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The Daily Grind: What naming restrictions do you approve of?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

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WildStar
A recent beta patch in WildStar included several changes to its naming rules. Numbers in names are out but special characters are in. I'm really not a huge fan of most special characters because they're used to circumvent the fact that your desired name was chosen and so you're going to create a similar-looking name that will be all but impossible for your friends and guildies to type.

Of course, in some games this isn't a problem because players can pick any name they like as long as it's attached to their permanent handle. But that's got its pros and cons too.

What naming restrictions do you approve of? Personally, I wish all MMOs allowed for first and last names, since this usually solves the problem of taken names while increasing variety. I also don't know how prevalent "leet-speak" is these days to necessitate the removal of numbers.

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!

Skyforge posts Q&A on character development and more

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Classes, Game Mechanics, News Items, Free-to-Play, Community Q&A, Skyforge

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The Skyforge team today selected and answered 10 community questions on the official forums ranging from "when's beta" (effective answer: no comment) to "how will names work" (answer: given name plus surname). Perhaps the most interesting tidbits focused on character development: The team confirmed that you can switch classes on the fly "whenever you like" and that because of this mechanic, you're unlikely to need alts. Moreover, says the team, "character progression in the game is not level based," and "players will always have ways to advance their characters further."

The free-to-play sci-fantasy MMORPG's full Q&A is available on the official forums. The developers have promised to post more answers every two weeks.

[Thanks to Paul for the tip!]

Betawatch: April 12 - 18, 2014

Betas, Business Models, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Massively Meta, Betawatch, Miscellaneous

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Betawatch
This week, Trion expanded Trove's "adventurer" supporter tier, which costs $20, to include instant access to the game's ongoing alpha test. What else is new in the world of MMO betas this round?
  • Shards posted a survey for hopeful alpha test candidates (thanks, Siphaed!).
  • WildStar showed off new body customization options in its latest round of beta.
  • Face of Mankind's open beta begins... today!
  • Swordsman joins our list with its closed beta signups.
  • Archlord 2 opened its closed beta registration earlier this week.
  • Landmark implemented a major building patch for its beta.
  • We streamed Origins of Malu's alpha with the developer team.
  • Icarus Online's Korean open beta got a video preview.
  • HEX announced its closed beta will begin on April 23rd.
  • Monkey King Online soft-launched into open beta.
  • CasinoRPG, which does call itself an MMORPG, officially moved from beta to launch on April 16th.
Read on for the complete Betawatch roundup!

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Camelot Unchained dishes on design progress, racial lore

Fantasy, Historical, Game Mechanics, Lore, News Items, Dev Diaries, Camelot Unchained, MMORPG

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Camelot Unchained
City State Entertainment's Mark Jacobs has been a busy bee over on the Camelot Unchained blog today, delivering two posts about the game. The first discusses the world editor and progress on the programming front. Writes Jacobs,
We've kicked it up a notch with our combat system. We've now got character stats in the game. We've got more interesting abilities that can apply buffs and debuffs and affect your character's stats. Active effects on the character are passed to the UI layer so you can see what effects are active on your character. Abilities are saved to the database and updates can be pushed straight to the Live or Stable server. Cooldowns are in place and can affect one or more abilities.
The second blog post includes new concept art and a lengthy lore piece on the Caretakers of the Tuatha De Danann. Enjoy both on the official site.

Dark Age of Camelot plans character transfer service and new art

Dark Age of Camelot, Previews, Community Q&A, Family, Sandbox, Subscription

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DAoC
Dark Age of Camelot's grab bag -- written by Sir Grabford B. Bagsworth III Esq., no less -- is back, and at the top of the most pressing questions is the issue of character transfers. Broadsword said that these are indeed in the works: "We would like to provide the opportunity to allow consolidation. This will be among the many updates and upgrades to the Broadsword account center that is currently underway. Currently, it's planned as a premium service –- but there are no details on the prices as yet."

Broadsword mentions how art improvements have been going in the game following the studio's acquisition of DAoC. "We have renewed investment in this area, and we're really excited about updating art for various features in DAoC. Things we're currently discussing are: fixes for art-related bugs, new maps, UI skins, new items, monsters, and more!"

Other topics in the grab bag include the return of in-game surveys, the status of the new website, and details of the next patch. The studio teased that it will be adding "a new long-term live event with a very cool surprise" with the update.

Hands-on with Windborne's early access

Fantasy, New Titles, Previews, Opinion, Hands-On, Sandbox, Buy-to-Play

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Screenshot -- Windborne
The breakout success of Minecraft has inspired a slew of creative sandbox games since its release in 2011, and the trend has shown no signs of dying down given the ever-increasing number of sandbox titles hitting the market. Hidden Path Entertainment's in-development title Windborne is certainly one such game, and at first glance one might be tempted to write it off as a clone of Mojang's golden child, but that would be more than a little disingenuous.

The folks at Hidden Path were generous enough to provide me with a key to get some hands-on experience with Windborne, but I'd like to make special mention of the fact that the game is currently part of Steam's Early Release program, which of course means that it's still unfinished and under constant development. With that in mind, I dived into Windborne's world of mystical floating islands, and I've got more than a few thoughts about the game, where it's going, and where it needs to be.

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Ascent: The Space Game on building a better sci-fi sandbox

Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Game Mechanics, Interviews, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvE, Browser, Sandbox, MMORPG

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Ascent
You'd be forgiven for not having heard of Ascent: The Space Game before. EVE Online is the sci-fi sandbox dominating headlines, and Star Citizen and other upcoming games are breathing down its neck. Is there room in the genre for, well, an indie space MMO that isn't all about cutthroat politics or hardcore ganking?

James Hicks, the founder and CEO of Fluffy Kitten Studios and the man behind Ascent, says yes. He took the time this week to answer our questions about his already-playable-but-still-in-development game in deep detail, focusing on the game's complexity, player feedback, business model, mechanics, and how Ascent can truly expand the genre.

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Check out WildStar's new body customization options

Betas, Sci-Fi, Video, Previews, WildStar, Subscription

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WildStar
Earlier this month we discovered that Carbine was planning to add additional (as in "more than one") body types for each race and gender in WildStar. The changes are in with this weekend's beta test update, and YouTube sensation and friend of Massively Richie "BogOtter" Procopio made a 21-minute video looking at all of the new options for characters.

He's got the video broken down into sub-sections, so if you want to skip to a certain race/gender combo, you can do so. He also includes the new hairstyles that went in with the patch. Give the video a watch after the break and let us know whether Carbine did a good job with these additions or not!

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Atlantica Online gets new class, dungeons, and more

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

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Atlantica Online Celestial Hunter
Nexon has added new dungeons, a new merc, and a new class to Atlantica Online. The Empires of Gold update boasts dungeons including the Forgotten City of Chichen Itza, Machu Picchu, the Golden City of El Dorado, and the Gold Empire of Defense.

Atlantica's new class is the Celestial Hunter, "a fierce archer who can best any challenger with her bow and arrow skills."

We've embedded the update trailer for you after the break!

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Ask Massively: What's with all the WoW hate?

World of Warcraft, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Ask Massively, Miscellaneous

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WoW
Today's Ask Massively question comes from Kirk because he wanted to open up a can of worms all over the column apparently.
Why do people have to hate on World of Warcraft so much? I quit playing WoW about two years ago and never looked back, but that game encompassed the best gaming experience of my life! Now everyone wants to say its crap. But I have roamed the landscape without a real home for gaming; nothing has ever been as much fun as WoW. What person who plays MMOs didn't play Warcraft? How many of us had a great time in that game at some point? Can't we just leave it at that? I look back and admire a game that brought even my wife to the MMO table! I have no hate, just love for a game that I no longer play, and I think that's OK. Can we all move on now? What is the hold up? Let people who play WoW play WoW, and everyone else can play the game of his or her choice. Why does every chat panel in every game need to have the WoW topic constantly flowing through its veins? Honestly, I'm tired of it. Let's move on already!
Because hating is fun! No, wait, that's true, but there's so much more to it than that.

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FFXIV's Yoshida on successful relaunches, switching from sub to F2P

Fantasy, Business Models, Interviews, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription

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FFXIV NPCs
Final Fantasy XIV producer Naoki Yoshida speaks from a unique position, both because he's responsible for an ultra-rare triple-A MMO relaunch and because Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn debuted with -- and continues to sport -- a subscription model.

Gamasutra recently interviewed Yoshida about FFXIV's success, whether or not he feels any sort of vindication, and his thoughts on the future of future subscription-based MMOs. While Yoshida says that there are pros and cons to both subs and F2P, he ultimately prefers subs, and he believes that most other MMO developers do as well.

"Some titles have to make the hard decision to switch over to free-to-play and try to gain a quick buck, pretty much, and raise their ARPU, and try to gain revenue in that manner," Yoshida explains. "I feel that they're not flipping over because they want to; sometimes, they're forced to go into that because they need to update."

World of Tanks' 9.0 out this week, includes Historical Battles

Historical, Trailers, Video, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, News Items, War, Free-to-Play, World of Tanks

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WoT 9.0
Wargaming has released World of Tanks' ninth iteration, complete with redesigned battlefields and vehicles and a new game mode called Historical Battles.

"With a focus on competitive balance and exciting gameplay, combat locations including Severogorsk, Pearl River, Malinovka, and Serene Coast have all received an overhaul," Wargaming says. The firm has also revamped many of the game's vehicles with new high-resolution models and textures.

Finally, the new Historical Battle mode aims to recreate famous tank engagements and simultaneously fill your garage with credits and XP. Don't forget to watch the Update 9.0 trailer after the break.

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SOE's new Player Server initiative debuting in H1Z1

Horror, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, H1Z1

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There aren't many H1Z1 screens to choose from
Did you watch SOE's late-breaking H1Z1 livestream last night? Are you excited for the zombie survival sandbox MMO? Well, here's another nugget to chew on courtesy of CEO John Smedley and his Twitter feed.

The game will feature private servers.
Today I'd like to announce H1Z1 will be the first game to implement our new Player Servers. In addition to the traditional servers that we set up and run (what you've come to expect in MMOs), we will allow the players to come together in any way they wish and if they can get enough people together to vote for the server we will make it for them.

At first this will be for specific pre-defined rulesets. Later we will expand past rulesets into adding more features. For example perhaps one community prefers to go more militaristic. So they add more military vehicles. So we're truly letting you, our players get exactly the kind of thing you're looking for.

Mechanically this will allow players to buy pledge tokens in Station Cash to vote on a proposal. However, should the vote [succeed] we refund.
[Thanks BabaGraPL!]

The Daily Grind: Which MMO has the best economy?

Economy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Crafting, Player-Generated Content

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SWG
I'm an incurable trader and merchant, maybe even more than I'm a crafter, so I'm forever droning on about the good ol' days in long-gone sandboxes where players, not raid bosses, delivered all the objects used in the world. Making stuff is great, and lots of MMOs, even themeparks, have that, but I also I like setting up shops, trading on auction halls, finding great deals, and knowing just when to buy low to sell high, which isn't always the type of creative PvP gameplay that modern MMORPGs enable, let alone embrace.

But you can't trade in long-gone sandboxes, either, so today I want to tap the collective wisdom of the Massively readers: Which MMO has the most vibrant crafting and trading economy, right now, in a legally playable and living MMO? Specifically, where's the best MMO to truly be a player merchant?

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!

Classic Guild Wars' ninth anniversary celebration is underway

Fantasy, Guild Wars, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, News Items, Anniversaries, Buy-to-Play

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GW1
If you're not too busy checking out the new feature pack in Guild Wars 2's version of Tyria, you might be interested to know that the more classic edition of the game world is celebrating its ninth birthday this month. Also, it has Cantha. Just saying.

Yes, Guild Wars 1 is having a party, and you're invited. Though the anniversary update was originally scheduled to begin on April 22nd, a note from Joe Kimmes on the official wiki mentions that a fortuitous typo led to the event's partial stealth-implementation on April 2nd instead, so while you'll have to wait until next week for the complete event, players are reporting that bonus items have been dropping all month and that some of the minigames are underway as of today.

The official site is silent about the anniversary so far, but the login screen announces the festivities:
The party is on for the anniversary of Guild Wars! Starting April 22nd at Noon Pacific (-7 GMT), we open Shing Jea Boardwalk, Dragon Arena, and the Rollerbeetle Races. In addition, Birthday Cupcakes and many other special items will drop all throughout this weeklong event.

The Think Tank: Thoughts on PAX East 2014

Culture, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Events (Massively's Coverage), Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

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PAX East came and went last weekend, and as we do most years, the Massively writers got together to discuss the highlights and the disappointments of the con. Join the conversation -- what did you think was the best (and worst) MMO or reveal at PAX?

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EverQuest II producer's letter outlines All Access changes

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Making your own access.
On April 23rd, big changes are coming to Sony Online Entertainment's All Access membership. The latest producer's letter for EverQuest II outlines how those changes will affect players as well as what updates are around the corner. All Access players in EverQuest II will have seven available character slots, a boost to both coins earned and mount speed, and doubled gain rates for alternate currencies earned in-game. There will also be early access to content and promotions available for members.

The first bit of early access content will be the contested version of the High Keep dungeon, exclusive to members for two weeks and sporting all-new story and characters therein. There are also plans to create a more reliable resource to look up what's being updated in the game's near future, a necessity as the updates switch to a weekly schedule. Take a look at the full letter for more details on exclusive member perks as well as the immediate agenda for updates.

SOE is streaming H1Z1 live right now

Historical, Horror, Video, Events (Real-World), New Titles, Previews, PvP, News Items, Community Q&A, Post-Apocalyptic, Livestream, H1Z1

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H1Z1
SOE has just announced that members of the H1Z1 dev team will be streaming the recently revealed zombie survival sandbox for the first time tonight on Twitch starting at 7:00 p.m. EDT, which is right this very minute. We've included the stream embed after the cut for your entertainment. Popcorn sold separately.

[Update: The devs streaming are Game Designer Jimmy Whisenhunt and Technical Director Tom Schenck]

[Source: SOE press release]

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The Elder Scrolls Online launches Craglorn teaser site

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Game Mechanics, Patches, Previews, Endgame, News Items, PvE, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

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ESO
ZeniMax has just launched a sub-site for The Elder Scrolls Online featuring Craglorn, the adventure zone that will serve as host for the MMORPG's first major content update. Aimed at veteran groups, the zone promises new quests and delves for four-person groups, a plotline revolving around "the mystery of the missing constellations," 12-man trials and leaderboards, and new gear.

While the teaser site is light on new information and does ask you to click through yet another age-gate (yes, we all know you were born January 1st, 1900), it does feature some gorgeous artwork and the Craglorn trailer released earlier in the month. We've embedded it after the cut.

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Destiny parts ways with composer, growing 'close to shipping'

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, MMOFPS, Music, Destiny

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Destiny
Destiny Composer Marty O'Donnell was either fired or peacefully left Bungie last week, depending on whether you take his or the studio's testimony on the event. In either case, the fact remains that O'Donnell is no longer part of the studio.

Bungie Chief Operating Officer Pete Parsons refused to comment on the specifics of the decision but said that the game is still on track for release. He said that O'Donnell's contributions will remain part of the soundtrack, which is also being worked on by a few others.

"We have a fantastic team. We're pretty close to shipping. There's a lot of polish left to do, lots of tweaking and tuning, but a lot is already complete," Parsons said to Eurogamer.

Bungie claims that the studio and O'Donnell parted as "friends" while the composer tweeted yesterday that he was "terminated without cause."

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