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Dino-survival: Hands-on with Beasts of Prey's early access alpha

Betas, Fantasy, Bugs, Game Mechanics, Previews, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, Post-Apocalyptic, Crafting, Buy-to-Play

Beasts of Prey
When I first dived into the horror-survival genre, I knew there would be zombies, but I never expected dinosaurs. You don't get much bigger than a T-Rex stomping around your neighborhood (though I am still waiting for an underwater survival game that randomly has blue whales unintentionally ruining your kelp fort as they hunt for krill). When dinosaurs started to replace zombies, I knew that my inner child would drag me in, even if I once again had to pay for alpha.

It's this very idea of "paid alpha" that inspired me to tackle not one but two titles from the newly spawned dino-survival based genre. Apologists will say that it's just alpha, but the reality is that you get only one launch, and to me, launch is you start letting people buy your game and don't hold them under an NDA. With this in mind, I decided to try my hand at both Beasts of Prey and The Stomping Land to see which, if either, feels the most deserving of my time (and money). Today, I'll start with BoP.

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Guild Wars 2 selling well in China [Updated]

Fantasy, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Guild Wars 2, Buy-to-Play

Chinese MMO players love Guild Wars 2, according to an NCsoft census that was translated on Reddit. The two-year old fantasy MMO has eclipsed 3.8 million Chinese users, which indicates far faster growth than the game has exhibited in the rest of the world. The title launched in August of 2012 and topped the 3.5 million sales mark a year later. China's 3.8 million sales happened in just two months.

GamesIndustry.biz posits that GW2's Chinese success is an indication of a lucrative and untapped market for Western developers as well as evidence that buy-to-play business models can succeed in an area dominated by F2P.

[Thanks 7BitBrian!]

[Update: ArenaNet has disavowed these numbers as of July 11th. "We'd like to clarify recent news of GW2 China sales: it's inaccurate, from a Chinese fansite, and they could be estimating characters," the studio said via Twitter. Thanks to Martin for the tip.]

Chaos Theory: The Secret World anniversary celebration, take two!

Horror, Real-Life, Events (In-Game), The Secret World, Guides, Anniversaries, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Chaos Theory:  The Secret World anniversary celebration, take two!
It's that time of year again: time to celebrate another anniversary in The Secret World! And that means taking on world bosses, soaking up oodles of AP, and collecting lore, clothes, and (the best part) pets. Yep, definitely sounds like a party. The birthday bash lasts through July 17th, but the double AP portion of it ends on the 11th, so if you have new builds you want to test and you like the feel of all that AP popping up every few steps, now is the time to get into the game.

If you attended last year's Guardians of Gaia celebration, you're no doubt familiar with the set up of the event; you may have even completed everything. If not, you now have the chance to catch up on everything, including collecting all the lore and pets. On top of that, there are new goodies to collect this time around. There's even a new achievement involving all the pets! Here are some tips and tricks for getting the most out of TSW's second anniversary celebration.

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WildStar offering a free mount to players with 2-step verification

Sci-Fi, News Items, Promotions, WildStar, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

And then you may pimp it, as is the tradition with rides.
Do you have 2-step verification on your WildStar account already? The team at Carbine Studios really wants you to, since the added layer of security helps ensure that no one steals your stuff. So you're getting a little added incentive starting on July 10th -- a free bike! The Retroblade mount is free to all accounts with 2-step verification starting tomorrow, while everyone without 2-step verification will simply have to stare at your new ride with envy. Or, you know, get verified.

This bonus is in addition to the existing benefits offered by the verification process, which includes a cosmetic headpiece, a title, and a 2% experience boost on all characters. Plus confidence that your account won't get stolen, which is also fun. The announcement has more details about the process if you haven't already gotten in on the verification train; all you'll need is a smartphone and a few moments to log in.

Roberts' latest post peeks behind the Star Citizen development curtain

Betas, Sci-Fi, Bugs, MMO Industry, New Titles, Patches, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Star Citizen, Buy-to-Play

Star Citizen has opened another window on the world of game development, this time courtesy of a Chris Roberts post that details the investigative process behind Arena Commander's lag and rubber-banding issues. In a nutshell, the problems surfaced with patch 12.4 as Cloud Imperium expanded the pool of AC participants past the initial 60,000-player threshold.

"Like doctors trying to identify a mysterious illness, we looked for common environmental factors," Roberts writes. "Was there a significant geographic distance between players? Surprisingly, no: in many cases, players with almost no latency between them were still having issues. The team moved on to examining our own code." He goes on to explain how CIG translates potential problems into JIRA tasks and assigns them to engineers who are responsible for repairs prior to the next patch.

[Thanks Cardboard!]

Flameseeker Chronicles: Guild Wars 2's Gates of Maguuma is a leap forward

Fantasy, Lore, Patches, PvE, Opinion, Guild Wars 2, Flameseeker Chronicles, Buy-to-Play

Skritt just got real.
A few months passed between season one of Guild Wars 2's living world story and the start of season two, and the first content release of the new arc was going to have to make a big splash, no matter what it turned out to contain. Fans grumbled warily about the chances of being asked to repair road signs for weeks while waiting for the meat of the story, and ArenaNet played its cards close to the vest. Teasers, speculation, and season one recaps were all we had to quench our thirst for GW2's second season. We were parched, moving endlessly through a vast wasteland of -- wait, there's a metaphor here. Hold on, it's coming to me.

Anyway, we've been delivered to an oasis: The Gates of Maguuma are open, and we've taken our first steps into a new region of Tyria. Along with several other media representatives, I was invited to take a developer-led tour of the new Dry Top zone and story content. Does it live up to the anticipation? The answer necessarily contains spoilers, so read on at your peril, mortal.

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Frontier opens Elite single-player combat build to all pre-order pilots

Betas, Sci-Fi, Business Models, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Elite: Dangerous, Buy-to-Play

Frontier has doubled the number of players fighting, trading, and exploring their way through the sprawling cosmos of Elite: Dangerous. The firm released Elite's single-player combat build to all beta backers earlier today in preparation for the multiplayer beta launch on July 29th.

If you've pre-ordered or backed Elite, you can download the launcher by logging into the game's website and pointing your browser at the "My Downloadable Products" link. Frontier also wants you to know that you can still pre-order the multiplayer beta and receive immediate access to today's single-player release.

[Source: Frontier press release]

Guild Wars 2 teases Entanglement, season two's next episode

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Events (In-Game), Lore, Patches, Previews, News Items, Guild Wars 2, Buy-to-Play

GW2
Have you played through Guild Wars 2's latest living story installment yet? No? Well, hurry up because episode 2 arrives next week on July 15th. It's called Entanglement, and its associated teaser video arrived in our inbox last night with merely this cryptic introduction:
There are secrets hidden within the newly revealed area of Dry Top, just waiting to be discovered. Continue your adventures in the Maguuma Wastes and take a stand alongside your fellow heroes against an ancient, growing threat.
Evil grows in the video below.

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Asheron's Call is now buy-to-play

Fantasy, Asheron's Call, Business Models, Events (Real-World), News Items, MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

AC1
As announced back in May, Asheron's Call (and by extension, Asheron's Call 2) has shifted from a subscription to a buy-to-play model this week.

Turbine wrote in May that the last sub payments would be processed on June 30th and that the game would become buy-to-play thereafter. Massively can confirm that logging into the Turbine account site and attempting to resume an old account currently allows players to select a "Lifetime AC Plan" for $9.99, which matches the buy-to-play price for all gamers who wish to play for the first time. Players who were subbed at the transition should be grandfathered in and will no longer be billed every month.

While both games will continue in maintenance mode, Turbine still plans to facilitate player-run servers this year.

[With thanks to Arpeggio.]

Minor criminals in Elite: Dangerous will incur fines, compound interest

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

Frontier has published the 30th edition of its Elite: Dangerous newsletter. This issue features tidbits on ship decals, new code systems meant to enforce law and order within radar range of authority ships or space stations, and potential fines for minor criminal offenders.

Fines will "give the authorities a proportionate level of response rather than shooting to kill regardless of the severity of a crime. Minor crimes and non-threatening infractions will incur a fine, which can be paid off to your local space station authority representative," Frontier explains. "If you don't pay off your fines, they will initially attract compound interest and then, once the authorities lose patience with your tardiness they will be converted into a bounty, and lead to you being hunted down."

There's a lot more to this week's newsletter, so follow the links below to give it a read!

[Thanks Cotic!]

Listen to Guild Wars 2 Season 2's soundtrack now

Fantasy, Guild Wars 2, Music, Buy-to-Play

gw2
Were you intrigued -- tantalized, perhaps -- with the recent talk on Guild Wars 2's new orchestra-recorded soundtrack for the second season of the living world? Well now you can listen to a chunk of it, thanks to the studio and SoundCloud.

The team has posted six new tracks for the first episode of season two, including "The Fall of the Zephyrites" and "The Arid Sands." Check out ArenaNet's SoundCloud page to listen through them and let us know what you think!

Here's what CIG accomplished on Star Citizen in June

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Star Citizen, Buy-to-Play

It's the beginning of a new month, which means it's time for Cloud Imperium Games to recap last month's Star Citizen progress. The big news was the release of Arena Commander and its four patches, but there are plenty of other interesting nuggets packed into the the latest update wall-of-text.

Foundry 42 studio director Erin Roberts says that capital ships are coming together, and his team has also begun work on multi-crew vehicles. CIG Austin studio director Eric Peterson says that his bunch has been "busy working on the persistent universe and backend server component," while Behaviour producer Mathieu Beaulieu says that his studio is hard at work on hangar revamps as well as Star Citizen's mobiGlas development.

Read all about those initiatives and more at the Roberts Space Industries website linked below.

[Thanks James!]

WildStar's Strain patch is live today

Sci-Fi, Patches, News Items, WildStar, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

ORALINGUS, NOUN.  MEANS KISSING WITH THE MOUTH.
There's been plenty of chatter about WildStar's first major patch, but the team at Carbine Studios has been largely silent on when all of this content would be available for players. Turns out it's right now. Yes, the servers should be up now (barring extended maintenance) for max-level players to enjoy all the lore, infections, and so forth that they could possibly want.

For those of you who have missed the prior updates, this patch is adding new costume pieces, new housing decor, two new zones, a new mount, new dyes... a lot of things. You can find out a little more on the official patch page, complete with videos and the like. If you've been looking forward to spending a little more time with the game's big creepy disease carpet, today's your day.

[Source: Carbine Studios press release]

What you need to know about Guild Wars 2's second season living story

Fantasy, Expansions, Interviews, Patches, Guild Wars 2, Events (Massively's Coverage), Buy-to-Play

The wait for Guild Wars 2's Season 2 is finally over! Today, players will dig into the next arc of the living story with the new Gates of Maguuma content (or save the content for later by unlocking it in their story journals). What exactly is in store? If you don't mind a few spoilers, we've got some of those answers for you right now.

Back at E3 2014, ArenaNet Associate Game Director Steven Waller and Studio Design Director Chris Whiteside gave us a recap of the first season, but they also gave us a preview of the second. And yes, that next step is through a portal into a whole new zone!

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DayZ switches over to DirectX 11 and reworked controls

Betas, Horror, Interviews, MMOFPS, Buy-to-Play

dayz
The days of DayZ as we knew it are over; all hail the upcoming changes to everyone's favorite gankfest featuring the occasional zombie!

In an interview this week, DayZ creator Dean Hall outlined six improvements that the team is working on for the standalone version of the game. Right out of the gate is the decision to add an option to toggle DirectX 11 to make everything look a lot better. "Implementing DirectX 10 or 11 will have a dramatic, instant visual difference and quite a significant performance difference," Hall said.

Other changes include new 64-bit server architecture, better hunting mechanics, improved controls, a reworked loot system, and an early game experience fashioned specifically for new players.

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