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Turbine delays Helm's Deep launch until Wednesday [Updated]

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Bugs, Expansions, Free-to-Play

Following a power outage at its data centers yesterday, Turbine has restored game and website functionality to its titles but announced that the launch of Lord of the Rings Online: Helm's Deep is temporarily delayed.

From LotRO's Facebook page:
We are temporarily delaying the launch of Helm's Deep while we work to address remaining issues, and will provide more information later this morning. We thank you for your continued patience, and will keep you updated.
[Update: According to this afternoon's update, the Helm's Deep's launch will be delayed until Wednesday. Turbine is extending its pre-purchase offers as well as the 100% XP boost and Bounder's Bounty events through today and tomorrow.]

DayZ footage may upset YouTube comment experts

Betas, Horror, Video, Bugs, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Buy-to-Play

DayZ logo
Heads up, DayZ fans, creator Dean "Rocket" Hall has posted a new eight-minute video showcasing the current state of the zombie sandbox's pre-alpha build. As the video's disclaimer notes, the footage "may deeply trouble experts who post YouTube comments. It has not been approved by marketing and contains disturbing scenes such as poor FPS, floating loot, bad lighting, placeholder sounds, and many more bugs that obviously never occur in game development and therefore the project is completely doomed."

Assuming you can get past all those gory details, you'll see some up-close-and-personal zombie killin' as well as exploration elements. "Our focus is on getting the alpha out, Hall says, "which means focusing on multiplayer [server] performance." Click past the cut to watch the clip.

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Firefall update talks quest system, bug squashing

Betas, Sci-Fi, Bugs, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Firefall

Firefall update talks quest system, bug squashing
It's time for a Firefall development update direct from Red 5. The most interesting tidbit has to do with a new content creation tool that the devs hope will provide quest-like missions. The team "made tremendous progress" on this little ditty "that will allow us to string together multiple encounters with branching trees all wrapped up in a loose narrative structure."

Red 5 also managed to clean up its creature database and roll out additional bug fixes. You can read further details on the Firefall forums.

Lots of Repopulation bugs were squashed in October

Sci-Fi, Bugs, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, The Repopulation

Lots of Repopulation bugs were squashed in October
The Repopulation's monthly update has been published on the sci-fi sandbox title's website. Polish was the order of day for much of October, as Above & Beyond Technologies asked its alpha testers to suss out the "most annoying" bugs before it set about squashing them.

The October update focuses on AI improvement and also pays a bit of lip service to the game's maneuver and mission systems. An extensive list of fixes and client changes is yours via the links below.

MMObility: Combat Monsters still needs some tweaking

Fantasy, Bugs, Game Mechanics, Launches, New Titles, Previews, PvP, Opinion, Hands-On, Trading Card Games, First Impressions, Miscellaneous, MMObility

Combat Monsters screenshot
Combat Monsters is made by the folks at Rubicon, the same people who brought us the cute Great Little War Game and others. This made me almost immediately happy as I've spent a lot of time playing some of those titles and loved the way the developers kept things simple to play yet hard to master. Combat Monsters is supposed to be a multiplayer, turn-based, card-based, arena-style combat game with optional in-game purchases. I found it to be most of those things, but I also found that it still needed more time in the oven.

You start off in a tutorial that does a relatively good job of explaining how everything works. You have a card deck with a limited number of cards, mojo for card creation that's earned every round, and several different types of cards that do different things during a round. It's all pretty straightforward... until the frustration kicks in.

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Still more Black Desert beta vids, PvE impressions

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Bugs, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items, PvE, Sandbox, Black Desert

Still more Black Desert beta vids, PvE impressions
Steparu is still playing this week's Black Desert closed beta, and fortunately for all of us on the outside, that means more gameplay videos and commentary. Today's focus is leveling and PvE, the latter of which is apparently lacking due to the pedestrian questing system. Steparu says that there are no dynamic events, though there are main story quests that become available at various points throughout the level range.

The article also touches on PvP and what appears to be a button for opting in or out of the game's open-world free-for-all system. Click past the cut for the videos, including some HUD-free Archer and Sorcerer combat, and don't forget to read the full impressions piece behind the links below.

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Not So Massively: Elite's space stations, LoL World Championship, and D3's Mystic revealed

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Video, Bugs, Business Models, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Consoles, Dev Diaries, Miscellaneous, Not So Massively, Sandbox, MOBA, League of Legends, Diablo III, Crowdfunding, Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, Path of Exile

Game title image
Star Citizen came one step closer to hitting its total required funding this week as it passed the $18 million mark, unlocking an exclusive star system for all crowdfunding backers. Developers took the opportunity to announce the contents of the $20 million stretch goal and plans for further stretch goals after hitting its total funding goal. Elite: Dangerous showed off new space station concept art and a great-looking in-engine render of the Federal Battle Cruiser in its latest newsletter, then delved into details of its modular space station system.

The final teams have been selected for the League of Legends 2013 World Championship, which is set to begin next week on Sunday, the 15th September, and will continue for three weeks. The overall tournament winner will receive the top prize of $1,000,000 US, with a further $1,000,000 spread among the other teams based on how well they do in the tournament. Console-born MOBA Guardians of Middle-Earth enraged fans this week by bundling Raptr with the game download and giving away copies of DLC that some players had paid $70 for.

It was revealed this week that parts of Diablo III's upcoming Reaper of Souls expansion will be released in a free patch for all current players and that the expansion will feature the game's first fully randomised tileset. Further details of the Mystic artisan and her enchanting abilities have also been revealed. And Path of Exile fixed a series of abusable bugs in its skill cooldown system, and players finally discovered what the mysterious new Empower support gem does.

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Not So Massively: PAX Prime, MOBA tournaments, and Star Citizen hits $17m

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, Bugs, Business Models, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, News Items, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Mobile, Dev Diaries, Not So Massively, Sandbox, MOBA, League of Legends, Diablo III, Crowdfunding, Star Citizen, Path of Exile, Buy-to-Play

Not So Massively: PAX Prime, MOBA tournaments, and Star Citizen hits $17m
It's PAX Prime week, and that means it's time for competitive MOBA tournaments! League of Legends led the pack with its North American Regional Playoffs to determine which team will represent the region in the world championship. Third-person MOBA SMITE ran a full stage event for its $20,000 5x5 North American Invitational Tournament and showed off new character Zhong Kui for the first time. Dota 2 fans were outraged to find that the game was no longer available on the freeplay computers, prompting accusations of its being purposely uninstalled to promote competing games.

Guardians of Middle-Earth launched on Steam this week to a deluge of complaints, negative feedback, and refund requests after it emerged that the game's peer-to-peer networking isn't working well on PC. Sneaky Games announced its intention to release console MOBA Arena of Heroes on the OUYA crowdfunded console, and developers looked at the game's upcoming Patch 1.4.

Star Citizen's showing at PAX and recent release of the hangar module have helped push the game's crowdfunding tally over the $17 million mark, making it all but certain that the team will reach the ultimate $20 million goal. Diablo III officially launches on PS3 and XBox 360 tomorrow, and developers revealed that a PS4 version is already in the works. And Path of Exile's developers passed on PAX Prime this year and instead worked on the next update, which introduces the Endless Ledge event and a strange new Empower support gem.

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EVE Evolved: Grid-Fu and bending space

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Bugs, Game Mechanics, Lore, PvP, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Subscription

Game title image
In last week's article, I described how EVE Online maintains the illusion of full-scale solar systems by dynamically creating small pockets of high-detail space called grids. It's within these discrete bubbles that everything we do in space takes place, from mining asteroids to running missions or shooting at other players. The system is designed to split up space into manageable chunks to reduce server load while still maintaining persistent 3-D space that appears to span the entire scale of a solar system.

Grids have been in EVE since it was first created, but over the years people have noticed a few odd things about how the system works. Flying about 250km-400km away from a stargate causes your ship to disappear from that grid and pop into a newly created adjacent one, for example, but this doesn't always happen. Bizarre occurrences such as abnormally shaped grids and ships mysteriously disappearing and re-appearing on the same grid were always thought to be freak accidents or unintended bugs until an interesting document emerged in 2009. Titled Grid-Fu: A Practical Manual, the 18-page PDF described the process of bending and manipulating space for a tactical advantage.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at the various ways that players have manipulated space to their advantage.

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Darkfall Unholy Wars accidentally logs everyone in as an administrator

Fantasy, Darkfall, Bugs, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Sandbox, Subscription

Five minutes later, this boat was the only player not banned.
Everyone who logged in to Darkfall Unholy Wars to test the latest patch got an unexpected surprise not listed in the patch notes. Sure, everyone was expecting new warships and combat changes, but everyone was not expecting to log in as an administrator. That was apparently true of every single player logging in immediately after the patch, prompting immediate forum speculation that a rollback was imminent.

According to an official statement, the addition of the admin tag was purely a display glitch and no players actually had access to admin powers. Whether that's accurate or it's simply a matter of no players figuring out the admin commands before the issue was fixed is slightly ambiguous. Either way, the patch is now live and everyone can enjoy it, but not everyone can enjoy the sort of unfettered PvP you'd find in a world of admins -- which is probably a good thing.

[Thanks to MandatoryDDs for the tip!]

LotRO connectivity issues outside of Turbine's control

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Bugs, Free-to-Play

LotRO connectivity issues outside of Turbine's control
Access denied? Some Lord of the Rings Online players have felt as though they were being kept out of the Middle-earth club lately as connectivity issues plagued the game. Turbine has been investigating log-in issues and came back to report that the problem is outside of the studio's direct control.

"This morning we have received word that one of our affiliated connection providers is taking steps to re-route services around certain areas of the internet that are experiencing issues we believe are the root cause of the reported issues," CM Rick Heaton posted.

Turbine says that the issue should be resolved shortly, but in the meantime the studio encourages players to try many of the workarounds that the community has come up with.

Red 5 CEO details Firefall fixes, apologizes for open beta issues

Betas, Sci-Fi, Bugs, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, Post-Apocalyptic, Firefall, MMORPG

Firefall jet-booted into open beta on July 9th, but the transition ended up being a bit trickier than Red 5 expected. Tutorials broke, crafting crashed, abilities vanished from hotbars, and logins were jammed. CEO Mark Kern offered a letter to Firefall players today apologizing for the problems encountered and detailing all the fixes the team has put in place.

According to Kern, login errors are resolved, server capacity is raised in all regions, instances are stabilized, tutorials are un-stuck, and calldown menus function again. Additionally, dropships are cruising along the correct flightpaths and the game's crafting and customization menus are smoother, faster, and more responsive.

Kern conceded that Firefall isn't perfect (or even finished), but wants players to know that he and his team are working on it:
Please accept our apologies for the rocky start, and while we are not past all of it yet, things have improved tremendously and we are working on resolving the remaining issues. Meanwhile, please join us for a series of new content and features that are rolling out regularly. It's been an incredible experience and only made possible by you, the community. Thank you and see you in Firefall.
Red 5 has an open beta Firefall tournament scheduled to start this Sunday, August 4th.

Marvel Heroes patch 1.11 breaks game, reverts back

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

Marvel Heroes patch 111 breaks game, reverts back
Marvel Heroes was proud to roll out patch 1.11 last night, and the playerbase was proud to receive it. There was only one problem: It didn't work. Gazillion couldn't get the game up and running for everyone, and after several hours of outages, the team decided to create a new patch to revert the game back to a pre-1.11 state.

CM Stephen Reid explained the studio's response: "After an evening of working to see if there was a quick solution to the issues we encountered when we brought up game update 1.11 tonight, we've decided to go with 'Plan B:' deploying a patch that essentially 'reverts' the live game to its pre-game update 1.11 state. This is safer and will allow the game to be up and for you to play in the live environment while we diagnose, fix, text, and redeploy game update 1.11."

Patch 1.11 contained the Human Torch playable character as well as the new eternity shards system. Gazillion assures players that if they managed to log in last night and purchase the Human Torch, it will be safe and sound when 1.11 returns.

Rise and Shiny: The empty MMO section on the RT marketplace

Bugs, Business Models, Guilds, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, Mobile, Casual, Rise and Shiny, Miscellaneous

Windows Store screenshot
As many of you know, I have been in love with portable devices for a while now. I am always perfecting my all-in-one experience, trying to find a device that allows me access to my favorite job and hobby (MMO gaming) while actually getting some work done. That means I need to be able to communicate, type, and create content all with the same small computer. My 3G Nexus 7 was glorious for a while, but mainly as a mobile gaming platform and social network connection. I needed something larger, and I took the destruction of my 7 to mean it was time to get out of my comfort zone.

So I got myself an Asus VivoTab RT, a 10-inch tablet with a 4G LTE connection. It came with the keyboard dock for only $300 US. I'll save the explanation for buying such a device -- especially considering RT's shaky footing -- for my other blog, but I have really been enjoying RT and the fact that I still have access to Flash, browser-based games, and a larger screen.

Searching for MMOs in the Windows Store has been a nightmare, though, mainly because there are none. I'll show you what's being offered and will look at the 8.1 preview to see if we can expect changes.

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Rise and Shiny revisit: Global Agenda

Sci-Fi, Video, Bugs, Game Mechanics, PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, Global Agenda, Rise and Shiny, Livestream

Global Agenda screenshot
Ah, I had some glorious times in Global Agenda, so long ago that Seraphina Brennan still worked here and we struggled to livestream the game to do a giveaway or two. The developers prepared some pre-made level 30 characters for us, complete with Massively logo holograms emblazoned across the chests. Sera moved on, livestreaming has become easier, and I haven't returned to the game nearly as much as I've wanted to. I'm not sure why. The game is free-to-play, and I have been enjoying online shooter titles more over the last several months.

Then, when I told my boss that I wanted to check it out again, she told me that it was a good idea especially since Global Agenda 2 was announced late last year. What? This news must have passed underneath my very broad radar! Still, I was eager to revisit my old characters and see if the game is still as fun as I remember, so I spent the last week playing the game -- that is, when I wasn't fighting bugs in the game. And I mean technical bugs, not the good, scary space kind.

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