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Marvel Heroes introduces Mr. Fantastic and a boost weekend

Super-hero, Events (In-Game), News Items, Free-to-Play, Marvel Heroes

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Because what could be more awesome than stretching, I guess?  Reed Richards is kind of a jerk.
He's the leader of the first super team in the Marvel Universe, he's a brilliant scientist, and he has perhaps the most egotistical name in the entire franchise. He's Mr. Fantastic, and he's now available in Marvel Heroes for players to enjoy. Launching with two costumes, Richards has access to all of his usual tricks, including forming giant fists, stretching to insane lengths as a travel method, and presumably blasting his friends and family members with untested inventions just to see what happens.

If you can't wait to get your (normal human-sized) hands on the FF's leader, you'll be well served by the bonus event running this weekend. All players will receive a 100% bonus to experience, SIF, and RIF gained during the weekend. Players will also have access to A.R.M.O.R. Research Drives, which can be turned in to Jocasta for A.R.M.O.R. Bounty Boxes as well as rewards from the previous bounty event. No better time to get stretching, in other words.

Betawatch: July 5 - 11, 2014

World of Warcraft, Betas, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Betawatch, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding, Destiny, Shroud of the Avatar, Pathfinder Online, Landmark

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ArcheAge
ArcheAge dazzled MMORPG players this week with the announcement that its closed beta will kick off on July 17th. What else is new in the world of MMO testing? The complete Betawatch roundup for the week of July 5th to 11th is below.

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DC Universe Online dev weighs pros and cons of recent update

Sci-Fi, Patches, Free-to-Play, DC Universe Online, Dev Diaries

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dcuo
Lead Content Designer Donovan Kennedy has a new dev blog up on Gamasutra in which he breaks down the challenges the team faced with DC Universe Online's recent Amazon Fury Part 1 DLC pack.

He first identified three "strengths" of the DLC: helpful early internal feedback, cool story missions, and the opportunity to visit familiar locations. "These missions were right on target and players have given overwhelmingly positive feedback-not just on the cool game mechanics, but also for Wonder Woman and Circe's personalities really supporting their personal objectives and how they interact with the other Amazons," Kennedy wrote.

On the flip side, Kennedy said that the studio over-planned the map, needed more internal playtesting, and got pushback from players not always happy that they had to learn new combat mechanics for a couple of the missions. He was especially apologetic about pushing out an update that wasn't fully polished: "When Amazon Fury was pushed out to our public test server, there were a few glaring bugs that came back to bite us (after they were found by players -- ouch!)."

Star Wars Galaxies lead designer passes away

Real-Life, MMO Industry, Miscellaneous

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SWG
Massively is saddened by the news that veteran MMO designer Ben Hanson has passed away, according to a recent tweet by friend and fellow designer Raph Koster.

Koster and Hanson worked together on Star Wars Galaxies's Jump to Lightspeed expansion, on which Hanson was the lead content designer. In addition to working at SOE, Hanson worked with Simutronics, Origin, ArenaNet, and Digital Anvil during his long career.

Our deepest condolences go out to Ben Hanson's family and friends.

Defiance drops patch 2.1 on Monday

Sci-Fi, Lore, Patches, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, Consoles, Defiance

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In the future, all transport will be done via ATV.
Ready to roll out into more Defiance content? You'll have to wait... until the weekend is over. Patch 2.1, Alter EGO, is going live on July 14th, bringing a new mission and two new factions into the game. The new mission helps keep the game's lore humming along and should provide plenty of interesting revelations, as players investigate the apparently resurrected Karl Von Bach and his newfound desire to just give EGO implants to whoever wants them.

Meanwhile, the two new factions are the Tarr Family and the Defiant Few; the latter faction is headed by Camden Pace and promises big rewards to anyone who aids her goals. Players are also promised a new mission line and a new arkbreak in the coming weeks. If that's just what you've been waiting for, load up your gun and get ready to roll out when Monday comes around.

[Thanks to Gaius Cavadus for the tip!]

Dino-survival: Hands-on with The Stomping Land's early access alpha

Betas, Bugs, Business Models, Game Mechanics, PvP, News Items, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions

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Stomping Land
Yesterday, I examined up-and-coming dinosaur-survival MMO Beasts of Prey. Today, let's look at another game in the same niche genre: The Stomping Land.

The Stomping Land isn't technically billing itself as an MMO, but it boasts a semi-permanent world. But my experience in it was nothing like the trailers shown back in May. The current game is totally different. In fact, it seems to have regressed. There's no customization, there are no berries, and no one I talked to knew how to name a tribe. It feels like a semi-permanent shooter, similar to other survival games except without a lot of the building. You either make a teepee or you don't. You make a bow or you don't. You have a dinosaur mount or... you don't. The biggest servers I saw had 24 people, meaning I was able to avoid other players very often, but the game was more fun when I encountered people -- at least people who didn't one-shot me and waltz away.

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The Stream Team: Living like a Teir'Dal in Landmark (and a beta giveaway)

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Free-to-Play, Races, Livestream, The Stream Team, Player-Generated Content, Landmark

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The Stream Team:  Touring racial builds in Landmark (and code giveaway)
Landmark just wrapped up its first racial contest and will soon be exploring the building styles of the next. That makes it a perfect time for Massively's MJ to show off some of the Dark Elf contest submissions that players have built. Come join MJ as she tours various bridges, towers, and castles in all their sinister glory. Need more incentive than just staring at awesome creations? How about free beta and portcullis codes! Join us live at 3:00 p.m. for the latest tour and a chance at your own codes to join in the fun.

Game: Landmark
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Friday, July 11th, 2014
Time: 3:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Here's 13 minutes of Moonlight Blade in HD

Betas, Fantasy, Video, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items

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Steparu is still playing around in martial arts MMO Moonlight Blade. In addition to this week's beta review-in-progress, there's now a lengthy hi-def video that captures the title's beautiful environments as well as a few of its fancier outfits.

Click past the cut to see for yourself!

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Heroes & Generals on Steam today

Historical, Business Models, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, War, Free-to-Play

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Did you know that Heroes & Generals was one of the first titles to ever be Greenlit by the Steam community? Yep, it was, and today developer Reto-Moto is launching the World War II shooter/strategy FPS on Valve's ubiquitous PC platform.

But wait, isn't Heroes & Generals a browser game? Well, partly, but Reto-Moto says not to worry. "The browser version will also still be operational and both versions offer the same game and access to the same wars," the firm explains via press release. If you're already an H&G player, you can use your existing account with the new Steam version.

Click past the cut to have a look at the Steam launch trailer!

[Source: Reto-Moto press release]

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Tamriel Infinium: Immersion matters in Elder Scrolls Online and every other MMO

Fantasy, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription, Tamriel Infinium

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Grahtwood art
I'm fully on board with all of the changes ZeniMax listed in its latest state-of-the-game update. My only concern has more to do with personal OCD issues than it does with any long-term effects on Elder Scrolls Online. See, as I mentioned in a previous piece, I love the fact that ZOS allows me to play all of the game's quest content, which is spread across three different factions, on a single character of a single faction. I hate alts, or more accurately, I hate the need for them because they pull me right out of the game world.

Oh yes, I'm going to talk about immersion, even at the risk of inviting a bunch of anti-immersion comments. I'll even define the dreaded "I" word, though of course it's pretty subjective.

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ArcheAge Korea getting 1.7, new PvE and PvP content next week

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, ArcheAge, Sandbox

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While Western ArcheAge fans are getting all hot and bothered by Trion's upcoming closed beta, it's worth remembering that XLGAMES' sandpark has been live in its native Korea for a while now. As such, it's scheduled to receive a version update (1.7) next week that will add new PvE and PvP content. There's an aquatic world boss called Leviathan in the works, as well as something called Attack of the Abyss that features PvP capture-and-defend objectives as well as PvE pirate ghost ships.

The update will also feature a new PvP area called Dew Plains. You can view trailers for Leviathan, Attack of the Abyss, and Dew Plains after the break.

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David Braben explains Elite's high prices

Sci-Fi, Business Models, Interviews, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Buy-to-Play

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If you looked at the £200 alpha and £100 premium beta price tag for Elite: Dangerous and thought, wow, that's pretty damn expensive, you're not alone. Frontier boss David Braben recently explained the price points to Eurogamer.

"We've taken flak for it," Braben said. "But the important thing for the alpha is, for it to be a genuine alpha, we didn't want huge numbers. Maybe we shouldn't have restricted it by price but it seemed like a logical thing to do. It seemed like a fair thing to do."

He goes on to say that while Frontier could have "thought more carefully" about how the prices would appear to gamers outside of Elite fandom, the devs "planned it this way for sound reasons, and part of that is going toward backing the game. We don't have a publisher here," Braben said. "That backing helps financially."

World of Warcraft's male Draenei gets only minor cosmetic tweaks

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Expansions, Dev Diaries, Subscription

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wow
Blizzard continues to show off the new character model art that's coming with World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, this time with the male Draenei.

Unlike some of the other races, Big Blue here only required small changes as the dev team considered the model already pretty well-done. The changes made were to increase fidelity and provide better animations for emotions. Rawr!

The Daily Grind: Is the term free-to-play intentionally misleading?

Business Models, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Daily Grind, Mobile, Miscellaneous

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Earlier this month, Britain's Advertising Standards Authority barred EA from advertising its mobile game Dungeon Keeper as "free-to-play." Why? Because Dungeon Keeper has a countdown timer that blocks progress in the game, a timer that can be bypassed with money. "From the information available in the ad, players would expect the gameplay progression and their ability to advance to be unhindered by unexpected and excessively onerous delays," wrote ASA, "and we therefore considered that the length and frequency of these countdown events was beyond that which would be reasonably expected by players. [...] While we understood that the average consumer would appreciate that free-to-play games were likely to contain monetization functions, we considered that they would also expect the play experience of a game described as 'free' to not be excessively restricted."

Welcome, ASA, to the MMO community's endless debate over what constitutes free-to-play! This "free-to-wait" game mechanic is nothing new to us; it pervades mobile titles as well as many MMORTS titles and indie MMOs (Glitch and Villagers and Heroes come to mind). As a gamer, I find the mechanic not so much exploitative as obnoxious, and I'd rather not see it spread. But I spy a slippery slope here. Do you think the ASA is right? Are MMOs with this mechanic (or similar mechanics) misleading consumers? Which F2P games could be legitimately F2P under the ASA's understanding of the term?

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!

ArcheAge's closed beta begins on July 17th

Fantasy, Screenshots, Video, Interviews, Free-to-Play, ArcheAge, Sandbox

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The time has finally come: ArcheAge fans who've been been anxiously awaiting a beta date now can mark their calendars and start canceling other plans. Next weekend the closed beta doors will swing open at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday the 17th and remain so until they close at the same hour on Monday the 21st. Founders and invited testers will have a chance to dive in and experience ArcheAge's sandbox world, including -- but not limited to -- pirating, farming, questing, crafting, fishing, PvPing, or even just in gliding from the mountaintops.

With so many possible adventures by land and by sea, it may be impossible to get to them all during the first beta weekend. But don't despair -- there will be more! We sat down with Trion Worlds CEO Scott Hartsman to chat about the upcoming beta tests. We've also got the beta trailer for you.

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Hunted Cow releases Eldevin 1.16, desktop client

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play

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Hunted Cow wants you to know that its Eldevin MMORPG is no longer exclusively browser-based. The firm's latest update features a desktop client along with new systems like story mode dungeons. The 1.16 patch also "lays down some preparatory work" for Eldevin's hardware rendering engine, which Hunted Cow says will improve graphics, frame rates, and overall performance in "a few weeks' time."

The game will also be launching on Steam, and the full 1.16 notes are embedded after the break.

[Source: Hunted Cow press release]

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EverQuest II throws bonus XP weekend, extends summer promotion

Fantasy, EverQuest II, Events (In-Game), Expansions, Free-to-Play, Promotions

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eq2
EverQuest II is opening up the throttle on in-game promotions this month, as Executive Producer Holly Longdale announced on Twitter that the game will be host to a double XP weekend from Friday afternoon through Sunday evening.

In addition to that, EverQuest II is extending its Gear Up, Level Up promotion through the end of July. During this period, players will get bonus Etyma and a discount on the upcoming expansion. Subscribers are treated to even more goodies, including a 25% XP bonus and a discount on purchasing heroic characters.

SOE teases H1Z1's dynamic weather

Horror, Galleries, Screenshots, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Previews, News Items, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox, H1Z1

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H1Z1
We all know that the most important thing to your MMO immersions when you're neck-deep in zombies and dastardly corpse-looting player-killers is whether you can wear a t-shirt in a blizzard with impunity. Worry not, roleplay fiends, for SOE has today teased its dynamic weather system for upcoming survival MMO H1Z1 via a septet of screenshots that show the effect of changing seasons on the environment. Enjoy!

RuneScape players vote overwhelmingly in favor of traditional combat option

Fantasy, Patches, RuneScape, Free-to-Play

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runescape
RuneScape has never shied away from interesting ideas and democratic experiments, a fact that is well illustrated by today's announcement that the game will be implementing a "legacy mode" option on Monday, July 14th.

Over 80% of players polled voted to add in the mode, which modifies the current game to work with the traditional rather than the new combat system. Legacy mode uses the traditional combat system, pre-RuneScape 3 interfaces, the old mini-map icons, the old animations, and a life point cap of 990. When it goes live in the game, players can switch it on and off as desired.

Jagex is also pushing through a few global changes to combat across the board, including an equal balance between melee, ranged, and magic attacks.

The Think Tank: Finding the magic in MMOs

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

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About a month ago, a Massively reader wrote to our team to ask for help on an issue many of us -- and probably many of you -- struggle with: a genre with lots of games and not enough stickiness (and patience!).
I've been around the MMO block (since EverQuest); I even dabbled in Meridian 59. And I keep seeing game articles that make me want to try or retry lots of MMOs, but between my schedule and investment in other titles already, I cannot bring myself to jump into old or new games for more than a few play sessions. There's so many to play that I just can't bring myself to settle down for a little bit to really get enough of the experience to enjoy it.

For example, I recently played Asheron's Call for a total of three hours after subbing and reading articles that compelled me to try it. But it felt foreign and clunky. I couldn't stick around to really appreciate it. I fear the same results in other games I'd like to try. Can you give me advice on shedding the urge to judge and dismiss a game if it doesn't click with me immediately? Is there a way to not be jaded or lazy with being a newbie (yet again) in older titles? Help me play more MMOs for the sake of experience and new loves!

- MMO junkie seeking help "finding the magic"
I polled the team for advice in this week's Think Tank!

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Destiny September 9, 2014
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