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Hearthstone set for an expansion with over 100 new cards

Fantasy, Expansions, Patches, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Hearthstone

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Like Magic, only in slow motion.
Hearthstone's little trip to Naxxramas went pretty well, but the game is headed for something bigger. An expansion has been confirmed to be in the works for the game, as we first reported during PAX Prime this year. Production Director Jason Chayes has now revealed that the expansion will add over 100 new cards with a central theme tying all of the additions together, far more than the 30-odd cards added to the game during the Curse of Naxxramas adventure series.

Chayes told Polygon that one of the big concerns for the team is making sure that the pace of new content for the game neither bores veteran players nor overwhelms new arrivals, making an expansion something of a challenging prospect. If the expansion goes well, the plan will be to mix up full expansions and single-player challenges over the course of a year, giving players more things to look forward to. No hard and fast details have been announced yet, but expected them in the near future.

Star Citizen hits 55M in crowdfunding, sets a new Guinness record, and rolls out Arena Commander v0.9.1

Betas, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Sandbox, Star Citizen

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This is $55 million of development.
Ready to command the heck out of the arena? Star Citizen has just rolled out the latest patch to the Arena Commander module, which includes the welcome introduction of customizable keybindings. If you find the default controls for dogfighting or racing to be not to your liking, you can change them now. The keybinds currently support mouse and keyboard options as well as joysticks and and controllers; moving forward, the team wants to allow for options like allowing double-tap bindings and device-specific tuning.

This update also includes a fix for SLI/Crossfire display drivers and an option for backers to control exactly which ships appear in the hangar for use. Of course the full patch notes also explain some other assorted balance tweaks and bug fixes, but we imagine no shortage of people will be happy just by virtue of being able to set up the control scheme just the way they like it.

In more meta Star Citizen news, the game officially crossed the $55 million crowdfund threshold last evening. In his ensuing letter from the chairman, Chris Roberts noted that according to Guinness World Records, the game is now not just the largest crowdfunded game of all time but "the largest crowdfunded anything of all time!"

[Thanks, Cardboard and Oliver!]

The Daily Grind: Should museums preserve MMOs?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

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habitat
I may be in the vast minority here, but I am keenly interested in the attempt by the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment to resurrect (for however long) the incredibly ancient Habitat -- and to make it playable by folks today. Usually we consider dead MMOs as just that: dead. Yet we're starting to see more examples of strange resurrections and fan restorations that are reversing the decomposition process.

The Habitat story got me thinking about how these games might be saved for the long-term, particularly through special institutions such as museums. Twenty years from now, would you like to see your favorite MMOs restored and run using free museum servers to honor their legacy and to provide a way to revisit old stomping grounds? Is this a pipe dream when we consider issues of rights and IPs and other legal entanglements?

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!

Return to Britannia campaign starts tomorrow in Ultima Online

Fantasy, Events (In-Game), Patches, Ultima Online, Anniversaries, Subscription

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uo
For the entire month of October, Ultima Online will be running another Return to Britannia campaign in the hopes of luring both the old guard and the new generation for the game's 17th anniversary.

From October 1st through the 30th, former players will be able to return to the game for free, mirroring previous Return to Britannia events.

There's a lot to celebrate in UO these days above and beyond its birthday. The game recently implemented its Publish 86 with the vice vs. virtue system, added more sea adventures, and is working on a new UI for the enhanced client. You can check out video of the 17th anniversary festivities after the break.

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Star Trek's Rivera talks story design and the Delta Quadrant

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Star Trek Online

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If you've been wondering why Star Trek Online is going to the Delta Quadrant for its upcoming expansion and what sorts of stories will be available when it gets there, a new dev diary has the answers. Lead designer Al Rivera writes about the game's "story process," which involves examining where the game's already been and deciding what sorts of additions will fit STO's production schedule.

"We have to determine how many missions we need to tell this story," Rivera says. "How many do we want? Do we want adventure or battlezones? Ground or space? What about patrols, queues and STFs? Does our story work for the type of content we need to create?"

You can read the rest of his thoughts at the official Star Trek Online website.

Global Chat: Through a monitor, darkly

Culture, Opinion, Guild Wars 2, The Secret World, Global Chat, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge

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tsw
No matter who you are, and even if you are independently rich and can game all day, it's impossible to get around to playing all of the MMOs out there -- even all of the major ones. This is why I love MMO blogs, since they allow me to vicariously visit many of the games that I lack time to play. Even if they're silly observations or dutiful reporting on last night's activities, these posts are my window into a universe of virtual worlds.

In today's edition of Global Chat, we'll hear from a gamer visiting an older MMO for the first time, a rant about Guild Wars 2's new player experience, a tribute to the late Rusty Hearts, and why "entitlement" is overused as an attack in our community.

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SOE devs on EverQuest Next's 'life of consequence'

Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, EverQuest Next, Sandbox

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We've known for a while that SOE is cooking up some sort of emergent AI concoction for EverQuest Next. The company famously partnered with Storybricks last year to bring its fantasy NPCs to life, and a newly released video sheds a bit more light on what exactly that means.

The clip stems from a panel that was originally conducted at this year's SOE Live, which has now been distilled to a more manageable five-minute running time. Click past the cut to find out about EQN's lack of traditional quest hubs and how to make NPCs bow before your mighty axe of authority.

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Dark Age of Camelot builds statues of King's Tournament champions

Fantasy, Dark Age of Camelot, Events (In-Game), PvP, Anniversaries, Subscription

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daoc
Have you ever fancied the notion of having a giant in-game statue erected in your honor? This egotistical dream may come true for you in Dark Age of Camelot... if you are one of the winners of the October's King's Tournament.

This brand-new event in DAoC kicks off tomorrow to commemorate the game's 13th anniversary. Each of the three realms will be tracking RvR stats for everyone in the game, and at the end of the month the top two players from each realm will be crowned champion. These six winners will have a statue of their character constructed in their realm's capital city.

To track the progress of the tournament, players can check out an in-game leaderboard which will be updated on an hourly basis.

RIFT's Nightmare Tide now in open beta

Betas, Fantasy, Expansions, MMO Industry, News Items, RIFT

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Trion wants you to know that RIFT's Nightmare Tide open beta is now live. You'll need the company's Glyph launcher, and you'll need to navigate to the server list under the RIFT heading where you can select "PTS."

From there it should be pretty straightforward. If you're not inclined to play a pre-release version of the expansion, you can pick up the real thing on October 8th.

Anarchy Online steels itself for inferno missions

Sci-Fi, Anarchy Online, Patches, Previews, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries

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ao
A new type of mission is coming to Anarchy Online, and if its name is any indication, inferno missions will be hot in more ways than one.

Funcom Gameplay Designer Henry Senger wrote a monthly development update in which he focused on the upcoming inferno missions for players levels 170 and over: "These missions will involve protecting NPCs from waves of assaulting creatures. The difficulty of the mission will determine how many waves will appear, level of the assaulting monsters, as well as the mission reward. The assaults will end early if all the targets that need to be protected are killed."

Other fun things coming with the 18.6.15 patch are the return of battlestation daily missions, quality of life improvements, bug fixes, and convenient mission exits.

WildStar's Stephan Frost calls it quits

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, WildStar, Subscription

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frost
In a new WildStar Nexus Report livestream, Design Producer Stephan Frost stunned listeners by announcing that he would be leaving Carbine Studios.

"It really pains me to say this, but this will be my last show and my last week at Carbine," he said on the show. "I'm off to a new adventure; I got an offer that I couldn't turn down and so I'm going to take it. This is super-hard for me. This is one of my proudest achievements. A lot of my heart and soul is in this game."

Frost assured fans that it had nothing to do with the game and the community, and he promised that he would still be playing WildStar even after his departure.

Massively Speaking Episode 315: Signs of the apocalypse

Podcasts, MMO Industry, Massively Meta, Massively Speaking, Miscellaneous

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trove
MMOs coming back from the dead after 30 years? It's one of the sure signs of the end times! What's next, Richard Garriott returning to Ultima Online? Derek Smart stepping into a big pile of "oopsie?" A second Global Agenda? Preposterous!

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:
[RSS] Add Massively Speaking to your RSS aggregator.
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Read below the cut for the full show notes.

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Elsword reveals the Arc Tracer class... for science

Fantasy, Screenshots, Video, Classes, News Items, Free-to-Play

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Elsword
KOG Games has just revealed Add the Arc Tracer, a new class coming to Elsword on October 1st. The Arc Tracer is a tech specialist who can manipulate drones, laser cannon, and flying disks to kick butt with science. At level 35, the Arc Tracer can become a Mastermind (eventually -- but not in this patch!). We've got brand-new screenshots, details, and an exclusive trailer after the cut!

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Bungie confirms Destiny DLC leaks, but DLC is not 'finished'

Sci-Fi, Bugs, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, Destiny, Buy-to-Play

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Destiny
Leaked info about Destiny's upcoming The Dark Below and House of Wolves DLC is accurate but incomplete, says Bungie Community Manager DeeJ on the official forums today.
"We noticed that you noticed that we already have plans for upcoming content packs in Destiny. We do! They have activity names (which may or may not change) and we have a really good idea what they're going to contain. They even have placeholder nodes in the Director, as you've already discovered. But neither of the Expansion Packs we've announced [is] finished. People at Bungie are hard at work to complete content for our first post launch pack, The Dark Below, as I type these words. It will be finished soon. It releases in December. Soon, we'll detail it out for you so you can see exactly what we've been working on."
In other Destiny news, Massively's sister site Joystiq offered a handy PSA this morning about unofficial website DestinyPublicEvents.com, which tracks in-game events on timers so you know exactly where the action is.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Guild Wars 2's gender divide

Fantasy, Culture, Lore, Opinion, Guild Wars 2, Flameseeker Chronicles, Buy-to-Play

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I'm about to disappoint anyone who thought I might be okay with GamerGate.
When I sit down to write an installment of this column that is strongly critical of Guild Wars 2 -- a game I love, in case that was ever in doubt -- I try to follow a simple format in order to keep my criticism from turning into a venting session. That format is to establish that there is a problem, explain why it's a problem requiring a solution, and finally to offer any ideas or suggestions I think might be useful to that end. I do this because I want my articles to be helpful on some level to both ArenaNet and other fans, and while blowing off steam is excellent for the bilious humors, it's not so great for creating actual change.

Sometimes, though, the only suggestion I can offer is to please stop doing something because the fact that it's a problem is reason enough for it to require that solution. This is especially important when the issue isn't gameplay or monetization but rather something that personally affects me and the people I play with.

As a warning, several of the source links in this article lead to discussions of graphic and disturbing language and events.

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Casual escapists, Skyforge hasn't forgotten you

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Business Models, Culture, Game Mechanics, Interviews, News Items, PvE, Skyforge

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Skyforge
A new MMOGames interview with Obsidian Executive Producer Eric DeMilt sheds light on inbound sci-fantasy MMO Skyforge, which he says is angling to provide a deep experience for players with tons of time -- as well as players with very little. As he put it,
"We are striving to make a great high quality free to play MMO that would have action oriented combat and allow for short rewarding session time. We wanted to make something that could accommodate short session game play as allow for enjoyable longer play sessions. It's about escapism and being larger than life."
DeMilt also discusses power creep, player retention, character progression, the Facebook-inspired social network within the game, and monetization; on the last, he's reluctant to give details, but he vows that Skyforge is "not going to be a flat-out pay-to-win game."

How Blizzard is improving World of Warcraft's e-sports appeal

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, Subscription, E-sports

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WoW Insider
World of Warcraft is no stranger to e-sports, though its cousins deeper in the Blizzard family tree have fared far better. During the Hearthstone qualifiers at last weekend's DreamHack Stockholm, Blizzard Senior Manager of eSports Kim Phan spoke to PCGamesN about the challenges faced by World of Warcraft in the e-sports subgenre.

"I can definitely say that WoW 3v3 Arena right now is kind of hard to watch, in the form that it is, and so there are things that we want to evaluate," she explained. "World of Warcraft was obviously created well before e-sports blew up to the way it is now. We knew there was a competitive element to World of Warcraft, and then it just kind of blew up from there.

Warlords of Draenor's upcoming spectator mode is intended to address the difficulty of following arena matches, but Blizzard isn't stopping there. Even raids might be worth watching, Phan says. "Ideas have been brought up like Battlegrounds. People enjoy watching live raids at BlizzCon. What makes something an e-sport really depends on what people want to see. We are taking a close look into how we can better support e-sports."

BioWare delays SWTOR's Revan expansion reveal

Sci-Fi, Expansions, News Items, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic

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Dulfy.net has collected BioWare forum statements to confirm that Star Wars: The Old Republic's upcoming expansion announcement has been delayed. The studio had originally slated the reveal for September, but it's been delayed by "a couple of weeks." Community Manager Eric Musco advised players not to read too deeply into the delay because "the delay of announcement has no effect on the expansion schedule":
"In short, the process we go through internally to announce something as big as an expansion is actually quite complex and extensive. Although you are correct in that the end process may be a video, a landing page with some copy, etc. the process to get there requires a large amount of moving parts across multiple teams. Aside from just the assets and webpages there is arguably one of the most important aspects of these types of announcements, the game!

"By the time we announce we have to have a concrete idea of what will be coming in the game with the expansion, what types of perks we might give our subscribers, etc. Unfortunately with so many moving parts, we can sometimes run into the scenario like we did today. If we are not 100% confident in what we are going to put out, for a multitude of possible reasons, it can lead to a delay of announcement."
Forumgoers suggested the expansion will be titled "Shadow of Revan," "Spawn of Revan" or "Shroud of Revan"; dataminers have carved "Shadow of Revan" in stone. Musco reiterated BioWare's "commitment [to] launching it this year."

The Daily Grind: Are character bios due for revival?

Game Mechanics, Lore, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Roleplaying, Miscellaneous, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content

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SWG
One of my favorite things about classic MMOs is that they refused to give up on the "RPG" part of MMORPG. As in a tabletop game, in classic MMOs you were often given an opportunity to write a biography for your character, then import it into the game and attach it to your profile in some way so that other players could read it. In some games, having a superb character bio could snag the attention of a gamemaster and land you even more recognition in the form of a badge or achievement.

It bothers me that these little touches are missing from so many modern MMOs. They don't take much effort on the part of the designers, and they sell the impression that creativity still matters, that your character is more than just a chat handle and a suit of armor.

Are character bios due for a revival? Did you ever or would you use the option in your game of choice if you could?

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!

Season Two of WoW's Brawler's Guild detailed

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items

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Blizzard has broken down the changes coming to Brawler's Guild content in World of Warcraft. Season One achievements (i.e., pre-6.0.2 achievements) will be marked as legacy and will be replaced by new Season Two goals. Additionally, all tiers "have had their boss line-ups remixed," according to today's dev blog.

You can read the rest of the changes on WoW's official website.

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