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One Shots: Haiku edition

Screenshots, Culture, Star Trek Online, One Shots, The Secret World, Final Fantasy XIV, Miscellaneous, Elite: Dangerous

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ff14
Believe it or not, I have been listening to you guys in the comments, and I know that there's been an ongoing desire for One Shots to provide the full-size pictures that are otherwise shrunk by our size limitations. So I'm happy to announce that starting this week, I'm including a gallery at the end of the column that will allow you to pull up larger screenshots if so desired.

A few weeks ago I issued a screenshot challenge for folks to send in a haiku poem in addition to their picture. A select few of you did, starting with this striking pose from Final Fantasy XIV by reader Wolfyseyes:

Facing this challenge
One thought repeats in my mind:
Please, please, please don't suck

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MMO Burnout: Engineers in spaaace

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Sandbox

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I missed the whole Minecraft craze. I was stupidly grinding my virtual life away in various MMORPGs, plus I couldn't get past Minecraft's so-fugly-it's-hip aesthetic. No matter, though, because Space Engineers takes Minecraft's core concepts and dolls them up with pleasing visuals, a nifty near future sci-fi setting, and addictive gameplay that's much more than the sum of its parts.

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PAX South 2015: Slaying giants in Motiga's Gigantic

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Video, Events (Real-World), New Titles, PvP, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, MMOFPS, First Impressions, Events (Massively's Coverage), MOBA

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Gigantic
Motiga's Gigantic is one part Team Fortress, one part Dota, and one part Monster Hunter. The basic match structure will sound familiar to MOBA lovers -- two teams of five slug it out for superiority by controlling resources, leveling up, and killing one another -- but the skill-based mechanics, multiple maps, and shifting strategy priorities make the game more than a three-lane farm fest. Gigantic isn't about last-hitting or memorizing meta. Instead, it's about slaying giants and aiming true.

I hopped in on a quick Gigantic match with some other press folks this afternoon at PAX South 2015, and in the midst of delivering an absolute drubbing to the scrubs (kidding!) on the other side of the table, I was able to get a feel for the game's combat system, characters, and the way its massive guardians change the way battles play out.

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PAX South 2015: O'Brien and Johanson on Guild Wars 2's Heart of Thorns

Fantasy, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Interviews, New Titles, PvP, PvE, Guild Wars 2, Events (Massively's Coverage), MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

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Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns
ArenaNet's Mike O'Brien and Colin Johanson (and Commander Shepard) took to the PAX South 2015 stage yesterday morning to announce Heart of Thorns, the first-ever expansion for Guild Wars 2. If you're not up to speed, check out our post covering the announcement and the official site to get the broad strokes on the expansion's new zone, new profession, new progression system, and more.

News of the expansion raised many a question from our readers (and our staff!). Massively's Larry Everett and I sat down with O'Brien and Johanson to try to get those questions answered and dive a little deeper into the changes coming to Guild Wars 2's living world.

And no, there isn't a release date.

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO devs cause you to follow a project?

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind

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Raph Koster's involvement with Crowfall has increased my interest in the game. I still doubt the title is for me, but given Koster's role at the forefront of my two favorite MMORPGs, I kinda have to pay attention.

What about you, Massively readers? Are there any MMO devs whose involvement causes you to follow a project?

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!

PAX South 2015: The Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns experience

Fantasy, Culture, Events (Real-World), Expansions, PvE, Opinion, Guild Wars 2, Events (Massively's Coverage), MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

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Charr v Dragon
As MMO players surely know by now, Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns is the first expansion ever for the ArenaNet MMORPG. In fact, most everyone suspected the announcement thanks to the leaked trademark information. But that didn't stop fans from being excited about it, nor did that bit of information satisfy their hunger.

The emcee for the reveal event was none other than voice actor Jennifer Hale, whose voice players might recognize as Queen Jennah's. President and CEO of ArenaNet Mike O'Brien and game director Colin Johanson teased the PAX South crowd of over 1,500 fans waiting in the main theater. But the anticipation for the new expansion started well before anyone even came to the stage.

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Make My MMO: January 18 - 24, 2015

Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Crowdfunding, Make My MMO

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This week in MMO crowdfunding news, Star Citizen's release window made headlines, as did the new VAT tax that's about to hit Euro fans of the space sim opus. We also heard from TUG and Shroud of the Avatar, while Pantheon hosted a dev roundtable and promised a public vision.

Click past the cut for our weekly crowdfunding news roundup.

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Norrathian Notebook: Five reasons to support EQ Next and Landmark

Betas, Fantasy, Opinion, Free-to-Play, EverQuest Next, Sandbox, Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

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I like Landmark and am looking forward to EverQuest Next. There, I said it. It should be no surprise. And as such, I certainly have a vested interest in how these games fare throughout their development and launch. I want to see them succeed. But the thing is, so should you -- whether or not you actually want to play them.

Unfortunately, it seems all too fashionable lately for folks to tear something down instead of build it up. So often when I'm following the discussions about EQ Next and Landmark, I hear plenty of reasons why folks don't like the games, and the reasons frequently have nothing to do with the games themselves. Detractors are going on about longstanding gripes and grudges instead of judging the games on their own merits (a practice that the whole world could certainly do without). Amid all the scathing comments I've heard directed at SOE for slights real and imagined, one recently gave me pause and made me reflect on the reasons that supporting these two MMO endeavors is worthwhile.

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PAX South 2015: The Untitled Game is whatever you want it to be

Fantasy, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, Interviews, PvE, Hands-On, Events (Massively's Coverage), Sandbox, Crafting, Crowdfunding, Player-Generated Content, MMORPG

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The Untitled Game, better known as TUG, is one of the many recent titles that have earned a small crowdfunding fortune by shouting the word "sandbox" as loud as the internet will allow. The game's initial Kickstarter campaign raised $293,000; launching on Steam's Early Access marketplace helped Nerd Kingdom rake in an unspecified amount of additional dollars. The studio had a bold plan for an open-world, innovative crafting MMORPG, and it appeared as though players were ready to pay for it.

Things haven't gone so swimmingly since then. Funding issues in late 2014 forced the studio to lay off around half of its staff. Many MMO industry followers have been wondering whether the project will ever be released or it's just another crowdfunded pipe dream.

I took a look at TUG on the show floor at PAX South 2015 and talked to COO Brennan Priest about crowdfunding, layoffs, and killing things with axes. The one thing I can say for sure is that there is definitely a game here, and it seems as if it could be a good one.

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PAX South 2015: SWTOR reveals its plans for this year

Sci-Fi, Events (Real-World), PvP, PvE, Free-to-Play, Races, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Dev Diaries, MMORPG

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Pax South 2015: SWTOR reveals its plan for the year
When Eric Musco, the Star Wars: The Old Republic community manager, took the stage at the Community cantina last night at PAX South, he revealed that in 2015 the team wants to do something a bit different with this and future cantina crawl events. In the past, it has been policy not to reveal anything at the cantinas; they were intended to be social events where players could get some face-time with the developers of the game that they both enjoyed. However, going forward, the community and development teams have decided that each cantina will reveal that had not been mentioned before.

The reveal at this weekend's cantina came in the form of the yet-to-be-published producer's letter by Bruce Maclean. The completely made-up story is that it was stolen from his computer while he wasn't looking and printed out to share with us at the cantina.

After the break, you'll find a copy of that letter as it was dictated to cantina goers. The caveat, of course, is that this is not the final version of the letter that will appear on the official site in two weeks, so everything is subject to change.

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PAX South 2015: Notes from a Star Citizen town hall

Sci-Fi, Culture, Events (Real-World), Events (Massively's Coverage), Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Star Citizen, MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

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Star Citizen
Star Citizen is such a big fancy deal that instead of having a panel or booth at PAX South 2015, Cloud Imperium booked a theater down the street and hosted 10 straight hours of forums and chit-chats with backers. That's right: There wasn't enough room in the PAX convention hall to accommodate all the Star Citizening Star Citizens needed to Star Citizen, so they had their own one-day mini-convention dedicated just to their game of choice.

One has to respect a development team willing to spend the entire day with its community (for a nominal fee, of course). I'm sure Star Citizens were absolutely amped to pay the same amount of money as a PAX day pass to hang out with CI all day. Unfortunately, I attended only the evening town hall with Chris Roberts, which I would describe as impenetrable to anyone without a license to pilot one of Star Citizen's $350 ships.

I did take some notes. I will try to parse them here.

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PAX South 2015: Guild Wars 2's Heart of Thorns is an expansion

Fantasy, Events (Real-World), Previews, News Items, Guild Wars 2, Events (Massively's Coverage), Buy-to-Play

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GW2
ArenaNet has just announced that Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns is indeed an expansion.

Speaking from a packed main theater at PAX South 2015, ANet President Mike O'Brien formally confirmed the rumored expansion, saying it will take players "deep into the heart of the Maguuma jungle" and will avoid traditional expansion powercreep and gear treadmills by not raising the level cap. The expansion will introduce new group challenges, new profession specializations, and an account-based "masteries" system for character progression through the new territories.

Game Director Colin Johanson told cheering fans that new legendary weapons and precursors are inbound, as are epic quests that help players acquire their precursors. The expansion will include one new class, the Revenant, which is a heavy armor class that channels the spirits of the mists and famous characters from Guild Wars lore. Each existing class will receive new mechanics and weapons that "fundamentally" change how they play; for example, Rangers can become druids and Necromancers will be able to use greatswords. WvW will also finally get some love, and there will be a new GvG game mode called Stronghold, which of course means... guild halls!

The official site is live now, and the brand-new trailer is now below the cut. Massively's Larry Everett and Mike Foster are live at the event; we'll have more from San Antonio later this afternoon. Fans can follow the festivities on Twitch.

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PAX South 2015: Garriott and Long talk Shroud of the Avatar

Fantasy, Events (Real-World), Interviews, MMO Industry, PvE, Hands-On, Roleplaying, Events (Massively's Coverage), Sandbox, Crafting, Crowdfunding, Player-Generated Content, Shroud of the Avatar, MMORPG

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SOTA
In 2013, Ultima Online creator Richard Garriott took to Kickstarter in the hopes of funding an old-school, sandbox-y MMO. Titled Shroud of the Avatar, the new project would be built in Unity and aimed squarely at those MMO fans who longed for the days of player-driven economies, crafting as a focus instead of a side activity, and the ability to impact the game world in a real way.

The plan worked. Shroud of the Avatar pulled $1.9 million on Kickstarter alone, almost doubling its $1 million funding goal. Since then, the team has been hard at work bringing Garriott's vision to life (and keeping backers happy).

I spoke with Garriott on the PAX South 2015 show floor about crowdfunding, loot, and the mistakes of the modern RPG. I also got to play a bit of SOTA with the help of executive producer Starr Long, who kindly did not make fun of me when I was killed by the second mob in the demo.

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WRUP: Dropping all the subs

Massively Meta, Miscellaneous

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ESO
Welcome back to Massively's What Are You Playing, the game in which we tell you what we're playing this weekend and you guess, to the day, when WildStar will join ESO in dropping its sub. Winner gets the admiration of his peers!

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The Daily Grind: What's your favorite archer class?

Classes, Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

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camelot unchained
I've never been one to gravitate toward bow-and-arrow classes in MMOs, although I've dabbled in them from time to time. I guess I fear that archers and their ilk are far too popular and feature mindless, straight-forward mechanics (shoot... one arrow at a time! Now two at a time! Now a whole bunch rapidly!).

But if I had to pick a favorite, it would have to be Dungeons and Dragon Online's Bard. I equipped her with a heavy repeating crossbow, and being able to man the medieval equivalent of an automatic rifle was strangely satisfying. Plus, crossbows do not get a lot of play in MMOs for some reason.

Do you have a favorite archer class, and if so, what was it?

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!

Here's a trailer from that Borderlands thing you'll never play

Betas, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items

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Borderlands Online is still a China-exclusive title, but if for some reason you want to watch the trailer for a game you'll probably never play, we have it for you after the break!

MMO Culture reports that Borderlands started its "technical test" today. It also says that the game is an "instance-based online shooter," so really you aren't missing too much if you're a fan of the original series and its open world ethos.

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Betawatch: January 17 - 23, 2015

Betas, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Massively Meta, Betawatch, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding

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Star Citizen
This week, crowdfund legend Star Citizen laid out a testing timeline for the next two years; it plans to publish the "planetside/social" and FPS betas this spring, while alpha for the persistent universe portion of the game is expected before the end of 2015. What else is new in the world of MMO testing? Read on for the full Betawatch list.

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PAX South 2015: Hangin' with Frontier, playin' Elite on the Oculus Rift

Sci-Fi, Events (Real-World), Interviews, PvE, Hands-On, Events (Massively's Coverage), Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Elite: Dangerous, Buy-to-Play

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Elite: Dangerous
Readers of the Choose My Adventure column may remember that I spent the month of September smuggling beer, shooting NPCs, and dodging space rocks in Frontier Developments' Elite: Dangerous. Though the game was in early beta, I found lots to do and lots to love about the space simulator that isn't that other space simulator. Realistic physics, challenging flight controls, and beautiful design work made the game stand out to me as unique and promising (other Massively staffers seem to agree), and I've revisited it since and enjoyed it every time.

Thus, I jumped at the chance to check Elite out again at PAX South 2015, this time with the experience enhanced by a rad HOTAS setup and the ever-so-popular Oculus Rift. Guided by producer Eddie Symons, I bluffed my way through a combat demo and discovered that when it comes to shooting things in space, being able to look and fly separately is a great thing indeed.

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DayZ has sold over 3 million early access copies

Betas, Horror, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, Sandbox

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DayZ has been on Steam early access for over a year now, and what does the post-apocalyptic zombie sandbox have to show for it? Well, over 3 million customers, for starters.

A new Bohemia Interactive press release touts the 24 updates the game has seen since its "launch," and it also mentions ongoing improvements including a core engine rewrite begun in 2014. The new engine is called Enfusion, and it includes renderer upgrades and corresponding performance upticks as well as "vastly improved" particle effect aesthetics.

Bohemia also notes that the DayZ dev team now boasts over 80 people.

[Source: Bohemia Interactive press release]

TUG's multiplayer goes live

Betas, Fantasy, Events (Real-World), Patches, Sandbox

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tug
Yesterday, the first stage of TUG's multiplayer went online with its 0.8.1 alpha patch. Players can now bump into each other in both survival and creative modes. But wait -- there's more! The patch also sports a brand-new terrain engine, a new UI, better mod capabilities, additional AI characters, and a handy return stone.

The TUG team will be at booth #1483 at PAX South this weekend and will be selling access to the game at a discount for the duration of the convention. Massively will be reporting on TUG from the show floor, so stay tuned!

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Core Games | In Testing | Crowdfund Hopefuls
PAX South Jan. 23, 2015
GDC March 2, 2015
PAX East March 6, 2015
EVE Fanfest March 19, 2015
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DragonCon Fall, 2015
BlizzCon Fall, 2015

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