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Perfect Ten: New MMOs to watch in 2015

Betas, Launches, MMO Industry, Warhammer Online, Opinion, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, Black Desert, The Repopulation, Shroud of the Avatar, Trove, Skyforge, Landmark, H1Z1, The Division

all the mmos
As I've done for 2013 and 2014, I'm going to use the turn of the year as an excuse to look ahead at what MMO releases we may have to look forward to enjoying in the next 12 months. As always, it's a mixture of research, guesswork, and weeks of anguished ranking to come up with 10 titles that I think will define the new year.

After the huge launch year we had in 2014, 2015 will most definitely be a smaller year for big-name releases. That doesn't mean it will be a complete write-off, but perhaps it will challenge us to look beyond the heavy hitters to find more diamonds in the rough.

A couple of notes before we launch into the list, if you please! First of all, I limited this list to MMOs that at least have a shot of launching in 2015; games that are popular but are definitely not going to make it this year had to be excluded. Second, I am expanding the "honorable mentions" section this year to include more upcoming MMOs and my brief thoughts on them. So you are really getting 50 games for the effort of reading 10! You are welcome.

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Global Chat: Blaugust triumphant

World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Warhammer Online, Opinion, Humor, Global Chat, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge, Elite: Dangerous

Last month, Tales of the Aggronaut issued a community-wide challenge for MMO bloggers to commit to posting (at least) once a day for all 31 days. This challenge was called Blaugust, and it caused a tidal wave of additional posts, top 10 lists, and random cat pictures as writers struggled to keep up with the rate of output.

While not everyone who signed up succeeded in sticking out the entire month, it certainly injected some life into summer doldrums and got people talking. The 2014 Blaugust Wrap-up does a great job giving an overview of the challenge and a list of all of the blogs involved. If you're looking for outspoken opinions put forth at a prodigious rate, I'd suggest checking these out.

Speaking of outspoken opinions, we've also got plenty of them in the form of the most interesting posts from the past two weeks! Global Chat... away!

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Global Chat: Doom and WAAAGH!

Culture, MMO Industry, Warhammer Online, Guild Wars 2, Global Chat, EverQuest Next, Miscellaneous, WildStar, Neverwinter

It's time for our second edition of Global Chat, the column that scours the blogosphere (or blogorama if you prefer) for engaging insights, intelligent essays, and whoopie cushion goofiness. We had a good response to our first column, so I'm glad you all want to hear more about what bloggers are saying regarding MMOs!

In this week's edition, we'll look at Warhammer Online's fatal flaw, adventure through Neverwinter's foundry missions, and speculate on the status of a certain Norrathian sandpark. Remember that it's not all doom and WAAAGH! in this community; it's excitement and cherished outings as well!

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One Shots: Regrets, I've had a few

World of Warcraft, Screenshots, Anarchy Online, Culture, Warhammer Online, One Shots, Final Fantasy XIV, Miscellaneous

Staring at a sunset is a perfectly legitimate time to look back at one's day (and one's life) to muse upon victories won and defeats suffered. The regrets are then cast upon the sinking sun to be taken into the void of yesterday. Tomorrow? Tomorrow is a clean slate of possibilities.

Reader Dynatos submitted this warm and fuzzy Final Fantasy XIV picture. "Here's another sunset, this time in Thanalan with my tanky Carbuncle. I kinda miss him after he was replaced."

Regrets? We've all had a few. And if you don't read the rest of this column, you will regret it. That's friendly advice, not a threat.

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Perfect Ten: The MMOs that influenced me greatly

World of Warcraft, Anarchy Online, City of Heroes, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Fallen Earth, Guild Wars, Warhammer Online, Opinion, Guild Wars 2, The Secret World, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

Every one of us has an "MMO resume": a list of titles that we've played, whether briefly or extensively. Some of those are just games, casual flings that meant nothing. But others can take a more meaningful role in our lives, influencing how we experience and view MMOs.

I would scarcely say that my resume is one of the most robust you'll ever see; I'm sure plenty of you have played more than I. However, I like to think that I've had a journey over the course of a decade or so that's shaped who I am as a gamer. Since it's my birthday today, I'm going to share 10 of those influential MMOs with you and what they've done for me. You're going to get me cake.

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Mythic closes, 'end of an era' for former MMO studio

Fantasy, Dark Age of Camelot, MMO Industry, Warhammer Online, Ultima Online, Sunsets

We saw this coming, but it doesn't make it any less regrettable: Long-time MMO studio Mythic Entertainment has been shut down by EA.

"We are closing the EA Mythic location in Fairfax, Virginia, as we concentrate mobile development in our other studio locations. We are working with all impacted employees to provide assistance in finding new opportunities, either within EA or with other companies via an upcoming job fair," EA told Kotaku.

Former Mythic lead Josh Drescher tweeted his reaction to the news: "Condolences to everyone at Mythic today. It's the end of an era, but you were all part of something amazing."

Mythic shuttered Warhammer Online last December, while Ultima Online, Dark Age of Camelot, and many Mythic developers moved over to Broadsword Online Games this past February.

Perfect Ten: Game franchises that became MMOs

World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Final Fantasy XI, MMO Industry, Warhammer Online, Opinion, Ultima Online, Champions Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Final Fantasy XIV, Allods Online, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, Neverwinter, The Elder Scrolls Online, Wizardry Online, Elite: Dangerous

Popular franchises have been known to jump between various entertainment media, from games to television to movies to comic books and even to pogs. We should not gasp in utter amazement that this is also the case with many of our beloved MMOs; we should nod sagely and accept the terrible truth.

There are several video game franchises that have culminated in -- or at least have taken a detour through -- the land of MMOs. For gamers who wanted more and especially did not want to see their journey end, an MMO continuation is a welcome answer that's usually hiding its own problems. But nevermind that; let's march down the halls of history and see the yearbook photos of these franchises when they were young!

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Mark Jacobs talks character aging: Nixed in Warhammer Online, planned for Camelot Unchained

Fantasy, MMO Industry, New Titles, Warhammer Online, News Items, Camelot Unchained

Players who were disappointed when the character aging feature was cut from the release of (the now defunct) Warhammer Online can look forward to seeing it implemented in Camelot Unchained. Mark Jacobs, an instrumental man in the creation of both games, talked with Eurogamer about that system and how it got scrapped as well as delved into the details of how it will work in CU.

Basically, the system would allow players to visually judge the veteran status of others and therefore their threat both up close and from a distance. For instance, a larger-than-normal Greenskin or a Dwarf with a very long beard would signify a player who is more experienced and likely tougher. Jacobs relayed that he was never even informed that the feature was actually removed from the game and only discovered it when a beta tester inquired about it, noting "Nobody was more embarrassed than me when I had to say that that feature of the game had to be removed."

The feature is not dead, however, and will make its appearance in Camelot Unchained. What does that mean for players? In CU, the changes will be more than cosmetic, they will actually be meaningful in the world. Jacobs added,
"There will be some downside to aging, but there will also be a greater amount of upsides, because we want it to be a net-positive experience for the player. However, players won't have to worry about getting old to the point of major gimping [becoming not as effective] of their characters, or worse, perma-death, as that would simply be no fun."

Camelot Unchained Q&A talks PvP looting, physical growth, and crafting

Betas, Fantasy, PvP, Warhammer Online, Community Q&A, Crafting, Camelot Unchained, Subscription

There's a new community Q&A up on the Camelot Unchained site dealing with a wide range of topics concerning this up-and-coming RvR MMO. The topics in it range from hooded cloaks (yes, they're in) to just what players will be able to loot from enemy corpses and structures.

Perhaps one of the most interesting pieces of information is that the team is putting in a physical growth system similar to the one that was promised but never delivered to Warhammer Online. Mark Jacobs confirmed the feature: "I'm happy to say that yes, certain races (I won't commit to all of them yet) will have meaningful changes happen to them, both cosmetic and gameplay. For example, our Dvergr might have more stone covering their body and their beards will grow. Other examples could be with our HelBound's faces, Hamadryad's tails, etc."

The Q&A also addressed the role and importance of crafters, emphasizing that those players will be able to generate basic materials from their land and that they'll "contribute majorly" to battles.

Perfect Ten: MMO features that were hyped but never delivered

World of Warcraft, Age of Conan, City of Heroes, EVE Online, Guild Wars, Warhammer Online, Opinion, Ultima Online, Vanguard, Humor, Champions Online, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

Developers like to talk a big game. It's expected, it's encouraged by all parties, and it's part of the fun. When a game or big expansion is coming up, the spokespeople for studios like to hop on stage, grab that mic, and start proselytizing for all they're worth. And while some promises come to fruition, others are various shades of white lies, and still others never come to be at all.

These are the features that studios would much rather you forget were mentioned in the first place, although this is the internet and the internet never forgets. Well, players who latch on to everything devs say as absolute truth never forget.

Sometimes things happen along the way in development. Studios run out of time to get in all of the features and have to prioritize which make the cut and which do not. Features end up not testing as well as hoped and the studio quietly drops them because the PR hit for the features not going in is much less than the disaster that they might cause. And some developers like to flap their gums and spout brainstorm ideas that send the actual programmers and designers back at the company into spasms of agony when they try to figure out how to make them work.

Today let's go through 10 features that were talked up but never delivered in MMOs!

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One Shots: Over the moon and back

World of Warcraft, Screenshots, Warhammer Online, One Shots, Humor, Mabinogi, RIFT, Miscellaneous

Welcome back to One Shots! I've missed you! I've missed you so much! It's been so long -- how long has it been, really? A week? That's far too long. Let's catch up: What have you been up to? Me? Well, I've been collecting the very best player-submitted screenshots for all to enjoy. But I guess binging on Breaking Bad is a valid use for your time too.

Reader Derrick sent in our first picture of the day from Mabinogi, and this might well be one of my favorites. Just looking at it makes me want to live a better life so that one day I might be invited to sit up there with them. "Here I am sitting in my personal homestead on Ladeca, one of the two moons of Erinn," Derrick explains.

It only gets more whimsical from here, folks! Join us as we swing on a star and see what our fellow gamers are up to in MMOs.

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The Game Archaeologist: Four efforts to preserve dead MMOs

Galleries, Video, EverQuest, MMO Industry, Warhammer Online, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous

As I type this, we are now living in a post-Warhammer Online world. You can probably tell by all of the rampant looting, devastating earthquakes, and heart-rending sobs coming from your neighbors' homes. For me, it's a strange thought that this game simply isn't there at all any more -- and there's no way to go back and play it, ever.

Or is there?

When it comes to MMO sunsets, there are varying degrees of death. Sometimes a closure isn't as final and complete as we might assume, and between the passion of developers and those of fans, we're able to revisit these games long after their expiration date. For a writer who is keenly interested in preserving MMO history, these efforts are of great interest.

So today we're going to look at four ways that people are trying their hardest to preserve dead MMOs -- and even let you play them once more. And I'm going to write about this without using the forbidden "E" word, too!

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One Shots: Get to da Choppa!

Screenshots, Culture, Warhammer Online, Star Wars Galaxies, Star Trek Online, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, Miscellaneous

"This is the last time I ever got to see my Orc Choppa in game," sent in reader Sean. "Oddly enough, I couldn't get a screenshot of my Order character because even in the final days they didn't take out the faction locking, and so I was locked out for eight hours."

It's also the last time that I'll be able to make that awesome Predator pun that you see in the title of this week's column there. Man, with Warhammer Online gone, how will I be able to make my '80s action movie references? I guess I'll just put on a brave face and soldier on, somehow.

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Perfect Ten: Biggest MMO news stories of 2013

World of Warcraft, MMO Industry, Warhammer Online, News Items, Opinion, RIFT, Final Fantasy XIV, DUST 514, World of Tanks, EverQuest Next, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge, WildStar, Diablo III, Defiance, The Elder Scrolls Online, Destiny, Star Citizen, Trove

As the light slowly fades from 2013, we spend our final moments quaffing eggnog, putting up President's Day decorations, and reminiscing about the year that was. We stare at the past and realize that it's a mirror reflecting our own journeys through the past 12 months. We contemplate the impact of one small decision that ripples out and touches souls everywhere. And then we stop getting so maudlin and start getting excited for what 2014 has to offer.

For me, I live for end-of-the-year lists. Man, I love 'em. I will devour them, drinking up everyone's opinions about what what the best what, what movies or songs I should check out, and what idiocy drives some people to write top 10 lists. Seriously, am I right? Learn to use a paragraph format, people!

Well, here's my top 10 list covering the year's top stories in the MMO industry. Some are pretty obvious, some will be up for debate, and all will be in the past soon enough. So what will historians say about 2013 and online games?

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Warhammer Online shuts down tonight

Fantasy, Warhammer Online, News Items, Subscription, Sunsets

If you must picture the future of Warhammer, picture a battlefield.  One upon which all those warriors who so valiantly raged for Order or for Chaos stand assembled.  They clash, they fall, and they rise once more to clash again.  A battlefield that will never end, where the warriors never tire, never grow anxious, where all that exists is the battle and the struggle.  The victory is never awarded, and yet the conflict remains.  Champions of both sides, rushing across the landscape, racing hopefully toward victory... forever.
Today, the drums of Warhammer Online fall silent. After five years of operation, the game will shut down permanently at 6:00 p.m. EST tonight. If there are any last-minute screenshots or contact details you need to exchange, we encourage you to get that done before the servers turn off permanently. Partial refunds will be issued for players who still had paid game time on their accounts as of November 1st; those who purchased game time cards will need to contact customer support directly.

For those looking for a bit more farewell reading, our writers have taken on both the overall arc of the game from launch and the game's shutdown event (or lack thereof, depending on your perspective). Fans have also assembled a tribute video for the game as a whole. Our condolences go to the players who are losing a game that has been a home for five years.

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