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Star Citizen's latest patch adds ESP, improves control

Sci-Fi, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Star Citizen

Cloud Imperium has officially released version 0.9.2 of Star Citizen's Arena Commander. It's kind of a big deal thanks to something that the company is dubbing ESP, or Enhanced Stick Precision. CIG's Chris Roberts explains how this latest version of the alpha software, which combines ESP with significant changes to the ITTS and HUD systems, comes the closest so far to achieving "the level of control and sense of dogfighting that I had in my head when I first pictured how space combat should feel back when I started the journey that is Star Citizen."

The latest patch also doubles the size of Arena's Commander's maps. You can read the full patch notes here.

CIG also unveiled the Drake Herald this afternoon. Be sure to click the web page's decrypt button to see all the details.

[Thanks Cardboard!]

Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade announces $15 pioneer founder packs

Betas, Sci-Fi, Business Models, News Items, Free-to-Play, Warhammer 40k, Miscellaneous

Warhammer 40k Eternal Crusade
Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade has just announced a new founder pack option, the pioneer pack. Pre-order founder packs running from $40 to $450 went live last June, but the newly announced pioneer packs cost only $15. They're aimed squarely at gamers "who want to contribute to the founder's program [...] without as much of an investment," says Behaviour Online's Miguel Caron.

The game's planned hybrid model will restrict free-to-play gamers to the Ork Boyz faction. Pioneer packs "extend the Ork experience" with perks including an Ork-only character slot, 15,000 RTP, badges, gear, and the opportunity to pay for access to the game module planned for early 2015.

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BioWare delays Shadow Realms' alpha

Betas, Business Models, New Titles, News Items, Miscellaneous, OARPG

Shadow Realms
The planned closed alpha test for Shadow Realms, the not-so-massive BioWare OARPG announced back in August, is being delayed, says a new producer letter on the official site. Senior Producer Dallas Dickinson says the devs just "need a bit more time" to gather and process player feedback:
One of the most important things to us on Shadow Realms is listening to – and making changes based on – that player feedback. Having fans play the game at Gamescom and PAX Prime gave us incredible insight. [...] The thing is, feedback was so good it made us want to do more, to get a bit further down the road, before opening Shadow Realms up again. We got so many excellent questions about what the game will be, beyond just the multiplayer piece that we've revealed, and we'd like to be able to show you some answers rather than just telling you what the answers will one day be. But we need a bit more time. We've taken a deep look at the state of the game – what it is now, what we intend it to be, and most importantly what it could be – and realized this is an opportunity to take a great game and make it even better before bringing it back for more feedback from you.
Dickinson promises regular producer letters in the coming months. Interested gamers can still sign up for alpha on the official site.

Turns out Blizzard found more Hearthstone cheaters to ban

Fantasy, Bugs, Business Models, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, News Items, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Hearthstone

Hearthstone
Earlier this week, Blizzard banned "several thousand" botter accounts in MMOTCG Hearthstone for the crime of botting. But the bans were only temporary, and the problem players will be back in the game by the turn of the year.

The subjects of a new wave of bans, says Blizzard, won't be let off so easily. Community Manager Whirthun told forumgoers last night that win traders have and will continue to be banned -- permanently:
We've recently banned Hearthstone accounts that were found to be participating in win trading. Win trading at any rank is something that we do not take lightly, and is in violation of our Terms of Use. As we mentioned in our previous statement regarding fair play in Hearthstone, instances of cheating will not be tolerated. Accounts that were discovered participating in win trading have received permanent account closure and disqualification from events where ranking is used as a method of qualification.
Win trading is an exploit of the matchmaking system to position accounts for easy ladder climbing. PC Gamer reports that several big-name Hearthstone players have already fallen to the ban, including a grey hat player who went public with the exploit nearly a year ago in the hopes of provoking Blizzard to fix it.

The Think Tank: Fixing the Landmark-EQ Next perception problem

Betas, Fantasy, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, EverQuest Next, Sandbox, The Think Tank, Landmark

Not a Landmark post on Massively goes by without at least one commenter essentially telling SOE to talk about EverQuest Next or shut up. Massively's MJ Guthrie, who writes our EverQuest franchise column, has herself explained until she's blue in the face that Landmark is EQ Next's foundation, and SOE has talked plenty about EQ Next independently too, but for some reason, the explanations aren't sticking with the MMO populace, so the same complaints are voiced in every thread.

So what gives? Has SOE been too confusing with the Landmark/EQ Next co-branding? How can SOE dig itself out of this persistent perception problem? That's what I asked Massively's writers in today's Think Tank.

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Guild Wars 2, Torchlight 2 slash box prices for Halloween

Fantasy, Business Models, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, Guild Wars 2, Promotions, Miscellaneous, Buy-to-Play

gw2
If you're looking for a subscription-free MMO to spend Halloween in, ArenaNet has an offer for you: The studio's slashed the price on Guild Wars 2's digital edition by 50%, making the cheapest version of the game just under 20 bucks.

If OARPGs are more your style, then check out Torchlight and Torchlight II; both are half off until November 3rd, Runic announced this afternoon.

We included a bunch of other Halloween-related sales in this morning's MMO Halloween roundup, and we expect more to keep rolling in today and tomorrow. Most games with cash shops are running some sort of promotion... just remember, you're a person, not a wallet.

Massively's MMO guide to Halloween 2014

Horror, Business Models, Culture, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, Massively Meta, Promotions, Miscellaneous

Defiance
MMORPG fans love to play dress-up. Admit it! We do it every day with our characters, even if we pretend we're just "checking out our stats" when we're rifling through the hundreds of pieces of cosmetic gear in our banks. That's what makes Halloween our magic holiday!

Following what is now epic tradition, we've rounded up all the big MMORPG Halloween events and sales for 2014 as well as a few little ones and some from our favorite MOBAs and OARPGs too. The list isn't exhaustive, so feel free to chime in with any we've missed that you love!

Now, furbish up your pumpkin heads and get in there. That virtual candy isn't gonna eat itself.

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Pathfinder Online early enrollment will not be launching today

Betas, Fantasy, Business Models, Events (Real-World), Launches, News Items, Subscription, Pathfinder Online

Pathfinder Online
Pathfinder Online's early enrollment launch for paying backers has already been delayed multiple times since its original goal of September 15th, and last night we learned that release has been put off yet again. Goblinworks' Ryan Dancey explained that the ongoing stress tests convinced the team that the server infrastructure needs bulking-up; consequently, the October 30th date -- today -- has been set aside. Dancey wrote,
We have set an internal objective of being able to handle 2,000 simultaneous connections, and 100 characters active in a single Hex as our minimum threshold for server performance. This reflects our expected peak concurrent activity for the first 10,000 players in game - roughly what we anticipate during the first 90 days of Early Enrollment activity. Currently the server does not reliably meet that benchmark.

With your help, we generated tremendously useful data via the stress test process and our performance team is confident that they can identify areas of the server system that can be rapidly improved to hit that benchmark. They are building and testing the necessary software and are making steady progress.

We want the first players in Pathfinder Online to have a high-quality experience and we are committed to delivering the game in a condition that meets that objective. Rather than commence Early Enrollment on the 30th we are going to enter a temporary "hold" state while we continue to optimize the server. When the team is confident that our benchmark for performance has been met, we will then exit the "hold", notify the community and begin a 48 hour countdown to Early Enrollment.
Dancey told players that Pathfinder's alpha test will continue, allowing devs to "roll out these polished feature iterations and to test server capacity improvements," and he thanked backers for their assistance and feedback.

Line of Defense's Derek Smart recaps ongoing test phase

Betas, Sci-Fi, Business Models, Game Mechanics, News Items, MMOFPS, Dev Diaries

Line of Defense
3000AD's Derek Smart has penned a new Line of Defense developer blog outlining the current state of the MMOFPS title's early access test phase. Smart explains that more than half of the game's world stations have been opened to testers so far, with two more stations expected to open soon. The final four will unlock when aircraft are patched in.

Smart also says that his team is working on a public roadmap website so that players can track release progress and vote on new features. He thanks his testers for their patience with the "staggered" test schedule. " It is for the greater good," he writes. "Been doing this a very – very – long time, so you just have to trust that I know what I'm doing."

Earlier this fall, Line of Defense launched on Steam's early access program, but an error allowed the public to download the game without paying for a founder's pack, leading to negative reviews when the games were confiscated and eliciting a fiery response from Smart.

Camelot Unchained devs play music, talk audio stretch goal

Fantasy, Video, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Humor, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained

If you've ever wanted to see Mark Jacobs fend off a wasp attack, the latest Camelot Unchained dev diary video is for you! It's also noteworthy because Jacobs details how the crowdfunded PvP sandbox met its previous stretch goal and how it is now on to a "sound and effects" stretch goal.

"This is a very serious attempt to have triple-A sound and effects," he says, before going on to explain how CityState will hire a dedicated engineer, license a top engine, etc. Click past the cut to watch Jacobs, a wasp, Grumpy Cat, and the CU dev band.

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Elite: Dangerous' third beta is now live with new systems, ships, and interdiction mechanics

Betas, Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Elite: Dangerous

Elite
After a brief technical delay, Elite: Dangerous' "Beta 3.00 is now available," declares a post on the official Frontier forums. The patch notes are extra long; new and updated features include new ships, player-driven interdiction, fuel scooping from stars, asteroid mining, visual overhauls to planets, philanthropy missions, and an expanded game map with now over 2400 systems. Frontier has also added hundreds of audio tweaks and bug fixes. Players have continued reporting stability issues with the new patch.

This episode of beta, like the phases before it, is exclusive to those who've pre-purchased the game and beta access. Massively's Mike Foster spent September playing the game in beta 1 and had enough fun to say that he "would happily recommend it" but for the beta price tag.

We've included the new beta 3 trailer below.

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Valiance Online launches its Kickstarter today [Updated: It's live now!]

Betas, Super-hero, Business Models, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Promotions, Crowdfunding

Valiance Online
A post on Valiance Online's Facebook has good news for fans of the upcoming game: SilverHelm Studios will be bringing the game to Kickstarter today. "It's packed with all manner of goodies for you to get your hands on," Design Director Nate "Paramount" Vogeding writes. "These things will be exclusive to our KS backers and backers alone. That's right; it won't be coming back around again." Vogeding also promises more pre-alpha invites and tells readers to "let everyone know that yes, there is a city coming back and very soon!"

Valiance Online is one of several fan-backed superhero MMOs vying to become City of Heroes' spiritual successor. In September, SilverHelm told followers that it will not be licensing the CoH IP if it is eventually secured from NCsoft by City of Titans.

[Update: The Kickstarter is now live, with pledges ranging from $1-$10,000 and a funding goal of $150,000. We've embedded the trailer below.]

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Destiny's The Dark Below expansion launches December 9th

Sci-Fi, Screenshots, Business Models, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Consoles, Dungeons, Destiny, Buy-to-Play

Destiny
The Dark Below, Destiny's first expansion -- sorry, "Expansion I" -- releases on December 9th, Bungie announced today. What's in store for players?
  • New weapons, armour and gear
  • A new Light Level cap of 32 with 5 additional Bounty slots
  • New story quests and missions revolving around a new character Eris and the Hive
  • A new co-op Strike called The Will of Crota (with a second co-op Strike, The Undying Mind, exclusive to PlayStation gamers for a year)
  • Three new competitive multiplayer arenas: Pantheon, Skyshock, and The Cauldron
  • And a new six-player Raid called Crota's End.
Bungie says the expansion will cost £19.99 standalone or £34.99 for a bundle that includes this expansion plus Expansion II. We've included a few of the new screenshots and concept art pieces below.

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Perfect World reorganizes its R&D branches

Business Models, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, Miscellaneous

PWE
Chinese gaming giant Perfect World Co. has issued a statement declaring a restructuring of research and development teams and the subsequent formation of five new subsidiaries. Says the press release,
The structure of forming new subsidiaries that are majority-owned by Perfect World is aimed to help attract and motivate top talent by granting them direct stake in the subsidiaries under the new incentive scheme. Perfect World will support these subsidiaries with the Company's proprietary technology, graphic design, integrated platform, distribution channels and other valuable resources. The Company believes that the new structure will help invigorate the game development process, support game design flexibility, allow faster reaction to changing market trends, and boost game development productivity.
Through its subsidiary Perfect Online Holding Limited, Perfect World also recently acquired a 3% stake in Digital Extremes Ltd., which publishes Warframe. Perfect World Co., Ltd., is not to be conflated with Perfect World Entertainment, known to our audience primarily for its custodianship of Cryptic's Star Trek Online, Neverwinter, and Champions Online. PWE is Perfect World Co.'s North American online games publisher.

Not So Massively: LoL's billion, SOTA's Steam debut, and Hearthstone's smartphone plans

Betas, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Classes, Culture, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, Marvel Heroes, Consoles, Casual, MMOFPS, Miscellaneous, Not So Massively, MOBA, League of Legends, Crowdfunding, Path of Exile, Hearthstone, E-sports, OARPG

NSM - Infinite Crisis
Welcome back to No So Massively, where every Monday we round up the highlights from the past week in the world of MOBAs, roguelikes, MMOTCGs, and other games that aren't quite MMOs.

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