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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.

Not So Massively: Patches for Destiny, Path of Exile, and Diablo III

Betas, Business Models, Game Mechanics, PvP, News Items, MMOFPS, Miscellaneous, Not So Massively, Dungeons, MOBA, Diablo III, Crowdfunding, Destiny, Star Citizen, Path of Exile, E-sports, OARPG

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Destiny
Welcome back to No So Massively, where every Monday we round up the highlights from the past week in the world of MOBAs, roguelikes, MMOTCGs, and other games that aren't quite MMOs.

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EVE dev blog explains Oceanus' new import/export functionality

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Sandbox

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EVE's always had a robust third-party tool-building community. With its new Oceanus release, CCP is embracing that community like never before by allowing for easier fitting imports and exports to and from everything from Pyfa to EFT to various killboards and websites.

The latest EVE blog post goes into great detail on the EFT format and explains that it was selected as the base because "it's established and very widely used" in the game's community.

Dark Age of Camelot passes the torch to a new producer

Fantasy, Dark Age of Camelot, MMO Industry, PvP, Dev Diaries, Anniversaries

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daoc
It's a season of change over at Dark Age of Camelot, as the team is transitioning from former producer Talal Saad to the new one, John Thornhill.

Saad said that he's not leaving the studio, but moving into a role that oversees more than just one game. "Rather than serving at the helm of one particular game, my responsibility will be to act as advocate and to use my time and energy to focus on how Broadsword can have a bigger impact, provide more investment, and achieve greater success for multiple products," he wrote.

Thornhill introduced himself as the former lead designer for DAoC and outlined what the team would be focusing on for the future. He said that there are plans for the game's 13th anniversary (including new race and class pairings), the release of patch 1.116 around the end of November, the increase to champion level 15, an addition of a casual group finder, and more interaction with the community.

"Our focus is going to be updating and modernizing the user experience of Dark Age of Camelot for the foreseeable future," Thornhill promised.

Star Trek Online: Delta Rising exposes androids and isolationist aliens

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Lore, Previews, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries

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sto
We're mere weeks away from entering the delta quadrant in Star Trek Online, but there is so much more left to learn about this new space and its inhabitants. Cryptic posted an intelligence briefing today about two additional races that one might encounter in Delta Rising: the Automatic Personnel Units and the Turei.

The APUs are androids built by a long-dead civilization to wage war by proxy. The androids turned on their creators, continued fighting with each other, and searched for a way to reproduce (pro tip: Newegg should have some in stock). In contrast, the Turei are reptilian, isolationist aliens who use the Underspace corridors to traverse the delta quadrant. They're kind of jerks but have been known to engage in trading in their journeys.

Marvel Heroes adding Blade and a bunch of other badasses

Super-hero, Classes, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Marvel Heroes

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Gazillion has announced the next batch of playable supes for its Marvel Heroes online action RPG. Upcoming characters include Doctor Doom, Iceman, Winter Soldier, Iron Fist, Blade, Black Cat, She-Hulk, Vision, War Machine, and Kitty Pryde.

The firm hasn't said when the heroes will be available, but it is dangling a couple of pre-order deals which you can read about in the press release past the cut.

[Source: Gazillion press release]

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Villagers and Heroes' latest update introduces subscriptions

Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Business Models, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Subscription

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Villagers and Heroes
Indie sandbox Villagers and Heroes' latest patch, Sands of the Equinox, landed last week. Of note, the patch adds a new all-level zone called the Oases of Anuk'Amon, where players can fight new bosses, collect new gear, and gather craft components. To address player complaints about the combat system, Mad Otter added a new optional dodging mechanic.

And here's something you don't see a lot of indie F2P games doing well past their launch: With this update, Mad Otter implemented an optional subscription plan. Ardent Society Memberships, as the subscriptions are called, boost experience gained from most activities, grant unlimited travel hops and bonus consumables, eliminate house rent, and create extra shared storage. A month-to-month sub is $7.95.

Massively last explored Villagers and Heroes in the wake of its April 2014 update and Steam launch.

WildStar settles on megaserver names

Sci-Fi, Culture, Previews, WildStar, Subscription

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wildstar
Players have cast their votes for the new megaservers coming to WildStar, and the decisions have been reached. In North America, the PvE server will be Entity and the PvP server will be Warhound. European players will soon be hanging out on Jabbit (PvE) and Luminai (PvP).

WildStar previously announced that it would be merging all current servers onto these four megaservers to facilitate increased population density and player interaction (and, presumably, to clean up the desolated servers). Until megaservers are instituted, players may transfer to other servers for free within their region.

ArcheAge's Auroria continent is on the way

Fantasy, Patches, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play

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Although players can see the continent of Auroria on the map in ArcheAge, they can't access it. All that, however, is about to change: Junkies Nation reports that Trion says the third continent will unlock within the next couple of weeks, rather than months, before the release of Patch 1.7. The 1.7 patch itself has no ETA; it's currently being translated. The opening of Auroria will usher in not only new adventures but more land for player homes and farms. The exact date will be announced soon so that guilds can prepare for castles, and the release time will be region-specific.

Trion also confirms that fishing tournaments are coming, that the 10-man Dahuta raid is purposefully being held back but may release with Auroria, and that there's no ETA on new races. Additionally, for those who prefer to keep all their games organized on Steam, Trion is working on getting the game back on that platform. For more details, check out the report on Junkies Nation.

DDO beefs up melee characters in Update 23

Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Patches, Free-to-Play

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ddo
All hail patch day for Dungeons and Dragons Online! Hear the mighty dragons roar and witness the ancient vaults break open and spill their content goodness! For Update 23 hath arrived to change the game forevermore.

Update 23 may not be the largest DDO patch to date, but it does contain several significant improvements. The biggest of these is a large buff to melee characters to balance that playstyle with those of other roles. Melee characters have new stats to help them with their efforts, including melee power, ranged power, and magical resist rating.

Turbine has also unlocked the epic version of the Orchard of the Macabre instances, added in a new raid, included guild storage, and offered players the ability to create cosmetic variants of armor pieces with the new Mirror of Glamering.

The Mog Log: Final Fantasy XIV and the housing mess, part 2

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, The Mog Log, Housing, Subscription

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Because I really enjoy writing this sort of column again.  Thanks, guy.
Wait, part 2? When was part 1 a thing? January, my friends. And while I had prayed for sun, I planned for rain, and that turned out to be a wise move. What happened in the end was unpleasant but entirely unsurprising, as Final Fantasy XIV's second implementation of housing went little better than the first.

In the interests of full disclosure, yes, I am one of the vanishingly small number of people with an in-game house at the moment. I work at home and happened to have both the money and the time to grab myself a place to live in-game. That doesn't mean the system is anything remotely approaching good or even acceptable, which is why I want to spend this week talking about the mess that has been made and what, if anything, can be done to correct this fact. Housing in Final Fantasy XIV is a sore spot right now, and that's a problem, especially when it doesn't have to be.

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The Crew's console closed beta launches tomorrow

Betas, Real-Life, News Items, Consoles, Miscellaneous

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The Crew
Console closed beta arrives tomorrow for racing MMO The Crew, a tweet from Ubisoft has announced. PS4 and Xbox One players can sign up on the official site to secure a spot in the test. Sorry, Wii U and PS3 stalwarts; the game won't be ported for you.

The game's second beta began on PC back in August. It's slated to launch on November 11th.

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How 'feel' trumps realism in H1Z1's weapon design

Horror, Game Mechanics, News Items, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, H1Z1

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H1Z1
H1Z1 Senior Game Designer Jimmy Whisenhunt has penned another dev blog about SOE's inbound survival sandbox, this one aimed at weapon design, starting with the modeling and rigging process. Animation design in particular, he says, is critical. "A huge part of the tuning process that is commonly overlooked in FPS game development is how a weapon reacts to in-game actions," Whisenhunt explains. "Design and Animation have to be in lock-step for a successful feel in combat; we need to have the same vision to ensure a solid experience for the player."

He also discusses recoil and shooting mechanics and how "feel" can trump realism.
"We've mentioned in the past that we want to avoid tuning and creating things simply because they 'that's the way it is in real life,' which means I get to take to take a realistic ballistic and weapon recoil feel and make it feel satisfying and fun. Typically the gravity of projectiles in real life doesn't fit the intended play experience we seek out. After all, the weapon feel and functionality has to fit our world design as well as Zombie and Player combat."
The full dev blog is on the official site. We took a look at H1Z1's art and lighting effects last week.

EGX London 2014: Guild Wars 2 promotes e-sports

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

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GW2
ArenaNet was in London this past weekend promoting its Guild Wars 2 e-sports angle to show-goers, including some who might never have played or even heard of the MMO. A pair of videos serve to explain how Guild Wars 2 works; the first covers PvE from character creation to skills to armor, and the second, hosted by Competitive Community Manager Joshua "Grouch" Davis, covers all things PvP. We think having a Competitive Community Manager is a pretty serious declaration of your e-sports intent. Enjoy the vids below.

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The Daily Grind: Do you report offensive names?

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind

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Shitty names make Eanna cry
I've seen some truly awful player and guild names in ArcheAge recently. A couple of them made me laugh, but most were expressly designed to be as offensive as possible. And given the fact that Trion's customer service is similarly awful (96 to 120 hour response time? really?), said names will probably stick around for a while even if people bother to report them.

And that brings us to today's Daily Grind question. Do you report names, or do you just ignore them and go about your in-game business?

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!

MMO Week in Review: Path of the Titan

Massively Meta, Week in Review, Miscellaneous

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WoW
At the end of every week, we round up the best and most popular news stories, exclusive features, and insightful columns published on Massively and then present them all in one convenient place. If you missed a big MMO or WoW Insider story last week, you've come to the right post.

This week, Blizzard made Titan's cancelation official, sending analysts scurrying to make bold statements of doom and/or apathy and leaving MMO fans to ponder what Titan's death really means to our genre.

Read on for a look at the rest of this week's top MMO stories.

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