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Black Desert posts new screenshots ahead of open beta

Betas, Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Classes, News Items, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Black Desert

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Black Desert
The Korean open beta for upcoming sandbox Black Desert arrives next month, and Daum has refreshed the game's website with a ton of new screenshots.

They've got lady archers wearing garters, a knight with spiked hair, a castle siege, a lephrechaun with a basket of herbs, a strangely sweaty ranger, a butt shot of a girl, a butt shot of a pack horse, a sunset shot, fishing, and murder -- so it's pretty much everything you'd expect from a Korean sandbox MMORPG. Enjoy!

Turbine's customer support department spreads holiday cheer

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, News Items, Free-to-Play, Promotions

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The players that the team disliked were mailed images of rats being dropped from the tops of stairwells.
Working customer support for an MMO means that even the best times of your job are still spent dealing with upset players. Sure, the player might recognize that whatever went wrong was just an accident or a bug, but you've still got player issues to manage. It's the sort of work that can make you bitter or cynical, but not so with the customer support team at Turbine Entertainment, which decided to reach out to fans in a slightly happier fashion with holiday cards. Seriously. Real ones.

Players on the Lord of the Rings Online forums have reported receiving physical holiday cards from the game's customer service department with hand-written messages and gift cards for 500 Turbine points inside. The community team has stated that this is exactly what it seems to be: a random gesture of kindness and appreciation for the game's playerbase. That message also reminded players to keep their mailing addresses up to date, as this is unlikely to be the only such event.

[Thanks to Fredelas for the tip!]

Guild Wars 2's Leah Hoyer discusses the importance of story

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

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Story: let's me and you fight.
It's fair to say that Guild Wars 2 sells its story pretty highly, as living world progress and story updates are a major part of its content strategy. Head of narrative Leah Hoyer stated in a recent interview that this is one of the core things that games as a whole need to embrace: Story is important in getting players invested. Hoyer went on to say that while story lacks the central importance in games that it has in media like television, it's still an important element of player investment.

Still, she argues, it's harder to tell a good story in a game than it is in a television show, simply because the latter is focused only on story while the former cannot be. This doesn't mean that it's less important, nor does Hoyer feel that it justifies using lore and background as an excuse for not telling a story; a good story requires immediacy. While she believes that lore is highly important, it should help support storytelling rather than replace it. There's a lot of interesting thoughts in the full interview, so whether you like Guild Wars 2's take on story or not, it's well worth a look.

The Daily Grind: Does nostalgia impact your gameplay?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

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swtor
The MMO industry has been kicking around long enough now that we have ample opportunity to opine about the "good old days" (March 22nd through the 26th, 2003) and get nostalgic about practically everything.

We've got MMO sequels that reference their ancestors. We've got MMOs that have several Easter eggs pointing to their single-player title origins. We've got game designs that are coming back into style after being left out in the cold for many years. We have MMOs that use every marketing trick in the book to get old veterans to come on back for another romp. And we have a plethora of crowdfunded games that rely on plucking that nostalgic nerve to get you to open your wallet.

So in the MMO genre, does nostalgia impact your gameplay at all? If so, how?

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!

Global Chat: Gamers Secret Santa

EverQuest II, Culture, Events (Real-World), Dragon Nest, Global Chat, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge, WildStar, Neverwinter

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rift
One of the yearly traditions in the blogosphere that I always look forward to is Stargrace's Annual Gamers Secret Santa. Currently in its sixth year, Gamers Secret Santa accepts any and all who want to sign up to be a part of a gift exchange. You'll end up sending a gift ($20 maximum) to someone and will receive a gift from another person during the month of December. There's even a digital exchange for more remote locations.

It's always a blast to see what gifts I end up getting (and they are always geeky), and I wanted to encourage others to be a part of this. You'll need to sign up by December 1st if you do, however! It's grown every year, but this year I'm giving a bit of Massively publicity, so let's see if we can make this the biggest year ever!

Another blogger-driven Christmas initiative is Syl's Blogosphere Xmas Countdown, during which she's assigning various blogs a day to write about the theme of positive gaming and community. Keep an eye on MMO Gypsy to see this advent countdown progress!

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Defiance gets new Aftermath content, Thanksgiving event

Sci-Fi, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, PvE, Defiance

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Defiance has received a free update called Aftermath that builds "off of the climactic season two TV finale," according to a Trion press release. There's new content that will "carry players across various locales from Silicon Valley to Paradise as the world teeters on the verge of all-out war between the Earth Republic and Votanis Collective," and it includes new events, contracts, pursuits, and enemies.

Don't forget about the Thanksgiving-themed New Frontier Harvest, which runs from November 26th through December 10th. As well, don't forget about the Aftermath trailer that's waiting for you behind the break.

[Source: Trion press release]

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New World of Speed vid pits Camaro vs. Mustang

Real-Life, Trailers, Video, Classes, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Races

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World of Speed's recent video releases have been heavy on Asian and European automotive flavor. Today's reveal, though, is all about modern American muscle courtesy of two iconic ponycars. The Ford Mustang GT and the Chevy Camaro SS take you on a two-minute ride via the trailer that we've embedded just past the break.

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RuneScape sub price to increase in 2015

Fantasy, MMO Industry, News Items, RuneScape, Subscription

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RuneScape's subscription fee is going up in 2015, but Jagex hasn't said exactly when or by how much. A posting on the fantasy title's official website pegs the timeframe as Q1 2015 and says that the hike will affect new members as well as members who have been unsubscribed for more than 14 days.

"If you're a member when the price rise happens, you'll see no change," Jagex explains. "You'll stay at your price as long as your active membership started before the date of the price rise. This applies for all previous grandfather rates, for those of you who've been subscribed for a long time. Should your membership end, you'll keep any lower price you're eligible for, as long as you resubscribe within 14 days. After that, though, you'll be moved to the new price."

Icarus Online releases trailer for The Evil Desert

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Expansions, Patches, Previews, News Items

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You said we were going to Red Lobster.  This is not Red Lobster.  Are you listening?  I WANTED RED LOBSTER, TRISHA!
We have to be honest and say we don't know a whole lot about Icarus Online, due to the fact that it hasn't been released over here and isn't in a language that most of us can speak. Those are barriers to education right there. But we do know it's getting a new expansion, and a trailer for that expansion is available just past the break.

The expansion is dubbed The Evil Desert, and you can guess what the focus is from the title alone, really. It's not a benevolent tundra. From the trailer, it should feature new storyline quests, at least one massive new boss, and a lot of people speaking ominously whilst conjuring cards. Check out the trailer for yourself just past the break; it'll take only a minute of your time.

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Star Wars: The Old Republic explains 3.0's Sniper and Gunslinger

Sci-Fi, Classes, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Subscription

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Keeping it at arm's length.
Star Wars: The Old Republic finishes up its series examining the class changes coming with the 3.0 update today with the Sniper and the Gunslinger. Why were those two the last on the list? Probably because they were hiding way in the back. That's sort of how they do things. As both of the base classes (Smuggler and Imperial Agent) have seen some significant changes, some of the changes to Snipers and Gunslingers focus around keeping the core utility of the advanced classes while removing unnecessary or superfluous buttons.

Sharpshooter/Marksmanship are fairly unchanged from their current incarnations, save for a new ability replacing an older ability in regular rotation. Engineer/Saboteur is largely unchained, but the changes to abilities should produce smoother overall rotations. Last but not least, Virulence/Dirty Fighting specialties both gain a new ability that functionally replaces an older option and a new passive ability to spread damage over time. Check out the details on the new tricks on the official development blog.

Ubisoft's The Crew: Not pre-screened for critics

Real-Life, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items

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I used to love reading movie reviews in the local paper when I was a kid, though sometimes it puzzled me when a film was listed as "not pre-screened for critics." Generally these were B-movies that critics were prone to savaging, so the distribution companies figured they'd make more money if prospective customers didn't see Siskel and Ebert ripping a film up one side and down the other.

Fast-forward 20 years and Ubisoft is doing something similar with The Crew. According to the latest company blog post, the open world MMO racer won't be given to media outlets in advance of its December 2nd release, ostensibly so that reviewers can experience the game in "optimal conditions" that include lots of other players.

"The Crew was built from the beginning to be a living playground full of driving fans, so it's only possible to assess our game in its entirety with other real players in the world," the company says. "And by other, we mean thousands and thousands and thousands of players – something that can't be simulated with a handful of devs playing alongside the press." Ubisoft goes on to say that any reviews that do appear on release day will be built around media preview sessions from the title's beta phases and thus will not "reflect the finished game."

Flameseeker Chronicles: Navigating Guild Wars 2's Tangled Paths release

Fantasy, PvE, Opinion, Guild Wars 2, Flameseeker Chronicles, Buy-to-Play

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What a nice day for a war.
I was late playing Guild Wars 2's latest update, Tangled Paths, because I was on an airplane when it went live. That might be a better excuse than "the dog ate my homework," but I don't have one for "a dog ate my character," which is exactly what happened as soon as I got home and logged in.

Read on for the reason I actually welcome our vicious new dog overlords, as well as why Caithe and I need to have a long talk. You'll also find an exclusive photograph of Bellevue, Washington, taken from the roof of ArenaNet's studio, which is exciting primarily because I got the Seattle skyline in the very same shot without it coming out blurry, even on my awful camera phone. I'm proud of that and nobody can take it from me. As usual, spoiler warnings apply!

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Take a look at World of Warcraft's updated Blood Elf models

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Expansions, News Items, Races, Subscription

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These could have been in at launch, sure, but it would have cost a raid tier.
Blood Elves kind of got the short end of the World of Warcraft stick when Warlords of Draenor launched. All the classic races got an updated model, the Draenei got an updated model, and the Blood Elves didn't. The result is that the race is notably older than its contemporaries. That's going to change soon; the updated models for the race are swiftly moving through development, bringing the Horde's magical addicts up to par with the rest of the faction.

As with the other updated models, the differences are subtle but notable. Blood Elf women have slightly wider torsos and a more defined neck, while the men have better anatomy and a more natural stance. There's no precise ETA, but the team is hoping to have these updated models into the game soon, as rigging and animating are currently underway. You can get some idea of what the finished product will look like by checking the preview.

WildStar releases Voyage of the Nomad, plans story rollout

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Lore, News Items, Roleplaying, WildStar, Subscription

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WildStar
Carbine Studios has just announced new content for WildStar... well, for the WildStar website, anyway. Voyage of the Nomad, a short story that "recollects the tale of the Cassians' first steps into the vast world of deep-space exploration," will go live on the official site's story page today.

And it won't be a lone entry. Carbine plans to publish 11 such tales starting today and running every other Tuesday until the plots are played out. "The stories will unfold chronologically, until they reach the events that players have already experienced in WildStar's main story," says the press release.

Hey, at least the lore-fiends among the greater MMO playerbase will be happy!

The Soapbox: Six reasons MMOs should abandon raiding, part 2

Game Mechanics, Endgame, Opinion, The Soapbox, Miscellaneous, Dungeons

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Time to take on the stock.
In yesterday's Soapbox, I had some things to say about why it's time to dump raiding. I'm writing this before I've seen the comment responses, but I'm willing to bet that a fair amount of angry shouting was involved in the comments because that's what I usually expect. But I wasn't done, as suggested by the whole "part 1" thing in the title header.

For those don't feel like reading the whole thing, the short version is that raiding is too expensive to develop for too small a portion of the players. This is a solid argument, but it's standard: You hear it every time this debate comes up. In some ways, it's the foundation of the argument against raiding beyond the reality that most people say they just don't like raiding.

There's more to be said, though, and there are more serious issues up for discussion. Raiding isn't just expensive in terms of development. It's expensive in lots of ways.

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SKIES opens up its Kickstarter campaign

Sci-Fi, New Titles, News Items, Post-Apocalyptic, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding

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Seven hundredth verse, basically the same as the first.
It's Tuesday, so that means it's time for another MMO to launch on Kickstarter, and here we are with SKIES. But to the great surprise of any and all reading this, instead of an open PvP fantasy sandbox, it's a post-apocalyptic pseudo-sandbox. That's novel, at least. The campaign is running until December 23rd; developer Eforb LLC set a target of $350,000 for development and several stretch goals..

SKIES is being pitched as a sort of hybrid between FPS, MMORPG, and single-player RPG; it includes dialogue options while dealing with NPCs and a number of economic and supply options. Take a look at the page if it sounds like an interesting prospect (and you can tolerate some iffy translations on the project page).

A glance at Civilization Online's robust character creator

Video, Previews, News Items, MMORTS, Miscellaneous

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Could we just get the character creator even if we don't get the game?
Let's cut to the chase: Past the break, we have two videos embedded showing off Civilization Online's character creator, which you can use the next time anyone starts talking about the challenges of body sliders with stylized art. It doesn't take much to see that the characters here are pretty heavily stylized, but despite that, the character creator features a huge array of options, sliders, and details.

Many of the creation options are controlled by a grab-and-pull system similar to the one seen in The Sims 4, making adjustments to body dimensions more instinctive. There's no official timeline for when Civilization Online will come to the US, so you'll have to either wait or get familiar with Korean if you want to try this out for yourself.

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Valiance Online cancels Kickstarter, seeks stress test applicants

Betas, Super-hero, City of Heroes, Business Models, Game Mechanics, News Items, Crowdfunding

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Valiance Online
Silverhelm Studios has announced that Valiance Online will be accepting sign-ups for its inbound stress test starting today. Valiance Online is one of at least three fan-led superhero MMORPGs attempting to fill the City of Heroes niche, though Valiance has no intention of licensing the CoH IP if fan efforts to purchase it from NCsoft are ultimately successful. It promises semi-freeform character builds, power customization, an open world environment, 25 zones, character alignment, and a player-run economy.

The Kickstarter for the game, begun less than a month ago, was apparently canceled ahead of schedule last night with $34,680 raised of its $150,000 goal. A dev posts suggests the loss of the team's marketing manager during the campaign was a setback. Developers have assured backers that they will not be charged and that the game will continue development. "We're still running funding campaigns on our website for anyone interested and are discussing other options as well," says the studio in the Kickstarter comments.

Stress test signups will open on the official site later today.

[Source: Silverhelm press release]

Here are the tier 17 armor sets non-PUG WoW raiders can loot in Highmaul

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Previews, Endgame, News Items, Subscription

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Don't worry, if you're in Mythic, you still get to feel superior to everyone else.  If you get lucky, anyway.
With the first raid of World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor right around the corner, Blizzard has released a preview of the Tier 17 armor sets in all their glory. There are three variants of each set: the Mythic version (which has a unique skin compared to the others), the Heroic version, and the Normal version. Raid Finder raids no longer drop tier sets, thus reducing the overall number of available sets by one from the end of Mists of Pandaria.

Player opinion seems to be somewhat split on whether or not the sets are good matches for the aesthetic of the expansion and the individual classes, as well as the split between the Mythic versions and the other versions of each set. The raid that drops these pieces, Highmaul, will be available starting on December 2nd for Normal and Heroic, with Mythic launching a week later on December 9th.

Guild Wars 2 teases next week's Seeds of Truth release with a new trailer

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, MMO Industry, News Items, PvE, Guild Wars 2

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Are you up to speed on Guild Wars 2's episodic living world content releases? If not, you might want to stop reading because there could be spoilers ahead. Last time around, players watched as Caithe made off with a fabled dragon egg that could be the key to defeating Mordremoth. In the newest episode, you'll have to catch Caithe, but first you can catch a preview of the release by clicking past the cut.

[Source: ArenaNet press release]

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