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One Shots: Bobble heads

Screenshots, EVE Online, Fallen Earth, Culture, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, Miscellaneous, The Elder Scrolls Online

Did we all have a good April Fools' Day this year? Oh hush you; this is why nobody invites you to parties. I certainly had fun, especially while running around with my giant bobble-headed characters in Guild Wars 2. Giant bobble heads are scientifically proven to make any video game 75% more enjoyable.

Reader HawkEye sent me in a disturbing number of screenshots with his large noggins, but I chose this one because it also tickled me that the animals had their heads enlarged. "'Sup Mister Ram?" HawkEye said. "Don't headbutt me, okay? Please?"

I think that creature more wanted to end its misery than contribute to yours, HawkEye, so hopefully you survived the experience. What other strange views await you in the rest of this column? Probably nothing this strange, that's for sure.

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The Daily Grind: Are kids MMOs in danger of dying out?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Kids, Family

As a parent of toddlers, I have often wondered what games I will be playing with them when they get old enough to want to dive into MMOs (if they ever want to, that is). Considering that during this past year we've seen several kid-friendly titles shut down, I'm worried that there might not be any left in a few years.

Recall that Clone Wars Adventures, Free Realms, Pirates of the Caribbean Online, and Toontown Online have been terminated in the past 12 months and answer me this: Are kids MMOs in danger of dying out? I can take heart that KingsIsle is still going strong and that LEGO Minifigures Online is in development, but I don't see a lot of interest in studios making MMOs for the much younger set. What do you think?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

The Daily Grind: What's your favorite MMO-related song?

Fantasy, Video, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, The Elder Scrolls Online, Music

Malukah's Beauty of Dawn
We talk MMO soundtracks in depth here at Massively, but by and large our focus is on instrumental, orchestral, or electronic scores. Recently I've been setting my MP3 player on auto-repeat for a vocal track, though. It's called Beauty of Dawn and it comes to you courtesy of The Elder Scrolls Online and fan favorite Malukah, who rose to fame a couple of years ago on the strength of her Dragonborn cover.

What about you, Massively readers? What's your favorite MMO-related song (or artist)?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

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Let's all gape at Azeroth Choppers, a WoW motorcycle-themed reality show

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Culture, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Previews, News Items, Humor, Miscellaneous

Full disclosure: I built my husband a Mekgineer's Chopper as a gag Christmas present.
We can't decide whether this is completely awesome or bizarrely terrifying, but because there really aren't adequate words for World of Warcraft's latest marketing stunt, I'll just let Blizzard explain it:
Grab a front-row seat for the ultimate road showdown! Legendary custom motorcycle designer Paul Jr. has assembled two handpicked teams of bike experts to bring to life a pair of asphalt-kicking chopper designs inspired by World of Warcraft®'s two warring factions. Joining each crew on their epic quest are members of the World of Warcraft development team, on board to help to infuse the essence of the Horde and the Alliance into each bike. In the end, only one chopper will reign supreme as the undisputed king of Azeroth's roads in a winner-takes-all showdown voted on by World of Warcraft players around the globe.
Get to da choppa already. And by the choppa I mean the trailer -- it's after the break.

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The Daily Grind: What game deserves an expansion?

Culture, Expansions, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

I'm actually really happy to see that Ultima Online might be getting expansions once again because I love seeing classic MMOs bucking the trend of fading away and becoming irrelevant. Actually, I'd really like to witness many more games get expansions, since an expansion gets the excitement, attention, and community interest like a mini-launch. That's always good for the genre as a whole.

So what game deserves an expansion? What would you like to see in it? You get bonus points if you manage to go the entire comment without using the word "Cantha" in it!

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

The Secret World's Joel Bylos takes on mankinigate

Horror, Business Models, Culture, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, The Secret World, MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

The Secret World's Lead Content Designer Joel Bylos has just posted an explanation for last week's mankinigate episode. As we reported on April 4th, a mankini outfit for male characters was added to the game's cash shop as part of the April Fools' Day patch but was later removed from that shop and from those who had purchased it, with no reason given. Today, Bylos told forumgoers that the mankini wearables were always intended to be a limited-availability April Fools joke and that players were meant to keep them. But...
Funcom management feels strongly that the Mankini outfit goes against what The Secret World intellectual property (IP) is all about and they did not want this item to stay in the game permanently. We all agree on the fact that The Secret World should be the best urban contemporary horror MMO out there, and they want to make sure that everything we bring into the game stays true to the setting and the atmosphere we have created – however it is safe to say that there is sometimes disagreement on nuance. For that reason, Management made the decision to pull it from the game entirely.
While he disagrees with purging the gear from those who bought it, he stresses that it was "pulled due to concerns over the integrity of the IP, not because of the gender or skimpiness of the outfit." The female wetsuit has also been removed from the store but will remain wearable by those who purchased it.

[With thanks to tipster Snurx! We've included Bylos' entire post after the cut.]

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EVE Online begins voting for 9th Council of Stellar Management

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Culture, MMO Industry, Sandbox

It's hard to believe that it's almost been a year already since EVE Online's 8th Council of Stellar Management was voted into office to provide feedback and ideas between players and developers, but that's the cold, hard fact. Another such fact is that the ballots are now open for CSM9.

As with last year, players will vote for not just one nominee but 14 candidates ranked in order of personal preference. CCP has improved the voting interface this time around and said that it will be talking more about the vital role that the CSM plays in the game's development during the voting process.

NBA's Jeremy Lin: 'Dota is a way of life'

Fantasy, Culture, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, MOBA

Dota 2
NBA player Jeremy Lin recently expanded upon his remarks in the documentary Free to Play that "Dota [2] is a way of life." Talking to OnGamer, Lin said that the MOBA brought him, his family, and his friends closer together.

"When I say it's a way of life, it's more than just a game, it's a chance for us to play and catch up on life," he said. "It's something that's been really incorporated into our lives for years and years, consistently, no matter where you are."

Lin said that he normally played Dota 2 two to three times a week and admires the dedication and drive that exists in the community. In fact, he sees professional gamers in a similar light as professional athletes: "It takes a ton of work, it takes a lot of strategy, it takes a lot of commitment and takes a lot of discipline... You definitely have to understand the game and work on it, hone your skills.

Lead producer pens requiem for Molten Games

Culture, MMO Industry, News Items

Blunderbuss pitch video
Former Molten Games lead producer Oksana Kubushyna has penned a lengthy requiem for the recently closed studio on her personal blog. Molten was working on a title called Blunderbuss when it unexpectedly lost its funding last month.

The post features a series of snapshots and videos detailing what it was like to work at the San Diego studio on a daily basis, and Kubushyna also says that the game itself was pretty far along. "It was a complete vertical slice with an installer, patcher, back-end platform (multiplayer, basic matchmaker, persistence, monitoring, telemetry), back-end administration tools, automated deployments, automated test framework, gameplay systems, UI, and of course content -- multiple champions and a beautiful map," she writes.

You can view the Blunderbuss cinematic demo after the cut.

[Thanks Paul!]

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The Nexus Telegraph: Is WildStar a World of Warcraft clone?

Sci-Fi, Culture, Game Mechanics, Opinion, WildStar, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

This isn't a metaphor.  Metaphors are subtle.

That was quick, so we can all -- oh, wait, no, I need to write more. Also saying we can all go home is pointless; most of you are reading this from home. All right, we'll start over. This is one of those things that gets trotted out every time a new game comes along, and in WildStar's case it comes out twice as regularly, since it's the first game in history to use colorful and stylized graphics other than World of Warcraft, except that it isn't.

It's kind of ridiculous, and it's a bit of a pet peeve. As someone who has played World of Warcraft extensively, I find the list of similarities between the two pretty shallow, and it comes across more as a way of dismissing the game without bothering to learn about it. So let's talk about where WildStar does take its cues from Blizzard's game, where they differ, and why saying it's just a clone is absurd.

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One Shots: Up close and very personal

Screenshots, Culture, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, Champions Online, RIFT, EverQuest Next, Miscellaneous

I am pleased as punch today because several of you took me up on the screenshot challenge to get an "up close and personal" picture of an enemy. Without stealth or a sniper scope, this is a very tricky proposition, but even so, three of you came out with the photographic proof.

First up is reader Wolfger, who escaped by the skin of his teeth in Guild Wars 2. "Here's a shot of Brewer Foster getting up in the face of one of the game's favorite loot piñatas, the champion boar in Queensdale. It catches the beast reeling from a blast as our hero is facing it down with a... slingshot?"

Mmm... anyone want a ham dinner? Either way, scoot closer to your monitor and prepare to have your eyeballs blown from the awesome images to come in this week's edition of One Shots!

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The Daily Grind: How have you gotten outside of your gaming comfort zone lately?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

I think that one of the secrets to avoiding the "routine rut" as you age is to constantly be challenging yourself to try new things and get outside of the comfortable bubble you build for yourself. As a nester who likes his routine, this is a difficult thing for me to do but I try to do it nevertheless. In 2014, I made it one of my resolutions to get outside of my comfort zone as a gamer and continually try new things instead of going down the same-old paths as I always do.

So I'm trying new classes. I'm playing ugly characters. I am giving crafting, PvP, and even roleplaying a go. I'm diving headfirst into sandboxes and plucking away at older titles that have eluded my attention for years. Sometimes this is very frustrating and reminds me of why I like what I do, but once in a while I make a pleasant discovery and grow a bit more as a person and as a gamer.

So how have you gotten outside of your gaming comfort zone lately? What have you discovered?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

There are 5.0952187*10^58 possible character variations in Elder Scrolls Online

Fantasy, Culture, Game Mechanics, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

Big ESO numbers
On the eve of The Elder Scrolls Online's "official" launch, Bethesda has released an infographic with all kinds of big numbers relating to its new fantasy MMO opus. For example, did you know that you would need to kill 119,050 mud crabs to reach level 50?

Or how about the fact that there are 2,235 books filled with 480,000 words in the game? There are over 40 million weapon variations too, as well as some huge number of possible character variations that my math-averse mind can't even read, let alone comprehend.

Click past the cut for the full infographic.

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The Daily Grind: What was your favorite April Fools' Day prank?

Culture, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), Opinion, The Daily Grind, Humor, Miscellaneous

You might not have noticed, but yesterday was April Fools' Day, and in the MMO industry that means a lot of studios blowing off steam by being abnormally silly and trying to trick players with weird promises. Some people like the goofs, some don't, but I'm willing to bet that there was at least one that got your nod of approval.

So what was your favorite April Fools this year? Did you get genuinely tricked by anything or find yourself laughing in delight at the cleverness of developers?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

Roberts praises Oculus-Facebook deal, says Star Citizen will remain independent

Sci-Fi, Business Models, Culture, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Star Citizen, Buy-to-Play

Star Citizen dying star art
Star Citizen topped $41 million in crowdfunding yesterday, and Cloud Imperium boss Chris Roberts penned a new Letter from the Chairman as a result. The latest stretch goal unlocked the procedural generation R&D team, but perhaps more notably it served as an opportunity for Roberts to weigh in on the Oculus-Facebook debate and reassure Star Citizen fans of the game's independence.

Roberts explained how Facebook's investment will help defer the obscene manufacturing and supply chain costs involved in bringing new hardware to the mass market. He also pointed out that Star Citizen features none of those costs, so there's no desire to sell to a larger firm.

"We don't need to go to anyone with deep pockets to make our dream a reality," Roberts wrote. "Luckily our ships are digital so we have hardly any cost of goods, just the cost of developing the universe of Star Citizen and running servers that Star Citizen's universe will be simulated on. Thanks to the generosity of the Star Citizen community we have these two things covered."

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