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Black Gold Online closed beta begins May 15th

Betas, Fantasy, Trailers, Video, News Items, Free-to-Play, Steampunk

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BGO
In a press release issued today, Snail Games announced that the closed beta for its steampunkish MMO Black Gold Online will begin on May 15th. Says the release,
Closed Beta participants will see large-scale battlegrounds with customizable 'Carriers' (large battle mounts for each faction) and can develop over 100 distinct carrier-types for battle. Black Gold Online also features true hardcore PvP, where players can fight against members of their same faction as well as opposing forces across a variety of battlegrounds, arenas and 'Chambers of Greed.' Finally, players can join even larger Energy Well battles as they form armies to fight for control of precious resources in large-scale faction and guild battles.
The closed beta will also include revamped graphics and a refreshed interface. We've embedded the latest trailer below!

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The Think Tank: Wistfully watching MMOs across the pond

Business Models, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

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Black Desert has been filling our headlines lately because of its Korean beta, but over here in the US, we have no inkling as to when or whether we'll ever get our hands on the game. That leads us to this week's Think Tank question: Would you rather know all about the awesome games overseas we might never get to play, or would you prefer they just shut up until they have a plan for those of us in the west? I polled the Massively team members for their take.

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World of Warcraft rolls out episode two of Azeroth Choppers

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Video, Culture, News Items, Subscription

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Far more tank treads than you'd expect from bikes.
The first episode of Azeroth Choppers (a collaboration between American Choppers and World of Warcraft) ended with the early frames being shown off and the promise of a cliffhanger. This week's episode resolves that cliffhanger: Everything has to be ready within five weeks' time. Which, as the episode states repeatedly, is a very difficult timeline to hit. Presumably even harder when you sit around mentioning how difficult it will be on camera, but hey.

Since both bikes are still very early in design, the episode focuses on introducing Team Alliance and Team Horde, with members reacting to the short timeframe and the challenges of the design. Watch the full episode just past the break, and check out the official page introducing the team members in more depth.

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TERA's having a birthday party and you're invited

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Events (In-Game), News Items, Free-to-Play, TERA, Anniversaries

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TERA
TERA celebrates its second birthday this weekend, and for reasons that make sense only to MMORPGs and hobbits, that means it's giving its players a bunch of presents.

En Masse will be handing out 20 prizes per server per day from today to May 1st, with a special jackpot chance for those who play over the weekend. The prizes include party packs, special mounts, skins, and the all-important 2013 swimsuit bundle. Everyone who logs in will be showered in daily federation bills, and this Saturday the team plans to bring in "special guests" who come bearing -- you guessed it -- more loot.

The studio produced a trailer to punch up the festivities and demonstrate just how far the game has come since launch; we've included it below. Happy birthday, TERA!

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City of Titans nears the end of pre-production

Betas, Super-hero, Game Mechanics, News Items

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The very nature of the beast makes this a plausible screenshot.
Producing a game means doing a lot of things, and sometimes that means choosing not to do things. Missing Worlds Media is wrapping up pre-production on City of Titans, the upcoming spiritual successor to City of Heroes, and one of the things that's been mandatory is keeping a realistic perspective on what can and cannot be achieved on a limited production schedule. The latest development blog talks about exactly that, focusing on something very familiar to everyone who has played an MMO: respawns.

One of the elements included in the Unreal Engine powering the game is a respawn system. The development team had originally thought about creating an entirely new set of systems, but developing all of that would substantially add to the amount of development time needed in the game. As such, it was deemed as not mandatory for launch. It's a bit of a disappointment, but as the blog entry explains, it's a choice that needed to be made as the game approaches the full production stage.

John Smedley discusses H1Z1 monetization

Business Models, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox, H1Z1

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Well, at least the budget plan isn't currently creatively appropriating parts of the Landmark budget.
Player characters in H1Z1 won't be concerned with money, seeing as how they'll be busy trying to fortify themselves against hordes of shambling zombies. Sony Online Entertainment, however, does indeed want to make money off of the game. President John Smedley took to Reddit to share the details of the team's first monetization meeting, and while it's not a decisive list of how the game will make money, it serves as a preview.

The early list contains character slots, wearable items, crates with random selections of wearable items, and emotes. The team also intends to allow players to loot wearables from other players, but looted cash items will degrade over time rather than being perpetual acquisitions. Smedley makes it clear that resources like food, water, and ammunition will not be sold, nor will any boosts to those resources, since acquiring these assets makes up the core of the gameplay. Take a look at the post for the details and the community response.

Shroud of the Avatar opens up access to Release 5

Betas, Fantasy, Patches, News Items, Shroud of the Avatar

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MORTAL KOMBAT!
It's time to get skilled in Shroud of the Avatar's combat system. That is, it's time to actually have access to the skills that will eventually be in the game. Release 5 is now open to the game's backers, and it brings with it 35 of the 171 skills that will eventually be in the full game. Some skill lines are more fleshed out than others; while the Death line has access to death in both touch and ray form, Water is currently limited to Ice Fist and nothing else. But that will change.

Aside from this major addition, the new release will also see the first wave of potential backers admitted into testing with keys that have been given out via an Alienware Arena promotion. There's also a new lighting model in place and a variety of functionality updates. Whether you're in the early access period or just want to keep an eye on the development, check out the full list of Release 5 notes for more details.

Dragon's Prophet EU introduces the Column of the Prophet content update

Fantasy, Patches, Free-to-Play, Dragon's Prophet

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Dragons Prophet
Dragon's Prophet has announced the release of the Column of the Prophet content update today. This new challenge features a tower that reaches 100 stories into the sky with monsters that increase in difficulty with each level of the tower. Three sources can be called upon to aid your character whether solo or in a group: a medic, Skyhammer guards, or a war dragon.

Right now, this update is only for European players of the game handled by Infernum, not SOE. A North American update schedule has not been announced.

[Source: Infernum press release]

Chaos Theory: Sidestories lead The Secret World in the right direction

Horror, Real-Life, Business Models, Lore, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

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Chaos Theory: Sidestories lead The Secret World in the right direction
Let me just start by saying that the fact that I have not completed all four of The Secret World's new investigation missions in the recently released Sidestories: Further Analysis does not in anyway diminish the awesomeness of the pack. You don't have to do them all -- or even do them at all -- to appreciate this new content. That's because the beauty of these new missions goes beyond the actual investigative content; it's the fact that it is additional content!

If there is one thing that TSW fans have been clamoring for, it's more content, especially content that tosses players deeper into the world and expounds on the story. (The popularity of last Halloween's Spooky Stories of Solomon Island quests sure proved that!) So even those who would rather stab their eye repeatedly with their mouse instead of puzzling out an investigation mission should be fistpumping this new development. With this new type of content release, Funcom has hit on an idea that can satisfy nearly everyone! And that certainly bodes well for the future of the game.

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Final Fantasy XIV updates PvP in patch 2.25

Fantasy, Patches, PvP, News Items, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription

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More vanity gear, more rank grinding, please look forward to it.
When was the last time you were in the Wolves' Den in Final Fantasy XIV? A week ago? A month? Was it never? Well, perhaps you should drop back in, because there's some new stuff in there. New armors. Attractive armors. And don't worry that veterans will have them right away when you log in; these armors require climbing the PvP ranks further, as this patch also adds ranks 31-40 to the ladder. So there's that much more reason to jump into the arena and start earning your Wolf Marks.

Patch 2.25 also adds a couple of other features. Players can now use materia transmutation to exchange unwanted materia for a (hopefully more desirable) piece of materia at random. Darklight gear has been made dyeable, and Ventures have been added as a possible reward from treasure hunts. Take a look at the full notes for a few more details as well as a list of bug fixes included with the patch.

WildStar dev donates LEGO sculpture to Child's Play charity

Fantasy, Video, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Kids, WildStar

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At PAX East 2014
WildStar developer Carbine Studios made a special donation at PAX East this year that included a $10,000 check and a 50,000-piece LEGO Rocket House that will be auctioned off for the Child's Play charity.

The rocket house LEGO sculpture stands three feet tall and four feet long and was created by LEGO artist Mariann Asanuma specifically for the charity. The sculpture will be auctioned off at the annual Child's Play Dinner later this year with all proceeds going towards partner hospitals and facilities.

"We wanted to not only find a fun way to bring a small piece of WildStar to life, but also see the efforts go to a good cause," said Mona Hamilton, vice president of brands, Carbine Studios. "Child's Play is a wonderful charity doing really great things with the gaming industry and we're looking forward to seeing the result of the auction later this year. It was also important for us to say thanks by giving back to the Boston community; they've been great to us over the years at PAX East."

You can check out a video of the LEGO sculpture being assembled just after the jump below.

[Source: Carbine press release]

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Trion's latest ArcheAge livestream is all about gliders

Betas, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play, ArcheAge, Sandbox

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ArcheAge glider
When it comes to unique ArcheAge features, hang-gliders are pretty near the top of my personal list. Even the dinky little starter glider you get as part of a newb zone quest is more fun than it has any right to be, which is why I'll be watching Trion's latest livestream.

Said stream is all about gliders, and you can catch it tonight at 7:00 p.m. EDT on Trion's Twitch channel!

[Thanks WNxArcticwolf!]

Landmark Live showcases tool and template upgrades, offers sneak peek of water

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play, Crafting, Player-Generated Content, Landmark

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As announced in the latest livestream, Landmark's weekly beta update was pushed out until Thursday in order to get new systems ready to deploy into the game. (Sadly, none of them includes water, although players did get a sneak peak of it!) Today, players will be able to utilize the new tool upgrading system, the new detailed template interface, and the claim gallery.

The tool upgrade system adds a level of depth to crafting, allowing players to increase the stats of all tools made after the update launches. Unlike the initial craft that has elements of RNG dictating the final product, the upgrade system shows players exactly how the tool will be altered.

The template interface provides many more details, including which and how many materials are needed for each build and which props are involved, and even it provides a screenshot for ease of reference. Also utilizing the screenshot feature is the new gallery section of the showcase; in or out of game, players will be able to search and view claims by tag or owner name, see where they are located, and upvote them.

If you missed the special sneak peek of the first phase of water (oceans) or you want to hear even more details about the impending update or other tidbits (like upcoming changes to the EQ Worlds app, including Landmark-themed games and exclusive Jeremy Soule music), you can watch the entire livestream below.

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The Daily Grind: How can bots be so prevalent in a sub game?

Fantasy, Bugs, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

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ESO - Bots in Cryptwatch
Have you ever wondered why MMO devs do (or don't do) certain things? I have, and my latest bit of wondering concerns The Elder Scrolls Online and its bot problem. "Problem" is used somewhat subjectively here, because the infestation of AFK players in Tamriel hasn't harmed my personal play to any measurable degree, though I'm sure it's doing no favors for the long-term health of the in-game economy.

But when I see a cluster of five or six AFK melee bots around every single public dungeon boss, "problem" is the only word that comes to mind. I'm not exaggerating, either, I have literally seen 24/7 bot camps in all of the public dungeons from Glenumbra to the Alik'r desert.

Yeah, ZeniMax says it's aware of the problem and is doing something about it. But, let's get back to my wondering in the opening paragraph up there. What, exactly, is the company doing about it? ESO is a subscription game, which means that all of those bots entered credit card numbers that can be immediately and permanently banned. Is ZeniMax doing this? If so, why not say that instead of the nebulous devspeak in yesterday's update letter. If not, why not?

I understand the futility of trying to ban bots in a F2P game where new accounts are as easy as a new Gmail address and an IP spoof, but I don't understand how so many of them can continue to exist in a game that requires a CC for access. And hey, I would ask ZeniMax myself if I thought I would get anything other than a PR non-answer. So instead, I'm asking you, Massively readers! What do you think? How can bots be so prevalent in a sub game? Bonus points if you have any relevant development insights to share in the comments.

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!

SMITE unveils Bastet's 'Night Prowler' catsuit

Fantasy, Historical, Trailers, Video, Previews, News Items, Humor, MOBA

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SMITELest you think catgirls are the private domain of Asian and superhero games, Hi-Rez Studios has upgraded SMITE heroine Bastet with a brand-new "Night Prowler" skin that leaves neither curve nor tail to the imagination. For a small fee, you can ensure that your version of the Egyptian goddess of cats does all of her ass-kicking in a black leather catsuit, just as the Ancient Egyptians would have wanted it.

We've got the video after the break. You're going to go click on it now.

[Source: Hi-Rez press release]

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The Stream Team: Snagging your first mount in ArcheAge

Betas, Fantasy, Video, New Titles, Livestream, ArcheAge, Sandbox, The Stream Team

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Those who don't want to adventure around ArcheAge on their own two feet (or paws) have two options: hop on the back of someone's mount or get one of their own. This week, Massively's MJ is going to secure her very own cute and cuddly kitten and raise it into a massive mount. Then she'll have to worry about random stray passengers! Join us live at 8:00 p.m. to experience more of ArcheAge's alpha.

Game: ArcheAge
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Wednesday, April 23th, 2014
Time: 8:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Diablo III: Reaper of Souls soundtrack available on iTunes

Fantasy, Expansions, News Items, Diablo III, Music

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Come on, baby, don't fear the reaper.
Sure, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls has the perfect soundtrack when you're playing Diablo III. But what can you do when you're not playing the game but you're just out reaping souls on your own time? You can't hum the songs; you'll just look like an idiot. Well, don't despair, because you can now purchase the expansion's soundtrack on iTunes and forever have access to the perfect reaping music in your day-to-day life.

The full soundtrack can be purchased for $9.99 and contains 22 tracks with a total running time of just over an hour. Clips are available on the official page in case you just want a couple of tunes and aren't quite sure what they're called; at 22 tracks, though, it's almost more economical to just buy the whole thing.

Leaderboard: Do you need to spend money to enjoy Marvel Heroes?

Super-hero, Polls, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvE, Free-to-Play, Marvel Heroes, Leaderboard

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Marvel Heroes' Avengers
I think I might play me some Marvel Heroes. Which is somewhat odd since I'm neither a Diablo nor a Marvel fan. It's not that I have anything against the latter, it's just that I've always read Batman comics and nothing but, so my knowledge of the Marvel-verse is restricted to The Avengers flick and Bryan Singer's old X-Men films.

Anyway, Gazillion's game is of course free-to-play and I'm installing it via Steam as I type. My question for you, though, is should I spring for any of the cash shop bundles or should I just take what the devs are giving away? Which route did you go, and was it the right decision? Vote after the cut!

Ever wish that you could put to rest a long-standing MMO debate once and for all? Then welcome to the battle royal of Massively's Leaderboard, where two sides enter the pit o' judgment -- and only one leaves. Vote to make your opinion known, and see whether your choice tops the Leaderboard!

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Neverwinter will make players choose between mercenaries

Fantasy, Patches, Previews, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries, Neverwinter

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Neverwinter
When Icewind Dale arrives with Neverwinter's Module 3, players will have a difficult decision to make: whether to join up with the Ten-Towners or the Arcane Brotherhood.

In a new post, Cryptic explains that these two groups are at conflict with each other in the effort to collect the precious Black Ice. Ten-Towners want the Ice for profit and for those who have lived in the north, while the Arcane Brotherhood desires the substance to increase its members' knowledge. Once a group is chosen, that faction will deliver daily contracts that the player can take up. By repeating the dailies, players can earn enough Black Ice to create a new armor set. Players shouldn't fret too much about their choice, as their allegiance can change on a daily basis with no penalty.

Cryptic will also be introducing account shared banks with the module to help pass items between characters with ease. Module 3 arrives on May 13th.

The Elder Scrolls Online expounds on Craglorn's 12-man trials

Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, Patches, Endgame, News Items, Dungeons, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

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ESO
ZeniMax has just published a dev diary about the brand-new 12-player trials en route to The Elder Scrolls Online with its upcoming Craglorn patch. Trials, the studio stresses, are more than your average raid experience:
One of the first things you'll notice about Trials is that they bring a new experience to ESO designed to test even the toughest veterans. You'll need a group of 12 to take them on, but they're not just dungeons that require a large group-we're applying additional pressure. Your team will only have a limited number of resurrections available, and additional rewards will be granted to those who defeat the weekly challenge with one of the top times across the megaserver.
What makes 12 players the sweet spot for these encounters? ZeniMax hopes to downplay the organizational hassle of putting together groups, to telegraph fights without too much distraction, to keep them to about 90 minutes in length, and to appropriately rely on player skill rather than zerging. Another bonus raiders will welcome? No lockout timers!

Scope out the video below for a first-hand look at the new trials.

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AoW: Tempest of Strife May 7, 2014
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