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World of Warcraft offers up the complete Tales of Pandaria

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Lore, PvP, News Items, Subscription, E-sports

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No more silly pandas that we voluntarily added to the game!
Do you feel that you got a sense of all the storytelling to be found in Mists of Pandaria? Probably so; you've had more than a year to get through everything, after all. But there's more to the lore than just what's found in World of Warcraft. The complete Tales of Pandaria series of short stories has been collected on the official site, complete with the option to download the stories for offline reading. None of them is essential for understanding what took place on Pandaria, of course, but each of them provides a larger context that questing can sometimes miss.

Not really your thing? More interested in watching players beat one another up in-game? Then you can watch the World of Warcraft North American Arena Tournament this Sunday. Starting at 9:45 a.m. EDT, the live stream will cover the best-of-five matches between the current teams in the running, with the three best teams getting a shot at the championships at BlizzCon. If that's more interesting to you than fiction, get the full details on how to watch and who's in the running.

Enter at Your Own Rift: How Nightmare Tide brought me back to RIFT

Fantasy, Expansions, Opinion, Free-to-Play, RIFT, Enter at Your Own Rift

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rift
Wow -- it's been a year and a half since I last sat down to pen this column. Obviously, around that time I had left the game and focused on other writing projects here at Massively. It wasn't a bad break-up with my former stomping grounds in Telara; it was a "goodbye for now" type of situation. There were other vistas to be viewed and other worlds to conquer.

Yet RIFT has this power to eventually pull me back in. I'll admit that I hadn't even thought of the game for the most part in 2014 until one fateful morning at PAX Prime in September when I sat down with Trion's devs to get an overview of the new expansion. The more I watched, listened, and asked questions, the more I groaned inwardly because I knew that my carefully tuned play schedule was about to witness another upheaval. I knew I'd have to go back to RIFT to experience Nightmare Tide.

In less than a week, Nightmare Tide will roll into this game, bringing with it several new features, zones, and most likely fellow lookie-loos who will be equally curious how the game's improved with its second expansion. For this returning edition of Enter at Your Own Rift, I want to highlight four factors that were instrumental in grabbing my attention and convincing me to come back for another go in this fantasy world.

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Guild leaders converge for The Elder Scrolls Online's first guild summit

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Previews, Endgame, News Items, Consoles, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

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We've brought our most dedicated fans here in what is sure to not have any sort of echo chamber effect.
If you weren't invited to The Elder Scrolls Online's current guild summit... well, don't feel bad; only the leaders of 20 guilds and online communities were invited. But it's still kind of nail-biting. What could they be talking about in there? What strange and arcane topics will be brought up? Will special items be handed out? Are there designer cheeses available? Lucky for you, though, the folks at the Tamriel Foundry have taken the time to transcribe what's going down in Maryland so that even those not at the summit can get a sense for what's happening.

The first day of the summit covered combat responsiveness, system design, AvA mechanics, and the Champion system. This means both detailed examinations of where the game is currently lacking and what's coming in the future; the Champion system and the rework of the veteran experience is slated for "when it's done" rather than a specific date. So sit back and take a look at all of the hard details on display, possibly whilst eating some designer cheese of your own.

Age of Wushu features Lingxiao City and a new game event

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Patches, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Age of Wushu

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It can never be a tourist destination.  Not even once.  Can it?
Trying to take a vacation in Age of Wushu must be a daunting prospect. So you think you've finally found a nice place to just take a load off and relax up in the mountains? A quaint city surrounded by snow? Nope, turns out that Lingxiao City is controlled by a power-hungry elder and there are a bunch of groups trying to overthrow him, like the people of Snow Valley, a group of hermit mages, and an eccentric band of monks... groups with which players will need to ally once they arrive, naturally.

And you came up to this mountain to get away from all of that work, too. Even more relevant, there's a new event taking place in the area with the Path of the Departed. Players take a side with one of the four factions fighting for control of Lingxiao City and fight it out among themselves, but they can also take the role of the spy, secretly sabotaging one groups efforts. All of this makes the city a hotspot of activity, and probably a very weak vacation destination.

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The Daily Grind: Do you theorycraft or do you heed others' advice?

Fantasy, Classes, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, The Daily Grind, ArcheAge, Sandbox

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I've been playing with various skill builds in ArcheAge lately, and I think I've narrowed down one, maybe two, that I'm going to play for the duration. For the first time in a long time, I haven't looked at forum discussions or heeded flavor-of-the-month advice and am opting instead to test things out and arrive at some sort of personal happy medium between PvE viability, PvP survivability, and looking badass in my armor.

What about you, Massively readers? Do you do your own class or skill testing in your favorite game, or do you make use of theorycrafters and their research?

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: Strut your stuff in a Landmark building competition

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

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Who is brave enough to participate in a timed, one-hour Landmark building competition live? Come and see! Massively's MJ is hosting this special event that will take place on two claims. Contestants will have access to the same materials on both claims and possibly given a theme, but what they come up with is up to them. Creativity under pressure -- what more could you ask for? Join us live at 8:00 p.m. to be the judge during this fun event.

Game: Landmark
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Wednesday, October 1st, 2014
Time: 8:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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The Stream Team: Dota 2's 6.82 madness

Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Hands-On, Livestream, MOBA, The Stream Team

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Dota 2
The last few months in Dota 2 have come with a sense of stagnation. The professional and high-tier play meta, on display most prominently in this year's $11 million International championship, was in a rut. Something had to change before players grew bored or frustrated with facing the same three or four team strategies. Last week, Valve delivered an earthquake of a content patch, providing a ridiculously huge update that changed items, heroes, abilities, game modes, core mechanics, and even the map itself. For the next few months, pros and casuals alike must sift through the wreckage and try to re-optimize how they play.

Tune in tonight as Massively's Mike Foster takes one of Dota's newly-reworked heroes for a spin and tries to make sense of the post-6.82 carnage. The action begins at 7:00 p.m. EDT.

Game: Dota 2
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Wednesday, October 1st, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Archlord 2 rolls out its first major content update

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play

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Letting the days go by.
Have you been hankering for something new to do in Archlord 2? If so, you'll be happy to know that the game's first major update has gone live, bringing with it a level cap increase to 46 along with new contested areas and new dungeons. The new dungeons are aided by the introduction of a flesible system that allows you to take on the challenges within in a group of varying size; the enemies therein will scale to provide differing challenges.

Meanwhile, the Morning Dew Desert is a new map for the game's factions to clash over, and a new Skirmish pits two teams of five against one another in a capture-and-hold battle. Last but not least, the first version of the eponymous Archlord system is being rolled out as well; it allows players to compete in battlegrounds in hopes of winning the title -- and the items and skills that come along with it. Check out the trailer just past the break.

[Source: Webzen press release]

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Darkfall Unholy Wars hosts a free weekend

Fantasy, Video, Darkfall, Events (Real-World), Patches, News Items

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We want you!  We just want you around.  You're special and you make us happy.
Have you always wanted to head back to Darkfall Unholy Wars but never quite had an excuse to do so? If so, you're getting one now. Aventurine is turning on open access to all of the game's servers this weekend, from Friday, October 3rd, until maintenance on Monday, October 6th. Everyone will be able to jump in and play for free as long as you have an account, whether you're an old-school lapsed player or just unsubscribed briefly as the school year started up.

The weekend is in celebration of the game's latest patch, which introduces improved movement options and more combat balance. The developers are also laying siege to a city on the European server on Friday, so if you want to face off against the makers of the game, this will be your opportunity. Check out more details of the patch's movement in the video past the break, and get ready to jump in and lay siege for the weekend.

[Thanks to Dengar for the tip!]

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EVE's Oceanus release is now live

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, News Items, Sandbox

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EVE players fight like the French
EVE Online's latest update has been successfully pushed to the sci-fi sandbox's live Tranquility server, according to a CCP announcement post.

Oceanus includes new cloak effects, notification tweaks, new burner missions, easier fitting import/exports, French localization, and some other stuff that you can read about via the full patch notes.

Leaderboard: Nightmare Tide vs. Warlords of Draenor

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Expansions, MMO Industry, PvE, Opinion, RIFT, Leaderboard

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There are a couple of big fantasy MMO expansions coming out in short order. RIFT's Nightmare Tide drops on October 8th, while World of Warcraft's Warlords of Draenor releases on November 13th.

Given those facts, I bet you can guess the content of today's Leaderboard, can't ya? 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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SMITE's new god, Sylvanus, rocks a treant mount

Trailers, Video, Classes, Culture, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, MOBA

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SMITE
SMITE's patch notes earlier this week whispered of Sylvanus, Keeper of the Wild, and today, the new god has been officially revealed in a brand-new video.

The antlered, Pan-like god is a protector of nature and woodland creatures who rides around on a treant because he can. Wisp-based regens, tree-themed roots, and AoE poisons serve to bolster his teammates and annoy his enemies.

Enjoy the first look at Sylvanus below.

[Thanks, Sorenthaz!]

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Your worship of EverQuest Next's deities will shape the world

Betas, Fantasy, EverQuest, Lore, Free-to-Play, EverQuest Next, Sandbox

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eqn
The gods of Norrath are slated to return for EverQuest Next, and who players choose to worship will have a profound effect on the game itself.

Lead Content Designer Steve Danuser penned a lore blog to introduce Veeshan and the Nor'I for the upcoming fantasy MMO. He said that the team is striving to stick to the "thematic core" of Veeshan for her reimagining: "Veeshan looms large in our story. It wouldn't be an EverQuest game without her!" And while Veeshan is well known by fans, the Nor'l is a new figure, the world spirit of Norrath. The Nor'l gives birth to mortals and flows through the entire world, communicating only through song.

"Your actions in the world determine who controls territory and resources, and one of those key resources is the belief of Norrath's inhabitants," Danuser said. "How strong will Veeshan's influence grow after the Combine return to Antonica? Will the Nor'I be protected or exploited? These are questions that you'll get to decide through the choices you make in game."

PlanetSide 2: Tramell Isaac out, Bill Yeatts in

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, PlanetSide 2, H1Z1

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PlanetSide 2 is losing one of the most public faces of its team but will be replacing him with another well-known figure from SOE.

Senior Art Director Tramell Isaac announced today that he will be leaving SOE for a new opportunity. "I've had a blast working with you guys all these many months. I will certainly miss you all," he wrote.

However, Isaac said that he's leaving his position in good hands, as former H1Z1 Art Director Bill Yeatts will be stepping into the role: "Bill was on the PS2 team from start to ship so he is very well versed in what is and is not PlanetSide 2. He is running the show now and he may contradict some of the 'rules' I set in the past, but that is now his prerogative."

Isaac is moving over to Boss Key Productions to become that studio's art director.

World of Warcraft increases fees in China

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Business Models, MMO Industry, Subscription

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wow
It's going to be a little more expensive to vacation in Azeroth from China in just a couple of weeks.

MMO Culture noted that Chinese publisher NetEase is jacking up World of Warcraft's fees for the first time ever in the region. As of October 16th, the fee will go up by about 45% to become 30¥ for 2700 minutes and 15¥ for 1350 minutes. Instead of paying a flat subscription per month, Chinese players purchase blocks of time to access World of Warcraft.

NetEase handles a bundle of properties in China including World of Warcraft and reported an increase in profits for the previous quarter. However, Blizzard pointed at Asia as the location for a "disproportionate" amount of the 800,000 subscribers lost earlier this year.

Age of Conan's Update 4.4 ushers in new raids, new tier sets

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Patches, Previews, Endgame, News Items, Free-to-Play

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It's barbaric, but hey - it's home.
As summer fades into memory, Age of Conan players turn their gaze toward the Halloween event and the next major patch of the game. The latest game director's letter is about exactly those topics, as well, so that works out nicely. While update 4.4 will bring with it new Unchained raids, there are other improvements coming along as well, not the least of which are visual improvements to the Tier 5 sets that will be released along with the raids.

The update also brings with it the PvP streak system and new area looting functionality; pressing Shift and V will automatically loot all eligible corpses in the immediate area. Players can also look forward to the upcoming gem system and Thirst of the Serpent God event at the end of the month. Check out the full letter for more details about what's coming next for the game over the next 31 days.

Choose My Adventure: The proud wanderers of Swordsman

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

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Swordsman
Since commandeering Choose My Adventure in August, I've been on something of a sci-fi rampage. First we took a second look at a post-release Firefall; then we spaced out with a beta build of Frontier's Elite: Dangerous. And while spaceships and rocket boots are certainly wonderful things, Choose My Adventure is as much about investigating new worlds and new genres as it is about checking out new games. Thus, it's time to leave the world of science fiction behind in search of something a bit more classical.

This month, we're adventuring into Imperial China -- as far from deployable sentry guns and pulse lasers as possible -- with Perfect World Entertainment's Swordsman.

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A look at the last test session for Black Desert

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Previews, News Items, Black Desert

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Run around, smack some things, get covered in blood.  The usual.
Black Desert had its last beta event recently, and if you're not in the Korean beta, you can only watch and wait from the sidelines. So how was it? Steparu has a full review and discussion of the experience available now, and while it's not perfect, it seems to be hitting the notes it's aiming for. There are also plenty of videos if you would prefer to watch and evaluate for yourself; we've embedded a bit of gameplay past the cut.

According to the review, the game's biggest weaknesses are the enchanting system (which is a good system but hard to gain access to and unbalancing for endgame PvP) and the endgame PvE content (which is largely absent). The review praises graphics, customization, side activities, and the overall feel of combat. Check it out if you're looking for an opinion on the game before it launches, and keep your eyes peeled for more details as it approaches localization for the US post-launch.

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RIFT explores the heights of Tarken Glacier

Fantasy, Expansions, Lore, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, RIFT, Subscription

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I can't hear you!  I said, what's cooler than being cool?
Beneath the waves lies the city of nightmares, but RIFT players exploring the Nightmare Tide expansion will not stop there. Far above those waters sits Tarken Glacier, a massive edifice of frost that stretches to the very boundaries of the cosmos. Players will be exploring this towering mass of ice, obviously, starting at the most basic ascent before moving up to the most distant reaches of the land.

Along the way, players will be working with Skelf pilgrims, fighting off vicious frost giants, and seeking the last stronghold of the near-annihilated Pelagic Order. There are port cities nestled within the glacier, great structures devoted to researching the frostbitten land, and marauding enemies from all sides. In short, it's exactly the sort of place players will love exploring and fighting through when the expansion goes live; check out the full preview for more details on the lore of this region. The open beta for the expansion went live yesterday, with the full launch planned for October 8th.

Analysts suggest video game Kickstarters are in decline

MMO Industry, News Items, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding

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People are less willing to put down money on these gambles for some reason.  In unrelated news, have an Embers of Caerus header.
If you're still holding out hope for Kickstarter as the new face of funding video game development, you may want to revise that projection. Analyst group ICO Partners has been tracking Kickstarter through 2014 and has observed a marked drop in successful projects, funds pledged, and overall scale of projects on the site. Based on projections, the group expects a 20% drop in successful projects by the end of the year -- not a collapse, but a definite shrink.

The downturn is attributed to a variety of factors, including the lack of several big-name projects to draw people to the service and a number of high-profile failures. ICO Partners analyst Thomas Bidaux also notes that the amount being received by successful projects is diminishing, which he attributes to fans being less willing to drop money on a potential game when some of their already funded games have yet to materialize. The full report has more data and is well worth a read for anyone interested in crowdfunding and its future.

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