WRUP: WoW's next-next expansion

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 try to guess what World of Warcraft's sixth expansion's theme will be. If you say pandas, time-travel, or orcs, you lose.

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PAX Prime 2014: Paying a premium for Pathfinder Online

Betas, Fantasy, Business Models, PvP, Sandbox, Subscription, Pathfinder Online

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pathfinder online
Would you pay to get into an alpha test? Well, would you continue to pay a monthly subscription to keep on playing a title that's not yet launched? If you've answered "yes" to these questions plus the special one that I ask at the end of this article, then you're one of the folks that Pathfinder Online hopes to recruit for early enrollment come September 15th.

I sat down with Goblinworks CEO Ryan Dancey and Game Designer Stephen Chaney at PAX Prime yesterday to talk about this next big step for the game. Pathfinder Online is still far from feature complete, but the team considers it done enough that it can monetize the game in the form of a monthly sub. The 20,000 or so folks who will be admitted into early enrollment play (a number that includes the 7,000 Kickstarter backers) are expected to pay $15 a month as the team continues to develop the title. In exchange, characters and progress will not be wiped, and players will get to see the game take shape around them.

Goblinworks' philosophy is to have a robust game design first and then wrap the rest of the game around it afterward. Dancy said that the monetization is necessary to keep the lights on and the development rolling. The budget for a finished Pathfinder Online is $5 million (89% of which is salaries), but only $1.4 million has been raised so far.

Being only passingly familiar with Pathfinder Online, I asked why the MMO with its territory control seems so different from the small party, adventure-oriented tabletop game. The reason for this is that the pen-and-paper game doesn't completely translate to software boundaries, plus it draws from an adventure pack that Paizo tested a while back that went on to become one of its best-selling products. In both versions of Pathfinder, the long game is to rule the land and establish a legacy, not merely fill up a bag with XP and loot.

So is it worth it to you to pay a full subscription price for a half-finished game? That's up to you.

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The Daily Grind: Who is your favorite in-game companion?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

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swtor
While not every MMO features companions, there are enough out there that I wager you've played a title or two with a strapping NPC at your side. One of my absolute favorite features of Star Wars: The Old Republic is its companion system. The day that I finally earned my HK-51 was one of the most glorious moments of my life, just narrowly edging out the birth of my children and the return of Arrested Development.

Who is your favorite in-game companion? Did you choose that companion based on personality, looks, or general combat assistance? What is one of your favorite stories involving that character?

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!

PAX Prime 2014: RIFT's Nightmare Tide expansion launches October 8th; Trove's closed beta begins September 25th

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Expansions, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, RIFT, Sandbox, Defiance

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Trion made a bunch of ArcheAge fans happy earlier this evening, so now it's time to do the same for followers of RIFT, Defiance, and Trove.

RIFT's Nightmare Tide expansion officially launches on October 8th, while Defiance will get "a massive end-of-September" update called Aftermath that includes new missions and events.

Last but not least, Trove will enter closed beta on September 25th. Massively's Justin Olivetti learned today on the show floor that this phase of beta will not be wiped prior to launch. Players who have purchased currency will receive half again as much back.

Massively's on the ground in Seattle during the weekend of August 29th to September 1st, bringing you all the best news from PAX Prime 2014. Whether you're dying to know more about Warlords of Draenor, The Elder Scrolls Online, Landmark, or any MMO in between, you can bet we'll have it covered!

PAX Prime 2014: ArcheAge is launching on September 16th

Betas, Fantasy, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, ArcheAge, Sandbox

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Yes, I know she turns into a bad angel
And lo, a new MMO came upon them, and the glory of non-linear gameplay surrounded them, and they were sore afraid.

Actually, they weren't afraid. They were exuberant. They sang "funk yeah!" -- their voices an angelic choir -- because frickin' finally, four years after discovering ArcheAge and three years after initially playing it, they received a western launch date.

That date, as we learned tonight at PAX Prime, is Tuesday, September 16th. Other dates to bear in mind are September 12th (the Founder head-start) and September 4th through September 8th (the open beta).

Massively's on the ground in Seattle during the weekend of August 29th to September 1st, bringing you all the best news from PAX Prime 2014. Whether you're dying to know more about Warlords of Draenor, The Elder Scrolls Online, Landmark, or any MMO in between, you can bet we'll have it covered!

Betawatch: August 23 - 29, 2014

Betas, MMO Industry, Massively Meta, Betawatch, Miscellaneous

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Landmark
This week, SOE injected a limited version of combat into its really-truly-still-a-beta Landmark sandbox. Massively's MJ Guthrie streamed and wrote about her initial experiences with the system. What else is new in the land of MMO testing? The complete Betawatch roundup awaits.

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The Stream Team: Becoming a TERA BAM killer

Fantasy, Video, Events (In-Game), PvE, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Hands-On, TERA, Livestream, The Stream Team, MMORPG

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TERA
En Masse's Kickstarter-esque Bam Killer TERA event is too adorable for Massively's Mike Foster to pass up, so tonight he's lacing up his lancer boots and setting off on a course for monsters and mayhem. Join him as he scours the world for BAMs (Big Ass Monsters) to kill and works to help TERA's community reach its murderous stretch goals. The ultimate goal is five million BAM kills in 21 days; surely Mike can put a considerable dent in that number?

The action starts promptly at 7:00 p.m. EDT.

Game: TERA
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Friday, August 29th, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Get a glimpse of Rogue in Marvel Heroes' video preview

Super-hero, Video, Classes, Free-to-Play, Marvel Heroes

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Get a glimpse of Rogue in Marvel Heroes' video preview
Few are the superhero fans who don't like Rogue, the saucy southern villain-turned-hero, and Marvel Heroes will soon be adding this powerful X-Man to its lineup. With her unique power-absorbing abilities, how will Rogue work in the game? Devs hosted a lengthy livestream to introduce the hero and show off her versatility. Of Rogue's three power sets, only one is pre-defined -- the Miss Marvel set with flight, strength, etc. The other two are customizable based on the powers players actually steal from friends!

If you missed the stream, you can get full details on stealing powers (as well as forgetting them to learn others), in the hour-and-twenty-minute video right here. There's also some talk about Jean Grey and Ghostrider, who get a Dark Phoenix power and more single-target attacks, respectively. Fans can also discuss Rogue in her special forums on the official site. Rogue is available currently for pre-order.

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Study suggests MMOs boost English skills

Culture, MMO Industry, News Items, Miscellaneous

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Justin
Researchers from Sweden's Karlstad University and University of Gothenburg have found that MMOs might just improve your language skills. The scientists subjected a group of Swedish students aged 10 and 11 to English language tests to examine the relationship of digital games and English ability, gender, and learning motivation. They found that regularly playing online games and MMOs in particular correlates with having a stronger English vocabulary. Yay us!

They also found differences between the genders, though the paper's abstract attributes that to its male subjects' heavier gaming schedules vs. its female subjects' preference for social media activities.

I can't be alone in having MMO guildies whose first language isn't English, and having seen their language skills improve dramatically over the years the more they type and interact with native speakers, I bet I'm not alone in not being surprised, either.

PlanetSide 2 reveals its newest vehicle, the Valkyrie

Sci-Fi, Video, Game Mechanics, Previews, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, PlanetSide 2

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PS2
SOE has today revealed the Valkyrie, the first new vehicle added to PlanetSide 2 since last year. What's the Valkyrie?
Packed with a front-facing turret for up-close-and-personal air support, the Valkyrie is a fast-attack gunship that serves as a nimble transport for up to six soldiers (pilot, forward gunner and four rumble seat passengers). Whether it is flying over the dense swamplands of Hossin or through the narrow canyons of Indar, this fast-moving versatile aircraft is sure to change the war on Auraxis.
In the making-of video below, Senior Art Director Tramell Isaac explains the process by which the developers conceptualize and then "jazz up" ship models.

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Camelot Unchained alpha postponed half a year [Updated]

Betas, Fantasy, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Livestream, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained

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On Twitter and during a Twitch broadcast yesterday, Camelot Unchained developers announced that the alpha test for the crowdfunded RvR MMO has been broken into three phases and delayed, which will result in a similar delay for beta and launch. Originally planned to begin this month, the third phase of alpha has been postponed until February of next year; devs cited insufficient programmers as the main culprit, though that's a problem they say they've rectified now. Backers will have limited access to alphas 1 and 2, though dates for these have not yet been set.

In a post announcing the new Camelot Unchained website today, Mark Jacobs apologized for the alpha's delay, writing, "I want to thank all of our Backers for their understanding and support regarding the delay of the commencement of Alpha Testing. It is gratefully appreciated by myself and the team."

[Thanks to Andy for the tip.]

[Update: We've included the revised explanatory video below. Mark Jacobs also forwarded us his letter to backers, which hasn't yet been uploaded to the new-new site. We've embedded it below as well.]

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Elite's latest newsletter talks upcoming mission additions and more

Betas, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, PvE, Sandbox, Elite: Dangerous, Buy-to-Play

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Itching for the latest Elite: Dangerous news? Newsletter #38's got it in the form of blurbs about ship weathering, the Ocellus starport, and Frontier's plans to expand the space sim sandbox's mission framework.

"We plan to build this out as we move through the beta to release and beyond, with escort missions, assassination missions, tail-and-report missions, group missions, policing duties, in addition to guns-blazing mercenary assignments," the firm says.

[Thanks Cotic!]

Black Gold's Campaign of Ashes arriving a week early

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, Steampunk, Black Gold

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Earlier this week Snail announced that Black Gold's first major update would debut on September 10th. As of this morning the firm has changed its mind, according to a press release that says Campaign of Ashes will instead release a week prior on September 3rd.

The update features a new skill surge system, new high-level gear, new battle carriers, and more.

Tamriel Infinium: Five reasons to return to Elder Scrolls Online

Fantasy, Bugs, Game Mechanics, Guilds, MMO Industry, Patches, PvE, Opinion, Dungeons, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription, Tamriel Infinium

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Today seems as good a time as any to mention returning to Elder Scrolls Online. I'm not talking personally, mind you, as I've been playing pretty consistently since early access. The winds of MMO change are doing their thing, though, and I'm seeing a bunch of thinking-about-returning-but-have-some-questions threads at my usual ESO forum hangouts.

Maybe this is due to all the fail trolls glomping onto WildStar while eyeing the fast-approaching North American version of ArcheAge. Or maybe it's because ZeniMax has added quite a bit of post-launch tastiness to its ESO recipe.

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PAX Prime 2014: State of Decay takes steps toward something larger

Horror, MMO Industry, Events (Massively's Coverage), Buy-to-Play

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state of decay
Down at Undead Labs' new studio in Seattle, there is evidence of one low-tech approach to development. It's a very large, flat table that designers use to playtest pen-and-paper games that they create on the spot. By playing back and forth, organic brainstorming occurs and allows for refinement to the systems before precious time is wasted on coding failed ideas.

It's this kind of iterative approach that led the team to refining its hit title State of Decay. Today, Undead Labs announced that it will be releasing a new version of the game, called State of Decay: Year-One Survival Edition in the spring of next year on the Xbox One and Steam. Not only will this package in the original game and all of its DLC, but it will benefit from a jump to 1080p visuals, better animations, and immersive environmental effects. Additionally, characters from the Lifeline DLC will be made playable in the original content.

It's not the MMO announcement that we might be hoping for on Massively, but it's not a dismissal of that either. The team made a strong point of saying that this was the first step into the next generation and that this edition of the game would be laying down the foundation for the future of the franchise.

Massively's on the ground in Seattle during the weekend of August 29th to September 1st, bringing you all the best news from PAX Prime 2014. Whether you're dying to know more about Warlords of Draenor, The Elder Scrolls Online, Landmark, or any MMO in between, you can bet we'll have it covered!

PAX Prime 2014: Hands-on with Undead Labs' Moonrise

Fantasy, New Titles, Free-to-Play, Mobile, Hands-On, Events (Massively's Coverage), Kids

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moonrise
One of the maxims of Undead Labs is that the team is composed of "gaming omnivores" who don't want to get stuck in a rut of doing the exact same game and genre over and over again. When this was explained to me, it helped ease the shock that was caused by the realization that a studio best known for its gory zombie survival bent is also making a colorful Pokémon-like title called Moonrise.

In Moonrise, you play as a Warden who is tasked with saving a wide variety of cute critters called Solari by -- of course -- enslaving them and making them fight other Wardens and their pets. Instead of striving to overcome its Pokémon heritage, the team admits that the game is specifically targeted at older teens and younger adults who grew up with those games and want to experience a slightly more mature and full-featured iteration.

I got to spend some quality time curled up on a couch with a lap full of Moonrise on the iPad at PAX Prime this week. Is this due to be the next "catch 'em all" fad or a strange blip in the company's portfolio? Read on, and I shall make my guess.

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World of Speed's latest trailer pits Lancer Evolution vs. Impreza WRX

Betas, Real-Life, Trailers, Video, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play, Races

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World of Speed's latest trailer takes you on a tour of London alongside a pair of World Rally Championship stalwarts. The Subaru Impreza WRX STi and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X are the stars of this show, which lasts for a little over a minute.

Slightly Mad Studios will kick off the F2P racing MMO's closed beta sometime in Q4 2014.

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The Daily Grind: What do you hope to hear at this year's PAX Prime?

Culture, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Massively Meta, Events (Massively's Coverage), Miscellaneous

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PAX Prime is the last major Western multi-game tradeshow of the year relevant for MMO enthusiasts, making it the last big wave of mass studio announcements until PAX South's debut in January. Massively's Justin Olivetti will be on the PAX Prime show floor for us this year, checking out Warlords of Draenor, Landmark, ArcheAge, H1Z1, WildStar, The Repopulation, Pathfinder Online, Hearthstone, Trove, Shroud of the Avatar, and other MMOs and not-so-MMOs both big and small.

But sometimes game announcements come out of nowhere during conventions, and we discover something we weren't expecting at all. What do you hope to see from this year's PAX Prime?

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 Pathfinder Online devblog emphasizes player-driven economy

Fantasy, Economy, New Titles, News Items, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Crafting, Pathfinder Online

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Although players in Pathfinder Online's Alpha 7 run will earn 5,000 XP per hour (in order to help them test more things), the latest devblog warns that things will get decidedly harder once gameplay starts after Early Enrollment. At that point players will face a "cold start," beginning the game with only simple peasant clothes, a club, and 1,000 XP to spend on initial feats. Everything else, from feats to gear to cash, will grow from that.

The devblog also details the player-driven economy; by design, nearly everything characters use will be player-crafted. Mobs will drop only starter equipment, coin, salvage, or -- the rarest and most valuable -- recipes. Players can only upgrade gear past the starter level through crafting, and gear can be crafted with certain key words that add bonuses when combined with specific slotted feats. For full details, and a look at what Pathfinder devs are doing at PAX Prime, check out the official site.

Star Conflict launches September 4th

Betas, Sci-Fi, Galleries, Screenshots, Business Models, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play

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Star Conflict
Sci-fi space sim MMO Star Conflict has today announced its official launch date: September 4th.

The EVE-like soft-launched as an open beta title on Steam last year; this formal release will include a special invasion mode still currently in closed beta. What's invasion mode?
Invasion Mode features an underlying story in which an alien race that disappeared into another dimension of space and time has now returned to invade and conquer. Players must team up in parties of four to explore the new 'Open Space' area and combine forces as they take on new quests and engage in PvP and PvE battles. These new activities provide new loot, which players can use to construct unique armament options and protection for their spaceships.
While the game is ostensibly free-to-play, it offers half a dozen purchaseable DLC packs running from $19.99 to $79.99.

[Source: Press release]

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Destiny September 9, 2014
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LEGO Minifigures Online Fall 2014
ArcheAge 2014
WoW Warlords of Draenor November 13, 2014

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