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Elder Scrolls' Sage explains new Champion alternate advancement

Fantasy, Video, Classes, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, News Items, PvE, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

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Elder Scrolls Online creative director Paul Sage released a lot of interesting info about the future of the game on a recent ESO Off the Record videocast. Sage talks about everything from the new Dragonstar Arena in Craglorn to an Imperial City three-vs.-three PvP map to guild management and class balance additions to extensive VR changes.

The veteran rank tweaks are so huge that they'll be rolled out in phases, the first of which debuted earlier this week and featured "lower difficulty" in existing VR zones. Phase two will remove veteran points in favor of normal XP and will also include increased PvP XP. Phase three will completely replace the current VR system with the Champion System, which involves alternate advancement that Sage compares to the AA system in EverQuest II.

That's not all, either, as Sage's interview runs for nearly two hours. You can watch the whole thing after the cut. If you don't have time for that, Dulfy has published a summary transcript.

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Visit every system in the Milky Way in Elite: Dangerous

Betas, Sci-Fi, Sandbox, Subscription, Elite: Dangerous

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elite dangerous
Well kiss our cultured grits: We've now lived to see the day in which the New Yorker has devoted an article to an MMO. The magazine commented on the techniques that Elite: Dangerous is using to map out its replication of the Milky Way.

Lead Developer David Braben said that he is using actual astronomy to map out the in-game galaxy: "I wanted to make the galaxy as accurate as possible so that the results of that exploration would make sense to people. In the game, every single star in the real night sky is present, some hundred and fifty thousand of them, and you can visit each one."

Braben and his team drew from sky surveys and utilized procedural techniques to fill out sketchier sections that aren't as well-known. He said that the team had to add space dust to mimic the actual dust in space that obscures our view of much of the Milky Way.

One Shots: Requiem for a rancor

Screenshots, Culture, One Shots, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Miscellaneous, WildStar, The Elder Scrolls Online, Landmark

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SWTOR
You know what scene from Return of the Jedi that always got me teared up? When Luke kills the rancor and the beast's owner breaks down sobbing. You just know that thing was his best friend and now... now there is a large, monstrous hole in his life.

Reader Chris could have had a lifelong companion but chose to go the Luke route in Star Wars: The Old Republic. "I let a Sith escape Belsavis in order to save the injured fighter pilot Conrad Gall from an 'ancient beast' -- a rancor, as it turns out. It was a close fight, as you can tell by where my Trooper finally took it down."

Hats off to the brave rancor, whose only crime was being born a big, fat, sharp-toothed freak. Stop the bullying, I say!

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The Daily Grind: How much time do you spend on irritating quests?

Fantasy, Horror, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, The Secret World

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Yesterday I spent an hour and a half doing this stupid jumping puzzle in The Secret World. It was the fifth tier of a six-tier sabotage quest in Transylvania, and I absolutely hated every minute of it! I kept at, though, inventing a few new curse words along the way, and I finally finished the quest.

What about you, Massively readers? How much time do you spend trying to complete frustrating or irritating quests?

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: Teaming up for The Secret World's newest Sidestories

Horror, Real-Life, Video, Expansions, The Secret World, Livestream, Anniversaries, The Stream Team, Buy-to-Play

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It's The Secret World's anniversary, and as part of the celebration, there are even more quests to do in Tokyo! Unlike the anniversary festivities, however, these missions are not temporary; the second installment of Sidestories has released. Titled Love & Loathing, this pack has four action missions and one investigation, and Massively's MJ and Justin are teaming up to tear through them. Which will they choose? Join them live at 9 p.m. and see!

Game: The Secret World
Host: MJ Guthrie & Justin Olivetti
Date: Saturday, July 12th, 2014
Time: 9:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Make My MMO: July 6 - July 12, 2014

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

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This week in MMO crowdfunding news, Frontier explained its relatively high buy-in prices for Elite: Dangerous alpha and beta testing, while Star Citizen gave fans and onlookers another meaty glimpse behind the development curtain.

Finally, Forged Chaos unveiled a seven-minute video showing off the progress on Trials of Ascension's technical demo and combat.

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H1Z1 graphics programmer hints at other weather types

Betas, Horror, Video, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, H1Z1

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h1z1
SOE Graphics Programmer Ryan Favale is the target of a new H1Z1 video. In it, he discusses the games that he's playing, notable bugs, and his role on the upcoming zombie sandbox. Favale said that he's primarily working on the dynamic weather system.

"That's my main job on H1Z1, to bring as many weather conditions and effects and environmental immersion as possible," Favale said. He teased the possibility of hurricanes, tornadoes, and dust storms, but didn't promise that they'd make them into the game.

You can watch the video after the break.

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Trials of Ascension shows off combat prototype

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics

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toa
The Trials of Ascension team is making progress on technical demo for the game, primarily in the field of combat. In a new video posted earlier this week, a developer walks viewers through some of the stances, moves, and mechanics of combat in the game. Some of the planned functionality, such as hit boxes for limbs and double-tapping to evade, are not yet in place, but you can see the rough outline of what fighting will be.

Check out the video after the break and let us know what you think!

[Thanks to Skymaul for the tip!]

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The Game Archaeologist: World War II Online

Historical, MMO Industry, Opinion, MMOFPS, The Game Archaeologist

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ww2 online
The 1990s saw the rise of flight simulators that thrived on detailed, complicated controls and handling. Such games threw out accessibility and casual-friendliness for stark-raving realism, and a certain subset of gamers really thrived on them. I tried my hand at a couple and found myself breathing rapidly when pouring through keyboard charts and doing basic algebra just to get a plane off of the ground. Not for me, I said then.

I don't think there's ever stopped being absurdly complex video games that aim for immersion through detailed realism, even though that appeals to only the fringe of the fringe. Some people have their gaming standards set exactly that high and no lower, and some devs refuse to water down their visions just to sell more box units. For these people, Cornered Rat Software (CRS) created World War II Online, an overly ambitious MMOFPS that stumbled out of the gate in 2001 but has gamely soldiered on since then. Over a decade now an epic war has been raging for control over a continent, and it's been up to the fiercely loyal fans to keep the fight going.

Today we're going to take a look at the guts 'n' glory of this project to both praise its complexity and curse it for the same thing. If nothing else, it was a game that could only have arisen from the early landscape of 3-D MMOs, and for that it warrants our attention.

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WRUP: Best geeky rom-com ever

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 wipe away a tear because the Jedi Guardian who re-sparked Jef's flame for Star Wars actually stumbled into his post and they fell in love and got married because of SWTOR but not really. But wouldn't that make a great geeky rom-com?

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO has the best newbie support system?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

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Everybody's a new player to a particular MMO at some point, even if grizzled vets would like you to believe that they were already at the level cap when the cosmos came into being. I think it's easy to forget how complex and mystifying these games can be to a fresh set of eyes, especially when one is coming into the game long after launch.

That's why I always applaud an MMO that puts an emphasis on supporting newbies with helpful advice and even structured mentorships. Two examples come to mind: Fallen Earth has a terrific help channel that's staffed with volunteers and CMs on a regular basis, and Anarchy Online had a player advisory group that roams the beginner zones looking to help lost players.

So which MMO do you think has the best newbie support system?

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!

Marvel Heroes introduces Mr. Fantastic and a boost weekend

Super-hero, Events (In-Game), News Items, Free-to-Play, Marvel Heroes

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Because what could be more awesome than stretching, I guess?  Reed Richards is kind of a jerk.
He's the leader of the first super team in the Marvel Universe, he's a brilliant scientist, and he has perhaps the most egotistical name in the entire franchise. He's Mr. Fantastic, and he's now available in Marvel Heroes for players to enjoy. Launching with two costumes, Richards has access to all of his usual tricks, including forming giant fists, stretching to insane lengths as a travel method, and presumably blasting his friends and family members with untested inventions just to see what happens.

If you can't wait to get your (normal human-sized) hands on the FF's leader, you'll be well served by the bonus event running this weekend. All players will receive a 100% bonus to experience, SIF, and RIF gained during the weekend. Players will also have access to A.R.M.O.R. Research Drives, which can be turned in to Jocasta for A.R.M.O.R. Bounty Boxes as well as rewards from the previous bounty event. No better time to get stretching, in other words.

Betawatch: July 5 - 11, 2014

World of Warcraft, Betas, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Betawatch, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding, Destiny, Shroud of the Avatar, Pathfinder Online, Landmark

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ArcheAge
ArcheAge dazzled MMORPG players this week with the announcement that its closed beta will kick off on July 17th. What else is new in the world of MMO testing? The complete Betawatch roundup for the week of July 5th to 11th is below.

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DC Universe Online dev weighs pros and cons of recent update

Sci-Fi, Patches, Free-to-Play, DC Universe Online, Dev Diaries

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dcuo
Lead Content Designer Donovan Kennedy has a new dev blog up on Gamasutra in which he breaks down the challenges the team faced with DC Universe Online's recent Amazon Fury Part 1 DLC pack.

He first identified three "strengths" of the DLC: helpful early internal feedback, cool story missions, and the opportunity to visit familiar locations. "These missions were right on target and players have given overwhelmingly positive feedback-not just on the cool game mechanics, but also for Wonder Woman and Circe's personalities really supporting their personal objectives and how they interact with the other Amazons," Kennedy wrote.

On the flip side, Kennedy said that the studio over-planned the map, needed more internal playtesting, and got pushback from players not always happy that they had to learn new combat mechanics for a couple of the missions. He was especially apologetic about pushing out an update that wasn't fully polished: "When Amazon Fury was pushed out to our public test server, there were a few glaring bugs that came back to bite us (after they were found by players -- ouch!)."

Star Wars Galaxies lead designer passes away

Real-Life, MMO Industry, Miscellaneous

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SWG
Massively is saddened by the news that veteran MMO designer Ben Hanson has passed away, according to a recent tweet by friend and fellow designer Raph Koster.

Koster and Hanson worked together on Star Wars Galaxies's Jump to Lightspeed expansion, on which Hanson was the lead content designer. In addition to working at SOE, Hanson worked with Simutronics, Origin, ArenaNet, and Digital Anvil during his long career.

Our deepest condolences go out to Ben Hanson's family and friends.

Defiance drops patch 2.1 on Monday

Sci-Fi, Lore, Patches, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, Consoles, Defiance

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In the future, all transport will be done via ATV.
Ready to roll out into more Defiance content? You'll have to wait... until the weekend is over. Patch 2.1, Alter EGO, is going live on July 14th, bringing a new mission and two new factions into the game. The new mission helps keep the game's lore humming along and should provide plenty of interesting revelations, as players investigate the apparently resurrected Karl Von Bach and his newfound desire to just give EGO implants to whoever wants them.

Meanwhile, the two new factions are the Tarr Family and the Defiant Few; the latter faction is headed by Camden Pace and promises big rewards to anyone who aids her goals. Players are also promised a new mission line and a new arkbreak in the coming weeks. If that's just what you've been waiting for, load up your gun and get ready to roll out when Monday comes around.

[Thanks to Gaius Cavadus for the tip!]

Dino-survival: Hands-on with The Stomping Land's early access alpha

Betas, Bugs, Business Models, Game Mechanics, PvP, News Items, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions

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Stomping Land
Yesterday, I examined up-and-coming dinosaur-survival MMO Beasts of Prey. Today, let's look at another game in the same niche genre: The Stomping Land.

The Stomping Land isn't technically billing itself as an MMO, but it boasts a semi-permanent world. But my experience in it was nothing like the trailers shown back in May. The current game is totally different. In fact, it seems to have regressed. There's no customization, there are no berries, and no one I talked to knew how to name a tribe. It feels like a semi-permanent shooter, similar to other survival games except without a lot of the building. You either make a teepee or you don't. You make a bow or you don't. You have a dinosaur mount or... you don't. The biggest servers I saw had 24 people, meaning I was able to avoid other players very often, but the game was more fun when I encountered people -- at least people who didn't one-shot me and waltz away.

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The Stream Team: Living like a Teir'Dal in Landmark (and a beta giveaway)

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

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The Stream Team:  Touring racial builds in Landmark (and code giveaway)
Landmark just wrapped up its first racial contest and will soon be exploring the building styles of the next. That makes it a perfect time for Massively's MJ to show off some of the Dark Elf contest submissions that players have built. Come join MJ as she tours various bridges, towers, and castles in all their sinister glory. Need more incentive than just staring at awesome creations? How about free beta and portcullis codes! Join us live at 3:00 p.m. for the latest tour and a chance at your own codes to join in the fun.

Game: Landmark
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Friday, July 11th, 2014
Time: 3:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Here's 13 minutes of Moonlight Blade in HD

Betas, Fantasy, Video, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items

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Steparu is still playing around in martial arts MMO Moonlight Blade. In addition to this week's beta review-in-progress, there's now a lengthy hi-def video that captures the title's beautiful environments as well as a few of its fancier outfits.

Click past the cut to see for yourself!

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Heroes & Generals on Steam today

Historical, Business Models, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, War, Free-to-Play

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Did you know that Heroes & Generals was one of the first titles to ever be Greenlit by the Steam community? Yep, it was, and today developer Reto-Moto is launching the World War II shooter/strategy FPS on Valve's ubiquitous PC platform.

But wait, isn't Heroes & Generals a browser game? Well, partly, but Reto-Moto says not to worry. "The browser version will also still be operational and both versions offer the same game and access to the same wars," the firm explains via press release. If you're already an H&G player, you can use your existing account with the new Steam version.

Click past the cut to have a look at the Steam launch trailer!

[Source: Reto-Moto press release]

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