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Free for All: Will there ever be another setting like Ryzom's Atys?

Sci-Fi, Screenshots, Culture, Game Mechanics, Ryzom, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Races, Casual, Free for All, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox

Ryzom map
Ah, Ryzom. To this day it remains one of my favorite MMORPGs for several reasons. I was reminded just how much I still enjoy the game when I logged in to witness a storm rolling through the land, lightning sizzling from the sky, rain falling straight down on my character's head. The planet that Ryzom players find themselves on is called Atys, and it's no ordinary planet. In fact, it's not a planet at all. Instead, it's a giant rootball that floats in space.

Yes, a rootball.

I'm no scientist, but I'm pretty sure that a massive rootball is an impossible thing, but it doesn't matter. The game's original designers were French, and if you follow French MMOs, you know they always seem to come up with something completely unique. In this case, Atys is literally made up of a wad of giant roots and bark. I have to wonder: Why aren't there more unique settings like Atys in gaming today?

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New Nexon CEO: Mobile games 'letting consumers down'

Events (Real-World), Interviews, MMO Industry, News Items, Mobile, Casual

Nexon logo
New Nexon boss Owen Mahoney had harsh words for mobile game makers at last week's Game Developers Conference.

"A third of what we've done in the last few months is Flappy Bird clones. We're letting consumers down," Mahoney told Venture Beat. "I know that, because as a consumer, I really want to play a different kind of game than just a casual, short-format game. I want to play a more immersive experience."

Mahoney believes that mobile devices and PCs will eventually converge, and he said that Nexon is focused on developing games -- and acquiring a North American IP -- with that in mind.

Massively exclusive: Pirate101 announces new advanced pet system

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Casual, Family, Dev Diaries, Pirate101

Pirate101 pet art
Pirate101's pet system is getting an update, and KingsIsle tells us that a new test realm will soon open its doors to showcase the changes. Pet owners will be able to send their minions on various world-based training missions which will raise their level, unlock talents and powers, and more.

The devs are also adding the ability to PvP in a pet battle arena as well as a new quest that details the new advanced pet system. KingsIsle has penned a lengthy dev diary explaining how everything works. You can read it after the cut.

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Here's how you can play World of Tanks Blitz on your iOS device

Betas, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items, War, Free-to-Play, Mobile, Casual, World of Tanks

World of Tanks Blitz
It's been nearly a year since Wargaming announced World of Tanks Blitz, its 7-on-7 mobile title inspired by World of Tanks and said to "rival anything on a console." The firm has officially announced that WoTB's closed beta will commence once it "roll[s] out the server infrastructure and accumulate[s] enough beta applications."

That's where you come in, because Wargaming has also published beta application links for both Europe and North America.

Free for All: How a smaller workload affects my MMO playstyle

Screenshots, Culture, Game Mechanics, Free-to-Play, Casual, Humor, Free for All, Miscellaneous

Genia Brain Storm screenshot
As I'm sure you have all heard, we recently went through some budget and workflow changes here at Massively. For me, the revamp meant that I went from three columns, several livestreams, and the occasional news post down to a single column and an occasional stream or feature.

A strange thing has happened, but I can't say that it's uncommon in the industry: Once my workload decreased, my gaming MMO habits changed. I have been sort of reset to the position I was in before I worked so much for this site, back to when I was a silly blogger who wrote and played just for fun.

Allow me to explain.

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Free for All: Five reasons to continue loving MMORPGs

Business Models, Culture, Game Mechanics, PvP, Opinion, Second Life, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Free for All, Miscellaneous, Sandbox, MMORPG

RuneScape screenshot
It's been all gloomy around here lately, hasn't it? Well there's a good reason for that, as you might know. Luckily I have survived the cuts that affected much of the AOL Tech network, although that means that Rise and Shiny and MMObility, my two other regular columns, will be consolidated into this one. While it might seem like less work for me, in actuality it means that I have less room to tell you, fair reader, about all of the fantastic MMOs that continue to come out.

Yes, I said continue to come out. It's easy to become a Seymour ("I hate my interests!") in these days of non-stop hype, but the truth is that the MMO genre has continuously pumped out content for many, many years and will keep doing so for some time. So to celebrate the fact that three of my columns are now coming to you in one megacolumn, I thought it'd be fun to remind ourselves just why we enjoy this hobby.

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Free for All: Villagers and Heroes adds bells, whistles, and more sand

Fantasy, Video, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Interviews, Patches, Previews, Endgame, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, Hands-On, Casual, Humor, Free for All, Family, Livestream, Miscellaneous, Sandbox, Dungeons, Crafting, Housing

Villagers and Heroes screenshot
Villagers and Heroes is a favorite of mine, but let's be honest: The game looks old. When talking to Damon Slye, President of Mad Otter Games, I found that many people agree. According to Slye, it's one of the most frequent concerns he hears from potential new players. The engine that the game currently uses is old and needs to be upgraded big time. And that's just what the developers are doing with this large patch and expansion that should be due in early March.

I sat down with Slye, Associate Designer Cameron England, Head Writer Sarah Skibinski, and Head Artist Adam Alexander to discuss just how different the game will be once the patch goes live. I was given access to a test account loaded up on gear, cash, and other goodies. Even though I found my backpacks full, I mainly wanted to look around the game and explore. Fortunately, the difference between the original client and the new one is literally night and day.

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The Stream Team: Checking out Villagers and Heroes' new client

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, Interviews, Previews, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, Hands-On, Casual, Livestream, Sandbox, The Stream Team

Villagers and Heroes screenshot
Massively's Beau Hindman and members of the Mad Otter team are on hand to show off some of the new test features and the new client (with better graphics) of Villagers and Heroes. If you like sandbox gameplay, crafting, and combat, check it out.

Game: Villagers and Heroes
Host: Beau Hindman
Date: Monday, February 24th, 2014
Time: 4:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Rise and Shiny revisit: Stronghold Kingdoms

Fantasy, Historical, Video, Game Mechanics, Previews, Opinion, War, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Casual, MMORTS, Humor, Rise and Shiny, Livestream, Sandbox

Stronghold Kingdoms screenshot
Stronghold Kingdoms is probably one of my top favorite MMORTS titles out there. There are many reasons it holds a special place in my slightly crumpled gamer heart, and I will be sure to get to those, but there are also many gameplay elements that could use some improvement. It's a pretty typical MMORTS in most ways; players build up a town, trade goods, fight each other, and swear loyalty to others. In fact, the genre is quite bloated with games that perform in largely the same way, many of them being delivered to us within the browser.

For many players, these defining characteristics are exactly why they are attracted to the genre. In the same way, shooter fans appreciate many of the same basic mechanics from game to game, and trading card players need specific systems in place in order to feel satisfaction. So the existence of these repeated designs is not a problem for me.

It's especially not a problem in Stronghold Kingdoms.

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MMObility: A newbie's look at the fantastic Therian Saga

Betas, Screenshots, Video, Economy, Game Mechanics, New Titles, Previews, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, Hands-On, Casual, Roleplaying, Miscellaneous, MMObility, Sandbox, Crafting

The Therian Saga screenshot
I'm tired today. I was up too late playing The Therian Saga, a new browser-based MMO by Studio Virtys. It's a seemingly simple game and might even appear to be easier than it is, but I have found these last several hours of play to be more immersive and satisfying than much of what I have played over the last several months. Essentially, the game is an in-depth representational game, meaning that most of the time you will spend your time giving commands and watching -- or waiting for long periods -- for the commands to work out. Think of the gameplay sort of like Words With Friends with some real-time combat. No, you won't be spelling against your enemies, but the pace is definitely casual with optional, faster combat.

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Free for All: What my Raptr stats say about my gaming style

Fantasy, Culture, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, MMOFPS, Free for All, Miscellaneous, Sandbox

Raptr stats screenshot
I've had a love/hate relationship with Raptr, the free game tracking service and social network. I used it much of the time when it first came out but then fell out of love with it when it stopped detecting many of the indie and browser-based MMOs that I played. I picked it up again recently and have been attempting to keep it going any time I game. I like being able to communicate with people through the network, but I mainly enjoy looking over my stats as a gamer to see just how flighty I can be.

The system isn't perfect, of course. Either I need to set the app to start when my PC does, or I just need to get better at remembering to start it when I begin a gaming session. And even though I play many, many different types of games and MMOs, the network still doesn't automatically recognize many of the smaller titles I like to play.

So even though there are some gaps in my wall, I thought it'd be interesting to look at the info there to see just how much gaming I am doing.

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Rise and Shiny: Inferno Legend

Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, New Titles, Previews, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, Hands-On, Casual, Humor, Rise and Shiny, Livestream

Inferno Legend screenshot
This week's game was a giant gamble, one that I should have known would not have worked out at all. The problem is that I have this crazy inborn optimism that tells me that even though many MMOs look and play the same way, you never know how they truly play until you actually play them. I've literally played hundreds of MMOs for this job and probably a hundred or so before that, so I've seen my share of games that look one way and play the other.

So this week I decided to go ahead and roll in Inferno Legend, a new MMO by GameBox, even though it appeared to be an auto-player like League of Angels from a few weeks ago and other titles before that. I picked my character from five different classes: the Cyclops, Vampire, Samurai, Faerie, and Mummy. I barely got past the incredibly bad voice-acting that was presumably supposed to add life to the characters and popped into the game.

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The Stream Team: Braving Inferno Legend

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, Previews, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Casual, Livestream, The Stream Team

Inferno Legend screenshot
Inferno Legend is a new title from ChangYou, the former publisher of Zentia and many other current games. Will this game have the same magic that Zentia did? Beau's about to find out. Join him in the chat room to ask about the game!

Game: Inferno Legend
Host: Beau Hindman
Date: Monday, February 10th, 2014
Time: 4:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Why I Play: Neverwinter

Fantasy, Video, Culture, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Casual, Why I Play, Neverwinter, Player-Generated Content

Neverwinter screenshot
I have to say that for all of my yapping about needing to play MMOs that allow me to freely roam and to explore a virtual world and live a virtual life, I sure am a fan of linear themeparks. Who isn't? In fact, show me someone who now claims to be the enemy of all things themed, and I'll show you someone who at some point enjoyed the benefits of a good themepark, most likely World of Warcraft. I'm not sure why there's any shame in admitting that one enjoys a good romp through a virtual storybook, but I sure do. In fact, I often depend on it in order to get me over lazy sandbox slumps.

Neverwinter is one of my favorite themeparks out there. There are quite a few reasons it works so well, many of them obvious. I'd like also to point out some of the reasons Neverwinter might work so well for certain types of players.

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Civilization Online is 60% done

Betas, Interviews, Free-to-Play, Casual

civilization online
XLGAMES' Civilization Online is 60% completed, Jake Song said in a recent interview.

Song said that the multiplayer online version of the classic Civilization series is more than halfway done in preparation for its open beta. He also announced that testing should commence in the first half of this year.

One interesting tidbit that came out of the interview was a classification of Civilization Online as a more casual spin on the series that won't require as much time invested as the single-player variants.

[Thanks to Dengar for the tip!]

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