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The Daily Grind: Do you log into games you're not currently playing?

Super-hero, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Marvel Heroes

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I haven't played Marvel Heroes in about two months. Blame Elite: Dangerous, ArcheAge, and a pile of single-player games, I guess, but I just haven't been able to fit it into my rotation here lately. That said, I've logged into the game for 122 straight days, entirely because of Gazillion's penchant for giving away nifty login prizes like an Ultron pet and dozens of others.

What about you, Massively readers? Do you log into MMOs or MMO-lites for prizes even though you're not currently playing?

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!

Make My MMO: December 14 - 20, 2014

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

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This week in MMO crowdfunding news, Elite: Dangerous launched. Let's hold here for a brief round of applause.

Moving on, Camelot Unchained's Mark Jacobs talked up developmental transparency, and his PvP sandbox closed in on $3 million in total funding. Last but not least, Massively interviewed Shroud of the Avatar gurus Richard Garriott and Starr Long. Click past the cut for more of our weekly crowdfunding roundup.

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Final Fantasy XIV introduces two new jobs and new races for Heavensward

Fantasy, Classes, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Previews, News Items, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription

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Well, at least we finally got it.
The last Final Fantasy XIV fan festival of the year is going on now in Japan, and the event's keynote speech has already contained big revelations for the game's first expansion, Heavensward. Players can look forward to the first new race for the game, the Au Ra, a race of dragon-esque people from Othard. It's been established that heretofore masked NPC Yugiri belongs to this race, and she will be revealing her face in patch 2.5.

Fans were also treated to preview footage of the Dark Knight in-game as well as two new jobs, the Machinist and the Astrologian. Astrologians are a new style of healer, drawing cards from decks to aid party members while debilitating enemies. Machinists are ranged DPS with a single large handgun and a style of play based on laying down turrets and paying attention to positioning. The keynote also contained information on the next multi-part raid and the Collector's Edition for the game, currently scheduled for release in spring of 2015.

Dark Age of Camelot takes aim at group finder and bug fixes

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Dark Age of Camelot, Bugs, Patches, Previews, PvP, Community Q&A

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daoc
An end-of-the-year community Q&A at Dark Age of Camelot revealed that the team has a lot on the docket for Patch 1.117, including the long-awaited casual group finder and a heap of bug fixes.

"We think that focusing our development resources on bug fixing for an entire patch cycle is something that hasn't been done in a long time and is something that will make everyone's gameplaying experience that much better!" Broadsword posted.

Other topics discussed include freeing up space in quest logs, plans to update the patcher, and ideas to help out starter guilds. The Q&A even revealed that there will be "official Broadsword player reps" and "scheduled raids of all sorts" for trial accounts, although details on those will be coming later.

The Stream Team: Returning to Shroud of the Avatar

Fantasy, Video, Livestream, Sandbox, The Stream Team, Crowdfunding, Shroud of the Avatar

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It's been a few releases since Massively's MJ was able to prowl the streets of New Britannia, but the recent move to steam has her back in Shroud of the Avatar. And boy, has the world changed! Want to come get a glimpse of what this in-development sandbox already has to offer? Then join us live at 1:00 p.m. for a stroll through the towns and wilds and to talk about all things SotA.

Game: Shroud of the Avatar
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Saturday, December 20th, 2014
Time: 1:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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The Game Archaeologist: The complete history of classic MMOs

Culture, MMO Industry, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous

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uo
Since this is my final Game Archeologist post of 2014, I want to indulge in a personal project that's been pulling at my shirt-tails for a little while now. I've been writing this column for years and have yet to create a proper guide to all of the games and subjects that I've covered. So that's what you're getting today: a "complete" (thus far) history of classic, obscure, and dead MMOs, arranged by decade.

Ever wonder where MMOs began? Wanted to know what online gamers played back in the '90s and '80s? Trying to remember which games never made it to launch? Curious whether I've covered that little-known gem that was your doorway to a larger virtual world? Then take my hand and come with me!

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WRUP: Expanshapaign is too a word

Massively Meta, Miscellaneous

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Welcome back to Massively's What Are You Playing, the game in which we tell you what we're playing this weekend and you tell us what Guild Wars 2's much-prophesied expanshapaign should look like.

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The Daily Grind: Why aren't more studios investing in post-apocalyptic MMOs?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Post-Apocalyptic, Miscellaneous

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fallen earth
Some days it makes my heart so very sad that Fallen Earth stands virtually alone in the field of "classic" post-apocalyptic MMO settings. I love that game dearly and wish I had more time to actually play it, but I wish even more that it had a bigger studio and budget to go with its wide aspirations. I fear it is already slipping away from us.

I was among the many desperately hoping for a Fallout MMO, but it seems as though those hopes were in vain. And out of all of the Kickstarter MMOs that I see, none seems to have gone the Mad Max route. So why do you think that more studios aren't investing in (non-zombie) post-apocalyptic MMOs -- and what would you like to see in that genre?

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!

Gloria Victis is all up in your beeswax

Betas, Fantasy, Patches, Sandbox

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gloria victis
In yesterday's pre-alpha patch, Gloria Victis shattered all sense of boundaries and decided that it was going to make your beeswax its business. Yes indeed, we are finally living in an era when beeswax has been added to beehives in an MMO, and life will never be the same again. (Actually, my editor informs me that Ultima Online has that as well because it has everything.)

Other changes with the patch included global buffs for capture-the-flag winners, cattle horns as "by-products of [the] animal skinning process," a buff to gear durability, a higher change to get weapon drops from humans, and a rework of the mob spawning system.

Betawatch: December 13 - 19, 2014

Betas, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Massively Meta, Betawatch, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding

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Elite Dangerous
Elite: Dangerous formally launched this week, departing our Betawatch (Gammawatch?) list and flying free into the wilds of the MMO jungle. What else is new in the land of MMO testing?
  • Landmark's closed beta launched PvE combat this week; SOE says it will shift full-time to working on EverQuest Next in early 2015.
  • Shroud of the Avatar's devs spoke to us about its community and development process.
  • Black Desert officially launched into open beta in Korea.
  • Sandvox SkySaga began its alpha phase for UK players.
  • Skyforge launched a beta contest and demoed two classes.
  • Cabal II's closed beta is taking signups; the first focus test is slated for this weekend.
  • Valiance Online kicked off a Steam Greenlight campaign. It's currently in pre-alpha stress testing.
  • Space strategy MMO AD2460 leaves testing and launches on December 29th.
  • MapleStory 2 will begin closed beta signups in Korea next week.
  • Albion Online's winter test begins January 26th.
  • Rainbow Saga softlaunched into open beta.
  • MMORTS Siegelord's closed beta began this week as well.
Read on for the complete Betawatch list.

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MapleStory 2 begins closed beta signups next week, will include a jail system

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Business Models, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries, Player-Generated Content, MMORPG

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MapleStory 2
Another day, another game we can't have yet. This one's MapleStory 2, the sequel to Nexon's MapleStory, which in spite of its cuteness is still one of the biggest MMORPGs in the world. Steparu reports that MS2 is set to enter its first closed beta phase on January 21st; signups go live for Korean players on Christmas eve.

Over on the official site (in Korean), Nexon further discusses the MMO's jail system, something fans of games like Ultima Online and ArcheAge know well. This particular jail is meant to hold those who make wreckage of chat channels, though Nexon says will punish counter-abuse "severely." What could possibly go wrong?

We don't yet know whether the game will come here, but since classic MapleStory has a global version that's earned Nexon boatloads of money, it's pretty darn likely.

We've embedded Steparu's MapleStory 2 customization video below.

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The Stream Team: Slaugs and wisps and chompers, oh Landmark!

Video, PvE, Free-to-Play, First Impressions, Livestream, Sandbox, The Stream Team, Landmark

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OK, so Landmark's PvE does not include any lions, tigers, or bears as the original phrase indicates, but there are still some hungry critters who want to munch on you if you get too close. Along with the slaugs, wisps, and chompers, there are abominations and fiery fungi waiting down in the caverns to bring death to adventurers. And you know what that means: Massively's MJ is going to dive down into the thick of it to find some! She'll be excitedly exploring the new cavern system while trying to dodge death around every turn. Join us live at 6:00 p.m. for a first look at Landmark's long-awaited PvE, then experience it for yourself by nabbing your own beta code!

Game: Landmark
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Friday, December 19th, 2014
Time: 6:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Sandvox SkySaga hits alpha in the UK

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content

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Skysaga
Sandvox SkySaga has officially entered alpha, says developer Smilegate. The team announced the start of the testing phase over social media yesterday and today:
Great news! We've just started up the Alpha servers (UK only still, I'm afraid), and from now on they'll be running 24/7 (with the exception of maintenance periods!).
You read that right: The alpha's open only to UK players right now, though we've had reports that there's no IP blocking just yet. Release is still set for next summer. The game is a voxel-based sandbox with the usual trapping: crafting, harvesting, combat, arena PvP, and an "evolving" online world shaped by the players themselves.

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Win part of a $50,000 pool at Guild Wars 2's PAX East tournament

Fantasy, Contests, Events (Real-World), Guild Wars 2, Buy-to-Play

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gw2
Fancy yourself a not-half-bad PvP player? Are you keen on the notion of winning enough money to avoid work or school for a year so that you can concentrate on MMO gaming? Then step right up to Guild Wars 2's World Tournament Series Championship at PAX East next spring, where the winners will dip into a $50,000 prize pool.

The tournament will take place on March 7th, 2015, at the gaming convention in Boston. Players from several countries are welcome to face off against each other, although teams will have to compete and win in earlier qualifiers to make it to the championship. You'll have to be at least 18 and from the US, Canada, Mexico, or the EU to participate. A cool perk of making it to the championship is that ArenaNet will foot the bill for teams' airfare, hotel, and a per diem.

Marvel Heroes adds Venom, throws 50% off sale

Super-hero, Classes, Events (In-Game), Free-to-Play, Marvel Heroes, Promotions

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marvel heroes
'Tis the season for deep discounts and disturbing heroes, as has come to pass in the merry lands of Marvel Heroes. The jolly figure known as Venom has come to distribute pain, suffering, and alternative dental plans for those who pick this new playable figure.

The Marvel Heroes team is also offering a half-off sale on most -- but not all -- of the in-game store. This includes many of the title's heroes, costumes, team-ups, and pets. And even if you don't want to spend money, you'll still be getting treats all month with the game's Winter Wonderland & Season's Givings event. Presents and buffs will be available all over the game, in addition to new daily log-in rewards.

War Thunder's Steel Generals expansion beta is live

Betas, Historical, Galleries, Screenshots, Video, Events (In-Game), Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS

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War Thunder
War Thunder, Gaijin Entertainment's WWII-flavored MMO, updated with its Steel Generals patch this week, just ahead of the holidays. It includes new vehicles, tow cable mechanics, retooled artillery strikes, and new damage modeling. Gamers can also jump into three new maps: White Stone Fortress for air and ground battles, an Eastern Europe map with "varied open ground and urban terrain features," and the massive air-combat Battle for Moscow, which reconstructs the city during the Winter Campaign of 1941-1942. The Steel Generals content, however, "steals" the show:
The biggest addition to War Thunder with this update is the beta of the Steel Generals expansion, which includes the first six American tanks available now. By the end of Q1 2015, more than 30 US WWII tanks will be available. This release schedule allows Gaijin Entertainment to test each of the tanks to ensure that they are ready for battle when commercially launched. In honor of the update launch, special packages are available for purchase that contain premium US tanks and other bonuses alongside closed beta access. Players can participate in the Steel Generals beta by entering into contests and in-game events in War Thunder.
Check out the new screenshots and walkthrough video below.

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Albion Online's winter test begins January 26th

Betas, Fantasy, Sandbox

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albion online
Backers of Albion Online have been sitting on their hands for a while now, waiting for the next alpha test of this isometric sandbox. The good news is that Sandbox Interactive has announced that the alpha winter test will begin in a little over a month on January 26th.

There will be plenty of new and updated systems to check out during this testing cycle, including an extensive farming system, consumables, more weapons, more skills, and player and guild islands. Another significant change is that players can flag themselves as friendly or hostile in PvP areas, effectively adding consensual PvP into the game.

Albion Online's winter test will be available to legendary ($100) and epic ($50) founders and will last for four weeks.

Trove introduces the Ice Sage

Fantasy, Classes, Game Mechanics, News Items, Free-to-Play, Miscellaneous, Trove

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TROVE
It's that time of year again when the days are shorter, the weather is colder, and a disproportionate number of songs playing everywhere you go relate to ice crystals covering the ground. (Unless you live south of the equator, in which case you're just wondering what we're on about.) To accompany the winter weather, voxelbox MMORPG Trove has introduced its newest class, the Ice Sage. You can probably guess what that one's all about; the name is not exactly a mystery.

Ice Sages chill enemies with their basic attacks and avoid slipping on icy surfaces. They can also summon icicles, absorb attacks, and create a deep freeze in their immediate area to freeze and damage enemies. If that sounds cooler than being cool, you can pick the class up in the in-game store now.

Massively's Best of 2014 Awards: MMO of the Year

MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous

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Massively 2014 Awards
Massively's end-of-the-year awards come to a close today with our 12th and final award, this one the biggun (and usually the most contentious): our MMO of the Year. To be eligible for this award, MMOs must have launched in 2014, full stop. (If you want to know what would win the staff's best-MMO-ever vote, it's Star Wars Galaxies, and now I've saved us all that discussion, and you're welcome.) All of our writers were invited to cast a vote, but not all of them chose to do so for this category. Don't forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end.

The Massively staff pick for Best MMO of 2014 is...

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Elite: Dangerous scores a HUD color mod and grats from Chris Roberts

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, News Items, Sandbox, Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous

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If the people making their living this way can be civil, you can do the same in the comments, hmm?
The stage was set for a truly epic battle of words with the launch of Elite: Dangerous. In one corner, David Braben and Elite, a project that's launched and offers a space sandbox experience with the controversy of a removed offline mode. In the other corner, Chris Roberts and Star Citizen, another space sandbox that hasn't actually launched but hasn't managed to irritate its fans yet. The intense rivalry between these two developers is... well... it's nonexistent, actually, as Roberts recently released a letter congratulating Braben and his team on the launch and wishing them the best of luck.

Roberts states in the letter that he's happy to see more games like Elite: Dangerous on the market; he says everyone benefits from having the game on the market, especially since his game and Braben's game both feeling distinct from one another. He also states that he's looking forward to playing the game himself during his time over the holidays. And thus the battle of words never happened because the rivalry doesn't actually exist. Hint, hint.

In other Elite: Dangerous news, an intrepid modder has released a tool to help players change their UI HUD colors. How cool is that?

[Thanks to Oliver, Cardboard, and Carson for the tips!]

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