn't working as intended; it's so we can get the game we want, sooner! How? By doing our job as beta testers.

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Donate to Age of Conan board game Kickstarter for an in-game MMO mount

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Promotions, Crowdfunding

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AoC
If you're an avid player of Funcom's Age of Conan MMORPG, chances are good you're a Conan fan and a gaming geek, so why not combine the three with an Age of Conan board game? Funcom posted today that Ares Games is remaking the Conan-flavored strategy board game complete with a new expansion called Adventures in Hyboria.

The catch is that the board game's designers are seeking Kickstarter funding, but it's already raised $52,000 more than asked for as of the time of this writing, so faith in the project appears high. There's even a tie-in for Age of Conan MMO players who pledge funds to the campaign. Writes Funcom,
[W]e are happy to announce that anyone who contributes to this Kickstarter will get the all new Strategist's Steed mount in our Age of Conan Unchained MMORPG! Once the Kickstarter is finished, anyone who has contributed will receive a key which can be used on the Age of Conan account pages. This key gives the Strategist's Steed armored swift horse in-game (requiring advanced riding training to use), which can then be claimed in the Item Shop once per account.
Stretch goal rewards for the Kickstarter include special miniatures, bonus cards, and die-cut board pieces.

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ArenaNet teases Guild Wars 2's road to war

Fantasy, Interviews, Lore, Patches, PvE, Guild Wars 2, Buy-to-Play

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GW2
After a break, a feature pack, and the yearly antics of the Thorn family, the second season of Guild Wars 2's living world will soon be back in business. The business is, of course, preparing to fight Elder Dragons; the

We got to talk with ArenaNet's Lead Writer Bobby Stein and Associate Game Director Steven Waller about how the living world story has marked out what the team calls the "road to war" against Mordremoth and its minions. But as Game Director Colin Johanson said in his latest blog post, "The road to war is paved with points of no return." That doesn't exactly sound good for Tyria, but it may be exciting for GW2 fans who are looking forward to something big.

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Star Wars: The Old Republic gears up for Revan and new collections

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Lore, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Subscription

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This holiday season, give your friends and family the gift of pretty lightsaber hilts and former Jedi.
Revan is kind of a big deal in Star Wars: The Old Republic. As in the past, the team behind the game has already started posting lore pieces about the upcoming expansion, Shadow of Revan, and those pieces are equally clear about what a big deal he is. The latest official entry is a look at the Revanites, a group that low-level Sith players likely remember dealing with extensively. There's more going on, and intelligence operations are taking note of far more ornate and subtle activity than the group had previously displayed.

If the brief lore tease isn't enough, the game's latest patch has also teased out some new items that should soon be available in the game's store: decorative lightsaber hilts, rotating-barrel blasters, and a new vanity outfit. Check out the full preview to see just how you can prepare to take on Revan's machinations in style.

World of Warcraft to relocate Oceanic servers to Aussie data center

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Business Models, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items

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WoW
Blizzard has just announced a new Australian server infrastructure for World of Warcraft, deploying ahead of the release of Warlords of Draenor in November. The existing Oceanic servers (Barthilas, Frostmourne, Thaurissan, Saurfang, Caelestrasz, Jubei'Thos, Khaz'goroth, Aman'Thul, Nagrand, Dath'Remar, Dreadmaul, and Gundrak) will physically move to a new Australian data center, ensuring reduced latency for players down under. Aussie and Kiwi players currently housed on North American shards will be granted free but optional character transfers and guild master realm transfers in the two weeks leading up to Draenor; Blizzard assures Oceanic players that LFG and PvP pools and queue times won't suffer unduly as a result.

In other WoW news, PC Gamer has a new interview with lead encounter designer Ion Hazzikostas, in which he discusses the "obstacles" facing aging games, the dilemma of graphics upgrades, and the non-Blizzard MMOs he enjoys. When asked about subscription models across the industry, Hazzikostas reiterated that subs still make sense for WoW: "We deliver high value for the monthly subscription because it allows us to provide a steady stream of content, and we don't have any plans to move away from that any time soon."

Final Fantasy XIV 24-hour patch downtime and cash shop controversy [Updated]

Fantasy, Patches, News Items, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription

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Bring it on already.
If you've got any lingering business in Final Fantasy XIV you want to get finished before patch 2.4 launches on Tuesday, you'd better get it taken care of on Sunday. Yes, Sunday. Because of the new wards being added, database maintenance will also be undertaken while the patch is being applied, and it comes down to a 24-hour maintenance downtime from 3:00 a.m. EDT on October 27th until 3:00 a.m. EDT on October 28th. The maintenance might take a bit longer to complete, but players will want to be finished up and logged off before it starts. [Edit: Square-Enix has announced that the maintenance will be extended by one hour until 4:00 a.m. EDT on October 28th.]

Patch 2.4 also introduces to the game the cash shop, which has already provoked extensive player discussion, including requests to keep past seasonal items out of the shop. Opinion on the matter is split, and there has been no official word yet from Square-Enix, although it is possible that there will be more concerns addressed during the London Fanfest this weekend.

The Daily Grind: What's the best SWTOR class story?

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Star Wars: The Old Republic

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Star Wars: The Old Republic's class story leveling promotion is currently underway, and it seems like a good time to focus on the so-called fourth pillar of MMOs for this morning's Daily Grind.

Assuming you've completed all eight arcs, which story is your favorite? If you haven't completed all eight, there will probably be spoilers in the comments, so steer clear if you like to be surprised.

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 Stream Team: Tricks and treats on another Landmark Halloween tour

Betas, Video, Free-to-Play, Livestream, Sandbox, The Stream Team, Player-Generated Content, Landmark

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The Stream Team:  Tricks and treats on another Landmark Halloween tour
Halloween may not be until next week, but Massively's MJ simply can't wait that long! So she's going to immerse herself in more holiday builds in Landmark. Folks have been preparing many more haunted mansions, pumpkin patches, graveyards, and witches lairs since MJ's last Halloween tour, so there is a lot to try and see in one little stream. Join us live at 8:00 p.m. to see all that is spooky and collect some treats as you go! (Yes, there will be codes of all kinds to give out!)

Game: Landmark
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014
Time: 8:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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F.E.A.R. Online comes to S.T.E.A.M.

Horror, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, Promotions

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fear
As we all know, your games are incapable of being scary if they're not powered by the hatred of a forsaken child. That's why you need a jolt of F.E.A.R. Online this Halloween, an experience that is easier than ever to procure now that it's on Steam. You'll also be happy to know that the Desert Storm M4A1 DLC is currently on sale at 10% off, bringing it down from $0.99 to $0.89.

This online free-to-play horror-themed shooter features both a co-op and PvP mode, the latter of which can turn players into literal beasts. F.E.A.R. also has a Soul King mode that allows players to "possess" enemy mobs in order to attack fellow players from any direction.

Infinite Crisis reveals creepy alien starfish Starro

Betas, Super-hero, Galleries, Video, Classes, Game Mechanics, Previews, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, MOBA, Infinite Crisis

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Infinite crisis
Crowd-control fans, listen up: Turbine MOBA Infinite Crisis has today announced Starro, a new playable controller champion going live on November 5th. For those not up on their DC lore, the short version is "creepy alien starfish." Long version?
Starro is a Star Conqueror. These nomadic and parasitic creatures roam the cosmos in two forms: motherstars and parasites. Motherstars are sentient, while parasites are extensions of the motherstar's consciousness. A parasite attaches itself to other sentient creatures, allowing the motherstar to control that creature's mind. Once controlled, the victims work toward growing more motherstars to go out and bring universal harmony to other planets-by conquering them. Little did the Star Conqueror who came to be known as Starro know how difficult carrying that plan out on Earth would be! Starro has little concern for what happens to the individuals it controls. They're a tiny part of the whole. When Starro speaks to creatures it doesn't control, it does so telepathically, urging them to join in universal harmony.
We've got some pics and a video below to finish out Starro's reveal.

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Leaderboard: Which 2014 MMO will be the most financially successful?

Fantasy, Business Models, MMO Industry, Opinion, ArcheAge, Sandbox, WildStar, Leaderboard, The Elder Scrolls Online

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2014 is winding down, and when it comes to big triple-A MMO releases, it's basically over already. The Elder Scrolls Online, WildStar, and ArcheAge all debuted this year and apart from their differing premises, mechanics, and reception, they also differed in terms of their business models.

One thing they had in common, though, was expensive production values as well as the pressure of carrying the financial flag for their respective development studios. While it's hard to accurately predict the future, that's exactly what we're going to do in today's Leaderboard. Which of 2014's big three do you think will be the most financially successful in the long run? Vote after the cut and don't forget to explain your vote in the comments!

Ever wish that you could put to rest a long-standing MMO debate once and for all? Then welcome to the battle royal of Massively's Leaderboard, where two sides enter the pit o' judgment -- and only one leaves. Vote to make your opinion known, and see whether your choice tops the Leaderboard!

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Trion removing illicit gold from ArcheAge

Fantasy, Economy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, ArcheAge, Sandbox

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Trion is serving notice to gold buyers that some of their ill-gotten gains are being removed from ArcheAge. "If you bought or were gifted gold from [a gold seller], you may see it disappear," the company wrote on its official forums. "We do have the ability to trace coin, and that's the gold that's being cleaned up right now."

[Thanks Direpath!]

World of Warcraft previews the creatures of Gorgrond

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Expansions, Lore, Previews, News Items, Subscription

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Hello, I'm more interesting than orcs.
Draenor is not the same as Azeroth. Sure, the release of Warlords of Draenor will bring the heroes of Azeroth into a lush and vibrant version of Draenor, but World of Warcraft players will have to deal with creatures that most decidedly do not exist on Azeroth. Case in point: The preview of the creatures who inhabit Gorgrond shows off sentient plants and stones that have stood and wage war against one another on the steppes and in the jungles of the region.

The Botani are a race of sapient plants that wage war against the Gronn, the Goren, and their minions. They revere their walking demigods, the Genesaurs, and they are more than capable of gestating the seeds of their offspring in living hosts to produce shambling beasts called the Infected. Take a look at the full preview for more lore details, and get ready to sharpen your sword against a hostile plant-person when Warlords of Draenor releases.

Choose My Adventure: The once and future Swordsman

Fantasy, Historical, Polls, Expansions, New Titles, PvE, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Choose My Adventure, MMORPG, Swordsman

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Swordsman
For the last three weeks, I've been whipping and kicking every bad guy I can find in Perfect World Entertainment's Swordsman in the hopes of understanding this peculiar wuxia MMORPG. My Choose My Adventure experience thus far has been mixed; I've enjoyed Swordsman's theme and setting, but its mechanics and hard-to-follow narrative have made the experience a touch less manageable. Swordsman from 1-30 seems at best like an extended tutorial and at worst like a game that plays itself.

That's not just my opinion. All of the feedback I can find on the game seems to point in one direction: Swordsman's early levels aren't the main attraction. The real Swordsman exists in PvP (unlocked at level 30), guild quests (unlocked at level 35), and instances (unlocked at 15 -- not bad). Last week's combat discipline discovery at 25 further cemented the idea that Swordsman is a game designed to reward players who stick through the initial grind.

I didn't have much time to play this last week, but I did get a chance to sit down with PWE product manager Gabrielle Heiland to talk about Swordsman's first expansion, the future of the game, and how Perfect World feels about the game's current "wait and see" design.

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Guild Wars 2 restricts gem store purchase options [Updated]

Fantasy, Economy, Patches, Guild Wars 2, Buy-to-Play

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gw2
An attempt to streamline Guild Wars 2's gem currency exchange may be causing more consternation than celebration among the game's playerbase.

ArenaNet simplified the exchange in a recent build, giving players preset options to buy gems with gold or sell gems for gold. However, as the lowest gem bundle price point is 400, it's irked players who wish to buy smaller increments for some of the cheaper options in the store and feel as though they're overbuying gems in these situations.

Forum Communications Team Lead Gaile Gray gave an explanation for the change and said that the team is evaluating feedback: "The goal was to make the gem store more like other shopping experiences, and if you think about it, there is more of that feel to it now. You may be surprised to know this (I know I was) but very few people bought gems at smaller denominations than the first one offered in the new system. That's not to say they never did, nor that there wouldn't be the desire to do so. But overall, the current options were selected based on player purchases in the past. The team is going to listen to your feedback and, if and when it's practical and desirable, they can look towards adjusting the new system to better meet your needs."

[Update: Gaile Gray has reassured players that ArenaNet will reverse course on GemGate. "In light of your feedback, we will update the Currency Exchange so that you can decide how you want to use it," she wrote on the official forums. "We will keep the new streamlined system and also offer a new 'Custom' button on the panel that you can use to exchange any increment of gems or gold. We anticipate rolling this out soon. Stay tuned!"]

RIFT's Nightmare Tide expansion launches today

Fantasy, Business Models, Events (In-Game), Expansions, Launches, New Titles, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, RIFT, Dungeons

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RIFT
After a brief postponement, RIFT's Nightmare Tide expansion will launch today. It opens up the Plane of Water, introduces a minion system, revamps endgame classes with masteries, ushers in endless nightmare rifts of all levels, and tweaks the mentor system to scale players' level upward, not just downward.

Earlier this month, Massively's Justin Olivetti explored the expansion's key features and weighed the pros and cons of the collectors editions. He noted that free players who don't pay for the expansion will be able to play most of it but will lose out on earring slots, Planeswalker: Water gear, and the Manguo League, though some of the restrictions can be removed with in-game effort.

West coast-based Trion Worlds says to expect the rollout this afternoon.

EverQuest Next video talks about Ogres and Dwarves

Fantasy, Video, Previews, News Items, Races, EverQuest Next, Sandbox

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Because you dearly want to play a dwarf again.
When you talk about basic fantasy races, Dwarves and Ogres are up there as the classics. But which do you find more interesting to learn about in EverQuest Next? The latest episode of the game's Workshop Show is available now; art director Rosie Rappaport and creative director Jeff Butler are joined by lead content designer Steve Danuser to show off the style and lore of both races while players vote over which one should be the next workshop focus.

Dwarves, for their part, are fairly familiar to anyone who has played EverQuest or EverQuest II (or pretty much any fantasy game from 1967 to the present): short, stocky, bearded, ancestral, and traditional. Ogres, meanwhile, have changed a lot, with a renewed developer emphasis on making the race more appealing to players in general whilst offering a wider range of available style options for players. You can watch the full show past the break, but be forewarned: It's a long one.

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