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I just reupped my sub so FFXIV is having a free weekend

Fantasy, Events (In-Game), MMO Industry, News Items, Final Fantasy XIV

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Last night I re-upped my Final Fantasy XIV subscription. Naturally this made it an ideal time for Square to announce a free weekend for its fantasy MMORPG.

I haven't been in the game since late 2013, and given my dissatisfaction with pretty much everything at the moment, I figured why not return to a fun title that treats crafting (and fishing!) as more than a half-assed sideline activity.

So, yep. That's pretty much that. Free FFXIV weekend -- for inactive accounts -- from Friday, January 30th through Monday, February 2nd. Have fun!

[Source: Square press release]

The Daily Grind: What long-running bugs are you dying to see fixed?

Bugs, Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind

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swtor
There are few things more aggravating than long-running bugs that impact you daily and have never been fixed by the team. That picture right up there? That's one of the very few screenshots that Star Wars: The Old Republic has allowed me to take due to an inconsistent glitch that goes practically back to the launch of the game. Since it's been around for so long, I have severe doubts that it will ever be addressed at this point.

I'm sure that this is not the only long-running bug out there that annoys players, so let's give free rein to our petty gripes today! Which ones would you love to see fixed?

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: Accessing Albion Online's winter alpha test

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Livestream, Sandbox, The Stream Team

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It's back to bunny butchering for Massively's MJ -- if she can manage to do it! Albion Online has started its winter alpha test, and MJ excitedly jumped in to explore more of this game. And then she remembered: In order to make armor and weapons so she can explore, she's faced with having to participate in a few rounds of bunny punching. (Let's not even remind her of the skinning sounds!) Can she do it? Or can she find something a little less cuddly that will work? Or maybe she won't even worry about new clothes and just become a farmer instead! Join us live at 8:00 p.m. for a look at how far Albion has come since its summer test.

Game: Albion Online
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Tuesday, January 27th, 2015
Time: 8:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Shards producer letter talks maps, admin servers, and more

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox

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We've been wondering what's up with Shards Online, and today we're learning a little bit about that via its new producer's letter.

Looks like the team is "making progress on the first map and getting the server in the hands of early admins." Project lead Derek Brinkmann has also been "working to optimize the Lua script engine to make sure we have the ability to support enough servers" for those early admins.

There's much more to the report, but you'll need to visit the official Shards website to read it!

[Thanks Omedon!]

Firefall video previews Amazon Warzone

Sci-Fi, Video, Patches, Previews, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, Firefall

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firefall
Listen up grunts, did you honestly think you'd live forever? Well, you won't. No sir, you're going to head back to the front lines of Firefall with its upcoming patch and probably die. Then we're going to drag your corpse back to the base, jolt it with enough juice to make you glow in the dark, and send your reanimated wimpering frame into even more harm.

But that's the fun, eh?

Firefall's posted a new video that highlights the big upcoming patch. Features incoming include the Amazon Warzone, the big game hunt, the reputation system, and improvements to loot and ranged weapon modules.

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Jukebox Heroes: The quieter side of LotRO's soundtrack

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Jukebox Heroes, Music

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lotro
Yes, I'm kind of nuts about the Lord of the Rings Online soundtrack. It could be because I've played this MMO more than most any other at this point, but I like to think that it's also due to a really well-done score that does more for world-building than most soundtracks.

Even though I've talked about the soundtrack as a whole, interviewed Composer Chance Thomas, discussed my favorite housing themes, and reviewed both the Riders of Rohan and Helm's Deep scores, there's still more that I wanted to cover.

Today, I want to share with you exactly why I love this soundtrack: for the quiet moments. There are a select few tracks that are nearly ambient but are also perfectly immersive. I can't help but get kicked in the feels every time one of these comes on, and I know that for years to come I'll have fond memories of LotRO whenever I play them. Let's get a little mellow and hear the whispers of Middle-earth today.

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Bungie aims to fix parts of Destiny's economy in House of Wolves

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Consoles, MMOFPS, Destiny

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For a given value of fix, obviously.
Bungie made some mistakes with the first bit of Destiny DLC. That's not editorializing; that's a takeaway from a post that designer Luke Smith made regarding mistakes that will not be repeated for the game's second bit of downloaded content, House of Wolves. Smith explains the shard economy essentially functioned as a barrier to prevent people from actually equipping their shiny new pieces of kit, thus invalidating and minimizing the effort put forth by players.

Ultimately the goal is to make reaching level 32 with gear easier while giving players more incentive to keep tweaking their setup via new upgrades and better traits on items. Smith also states that the economy is not going to be adjusted this tier simply to ensure that the people who have already put this much work in will not find themselves invalidated again. It's a change to be made moving forward, one that will hopefully improve everyone's experience in the game once the second DLC update drops.

Crowfall's Legionnaire is a four-legged powerhouse

Betas, Fantasy, Screenshots, Classes, Crowfall

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crowfall
Today's a series of firsts for Crowfall reveals. It's the first glimpse of the game's second announced class, the Legionnaire. It's the first look at a character who is other than human -- and is in fact a Centaur. And it's the title's first in-game environment screenshot.

Crowfall has also posted a handy FAQ that goes into depth about the character creation process, teases Mac support, and eschews traditional MMO levels as a means of progression.

Hyperspace Beacon: Examining SWTOR's producer letter

Sci-Fi, Events (Real-World), PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Hyperspace Beacon, MMORPG

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Hyperspace Beacon: Let's take apart SWTOR's producer letter
At the community cantina that Star Wars: The Old Republic held this past weekend at PAX South, community manager Eric Musco said that the community team was going to do something different in 2015 during the cantinas. He said that he wanted to reveal some tidbit at each and every event. And this cantina yielded us an early look at Producer Bruce Maclean's roadmap letter to the community.

In the letter, he talks about where the SWTOR story will take us, what's on the horizon for flashpoints, personal stories, planets, and the outfit designer. But what is all this new stuff, and should it get people excited about the coming year? Unfortunately, there is no easy answer for that. If you play for similar reasons as I do, then there is plenty to be excited about. However, there are certain players, like PvPers, who might be a little frustrated by what they are seeing and not seeing in the letter.

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World of Warcraft adds selfie support

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Culture, Patches, News Items, Humor, Subscription

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Still no meaningful solo progression so im chillin #yolo #warlords #lol
Were you afraid that with the addition of Twitter support in the next World of Warcraft patch you would be deprived of the joy that is taking selfies in-game? Worry no longer. The addition of the S.E.L.F.I.E. camera in patch 6.1 ensures that you can indeed log in, find a nice view, and then duckface at the camera before shooting off a character picture for all of your devoted followers. It's the best thing in the expansion so far.

Grabbing the item requires nothing more than a rare follower mission with no significant bells or whistles, with another upgrade mission available to pick up a set of various filters for the camera. Our sister site has a guide to making use of the new device, along with the requisite speculation that it will tie more directly into the Twitter integration. That feature isn't currently enabled, but it can't be coincidence that the new camera arrived at the same time, can it?

Guild Wars 2 is replacing its trait unlock system

Fantasy, Expansions, News Items, Guild Wars 2, Buy-to-Play

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Make it ever so much easier to not be bad.
Do you like the current unlocking system for traits in Guild Wars 2? If you don't, you're in good company; very few people actually like it. The good news, at least, is that it doesn't appear that it's going to be a problem in the near future. Game director Colin Johanson spoke out recently on the game's forums stating that the pending release of Heart of Thorns gave the team more freedom for discussing future plans and core gameplay changes.

With the inclusions of specializations and account-wide masteries, the existing trait system is going to be replaced by a simpler system to ensure that progress and advancement is where the development team wants it for all Guild Wars 2 characters. More updates on how the system will work are promised as the release draws closer, but if you don't like the existing system, you can at least take heart that it's going to be gone before too much longer.

Frontier lays off 15 employees

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, News Items, Sandbox, Elite: Dangerous, Buy-to-Play

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Keep flying on anyway.
Frontier Developments has axed 15 positions from its Halifax studio somewhat unexpectedly, leaving this branch of the overall studio with a somewhat hazy future. According to investor reports, the move is the result of a refocusing of the company's business plan around its two major games, and with all of the expertise on Elite: Dangerous and the upcoming Coaster Park Tycoon concentrated in Cambridge, it simply made more sense to reduce staff in the satellite studio.

No word on what this means for the long-term health of the Halifax location, which may very well be facing the axe as well. Our deep consolation goes to all employees affected by the layoffs.

The Daily Grind: Are there any MMO dailies that don't make you cringe?

Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

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GTA Online
You know what I don't think MMOs need more of? Dailies. I think most core MMO gamers are tired of a mechanic that exists, transparently and unashamedly, to keep us completing repetitive tasks on a daily basis and keep us logging in, and in some cases, paying our subs. Even a well-constructed daily achievement system and totally benign daily login rewards can be irritating.

But out on the fringes of the MMO space, gamers are just discovering the allure of the daily. VG247 pubbed an editorial last week arguing that GTA Online ought to copy -- wait for it -- Destiny's "intrinsic" dailies and rewards; without them, the writer opined, players are "reminded that the grind is most certainly real."

Call me jaded, but I say themepark dailies are usually just as grindy as whatever formless grind they're meant to replace, and I suspect the players who need something to do at the "end" of online co-op shooters would probably be happier with a sandboxier MMORPG to begin with. But surely there's some sort of dailies that we do like. Are there any MMO dailies that don't make you cringe? Which game can boast the best? (And can we tell GTA Online to copy those, please?)

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!

Not So Massively: The pseudo-MMOs of PAX South 2015

Betas, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Trading Card Games, Consoles, MMOFPS, Events (Massively's Coverage), Miscellaneous, Not So Massively, World of Warships, MOBA, League of Legends, Crowdfunding, Destiny, Elite: Dangerous, Path of Exile, Hearthstone, E-sports, OARPG

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NSM - Gigantic
Welcome back to No So Massively, where every Monday we round up the highlights from the past week in the world of MOBAs, roguelikes, MMOTCGs, and other games that aren't quite MMOs.

This past weekend was PAX South 2015, the first PAX held in San Antonio, and our reporters covered not-so-massive online games in addition to MMORPGs, including Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, Shroud of the Avatar, Gigantic, Moonrise and State of Decay, Pox Nora, and TUG. Here's what else the week brought not-so-massive fans.

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The Stream Team: This Marvel Heroes event is for the cows

Super-hero, Video, Events (In-Game), Free-to-Play, Marvel Heroes, Livestream, The Stream Team

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Anyone who has played Marvel Heroes for more than 30 minutes knows that this game is big on events because there is always an event going on! And the latest event has really gone to the cows. That's right, cows: many, many cows. Having never been to Bovenheim before, Massively's MJ ventured forth this weekend with other Minions to see what all the heifer hoopla was about. It's no joke when the first explamation heard upon entering was, 'Holy cow!" You seriously have to see this place to believe it. So join MJ and the Minions at 8:00 p.m. for their second trip into the land of moo, moo, quack?

Game: Marvel Heroes
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Monday, January 26th, 2015
Time: 8:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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PAX South 2015: Pox Nora is the coolest online card game you've never heard of

Fantasy, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Interviews, PvP, PvE, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Trading Card Games, Events (Massively's Coverage)

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Pox Nora
Pox Nora is a game that's hard to categorize. It's like Hearthstone, you see, because it's an online card game. But it's also like Civilization because it uses turn-based combat on a variety of maps with terrain that affects the battle. And maybe it's like Minecraft as well because it was built by a tiny team and developed incrementally through the feedback of a passionate fan base.

Pox Nora was free-to-play before free-to-play was a thing. It's gone from tiny little indie to SOE-backed product and back again. And through its eight years, it's managed to fly quietly under the radar while its developers continually churn out content, implement community ideas, and expand its possibilities.

At PAX South over the weekend, I sat down with Arthur Griffith, CEO of Desert Owl Games and co-creator of Pox Nora, to learn more about the game and its latest content additions.

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Star Trek Online starts its fifth anniversary celebration

Sci-Fi, Events (In-Game), Patches, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Giveaways, Anniversaries

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sto
It was five years ago February 2nd that Star Trek Online came mewing into the MMO world, bringing with it final frontiers, infinite diversity, and canon-approved lockboxes. Cryptic's so excited to share this milestone that it's starting the celebrations a little early with a daily giveaway from today through Thursday, beginning with a free research and development pack.

The real special treat is more than just casual freebies, however. The team's introducing a brand-new featured episode, Dust to Dust, starring Garrett Wang as Harry Kim. Q is also returning with his annual events, although this time around he's adding an Omega Particle minigame to the mix.

Completing both the featured episode and Q events will earn tokens to spend on various rewards (including a Kobali Samsar Cruiser) and fragments that can be assembled for an Omega upgrade kits.

World of Warcraft unleashes its full patch 6.1 patch notes

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Classes, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Subscription

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Loud noises.
The first major patch for World of Warcraft's latest expansion is here! If by "here" you mean "on the test realm," anyhow. So not here at all. The opposite of here; still preparing to be here. One might even go so far as to say it's there. But the full (preliminary) patch notes for the test realm are available right now for those who'd like to see what's around the corner aside from brand-new Blood Elf models.

Garrison fans will have plenty of things to enjoy, with new visitors offering quests, new follower missions, and a new music box available. Players can also make use of a new Twitter integration feature and the new heirloom collection tab. Several classes are also seeing talent and balance adjustments, including across-the-board buffs to healer damage output for adventuring in the world. No word yet on when the patch will drop, but you can see what it contains from the patch notes.

Here's how to steal from NPCs in Elder Scrolls Online

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, The Elder Scrolls Online

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"Justice is coming to Tamriel," according to ZeniMax's latest website notice. It's probably more accurate to say that criminality is coming to Tamriel, though. More specifically, Elder Scrolls Online's upcoming Update 6 features the justice system which will enable your avatar to participate in a variety of underhanded activities including murder and thievery.

The latter involves relieving hapless NPCs of their valuables while avoiding those pesky town guards, and the former involves assaulting and even killing AI citizens. At some point you'll end up with a bounty on your head, which in turns affects how guards react to your presence. Click through the links below to read the rest of the details.

PAX South 2015: Life is Feudal revives the good ol' MMO feel

Fantasy, Events (Real-World), Interviews, New Titles, Opinion, Events (Massively's Coverage), MMORPG

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The good ol' MMO feel
When the assignment for Life Is Feudal came to me, I questioned why I was covering a game that really didn't seem to be an MMORPG in my eyes because of its separate servers and the survival feel of the setting. It felt to me initially that I was covering another DayZ, one set in a medieval era and no zombies. But as I found out at this year's PAX South, I was completely wrong.

Interestingly, I didn't find out what kind of mistake I made from the head honcho of Bitbox, Vladimir Piskunov. I found out from someone who has been playing for a long time and was invited to play at the Life Is Feudal booth. His name is Bill, and he's the "superfan" who demoed the game for me. He explained the ins and outs of the mechanics until I started having Ultima Online flashbacks. We discussed the skill system and trekked around the world, and then reminded me that LiF will eventually be an MMORPG. And I could certainly see how. If sandboxes are your thing as they are mine, then maybe this game is up our alley.

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PAX South Jan. 23, 2015
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