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Neverwinter unveils the Dragonborn Pack

Fantasy, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, Races, Neverwinter

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FUZZ ROW D'AWW!  Please don't sue.
Were you worried that Neverwinter's fourth major update, Tyranny of Dragons, would feature too few dragons? We're not sure how you could have been worried about that, but the good news is that you can bring even more dragon into your play experience by playing a Dragonborn. No, not that kind of Dragonborn; the kind that's literally half-dragon. Or all dragon, but... humanoid dragon. You get the idea. And you can play one.

Buying the game's Dragonborn Legend Pack unlocks the new race as well as a set of cosmetic armor for your new man-dragon, the special Heart of the Red Dragon artifact, and a variety of other rewards including a race change token. The pack is on sale until August 18th, allowing players a chance to get in on the race at a discount. Whether you want to just one-up roleplayers claiming to be half-dragon or can't get enough lizards in your gameplay, you can pick up the pack now if it's your sort of fun.

Get a good (and hilarious) overview of Trove with this video

Betas, Fantasy, Free-to-Play, Guides, Sandbox, Trove

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Trove
Have you ever caught yourself wondering what Trove is, exactly? Is it a sandbox? Is it a Minecraft clone? Is it a bizzaro pixelated version of Second Life? It's certainly hard to adequately describe what this quirky Trion Worlds title is going for, which is why it's simply better to see it.

TheHiveLeader created a four-and-a-half-minute video in which he touches on Trove's selling points, from its existing classes to what players can do with cornerstones. It's also pretty funny and moves along at a brisk pace, which is why it's earned today's Massively Seal of Community Approval. Check it out after the break!

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Shroud of the Avatar's Release 8 is here, and so are its tutorials

Betas, Fantasy, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Sandbox, Shroud of the Avatar, Buy-to-Play

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It's time for Shroud of the Avatar's Release 8. No really, it's time right now, as you're reading this. Portalarium has published instructions and a lengthy list of features (both included and not included) in this particular build.

The focus is on PvP this time around, and to that end both Scott Jennings and Chris Spears have posted tutorials. Jennings' takes the form of a PvP deck-building guide that's hosted on the SotA forums, while Spears narrates a 24-minute video that you can watch after the break.

Release 8 started at 11:30 a.m. EDT this morning and it runs until 11:00 a.m. EDT on Monday, July 28th.

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Chaos Theory: The value of The Secret World's DLCs

Horror, Real-Life, Expansions, Patches, Opinion, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

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Chaos Theory: The value of The Secret World's DLCs
This question was posed to me recently by a few different readers and stream viewers: Are The Secret World's DLCs a good value? As I pondered the question, I decided that instead of answering each query personally, it would be a good topic to explore here in Chaos Theory. Besides, the answer is definitely not a short one! (It can't even fit in a single column!)

So why can't I just fire off a simple yes or no to this question? The biggest problem is trying to provide an objective answer to a very subjective situation. While the meaning of value itself is clearly defined, said definition emphasizes that the judgment is individual to whoever is involved. How each player defines value is very personal, so I can't really answer for anyone except myself. What I can do, however, is provide as much of the objective information that I can so you can make your own subjective judgment on the value. Are TSW's issues and sidestories packs worth it? Let's look at the value from various viewpoints and you decide!

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Play Destiny this weekend, get an exclusive beta emblem

Betas, Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Destiny, Buy-to-Play

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In case you needed a reason to log into Destiny's beta this weekend, Bungie is offering an incentive in the form of an exclusive in-game emblem. You'll need to be online at 5:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday, July 26th, to qualify.

Black Desert's NA and EU publisher is Daum

Betas, Fantasy, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Black Desert

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Black Desert's search for a Western publisher has made news on more than one occasion in recent months. As it turns out, though, the fantasy sandbox MMO will be published in North America and Europe by the same company publishing it in its native Korea.

That company is Daum, one of South Korea's largest internet conglomerates. News of the deal was confirmed by Steparu via an email exchange with a representative of Black Desert development studio Pearl Abyss. While there is no information available regarding Western beta dates, Pearl Abyss began working on an English client over seven months ago. Black Desert Korea will kick off its third closed beta sometime in late August or early September.

Skyforge to premiere at Gamescom

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, New Titles, Skyforge

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SkyForge
Skyforge, the upcoming MMO from Obsidian Entertainment and the team that brought you Allods Online, will be making its debut at this year's Gamescom in Cologne, Germany.

Along with World of Speed and Armored Warfare, Skyforge will be presented by My.com at its booth in the business hall and as a playable demo for press. This will be the first reveal of two of Skyforge's classes and brand new locations. Interested players can also sign up for the closed beta for all three games at the official websites linked below.

[Source: My.com press release]

The Daily Grind: What MMO company has given you good customer service?

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Bugs, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Daily Grind

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So, a couple of Lord of the Rings Online's Inn League deeds are broken, which is unfortunate because the main reason I showed up for this year's Summer Festival was to finish the Inn League stuff on my newest character.

I submitted a customer service ticket and after having it closed with no action because I was offline (Turbine CSRs can't email, I guess?), I opened another one and remained online for a couple of hours so that I could be told that there is nothing to be done about broken deeds.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying that I find Turbine's customer service off-putting. It's also a prelude to today's Daily Grind question. What MMO company has given you good customer service, and what was the circumstance?

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!

Final Fantasy XI previews Alluvion Skirmishes

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Patches, Endgame, News Items, Consoles, Subscription

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So I had this great new shield, I put it down in here for a minute, and now it's gone!
Alluvion Skirmishes are the next evolution of skirmish battles for Final Fantasy XI players, pitting adventurers against a changing layout and shifting foes. Why would you take it on? Well, for a chance at great items and shields, naturally. Did you really expect otherwise? And, you know, for content that accommodates a variety of different party sizes and roles, that's nice too.

Players can take on Alluvion Skirmishes solo or in groups containing up to six players; Alter Egos are usable to fill out a party's ranks. The NPC Oston will assemble a special statue called a eudamon for players who can then enter through the pre-existing Augural Conveyers, with Rala Waterways and Cirdas Caverns being the first pair to function with Alluvion Skirmishes. For more details on time limits and inscribing shields with Arcane Glyptics, take a look at the full preview on the official site.

World of Warcraft posts details on the Arena Invitational World Championships

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Events (Real-World), PvP, News Items, Subscription

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Just chlling.  Hey.
This year's BlizzCon will feature a no-holds-barred fight to the finish. Sadly, that doesn't mean that an official MMA tournament event will be taking place; it just means that the World of Warcraft Arena Invitational World Championships will be going down, pitting teams against one another for glory, honor, and the satisfaction of taking home up to $120,000 dollars. Who wouldn't like that?

The eight teams selected for play will be fighting in a best-of-seven format, starting with the Nagrand Arena and moving on to other maps at the selection of the losing team. The matches will last until elimination or until 15 minutes have passed, whichever happens first. Those unable to attend BlizzCon on November 7th and 8th will be able to stream the matches online, although no details on doing so are yet available. If you are attending, though, get ready to watch the best of the best mix it up in the arenas.

Anarchy Online introduces tradable subscription item

Sci-Fi, Anarchy Online, Business Models, Free-to-Play

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Anarchy Online has added a new subscription option into this 13-year-old game, allowing players to buy and sell game time in addition to its free-to-play and standard subscription packages.

Patch 18.6.14 added GRACE (Grid Access Credit Extension), which is a $14.95 item that can be purchased and sold on the in-game market. When used, GRACE adds 30 days of subscription game time to a player's account. Unlike other items on the market, GRACE cannot be taken out and mailed separately. Also, since free players can't access the market, they'll be unable to purchase GRACE from other players.

Funcom has a FAQ covering the ins and outs of this new system.

Elder Scrolls Online publishes video of its QuakeCon panel reveals

Fantasy, Video, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, Patches, Previews, PvP, News Items, PvE, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

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ESO
If you missed the hoopla of last week's QuakeCon, you lost out on some startlingly cool Elder Scrolls Online announcements, including news about an "active world PvP" system for thievin' and murderin' that makes the game feel just a bit more like a true Elder Scrolls title. Fortunately for you, ZeniMax has today released a video of the entire Future of The Elder Scrolls Online panel, which runs almost two hours and covers everything from PvP to the veteran ranks overhaul. Enjoy!

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Touring DC Universe Online's league halls and Halls of Power

Super-hero, Guilds, Previews, Free-to-Play, DC Universe Online

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It was a couple of years ago that we got our first in-depth look at DC Universe Online's personal housing system, dubbed lairs. Since then, heroes and villains alike have been looking forward to the league version. Thanks to the announcement earlier this month, we knew that the wait for league halls was almost over; guild-level housing was to hit this summer. Surprise! GU39 and league halls launched today! And thanks to a special tour with Creative Director Jens Andersen and Community Manager Ted Stone (AKA Mepps), I got a good look at the league hall system and how it all works in the Halls of Power Part 1 DLC due later this summer.

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ArcheAge's second beta event starts July 30th

Betas, Fantasy, Free-to-Play, ArcheAge, Sandbox

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With one jam-packed closed beta event out of the way, ArcheAge is revving up for another one. The title's second closed beta event, Settling Sail, will take place from Wednesday, July 30th, through Monday, August 4th.

Trion Worlds announced that the first closed beta's servers filled up within 18 minutes, and as such, it will be expanding the second beta event to be "three times as big" as the first with more invites rolling out.

The good news from the packed beta event last weekend is that the hardware performed great on Trion's side and that the devs have made changes to improve the game: "You also helped us to identify and fix challenges with some of the custom integration for our version! During the event, we were also adapting our own anti-spam and anti-bot software in real time. With your input, we're reviewing a number of systems with XLGAMES, including use of labor while you're hunting and looting, labor regeneration rates for online and offline players, and the availability of Archeum. We're also looking into the feasibility of XLGAMES adding an ability queue and mouse inverting."

Trion Worlds grows to over 12 million players

Business Models, Interviews, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, RIFT, ArcheAge, Defiance, Trove

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Trion
In an interview with Forbes, Trion Worlds CEO Scott Hartsman revealed that his studio's game portfolio and distribution has resulted in populations that number in the millions. "A year ago we were a company with two games," he said. "This year we are a company with three of our own MMOs, plus our first published MMO, plus 10 other distributed games [through the Glyph digital storefront]. So, we're seeing user numbers in the 12 to 13 million range."

For most of the interview, however, Hartsman discussed the positioning of business models in a changing market. If you've ever wondered why MMOs keep launching with a subscription model in this F2P era, Hartsman has a notion: "There are two reasons why companies can't do it from the outset. Number one is that the larger the company, the more public, the more they have to aim for predictable revenue, and there's not a lot of information sharing on free-to-play on the PC and console markets. The other big challenge is the technology it takes to do sales effectively in a free-to-play game -– there's a lot more that goes on behind the scenes than a lot of people would think, where an initial purchase plus subscription model doesn't take nearly so complex a model to drive sales."

SWTOR's lead writer teases future story updates

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

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BioWare writer Charles Boyd has posted a blurb on the Star Wars: The Old Republic website that talks about the game's story and how it will move forward. Boyd says that the first chapter of the next major storyline is currently available via the Assault on Tython and Korriban Incursion flashpoints.

This three-part Forged Alliances arc will lead "directly into our next major story expansion, our largest since Rise of the Hutt Cartel," Boyd teases. He says more info will be coming soon.

WoW's Warlords of Draenor beta: Questing, mechanics, and concerns

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Expansions, Previews, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, Subscription

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The past is haunting you.
Tell me if this sounds familiar if you've played World of Warcraft: Your faction's forces are unexpectedly trapped in a strange new world with some familiar elements but a large number of unfamiliar ones. You are facing both the other faction and a new almost unknown foe, forcing you to seek allies immediately. Unfortunately for you, the local inhabitants have their own customs and lives, and you're going to need to start forging alliances to deal with this largely alien region.

Yes, that's the Warlords of Draenor starting experience as well as the Mists of Pandaria starting experience. What sets the two apart, aside from MoP's clever use of mini-hubs moving out in a sort of spiderweb fashion, is that MoP approached its story by easing up on the pressure early in the plot. You start settling into a rhythm, putting down the conflict with the enemy a little more, dealing with the inhabitants on their terms. The overarching conflict was there, but it had time to fade into the background. Not so here; the conflict with the Iron Horde squats on your shoulder and screams at you, crow-like, preventing you from thinking even for a second that you might want to explore this strange fantasy world.

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Leaderboard: How much time do you spend customizing avatar outfits?

Sci-Fi, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Leaderboard

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OK, I'm spending entirely too much time customizing my avatar outfits in Star Wars: The Old Republic. I originally re-upped my sub in order to polish off my last couple of class stories, but now I've gotten sucked into crafting and, by extension, the substantial outfit collection minigame. Which is bizarre because in meatspace my fashion sense boils down to the first pair of jeans and corresponding t-shirt/sweatshirt that tumbles out of my closet.

What about you, Leaderboard readers? How much time do you spend customizing your MMO avatar outfits? Vote after the cut!

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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Salem releases first major content patch under new management

Betas, Fantasy, Historical, MMO Industry, New Titles

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Salem
The colonial perma-death MMO Salem has faced some publisher problems over the last year or so, but indie dev Mortal Moments has swooped in to take over the ambitious project recently. Project Lead John Carver made a formal introduction when the transfer was finalized, but what's even more interesting is the 51-page forum thread that answers many of our burning questions about the game's future.

Carver touches on some important points that could get Salem back on MMO gamers' radars: "Some could argue that it has had its day. Some could say that the people have spoken and that the game itself is over, finished, destroyed. But is it? Salem offers the promise of witches and paranoia but currently delivers neither. Salem tantalizes us with the prospects of creatures in the darkness and all that is the unknown in Colonial America, yet we have only argopelters. Salem entices us with the wealth of possibilities afforded by Animal Husbandry, Alchemy, Wagons and Ships, none of which are in the game yet." If these staple features were finally added to the game by this new developer, would potential players give it another shot? Would you?

Salem has just released its first major content update under Mortal Moments, and the studio aims to stay true to the game's original plan (no pay-to-win, no PvE servers, etc).

[Thanks for the tip, Chrysillis!]

'World's biggest LGBT guild' celebrates FFXIV's same-sex marriage

Fantasy, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription

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Members of the Rough Trade Gaming Community, which bills itself as "the world's biggest LGBT guild," staged an Eorzean parade last weekend to celebrate Final Fantasy XIV's decision to reverse its restrictions on same-sex marriage.

You can watch highlights from the event in the 11-minute video after the cut.

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