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RIFT beefs up the minion system

Fantasy, Bugs, Game Mechanics, Free-to-Play, RIFT

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rift
RIFT's new minion system is arguably one of the more popular additions to the game in some time, with players sending out their loyal subjects to bring them back treasures and fame. However, Trion Worlds says it still has work to do, and in a new "State of the Minunion" post, the studio lists a few areas that it's improving with the game's next hotfix.

The new Fae Yule minion mission pack, with a series of quests that tell a story, will have some of its minion rewards buffed up with better stats. The hotfix will also tackle a few bugs and add minion-releated achievements. Finally, adventure rewards are being fine-tuned and improved, although it has been difficult for the team to handle this as it has been "an extremely extensive change touching dozens upon dozens of loot tables."

Choose My Adventure: World of Warcraft and the shadowy priest

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Polls, Expansions, New Titles, PvE, Hands-On, Choose My Adventure, Subscription, MMORPG

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It's been one week since Choose My Adventure's voters sent me on the path of darkness in World of Warcraft, daring me to cast off my healing roots and adventure forward as a Priest who deals only in shadow. I've gained a couple of levels, tinkered with my garrison, and killed hundreds and hundreds of orcs. I've even managed to work out some of last week's confusion, finding a spell rotation that works for me and laying waste to any PvE enemies that cross my path.

I've also completed about a million quests, Warlords of Draenor-style.

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Camelot Unchained's Mark Jacobs on the warrior class and development transparency

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Classes, Game Mechanics, Interviews, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained

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Camelot Unchained
City State Entertainment -- an indie studio that's becoming better known to our readers, I imagine, after it ran away with our poll for best studio last week -- has today posted its first class concept reveal. The tentatively named Drengr is the Viking warrior class, and in its long design document, the studio has outlined just how the archetype fits into the proposed Path system that will govern character development in the crowdfunded RvR MMORPG.

We spoke to CSE's Mark Jacobs about the Path system, warrior reveal, and the impact of transparency on the game development process. Enjoy the interview below!

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Landmark's PvE arrives today; SOE shifts to EQ Next full-time in 2015

Interviews, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

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We've waited a long time for the chance to have our faces eaten off by vicious monsters in Landmark, and now that opportunity is almost here! After a bit of delay, the infamous PvE patch is heading into our favorite sandbox today. This is seriously going to be a game-changer. Of all the patches throughout the whole year, this one is the biggest -- surpassing the August PvP update and even the original alpha launch, at least according to Creative Director Dave Georgeson. And he's not kidding! I got to check out Landmark's new mobs, linking and triggering, armors, props, and more with Georgeson and Senior Producer Terry Michaels. I didn't think it was possible to be even more excited for this patch, but I am! Can I hear a squeeeee?!

Oh, and for everyone who is waiting anxiously for EverQuest Next news, here's a tidbit from Georgeson you might enjoy:
When we get to those game mastering systems [after the start of the year] that means we are working on EQN full time. Because those are the systems we need for EQN, and that's what we're building when we're building those game mastering tools. So we're so close to transitioning the team almost entirely to EQN, and then we'll take the elements that we build for EQN and port them over into Landmark, but our focus will shift almost entirely to EQN after the new year.

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WoW and FFXIV see boosted playtime on Raptr; ArcheAge playtime 'cratered'

Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Miscellaneous

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Raptr
Another month, another Raptr report. Yesterday Raptr.com posted its most played PC games list for November, and MMOs did rather well. Unsurprisingly, World of Warcraft surged up the list to #2 thanks to the Warlords of Draenor expansion. "The MMO's monthly play time was up 71.3% versus October," Raptr's press release says. And though WoW "likely" drew from League of Legends' numbers, it couldn't quite usurp the MOBA's #1 seat.

Among other MMOs, ArcheAge playtime "cratered by 39.97%," but World of Tanks and Final Fantasy XIV both saw rises in theirs. Guild Wars 2 rose in rank, Raptr says, but lost playtime in November vs. October. SWTOR fell two places since October.

As always, Raptr roundups come with the caveat that they represent Raptr users on PC, not all gamers; some MMO studios are also known to boost their Raptr numbers with in-game incentives. But since some of these games refuse to release population data, you might call this the next best snapshot of popularity outside of touring the servers yourself.

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Massively's Best of 2014 Awards: Best Update or Expansion of the Year

MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous

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Massively 2014 Awards
Massively's end-of-the-year awards continue today with our award for the Best Update or Expansion of the Year. Every patch, be it small freebie update or traditional paid expansion, was eligible for this category, as long as it released in 2014. 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 Update or Expansion of 2014 is...

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The Secret World's killer clown is coming to get you

Horror, Business Models, News Items, The Secret World, Promotions, Buy-to-Play

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TSW
Some Funcom fans are getting a nice present in their email today: a ticket to play The Secret World for free for a month.

"You will die. Because, hey, that's what happens when you play an MMO where killer clowns are after you. Fight back! Play The Secret World for FREE this Holiday season," reads the promo.

The freebie 30-day codes in the emails are apparently valid if used by January 15th and include experience potions as well as $5 worth of points to spend in the cash shop. It's currently unclear whether the promotion is for former subbers or just everyone who has a Funcom account.

Elite: Dangerous offers cash prizes in the race to 'Elite'

Sci-Fi, Contests, Game Mechanics, New Titles, News Items, Promotions, Elite: Dangerous, Buy-to-Play

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Elite
Why launch a space MMO when you can launch a space MMO and a giant competition for cash money? That's exactly what Elite: Dangerous is up to just a day after its formal launch. Frontier is offering several huge cash prizes for players who reach the "Elite" rank in various gameplay categories.
Entrants must start from a fresh save on the release version of Elite: Dangerous, starting with the Sidewinder and 1,000 CR, and use 'Open Play' multiplayer mode only. They can use the slight advantage of the Eagle starship offered as part of Elite: Dangerous' Mercenary Edition, but otherwise it should be a level playing field. If in Frontier's sole opinion, there has been any cheating, then an entry may be disallowed. This is a skill-based competition with the following prizes for the first person to reach:
1. Elite in combat - £1,000 or $1,500 or €1,200*
2. Elite in exploration - £1,000 or $1,500 or €1,200*
3. Elite in trading - £1,000 or $1,500 or €1,200*
4. Elite in all three - £10,000 or $15,000 or €12,000*
(* currency as applicable)
Participants must clear their saves, start their journey post-release, and play entirely in open play mode. Anyone out there going for it?

SMITE explores Awilix in depth and kicks off Saturnalia

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Events (In-Game), News Items, Free-to-Play

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The lack of lore apparently meant that Awilix drank heavily from the well of Generic Fantasy Undress.
There are a lot of goddesses of the night or the moon, period, and there's no shortage of playable ones in SMITE, either. Awilix is also a figure without a whole lot of prominent lore trying to provide a different take on the general role of assassin. So how did the design team go from a name and a few details to a playable character? Through interplay with her pet jaguar, a different series of abilities, and an emphasis on mobility and hit-and-run tactics.

Already have all of the gods you need right now? You've still got a reason to log in to SMITE as the game runs its Saturnalia event, offering free bonus gems to everyone and doubled experience gains for each match played. A series of rolling sales on the pantheons of the game will also persist through the whole of Saturnalia, so if you decide you would like to pick up some new skins, you've got that option.

[Thanks to Sorenthaz for the tip!]

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The Daily Grind: What was your best open-world PvP experience?

Culture, PvP, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

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black desert
As someone who usually stands on the outside of the whole PvP scene, I'm often curious about the appeal and goings-on of fighting endlessly against other human opponents, especially in MMOs. People seem to talk highly of open world battles and epic moments, although my experience has been limited to being corpse camped on a World of Warcraft server and taking part in many confusic and hectic keep battles in Warhammer Online.

So sate my curiosity today and tell me a time when you had your best open-world PvP experience. What happened and why was that such a treasured memory?

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!

Onigiri MMO coming to consoles next year

Betas, Fantasy, Free-to-Play, Consoles

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onigiri
The Japanese mythology MMO, Onigiri, is officially on its way to the Xbox One (and PlayStation 4) next year in North America and Europe, Windows Central reports. The title, which is developed by Cyberstep, will be free-to-play and is already live on the Xbox One in Japan.

Onigiri came out on the PC in 2013. The console version may have patches slightly lagging behind the PC version, but it will otherwise be identical in form and function. There will be no cross-over play between platforms.

While Windows Central says that this will be Xbox One's "first MMO," that overlooks the already-released Destiny and The Crew as well as other titles on the way, including Elder Scrolls Online, PlanetSide 2, All Points Bulletin, Neverwinter, The Division, and Warframe.

Global Chat: Die, DPS meters, die!

EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Opinion, Global Chat, Miscellaneous, HEX, Skyforge

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gw2
Hey you! Yes, you! Are you sick of damage meters ruining your life? Do you rebel against the virtual man by questioning such long-established gaming tropes as levels? Then have we got the column for you!

In our last community blog round-up of the year, we've collected some fine pieces of discussion, debate, and introspection -- not to mention a first impression or two to tide you over until 2015. We've also got an essay about the joy of healing, what it's like to play an MMO as a bear, going back to the Isle of Refuge, and more!

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Space strategy MMO AD2460 launches on December 29th

Betas, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Launches, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Browser, MMORTS, Miscellaneous, Subscription

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AD2460
After two months in open beta, space strategy MMO AD2460 has announced its official launch for December 29th. The spiritual sequel to 2000's Planetarion, AD2460 is playable in-browser, meaning it works on mobile too. Players will be spending their time developing alliances and empires and fleets, and once the game is out of beta, they can expect to pay $1 a week in sub fees.

Fifth Season's Christian Lassem dropped by our comment section earlier this fall to dispel confusion about the game and show off a slice of combat via video, which we've included below.

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Valiance Online moves to Greenlight and picks up a City of Heroes artist

Super-hero, MMO Industry, News Items

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Also known as the other CoH revival project that might eventually see the light of day.
So you want to back Valiance Online as a longtime fan of City of Heroes, but your Kickstarter budget right now is at a solid $0. Good news, then; you can support the game just by voting for it on Steam Greenlight. It's still early in the testing cycling, but the game has added a rather significant feather to its cap with the addition of its newest staff member, former City of Heroes animator Ron Friedman.

Friedman's stated duties will be training the team on animation methods for the superheroic game, reviewing and modifying existing animations, and creating new animations as necessary. It's a good sign that the game will inherit a fair chunk of City of Heroes visually, so if you've been on the fence, now might be the time to consider voting for the game after all.

See Bless Online's character creation options

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

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bless online
Getting a closer look at character creation options when a title is deep in testing is always useful, especially to those of us who lack access to the beta. Steparu.com took Bless Online's character creator out for a spin as the title's closed beta test revved back up, and you can enjoy a sneak peek as a result.

Steparu noted that it doesn't look as though classes are gender-locked, although players may be wedded to a faction once they roll up their first character. You can watch the character creation video after the jump, and make sure you bounce over to Steparu.com for more videos on several of the game's classes.

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EVE Online speeds up game installation and access

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

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eve
To "get people into the game quicker," CCP is smoothing out the download and installation process for EVE Online. This new method of deployment is scheduled to go into service at the start of 2015.

This means that the installation package will go from a 7GB download to a zippy 200MB one instead. Once that game client is up and running, it will then download the rest of the game's resources as needed.

"On a fast connection you probably won't notice much of a difference -– load times may be slightly longer at times. As you play more, more resources will be cached and fewer and fewer need to be downloaded. The client will be smart about pre-fetching resources it expects will be needed soon," the team said.

Guild Wars 2 kicks off Wintersday events

Fantasy, Events (In-Game), Patches, Guild Wars 2, Buy-to-Play

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gw2
The event avalanche of Guild Wars 2's Wintersday has gotten up to full speed and is currently roaring down upon the game's population.

Today's update activates the previous years' Wintersday content as well as a few new additions. There's the Wondrous Workshop to explore, jumping puzzles, bell choir minigames, the Snowball Mayhem battle royale, and a quest to track down Grawnk to get a Wintersday tree for home instances.

The patch also activates a couple of PvP events, new Wintersday-themed cash shop cosmetics, the daily login rewards, and the latest overhaul of the daily achievement system.

Massively Speaking Episode 325: End of the year roundtable

Podcasts, MMO Industry, News Items, Massively Meta, Massively Speaking, Miscellaneous

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elite dangerous
2014 was a heck of a year here at Massively. And for all of the ups and downs that we weathered, we like to think that we've emerged a little smarter, a little wiser, and a little ready for a less dramatic 2015. On today's episode, we invited to staff to come in talk about MMOs we've played, our awards picks, and what we're going to do in the new year.

Get all of our opinions and analysis on the most important stories of the past week right here on Massively Speaking, the industry's leading MMO podcast. And if you have a comment, question, or topic for the podcasters, send an email to podcast@massively.com. We may just read your email on the air!

Get the podcast:
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Read below the cut for the full show notes.

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Warhammer 40k: Eternal Crusade discounts its founder packs

Betas, Business Models, News Items, Warhammer 40k, Miscellaneous

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Eternal Crusade
Just in time for the holidays, Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade is discounting its founder upgrade packs. "We have big plans coming in 2015," says Behaviour Online, "and want to allow our fans the chance to get some extra upgrades now."

Starting December 17th, the game will offer a 25% discount on pack upgrades, which makes the cheapest packs $30 and the elite Dawn of the Imperium pack $97.50. Founder packs count as preorders, even at the lowest tiers. While the game will be F2P upon launch, free players are restricted to the Ork Boyz faction.

We've included the latest video, a teaser for the studio's Friday Twitch event, below. Behaviour will be hosting a Razer product giveaway and showing off a brand-new war zone.

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The Transformers Universe MOBA is shutting down

Betas, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Miscellaneous, Transformers Universe, MOBA, Sunsets

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Bad news today, folks: MOBA Transformers Universe will close before it even leaves beta as part of Jagex's and Hasbro's efforts to "realign their plans and focuses for 2015." UK developer Jagex had posted about impending layoffs for the TU team back in November, but it appears that it's really game over now:
The shutdown period will begin from today. As part of the winding down we will be refunding all those that have purchased a Founders Pack, as well as anyone that has purchased relic bundles and starter packs. These refunds should be all processed in the next 30 days. In addition we will be closing the ability for new players to make accounts, those of you that already have accounts will continue to be able to use them until the closure date. [...] We will also be pushing an update live today that will switch off the ability for players to buy any more relic packs, or starter bundles.

[O]n 31st Jan 2015 @ 10am GMT we will be shutting down all servers and forums and will freeze all Transformers Universe related accounts. These accounts will then be live for another 60 days (approx.) for any final queries before deletion on 31st March 2015. Between now and the date of closure the Jagex CM team will continue to operate on the forums and we will provide relevant updates on the website as necessary.
Jagex asks players to contact the customer services team if they have not received their refunds by January 16th. Our hearts go out to the players and developers who hoped to see the title succeed.

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Massively Speaking Episode 325: End of the year roundtable

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