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Betawatch: December 20 - 26, 2014

Betas, MMO Industry, News Items, Betawatch, Miscellaneous

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Say a little prayer for Mr. Fancy Pants - the whole world knows it's only clothes, and deep inside he's sad.
Alas, Transformers Universe, you were too beautiful for this world. Only you were not, in fact, too beautiful for anything; you were actually not beautiful enough to make it to launch. Yes, it happened a little while ago, but due to some holiday or another this has been a fairly slow week, and someone needs to shed a tear for the game. Or something like that.

What else was new in the world of MMO testing for the week? Jump on past the break for our full listing of games in testing!

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Pathfinder Online ends its stress test and preps for early enrollment

Betas, Fantasy, News Items, Sandbox, Pathfinder Online

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There's a path!  Do I win?
The bad news is that if you had hoped to do nothing but strain the Pathfinder Online servers over your holiday, you were denied that option. The good news is that the test ended because the servers passed the stress test with flying colors, and that means it's time for the development team to move on to the next phase of access. Yes, early enrollment is just around the corner.

Of course it hasn't kicked off just yet, as the developers behind the game are human beings who would like to actually spend some holiday time with their families. But it's coming soon. The change will mean that players who have alpha access via friends & family options or are normally slated to enter during open enrollment can no longer log in; so if you want to keep jumping into the game you may wish to upgrade your account. For those already happily waiting for early enrollment, nothing else remains to be done other than continuing to wait. Not much longer now.

The Stream Team: A look at Landmark's linking and triggering

Video, Free-to-Play, Livestream, Sandbox, Housing, The Stream Team, Player-Generated Content

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Although they've gotten most of the attention, mobs were not the only thing introduced in Landmark's latest update. In fact, the linking and triggering system is a huge deal, especially for folks like Massively's MJ who want to create a dynamic world full of adventures. Add on top of that all the cool new particle effects and the possibilities explode! Don't know much about this system? Then join us live at 5:00 p.m. as MJ shows off how easy linking and triggering is to use and demonstrates a few of the particle effect emitters.

Game: Landmark
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Friday, December 26th, 2014
Time: 5:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Final Fantasy XIV prepares for a sheep-filled year

Fantasy, Culture, Events (In-Game), News Items, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription

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So you can complete that set you previously had going with the horse hats.
Every year, Final Fantasy XIV rings in the new year with a new animal-themed kabuto, and this year is no exception. With the Year of the Ram swiftly approaching, it's time for that most humble of Eorzean denizens to grace the helm, the diminutive sheep dotting the landscape and bleating all over. That means a new sheep-themed hat, a new sheep minion, and the usual assortment of housing decorations for those who want them.

Coming hot on the heels of the rather involved Starlight Celebration, this event has a quest chain which kicks off in Limsa Lominsa to unlock the various seasonal rewards. Players will also be able to purchase additional decorations and the like through seasonal vendors, as is tradition. So ring in the new year with visitors from the Far East and get ready for your own personal woolgathering sessions.

Shroud of the Avatar's Richard Garriott and Starr Long on how SOTA wins at player-generated content

Fantasy, Interviews, Opinion, Some Assembly Required, Sandbox, Shroud of the Avatar

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Garriott and Long show how Shroud of the Avatar wins at player-generated content
When you sit down to talk with Portalarium's Richard Garriott and Starr Long about Shroud of the Avatar, you hear much more than can possibly fit in just one article! Even though its currently in development, there's a lot to this title. Last week's Some Assembly Required focused on the upcoming sandbox's community aspect; as promised, this week's edition delves into SotA's amazing player-generated content capabilities. It's not surprising that PGC would be so prevalent in-game when these two devs have emphasized the importance of making a living, breathing, immersive world for players. When you get a great community together and then give it tools and freedom to create, what happens is phenomenal. As Long put it, "It's really humbling for me and the team to see what these players are willing to do... what they're doing with what we're giving them."

Read on, my friends, and see why Shroud of the Avatar may very well be the reigning king of the PGC hill even before it actually releases! (There might be a few morsels about upcoming development thrown in as well.)

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Ask Massively: The one where we talk about our 2014 awards

Culture, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Ask Massively, Miscellaneous

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Wasteland
Massively's 2014 awards series is over, but we like to go back and take a look at the reader polls and some of the big questions and neat comments that arose during the course of our rollout because many of our awards were contentious, as they are every year. It'd be no fun if they weren't, I suppose. Allow us to pontificate, and in the course of the review, we'll try to answer some frequently asked questions as well.

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TUG's investment deal goes through

Fantasy, Video, MMO Industry, News Items, Sandbox

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Hooray, this fully-funded Kickstarter is probably going to actually happen!
After all the stress that TUG went through with a series of layoffs and funding issues, it almost seemed like too much to hope that Nerd Kingdom would actually secure the investors they were looking for. But good news does come around this time of year. The game has its additional funding secure, which means that it's out of the woods, at least for now.

The multiplayer portion of the game continues in heavy development (there's a preview video just past the break) and supporters are implored to really go to town and help find bugs in that build. Players are also encouraged to check out the Nerd Kingdom booth at the upcoming PAX South. It's good news for fans of what the game is now and what it could eventually become, so keep your eyes peeled and breathe a sigh of relief that the money from the sky actually came through.

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One Shots: A prince among men

Screenshots, Culture, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, Miscellaneous

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gw2
Trust me, we're getting somewhere with putting out all of these neglected screenshot submissions from earlier this year! Today's attractive One Shot comes from reader Skorry, who can't help but look amazing anywhere he goes.

"I took a break from adventuring to admire the artwork inside the Central Plaza in Divinity's Reach with my elementalist, Mirka Wallace," Skorry writes. "I swung my camera around and, through the oddities of Guild Wars 2's third-person view, found I had randomly struck a fantastic view of him standing in front of the Royal Palace. Massive screenshotting ensued. In my opinion, this was the best of the lot, just a pretty noble boy posing regal in the symbol of Krytan majesty."

Want to be featured in a future edition of One Shots? Send your favorite MMO screenshots to oneshots@massively.com, and don't forget to include your name, the name of the game, and a description of the scene. Large, colorful, UI-free shots that tell a story and really show off the game make for the best images. Look ma, we brought back One Shots!

The Daily Grind: What's the ideal crafting style for an MMO?

Economy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Crafting

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Ultima Online
There's a lot of hate for "clicky" crafting in MMOs -- you know, the old "click a button, crafted item pops into your bag" trope. I'd call it the World of Warcraft style, but MMOs all the way back to Ultima Online did crafting that way. And this might sound crazy, but even as a hardcore crafter, I don't actually mind it. Everything in a video game comes down to clicking or mousing or typing. What matters to me is whether the crafting itself matters in the game. Even though the final combine in Star Wars Galaxies amounted to clicking a button and having something pop into my bag, there was a whole chain of resource collecting and experimentation and component creation and luck along the way, and since the economy was player-driven, most of what I was making had relevance to other players.

Personally, I'll take that plus simple clicking over a time-wasting, irritating minigame-style of crafting any day, but I'd love to see innovation in how we craft too. What do you think -- what's the ideal crafting style for an MMO?

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: Christmas and conspiracies in The Secret World

Horror, Real-Life, Video, Events (In-Game), The Secret World, Livestream, The Stream Team, Buy-to-Play

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The Stream Team: Christmas and conspiracies in The Secret World
You might think of Halloween as the holiday in The Secret World, but Christmas is pretty awesome, too! And this year's event is a Christmas Conspiracy that brings together all the familiar elements of the season in the way only TSW can -- with Krampuses and Mayans to boot. Massively's MJ has received gift tickets to a performance of The Magic Flute at the Albion Theatre, and she's inviting you along to watch the show and see where this conspiracy leads. Join us live at 9:00 p.m. for the special Christmas night performance. Warning: Spoilers are guaranteed!

Game: The Secret World
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Thursday, December 25th, 2014
Time: 9:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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The Think Tank: The best Massively content of 2014

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

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RuneScape
Massively reader Hagu recently wrote to us and suggested that "when the holiday doldrums" arrive and we're "filling with retrospectives" we consider doing one on our most important articles of the year, the ones we really wish developers or players would read and really take to heart. So that's what we're doing in today's Think Tank: I asked each writer to pick one article that he or she wrote this year that marks his or her very favorite, best, or most important work. Since we are writers, most of us couldn't just pick one, and I'm not about to stop us. We'd love to hear you sound off on your favorite content of the year as well (it helps tell us what we should do more of). Happy holidays!

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Chaos Theory: A guide to TSW's Christmas Conspiracies event

Horror, Real-Life, Events (In-Game), The Secret World, Guides, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

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Silver bells, Krampus and Hel,
It's Christmas time in
The Secret World
Ring a ling, hear them scream,
Soon you will see a Christmas play!


Ahh, it's the holidays. A time when other games pull out the stops on cute and cuddly, flinging festive colors and joviality about like Christmas confetti to make a joyous celebration. Then you have The Secret World. In TSW, the season is dark, twisted, and fiendish; nightmares are brought to life, and conspiracies worm their ways throughout even the most revered of traditions. And we wouldn't have it any other way!

I always wonder how on earth the devs are going to top themselves each new event, and this season's Christmas Conspiracies definitely does not disappoint! From the story to the puzzles, this mission chain fits right in. It even incorporated my favorite new element introduced this year -- music -- and literally makes you play for your reward. Want to experience it? You've got until January 5th to thwart the conspiracy and collect all the treasure you can. (Of course, even if you have done the two previous Christmas' events, you'll want to do them again just to get the special goodie bags!)

Here's a not-quite-a-guide to help nudge you through. As always, I won't offer a direct step-by-step walkthrough but instead will just drop hints (in italics) to help you along. That said, here's your warning: There will be spoilers ahead, so read at your own risk! If, however, you want even more spoilers, watch Massively TV tonight, December 25th, at 9:00 p.m. for a Stream Team walkthrough special.

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One Shots: Mandy the Christmas Whale

Screenshots, Culture, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, Humor, Miscellaneous

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guild wars 2
Last year in our household we started up a new tradition, the legend of Mandy the Christmas Whale. Mandy, I told my children, was a green-and-red whale with lights on her tail that would swim through the first snow of the year to deliver cookies to the bedsides of good little boys and girls. Sometimes she even brought a snowsuit (an actual suit of snow) when it came to houses in warmer climes.

Maybe reader James' Guild Wars 2 picture here isn't of Mandy, but one never knows what she might look like in disguise during the other days of the year. Have you been good enough to deserve cookies lately?

Want to be featured in a future edition of One Shots? Send your favorite MMO screenshots to oneshots@massively.com, and don't forget to include your name, the name of the game, and a description of the scene. Large, colorful, UI-free shots that tell a story and really show off the game make for the best images. Look ma, we brought back One Shots!

The Daily Grind: Did you get any good gaming gifts this week?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

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eq
In both real life and in MMOs, gifts have been flying back and forth at such an astonishing rate that you might think that there's some sort of holiday going on or something. While I haven't had time to "work" for rewards in seasonal events, I've been more than happy to take in-game gifts that several titles, including Marvel Heroes and RIFT, were willing to give to me.

So as you're sitting there in an eggnog haze, do you have any gaming gifts that you'd like to boast about this week? They could either be things you've gotten in MMOs, digital gifts, or real-life goodies. Spill!

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!

Latest EVE dev blog charts module rebalancing

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

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EVE's forthcoming Proteus release will feature the second round of rebalancing work that CCP has termed Module Tiericide. Today's dev blog explains some of the changes courtesy of a sizable chart that shows stats like CPU usage, optimal range, powergrid usage, and more.


There are a lot of numbers to parse, but if you're into that sort of thing, CCP says that it will be collecting player feedback and acting on it prior to Proteus' January 13th launch date.

Camelot Unchained's latest newsletter tackles player-built structures

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Crafting, Crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained, Player-Generated Content

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Camelot's Unchained's latest newsletter is hot off the virtual presses. It's a lengthy read, too, so grab yourself a snack and a beverage before perusing the community Q&A section, a state of the build update, an art update, and a design discussion on the RvR sandbox's building system.

"The world of CU, while it will have some important pre-built structures, leaves the dynamic creation, capture, and destruction of keeps and castles firmly in the hands of our players," City State says.

Elder Scrolls Online definitely coming to consoles in 2015

Fantasy, MMO Industry, News Items, Consoles, The Elder Scrolls Online

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ZeniMax has posted a holiday greeting to Elder Scrolls Online fans that also promises a console launch for the fantasy MMO in 2015. "We've released five major updates and tons of improvements and fixes," the blurb reads. "Next year promises to be just as exciting as we introduce the Champion and Justice systems, launch on the PS4 and Xbox One, and continue to release new adventures for you to experience."

The Soapbox: Better models for MMO endgame progression, part three

Game Mechanics, Endgame, Opinion, The Soapbox, Miscellaneous

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There's a climb we can make, if we try.
Today marks the last entry in my better models for MMO endgame progression series, the follow-up to my series on why MMO studios should abandon raiding. And that means providing two more possible models along with something of a thesis statement. But it also means that at this point I'm far more willing to wander off into the woods with these ideas. The first part had slight twists on standard formulas, the second had ideas that was a bit further afield, and this one features two ideas that are still almost entirely unrefined.

More specifically, today's concepts are more about tackling the very principle that progress has to be tied past a certain point to things that you get. You earn a thing and then you're better. But there's no reason that progress can't be oriented the other way, with the gear (etc.) just being a gating mechanism for your actual forward motion.

The funny part is that a lot of these systems aren't really at odds with one another; they can coexist without too much trouble. But then, that's the nature of the beast.

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Choose My Adventure: On autopilot in World of Warcraft

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

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World of Warcraft
Life as a shadow Priest in World of Warcraft is pretty mellow. Mostly you bounce around from quest to quest and enemy to enemy, ticking off objectives by murdering orcs with dark magic and scaring everyone with your spooky shadow face. It's not a career path I'd recommend for your average citizen, but if you're looking to become an instigator in the clan wars of Warlords of Draenor, there are worse paths to take.

We accomplished quite a bit this week in Choose My Adventure. Our Blood Elf Priest gained a couple of levels, DPSed his very first Warlords of Draenor dungeon, and completed the Frostfire Ridge set of story quests. And while it's all been very, very good, I'm still having a hard time connecting to this latest World of Warcraft expansion.

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One Shots: The last superhero

Screenshots, City of Heroes, Culture, One Shots, Miscellaneous

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coh
I've been holding onto this screenshot for the better part of the year for a time when the world entire would need a jolt of City of Heroes to get it through the next day. I think that today is that day. Behold! A superhero!

Reader Michelle said that she was still traumatized by the game shutting down: "This particular screenie was of my last 50. He was a Fire Armor/Electric Melee tank named Demolition Companion. He was a clockwork that the Resistance attempted to reprogram but didn't complete, so he was broken (hence why he was on fire all the time) and very, very dangerous. In this shot he's standing in the sewers ready to wipe out some Resistance scum. (He was one of my only Loyalists.) I wish I'd gotten to RP him more."

Want to be featured in a future edition of One Shots? Send your favorite MMO screenshots to oneshots@massively.com, and don't forget to include your name, the name of the game, and a description of the scene. Large, colorful, UI-free shots that tell a story and really show off the game make for the best images. Look ma, we brought back One Shots!

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