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SOE Live 2014: The revolutionary intelligence of Storybricks' AI in EQ Next and Landmark

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), EverQuest Next, Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

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SOE Live 2014 The revolutionary intelligence of Storybricks' AI in EQ Next and Landmark
The most exciting part of EverQuest Next and Landmark for me is the living, intelligent AI brought to the games courtesy of Storybricks. Thanks to a tech demonstration at SOE Live, we got to see that AI in action, and can I tell you I am even more excited having seen it! This technology really will revolutionize the game, creating a living, breathing world in EQ Next that players help shape as it develops as well as give players the power to make their world come alive in Landmark. And to add icing to the cake, the panel also delved into the background of the new Norrath a bit, revealing the world map complete with familiar areas (like Kithicor).

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SOE Live 2014: More EverQuest Next tidbits

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), EverQuest Next

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With so many keynotes, panels, Q&As, and opportunities to chat with devs at SOE Live, there's always an avalanche of information to sort through. So here's a compilation of tidbits relating to EverQuest Next that we gleaned from the con.
  • There will be guild homes and towns in EQN; these will be really special and hard to get.
  • The devs are committed to taking all the races through the foundation workshops.
  • SOEmote has improved significantly (and looks much more natural).
  • Players know that Qeynos will exist, but Freeport and it's current state are still a mystery.
  • Devs are experimenting with social hubs that players can check anytime from anywhere, even getting alerts for high-profile happenings.
  • Factions are spread out across the land, so there will be multiple opportunities to learn a class, not just "visit one guy on one mountaintop."
  • Being heroes of the world does not just mean slaughtering things; you can build temples to the gods, open trade routes, even help farmers with crops.
  • Even small changes to world are tangible: If you help merchants become wealthier, they walk around in better apparel and show off that wealth. The "quest completion log" is, in effect, an account of the changes you see.
  • NPC groups will ally with and help each other as well as fight against each other.
  • No decision yet if food and drink will be necessary.
  • The future may hold player-fiction contests for official lore, but there's nothing planned in the short term because of the excessive time involved to review them -- time needed on other aspects of game right now. SOE says, "We need to make sure that every detail of the story that we release fits into the continuity of the world; we're a stickler about that."
What happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas, at least where SOE Live is concerned! Massively sent intrepid reporter MJ Guthrie to this year's SOE Live, from which she'll be transmitting all the best fan news on EverQuest Next, Landmark, H1Z1, and the other MMOs on SOE's roster.

Here's Destiny's launch trailer

Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Destiny, Buy-to-Play

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Can you spare two minutes and 29 seconds? Are you looking forward to Destiny? If you answered "yes" to both of those questions, you should click that big green button down there and watch Bungie's newly released launch trailer!

The sci-fantasy shooter releases for PlayStation and Xbox platforms on September 9th.

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Robin Williams models possibly spotted in World of Warcraft files

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Subscription

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wow
Apparently Blizzard is making good on its word to include the late Robin Williams in an upcoming World of Warcraft build, as players have found a character named Robin <The Entertainer> tucked away in the game files.

Datamining through Warlords of Draenor's files turned up three models for Robin, including a djinn (Disney's Aladdin), a human female with a man's voice (Mrs. Doubtfire), and a human male with suspenders (Mork). There are theories floating around that the djinn will morph into the other two characters while putting on a show for players, although we won't know for sure until the expansion releases this November.

On the day following Robin William's death, fans petitioned the Blizzard to include a tribute to the comedian as he had been an avid WoW player through the years. Blizzard responded by saying that it was "working on it."

TERA Korea is getting guild fortresses that float

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Game Mechanics, Guilds, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, TERA

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Let's all take a moment to lament that what I'm about to share is currently specific to the Korean version of TERA. There. Now that that's out of our system, we can appreciate the fact that Bluehole's new guild sky fortresses are pretty dang impressive, even if we won't see them in the En Masse version of the game for a while.

MMO Culture reports that TERA Korea is also removing side quests from the fantasy MMO's quest log and placing them in a new interface nugget called Scouting Command, ostensibly to allow for more focus on the game's main story. But you really wanted to see the guild fortresses, right? Click past the cut for the vid.

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Elder Scrolls Online introduces subscriber loyalty program

Fantasy, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

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ZeniMax has just announced a subscriber loyalty program for Elder Scrolls Online that is slated to start in September. If you're eligible, you'll receive an email and subsequently a High Hrothgar Wraith vanity pet provided that you've been subscribed for three months.

"The loyalty program will keep expanding over time," ZeniMax says, and you'll be able to collect pets and other upcoming rewards once you meet the requirements, so don't worry if you've canceled your sub already but plan to return.

World of Warplanes 1.5 adds PvE

Historical, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, PvE, War, Free-to-Play, World of Warplanes

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World of Warplanes' 1.5 update is now live, and with it comes a new PvE mode called Battle Against Bots. Wargaming says it's the perfect tool for newcomers looking to learn the game alongside a few co-op companions.

Ground targets have been redesigned as a collection of smaller parts rather than a single objective, meaning that attack aircraft pilots now must account for things like AA guns, ship towers, tank squads, and buildings when planning their approach.

The 1.5 patch has also added a new map called Canyon that offers "a mix between Asian Border and Fjords. There's more to the update, but you'll need to visit the official WoWP website to read about it.

Path of Exile launches Forsaken Masters

Fantasy, Expansions, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, Path of Exile

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I have too many choices about where to go from here!
If you've been following Path of Exile news at all, you know that Forsaken Masters is set to shake up a fair amount of the game with its addition of masters, hideouts, crafting changes, new challenge leagues, and so forth. But did you realize that you can start exploring all of that right now? It's live! Well, maybe you can't explore it right now, you might be at work. But once you get home.

The biggest addition is the eponymous masters, who will show up randomly throughout the game world in search of players willing to aid their personal missions. Earning their trust will unlock access to their hideouts, crafting facilities, and special item rewards. Players can also take part in the new challenge leagues or just enjoy reduced mana costs across the board; they're all in place now, providing new entertainment to veterans and new players alike.

[Source: Grinding Gear Games press release]

EVE Online previews overview and incursion changes in Hyperion

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Sandbox, Subscription

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Just a forever-falling pit in space.
The next major update for EVE Online, Hyperion, is going live in less than a week. Two new development blogs are available to enlighten players about what's going on with the changes to the game, starting with new shareable overviews. This new feature will allow players to share these settings with others while still allowing the recipient to make changes as needed; it's functionality that players have wanted for a while, allowing both new players and veterans to see through someone else's eyes, as it were.

Incursion changes are also on the way, reducing the respawn timers so incursion runners have more to do while also upping rewards. The NCN Wall is also being taken down, and there are new incursions to be concerned with in nullsec space. If you're unclear on what's being added in the update, you can jump past the cut for a video explaining Hyperion's major system changes before it goes live on August 26th.

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The Daily Grind: Do you comment on headlines before you read articles?

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind

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I'm not a Twitter fan. I never use it outside of work, and the time I spend manning the Massively Twitter feed is one of the least enjoyable portions of my workday. This is due mostly to the large numbers of people who read our headlines via Twitter and then proceed to comment or tweet back without reading the article. I know; it's a game of trolls and the winner gets to feel like a special snarkanaut for cramming his invaluable insight into 140 characters or less and hopefully provoking some sort of reaction. But like all casual games, it gets tiresome rather quickly.

Ultimately, we, like most writers on the internet, design headlines specifically to entice reading, not to sum up a post in 10 words. How about you, Massively readers? 'Fess up: Do you comment on headlines before you read articles, either on Twitter or elsewhere?

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!

Neverwinter's summer festival starts tomorrow

Fantasy, Events (In-Game), Free-to-Play, Neverwinter

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Neverwinter
If it's Neverwinter, it must be summer, right? Now that you've stopped groaning, you might be interested to hear that the D&D MMO is kicking off its summer festival tomorrow.

Cryptic is building on the previous year's festival by adding more content to the event. There will be a new summer-themed zone with daily quests, a water battle, new profession tasks, and a new dungeon for the web game Sword Coast Adventures. Players can try to grab a reward that they missed from last year or strive for one of the new prizes, such as the piñata or the Sunite Steed.

The summer festival will run from Thursday, August 21st, through Thursday, September 11th.

The Elder Scrolls Online plans 4v4 arenas, veteran rewards

Fantasy, Business Models, Classes, Game Mechanics, Patches, Previews, News Items, PvE, Dev Diaries, Dungeons, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

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ESO
In a fresh entry on The Elder Scrolls Online's official site, Game Director Matt Firor has penned the latest Road Ahead update, in which he discusses the game's recent patch as well as what's in store for players next month. Of note, Firor says ZeniMax aims to make combat "more responsive," push out new Craglorn content, complete the last trial in the constellation storyline, and introduce a new 4v4 PvE arena. Work on the champion system, which revamps the MMO's character development and customization mechanics, continues; in fact, ZeniMax implores players to help test the inbound content on the public test server.

The team plans to formally announce a loyalty program later this week; it's expected to dole out traditional MMO veteran rewards like minipets.

Pantheon previews Halnir, promises to show more soon

Fantasy, Screenshots, News Items, Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen

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Yep, that... sure is light.  Cool.
Still waiting eagerly for the release of Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen? While development has been fairly quiet, the official Facebook page has just seen an update showing off the zone of Halnir in six new screenshots. They show a small hint of the game's day/night cycle, as well as a few other relevant landmarks in the zone.

The post also promises that the development team is getting ready to demonstrate some major forward progress on the game. Although there's no exact time frame, the goal is before the weekend hits. Fans can take a look at the preview and keep their eyes peeled for more on the official Facebook page.

The Stream Team: Drag racing in ArcheAge

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

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Want to drag race? Well, you can! ArcheAge's Mirage Isle lets you test drive many of the game's vehicles, so you can take a roadster for a spin on the track even before you are rich enough to own one yourself. Come watch as Massively's MJ tries to make it through the entire course before crashing or running out of time. You can even join in live at 7:00 p.m. EDT and see if you can beat her to the finish line!

Game: ArcheAge
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Wednesday, August 20th, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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SOE Live 2014: New bonus loot and limited-edition Station Cash cards available

MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), Landmark

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Do you miss SOE's double and triple Station Cash giveaways? Although those are reportedly not returning, that doesn't mean the company won't offer special deals again. SOE Director of E-Commerce Mark Tuttle announced special new Landmark-themed cards at SOE Live that are available as of August 18th.

At Wal-Mart, on top of the the 2,000 SC that come with the cards, players will also get one of five special Landmark loot bundles. At GameStop there will be limited edition collectors cards; these shiny orange foil cards grant not only one of the random loot bundles but also 2,500 SC for the regular price. For players who don't have these retailers near them, Tuttle says the team is working on making these cards available online.

[Edit: The official site notes that players who redeem a card during closed beta will be granted permanent access to closed beta.]

What happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas, at least where SOE Live is concerned! Massively sent intrepid reporter MJ Guthrie to this year's SOE Live, from which she'll be transmitting all the best fan news on EverQuest Next, Landmark, H1Z1, and the other MMOs on SOE's roster.

Massively Speaking Episode 310: SOE Live 2014

Podcasts, MMO Industry, Massively Meta, Events (Massively's Coverage), Massively Speaking, Miscellaneous

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eqn
MJ is back from this year's SOE Live, and boy does she have news for us! From sandbox combat to expansions out the wazoo to zombie proms, we've got the best coverage from this recent convention to fill up a great podcast. That isn't to say that there wasn't any other news this week... like a certain release date of a certain long-awaited Orc road trip.

Get all of our opinions and analysis on the most important stories of the past week right here on Massively Speaking, the industry's leading MMO podcast. And if you have a comment, question, or topic for the podcasters, send an email to podcast@massively.com. We may just read your email on the air!

Get the podcast:
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Listen here on the page:



Read below the cut for the full show notes.

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Guild Wars 2 retools commander icons, fees

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, News Items, PvE, Guild Wars 2, Buy-to-Play

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GW2As Massively's Anatoli Ingram discussed in his Flameseeker Chronicles column yesterday, Guild Wars 2's September feature pack will include significant changes to the commander system that marks player volunteers as leaders on various world maps.

After the patch, commander tags will become account-bound rather than character-bound, meaning your newbie Asura can strut around Metrica Province as if she owns the place. Consequently, tags will triple in price to 300 gold. Players will also be able to customize their icons with spiffy new colors intended to "facilitate a range of tactical uses" like organizing groups in PvE and PvP.

Already a commander? Lucky you: ArenaNet says you'll be grandfathered into the new system for no extra fee. The studio plans to consider "possibilities for recognizing experienced and prestigious commanders" in the future.

Leaderboard: What's your post-release plan for ArcheAge?

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, ArcheAge, Sandbox, Leaderboard

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ArcheAge is coming soon, possibly as soon as next month if you believe a certain Steam-centric rumor. Whenever XLGAMES' long-gestating sandpark arrives, there will be plenty of things to keep you busy throughout its vast fantasy world.

Whether you're into trade routes, farming, crafting, traditional PvE, or open PvP, AA has you covered. With that in mind, what do you see as your primary in-game activity post-release? 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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SOE Live 2014: DCUO's Legends PvE and a la carte DLCs

Super-hero, Interviews, PvE, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), DC Universe Online

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A superhero game deserves a super announcement at SOE Live, and DC Universe Online delivered. Creative Director Jens Andersen and Assistant Creative Director SJ Mueller shared details about many upcoming updates, from the second installments of the various trilogy story arcs to new movements and powers to a whole new way to purchase the DLC themselves. Oh, and we can't forget one of the biggest announcements: Legends play is coming to PvE!

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Final Fantasy XIV throws free week for its first anniversary

Fantasy, Events (In-Game), Final Fantasy XIV, Anniversaries, Subscription

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ffxiv
Here's a good way to round out your August: by returning to Final Fantasy XIV for a free week courtesy of Square Enix.

The studio is celebrating the first anniversary of the game's relaunch (no, there never was a game before A Realm Reborn. You must forget... forget...) by giving a week of free game time to former subscribers. Anyone who previously played FFXIV can enjoy the title from Friday, August 22nd, through Monday, September 1st.

Final Fantasy XIV recently released Patch 2.35 with hunting and crafting improvements.

Game Columns

Tamriel Infinium Elder Scrolls Column
The Nexus Telegraph WildStar Column
Norrathian Notebook EverQuest Next Column
Flameseeker Chronicles Guild Wars 2 Column
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Stick and Rudder Star Citizen Column
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The Stream Team


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Release Dates

Core Games | In Testing | Crowdfund Hopefuls
Destiny September 9, 2014
The Crew November 11, 2014
LEGO Minifigures Online Fall 2014
ArcheAge 2014
WoW Warlords of Draenor November 13, 2014

Meet the Team

Brianna Royce Editor-in-Chief
Jef Reahard Managing Editor
Justin Olivetti Contributing Editor
Eliot Lefebvre Contributing Editor
MJ Guthrie Contributing Editor
Mike Foster Contributing Editor
Anatoli Ingram Columnist
Brendan Drain Columnist
Larry Everett Columnist
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Massively Speaking Episode 310: SOE Live 2014

Latest episode: Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

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