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The Think Tank: Thoughts on PAX East 2014

Culture, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Events (Massively's Coverage), Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

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PAX East came and went last weekend, and as we do most years, the Massively writers got together to discuss the highlights and the disappointments of the con. Join the conversation -- what did you think was the best (and worst) MMO or reveal at PAX?

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EverQuest II producer's letter outlines All Access changes

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Making your own access.
On April 23rd, big changes are coming to Sony Online Entertainment's All Access membership. The latest producer's letter for EverQuest II outlines how those changes will affect players as well as what updates are around the corner. All Access players in EverQuest II will have seven available character slots, a boost to both coins earned and mount speed, and doubled gain rates for alternate currencies earned in-game. There will also be early access to content and promotions available for members.

The first bit of early access content will be the contested version of the High Keep dungeon, exclusive to members for two weeks and sporting all-new story and characters therein. There are also plans to create a more reliable resource to look up what's being updated in the game's near future, a necessity as the updates switch to a weekly schedule. Take a look at the full letter for more details on exclusive member perks as well as the immediate agenda for updates.

SOE is streaming H1Z1 live right now

Historical, Horror, Video, Events (Real-World), New Titles, Previews, PvP, News Items, Community Q&A, Post-Apocalyptic, Livestream, H1Z1

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H1Z1
SOE has just announced that members of the H1Z1 dev team will be streaming the recently revealed zombie survival sandbox for the first time tonight on Twitch starting at 7:00 p.m. EDT, which is right this very minute. We've included the stream embed after the cut for your entertainment. Popcorn sold separately.

[Update: The devs streaming are Game Designer Jimmy Whisenhunt and Technical Director Tom Schenck]

[Source: SOE press release]

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The Elder Scrolls Online launches Craglorn teaser site

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Game Mechanics, Patches, Previews, Endgame, News Items, PvE, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

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ESO
ZeniMax has just launched a sub-site for The Elder Scrolls Online featuring Craglorn, the adventure zone that will serve as host for the MMORPG's first major content update. Aimed at veteran groups, the zone promises new quests and delves for four-person groups, a plotline revolving around "the mystery of the missing constellations," 12-man trials and leaderboards, and new gear.

While the teaser site is light on new information and does ask you to click through yet another age-gate (yes, we all know you were born January 1st, 1900), it does feature some gorgeous artwork and the Craglorn trailer released earlier in the month. We've embedded it after the cut.

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Destiny parts ways with composer, growing 'close to shipping'

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, MMOFPS, Music, Destiny

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Destiny
Destiny Composer Marty O'Donnell was either fired or peacefully left Bungie last week, depending on whether you take his or the studio's testimony on the event. In either case, the fact remains that O'Donnell is no longer part of the studio.

Bungie Chief Operating Officer Pete Parsons refused to comment on the specifics of the decision but said that the game is still on track for release. He said that O'Donnell's contributions will remain part of the soundtrack, which is also being worked on by a few others.

"We have a fantastic team. We're pretty close to shipping. There's a lot of polish left to do, lots of tweaking and tuning, but a lot is already complete," Parsons said to Eurogamer.

Bungie claims that the studio and O'Donnell parted as "friends" while the composer tweeted yesterday that he was "terminated without cause."

Pathfinder Online shows off its map

Betas, Fantasy, Video, PvP, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Pathfinder Online

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Pathfinder
Lead Game Designer Lee Hammock is your host and guide to a tour through Pathfinder Online's detailed maps.

Pathfinder's maps look a little different than a typical MMO map, offering more of a malleable report on shifting allegiances and events in a hex layout. The main map is color-coded to show terrain type, with symbols and lines representing cities, trade routes, player towns, security levels, and points of interest. Knowing which resources come from which terrain type will be crucial to building up player settlements.

Hammock and his beige shirt of stunning good looks star in a nine-minute developer video that you can watch after the break.

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Neverwinter launching Curse of Icewind Dale on May 13th

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Lore, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, Neverwinter

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All right, I can get this thing to work, don't worry.
If you're ready to have some chill adventures in Neverwinter, you'd better be ready on May 13th. That's when the Curse of Icewind Dale module will launch for players, bringing with it two new adventure zones, a new open PvP region, and new factions for players to fight over. Also a new Hunter Ranger Paragon path, but that really only affects Hunter Rangers, which as infographics show make up only half of the characters in the game.

But why are you going to Icewind Dale? What's so important? If only there were some sort of lore trailer past the break that will give a concise explanation of exactly what's going down in the region and why players are taking part, as well as outline the factions fighting over the valuable Black Ice. That would be very convenient, wouldn't it? Perhaps you should click past the break to check out that exact trailer, then.

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The full scoop on Marvel Heroes' team-ups

Super-hero, Interviews, Patches, Free-to-Play, Marvel Heroes

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Marvel Heroes
Massively: Last week Marvel Heroes added a new feature to the game in the form of "team-ups." While we know the basics of this new system, we wanted to go into more detail. To help us with this, Gazillion Community Manager Ryan Collins sat down to answer a few questions. So Ryan, let's strip away the game-specific terminology: Are team-up heroes NPC companions? Pets? If you had to compare them to another game's features, what would it be to help us understand what they're like?

Ryan Collins: Team-ups would be most similar to companions or hirelings. Like Diablo II's hirelings, team-up heroes have their own gear (with four brand-new item types just for them) that allow you to customize your team-up's stats. Some team-up items even convey bonuses to your hero directly. Team-ups also have a power tree that allows you to customize the way they function, the powers they use, and the passive bonuses they have. The first choice you get to make with your team-up is how they behave, for which there are three "modes."

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World of Warcraft kicks off Azeroth Choppers

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Video, Culture, News Items, Subscription

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I can't even internet any more.
Are you ready to ride through Azeroth and Draenor in style? Because that's the goal of the new web series fusing American Chopper and World of Warcraft. The first episode is out now, and you can guess the heart of it just from the premise. Two bikes will be designed -- one for the Horde, one for the Alliance -- and fans will vote on which bike winds up in the game as a mount.

The first episode, of course, is very much the proof of concept; it features a very early glance at the starting point for both bikes as well as a discussion of Horde and Alliance aesthetics. You can watch the whole episode just past the cut. It's going to be running at least through the end of May, so you'll get a front-row seat to see both choppers brought from concept into execution.

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Hands-on with Hearthstone for iPad

Fantasy, Launches, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Trading Card Games, Hearthstone

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Hearthstone
While I was part of the early beta crowd for Hearthstone last year, I haven't played it in quite some time. It wasn't because I became disenfranchised with the game but rather because I felt it truly belonged on a tablet -- and playing it on a PC just felt wrong somehow. So I've been waiting for Hearthstone to finally make the leap to the iPad, and when that happened yesterday, I was all over it like a murloc swarm on a noobie.

In many ways, Hearthstone is absolutely tailor-fit for mobile gaming. It requires minimal manipulation; poking, holding, and the occasional swipe is about as complex as the physical mechanics get. It's a turn-based thinker's game that gives you ample time to plot your strategy and get a few other things done between moves. On an iPad, that's pretty easy; I would read a book while my opponent took his/her/its turn.

The game actually kept me up past my bedtime because of the "just one more match" temptation, which tells me that the magic that fueled my interest in this game in beta is roaring more now than ever. But how does it actually handle on Apple's devices?

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The Stream Team: Landmark's castles and manors and gardens, oh my!

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Video, EverQuest II, Free-to-Play, Livestream, Sandbox, The Stream Team, Player-Generated Content, Landmark

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No matter how long you have been wandering around in Landmark, you'll still stumble across new things! Massively's MJ has noted a number of spectacular creations throughout her journeys, including castles without compare. But what if you are more at home in something less grand? MJ has found some impressive manors fit for even the most discerning Norrathians. Of course, homes aren't the only thing built; creative players have designed bowling alleys, underground gardens, and so much more. Join us live at 3:00 p.m. EDT to tour some of these great places, and maybe stumble upon a few more!

Game: Landmark
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Thursday, April 17th, 2014
Time: 3:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Elite's latest newsletter talks hyperdrives, the Cobra MK III, and more

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

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Elite: Dangerous Cobra MK III
Frontier has sent out issue #19 of its Elite: Dangerous newsletter. As usual, there's plenty of interesting info on the upcoming space sim sandbox, from how heat (and heat management) factors into Elite's gameplay to the design philosophy behind the iconic Cobra MK III.

This latest letter concludes with more "mostly harmless questions" from the community, including bits about Kepler data and traversing Elite's mind-bogglingly big playfields.
There are two modes of super luminal (faster than light) travel. Super cruise (or frame shifting) is used for travel inside systems. It was originally conceived as a sub-luminal drive, but based on the fantastic collaboration we have been having with our Design Decision Forum backers it was re-worked and is now itself a super luminal system to allow relatively rapid travel within systems. Hyperspace drives are used to travel between star systems.

Hyperdrives with different ranges, charge up times and fuel consumption parameters are available, and so your particular model of hyperdrive governs your specific ability to move around the galaxy.

Both will make their debut in Alpha 4 (not counting the early version of hyperspace in Alpha 3).

Sony: VR 'might be quite a social experience'

Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Consoles, Virtual Reality

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Project Morpheus
Sony is following Facebook onto the mass-market virtual reality bandwagon, according to comments made by the firm's London studio boss.

Speaking with MCV, Dave Ranyard says that Sony has worked "quite hard" on something called the social screen in concert with its Project Morpheus VR headset, the former of which will attempt to link tablets or phones to a TV version of what the Morpheus user sees and thereby facilitate companion app play.

"The 1970s future vision of virtual reality was a very solo experience of people playing on their own, Ranyard says. "But actually it might not be that, it might be quite a social experience."

Norrathian Notebook: Landmark update highlights the power of players

Betas, Fantasy, New Titles, Free-to-Play, EverQuest Next, Housing, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

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As a long-time gamer, I have to admit: I never expected I'd really see the day. What day is that? The one where a studio says one thing... and does it!

True to SOE's word, the development process for Landmark has been quite open. Between social media, livestreams, and posts, the devs have been very forthcoming about where they are and where they are going, giving players a pretty clear picture of what's going on. But that's only the half of it. What impresses me most about this whole situation is that player input is actually recognized as a valuable commodity, not a nuisance to be brushed aside and ignored. I'm not just referring to the opinions offered during the various Round Table polls either, even though those are a welcome component to the the mix. I'm talking about the fact that players are a driving force behind the direction of Landmark's development. And yesterday's update really brought that fact home.

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Trion hosting ArcheAge combat and crafting livestream tonight

Betas, Fantasy, Classes, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, PvE, ArcheAge, Sandbox, Crafting

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ArcheAge caption contest screenshot
If you're an ArcheAge fan and you're not in Trion's alpha, you'll want to set aside 45 minutes starting tonight at 7:00 p.m. EDT to watch the latest dev livestream hosted by producer Victoria Voss and community guru Evan Berman.

The duo will examine ArcheAge's combat classes and crafting skills live on Twitch.

Trion also announced its first official AA competition which takes the form of a caption contest. The prize is a spot in the sandpark's alpha, and you've got until April 23rd to work on your entry.

[Thanks WNxArcticwolf!]

Archlord 2 closed beta registration is open

Betas, Fantasy, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play

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Archlord 2
Webzen wants you to play Archlord 2, and as such the company is inviting you to pre-register for the fantasy sequel's upcoming closed beta test. You can use your existing Webzen, gPotato.com, or gPotato.eu account as well as your Facebook profile.

It's worth noting that registration does not guarantee closed beta access, according to the company's press release. Rather, you'll be entered into a key lottery. The closed beta is currently scheduled to begin in June.

"Archlord 2 is a medieval fantasy-based MMORPG that takes place in the mysterious and dangerous world of Chantra," Webzen explains. "Players will join in a never-ending conflict between the two opposing factions of the Azuni and the Crunn. They will be able to satisfy their thirst for power by participating in enormous PvP battles holding up to 400 players and fighting to claim the ultimate prize and to become the Archlord -- the world's supreme ruler."

[Source: Webzen press release]

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The Secret World's new ARG opens signups for loyalists [Updated]

Horror, Real-Life, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, The Secret World, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding

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TSW
A newsletter sent yesterday to current and former players of The Secret World invites them to sign up for the game's upcoming Black Watchmen alternate reality game, which is due to officially kick off in September. Here's the hard pill to swallow for those of you used to the B2P nature of TSW: The ARG isn't free. Players who sign up will be funding the game's previously announced Crowdtilt crowdfunding campaign and will receive a year's worth of ARG gameplay and missions and a special in-game outfit for $20 ($10 off the normal fee).

Massively's MJ explored the ARG in detail just a few weeks ago. Enjoy the trailer below!

[Thanks to Dengar for the tip.]

[Update: It turns out that if you're a lifetime member of TSW, this deal is even sweeter: Not only do you pick up the in-game goodies, but you get a free sub to the ARG for a year.]

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The Daily Grind: What's your favorite browser MMO?

MMO Industry, Opinion, Browser, The Daily Grind

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Heroes & Generals is still badass
Browser-based MMOs aren't normally my bag, but yesterday's Heroes & Generals update reminded me that there are a couple of nifty ones out there. Aside from H&G and SOE's late great Clone Wars Adventures, though, I don't have much experience with the genre.

So, help me out, Massively readers. What's your favorite browser-based MMO title?

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!

A fierce weather front is blowing into Age of Wushu

Fantasy, Historical, Trailers, Game Mechanics, Previews, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Age of Wushu

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Age of Wushu
Age of Wushu is introducing dynamic weather effects that will do more than look moody; they will actually herald several events.

Each weather effect will have a different event that it will trigger. The great fog will start a school assassination PvP contest, the sandstorm will begin a treasure hunt in the desert, the eclipse will launch an invasion by the Prince of a Thousand Sentiments, and the thunderstorm will give you the opportunity to find the fight of the century.

This weather system will be coming with the Age of Wushu: Tempest of Strife update. You can check out the weather effects preview video after the break!

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Richard Garriott holds contest to recreate his first teletype RPG

Fantasy, Contests, Events (Real-World), Crowdfunding, Shroud of the Avatar

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This pic never gets old
Before Tabula Rasa and even before the Ultima games, Richard Garriott made a teletype game he called D&D #1. A high school student at the time, Garriott built the RPG after his astronaut dad told him he'd split the cost of an Apple II as incentive. D&D #1 eventually branched out into 27 more versions of the game, with D&D #28 being rewritten as Akalabeth, his famous first money-maker sold in plastic Ziploc bags.

But now Garriott wants fans of his work to play that first D&D #1 game once again. No, not on a teletype machine, but from within his upcoming Shroud of the Avatar MMORPG.

Starting today, a new contest will reward the best version made on Unity and the best version made as a plug-in browser port. Winners will receive the Citizen-level Kickstarter pledge reward ($550 value) and both runners-up will receive the Collector's level pleadge reward ($165 value).

If this sounds like something up your programming alley, snatch up the original code for the game at Shroud of the Avatar's official site.

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The Stream Team


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Release Dates

Core Games | In Testing | Crowdfund Hopefuls
Elder Scrolls Online April 4, 2014
WildStar June 3, 2014
Destiny September 9, 2014
Neverwinter Module 3 Spring 2014
LEGO Minifigures Online Summer 2014
The Crew Fall 2014
ArcheAge 2014
Firefall 2014
WoW Warlords of Draenor 2014

Meet the Team

Brianna Royce Editor-in-Chief
Jef Reahard Managing Editor
Justin Olivetti Contributing Editor
Eliot Lefebvre Contributing Editor
Shawn Schuster Contributing Editor
MJ Guthrie Contributing Editor
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