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Chronicles of Spellborn

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Imagine that you're reading up on an MMO on a site such as Massively (far-fetched, but stay with us on this). The words intrigue you and you think it might be worth checking out. You make a mental note to do so in the future -- to head over to the game's site, see if there's a trial, download it, set up an account, and give it a whirl -- but time gets away from you and none of that actually happens.

Now imagine that right after you read that article there was a single button or link. Clicking on it, a Java window opens up on top of your screen and tells you that you're now playing a trial of the game. There's no wait, no download, no lengthy form to fill out -- just click and play, right away. You go from interested to inside the game within mere seconds, your computer specs (mostly) aren't an issue, and your curiosity is immediately sated.

This isn't a far-fetched dream but the here-and-now reality. This is cloud-streaming MMOs brought to you by Gaikai. And it just might be the future of MMOs as we know it.

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The Perfect Ten: Shapeshifters

World of Warcraft, Anarchy Online, City of Heroes, EverQuest II, Guild Wars, Classes, Ultima Online, Chronicles of Spellborn, Humor, Champions Online, RIFT, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

Because we are true geeks, last weekend my wife and I went to see X-Men: First Class. Afterward, we got into a discussion about what mutant power we'd pick for ourselves if we had the choice. I was torn between teleportation and quick healing, while my wife wanted to be able to turn into cash to pay off our mortgage. I think one of us is more grounded in the real world than the other.

But the more I think about it, the more I was intrigued with the idea of a shapeshifter. To be anyone would give you unparalleled freedom -- and plenty of chances to get into mischief, too. Come to think of it, it's probably best I'm not granted that particular superpower.

However, plenty of MMOs do give players the chance to shift between their normal forms and something else entirely. While there are far more than 10 examples that the brain trust over here came up with, I'm going to pick out my favorites to highlight.

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Spellborn shutting down in September

Fantasy, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Chronicles of Spellborn

It seems the bell has finally tolled for The Chronicles of Spellborn, the troubled free-to-play MMORPG from Playdom. The fantasy title, which boasted a unique combat system and attempted to alleviate the grind common to the massive genre through its mission system, will be shutting its doors for good in September. Spellborn has had a checkered history since its 2009 inception as a pay-to-play title. Shortly after release, its development team went bankrupt before it was slated for free-to-play distribution by Acclaim and Frogster.

According to a report published on Games.com, last week's server outage (which sparked a brush-fire of cancellation rumors) was temporary, but the game will nonetheless be closing next month. "Yes we do plan to close the game at the end of the month," said a Playdom rep via email. "The servers were down on Monday, but that was due to an unrelated technical issue; the game should be back up now until the end of this month."

Playdom acquires Acclaim Games

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If there was any doubt that the world of Facebook social games and traditional MMOs are becoming further intertwined, this should hopefully silence it. Playdom, well-known as one of the three major powers in Facebook gaming (alongside Zynga and Playfish), has acquired Acclaim Games, owner of several free-to-play MMOs including Chronicles of Spellborn, 9Dragons, and 2Moons. Unfortunately for the business mavens in the audience, the exact details of the acquisition including price were not disclosed.

In terms of management, there's going to be little changing on the ground for Acclaim Games, as previous CEO Howard Marks will continue to run the studio for Playdom. Playdom itself has been purchasing several smaller developers and studios, especially those focusing on Facebook development. No word on whether this will affect management of any of Acclaim's existing games, although it seems unlikely given the circumstances. What is certain is that it's another installment in the distance between social gaming and MMOs being shortened.

[ Thanks to Animagnum for the tip! ]

Acclaim CEO says Spellborn version 2.0 is on the way

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If you're a fan of The Chronicles of Spellborn, Beau Turkey at Spouse Aggro found something today that will make you very happy. There have been rumors floating around lately about a restructuring of the game, and those rumors were recently confirmed on the official forums by Howard Marks, the CEO of Acclaim Games: "The rumors are true! Spellborn Version Two is on the way."

Marks went on to explain that the new version has already been released in Japan to great success. They've been fine tuning it, and plans for the English version are underway. If you are a current player of The Chronicles of Spellborn, be sure you have a valid email address on file with Acclaim, because everyone playing the current version will be invited to beta test the new version via email.

While details are minimal at this point, it's great news for players to know that more is on the way. You can take a look at the forum announcement here, and Beau's take from a fan point of view here.

Chronicles of Spellborn now completely free while in re-development

Fantasy, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Chronicles of Spellborn

Did you miss out on the Chronicles of Spellborn when it initially came out? Most likely you did. If it wasn't the freemium model that confused you, it was most likely the crazy-odd "Acclaim coins" system combined with "membership" that turned you off of the game.

Well, as we mentioned before, Chronicles of Spellborn is facing some issues and tough times. The game is being re-developed into a free-to-play model while one arm of the Spellborn company is facing issues of bankruptcy. But not all is doom and gloom with the game itself. In fact, now couldn't be a better time to check out Spellborn.

While the game is being re-developed and eventually re-launched, the current version is now completely free. All you need to do is go on, create an account, and download the game. That's it. So if you passed up the game before and you have some time on your hands, we recommend going on over and checking out Spellborn for the low, low price of free. It's fresh and quite different from your standard MMO.

The Chronicles of Spellborn to be re-developed as free to play, bankruptcy issues loom

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The Chronicles of Spellborn only launched a few months ago, but they've already announced that they're going to "re-develop" the game as a free-to-play title. Acclaim Games stated on Monday: "The development is planned to carry into 2010 and will include several enhancements and changes to the current game. The enhancements and development of the new model will be carried through a joint venture between Spellborn NV and the development studio of Frogster Asia Co. Ltd based in Seoul, the Korean studio bringing its expertise in the field of free-to-play and micro-transactions."

Once this re-development is complete The Chronicles of Spellborn will cease to be a subscription game and will switch over to the free-to-play model. We're not sure if there will be any further development on TCOS as it exists now, but a post on the game's EU forums by community manager Kelas stated, "For now, the servers and system (subscription) will remain the way it is. There are still people available for running the daily work and systems."

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One Shots: To the vault

Fantasy, Screenshots, One Shots, Chronicles of Spellborn

We haven't had many looks into this world as yet here on One Shots, which is a shame. The armor artwork and texturing is really quite interesting to look at! Not sure where this lone adventurer - Rayko Silverthorn of the guild Sacred, level 14 Trickster of High House Shroud - stands? He's exploring the world of The Chronicles of Spellborn, and writes in to tell us a bit more about the scene we're seeing - and why he likes The Chronicles of Spellborn.

My first trip off of Parliament led me to Atheneum, home of The Consanguineous Vaults or just The Vaults. The ever increasingly difficult Vaults are were young adventurers go to hone their skills to become the heroes of tomorrow. This game features arguably the best combat system ever, The best way to handle death via Pep levels and a refreshing theme that breaks away from the oh so common style of fantasy MMORPGs.

If you're traveling in a world we don't see often - or haven't really seen at all - then we want to see some screenshots from you! Just email them to us here at oneshots AT massively DOT com along with your name, the name of the game, and a brief description - or your thoughts on why your favorite MMO is awesome! We'll post them out here and give you the nod for sending the image and note in.

Gallery: One Shots

Chronicles of Spellborn raises the free to play level cap

Fantasy, Business Models, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, Chronicles of Spellborn

Worst part of freemium games is really getting into the game and then running head long into the free area's level cap. You just got started, just got into getting a nice pace, and you suddenly can't go any further until you buy a new zone or pay for a subscription.

Chronicles of Spellborn seems to understand that problem and have taken a step to delay the inevitable. With the last patch, "Paragraph of Timed Strike," they've raised the free to play level cap from 7.6 to 9.9. This is going to allow new players or former free to play users the ability to level further and access more quests in the starting areas of Hawksmouth and Aldenvault.

Of course at level 9.9 you're still going to need a subscription if you want to continue on with Spellborn, but hey, now you have 2.3 more levels to enjoy before you need to grab some Acclaim coins.

The Chronicles of Spellborn art book now available as free PDF

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The newly launched fantasy game The Chronicles of Spellborn is a (air quote) freemium massively multiplayer online title from Acclaim, where three areas of the game are available for free, while subscriptions truly open the game up for its players. Those gamers in the EU who jump into The Chronicles of Spellborn are able to buy the title as a boxed product and thus get the art book which accompanies the box release, but no such luck for North American players. That is, until now.

Acclaim has opted to release the art book as a free PDF file, which you can find over at MMORPG.com. It's a nice, in-depth look at the game spanning 151 pages of art content and lore. The High Houses, the game's myriad Inhabitants, and of course weapons and armor are all included in The Chronicles of Spellborn art book. If you're already into TCoS or are just curious about it, be sure to grab your free download at MMORPG.com.

Spellborn launches in the US; subscriptions free for 2 weeks

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Acclaim has officially launched The Chronicles of Spellborn in North America, and to mark the occasion, premium subscriptions are totally free for people registering before the 7th of May (and for existing accounts). The issue of needing "Acclaim Coins" to purchase subscriptions has been fixed in time for the launch, and when the free subscriptions run out, players will be able to keep them going using their credit cards directly.

As we had confirmed for us last month, Spellborn will be using a monthly paid subscription business model, however, a small portion (three areas) of the game's content will be available for free in perpetuity. Upon reaching a certain level, all further character progression is blocked. This is really more of a free trial than an actual "free-to-play with premium for-pay bits", so to see what the full game is really like, the best option would be to try it out now while the flood gates are opened all the way. If you decide to give it a go, be sure to let us know what you think about it.

Chronicles of Spellborn opens up beta, shows off new armor

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Recently, we had the chance to sit in as part of an open-community conversation with some of the creators of The Chronicles of Spellborn. Many people were thrilled just to hear that they've recently opened up the beta for those who want to check the game out. (Tip: Check early in the morning, it seems to be a limited daily amount.) Among some of the basic details discussed were the reiteration that yes, absolutely, Chronicles of Spellborn will be a "freemium" game. The free areas will offer players three areas to try, including the new tutorial, before you are required to subscribe to progress. Subscriptions will be approximately $15 monthly at first, potentially jumping to $18. They are working on what they call a 'set it and forget it' monthly billing option like other MMOs have, but for now you have to purchase Acclaim Coins either by buying cards at stores (Target, etc) or via the Acclaim website.

Beyond that, the Spellborn team feels that the beta is moving along at a good pace. Most of the balance issues were largely due to bugs in the system, and should be worked out very soon. Since the US client is trailing the EU client, things that are being found by players on the EU servers are being patched in the US game well before players here hit those issues. Also, due to the fact that the game is skill-based, they explained they've stumbled across an unintended bonus; it appears to be harder for bots to play effectively under this system. Further, they stated that they are working to ensure that gold spammers won't be an annoyance for players after launch. Finally, they also touched on a few aspects of PvP, such as not allowing polymorphs or complete blocks that take players out of the action as they feel that's not very fun, and hinted at more changes to come in the next meeting.

In all, it sounds like an interesting set of updates, and with the ability to chat with 1,000 people in each Webinar, we suspect we'll be hearing about more of these open meetings for Spellborn as the beta progresses. For now, enjoy some behind-the-scenes looks at some of the armor art we'll be seeing!

Chronicles of Spellborn moves up to 1.02

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The European free to play MMO Chronicles of Spellborn has unleashed patch 1.02, entitled "Scroll of the Second Path," bringing some brand new fixes and changes into their world.

One of the biggest changes is the introduction of a brand new tutorial that better introduces their combat system. One of the many problems that many players were facing with Spellborn was that it does not play like a traditional MMO. In fact, playing it like a traditional MMO would usually get you killed. This new tutorial better explains how to avoid getting hit, while still dealing damage of your own to the targets around you.

The other big change is the introduction of "menaces" -- new elite monsters that wander around outdoor areas. These guys are big and hard to kill, but their existences are also tied into special wanted posters in towns. These wanted posters trigger new quests to take down the menaces, giving players incentive to take on these new challenges.

The game is still awaiting a closed beta in the US, but those readers in the UK, France, or Germany will be happy to hop on the Spellborn wagon and give the game a try. The full patch notes for 1.02 are available on the Chronicles of Spellborn forums.

[Via A Ding World]

Spellborn updates for 2009 mapped out

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Although the US is still waiting for The Chronicles of Spellborn to finish up its beta phases, the European version of the game has already been released. As is usually the case with an MMO launch, the developers didn't just flip the switch and then wash their hands of the project, and have been pushing out patches and hotfixes to their live servers as needed. Now we've been given an idea of where they hope to take the game over the coming year, via a post on the official forums.

In the short term, a big patch is expected to be ready for the end of January, which will include some new monsters as well as a tutorial that comes in response to feedback from the community and press. A bit later in the year, the plan is to roll out the market, and an arena match-up system that will allow 2v2 and 4v4 PvP games. Longer term development goals include mounts and guild alliances, but when we're looking at this time-frame, it's highly likely that more ideas will come about. So, who is already on board with Spellborn?

A big list of MMOs to watch in 2009

Aion, Darkfall, Huxley, Jumpgate Evolution, MMO Industry, New Titles, Stargate Worlds, The Agency, Chronicles of Spellborn, Free Realms, Champions Online, LEGO Universe, FusionFall, DC Universe Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic

Over at The Vault, they've put up an exhaustive list of all the MMO titles you should have your eye on throughout the new year. While they sort of term it as thought it's a big list of games coming out this year, we think they know it's unlikely all of those games are going to be released in the next twelve months. With that in mind, if you aren't sure what games you should have on your radar (and you haven't clicked our handy "upcoming MMOs" widget above), this massive list will bring you up to date.

Here at Massively, of course, we've been doing our own level best to keep you updated on a lot of these titles, be they AAA superhero games like Champions Online or DC Universe Online. We've talked fervently about Star Wars: The Old Republic, and given you the skinny on under-the-radar titles like Aion, FreeRealms, and Jumpgate Evolution. We've even walked away from our precious fantasy to talk about games like APB or The Agency. The Vault's list is a great one to run down - check it out to see what game you should be obsessing over today!

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