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Final Fantasy XIV gets a real-world theme cafe in Tokyo

Fantasy, Culture, News Items, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription

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Like this, but slightly less armor.
Have you ever looked at the vistas of Eorzea in Final Fantasy XIV and thought that they looked like a place you want to be in real life? Good news: You can. A new real-world themed restaurant in Tokyo called the Eorzea Cafe is opening soon, and it's based on the Carline Canopy in Gridania, complete with Eorzean dishes, beverages, and decorations. If you ever wanted to see a bladed lantern shield on the wall whilst you have your dinner, this is the place.

Opening on July 31st, the cafe features drinks inspired by the jobs, moogle-themed desserts, and what appears to be a burger based on the Lord of the Crags himself, Titan. There are also PCs set up for people to play the game at their leisure. It's going to be a bit of a hike out to the Akihibara district, but where else are you going to find a Titan Burger while drinking a Dragoon cocktail?

[Thanks to Kythas for the tip!]

The Daily Grind: I'll miss you, Vanguard

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvE, Opinion, Vanguard, The Daily Grind, Crafting, Sunsets

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Hey Vanguard.

I wish you could stay longer. Yeah, you've been hanging around my hard drive since 2007, but that first year was a mess. You launched right next to The Burning Crusade, which would have been the kiss of death even if you hadn't debuted with a bunch of bugs.

SOE eventually fixed you up, and the result was a niche and highly enjoyable MMO world of the kind that no one wants to make any more. You were vast, you were an explorer's dream and, stutter-step chunk lines notwithstanding, you were seamless. You had more races and classes than I can remember, though I will remember the Dread Knight and the Disciple quite fondly.

I wish more people had given you a whirl. I wish more devs would copy your crafting. I wish all MMO quests were as fun as that lengthy, lovely unicorn mount chase. I'll probably get in trouble for saying so, but I wish your labyrinthine code could've led to an emulator. Most of all, though, I wish you weren't leaving. You were the first themepark I actually enjoyed, and that's no small feat.

You will be missed.

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!

Combatless MMO Wander releases Gamescom trailer

Betas, Trailers, Video, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, News Items, Miscellaneous, Sandbox

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Wander
We last looked at Wander in detail at PAX Prime 2013, but the indie "collaborative exploration" MMO has been hard at work on its cross-platform, VR-friendly, combat-free experience since then. Today, the game's creator, Loki Davison, has released a brief trailer ahead of Gamescom, where Wander will be one of a very few MMOs featured at the Indie MEGABOOTH.

Enjoy the video below.

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WoW's Warlords of Draenor expansion is making faces at you

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Screenshots, Game Mechanics, Previews, News Items, Races, Subscription

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WoW
When Blizzard launches World of Warcraft's Warlords of Draenor expansion later this year, players will be getting more than just the long-awaited character body model upgrades; they're also getting new facial geometry. Art Director Chris Robinson wrote today on the game's official blog,
Our next big focus is doing justice to the facial options. With the original models and their simplistic geometry and low-resolution textures, a lot of facial expressions were simply painted on. Now that we've moved to higher-polygon models with lips, teeth, and fully articulated faces-not to mention higher-resolution textures-recreating those same facial options isn't as simple as painting them onto a flat surface. Previously, to get a sneer out of a model, you'd just paint a sneer on its face, and that was that. To do it correctly now-and make it look great-we have to fully pose a sneer, create a custom texture, and mesh that base pose with all of the existing emotes and animations.
Robinson also said that Blizzard is "committed" to launching all of the new models together rather than roll them out independently post-launch, but a later tweet indicated that Blood Elf models will not make it in for launch.

Oort Online strives to create a 'universe-sized' sandbox

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Video, New Titles, Sandbox, Crowdfunding

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Oort Online
Why should your sandbox MMO be confined to one measly world? That's the premise of Oort Online, an upcoming sandbox title that involves several worlds that can be explored, conquered, and molded by players. In this voxel-based game, players will exist on the same server and can choose to fight a nasty galaxy-spanning race called the Protectors or carve out a slice of land on which to build a masterpiece.

"We think fans of procedural games are going to love Oort Online! We're making a universe-sized sandbox and giving players control over what happens," developer Wonderstruck said.

Oort Online has been in development for six months and is available right now as an early access prototype for funders who spend $95 or more. The crowdfunded project also has cheaper tiers for alpha and beta access and promises a package of goodies (including a chance to win instant access) for those who send out a tweet promoting the game.

Get a sneak peek of Oort Online in a dev video after the break!

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World of Tanks builds strongholds for Update 9.2

Video, Patches, War, Free-to-Play, World of Tanks, MOBA

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world of tanks
Wargaming is betting that players will fight even harder than usual if it's over something they built, which is why the company introduced strongholds with today's Update 9.2 for World of Tanks.

Strongholds are a new game mode in which players can lay out a virtual base and fight over it. If a clan can upgrade its base enough, it will be treated to limited-time bonuses that will cover all clan members across the game.

Update 9.2 also comes with eight reworked maps, more medal achievements, HD upgrades to a few tanks, and the Fire Arc battle arena. Check out what 9.2 has to offer in the update video after the break.

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Hearthstone unlocks the doors to the Plague Quarter

Fantasy, Patches, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Hearthstone

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Hearthstone
The second wing of Heartstone: Curse of Naxxramas is now open for players to explore and plunder, as the weekly rollout of this online card game expansion continues.

The Plague Quarter has unlocked for players, but unlike the free taste of the Arachnid Quarter, this one will require gold to purchase. Inside the quarter, you will find Noth the Plaguebringer, Heigan the Unclean, and the big boss Loatheb.

Players that master the Plague Quarter not only will be treated to new cards for their collection but can also go on to tackle two class challenges with additional card rewards.

[Thanks to Dengar for the tip!]

Captain's Log: Star Trek Online's eternal crafting problem

Sci-Fi, Patches, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Captain's Log, Crafting, Subscription

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Out of the wreckage.
I haven't had the chance to really dive into the new crafting system in Star Trek Online just yet, but I can tell it's certainly a valid effort to revitalize the crafting system for the third time in the game's lifespan, this time with an even more fundamental teardown. Memory Alpha is gone now, along with the exploration clusters that used to provide oh-so-many spots to analyze in the hopes of getting more materials.

Back at the start of this year, the column took a look at the state of Star Trek Online's crafting and asked whether there really is a future left for it. After all, crafting as a source of items was up against the fleet stores and reputation items. Could you make something better than those systems without replacing those systems? Would it even be worth it? What could be done to clean up crafting? We've gotten our answer about what will be done, but is it a net benefit for the game as a whole?

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Defiance's Silicon Valley expansion arrives next week

Sci-Fi, Galleries, Screenshots, Game Mechanics, Patches, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, Post-Apocalyptic, Defiance

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Defiance
Trion Worlds aims to publish Defiance's next expansion, Silicon Valley, next week on August 5th. The "completely free world expansion" will bolster the newly free-to-play MMO with new story content as well as a new modifier, Encryption, for weapons and shields. Says the studio,
Within the world expansion, players will find Karl Von Back has disappeared into Silicon Valley with his EGO-imbued followers, but it's not the paradise they promised. The valley is overrun with Grid, and a strange cult, the Pilgrims of the Guiding Light, have taken hold in locations across the zone. As all new mysteries unravel, the populace of Silicon Valley calls for help, and only ark hunters have what it takes to face the trials ahead.
Trion intends to stream on Twitch this evening at 6 p.m. EDT to answer questions about the update.

[Source: Trion press release]

NCsoft launches Lineage II's Ertheia expansion today

Fantasy, Galleries, Video, Lineage 2, Classes, Expansions, Lore, Patches, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Races, Dungeons

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L2
Lineage II's latest expansion, Ertheia, launches today, bringing with it a new race (the Ertheia), two new classes (Ertheia Fighter and Ertheia Wizard), a new racial skill (Alchemy), new stats (Charisma and Luck), a level 99 instance (The Dimensional Barrier), and two new hunting zones for -- you guessed it -- Ertheia characters.

Former players can take advantage of a welcome-back promotion that includes a pack of goodies for veteran characters and a free mount for freshly rolled toons.

We've included some concept art as well as videos describing the lore and new classes below.

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APB update pwns cheaters and creates quicker matchups

Patches, PvP, Free-to-Play, Legal, All Points Bulletin

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APB
APB: Reloaded has moved beyond merely shaking a fist at cheaters to waging war on them.

Today, Reloaded Games released its Open Conflict patch that contains the much-vaunted "FairFight" technology that monitors for illicit behavior and nips it in the bud on the spot. This system also publicly shames hackers and botters as they are banned so that the entire server can witness their downfall.

Open Conflict also contains cloud saves for character settings and a new matchmaking mode that lumps people together based on availability instead of skill.

[Source: Reloaded Games press release]

RuneFest tickets on sale this week

Fantasy, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, RuneScape, Free-to-Play

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If you're a RuneScape fan and you'll be in London on October 11th, you might want to know that tickets for this year's edition of RuneFest are now on sale. Passes are £99 each, or you can get in for free (and even get a hotel room!) with RuneScape's in-game bonds.

The event starts at 10:00 a.m. local time and runs through 7:00 p.m., with an afterparty and late-night gaming scheduled through 11:00 p.m.

Leaderboard: Which dead MMO is your favorite?

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Leaderboard

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Since Vanguard is closing down this week, I'm in sort of a morbid mood.

Sorry.

Anyhow, today's Leaderboard poll will tread some unfamiliar territory when it comes to pitting MMOs against one another, mainly because all of these MMOs are dead. Vote for your favorite past the cut!

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A whole lot of you played Destiny's beta

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

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Destiny's beta phase was what you might call successful, according to a Bungie press release. The company says that 4,638,937 players participated in the testing period that began on July 17th.

"Hosting a beta at this scale is an incredible feat, so we're thrilled to see the phenomenal response. But the beta is just a taste of what's to come," said Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg. "This is the biggest beta of this console generation by a wide margin and the largest console beta ever for a new video game IP to date."

[Source: Bungie press release]

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Elite's Beta 1 starts today, here's a new trailer

Betas, Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Elite: Dangerous, Buy-to-Play

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Frontier has released its Beta 1 build of Elite: Dangerous. It "covers a greatly expanded 38,000 cubic light-year volume of Elite: Dangerous' accurately modeled Milky Way galaxy centered around the Boötes constellation."

Beta 1 also introduces new features including fuel consumption, player communication, docking computers, mission system functionality, and friend management/matchmaking capability. There's more, including a new trailer, which is embedded along with the official press release after the break.

[Source: Frontier press release]

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Neverwinter coming to Xbox One in 2015

Fantasy, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Consoles, Neverwinter

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Perfect World is porting Neverwinter to the Xbox One in China this year followed by a worldwide release in "the first half of 2015," according to IGN.

The site interviewed lead producer Andy Velasquez who says that a consolized Neverwinter will boast "all the same races, all the same classes, [and] all the same maps. The content will be there with some minor exceptions."

The Xbox One version of Neverwinter will not feature cross-play with the PC version, and Perfect World offered no comment on plans for other platforms.

The Daily Grind: Do you prize MMO stability?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Sunsets

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wow
Will your MMO be there tomorrow? How about next year? How about in five years?

As often as we consult the Massively office oracle about such matters, the answer is always, "Outlook hazy, ask later." Predicting whether or not a game is going to be around for a while yet to come isn't as easy to do, especially considering that we've witnessed a few surprise shutdowns over the past couple of years. But I've seen many gamers accept or reject the notion of playing an MMO based on how long those gamers perceives it lasting. In other words, they're trying to play the odds if they're going to sink time into a game.

I can sympathize and certainly relate. Do you do this? Is it a dealbreaker if you think an MMO is likely to go under within a few years? Is it an added incentive if a game's been around a while and probably will be around for a while yet?

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!

Avalon Lords gears up for its Kickstarter campaign

Fantasy, Video, News Items, MMORTS, Crowdfunding

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It sounds like the area around Camelot is really going through a dark age.
How do you feel about the MMORTS genre? The folks behind Avalon Lords don't have many nice things to say about it, which is why they're making an MMORTS game that, in their own words, is meant to elevate the game beyond free-to-play titles with microtransactions. The game launches its Kickstarter today, and it's put a trailer into the wild so potential backers can get a sense for what the game will look like.

Backers are being asked for $150,000 for the base game, a fairly humble sum considering other titles. The official support page for the game includes stretch goals starting at $250,000 and moving up, including fully customizable cities, NPC armies, and at the high end, a full-access mobile application. You can check the trailer out past the break, and if you like what you see and think the title will go all the way, you can toss in a few dollars.

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Jukebox Heroes: Lord of the Rings Online's housing music

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Housing, Jukebox Heroes, Music

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lotro
One of the interesting features (but by no means unique) of Lord of the Rings Online's housing system is the option to slot a music box item so that visitors can enjoy your favorite tunes while they check out your pad. Like the rest of the housing system, music boxes haven't been added to or expanded much over the years, but I still think they're pretty keen.

Most of the music boxes contain a medley of three or so similarly themed tracks. Most of these are pulled from all over the game, but some are rarely heard outside of houses, so I thought these deserved another look. Plus, the original music for LotRO is quite gorgeous in spots and holds up very well over the years.

For those looking for a buyer's guide to these ambient themes, may I point you to CSTM? For the rest of us, I have six favorite music boxes waiting for you after the jump.

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The Stream Team: Family MMO night with the Super Hero Squad Online devs

Super-hero, Video, Patches, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Kids, Family, Livestream, The Stream Team

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The Stream Team: Live with Super Hero Squad Online devs!
Super Hero Squad Online has been a favorite for several of Massively's writers, Larry Everett being one of them. Today, Larry and his son, Zach, will show off the new SHSO Recharged. And for extra fun, they've invited the developers along. (Maybe they'll have free stuff for you!) Join us at 7:00 p.m. to find out just how awesome this family MMO is for both kids and adults.

Game: Super Hero Squad Online
Hosts: Larry Everett, Zach, and the Gazillion devs
Date: Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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