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Archlord 2 rolls out its first major content update

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

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Letting the days go by.
Have you been hankering for something new to do in Archlord 2? If so, you'll be happy to know that the game's first major update has gone live, bringing with it a level cap increase to 46 along with new contested areas and new dungeons. The new dungeons are aided by the introduction of a flesible system that allows you to take on the challenges within in a group of varying size; the enemies therein will scale to provide differing challenges.

Meanwhile, the Morning Dew Desert is a new map for the game's factions to clash over, and a new Skirmish pits two teams of five against one another in a capture-and-hold battle. Last but not least, the first version of the eponymous Archlord system is being rolled out as well; it allows players to compete in battlegrounds in hopes of winning the title -- and the items and skills that come along with it. Check out the trailer just past the break.

[Source: Webzen press release]

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Darkfall Unholy Wars hosts a free weekend

Fantasy, Video, Darkfall, Events (Real-World), Patches, News Items

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We want you!  We just want you around.  You're special and you make us happy.
Have you always wanted to head back to Darkfall Unholy Wars but never quite had an excuse to do so? If so, you're getting one now. Aventurine is turning on open access to all of the game's servers this weekend, from Friday, October 3rd, until maintenance on Monday, October 6th. Everyone will be able to jump in and play for free as long as you have an account, whether you're an old-school lapsed player or just unsubscribed briefly as the school year started up.

The weekend is in celebration of the game's latest patch, which introduces improved movement options and more combat balance. The developers are also laying siege to a city on the European server on Friday, so if you want to face off against the makers of the game, this will be your opportunity. Check out more details of the patch's movement in the video past the break, and get ready to jump in and lay siege for the weekend.

[Thanks to Dengar for the tip!]

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EVE's Oceanus release is now live

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

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EVE players fight like the French
EVE Online's latest update has been successfully pushed to the sci-fi sandbox's live Tranquility server, according to a CCP announcement post.

Oceanus includes new cloak effects, notification tweaks, new burner missions, easier fitting import/exports, French localization, and some other stuff that you can read about via the full patch notes.

Leaderboard: Nightmare Tide vs. Warlords of Draenor

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Expansions, MMO Industry, PvE, Opinion, RIFT, Leaderboard

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There are a couple of big fantasy MMO expansions coming out in short order. RIFT's Nightmare Tide drops on October 8th, while World of Warcraft's Warlords of Draenor releases on November 13th.

Given those facts, I bet you can guess the content of today's Leaderboard, can't ya? Vote after the cut!

Ever wish that you could put to rest a long-standing MMO debate once and for all? Then welcome to the battle royal of Massively's Leaderboard, where two sides enter the pit o' judgment -- and only one leaves. Vote to make your opinion known, and see whether your choice tops the Leaderboard!

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SMITE's new god, Sylvanus, rocks a treant mount

Trailers, Video, Classes, Culture, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, MOBA

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SMITE
SMITE's patch notes earlier this week whispered of Sylvanus, Keeper of the Wild, and today, the new god has been officially revealed in a brand-new video.

The antlered, Pan-like god is a protector of nature and woodland creatures who rides around on a treant because he can. Wisp-based regens, tree-themed roots, and AoE poisons serve to bolster his teammates and annoy his enemies.

Enjoy the first look at Sylvanus below.

[Thanks, Sorenthaz!]

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Your worship of EverQuest Next's deities will shape the world

Betas, Fantasy, EverQuest, Lore, Free-to-Play, EverQuest Next, Sandbox

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eqn
The gods of Norrath are slated to return for EverQuest Next, and who players choose to worship will have a profound effect on the game itself.

Lead Content Designer Steve Danuser penned a lore blog to introduce Veeshan and the Nor'I for the upcoming fantasy MMO. He said that the team is striving to stick to the "thematic core" of Veeshan for her reimagining: "Veeshan looms large in our story. It wouldn't be an EverQuest game without her!" And while Veeshan is well known by fans, the Nor'l is a new figure, the world spirit of Norrath. The Nor'l gives birth to mortals and flows through the entire world, communicating only through song.

"Your actions in the world determine who controls territory and resources, and one of those key resources is the belief of Norrath's inhabitants," Danuser said. "How strong will Veeshan's influence grow after the Combine return to Antonica? Will the Nor'I be protected or exploited? These are questions that you'll get to decide through the choices you make in game."

PlanetSide 2: Tramell Isaac out, Bill Yeatts in

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, PlanetSide 2, H1Z1

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PlanetSide 2 is losing one of the most public faces of its team but will be replacing him with another well-known figure from SOE.

Senior Art Director Tramell Isaac announced today that he will be leaving SOE for a new opportunity. "I've had a blast working with you guys all these many months. I will certainly miss you all," he wrote.

However, Isaac said that he's leaving his position in good hands, as former H1Z1 Art Director Bill Yeatts will be stepping into the role: "Bill was on the PS2 team from start to ship so he is very well versed in what is and is not PlanetSide 2. He is running the show now and he may contradict some of the 'rules' I set in the past, but that is now his prerogative."

Isaac is moving over to Boss Key Productions to become that studio's art director.

World of Warcraft increases fees in China

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Business Models, MMO Industry, Subscription

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wow
It's going to be a little more expensive to vacation in Azeroth from China in just a couple of weeks.

MMO Culture noted that Chinese publisher NetEase is jacking up World of Warcraft's fees for the first time ever in the region. As of October 16th, the fee will go up by about 45% to become 30¥ for 2700 minutes and 15¥ for 1350 minutes. Instead of paying a flat subscription per month, Chinese players purchase blocks of time to access World of Warcraft.

NetEase handles a bundle of properties in China including World of Warcraft and reported an increase in profits for the previous quarter. However, Blizzard pointed at Asia as the location for a "disproportionate" amount of the 800,000 subscribers lost earlier this year.

Age of Conan's Update 4.4 ushers in new raids, new tier sets

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Patches, Previews, Endgame, News Items, Free-to-Play

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It's barbaric, but hey - it's home.
As summer fades into memory, Age of Conan players turn their gaze toward the Halloween event and the next major patch of the game. The latest game director's letter is about exactly those topics, as well, so that works out nicely. While update 4.4 will bring with it new Unchained raids, there are other improvements coming along as well, not the least of which are visual improvements to the Tier 5 sets that will be released along with the raids.

The update also brings with it the PvP streak system and new area looting functionality; pressing Shift and V will automatically loot all eligible corpses in the immediate area. Players can also look forward to the upcoming gem system and Thirst of the Serpent God event at the end of the month. Check out the full letter for more details about what's coming next for the game over the next 31 days.

Choose My Adventure: The proud wanderers of Swordsman

Fantasy, Historical, Polls, New Titles, PvP, PvE, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Choose My Adventure, MMORPG, Swordsman

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Swordsman
Since commandeering Choose My Adventure in August, I've been on something of a sci-fi rampage. First we took a second look at a post-release Firefall; then we spaced out with a beta build of Frontier's Elite: Dangerous. And while spaceships and rocket boots are certainly wonderful things, Choose My Adventure is as much about investigating new worlds and new genres as it is about checking out new games. Thus, it's time to leave the world of science fiction behind in search of something a bit more classical.

This month, we're adventuring into Imperial China -- as far from deployable sentry guns and pulse lasers as possible -- with Perfect World Entertainment's Swordsman.

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A look at the last test session for Black Desert

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Previews, News Items, Black Desert

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Run around, smack some things, get covered in blood.  The usual.
Black Desert had its last beta event recently, and if you're not in the Korean beta, you can only watch and wait from the sidelines. So how was it? Steparu has a full review and discussion of the experience available now, and while it's not perfect, it seems to be hitting the notes it's aiming for. There are also plenty of videos if you would prefer to watch and evaluate for yourself; we've embedded a bit of gameplay past the cut.

According to the review, the game's biggest weaknesses are the enchanting system (which is a good system but hard to gain access to and unbalancing for endgame PvP) and the endgame PvE content (which is largely absent). The review praises graphics, customization, side activities, and the overall feel of combat. Check it out if you're looking for an opinion on the game before it launches, and keep your eyes peeled for more details as it approaches localization for the US post-launch.

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RIFT explores the heights of Tarken Glacier

Fantasy, Expansions, Lore, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, RIFT, Subscription

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I can't hear you!  I said, what's cooler than being cool?
Beneath the waves lies the city of nightmares, but RIFT players exploring the Nightmare Tide expansion will not stop there. Far above those waters sits Tarken Glacier, a massive edifice of frost that stretches to the very boundaries of the cosmos. Players will be exploring this towering mass of ice, obviously, starting at the most basic ascent before moving up to the most distant reaches of the land.

Along the way, players will be working with Skelf pilgrims, fighting off vicious frost giants, and seeking the last stronghold of the near-annihilated Pelagic Order. There are port cities nestled within the glacier, great structures devoted to researching the frostbitten land, and marauding enemies from all sides. In short, it's exactly the sort of place players will love exploring and fighting through when the expansion goes live; check out the full preview for more details on the lore of this region. The open beta for the expansion went live yesterday, with the full launch planned for October 8th.

Analysts suggest video game Kickstarters are in decline

MMO Industry, News Items, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding

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People are less willing to put down money on these gambles for some reason.  In unrelated news, have an Embers of Caerus header.
If you're still holding out hope for Kickstarter as the new face of funding video game development, you may want to revise that projection. Analyst group ICO Partners has been tracking Kickstarter through 2014 and has observed a marked drop in successful projects, funds pledged, and overall scale of projects on the site. Based on projections, the group expects a 20% drop in successful projects by the end of the year -- not a collapse, but a definite shrink.

The downturn is attributed to a variety of factors, including the lack of several big-name projects to draw people to the service and a number of high-profile failures. ICO Partners analyst Thomas Bidaux also notes that the amount being received by successful projects is diminishing, which he attributes to fans being less willing to drop money on a potential game when some of their already funded games have yet to materialize. The full report has more data and is well worth a read for anyone interested in crowdfunding and its future.

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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