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BioWare delays Shadow Realms' alpha

Betas, Business Models, New Titles, News Items, Miscellaneous, OARPG

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Shadow Realms
The planned closed alpha test for Shadow Realms, the not-so-massive BioWare OARPG announced back in August, is being delayed, says a new producer letter on the official site. Senior Producer Dallas Dickinson says the devs just "need a bit more time" to gather and process player feedback:
One of the most important things to us on Shadow Realms is listening to – and making changes based on – that player feedback. Having fans play the game at Gamescom and PAX Prime gave us incredible insight. [...] The thing is, feedback was so good it made us want to do more, to get a bit further down the road, before opening Shadow Realms up again. We got so many excellent questions about what the game will be, beyond just the multiplayer piece that we've revealed, and we'd like to be able to show you some answers rather than just telling you what the answers will one day be. But we need a bit more time. We've taken a deep look at the state of the game – what it is now, what we intend it to be, and most importantly what it could be – and realized this is an opportunity to take a great game and make it even better before bringing it back for more feedback from you.
Dickinson promises regular producer letters in the coming months. Interested gamers can still sign up for alpha on the official site.

Turns out Blizzard found more Hearthstone cheaters to ban

Fantasy, Bugs, Business Models, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, News Items, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Hearthstone

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Hearthstone
Earlier this week, Blizzard banned "several thousand" botter accounts in MMOTCG Hearthstone for the crime of botting. But the bans were only temporary, and the problem players will be back in the game by the turn of the year.

The subjects of a new wave of bans, says Blizzard, won't be let off so easily. Community Manager Whirthun told forumgoers last night that win traders have and will continue to be banned -- permanently:
We've recently banned Hearthstone accounts that were found to be participating in win trading. Win trading at any rank is something that we do not take lightly, and is in violation of our Terms of Use. As we mentioned in our previous statement regarding fair play in Hearthstone, instances of cheating will not be tolerated. Accounts that were discovered participating in win trading have received permanent account closure and disqualification from events where ranking is used as a method of qualification.
Win trading is an exploit of the matchmaking system to position accounts for easy ladder climbing. PC Gamer reports that several big-name Hearthstone players have already fallen to the ban, including a grey hat player who went public with the exploit nearly a year ago in the hopes of provoking Blizzard to fix it.

The Mog Log Extra: Hands-on with Final Fantasy XIV's new Ninja

Fantasy, Classes, Game Mechanics, Patches, Opinion, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, The Mog Log, Guides, Subscription

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Don't be a ninny!
This week's patch 2.4 for Final Fantasy XIV added in a new class and job: the Rogue and Ninja. It's the first addition to the game since 2.0's Arcanist, Summoner, and Scholar, and as was true with those classes those, this week you could not take two steps outside of Limsa Lominsa without seeing a flurry of Rogues everywhere, thus rather obviating the "stealthy" part of the whole stealthy assassin gimmick they have going.

Of course, only a few Rogues reach maturity from their Limsan spawning grounds.

But maybe you're in it for the long haul. You want this to be your new main, you want to understand how to play this class in the endgame, and you want to be one of the best darn dagger-wielding maniacs the game has ever seen. I cannot tell you how to be one of the best, but I can at least give you the benefits of my insights from having relentlessly pushed at the class and learned what makes it tick.

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WoW level designers discuss Draenor's callbacks and vignettes

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Interviews, Lore, Previews, News Items, Subscription

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WoW
Blizzard's final Artcraft blog for World of Warcraft has arrived today in the form of an interview conducted by Community Manager Bashiok. Once again, the topic is the design of Nagrand, a zone made iconic in The Burning Crusade expansion and returning in Warlords of Draenor next month.

The five interviewees, all level designers, discuss preserving key landmarks and environments in the proto-zone and how they've incorporated appropriate callbacks for classic content. The popular Ring of Blood arena quests will return, for example, as might everyone's favorite escort quest NPC, Corki. "Vignettes" will sound familiar to fans of more modern MMOs, as well; Senior Level Designer Victor Chong explains:
We've added a lot more vignette stuff, and I was working with Kurt Sparkuhl, a quest designer, on how I could add hidden stuff on the tops of mountains. So we have a lot of vignettes where players have to figure out how to get up there without just being able to walk up. It's stuff like doing some jumping around to get into an area, and then when you get to the top, you find a goblin with a glider that'll let you glide to specific areas that aren't normally accessible. Then if you get through all of that and land on a specific spot, you're rewarded with whatever the prize is there from a chest or something. We're doing a lot of that, and Nagrand was a good test bed for those kinds of things.
The complete interview is available on the WoW official site.

Trove plans open beta for November 5th

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Classes, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Trove

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trove
Step by blocky step, Trove is working its way toward release. Next week, the colorful sandbox will reach another milestone as it goes into open beta on Wednesday, November 5th.

Trion Worlds announced the upcoming transition today along with one happy fact: There will be no wipes from closed beta. The studio also mentioned that the game's sixth class, the Candy Barbarian (seriously), will be coming "soon."

Trove transitioned from alpha to beta testing late in September.

The Daily Grind: Do you actually use your MMO house?

Game Mechanics, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Housing, Player-Generated Content

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SWG
Every time I go off on a tear about how Star Wars Galaxies' and Ultima Online's houses were so amazing for merchants and traders because of player vendors, one of you always snaps me back to reality: "That's great, Bree, but most MMOs don't have vendors. Most MMOs don't give houses a point at all."

Some of them have tried -- WildStar's homes can provide buffs, Lord of the Rings Online's provide teleports and cheap materials, and lots of games offer safe resource harvesting of one form or another in your home or plot or instance. But most MMO housing boils down to mini-sandboxes where you can build and decorate, so I can understand why MMO gamers might just go play Minecraft or The Sims or another offline game where they can build and decorate in peace and without the interference of grinds and cash shops.

Still, I always decorate my houses and do my best to make use of them when I get them; I like the sense of ownership I feel over that tiny piece of pixelated land. What about you -- do you actually use your MMO houses?

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!

See Stormthrone's first gameplay teaser

Betas, Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Free-to-Play, Browser

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stormthorne
Hearing is one thing, seeing is another. Today we're no longer just hearing about R2Games' Stormthrone but getting our very first glimpse at actual gameplay (as measured in nanoseconds of video).

The studio released a teaser trailer that highlights the game's PvP battles, co-op mode, and loot system. Currently the game is accepting alpha signups, although the official site has some minigames for fans to earn in-game goodies for their future characters. You can check out the teaser after the break!

[Source: R2Games press release]

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The Think Tank: Fixing the Landmark-EQ Next perception problem

Betas, Fantasy, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, EverQuest Next, Sandbox, The Think Tank, Landmark

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Not a Landmark post on Massively goes by without at least one commenter essentially telling SOE to talk about EverQuest Next or shut up. Massively's MJ Guthrie, who writes our EverQuest franchise column, has herself explained until she's blue in the face that Landmark is EQ Next's foundation, and SOE has talked plenty about EQ Next independently too, but for some reason, the explanations aren't sticking with the MMO populace, so the same complaints are voiced in every thread.

So what gives? Has SOE been too confusing with the Landmark/EQ Next co-branding? How can SOE dig itself out of this persistent perception problem? That's what I asked Massively's writers in today's Think Tank.

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The Stream Team: Swordsman with a little help from Perfect World

Fantasy, Historical, Video, New Titles, PvE, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Livestream, The Stream Team, MMORPG, Swordsman

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Swordsman
Massively's Mike Foster has concluded his October Swordsman Choose My Adventure and can think of no better way to go out than in a blaze of incompetent glory. Join Mike tonight as he hops onto a max-level Swordsman character and runs some late-game instances. The Swordsman team will be in-stream to answer viewer questions and presumably sigh in frustration at Mike's inability to understand his new skills.

The action starts at 7:00 p.m. EST.

Game: Swordsman
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Thursday, October 30th, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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EVE Online uses jump fatigue to discourage long-distance travel

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Patches, Previews, Dev Diaries, Sandbox

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eve
Hold your horses, space buckaroo. Where do you think you're going so fast?

EVE Online is preparing to deliberately slow down pilots with the introduction of jump fatigue in the upcoming Phoebe patch. Jump fatigue adds a timer following a jump that must be endured until the next jump is allowed. According to a dev blog (that includes an appendix!) on the subject, "This allows us to discourage people travelling longer distances using jump travel, while keeping penalties relatively light for tactical/occasional movement."

Another dev blog tackles the changes to invention and manufacturing that are planned with the patch. One big change is the merge of invention with reverse engineering, which comes with an algabraic forumla because spaceships and laser battles are not exciting enough on their own.

Allods Online patch will offer enchanted weapons and new astral adventure

Fantasy, Patches, Previews, Free-to-Play, Allods Online, Dev Diaries

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allods
Allods Online is gearing up for a pretty substantial update and has a pair of new dev diaries to talk about what the players can anticipate for Patch 5.0.02.

The Forgotten Legends update will kick off with a brand-new astral adventure called Reflection of Irdrich. In it, players will venture into a haunted obselisk and face off against five bosses. The big dev focus for this adventure is to make enemy damage avoidable if a player is skilled and aware of his or her surroundings.

Also coming with 5.0.02 is an enchanted weapon system that allows players to upgrade specific pieces of gear. These upgrades require reagents and result in more powerful weapons that boast not only better stats but improved visuals.

Richard Bartle 'frustrated' with modern MMO development

Interviews, MMO Industry, Miscellaneous

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richard bartle
A fascinating piece over on Eurogamer about MUD1 and Richard Bartle traces the history of the modern MMO back to this game and this man. Bartle said that he and his partner "wanted to change the world" with his game, although he says that the modern MMO has yet to reach its full potential.

"I am frustrated at its slow pace," Bartle said. "There's so much you can do with virtual worlds. But it's not being done. I wanted them to be places of wonder in which people could go to truly be themselves, away from societal pressure or judgement. My idea was that if you could truly find yourself in a virtual world you might be able to then take that back into the real world. Then we could get rid of these artificial restraints of class, gender, social status and so on that dictate that you are what you are born to be."

Bartle talked about how the goal for MUD1 was to give players "pure freedom" and how he thinks that MMOs should operate on a meritocracy. For more information on this topic, check out Massively's MUD retrospective and interview with Bartle back in 2011.

Guild Wars 2, Torchlight 2 slash box prices for Halloween

Fantasy, Business Models, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, Guild Wars 2, Promotions, Miscellaneous, Buy-to-Play

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gw2
If you're looking for a subscription-free MMO to spend Halloween in, ArenaNet has an offer for you: The studio's slashed the price on Guild Wars 2's digital edition by 50%, making the cheapest version of the game just under 20 bucks.

If OARPGs are more your style, then check out Torchlight and Torchlight II; both are half off until November 3rd, Runic announced this afternoon.

We included a bunch of other Halloween-related sales in this morning's MMO Halloween roundup, and we expect more to keep rolling in today and tomorrow. Most games with cash shops are running some sort of promotion... just remember, you're a person, not a wallet.

Star Trek Online introduces playable Talaxians, discounts lifetime sub

Sci-Fi, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Races, Promotions

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sto
Big things are afoot in the Delta Quadrant, as Star Trek Online has not only added the Talaxians as a playable race but thrown them into the lifetime subscription package and then discounted that sub by $100 for a limited time.

From now through November 20th, the Star Trek Online lifetime sub can be bought for $199. This marks the player as an eternal gold member, with the Talaxian race, a ship upgrade token for Delta Rising, a monthly ZEN allowance, and other veteran rewards.

As for the Talaxians, players who pick one as a captain will not only have the honor of looking like Voyager's resident space hedgehog but also get access to two unique traits: salvage specialist and loyalty.

SMITE reveals Nox, Goddess of the Night, just in time for Halloween

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Classes, Game Mechanics, Lore, Previews, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, MOBA

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SMITE
Nox, Goddess of the Night, will soon debut in MOBA SMITE, Hi-Rez has announced. Based on the classical goddess of the same name, playable Nox is both beautiful and terrifying, a shadowy figure rarely seen, who "glides between the light just at the edge of vision." Her core mechanics revolve around the clever implementation of candles and candlelight; abilities used near Nox light up the candles she wields, reducing her mana consumption. Other powers include a mitigation shield, a damage-plus-silence raven attack, and multiple darkness-themed debuffs.

Check out Nox's god reveal trailer below!

[Thanks, Sorenthaz.]

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Camelot Unchained explores the designs of the Tuatha De Danann

Fantasy, Lore, News Items, Races, Camelot Unchained

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Browns are so in this season.
Armor is not a fashion statement. Well, all right, it usually is, but it's not just a fashion statement. How a race looks in a given game often says a lot about what that race represents and what matters to the members as a whole. Camelot Unchained's latest update talks about the Tuatha De Danann, both a concept that the team may use for the realm's armor and the updated visual design of the Baen Sidhe.

Unlike the design for the Baen Sidhe's previous more macabre appearance, the updated design is still ethereal whilst being less overtly malformed. The scars and wounds that led to the death of an individual Baen Sidhe's line still play into the designs via shadowed tattoos. Meanwhile, the Tuatha De Danann as a whole are so in tune with the seasons and the flow of the natural world that several concept designs for season-themed armors are shown. If you want to see how you can protect your character while still making a fashion statement, check out the full update.

Why I Play: ArcheAge

Fantasy, PvP, PvE, Free-to-Play, ArcheAge, Sandbox, Why I Play

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Addicted may be too strong a word when talking about my relationship to ArcheAge... but not by much! Have I logged in every day since the early access? Do I look forward to logging in? Have I said, "I'll go to bed right after I plant a couple more things" only to find more hours have slipped by before I finally do sleep? Do I get excited about the next trade run? Have I set alarms to wake up to try and nab a prime piece of land? Have I had dreams about ArcheAge when I sleep?

The answer to all of these is yes.

ArcheAge may not have everything I have ever wanted in a game (entertainment classes should be a requirement), but it checks more than a few of my boxes. I haven't had this much fun throwing myself into a game in a very long time. I look forward to each play session, and I tend to spend hours in game each day enjoying whatever I happen to be doing, be it sailing, trade runs, sneaking into enemy territory, or even just staring at my plants waiting for them to grow.

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Massively's MMO guide to Halloween 2014

Horror, Business Models, Culture, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, Massively Meta, Promotions, Miscellaneous

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Defiance
MMORPG fans love to play dress-up. Admit it! We do it every day with our characters, even if we pretend we're just "checking out our stats" when we're rifling through the hundreds of pieces of cosmetic gear in our banks. That's what makes Halloween our magic holiday!

Following what is now epic tradition, we've rounded up all the big MMORPG Halloween events and sales for 2014 as well as a few little ones and some from our favorite MOBAs and OARPGs too. The list isn't exhaustive, so feel free to chime in with any we've missed that you love!

Now, furbish up your pumpkin heads and get in there. That virtual candy isn't gonna eat itself.

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Pathfinder Online early enrollment will not be launching today

Betas, Fantasy, Business Models, Events (Real-World), Launches, News Items, Subscription, Pathfinder Online

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Pathfinder Online
Pathfinder Online's early enrollment launch for paying backers has already been delayed multiple times since its original goal of September 15th, and last night we learned that release has been put off yet again. Goblinworks' Ryan Dancey explained that the ongoing stress tests convinced the team that the server infrastructure needs bulking-up; consequently, the October 30th date -- today -- has been set aside. Dancey wrote,
We have set an internal objective of being able to handle 2,000 simultaneous connections, and 100 characters active in a single Hex as our minimum threshold for server performance. This reflects our expected peak concurrent activity for the first 10,000 players in game - roughly what we anticipate during the first 90 days of Early Enrollment activity. Currently the server does not reliably meet that benchmark.

With your help, we generated tremendously useful data via the stress test process and our performance team is confident that they can identify areas of the server system that can be rapidly improved to hit that benchmark. They are building and testing the necessary software and are making steady progress.

We want the first players in Pathfinder Online to have a high-quality experience and we are committed to delivering the game in a condition that meets that objective. Rather than commence Early Enrollment on the 30th we are going to enter a temporary "hold" state while we continue to optimize the server. When the team is confident that our benchmark for performance has been met, we will then exit the "hold", notify the community and begin a 48 hour countdown to Early Enrollment.
Dancey told players that Pathfinder's alpha test will continue, allowing devs to "roll out these polished feature iterations and to test server capacity improvements," and he thanked backers for their assistance and feedback.

World of Warcraft chronicles the challenges of Draenor zone design

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Lore, Previews, News Items, Dev Diaries, Subscription

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WoW
The third installment of World of Warcraft's Artcraft blog series is now live, and in it, Blizzard Senior Level Designer Ely Cannon discusses the visual style of zone design and how the artists and level designers team up to sculpt the look of zones and sub-zones within the limitations of the game engine. Cannon again references popular zone Nagrand and the difficulties of creating color depth and variation in the Warlords of Draenor version of the famed Burning Crusade zone, with its sweeping and sometimes one-note rolling plains. (Spoiler: The problem is solved with even more green.)

Blizzard has also updated the WoW game guide with new lore about the Draenei leader Velen and human wizard Archmage Khadgar. Both posts are found on the official Blizzard blog.

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FFXIV: Heavensward Date forthcoming
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